How I’ve learnt to embrace the fog in my life

The other day I woke up anticipating throwing my curtains open and saying good morning to the early winter sunshine. My plan was to spread myself out on the couch like an old drag queen and just lay there, very dramatically, for as long as the natural warmth would allow.

Well, my theatrics don’t always work out because I didn’t plan on being greeted by grey. Not just in the sky but all around me. Normally I get to see the city wake up with me but on this day I couldn’t even see the city. The city was fog.

Fog

This wasn’t in the script for my day.

So what does a drama queen that’s set herself on a path of positivity and positive affirmations and flowing with the flow of life do?

She sighs very, very deeply. And just short of pouting back to bed she drags the words of every self-help book back to mind and ‘re-configures’ her thoughts to positive. Positive. Positive. Ok. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. “What a wonderful day”. Big smile.

Saying the affirmations over and over and over again she jumps in the shower and gets on with her day.

Did the morning go well? Yes. Did the fog lift? Yes. Did the sun shine? Yes……..eventually.

Just not when I was expecting it to.

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This is the thing about life. Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of that fog. We have no idea what’s in front, what’s to the left to the right or what’s behind. All we see is grey. And then we pray and stay positive and expect. Something to happen.

And when nothing happens we start to doubt or fear or become despondent. And we start to question. Why is everything not happening according to my plan, my timings, and my needs?

Well, from what I have learnt from all the overhauls and make-over’s of my life, is that in becoming a better person or creating a better life, you need to have an extraordinary amount of patience.

It doesn’t happen overnight, in a few weeks or a few months. And voila! Then you’re cured. That’s it.

Oh no. You have to be in it for the long-term. This is a lifetime thing. This is a constant. This is a discipline. This is for. Ever. And Ever.

That’s right. Yes, I’m sighing. Don’t worry, it’s a good sigh.

When you start to doubt, fear or become despondent, try simply ‘getting on with your day’.

Just don’t STOP.

Because the fog does lift. And the sun does shine.

Just not always when you expecting it to.

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No Jane of the Jungle: Part 2

2 years ago while in Korea I decided to put my big girl panties on and venture out into the jungle. The dating jungle that is. I really don’t know what possessed me to do such a thing. Perhaps it was one too many nights spent cuddling up with a book or some misguided fear of missing out.

Even though I had heard some nightmarish stories, I felt strangely brave and excited. I mean, how bad could it really be?

Let’s just say, that it was disastrous an eye-opening adventure. An adventure that led me to one realisation: I am No Jane of the Jungle.
I decided at that point to stick to my books, movies and numerous dates with chocolate cake.

As a result, my curves are now amp-ler, my cleavage is lots-er-er and my butt is cushioned-der-rer. I am packing in all the right places.

Luckily for me, I have since left the Land of the Skinny and am now living in a Place of Undulating Foothills and Mountainous Terrain (my home South Africa). I feel like a normal part of society again and not some alien fatty inhabiting the shores of a shapeless race.

With this new sense of normality came a false sense of optimism and confidence. Whilst not actively seeking to date I have been out.

Now, how can I put it to you? Ummmm….let me put it this way; I’m no longer in jungle territory, more like the open Wild.

In the jungle, I wasn’t sure what was lurking around, it was all foreign to me, including some of the animals. Now I’m in familiar territory. I can spot a baboon a mile away. I can see the vulture swooping in for the kill and I can hear the laughing hyena.

While the animals are now identifiable the behaviour is not. You think you keeping company with a lion in the meantime it’s a fox. You think you’re conversating with an elephant in the meantime it’s a parrot. You think you dining with a giraffe in the meantime it’s a pig.

I mean it’s very confusing. The evolution in the Wild is taking a different turn. I can’t keep up. So what I’ve now realised is that I’m no Jane of the Jungle nor am I a Winnie in the Wild.

So what am I?

I don’t yet know. What I am thinking though, is that I may have to stay indoors…….

and start collecting cats?

Grandmother Power

* This was meant to be posted leading up to Mother’s day as part of a campaign paying homage to Grandmothers. I could’t do it then but I thought I would post anyway, even though it’s late*

With a cup of sweet milky tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other; a husky voice and a deep, throaty laugh; a witty quip in one pocket and a soothing handkerchief in the other; she was a woman that everyone loved.

With thick grey hair that told stories of a life fully lived, and soft wrinkly skin that showed experiences fully had, she was both a gentle soul and a fierce lioness.

From the scrawny neighbourhood kid, to the friendly milk man, the doctor doing his rounds, and the drunkard down the road, she was known simply as Gran…

…the Light that safely brought to shore the broken, the wrecked and the wary. The most wretched of sailors would find a warm, comforting meal at her table just as the most gentlemanly would.

If you found yourself out in the cold or staggering in the dark, alone or misunderstood, the intoxicating smell of thyme would lead you back into her kitchen, her table and the embrace of her food.

With not a question asked or a cross word spoken, she would talk, laugh and tease you, all the while quietly weaving something magical from her heart through her hands and into the food, so that with every bite that you took, you would feel like you’ve come home.

And there is nothing quite like feeling you’ve come home. That she knew.

Of course she had her own little secrets in the kitchen. Like the special ingredients in her mac and cheese, the special way that she fried her steak and the special flavour in her tomato gravy.

She didn’t go to culinary school, take a course or read a book to learn how to cook. She just did it. With love. A smile. And a story.

Those were her most special ingredients. And that is why she made you feel so good. And that is why she is missed so terribly.

Now I can’t give away all her secrets but I can give you a few tips that I’ve learnt:

  • When you receive visitors into your home, move your ass into the kitchen
  • While you hit those pots, tell a story, crack a joke or just smile
  • Make more than you need, dish up more than you should
  • Always take a slice of bread and soak up all the goodness at the bottom of the pot/pan because that’s where all the flavour is
  • End with a cup of sweet, milky tea

I sometimes think the act of bringing food is one of the basic roots of all relationships. – Dalai Lama

I think Gran knew the Dalai Lama too.

Back in the day!

Back in the day!

Soul Searching

“Out of suffering comes creativity. You cannot spell painting without pain.” John Lithgow

South Africa has been gifted a canvas of such natural beauty and diversity it leaves you breathless at times. Breathless at the sheer audacity and grace of the Artist and his/her depth of vision, generosity, and creativity.

If you’ve seen, heard or read anything in the news lately about South Africa that would be easy to forget. For, if you scratch a little below the surface what you’ll find is a strong undercurrent of powerlessness, and it’s close ally, hopelessness.

At some point, most, not some of us, have been knocked off our feet by that current, and by those, who feel the need to claim their power through senseless acts of violence.

It’s not as if we have ever denied that this country was built and sustained historically and politically through violence but perhaps we have been in denial about just how much it has spread through the veins of our social structures and about just how much it has become so every day.

So every day and so endemic.

So many questions and so few answers.

My personal beliefs are perhaps those of a small minority. I believe in energy, in flow, in tides, in seasons, in new ways of doing things, in new levels of consciousness, in sustainability, in community, in creativity, in the feminine, in forgiveness and in living in love.

I have referenced my father many times in this blog, and believe me, if he had just read the above paragraph, he would be saying by now, “What crap is this?”

Like my father, you and I may not believe in the same things and that’s ok but what would not be ok is if we collectively did not believe in hope. Hope for South Africa. Hope for re-discovering our collective soul. Hope for humanity.

Soul searching does not often happen in times of great joy and happiness. It happens in times of deep, dark despair. It happens in times of an achingly painful state of being. It happens in times when the stench of decay becomes unbearable and the rotting hatred of life too much.

For a country like South Africa where smart, strong, honest leadership is missing, it’s up to the small steps of one and giant leaps of many to claim it’s soul back.

“In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.” Ernst Fischer

If you still have it in you to dig a little deeper, to go into the depths of our complexities, to go beyond the violence and the depravity and the inhumanity, what you will find is communities.

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Communities of artists and of activists, groups of people who’ve stepped beyond the threshold of commercial gain and into the realm of agents of change. People who are quietly leading the way in re-generating, re-birthing and re-energising parts of the city and country that have been left for dead, so to speak.

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People who are using design, fashion, food, art, music, theatre and comedy to re-suscitate this ailing heart that is South Africa. They are proving through cultural endeavours that we are still here. That beyond the corruption, the fraud, and the violence, those who believed in what freedom would bring post-1994, those who were inspired by the humanity of Nelson Mandela and those who believe in a bright future for South Africa, are still here.

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They are proving that there is still a heart beat in this country, and however faint or weak it might be, as long as it is there, we have hope.

Hope that one day the beauty of the canvas will be matched by the beauty of the collective soul.

 

 

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I see her Rise!

As I sit in my makeshift office drinking green tea, I look out from the mountain top view of the city, and I ponder the state of my nation.

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From where I sit I see green. Lots of it. And scattered amongst the greenery I see buildings.
And in those buildings I see people.
And amongst those people I see women. Grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins and aunts.
I see faces of every race, of every culture and of every age.
I see a swollen lip, puffy eye, and a bruised upper arm. I see the burn mark, the choke mark and the horrific bite mark.
I see the slap, the punch and the kick. I see the shove into the mirror, the push against the wall and the throw to the floor.
I see bruises, cuts and blood. I see fractured, I see broken and I see dead.
I see the heartache, the pain and the suffering.
I see the guilt, the shame and the blame.
I see fear.
Turn to anger. To outrage. To protest.
On the horizon from where I sit, I see a sea of blue sky and soft marshmallow clouds. I see birds and I see sun
And I see change.
I see her power, her body and her country
Re-claimed.
On the horizon from where I sit, I see her. Un-shamed. Un-blamed. Un-tamed.
I see her.
Rise.
I see her Rise!
I see her Rise!

If the statistic is true that a woman is raped every 4 minutes in South Africa, then in the time it has taken me to write this post, 60 woman have been raped. Are we angry yet?