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!

It’s My Party

And I’ll cry if I want to. That’s how I feel about every birthday. It’s your day, your date, your cake, your chosen arrival into this world, your celebration, yours, yours, yours…. and it’s your time to own it.

For me it’s the best time to reflect. To look back on a year that’s past and take into account everything that’s happened: the beautiful, the average and the ugly.

More often than not, when you do this, you marvel at everything you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come (even in the failures) and it gives you that extra oomph to tackle the next year.

This morning while drinking my tea in bed I took some time to think about the last year and I reflected, I remembered and I let go.

In a year I’ve:

  • Lost some friends and made some new ones
  • Holidayed in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Beijing and New York
  • Knocked off an item on a childhood bucket list (the Great Wall)
  •  Re-discovered my passion for writing
  • Lived, a life of charm
  • Cried in buckets, laughed in buckets and puked in buckets (too many Long Island Ice Teas, it happens)
  • Evolved emotionally and spiritually through some heartache and heartbreak
  • Stayed the course on steering and manifesting a life of my choice, my liking and my responsibility

It’s easy to dwell on these things, to gloat in a sea of achievement and get stuck in an illusion of glory. But it’s also dangerous.

I’m proud of myself for the journey I’ve travelled thus far but I also realise that this list does not by any means reflect my biggest blessings for the year.

While I would say that receiving my father’s birthday gift in the post after 36 years of waiting, is right at the top of the list, it doesn’t quite top the list. Sorry Dad.

My biggest blessings this year are that I get to spend Christmas and New Year in my own country, that I get to celebrate it with my family, and that I get to do all this in summer.

In being away from home, I realised that we can climb the highest mountain, make the most money, drive the fanciest car, live in the biggest mansion and travel to the most exotic places but it all means nothing at the end of the year, at the end of your life and at the end of time.

The only things that really matter are those you love. And it was at this time of year, my birthday and Christmas that I really missed my family and friends. You know, the ones who put up with your bullshit and still offer a shoulder to cry on, the ones who give you everything when they have nothing and the ones who love you no matter what.

So after spending 2 summer’s away from home, from family, and from friends, I treasure all the calls and the messages I received today, I treasure the laughter and tears I’ve shared with all of you, I treasure the support but most importantly I treasure the love.

I hope that when you get to celebrate another year of your life, you reflect back on your list, give yourself a pat on the back and move on with a tidal wave of love and gratitude for the ones you love and who love you back.

Be blessed. Be thankful. Be love.

 

 

Dumped In Darkness

Downtown New York

Downtown New York (Photo credit: sreevishnu)

I was dumped. I was sad. I wallowed. I ate. I felt the disappointment.

I got up. I ate. I drank lots of coffee. I got dressed. I kept moving.

And I kept moving not because I’m some sort of saint-in-life, but because my survival depended on it.

The last I “spoke” to you I was falling in love with New York. I had questions about whether I could be vulnerable and questions about how far and how deep it could go. I was hopeful, I was glowing and I was very excited.

After a few weeks of that tingling feeling of living the New York life, almost overnight some bitch stormed in and whipped up her accomplices in a frenzy of jealous rage as if to say, “if I can’t have him no-one will”.

And that, as they say was that.

Pure darkness followed. Cut-off and cut-out, with no explanations.

All I can say is that these things happen in relationships and happen in life. Sometimes things fail, sometimes we fail and sometimes we don’t know why.

Storms come and they go. Sometimes big, sometimes small.

Storm Approaching Paradise - Coral Island, Phu...

Storm Approaching Paradise – Coral Island, Phuket, Thailand (Photo credit: Captain Kimo)

I wish I could assure you that by living a certain way or in a certain place would guarantee a life free of struggles and free of storms. I wish I could assure you that these storms would pass you by unscathed and untouched by heartbreak and destruction. And I wish I could assure you that when you do get knocked down it’s easy to get straight back up.

All I can assure you of is that life is all about getting back up. It doesn’t really matter how or when, but it does matter that you do.

When I woke up every morning ready to complain about the electricity or the bucket bath I remembered that there are those who go everyday without this ‘luxury’. I remembered that there were those who lost their lives, lost their home and lost their dreams in this storm.

New York also reminded me that with the loss or frustration or heartbreak that these storms bring, they also bring hope. The spirit of people, of communities, and of those who choose a profession that puts them in the front line of danger in order to protect and serve, restores faith.

And it was those people who choose everyday to protect and serve that got straight back up. And on the weight of their backs we all got back up.

It’s in these storms of life that we realise that as fragile as we are as humans, we are also resilient. And in being resilient we realise the depth of our inner strength. And in realising the depth of our inner strength we realise our capacity to love.

And it is in realising my capacity to love that I have come full circle. I got dumped, I felt the full gambit of emotions but I came back to a place of love. New York remains in my heart.

It’s given me a new sense of freedom, a new sense of hope and a new sense of attitude.

With these feelings I’ve come back home to South Africa to celebrate another year of my life, to embrace the love of my family over Christmas, to usher in a new year and move on.

I’m still groping in the dark with regards to my future, something a lot of people don’t understand, but that’s ok, because I know, whatever may come, I’ll always get straight back up. And I know you will too.

#L&Ltake NYC: The Truth

“Here’s the truth”. I’ve been saying that a lot lately. And usually it’s been followed by fall on the floor laughter. Mostly because I’ve just reached a point in my life where there’s no keeping it in. Not for shocked looks, nasty whispers or unwanted judgements.

So here it is. I’ve been dating and making out all over the show. That’s right. From park benches and cosy restaurants to arty theatres and long piers. From Belgian, American and French to Mexican, Japanese and Italian.

And I see you giving me the side-eye now. Yes you.

Don’t pull out the good book yet, I haven’t dropped my panties but I’m not holding back either.

Simply because there’s no reason to.

I’m love-struck. Love-struck over the freedom I feel in the arms of my future potential lover. Let’s be clear, they’re not safe or warm or cuddly, but they are completely uninhibited. They feel like they’re saying, “God bless you girl, you do you, any way, any how, any want.”

Be expressive. Be unique. Be purple in the face of green.

And you see this in the ancient fossil wearing her black leathers or the peacock prancing in his platform heels or even the ‘girl-next-door’ with her bright orange hair.

And you hear this in the boom box conversation on the bus or in the New Yorker stories from the neighbour or in the cussing of the pissed off cyclist.

And you smell it in the aroma of old dog’s pee on the streets.

For this is not a traditional love story. This is a Gotham city kinda love story.

And at the heart of this story is freedom… this is ‘New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of and where there’s nothing you can’t do’.

But like any great love it can suck you in, get you naked, love you up and spit you out.

This is for the brave, the crazy and the resilient.

This is for the ‘all in’ otherwise you’ll find yourself ‘all out’. This is for those who want to take a gulp out of a life and not a sip.

This is for those who know when to put on the blinkers, the ear phones and the protection and when to be like Eve.

Because when you fall prey to the seduction: the bright lights, flashy bulbs and limelight; the flattery and the false promises; the casual rather than the committed, the fall is long, hollow and hard.

It’ll leave you broke and broken.

This is the hard-knock kind of love. The kind that takes most of your time and energy and requires intense work.

It’s also the kind that needs you to dig deeper for the softer parts. For the downtime and for the quiet.

Whether it’s a walk on the Highline, kayaking on the Hudson, a nap in Prospect Park or a visit to the Met, there’s another side to be found and experienced, just like all great lovers.

And don’t we all want to say that we’ve had at least one great lover in our lives?

I’m 35, never been married and have no kids. I’m single and no, not desperate. I’m at a point in my life where most people are wondering when I’m gonna settle down. They don’t even have to say it, I can sense it.

But I don’t want to settle.

I want to be purple in the face of green.

I want to rock my black leathers and red lipstick. I want to prance in my platforms and I want bright orange hair.

Heck, I want to rip all my clothes off and skinny dip under the moonlight. I want to have mad, passionate sex. And, if we gonna be honest I want to have an orgasm too.

I want to fall madly in love.

Madly. In. Love

The only way to do that is to take a risk and allow myself to be vulnerable.

Maybe I’ve been infected by the madness of this city already. But who cares? I’m love struck. I’m talking crazy and I love it.

I’ve already proven in my choices that I’m not afraid to take risks. Can I be vulnerable though?

One thing’s for sure, I’ve been sucked in.

How far or for how long? Mmm, only time will tell.

P.S For more on #L&LtakeNYC visit LeanneTee

L&LtakeNYC: the Beginning

I suppose it’s not a good idea to feel almost suicidal when you’re standing in a queue at US immigration. But after crossing 3 time zones spanning 24 hours of travel, a 2 hour wait at US immigration had me teetering over the edge.

I wanted to have a big fat bitch fit, but I couldn’t. Because in order to get that last stamp of approval to enter the ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ you have to be appear to be on ‘happy pills’. You know, calm and relaxed and s t a b l e.

Clearly I showed great restraint because after a question or two, I was in.

In a taxi, in a different mindset and heading into the clutches of an old flame.

As the taxi passed the toll gate and the night lights of Manhattan flickered into view, my pulse skipped and my heart beat.

New York New York, ‘where the streets make you feel brand new and the lights inspire you’.

Our first meeting was in 2000. I was young, hesitant and inexperienced. The city was so daunting back then. The lights so bright. Too bright for a scared girl like me.

We took a while to connect and our love affair was slow to start. But start it did.

From Central Park to 5th Ave and onto Downtown. From Brooklyn to Harlem to Queens and onto the Bronx. I was enchanted. Intrigued. And infatuated.

I always felt like there wasn’t enough time to fully explore the possibilities of a relationship. Like we had unfinished business.

In 2006 I was lured back. This time for a friend’s wedding.

But the season had changed. I had changed.

The winds were icy and so was I.

Not exactly ideal conditions for rekindling a romance. Still, we made it work as best we could. Stolen moments for Macy’s, walking over Brooklyn Bridge and eating Mexican.

I left with mixed feelings. Was this love or not?

Well, in 2012, I find myself back. Back in the arms of my old flame. And boy does It. Feel. Good.

I’m older, surer, and more experienced. I’m fully ready to commit, to explore and to conquer.

I’ve gone bike riding in Central Park, had a taste of Shake Shack, taken a browse through Eataly, bought fruit from Union Square Farmer’s market, munched on cup cakes from Baked by Mellisa, caught a glimpse of Bergdorf’s, found a Starbucks hangout, a place to run on the East river, eyed out a Waffles & Dinges and made a long list of places to eat, things to do and people to see.

I already know that I’m in love. It’s time to find out just how much. Over the next few weeks this blog will cover my love affair with this City.

And the best part is that I get to do it with my best friend and sister, Leanne Tee. Our blog series, as you may have figured out by now, is called, L&LtakeNYC.

I hope you have your popcorn ready.

Will it end in hot sex or a hot mess?