Revelations at Dawn

Our new house (that’s really not new anymore, we’ve been here long enough but I’m clinging to the new feeling, stick it out with me) has a beautiful view of the ocean. But this is not the first home I’ve lived in that looked out to the twinkly sea, so I’ll leave the epiphanies I’ve had over an early morning coffee in 2015 (there have been many!) to one side for now.

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In fact, my home that looked out to the sea before this one, looked over a city landscape too. With the swirl of a cosmopolitan city splayed out below it, it was on that balcony that I began and experienced a bunch of important life moments. It was where I’d spend many an evening, at first cradling a bottle of wine in my early twenties, and then later, cradling a colicky baby at all hours of the day and night. I still think the scenery helped to soothe her.

But we’re talking about mornings, aren’t we? There’s one morning on that balcony that’ll stick in my mind forever. She was still tiny, so tiny, and I woke up (uncharacteristically, for the mother of a newly minted infant) to see a sprinkle of winter sunshine peeking through the curtains.

I crept out of our room, that was festooned with all the things you’re “supposed” to buy when you have a baby but, really, those items end up being so useless or fleeting in purpose, after all. I slunk away down the passage to forage up a cup of tea, being careful to not let the teaspoon tinkle too loudly as I stirred.

Sitting down on a chair that was probably ready to be retired, I looked at that cityscape and out on to the ocean. With the sun just beginning to do its daily thing, I exhaled. In the calamity of noise that you come home with from the hospital, and the seemingly infinite list of things to do that go with a new baby, I’d felt like I couldn’t quite catch my breath for a while. It was nice to just exhale for a while.

Looking down at my phone, I saw a stream of texts that had clearly gone on through the night, but that I’d slept through as they beeped. They were from my dad, as he lay in his hospital bed not even 500 metres away from me. He’d awoken, confused and surrounded by machines and sick people he didn’t think he belonged near, but was convinced he was on holiday, and would I mind bringing him a ciggie? I giggled to myself, but let my responses rest for now, as I hoped he was.

The thing about terminal cancer is, while it may rob its host of bodily functions or even dignity, it doesn’t take the mind for a while. And when it does begin to consume the brain, it doesn’t grind it into a halt right until the end. No, it explodes it, with colour, light and fantasy. A sort of party in your head that the disease gives you, as one final blast before your curtain falls.

I didn’t know then, that the funny conversations and confusing dialogue my dad and I would have over the months just before that sunrise, and the final ones, this text conversation…would be the last ones we’d ever have.

You never know the last conversation you’ll ever have with someone. Even with my mother, I refused to accept it would be the last time we spoke when we did on a peach coloured afternoon that had left me pacing and desperate.

But as the sun rose up to the sky that morning, and the new life of our family mewed itself awake into the day, the old life, the one that said he “had to make space for the new one” began to slip away.

He would die just a few days after his last text message to me.

It said: “Where am I?”

Oh my darling. I wish I knew.

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I’m very pleased to be a part of this collaborative blogging process. Each week, on Wednesdays at 2pm, Dave, Mandy, Brett, Nick, Scott and I publish a post. The same title is shared between us, but we have no sight of each other’s posts until we publish. As Dave says “The point of the exercise is to give a group of writers a title, and then to sit back and watch how their creativity and word skills deliver their very personal interpretations.”

You can read the other collaborators’ blog posts here:

Cool To Be Me | Review

As a parent, the thing that keeps me up the most at night is worrying over whether or not I am adequately equipping my kid with the necessary skills and self-confidence to roll with the punches of life (I think we ALL do this).

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Two boxes from the Cool To Be Me range appeared on my desk last week and we set about working through them over the weekend. An education-focused set of boxes and resources that are categorised according to age and theme, Cool To Be Me helps kids and parents discover and reinforce social and emotional skills, with a view to creating self-confidence and bringing children closer to a better understanding not only of themselves but of other people too.

Each box includes a set of enchanting story books, an activity book, worksheets, puzzles and games. Using a comprehension exercise type approach, each storybook is read (spoiler alert – these stories are really very cute!) and then activities relating to the stories completed. We loved the crosswords, games and short quizzes that were included. Oh and the fridge magnets and stickers are fun too, serving as little reminders of what we have talked about when going through the boxes.

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But, aside from the fun activities, the Cool To Be Me resources work as a communication tool, whereby parents and children are sparked into conversations about important topics. My daughter was ill over the weekend so we spent a lot of time cuddled up in bed with these books and resources, and chatting away about the concepts we uncovered. It’s really been a great way to not only spend a little quality time, but also help her better feel confidence within herself.

So, if you’re (like me!) always looking out for cool ways to conquer your late night worries and help your child get a better grip on emotional and social intelligence, the Cool To Be Me range could be just up your street! Oh, and it’s made in SA!

This is a review post. The Cool To Be Me team sent me two sample boxes to use and explore the programme for review purposes. 

There Are Seasons…And Then Some.

I’ve been an awful blogger, I know. I’ve actually been an all round awful a lot of things but I’m not logging this post to beat myself up or make you sit through yet another boring self-directed tirade over something  that won’t matter in ten years’ time. So, sorry. Here I am, and I have a clanger.

My kid. Well, I’m battling to call her a kid nowadays. She’s nearly as tall as I am, she vets my online writing, wavering between being excited for me to relate a story she is part of and… banning me from ever mentioning her, at all. Like ever. So my relating part…the thing you got to know me with? That’s a bit quieter now. There are fewer fine details I’m putting out there online and, really, that’s not a bad thing. Heck, I wrote about how that would happen in 2011, it was already happening then, it’s much sharper now. But, actually,  if you follow me on Twitter, you probably know more about what goes through my head 24/7 than anyone else ever will. Again, sorry. Man I love that space.

Okay, okay, back to my point. Between racing from deadline to deadline, I’m mentally writing something that’s been sitting in my head since about a month ago. I’ve noticed an interesting parallel that I’d like to explore. It is the seasons.

This sprang from another day of sitting at my computer, and watching my daughter do her homework, while the dog bounces around between our legs and I try so hard to hold on to the moment, because really, there’s nothing else to life. Pretty soon she won’t want or need me to help her figure out 47 x 3 and, mentally this is playing in my head all day, every day. 

So, mix in a large ladleful of internal beating-self-up because I missed an important school event  (but made it to the other one…) and I have to seriously forgive myself.

But, back to my point and parallel:

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When a baby is born, all pink and cute…they’re like Spring. As they grow and their little life flowers bloom, stretching up to the sun, that’s when their world is all colour and growth.

Summer

Then kids hit Summer and they start becoming themselves. They learn the bright colours that suit them best, and they grasp what they shine at. This, I’d reckon is much like the school days, that are filled with exploration and friendships, fun times and sweltering under the humidity of acing exams.

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And just as the leaves start to crunch beneath our feet, and we dig out our favourite cardigan, Autumn hits. This is when children become adults, as they begin to look more internally for their meaning – heck, that question of “what do I want to be when I grow up?” plagued us all in our early 20s. But just as Autumn sees us heading indoors for warm soup and toast, it’s also the time when we build and reinforce ourselves, our homes, for winter. We celebrate by throwing those crunchy leaves into the air and laughing. We rush inside before the rains get too mad, stopping for a little to jump in a puddle.

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Yet, there is Winter. The time when we are cuddled up and contemplative. Having built the foundations for our life, we take our time with it. We amble along for afternoon walks and take pleasure in our tea breaks. We’re busy keeping warm and enjoying my favourite life treat – the tingle of winter sunshine my hometown is so known and loved for.

Right now, my daughter is in her Summer. She is all colour and growth, excitement and warm evenings under a twinkling sky. I feel like Summer came too quickly but, all she’s ever wanted to do is grow up, so I had to let it happen (I am, of course, fooling. Parents don’t get any choice over growing up – trust me, we know this).

While I may feel like the time is slipping by, and the seasons come too quickly at us, just as Spring seems to have zoomed the heck on by… I love this season. The parts where I catch the early morning sunshine of her telling me about her dream over cereal and the long evenings where she asks 85 million questions. And while I may not catch every sunrise, every time she smiles (I wish I could), I know her summer sun rises, every day.

And that’s why. Right there. I’m finished beating myself up today.

There are no unique stories.

Long-term readers of this blog would’ve realised by now that the attention I pay to this corner of the Internet has waned. It’s not because of disinterest, but rather a case of the shoemaker’s children never being shod. I used to blog as an escape, to capture my life as it was, to chronicle it for my kid. Nowadays, writing is what I do for a living so my creative juices go most often towards those avenues, and not this one. That doesn’t mean I’m stopping though, but I do know the frequency of posts and glimpses of my inner state have waned. I apologise for that, but mostly to myself because I think I’ve stunted my own monologues for a while. They are a necessary evil when you live in my head. 

I want to say something, and it may piss some people off. That’s okay – I like reactions. Here it is:

There are no unique stories.

 

Were a story to be truly unique, it would be entirely unrelatable and none of us would read it. In fact, every time you’ve read something and thought “shit that’s great” or “heck, I know what they mean!” you believe it to be good because you find something of yourself within it. Perhaps even something that you wouldn’t admit to in public. That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s brilliant to discover a shiny nugget of yourself reflected somewhere in the world outside of your own headspace. I get it, completely, and I spend my life searching for those treasures. And I write, primarily for my daughter to one day read, but also because I hope that someone else out there might one day find a shiny nugget of their own selves reflecting back them from within the words I’ve squirmed out of my head and onto a page or screen.

Sometimes, people will email me and say things like “thank you for writing that” or “I found something of myself in what you wrote” and that makes all the times I’ve had to deal with comments like “you suck. you should die” worth it. I am so appreciative of the people who reach out, and, for the trolls, I say “thanks for the traffic”.

But I want to go back to my original point and underline something for you. I do not have a unique story, and neither do you. That doesn’t make us any less special or wonderful, or terrible or charming. It is a facet of humanity that actually links us, because we are, at the end of all the rubbish we talk all day to try and justify ourselves, human.

We are squeaky babies when we emerge into the world, naked and yelping. We all wipe twice after abluting (well, you should, at least) and we all sit up at night pondering what the hell we’re doing with our lives. Our details are different but our humanity is the same.

I wish for a world where we could see that, and enjoy the differences in our details and celebrate the sameness we all have. But that’s not the world we live in, or the one we seem so hellbent on destroying, either together or against each other.

But, you know what? Today I’d like you to just look for a sort of sameness within you and someone else. Find a similarity between the two of you that’s evident or not easily visible. I don’t care how you do it, but just try it for a change. Log out of the competition we try and believe we’re in (spoiler – the only person you’re competing with is yourself) and just find something of yourself in someone else.

If you can do that, just today, you’d be a better person for the world, and a nicer person to yourself. I promise.

For UM. Because, birthday.

It’s your birthday. How funny-wonderful it would be for you, this year, because the wedding has been planned to fall just after your birthday. It was planned around your special day. I think you would’ve liked that. I wish you were here.

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P said a funny thing the other night, how my kid is sounding more and more like me, every day. Yet, when she speaks, I don’t hear me. I hear you. Like an echo of a time gone by, you’re still audible, just that your voice ekes out from within a throat you don’t use.

I see you in her gawky elbows and the way she’ll do the ‘hand-thing’ when she sees something she likes. It’s impossible that she learnt that from you – you’d not done it in years after Dad died. So, really, mom, is that you in that there hand motion?

I see you in her long, craning neck as she peers into the kitchen and asks ‘what’s for dinner’.

I see you when she gets frustrated and that just makes her more determined to do something.

I see you in the funny little moments nobody else would see. Where they see me, I just see you.

I could go on and tell you how I wish you could see all of this. How I’d only-half-jokingly tell you to move in next door to us. The cats would’ve loved it. I would’ve loved it. You and I would’ve been irritated enough by our close proximity to absolutely love it.

But I can’t move you in next door, or festoon your birthday with cake and gifts. So, instead, I’ll stand outside in the twilight tonight, with a glass of red in my hand and toast you. I’ll keep your voice within mine as I help my brother’s wedding happen tomorrow. As I take my place at a table, ruffle the hair of my many, many nieces and squeeze the hand of my daughter, I take you with me.

And while my kid plays in the garden with the dog (oh you would’ve laughed at him) and her little big voice exclaims in glee, I’ll hear you, all of a sudden, not so far away from me.

Happy birthday Mum.

 

There’s not a lot to be said…

There’s not a lot to be said, when one would like to go back to bed.

In a week’s time, my brother will be wed.

I think I’ll dye my hair cherry red.

It’s got to the point where I’m keen to be led.

But not to the point where I feel unstable in the head.

I like to rhyme a little, even when

it’s just brainspittle.

 

Beauty in a Box | RubyBox

I’m not much of a beauty gal. Heck, I picked up a bargain Toni & Guy hairdryer from Clicks the other day, purely because it was on mega-special and because my trusty Clairol mini-travel hairdryer that I got from my parents for my (believe it!) thirteenth birthday is starting to wobble a little. Yes, really, I have a twenty-one-year-old hairdryer. Seriously, it’s so old I can’t even find a link or pic for it online. LOL. It still works, but just not as well as it used to! But, yeah, it was time for me to upgrade a little.

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But, because time is marching on and it shows on my face, I am starting to pay a little more attention to what goes where and my regular skin routines. I feel pretty proud of myself for sticking to a skin routine for almost a full year now, and it’s working well for me! 

The folks over at RubyBox sent me a little gift via courier this week, and I’ve been pretty excited to try the products out. The whole concept of RubyBox appeals to me, because I am a lazy shopper (especially when it comes to beauty products!) and because I like surprises that are gifts (but not parties – I live in fear of surprise parties. I’ve had one thrown for me before and am still recovering. LOL)

So, what did they send me? 

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Natural Lab SPF30 Natural Face Cream – this stuff is actually pretty darn awesome. Goes on smoothly and I don’t feel like I’m wearing anything at all. Plus knowing that it’s keeping my old skin safe from the sun today is a bonus! It’s slightly tinted so that does away with me needing foundation for the day 

RubyBox Super Seamless Foundation Brush – haha, I SUCK at applying makeup. I generally get it right twice a year. This helped, as I used it this morning to test it out. Am now having a good make up day and I won’t see anyone but my dog until this afternoon. I’ll use this often, I can tell! 

Africology Body Butter – yum. Yum. Yum. I used this after a shower last night and my skin still feels good. Like beautifully good. I would add this to my daily life! 

Mavala Cuticle Remover – my nails are, well, I’ve been a nailbiter since I was three. I gave up once, successfully, and then it fell apart with matric exam stress. One of the things that nailbiters have to deal with though, is really horrid cuticles and this worked well to sort out two of mine. Mmm. Maybe I could quit the incessant finger chewing again? 

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Anyway, even though RubyBox is a subscription service, I like how they also make the products available for purchase via their site. So, when you find a favourite product, you can buy more quite easily! Check it out here and you might just surprise yourself! 

 

/I received a small box of gifts from RubyBox to review for this post/

The LegNose Monster – A letter to my kid

Dear DaughterChild,

We’ve been through just about enough life change for a while and, this week, the last one happens. I just know that the emotional tumbles that go with change are here, but you’ve aced them in ways I didn’t expect. Tears are allowed, hating some of it is allowed (heck, I make a business out of that, you know how it is. haha) but moving forward – it’s essential.

So now on the brink of that next change, I’m reading Timehop and laughing at how quickly it all has seemed to pass by. Last night, we were talking about extinct animals like the Megalodon and how the Coelacanth was rediscovered. And today, TimeHop reminds me that you once referred to the Loch Ness Monster as the LegNose Monster. 

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Time has gone too quickly, my DaughterChild. One day you’re all LegNose Monster and Badum and now you’re all quadratic equations and fiddling with fractions. I know this all seems like a whirlwind to me, but I know too, that we’ve had our quiet and calm moments. I love those times, where we just stop, stay in our pyjamas and let the world pass us by. Keep those times, and make them, for you, for the rest of your life, please. They’ll help you keep perspective when it feels like there’s too many things coming at you from every angle. 

I don’t even have to tell you about why Monsters can’t see in the dark anymore, and, somewhere, in my head, I still think you need to fall asleep while twisting my hair. But you don’t. In fact, you need me less for these things and more for other things. There’s this disbelief that, as kids grow up, they need their parents less. It’s not true – it’s just that the things you need me for are not the same things you needed me for five years ago. Nowadays you need me for the serious stuff, the explanations and the trying to figure-this-outs of life. You don’t need me to follow you into the loo every time you go. Hell, you don’t even follow me in there anymore, although the puppy does. I don’t have to find things to keep you busy anymore, you do it. I am the one you come to, when you need help working something out though – please never stop doing that. 

I’m proud of you, DaughterChild. You’ve changed. You’ve grown. You’ve accomplished. You set your heart and brain on something and you do it. Please don’t ever let that tenacity be dampened, for it will see you through every tumble you face.

Happy New Beginnings, DaughterChild. 

 

quiet numbers.

I’ve been battling to write, for me, for a while now. That’s evident from the lack of regular posting here.

But then, this evening, as the twilight settled, the dog snoozed and I spun up Dylan’s latest creation and it became time to think. And write.

As an aside, as a rule, I don’t actually, usually like people called Dylan. There is one minor exception but call it a bad experience I had in primary school that involved a shittyshit of a person, who made me feel very small for many years and people called Dylan are normally not my finest. I find it internally hilarious that I can feel so incredibly close to someone who bears the name Dylan. Dylan, you’ve changed my opinion of Dylans the world over. Well done. You know how pedantic and pointed I can be about names.

I digress (as usual)…

There is a light that I see every night, from here. A million years and nine lifetimes ago, at the Shath, I used to squint out at night, out to the sea, and just in the centre of our view was this green billboard. Seeing that green light became calming for me, I suppose for its familiarity.

 

How funny then, as I sit here tonight on my new balcony, lifetimes away from that green billboard, I can see one here too. But it’s more triangular, slightly neon and – knowing my eyesight – quite possibly not even green. Haha. It’s probably grey, and I’m seeing  a triangle, but it could quite easily be a giant billboard that says “light” or “sale” or something.

My eyesight has become terrible, to the point where I must be wearing glasses or else things are furry and blurred. Maybe I need that sharpness around my heart too, because I feel a little furry and blurred right now.

Not in a terrible way, just in a way I didn’t expect. Metaphorically, I feel like I’ve eaten a little too much and need to not take a turn past the buffet of life for  a little. I’ll skip the dancing, to rest my feet too, thank you.

So you’ll find me, drinking my post-dinner coffee, hunting for a waferthin mint, at my table in the corner. Quiet.

 

 

There are no resolutions here.

It’s a new year. How you take that and how you handle it is up to you. After all, it’s really just a ticking clock that’s timed over…and, really, that whole system is artificial too. Wanna start a new year? Cool. Do it. If not, don’t. Remember – it was us humans who made the concept of time a reality, so stick to it. Time is our very own cross to bear.

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But there are no resolutions here. There are only commitments. In my head, I had five, right now. I suspect they will change as the artificial ticking over of an arbitrary concept progresses along the calendar that many people cannot agree on. They are:

1. Don’t let my own fears define my choices.
2. If I want to do something/work with someone, ask. I have a shyness issue I need to get past in this department.
3. Adopt a rescue animal (done) – if you follow me on social media, you know this already.
4. Stop thinking you have to do everything right now. This is a tough one for me, but I need to get over my own panic instinct.
5. Have fun.

Number 5 is important. I need that. A lot. I need to find more fun in my day, and stop thinking I need to martyr my way to happiness and fulfilment.