The Spring Jump

Spring always brings with this funny, lovely sense of renewal, like we shed winter’s baggage and move on to new things. It sounds trite but it’s true, for me, at least.

 

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Spring day will mark two years since I took the leap and became a freelance writer.

I’ve decided not to spend this post looking back over the past two years, because a lot has gone down. Some of it incredible, some of it scary and, well, most of it left me with a sense of gratitude. For that, and through that, I know I have learnt.

I have had to, out of necessity, withdraw into a little cocoon a lot, over the last two years, in an effort to *just get things done*. There were some people who made me feel bad about this but, they don’t matter to me or my life anymore. It’s been a two-year period of learning to focus, and sticking to that focus. The ability to focus on one thing at a time seemed like a mystery to me for so long. But, I have learnt focus, and I have become very aware that I should not apologise for it.

When I made this jump, it was done with the full support of the people who matter – one of them, in particular, made damn sure I followed through on it – I don’t think I can ever repay her for that. Another person, my absolute confidante and life partner (what a term…he deserves a better term…) consistently believes on the days I cannot. 

But, I did not just make this jump for me, or because of something my parents said to me before they died (they both did, and thinking of it now, I should’ve listened sooner). I did it for someone else entirely, too.

About twelve hair colours ago (which would make it about six or seven years ago), I was conversing with a then-colleague, who remarked:

“You know, now that you’re beyond the survival mode of nappies and wiping butts, you have a girl to teach. And you can’t teach her by dictating to her. If you want her to grow up thinking she can follow her dreams, you have to show her”.

I came away from that conversation, petrified. You can read every parenting book, buy every expensive toy, have your child on a routine and provide them with sensory learning experiences until they are blue in the face…and you’ve still not even begun parenting.

That conversation shocked me and scared me for a long, long time. In fact, it probably made me even more scared of even, ever trying to “be a writer”. Suddenly I had been made aware that, no matter what I did from there onwards, I was not just doing it for me, but it would be the example my daughter would lean on for the rest of her life.

That sense of responsibility sat in my brain for a long time. Suddenly (and yes, I realise I was slow to this game…), I began to understand that all the things I did were not only being watched, but truly assimilated into someone else. This, therefore, gave me an influence I had not expected or thought about at 2am, when I was way more concerned with trying to figure out how to rebundle a sick kid into bed and avoid sleeping in vomit.

But, there it was.

About a year after that conversation, my life uncobbled. It untangled and laid bare a mess I had not wanted to confront. I was completely at a loss, because I’d kinda bet on something, and it didn’t work out. Even worse, was realising that to untangle myself from being driven into some weird and dark life place, I had to use my own mental strength to get out of it. I was scared.

And it was at that exact moment that I got my very first opportunity to write professionally. I read that now, and I want to cringe, because I know just how much life has happened SINCE then…yet, at the time, I thought life was entirely derailed.

But. That moment was the spark that led me towards believing I could do this. I’ve had such incredible opportunities come my way, since then. I have worked with (and still do!) some of the planet’s most fantastic citizens. It was that spark that started my path towards here.

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I had no confidence when I began. Everything that came to me, at that time, seemed like it was a favour. I know now that it wasn’t. It was just someone else believing in me, before I could. I am so grateful for their belief in me. 

Every single goal since then (bar one…that was minor, happened this year and really should not have affected me as I let it, silly Cath) that I have set up for myself, I have been given the opportunity to achieve. No, I haven’t achieved all of them but, that doesn’t matter to me, because every single time…I’ve learnt. None of them came easily to me, and I know that, throughout my days. It makes me prouder of them, and the mistakes I have made along the way. And, oh boy, have I made some clanger errors.

So, come Spring Day, I’ll be thinking of the new sunshine, marching my kid off to school in her Spring Hat and, well, I’ll be happy. I have new dreams, and new goals I’d like to achieve. I have new projects and fun things to investigate.

But, most importantly, it’s the look on my kid’s face when I can say to her :

“Remember when I said, I’d like to do this…”

and she goes

“Yes”

and I get to say:

“Cool, you can read it now”. 

 

The smile that she gets on her face, as she realises I’ve done something I had told her I wanted to…the idea that is planted in her head that “my mom had a goal, and she achieved it”…That is why I do this.

I write for money, professionally, and I love it. It is the one thing that gives me a sense of purpose and enables me to feel that I can use my talent for good.

But, the thing that makes me breathe, and gets me up every day… is knowing that I’m showing a notsolittle girl that, no matter what life throws at you…you can achieve the things you want to, if you are prepared to work for them. Throw in a big bucket of good friends, a supportive family and ditch the fear of being rejected (you probably will be, quite a few times)

and…you can do just about anything you set your heart on

(and sometimes, if you’re really lucky and work really hard, you’ll get to do the things you didn’t ever expect to). 

 

 

 

Delene and Seven weeks.

I was sitting here trying to think about something to write for today, when Delene happened on Friday morning. Delene’s actually been happening in my life for far longer than just then, really. 

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This is Delene. She is a survivor. She is also my friend.

Meet Delene. We’ve never met but, thanks to the sparkliness of Twitter, Facebook and the like, I know her. I know her well, and she knows me well. This isn’t a random blogpost about my friend though,

Last year, Delene was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a shock. A big one. She is a healthy, active person. Beyond healthy and active, in fact. She cycles to raise money for CHOC and is a dedicated human. Nothing phases her for too long.

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Not long after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she lost her sister. To what? A melanoma on the brain. Yes, really, life can be this much of an asshole to one family. Delene bravely shared her story of losing her sister, whilst undergoing treatment for cancer herself. She still does. I have absolutely no clue how she handles life. Delene asked me to edit her eulogy for her sister, and then later on, a speech she had prepared for a cancer fundraising breakfast. Delene’s words washed over me like a lake on fire…I battled to edit her, because, even though both pieces were so incredible, they were so damn hard to read. But this girl, this girl does not give up. She does not end.

Earlier this year, when I was confronted with a very real and very anxiety-creating health scare, it was Delene I told. She was my rock, because I (in my typical way) did not want to worry the people closest to me. Sometimes it’s easier to vent into someone far away from you, because they can retain objectivity. Delene was there for me, when I was frightened out of my mind.

A while ago, she finished chemotherapy, had her required surgery and has started radiation. She has started cycling again and is even currently toying with the idea of running Comrades. Like I said, this is the girl who does not end. She does not give up.

That’s where I come in. If you know me, you’ll know that I live for bathtime. Heck, I think I do half my parenting in there. There is almost no better way for me to unwind after a long day, than with a gigantic bunch of bubbles and laughing with my kid. It is the ultimate way for me to just let go of a day.

Here’s the thing though. Delene loves her baths too. But, during her surgery recovery and now that she’s undergoing radiation, she cannot bath. It’s been like this for…I actually don’t know how long it’s been. This is – hopefully – one of the last hurdles she has to overcome before she can fully return to leading the life she was.

Then she posted this on Facebook on Friday morning…

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SEVEN WEEKS UNTIL SHE CAN HAVE A BATH? Just thinking about it fills me with dread, and she’s been going on without the sweetness of bubbles for longer already.

So, as from today, I’m joining Delene. I have not been able to be with her, as she’s gone through all this tumult because, well, geography (she lives in JHB, I live here).

I am giving up my daily bubble bath until Delene can have one, until 03 October. Seven weeks to go. Delene, you’re incredible. Let’s do this together.

New things I like.

I can be a magpie sometimes, attracted by a sparkle here, or a flash from over yonder. If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m most excited by the sparkle of the online world so, it’s no surprise that I’m excited about new things I’ve discovered online.  Here are the three sparkly things that are currently making me excited online:

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The first one speaks to the online shopper I am. I do almost all our shopping online nowadays and I have completely eschewed trolleys from our life as much as possible. The lovely, clever folks over at Hello Square are creating DroppList. Well, being the bargain hunter I am, Dropplist is about to make my life a little easier, and save me a little time on searching. Dropplist is an automated alert system that’ll send me sales alerts for items available from online stores in SA. Whilst my bank account is currently shaking in its boots over this nifty service – Dropplist is entering its Beta phase at the moment – I’m thinking it’ll become quite a nifty tool for me, especially when it’s gift buying time! By the way, Dropplist is created with love in Durban. Those Hello Square peeps just make me even more proud of our city! And, onto the second sparkly thing that’s excited me. The concept of “microjobbing” isn’t new to me. I think, if you’re a parent, you’ve learnt how to break up big tasks into little jobs pretty easily, over the years, and taught your kid how to do it too. Whilst it’s not a new way of looking at things – because we all know that if you’re going to run a marathon, you have to take the first step! – turning smaller tasks into an income creation tool that uses remote workers is a nifty, and modern take on it.

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M4Jam takes that a step further, though, and enables people to make money through microjobbing using just their mobile phones. Users (called Jobbers on the site) sign up for M4Jam using WeChat, complete simple tasks using their phones in exchange for cash, during the course of their daily lives. Companies and brands, on the other hand, submit large jobs to the M4Jam team, who break it up into smaller tasks, apportioning it out to their Jobbers, which makes the company’s life a little easier. To me, it seems like M4Jam could give companies an invisible, but very effective workforce to handle some of the “little” business of things, whilst enabling people to make some cash on the move. You can check out M4Jam here, and I’m told it’s launching today!

 

 

And, finally, here’s the one that has my heart and eyes enraptured the most. DigiKids. When my fantastic friend and compadre in the computer, Stacey, told me about DigiKids, I think I bowled her over a little with my enthusiasm.  I jumped skyhigh, because she and I had apparently been living in the same headspace, but just didn’t know it yet.

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DigiKids’ tagline says it all – where parenting and technology collide. If you know me at all, you’ll know that we live a technology-driven life and that I am a huge, massive campaigner for imbuing digital literacy skills into my kid’s evolution. In fact, I now firmly believe that gaining digital literacy skills is as important for children, as learning to read. Yes, that’s a bold statement but it’s not one I shy away from saying. I have seen it in my own kid and, through research I’m doing for something else I’ve been up to for a while, it’s becoming more and more important for parents to help and guide their children towards embracing technology, rather than worryingly steering them away from it. DigiKids exists to help parents do just that – guide their children through a technological evolution and embrace technologies with confidence. So, when that fantastic Stacey asked me to be Managing Editor for DigiKids, I jumped right into it and the site launched last week. I’m truly looking forward to helping DigiKids grow, and providing parents with nifty and easily accessible content that helps them help their kids. You can look forward to some great stuff from DigiKids but, for the moment, I just want to say…Stacey…I said it on the cookies and I’ll say it again – thank you for believing in me! Okay. That’s me for today. The sparkly things in the corners of the Internet are calling me…    

The one about ending a romance.

RELAX. I DON’T MEAN THAT ONE.

I’m talking about the boyfriend I’ve been with for more than half my life. He’s romanced me, sat in my hand through the worst days and been my accomplice at – almost – every celebration. I’m talking about tobacco.

Mentally, I’ve always added a cigarette to my identity. Wafts of smoke have peppered my nights and smoke breaks have been an important part of every day. Since I first thought “I like to write”, that little boyfriend had become an essential. I’d convinced myself I could not write without him. Earlier this year, though, I proved that thought wrong. That was a turning point for me. Realising I could write without using a cigarette as a muse was a moment I wanted to happen and, when it happened, I felt relief.

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I don’t know who I was looking at in this photo but I don’t think I liked them much.

Tobacco and I had a romance that started when (I am sad to admit) I was thirteen. We dabbled through our dalliance throughout high school and I actually quit him during my second year of University. For a whole month. And then tobacco and I lit up our love again after I’d had a particularly cruddy day.

That love life continued until I was 24 and found out I was pregnant. I was smoking at the time that I looked at the test results, and crushed it as the two blue lines appeared.

But, when my dad died, shortly after my daughter was born, the first thing I did after getting the phone call, was reach for a cigarette. And, well, the love affair began again.

I depended on that tobacco through the best days and even more so on the worst ones. It was my calling card and my relief. Finish working on something? Light up. Start working on something? Light up. Wake up? You go get that morning cigarette. Going to bed? Don’t forget Cath, you should totally have a smoke before you do that.

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Cape Town. 2009. Weirdly, most photos I have of me smoking, were taken in Cape Town.

I’ve tried to quit, quite a few times. Really, I have. I started diaries, I’d mark them and count them, push them away from myself and then end up pulling them even closer to me at like 2am, when I felt overwhelmed. Those diaries I penned my thoughts and times I smoked into, sometimes scribbling with one eye, helped though. I learnt that I had a behavioural pattern, and I had proved it to myself.

But, I’ve known for about the past six months that I was slowly getting cheesed with this dependency. The more I started to hate it, the more I wanted to quit lighting up. I ended up in this weird ping-pong of self-loathing, where I’d hate smoking and yet feel sweet relief when I had one. I ended up just hating myself more and more, and disappearing into clouds of smoke that were a weird mixture of loathing and tobacco. By the time I crushed my last cigarette, I was smoking 40 a day on a bad day. When I had a horrible health scare earlier this year – one that should have frightened me away from smoking too – the first thing I did was reach for a smoke. You could say, my friends, that the love affair was a lot like a previous relationship of mine (we all have one of these infatuations in our history books, admit it) – both of us so desperate to leave but both of us so desperate to stay.

Both my parents died of cancer. Yes, they were smokers. No, I don’t think that their smoking was the ultimate thing that caused their cancer because there were a lot of other variables at play (and, before you start – you don’t know what I know, especially if you do not know our family tree’s history). I don’t debate that smoking can cause cancer. I do debate that it was the central cause of my parents’ deaths (and I’m allowed to do that, thanks). A lot of the people in my family were or are smokers. It’s said that if your parents were smokers, you’re more likely to become a smoker. Smoking was like part of our furniture. No, actually, cigarettes were in our furniture, and a fine (and not so fine) layer of ash kinda covered everything. Especially our keyboards.

Perhaps that’s why it felt like such a sin against my own identity to drop that little blue box from my life. To eschew cigarettes meant, for me, to rid myself of something that had defined my connection to my parents. The early morning tea and smoke, the late afternoon chats with my dad over a whiskey and smoke…I was bidding all of those moments farewell by doing this. I felt like I was cutting a connection. Except, I now realise, that that connection doesn’t ever end, because they are memories that’ll stick with me, and they had nothing to do with cigarettes.

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Some weird artsy fartsy silhouette attempt.

When some particularly wonderful people in my life (yes, you know who you are :D) gave me an electronic cigarette for my birthday, I was stoked. Stoked beyond words. After all my attempts to ditch the beau of tobacco, this has proven to be the most successful.

I will confess that I have wobbled. There have been days when I’ve wanted to do the equivalent of late-night-drunk-text-to-an-ex and run outside, light up and feel a sweet relief. There have been three particularly bad episodes of this, where I have felt that if I didn’t have a cigarette *right now*, I’d explode. It got so bad one day, I found myself searching for images of people smoking, just so I could, at least, vicariously, live through the “celebration” of lighting up. You see, lighting up that smoke was a celebration for me, and I felt like I’d uninvited myself to the party. 

So I chose to tweet my way through them, and the support of my lovely online people has been immense. There have been people who’ve yelled at me, tough loved me and outright threatened me. There have been people who’ve commiserated with me or cheered me on. And, thankfully, there have also been people who have completely ignored me and this stupid, very #firstworldproblem.

Most importantly though, having my very real, very permanent Shmooshy do this with me, has been a guiding force. I am pretty sure I couldn’t have done it without him.

I have felt a weird sense of grief. I will admit, shamefully, that I feel more and more like I’ve gone through this horrendous breakup, and can’t call my ex to cry on the phone to him, in some weird bid to get him back (disclaimer – people – those phone calls never work out. Stop it). Every day though, the desire to “call” that smoke up, has faded and, in fact, today, just over a month after I ditched the zero and got with the hero, I think I’ve deleted the zero’s number off my mental phone.

I’ve been given some grief about this, and I think I’ll chat about that now. Because I’ve moved to an e-cigarette (which is low nicotine, and I am in the process of moving to no-nicotine), someone decided to tell me that “I hadn’t really quit” and that I was “just being a baby and (this one’s my favourite) “going to kill yourself anyway”. Nice conversation, that was. Hugely positive and inspiring. *sarcasm*. I’ve decided to actively ignore anyone who gives me this kind of grief. This is, after all, my story and not theirs.

I can smell nowadays. I can smell like never before. Sometimes that’s wonderful and – at other times – it’s really not. I can run faster than I used to be able to, and I can run for longer without wanting to collapse.

And, as for my forgotten beau? I found a box of him in my kitchen yesterday, where I’d obviously stashed it “in case of emergencies”. Just looking at the box, holding it in my hand and turning it over, I felt ill. Maybe it is how my friend Melanie says:

“Nothing like seeing your ex and thinking eeuw!” 

All I know is that, somehow, I’m getting over this weird romance. I’ve become one of those militant and annoying people who can’t stand the smell of smoke (sorry guys, seriously, but when we get our sense of smell back…) I’ve actually written apology notes to people for how badly I stank. They’d complain and I’d laugh it off. I’m sorry, really. Wow.

As I’ve removed what I thought was a critical facet of my identity, I don’t find myself lacking anymore. In fact, as the smoke has literally cleared, I’ve realised, as all girls do after they get ditched by the guy who led them on for years…

I didn’t need him anyway. 

 

 

 

 

On Being Educated by My Kid

It’s a common enough thought that our children teach their parents more than parents actually teach their kids. I have to say that this is one truism that rings in my ears every day of our life.

Yes, my daughter has taught me more than I ever expected but, as she gets bigger and taller, I realise that this experience of being taught, rather than of being the teacher, is playing an even bigger role now. 

We live in a house of gadgets and gizmos. Being the type of family we are, the work we do and the hobbies we keep, we are great fans of getting a gadget to play with. Occasionally, I review items (and fall completely in love with them) but the ones we own for ourselves…sometimes take some getting used to.

Case in point – our television. This gargantuan screen has perplexed me since the day it arrived. Why? Because it takes ten years, a chicken dance and an appropriate sacrifice to the requisite television deity to turn it on. Note too, it does not have a simple on/off switch – it must be switched on using the very large remote.

So, every morning, for the past nearly 3 years that we’ve owned it, I have stood there, mumbling at it, furiously pressing the power button to get the screen to blaze its technicolour wonders at us. I could not understand why it always seemed to work for my kid so easily, yet – for me – seemed to be some kind of technological wizardry. 

Except, last week, when she looked at me quizzically and said:

“Mom, are you turning it on the right way?”

I snapped back: “Yes, of course. Do I look stupid?”

Which was when she gently took the remote out of my hand, pointed to the other button on the remote, swung the remote in the direction of the gargantuan screen, clicked it and…

Did you know? Our television can turn on in less than 3 seconds? 

All it took was a different button. 

 

eightyone.

Dear Dadadadad,

It was your birthday yesterday, and I had to skip writing you a letter because my eyeballs were square from working most of the weekend and spending a tonne of time poring my strength into words for other people.

But, today, as I sit here on the precipice of my tether, with minimal sleep, a furrowed forehead and well, really, what else can I do today, except write to you?

You’d have turned 81 yesterday, and I ponder at the gigantic nature of that number. It seems ginormous and almost unattainable to me. Yet, I do know people who have gone far beyond 81. 

This month has been difficult for me. It’s felt like an obstacle barrage, never mind a course. But, there is sunshine in the spots where I know I can go to. There is peace in the places that I have come to rely on. And, Dad, I know I can rely on, and not in that half-a-toe-in-maybe-I-might-have-to-escape-them-one-day way.

But, as is the way with this time of year and me, I know it’s coming. I thought I’d been able to skip past it at one point, but then it all really came at me like an arrow. So, I plod on. 

By the way, I’m done complaining now.

Do you remember how you used to hang on to this photo? I remember having to rush off and get a copy made at the office, so you could keep the original by you, all the time. 

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I wanted to say thank you for that. I don’t think I did at the time and, in the hurly burly chaos of everything that came afterwards, I don’t think I really got to the chance to. We were lucky, you and I, because we got to spend all that time together, and you even came with me for one of my final scans (having everything happen in the same hospital works, hey?). I loved that we got that time together, especially because we both knew (and aptly avoided talking about…) that we wouldn’t get the time after. 

What it did, Dad, was imbue a sense of you into the after. Yes, genetically, that happens anyway, but it has served to create a bond that can’t be seen. Your name will come up in conversation and your grandchild #1 will say “you know, he used to help people” or “yes, he had very tough hair” or (my personal favourite) “my mom says he used to eat her toes” (I’ve long since been able to convince her that you never actually chewed on them, although, for a while there, she did think that toes could be eaten and would grow back).

My point, Dad, is that you’re not here. I can miss you, write to you and wish for you, but none of that will change the fact that I cannot call you up and bore you with one of my stories, or make you eat 25 servings of macaroni cheese, just to be funny. 

But I can, and do, still find you. 

Dadadadad, happy birthday. I hope the whiskey was fab and the dancing girls (family joke) limber.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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:

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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!