To William, on his 25th Birthday

Dear William,

 

It’s been the most change of a year yet. I know we say that often, but I truly feel that this past year was a change of good. And, frankly, nutsboltsandbutts, it was about time. I know we have not spent as much time together this year as we have in the past, but I also know that it’s not a reflection of us. It’s just a reflection of life’s current space, and pace.

430014_10151687402441399_374456365_n

this picture will mean nothing to anyone except you.

I’ve watched you, this year. You’ve grown in ways I did not expect (and, well, neither did you, let’s be honest). I’ve also watched you confront a lot more than I think you expected to. Was this past year, in fact, a surprise mirror?

 

But, again, as is the way with you, you’ve taken all these things (yes, yes, I know. haha) and mused over them. You’ve approached them with grace and a gait of transparency. Most of all, though, you’ve taken them, without fear, and avoided the filthy towers. Cough.

 

 I love how I can send you one line, and it’s the same.

 

I love that you will burst onto my screen with something supportive, on the worst day, and I haven’t even said anything.

I guess, what I really want to say in an elbowthroughthewindow way is…

Often people say that we should ‘never change’.

Yet, you – he who really has no reason to change, because – you are – in my eyes, perfect – are changing.

Is this growing up or middle age, and will we yell at the younguns on the lawn some frosty Tuesday morning?

Who knows.

All I know is that you’ll probably keep the lawn quite tidy and only really grumble when someone steps on the rosebushes. In all likelihood, it’ll be me who tramples through them, whilst not thinking or looking where she’s going, again.

 

Happy Birthday William. Here’s to a billion more starry nights.   All my love, Gracie.

The love song and the legacy.

The middle of the year for me, always feels like an overstuffed cushion – so much within it, to the point of bursting…an intangibly unmanageable mess. I don’t have time on my hands during this time of the year, ever. When do we ever, really?  Between birthdays, holidays, important days of remembering for me, general life madness, work demands and an unhealthy dose of midyearslump…this is the time of year that makes me want to run into the mountains and make jam.   But, my feeble attempts at making jam and serious lack of farm-purchasing capital mean that I must live through the time. And, look, I’m not saying it’s all horrible. It’s not. Not at all. It’s just a pressured time, and I respond only well to pressure when it’s someone giving me a massage. I am, although, avidly aware that it makes me impossible to live with, or know. If you ask me something during the months of June and July, I’m probably going to say ‘no’, and I’m sorry. I really, really try hard not to, and I really, really have tried this year to not be like that. Comparatively, when contrasted with previous years, I feel I’ve fared better this year than some years before. But, I’m not here to make apologies, or even offer stupid excuses. They’re not any of those things. They are, quite simply, my process. And, as someone quite wise once said to me:

“Never apologise for your process”.

It’s not all bad though. These months are also a jubilant time. There’s birthdays and parties and candles and presents. This pressure cooker of a bi-month contains so many smiles. These are the months where I feel closest to my own emotions, rather than just trying to fathom them out like a disjointed 6000 piece puzzle that’s missing a section or two. June and July are a slipstream, and I think – truly – the problem I have with them is that I fear losing control over them. Yes, I feel most in touch with my own head and, perhaps it’s that feeling of being near my own internal chaos that makes me question everything. Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 21.13.37 PM Today, I felt like the world is too noisy and the light is too bright. I feel like an over-stimulated child, stuck in a brightly coloured toy store, and unable to find the door.   So, today, when my kid climbed into my arms and fell asleep, I did not want to move. Not for a moment did I want a noise, another person or even a draft of wind near us. I just wanted to hold on to that moment and not let it go until I was ready.

 

But, because life is an ocean that never sleeps, she awoke and kissed me. Her notsolittleanymore head curled into my shoulder, she whispered: “best nap, mom. Best nap” and off she went.

And, somewhere, deep within me, I realised, that moment was enough. 

 

The Yardstick of Nine | Dadadadad.

Dear Dadadadad,

It’s been nine years. The idea that it’s now just a skip and a little hop of a year to a full decade since I last heard your voice or held your hand, scares me. The marking of this time…the marking is a mixture of cruelty and healing. The marking is a reminder, and a yardstick that helps me take the next step.

That void of time seems to have moved so quickly and yet, I feel it like an ocean between continents. You are not here, and you have not been here for more of my adulthood than you were. Technically, you were with me for seven years of it, but you have been gone for nine years of it.

The time of you being gone is marked, indelibly, into each day, as I look at your first grandchild. Her growth is an indication of the time you have been gone, and she’s now growing into a young woman. She is no longer a little girl, and – just like she – my missing of you takes on new shapes, grows longer and becomes a life. I mark the years of you being gone, by the notches in her growth chart. The one she now supersedes. There is no growth chart big enough now, as she grows beyond the years marked on it. I wish you were here to see that.

26962_1139890517527_7655511_n

 

As I screech towards the middle of my thirties, my auditory memories of your voice fade, and I hear that voice only in my own now, or in those of the people of our family. It is in the calm and measured planning, the carefully crafted words and the tinkering of 2am thoughts…that’s where you are.

In the time that you have been gone, my work has brought you closer to me. Sometimes your name even comes up when I’m in the middle of something…and like a spark in the silence of midnight, you’re there.

A few weeks ago, I had a health scare. The kind that kicked my bum, and had me lying on a bed in a medical examination room, staring into their light. As I lay there, waiting for some specialist I did not know, to come in and tell me my future, my brow furrowed and…I remembered your words “I’ve let the team down, duckie”.

You didn’t let the team down, Dadadadad. If anything, you taught the team the way forward. You never were letting any of us down, and I don’t feel you ever did.

But, if that appointment had not gone the way it had, at that time, I fear it would’ve been me who would let the team down. That scared me into a blinding realisation, and it wasn’t just the light shining in my eyes.

When this man-I-did-not-know, told me that I was fine, I uttered the words we as a family used to mutter. Mom, as she washed the dishes, you as you would on the phone, and my siblings and I, as we’d feel relieved over something. It is, as I lay there, the moment where I think I saw you, stomping your foot and clapping in relief.

I realise it’s just a reprieve. Losing your parents when you’re younger than most, ingrains into your days the fact that we are all mortal…we are all never safe from the other side. We’re just all moving towards it different ways – the end result is always the same. What is left behind, becomes our legacy.

202142_10151217916571399_2077885990_o

The start of that legacy.

And that legacy? Well the legacy you left, the one you created with The UM, has children in it. There are words in it. There are parties and dinners and love and stories. There’s history created and memories that become facts of our life stories. There’s legacy and there’s love.

I miss the warmth of you beside me, and the easy banter of a Sunday morning laugh over breakfast. I miss your teas and your spontaneous giggle. I miss the gentle reassurance of you, and the compelling motivation behind your “get on with it”. I miss your calming “cool your jets”. I miss your speeches and your absolute inability to not go off on a tangent. I miss you grabbing my hand and squeezing it. I miss the smell of you, and the knowing I can call you. I miss calling you, even though it’d mean yelling half of the time. Haha. I miss calling you so damn much.

Just as you have been gone from my life for nine years, you are still in it. But your voice is in mine, not outside of it anymore. So, really, maybe I should just call myself. That’s what you’d tell me to do, anyway.

Perhaps you already did, that day you said:

“I can promise you the excitement or the attraction isn’t ‘out there’, it’s in you”. 

FJD – 27/07/1933 – 12/07/2005 

Durban tastes delicious!

Suncoast Casino is coming to life from 25 to 27 July 2014 with the annual Pick ‘n Pay Taste of Durban festival!

Now, if you know anything about me, it’s that I have a not-so-secret desire to become a restaurant critic, and an all round foodie. I am the latter, because – seriously – just hand me the food, and we’ll worry about the rest later, but – maybe one day – I’ll get the former right! I guess it says a lot that I once (as a part time job in school) delivered pizza on rollerskates, and completely failed on my first day. That’s why I’d rather leave it to the experts, and just enjoy the food!

As you know damn well though, I love my home city, so a food celebration that’s Durban-proud, sounds like a little piece of heaven to me!

Except, this year, Taste of Durban is anything but little!

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 21.31.18 PM

 

 

Chefs from nine of Durban’s top restaurants will be on hand to create special menus of starter-sized dishes, including their signature dishes. Each menu will be designed to reflect their individual restaurant’s philosophies, whilst showcasing seasonal and premium ingredients. So, what Durban restaurants are participating? Here’s a list:

Not only that, but the three day festival will play host to an incredible bunch of exhibitors and I deeply suspect I’ll need to add on another few kilometres to my daily run routine for a few weeks thereafter!

Having been lucky enough to sample the fare of most of these establishments, I’d make a one recommendation to you if you’re keen on attending Taste of Durban this year:

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 21.45.04 PM

 

So, if you’d like to foodie it up, book your tickets for Taste of Durban here, check out their website for full festival information here or like their Facebook page.

Lucky for you, the organisers have offered me 5 sets of double tickets to give away, so you can get your foodie on!

To enter this lovely little competition simply:

Leave a comment below, telling me which restaurant of the above list is your favourite, and how many kilometres you think I’ll need to add on to my run routine! 

This competition is only open to South African residents and will close on 10 July 2014. Winners will be drawn from a hat, and winner announcement will be made via video. 

Let’s get the good food on! 

This competition is now closed. Congratulations to all the winners!

Dear Thirty Four

I’m freshly back from my last morning trot around the block as a 33-year old. This month has been awful for that part of my life. Blame it on the cold, the lack of morning sun, the fact that – somehow – most mornings have involved very early meetings, whatever.

I know now that, if I miss that morning time to myself, I invariably end up feeling incapable and grumpy by the end of the day. So, people who like to have early morning meetings with me, guys, if you want me at my best, get me from 9am onwards. That’s a plan.

Physically, as my dear friend Gords said to me yesterday, I’m probably in better physical shape than I was a year ago. Yes, I am. Definitely.

I’m not wallowing every time I look in the mirror. I have zero desire to be thin. I have every desire to be the fit person I was at 27, though.

That girl had Madonna arms from constantly picking up and carrying a small person around, every day for two years. She had calf muscles and a strong back. She lived alone, fought the wolves at the door on her own and apologised very little for who she was. It was the hardest, loneliest time of my life but, somewhere in there, I found myself. I found a strength my mom always said was within me, but I never really believed until I had to go find her and ask her to guide me.

I’m not saying I regret the changes I have been through since then. I love the fact that I am softer, take more consideration with the things I do and am less likely to pull my middle finger at people (except those that deserve it). But I do miss that balls-to-the-wall part of myself. She’s in there, and I’d like parts of her back. Not all of her, just some. Somehow, those morning trots and just being aware of how I treat my body, are helping me to coax her out again.

Physically, I see the ripples that are of my age. And I love them. The years of shooters and dancing all night with my besties are evidenced in my hands and my face; my legs and my eyes. I have no regrets over them. I have only incredible memories. I have only gratitude, for those were the nights I began to believe in a world that wasn’t quite open to me yet. Those nights formed tangible, lean-on bonds I can talk to every day. Those nights brought me almost everything good, and enabled me to push out the bad. Those friends I see in my face’s memory, and I see them in my life, every day.

I’ve enjoyed 33 for a lot of reasons, and absolutely loathed it for others. The loathed parts, I find, were the ones where I had to question myself, doubt myself and learn. So I must love them for that, but can only do that in hindsight. Those parts I loved and enjoyed, I am similarly grateful for. They were the parts where I could dance, and sing, unashamedly. They were the parts that meant something to me, and enabled me to move forward. Mostly, they were the moments I shared with other people.

The concept of confronting fears has been a big theme of 33.

10487557_10152485876081399_3262497330425607016_n

The fear of public speaking? Confronted, and moved beyond. So long as I realise, accept and know that I will have night sweats and not sleep the night before an event I’m speaking at, I know I can do this now. I am so incredibly grateful to the people who have given me the opportunity to confront this fear, over the past year.

The fear of making choices. I’ve always liked to believe I was capable of making decisions, easily. It turns out, I was just learning. The grand life choices always felt easier to make. The sweeping ones that change everything? They never scared me too much. The small ones, like “what should we have for dinner?” or “can I pick a shoe?” always frightened me. Learning to directly and – without fear – make those small choices, has made my big choices stronger. I can make choices now, and yes, we’ll be having that for dinner.

181399_10151028434166399_1643260919_n

The fear of saying yes and no. Learning to say no was something that happened at 32. It was a lesson that needed to happen. Learning to say yes, happened during 33. Learning the difference, and to say those things at the right time for me, meant so much to me.

155281_10151240892681399_1778229296_n

The fear of saying goodbye. I have said goodbye to too many people this year.

I miss T, terribly, but I know that my missing him is paying homage to the hilarious, yet perfect, perspective he used to be able to give me in 2.5 seconds on my life. My missing him is just a small percentage of how much his wife, his family and his dearest friends miss him. His life was a lesson to us all, to live every day.

I miss Bee. For her cackle down the phone, for her pithy views on life, and her underlying determination that she can overcome just about everything. I like to believe that, even near the end, she still felt she could overcome anything. In accordance with my knowledge of her, I think she did that. Bee never gave up, and I’m willing to bet she’s giving someone a heckle right now. I miss you, Bee. I won’t get a birthday SMS from you tomorrow, but I do know you’re probably going to clink a glass for me up there. I hope you are.

The fear of uncertainty. There was a three week period in this year, where I could not lean on a single thing. That is not to say I was without support – I absolutely had support. I just could not lean on a fact, that I needed to lean on. I had a relatively big health scare this year. Big to me, but probably minute to others, when they consider it. I was not very open about it, because I was scared out of my mind. That fright needed to happen though, and I now need to start making peace in my head with some ideas, and act on them. I’m acting on them. No matter how small the actions, they count. I’ve never been one for grand gestures, but rather the small movements towards a goal. I know the little things truly are the big things. And, truly, I love the little things.

190752_5415236398_2732_n

I have found more of my mother within me, and I love it. I am not fearful of it, I embrace it. I see her in my eyes, my hands and my motherhood. I have found more of my father within my own self, and I can only smile. I see him reflected in my work, and I see his well-considered answers to questions, becoming a part of me. I have found my parents within me, and I have found their essence in my family. I see my mom and dad’s spirit shine through my child. I see my genealogy, and it is good.

As for my family. it is bigger than I ever imagined. This year, I have had to lean upon the people who share my name and my house. But, more than that, I have had to lean on the people who don’t share my name, or my house, but share my heart and my life. My family is a non-nuclear, mishmash of names and bloodlines, but their humanity, their love and their support…is unparalleled. Heck, some of the people who share my heart and life do not even share the same province. But they are family, just the same. We’re not normal, this big group of people who share this life…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

At 27, I may have felt strong, but I constantly worried that I was not providing my daughter with the family life she needed. It turns out, though, it was just being created, moulded and shaped. Out of everything 33 has brought me, it has been family that has shone.

As I look back at 33, I can only smile. I’ve felt loved. I have given love. I have lived, within love, every day. I am so thankful for you, 33.

Dear 34, more of that, please. 

You are Nine.

Dear Daughterchild,

You are Nine. It seems incredible. How can so much time have gone by so quickly? If I think about it (and simultaneously wince at the thought), you’re halfway to 18 now. You’re growing up, growing beyond me.

I’ve never met someone as perceptive as you. Well, until now, obviously. I’ve watched you, in so many situations, and you know what to do. Whenever you might feel a little out of sorts, or a little wobbly, you know exactly what to do.

You are a bright light in the spaces of life where I never was. I worried about that, especially as you began school. I so desperately want you to have the opposite experience of school that I did and, yet, you’re showing me nowadays that I have very little say in how this rolls out in your life. It is, after all, your life.

Over this last year of your life, you have confronted things. I will admit that this has been an emotional sting of a year for me, because I deeply want to pick you up, wrap  you in bubble wrap and run away to live in the forest with the pixies and squirrels. I want to keep you safe from the world but, to do so entirely would mean you a deep disservice.

So I have to let go, in tiny little increments. And I’ve had to support you, rather than save you from some of life’s greatest lessons.

This year, you felt disappointment. I would never be so bold to think that I’ve prevented you from feeling this for your entire life so far. No, in fact, I know I’ve disappointed you before, and it will always stick in my throat. I think every parent feels that, at some point. But, no, these disappointments have been bigger life ones. Nothing that harms you but, they have definitely been lessons. I have had to hold your hand as you learnt that life brings disappointment, and the reasons why.

You have taken those lessons and they have made you feel a sense of independence. You have realised, using that fantastic brain of yours, that the lessons are worth the five minutes of pain you feel when you’ve been let down, and that – almost always – something better is just around the corner. You have learnt to be hopeful in the face of things that would turn most people into glum globules.

And, you have showed me your determined spirit. No, not just me. You’ve shown the whole world.

Born to the parents you were, you’ve always been destined to spend a large part of your life with your head in the clouds. We are dreamers, although your Dad is far more practical than I. He deals better in reality than I do, but I’m learning.

4059da5bdf63d4f29658300b4e387497

Being a daydreamer, you have lofty ideals for your life. You have ideas and creations you can’t wait to bring to life. You have moments where you cannot contain your excitement to create, and you have times when you just want to be alone to make something. You are always trying something new, or taking an interest in something you did not know about yesterday.

But, somewhere, in the same land where your daydreamer self resides, lives your fiery determination. When you are determined to do something, you do it. You have no fear and you give it your all.

Even when you are turned away from it, one, two, three times over, it does not deter you at all. You continue on, and try again. Your determination, usually, gets you right where you want to be. You are a firework, that – even when it rains – just waits for the next time the skies are clear again. It is no surprise to me, that that is your favourite song.

The baby cutisms are all but gone from you, as you grow taller each time I blink my eyes and you savour the intricacies of a world that’s opening up to you. You explore it on your own terms and actively choose which parts of yourself you will share with the world. You cannot be forced, or cajoled or bribed when it comes to that.

But, by the that same token, you are not afraid to dance. You are not afraid to jump. You are not afraid to be gleeful when it’s raining and you are not afraid to stay indoors on a sunny day with a good book. You know, like a wise soul, that the sun rises and sets, and that the moon watches over us all at night. You are not afraid of a new day. You are not moved by fear. You are simply determined to be happy. You are excited to feel the wind in your air and the ground under your feet. The very same feet that now wear the same sized shoe as I do.

You have grown, my darling child. You have grown into my team mate, rather than someone I must keep. I am less your guardian every day and more often your partner. But I am always, always your mother.

Happy Birthday my sweet child. You are the sweet song of my days and the lullaby of my nights. You are the sun of the morning and the stars of twilight. You are the everything.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mama.

Father’s Day.

Dear Dadadadad,

 

It’s almost Father’s Day. A funny day, where we’d have tempted you with soap on a rope, socks and silly mugs. The last Father’s Day-like moment I had with you was the day you met your first grandchild up close (she was born on Father’s Day that year), and I gave you beanies to keep your head warm. Your hair was thinning. No, let’s be honest. It was falling out. That big, tough bush of hair that I seem to have inherited was withering away a little as your sickness progressed, and you’d texted me to say your head was cold. I tried to fix it.

A few weeks later, I’d get those beanies back. I held them against my cheek and I could still smell your hair, even though I’d just walked into our house to be with mum, because you’d just left the planet. I stuffed them into my bag, and kept them. I didn’t wash them for a year. I’d just hold them every now and then.

But then Winter came around again and I looked at them. I realised, you’d want me to wear them. I think of you when I hear this song, and it rings in my head each time I put those beanies on. You wouldn’t want me to be cold, you’d want me to be warm, in Winter.

Which is why I’m not going to be without you today. I’m not going to feel your absence, but, rather, celebrate the idea that – somehow – you’re still here.

You used to say our genes are our legacy. That our DNA is what is our afterlife, and that the little pieces of you that live on beyond your body are what continues you. I  agree with you on that front, for a lot of reasons.But, Dad, it’s not just that. It’s more. Sometimes, life brings you back to me and it’s not DNA.

1070116_10151749697086399_371793083_n

Have I told you about the Shmoo? I have, I know, but I don’t think I’ve told you this part.

You see, the Shmoo and I have been together now for what seems like a lifetime and feels like just a day. He puts up with me, he takes care of me (most especially when I don’t want to be) and he listens when I gabble off twelve million ideas of how I’d like to save the world but will never actually fulfil. He is tolerant (an essential strength), patient, kind and supportive without question.

But, Dad, I gave him uphill when we first started taking an interest in each other. I was all walls, spikes and boundaries. I was needy and aloof all at the same time and I did a lot to deter him. He took the “deter” as just an abbreviation for “determination”.

Slowly, he worked away at my walls. He didn’t push them over and ignore them, he just sat on the other side of them and talked to me through a little hole he’d chipped away at for a while.

And then, well, you know how I went to Cape Town for a bit and he took me to dinner and seemed weird, and the next night he came over with cake and Post-It Note.

And that’s how he started loving me, and I, him.

One afternoon, while we were sitting on the steps of my house as your first grandchild pranced around the garden, looking for fairies and we were talking (we’re always talking. it’s like we have a continuing conversation that started on MSN messenger some near five years ago and hasn’t even quite got to the point of the debate yet. We’re still talking about the weather, if one were to compare our continuing conversation to the millions of conversations that start across the globe every day).

I can’t quite remember who mentioned fireflies. It could’ve been C, it could’ve been the Shmoo, it could have been me. But, just as it was mentioned, he instantly quipped:

I wish I was a glow worm, a glow worm’s never glum. ‘Cos how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum!

I remember looking at him, startled. Somewhere, I think, you looked at the scene and cackled. That was the rhyme you would send me when I had a bad day at work, or I needed a cheer up. Once, you printed it out for me and stuck it on my desk when I was studying at home and feeling bleak about some heartbreak. You’d email it to me when I was crabby, and when I just wanted to be left alone. Somewhere, in the swathes of papers I have kept from my life, is that printout.

glow_worm_-_0.7m_x_0.7m

There is no way on the planet he could’ve known that, and yes, perhaps it was some funny coincidence. Things like that just happen. But, Dadadad, that was the day I knew I could lean. So I leant. I’ve been leaning for a long time now.

As time went on, and the Shmoo became a more permanent, rather than transitory, fixture of our every day life, so C began to rely on him. He became the third parent and, in that first year, he really got put through his paces. As we started living life as a trio, so life changed. So life threw family emergencies, loss and tears at us. But we were strong. So strong, that we could combat so much more. C began to lean on him too.

We live in a little townhouse now, together. Each morning, I wake the two of them up with their respective tea and coffee, and start the day. They then zoot off to school and work, and, every day, as I wave them goodbye, I grin.

They are a little club, you see. Where boring old mom is responsible for providing the snacks but… “really, mom, go do something else, we’re fine”. They go on adventures together. They laugh and talk and are silly together.

As time’s moved on, I’m not the only one C confides in. She feels safe to be herself, express her emotions and communicate her ideas with him. When they are skylarking around the house, and I hear her squeak with giggles, I think of “sweetiessssss!” and laugh to myself. When it’s the end of the day and she snuggles her head into his shoulder and we talk about our days, I think of sitting next to you on the couch.

And there, Dadadadad, I find you in our days. I found you as I leant, as C leant, and as we built this life together. I find you in my every day, and not just my DNA.

Thank you, for teaching me that rhyme. For every time you sent it to me, and for every time you stuck it in front of my face. Thank you, Dadadad, for it’s that rhyme that led me home.

Happy Father’s Day. I hope there’s whiskey and very loud music. But, most of all, I hope you see the glow-worm.

Sometimes I also speak.

One of my personal goals for 2014 was: “Get over yourself and public speaking”.

And, if I know anything about myself, it’s that the only way out is through. So, I’ll be doing 2 public speaking gigs during June. I am extremely honoured that the organisers of each event invited me to speak. That kind of opportunity does not come by my desk every day, and I’m stoked to be sharing the stage at each event with some very big brains I hold in high regard.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 10.10.29 AM

Coming up first, is the Durban, Mobile, Digital and Social Media Workshop. The lovely, superstar folks of Always Active Mobile (a division of AAT) are hosting a workshop specifically designed for brand and marketing managers.
The workshop brings together industry leaders that will cover the mobile and digital marketing landscape in South Africa, including the latest AMPS stats  provided by the Mobile Marketing Association; digital content marketing; digital best practices & communities and digital innovation in Africa. Speakers for the day include myself, Alan Haarhoff of AAT; Barry Tuck of Paton Tupper Digital and Jonathan Darker. I can’t wait to hear their insights on our online world! You can catch more details on this event here. Registration is essential so you can book your space here. At time of writing, there were just 35 spaces left!

 

And then, coming up on the 28th of June, SABloggers are hosting their very first #WBFLLearn Workshop in Durban. Tickets are selling pretty quickly for this one so, check if you can still grab one here. The brains behind SABloggers, Sandy Nene is whirlwind of passion and wit, and has put together quite an exciting programme for those of us who share our lives online. Again, I’ll be sharing the stage with a number of fantastic speakers and cannot wait to hear their stories!

And, for five lucky people who book their space for the #WBFLLearn workshop super-quick, they’ll get a discount on their tickets, if they use the following code: CathJenkin. So book your tickets here and remember, that code is only valid for the first 5 people who use it!

10362377_580031055446535_578392645336306612_n

 

 

I’m incredibly excited and honoured to be a part of both these events coming up, in Durban in June. If you can make it to either of them, don’t forget to book your space! See you there :)

 

Dear Time | Four Years

I wrote this about a month before my mum left us. I wrote it when we knew as a family that cancer was claiming her. It was my final roar at this disease, before I knew I’d have to say goodbye to her. You are never ready to, no matter what anyone says.

Cancer eventually took her on 05 June at about 5am. That was four years ago, today.

This year, I actively staved off writing this, because I didn’t feel like i had the words. Until this morning, when I realised I’d already written it, I just needed to address it to something else. If you read the link above, you’ll see what I mean. It’s a reworking of the above mentioned letter. Because I realise now that, even though cancer took my mom and my dad, it’s Time that tries to be the ultimate remover. And it fails.

Just like my mom would laugh about her years in Italy, or tell her stories about when she was a young ballet dancer…time didn’t fade those stories. The light in her eyes and the sparkle of those funny times would shine right through her, as I’d listen, entranced. Or when she’d talk of how I and my siblings were when we were babies, and she could accurately recollect the most precious of moments with us. When she’d throw her arm over her head and laugh “like a drain”, she’d say, the life in her eyes shone straight into the future. It still shines on us today.

Time does not fade her stories. Time does not fade my mother.
It turns out, Mum, you’re indelible after all. 

0-0-0

Dear Time,

You’ve stolen my mother from me for four years now. Just two weeks before her first grandchild turned five, you decided to stop her clock. Since then, that grandchild has grown and blossomed. And she’s turning nine in two weeks.

Dear Time, I don’t think you’ve quite met my family yet. You can remove my parents from the family dinners and the birthday parties, the celebrations and the lazy Sunday mornings, but you cannot steal my mother. You’ve not been able to steal our mother or father. And you never will.

You see, Time, you’re not the first thing that’s tried to break us. Trust me. You’re not the first entity that’s tried to eat away at the fibre that holds us together. You’re not the first thing we’ve had to confront. You’re most definitely not the first to try and scare us.

You see, my dad. My beloved, affectionately known as Dadadad. “They” tried to get him once, twice, a few times. He challenged them and he said “thanks for the extra hour”. Heh. Funny thing is, even when cancer came to get him, and you, Time, kept him from us, he got that extra hour.

He got it when he got to sit next to me whilst I was in labour, and again when he peered over my shoulder to look into the eyes of his first grandchild. He still gets it today when I look at my daughter’s hands and see his hand shape. I see him in the set of my brother’s chin and my sister’s eyes. I see him in my nieces. He still gets that extra hour when I look at my squiggly signature and the slant of my handwriting.

You see, my mom. “They” tried to steal everything from her. She worked, very hard, to help people who had their lives, their homes, their families stolen from them. And she won. She won through, every time.

When cancer came calling for her the first time, now eight years ago, she said “Take it. I don’t need my breast anymore. I have my children already”. She wrote cancer a letter of farewell and kicked it, right to the kerb. Cancer came again in 2010, and that time, it took her.

But, Time, you still haven’t stolen her. I can see her every time I look in the mirror.

 

Mum and Me
You see, Time, my siblings and I. We roll with the punches, take on our own life challenges and do it without fear of you. We know, because life has taught us, that time is the one thing we cannot recreate, but we do know we can enjoy it when it’s here.

Time, you can roll the years by. You can tick tock through the minutes, but you still cannot steal my mother.
Why is this? It’s simple. It is because she continues in spite of you.

She’s in the lilt of our voices and the framing of our thoughts. She’s in the difficult parts of life where I have to discern rubbish from truth, to understand a purpose…and she’s in the laughter we cackle out loud when someone makes a joke.
I was looking at my daughter’s feet the other night, as she grows and lengthens. As she blossoms into the big girl she is and, I see my mother in her feet. Elongated, high-arched and strong. I see those same feet on my nieces.
You see, Time, my mother continues in my child’s feet. My mother’s feet may not walk this planet anymore, but her grandchildren’s do.
So, dear Time. You can do your best, do your worst, whatever. But you cannot break the faith that runs in the blood of everyone who bears a significant resemblance to me. Life’s already tested it, numerous times, and lost. So, if it’s distance from the day we last held our mother you’re bringing, you still won’t steal her from us.

She is here, even when you try to put the years between us.

0-0-0

UM, I miss you at the dinner table, on the telephone and I miss you in the noise of life. I miss you in the quiet of a day, and I miss you in the coffee breaks. I miss you in the moments I am scared, and the moments I am not. I miss you right now as I write this, and I miss you so much, each time I wish for you. I wish for you on the good days, the bad days, the in betweens, the beginnings and the endings.

I miss you, but you are not gone from me.

 

 

Dear Durban, it’s time I told you.

I’ve written this after a conversation with a friend, and after experiencing the most divine day in my home town with another friend. I love these people like they live in my house every day. I just wanted to say that out loud. Or, at least, write it.

0-0-0

I have tough feet. By tough, I mean, I am not a soft-heeled, immaculately pedicured footsies type of gal. I have rough, strong and tough feet that don’t like wearing shoes. In fact, I think the first time my folks were able to get me to wear a pair of shoes as a kid for longer than an hour, was the day I started school. I love my feet though, because they’re mine, and all the stories of adventures I’ve taken are wrapped up in those toes.

Growing up, I played under a sky of sunshine and rested in the shade of trees. I lived outdoors, and had a propensity towards - almost always – ending up in my undies as I frolicked in the garden.

An Afrikaans teacher I once had told us that the closer a child is allowed to get to the earth when they’re growing up, the happier an adult they will be. That’s why, even though we live a very “modern suburbia” type of lifestyle, my kid still gets out there and dirty, sweaty and rolling in the grass. That sweet aroma of playing around with friends outside, is – for me – the meaning of childhood.

But, I will admit…I have sucked at making this happen a lot recently. We’ve become a little secluded and I found that we were missing a little sunshine. Yes, sunshine in Winter.

20140524_150255

 

 


IMG_20140524_142137

IMG_20140525_145618

You see, my hometown, good old Durban, has the BEST sunshine in Winter. This is when it’s not so humid you can’t see in front of you, and it’s not so hot that the only thing you can do is chew ice and moan about it. Winter in Durban is the very best time to be here. May, specifically. I mean, right now.

Our weekends together as a family always seem too short, and are often set upon by other life demands, be they work, events or otherwise. But, as we head into a very busy part of our family calendar, we decided to take one day, just for us, and devote it to the sunshine.

We headed down to the beachfront. People who haven’t visited Durban’s beachfront in a long time, will raise their eyebrow at that. The promenade used to be a little worse for wear, and the area grew a little reputation for being a bit on the kak side. But, it’s undergone an incredible revamp over the past few years and, now, I truly believe our Golden Mile is back.

We enjoyed a gigantic breakfast at Circus Circus Beach Cafe, before heading into Mini Town. The last time I visited Mini Town, I was six. I worried, as I paid for our tickets and entered, that it’d be a little rough around the edges. It wasn’t. Mini Town is gorgeous, and a magnificent outing for kids. Most of all, I never realised this before, Mini Town exists as a fundraising initiative for the Quadriplegic Association of KwaZulu-Natal. We loved meandering through along and giggling at the little buildings, watching the model boats and marvelling at the minute detail paid to the models. 

After that, we headed down to the skate park and rented pedal cars (also known as gokarts). Now, I’m no cyclist (I have no idea how to ride a bicycle…I have never learnt), nor am I much of an athlete (but I do like my morning run and walk!). But there is something to be said about pedalling your way along the promenade and enjoying the ocean view, under a sky of sunshine. As I was pedalling along with my kid in the cart next to me, I felt free. I felt light, safe and happy.

And as I looked around at all the families, walking along the promenade, soaking up the sun, I remembered that I’m not just a visitor here. I don’t have to pack my bags and head back somewhere when my day in the sun is over. This is my home.

Durban, as a city, has its problems. What city does not? But if anyone can hop into a pedal car, zoot along the promenade and afterwards NOT have a grin on their face, then I don’t think they’re human.

I love you, funny city. You’re full of quirks. People who don’t live here sometimes think you’re backwards or slow.
I laugh in their faces. If anything, sweet home town, you’re soaking up the sunshine.

 

 

(Disclaimer – not a sponsored post)