Change, Embark & Embrace #Week4

What a busy week this has been.

Valentines Day, Guptas and No 1, in a very clever move, decided to resign.

On Tuesday night we were surprised and blessed with downpours of rain and even hail in some places. In turn, networks and social media became flooded with images and videos of people dancing in the rain, washing their cars, some even taking the opportunity to wash their hair.

A man travelling on the N1 in bumper to bumper traffic pulled onto the side of the road, got out of his car, reached his arms up and started to pray, giving thanks for this much needed rain. These images taken by another motorist, went viral.

As always children, school and homework again took centre stage in my life this week. One particular assignment had all my attention. The school is soon hosting a Debate competition – taken back to High School toastmasters (how I looooooved giving a speech) I became as focussed as a hunter on its prey and driven by passion and OCD (a force to be reckoned with my family members will tell you) I ended up chasing my blue-eyed boy from the room with a determined “You know what, I will just write the speech for you, and then you can practice it later.” I promise you, he was happier about the prospect of not having to do it himself than the man praying on the bridge in peak hour traffic. Of course, I wasn’t too unhappy myself – I got to do what I love. The theme for this speech was “Teken”.

I decided to touch on the drought and mention the statements made by Angus Buchan in the press recently regarding the sins of the Western Cape – this is what I wrote:

“Ons gaan die gruwels van die Kaap vasvat” Met hierdie uitspraak in Die Burger van 7 Februarie wil Angus Buchan die skuld vir die ergste droogte in die laaste 100jaar toeskryf aan die sondes van die Wes Kaap.

Ek verskil graag van Mnr Buchan. Kyk ons rondom ons na die toestand van die samelewing en natuur regoor die hele wêreld is dit duidelik dat die Wes Kaap en sy mense nie te swaar moet dra aan die las wat Angus so gerieflik op ons laai.

Gaan kyk ons na die wereld oor is dit eerder duidelik dat die droogte ‘n teken is van die mens se selfsug en nalatigheid. Ek lees in die Huisgenoot van 8 Februarie dat daar jaarliks tot 13 Miljoen ton plasiek in die see beland. 1 Miljoen plastiek bottels word per minuut wereldwyd verkoop. Ten spyte hiervan versuim verbruikers daagliks om te herwin.

Ons renoster spesie is besig om baie vining uitgeroei te word. Volgens die nuutste statistieke is 1028 renosters in 2017 afgemaai vir hul horings. In 2008 was die getal 83. Ten spyte van al die bewusmakings veldtogte neem die getal steeds toe.

Perlemoen – koningskos vanuit ons eie waters was eers in oorvloed in die Weskus se see. Sedert 2001 is 75 Miljoen perlemoen gestroop van ons land se kus. Dit is 10 keer meer as die toegelate kwota.

Vra my weer waarom ek van Angus Buchan verskil. Die droogte is veel meer as ‘n saak van sonde in die Wes Kaap. Dit is die natuur wat besig is om ons mensdom uit ‘n diep selfsug wakker te maak en te dwing om uiteindelik met resprek na moeder natuur en sy hulpbronne om te sien. Die droogte is eerder ‘n teken dat as ons dit nie doen nie – dit dalk binnkort te laat sal wees. Mnr Buchan – hou gerus aan bid – maar bid vir die Wêreld – die Wes Kaap se ellende is net ‘n drupel in die emmer.

Reading this afterwards I thought that some parts are probably too difficult for a Gr6 so I told him to change it and simplify it – if you have children and have never done a school assignment for your child, I suspect that you are not normal but are welcome to judge me. Anyway, long story short, they didn’t have to say the speech – they just had to hand it in – the written speech... this he tells me AFTER he handed in the TYPED speech I wrote and printed for him. He is either going to get a big fat 0 OR I’m going to be very busy writing speeches in the near future.

Having looked at some of the statistics while researching this topic I was horrified. Not only are we caught in this drought but what are we doing to nature – suddenly we are all buying bottled water – more plastic! 1 Million Plastic bottles per minute being sold worldwide! WHOA. Think about that for a minute.

On Tuesday afternoon, taking the dogs for their daily swim, we found an injured baby seagull on the beach. Of course we picked him up and brought him home. After a phone call or two I found a place further up the West Coast that will take him – we just had to drop him off at the vet in Vredenburg - they have an arrangement as pick-up point for injured birds.

On the drive there he was terrified – I kept stroking his head with my thumb, telling him that it will be ok. As I handed him over the lady at the counter greeted me with: “Oh, thanks, he will be put down anyway because of the bird flu.” I protested, explaining that it is not bird flu, his wing is injured, all they need to do is fix that. “Sorry, that’s the rules.” I hate rules. I climbed back into the car and stared into the hopeful face of my youngest daughter: “Will they make him better now mommy?” I don’t know if they will make it better but I hope that he will be better. I said nothing.

Many years ago I was driving with my grandmother one day when we stopped at a robot and she emptied her wallet to give to the man begging on the side of the road. I protested that he will just go to the nearest bottle store. My gran answered: “It doesn’t matter what he does with the money, what matters is that we gave.”

Maybe one day I will explain that to my daughter. For now, not another word about the injured bird.

On Tuesday, as I put down the phone, trying to find a vet to take the bird to, I turned around to find my rock, my heart, my amazing husband already waiting, ready to go –shoes, wallet & car keys: “Come, lets’ go – where do we need to take him to?” How blessed am I.

This is the week of love. My valentine, my Number 1 - forever.

I hope my gran was right. Even if you can’t control what happens afterwards, it’s about the fact that you gave.

Change, Embark & Embrace #Week3

Change, Embark & Embrace #Week3

Late last week my youngest daughter came home from school with a small project. They had to take a shoebox and fill it with special things…and then tell the class about it. She spent the afternoon scratching around and planning her box. Later that evening I asked her if she managed to find what she needed for the box. From the box she produced a thick book filled with fairy tales… “Mom, I think I’m going to take this book because I really like it. Would it be ok if I tell a little lie and say that you used to read me bedtime stories from it?” 

I stare at her, mouth hanging open like a fly-catcher, I’m not sure if I’m more concerned about the “little lie” or the fact that she has to LIE about me reading bedtime stories to her. Ok – like my friend Margie always says – honesty is the best policy – I’m horrified – that I didn’t read to her enough and that I cannot turn back the clock. I know – this raises serious questions regarding my parenting style – but for now I’m going to let her have that little lie – to make her life easier and to save myself from the trenches of bad motherhood once again. The struggle is real. On Friday, my son only realized that he was supposed to be wearing sports clothes when they arrived at the school – worried that he would get into trouble and still being new at the school there were lots of tears, my husband took this opportunity to use his own “little lie” and tried to save the situation with: “It’s ok, tell the teacher I forgot that it was sports today and put your clothes in the wash.” O my. In my head I jumped on my personal stage and started a well worded lecture about parenting and a lost opportunity to teach ones children about taking responsibility etc...I remembered my bedtime story situation…decided to shut up and tick the box next to creative problem solving. Maybe you would do the same, maybe you would do it differently – for now, that’s what I did – honesty is the best policy.

You might wonder why I’m starting with such a revelation of honesty – there is more to come – thanks Margie for the inspiration – I didn’t make it to yoga class this week. I know I said that I would attend another class but circumstances just didn’t allow for it – and as much as we plan our lives – we are not in control.

I’ve also had very little time for exercise this week so this morning, feeling inspired by an exceptionally beautiful morning, I decided to go for a LONG walk. As I turned the first corner I was thinking to myself - this have got to be the most perfect day in a long time - out of nowhere the mist started rolling in. I’m not talking about a little bit of fog – thick mist. Can’t see the ocean mist. One step at a time mist. As the blanket of fog spread itself over Jacobsbaai the noise of the ocean became stronger and louder. I wonder what it sounded like when the farmers in the Overberg area started to release 10 million cubic meters of water (roughly that translates to 10 billion liters) to help relieve the drought in the Western Cape. May they be blessed with the same kindness and generosity.

While walking – I became more and more aware of the sounds of nature. Hundreds of birds & seagulls going about their daily business. Even the smell of the ocean is stronger than before. I feel the crunch of the gravel beneath the soles of my shoes. I feel the light cold drizzle of the fog on my skin. When I bend down to fasten a shoelace I even unexpectedly feel the heat from the sun coming through the fog, warming my back. All this vivid aliveness around me. I even feel more alive – life pulsing through my veins. 

I think about the past week and how some of my friends’ lives have unexpectedly been turned upside down. Normal everyday lives interrupted by the storms of life – a thick fog that rolled in from nowhere bringing change, sending them down an unknown path – no choice but to trust and place one foot in front of the other, not knowing what lies ahead. Having to trust in the journey without knowing the destination.

I remember 3 years ago, on the morning of my fathers’ funeral my mom had a fever blister underneath her nose. I remember telling her that she should be grateful that it’s not on the tip of her nose… her reply: “You are definitely your fathers’ child, he always managed to find the positive side of things.” 

Why I remember this so clearly I’m not sure – maybe it was the closeness I felt with my father by her saying that or maybe it was the absurdity of having a conversation about a fever blister while getting ready for my dads’ funeral. 

What I do know is that while the storm was raging I survived somehow. Maybe by focusing on the small things, the next breath, the next step, allowing the storm to rage – exactly the way nature was amplified when the thick mist rolled in on my morning walk – instead of looking far ahead across the ocean I got to enjoy what was right in front, around and next to me.

A friend reminded me earlier this week to tell our loved ones how much we love them. I didn’t show up at yoga this week but I did get to practice yoga with my two beautiful daughters - sharing love, movement and breath – together embracing life. I love them so. 

Before I’m off to Cape Town for a fix of art, brilliance, inspiration, beauty (yes, I have a huge crush on the most talented, beautiful man alive - Nataniël - I’m even borrowing an umbrella for this open-air concert in case the much needed rains decide to come – I’m not letting anything come between us) I leave you with a quote from Haruki Murakami, may it give you strength to brace the storms ahead and fill you with hope and courage until you make it through.

“And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.” ― Haruki Murakami.


Change, Embark & Embrace #Week2


Change, Embark & Embrace #Week2­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

I have seriously contemplated not writing a blog this week and while typing this, I’m still not sure that I will post this blog – my OCD combined with a deep sense of guilt if I set goals and not stick to them has got me to this point where I’ve decided to just type and let it be.

I firmly believe that nature and the elements directly influence my state of mind, emotions and general sense of wellbeing. For instance when it rains I usually feel like I’m bursting with energy (not a good thing with the severe drought we are experiencing in the Western Cape) and when it is a full moon – I’m generally just not 100% myself. I can’t really explain exactly what I feel like I can just say that the age old saying: “He is bothered by the moon” makes way too much sense to me.

Last night, 31 Jan 2018, was apparently the first Super Blue Blood Moon in 150 years. Don’t take my word for it - someone notified me on Whatsapp… I did google it, you also can’t believe everything you read…I didn’t know this until last night BUT my general sense of unease and restlessness the last couple of days did make me wonder once or twice what the moon was up to this week.

I did see the moon last night and it was big, bright, powerful and gloriously beautiful.

Nothing extraordinary happened this week except for one broken window after the longboard unexplainably wheeled itself straight into it. Everyone got to school on time, no one forgot anything important at home, no missed appointments, no flat tyres – everyone seems to be finding their new rhythm and we are starting to settle into our new routines. I’ve forgotten my camera / phone on most of my runs & walks this week – and secretly hoped that I wouldn’t see anything out of the ordinary worth “stopping” for. I just wanted to get all the boxes ticked.

On Monday night my son, my middle child, and I’m not trying to label him I’m just saying that- being one myself- I’ve always been aware of the dynamic, broke down in tears. Typical middle child this is the one that just gets on with it. The easy one. My laid back, always calm, always happy, content child. The one that I never have to worry about. The one that is always ok.

“I miss my friends, I don’t want to stay here, I don’t understand why we moved here, I just want to go home to my friends. Nothing is ok, it is too quiet here, I want my old friends back, I just want everything to go back to the way it were.” WOW.

Holding my beautiful blue-eyed son through his sobs my heart is broken and I’m dumbstruck. How did I miss this?  I’m the one that has to make sure that everyone is ok. Just this morning I thought to myself that everyone IS ok – I can relax. Oh boy, did I get this wrong.

I’m a terrible mother. I’m too self-absorbed. My child needed me and I wasn’t paying enough attention… the list goes on. If you’re a mom, I’m sure you’ve been down this road of guilt ridden “I’m a horrible mother” self-pity. Being a mother you also know that no one else pities you so you might as well crawl out of the ditch and get over yourself – as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, there will be more mistakes but luckily because of a wonderful thing called GRACE – hopefully everyone will turn out ok. ­­­­

Sitting on the bed with my son in my arms, I don’t have any answers so I cry with him.  Tears of change.

I’ve been meaning to join a new yoga class - I know I’ve been deliberately putting it off – instead practicing on my own after my morning runs. I don’t want to join a different class. I want to go to my old class. I want my old teacher back. Just like the way it was before. Like mother like son…

I’ve become so comfortable in my comfort zone I think I’ve turned it into a new art form.

With that in mind I forced myself to attend a new yoga class this morning – it wasn’t the same but I showed up, rolled out my mat and stood in warrior pose like a true warrior – of acceptance, change and strength.

My husband and children will maybe tell you that for the last couple of days I’m grumpy, miserable and short tempered. I even sat myself down and dared to make a list of just 5 things to look forward to or be grateful for – one and a half A4 pages later I could possibly carry on. It’s clear I’m blessed out of my socks – still this strange mood. This week, for the first time in 150 years I get to blame the Super Blue Blood Moon – it’s seriously out of my control!

I look at my son and I wonder how hard it must have been to keep these feelings bottled up all this time. I wonder how often I accept that which is on the surface as a true reflection of what is underneath. I wonder how many people, friends and family I cross paths with daily without seeing below the surface.

For now, I’m going to look a little deeper, pay more attention and listen carefully.

If the Super Blue Blood Moon can shine with this much grace, beauty, power and strength after 150 years – so can we.

I will go to yoga class again next week – because I promised to invite change, embark and embrace.

Roll out your mat, show up like a warrior - shine bright and beautiful on the surface and below – on days that you don’t – I dare you to write a list of blessings, big & small – if you still struggle to find the silver lining – join me and blame it on the moon.


Change, Embark & Embrace



“Staying here is the best thing in the world. The good Lord himself will have to pick me up from here one day and take me away.”

I didn’t know then that this one statement, made by a local doctor, would drastically­­­­ change the course of life as I knew it.

In February 2015 we moved into our dream house in the heart of Durbanville. September of that same year we started to renovate and in January 2016 we moved out for a few months to create our dream home. By May we moved back into our newly renovated home. In June – while staying in our holiday home one of our three children developed a fever and sore throat – and this is how I ended up in the doctors’ rooms having a conversation about living, permanently, in Jacobsbaai.

Such a simple thought - almost alien to us, born and bred in the city, having spent the last 40 years living in the same area in the Northern Suburbs, getting married, having children, acquiring things (that you of course need and is a prerequisite to a happy life) traffic, rushing around making a living, fitting in the occasional braai with friends – time permitting, because, you know, we are busy.

Our lives are full – full of things to do, things to have and places to be.

Imagining a life lived in a small West Coast town, away from all of this is strange and unimaginable, to some maybe even boring.

That night, after the doctors’ visit, around the table in our small West Coast kitchen with a big fire in the heart of the Western Cape winter we realise that the first seed has been planted – the air around the table is thick with a big “what if?” What if we moved our lives here?

Is it even possible?

The list of worries and thoughts are endless, take a moment to think about your own situation and how your life will change.

The list is longer than I can tell you – what I know now is that you cannot imagine all the things that will change and the things that you will imagine will seem much worse that the reality.

For the next day or two or twenty, we as a family spend many hours contemplating this life changing decision – could we make this work.

I started making phone calls. First priority was to find a good school. I started phoning strangers who have done the same – abandoning city life for a different life in the West Coast. Over and over I was told the same thing – “You cry twice in the West Coast - when you arrive and when you leave.”

Days started going by in a blur as the pace toward the end of the year picked up – and as the pressure of this decision hung over our heads.

As soon as we started mentioning our plans to friends and family it was evident that not everyone felt as enthusiastic as we did. Our decision was in some cases met by excitement, awe and admiration – mostly we found that people could not understand it. Why rock the boat?

Of course, being confronted with questions and statements like “are you mad, you are going to be bored out of your minds, living in a place is completely different to being there on holiday, how can you leave behind your dream home, what about your business, what about your families” and “you won’t last longer than 6 months!” made it a tough decision to stick to. At times, I myself started wondering if the “world” seemed to think this is such a bad idea, why are we doing this?

The honest, straightforward answer to that other than “because we have the option” is – “I don’t know.”

Now you might also think that we are crazy – I understand that. Take a moment to think about it. If you had the option to move to your holiday house, that you love, leave the city behind, put your children in a MUCH smaller school and live by the beach in a small town and go running without traffic, write, paint, kayak, kids can cycle, longboard, play outside, go fishing etc. – why would you not scream a big fat “YES!” to that.

As our city days became less and the West Coast started to become clearer on the horizon the list of why nots’ suddenly grew longer than our newly acquired SUP board ( to save the kids from a life of doom and gloom in the boring world of the West Coast.)

Suddenly I’m overwhelmed. Cold fear gripping my heart, chest and throat constantly. I cry, a lot. I weep. I find myself identifying with Heidi – longing for home – only the other way around. While Heidi was homesick for the open spaces of the mountains I long to be going home, back to the rush, the rituals, the craziness.

As the first day of school comes closer I secretly plan and calculate how easy it will be to make this all go away, pack our bags, get the kids back into their old schools and return to our old life as if none of this craziness ever happened.

I start to convince myself that I’m trapped in a nightmare that will soon be over and I can change this at any moment and go back. All I want to do is go back to my old life. I want to crawl into bed, hide under the covers and when I wake up – EVEYTHING is exactly as before. I’m grieving. I’m paralysed by fear. Everything I’ve known for the last 40 years is changing. None of this came up on the pros and cons lists we endlessly wrote to assist our decision.

I didn’t realise how unsettled I’d feel after living in the same area for the last 40 years, shopping in the same shops, my children even went to the same school I went to as a child, some of my teachers ended up teaching my own kids. Comfortable don’t you think. Safe. Maybe even a bit boring.

One of my biggest obsessions seem to become – “If I’m now living in my Happy Place, where will I go when I need a weekend away, a break from it all.” The guilt is overwhelming - how dare I think that it is ok to have your Happy Place all the time…my mind does not stop, not even for a second – I’m punishing myself, almost convinced that I’m not allowed to embrace this change.

With this last thought I’m sure I’m not the only one noticing some disturbing signs – finally I have gone mad.

When the school bell at last rings on the first day of school I gradually start to feel better. As the first week of school draws to an end I can see that all three our children are happy and settling in, they’ve made new friends. I’m starting to find a new rhythm. I’ve gone on a few runs, did some writing, had my very first book review broadcasted on radio, managed to get an article published in a local newspaper and even had a lunch date with two lovely new friends. One thing I can tell you is, no matter how small the town, school is school and with three kids, afternoons are busy.

In between I’ve managed to lock myself out of the house – keys, phone everything inside. I’ve forgotten to switch of the lights of my car and ended up having to ask for help getting the kids to school and the battery sorted as my husband was away on business and this morning I had a flat tyre. In the process I’ve met kind people.

I have not been bored yet.

Overall, I’m feeling better that a week ago and I can see small changes adding to the quality of our lives here. Will there still be tears and sadness? I’m sure there will - that’s life. Do I still want to run back to Cape Town – not today.  For now I’m happy to experience new things and remind myself to find joy where I am, not where I think joy is waiting.

I’m going to embrace this opportunity and make the most of it. A wise friend reminded me recently “nothing is set in stone.”

 Welcome to my journey of change, embark & embrace.

The lake is still beautiful.

After hearing that an old friends’ dad suddenly passed away a few months ago I find myself tossing and turning that night – the same tossing I became so used to after my own dad died.

When my friend shared with me the events of the day that would turn out to be her dads’ last few hours I couldn’t help reliving the shock and terror she must have felt that day when all of their lives changed forever.

I’m lying in my bed contemplating a force much bigger than anything we know in this realm – a force with the power to change the direction of our lives in an instant, in a last thumbs-up, in the drawing of a last breath.

I think about the way we are able to adapt within the midst of the unthinkable happening – about our ability as humans to move forward despite the shock, fear, unknown – unable to go back, our only choice to move forward.

As I listened to my friend talk about her sadness and loss I understood that this loss was far greater than our minds can perceive whilst in the midst of the chaos and feeling of unsettledness that usually follows after such a sudden change in ones’ life plan.

As I lay in my bed that night sorting through all these thoughts in my mind – trying to still make sense of my own fathers’ death after almost three years I suddenly felt like I’m looking at loss from above.

I’m looking at a beautiful lake on a rare sunshine day in the middle of winter. Although it is cold and the middle of winter the sun is warming my body all over. The lake is completely flat like a mirror - perfect. A little ripple starts from the center of the lake, it grows and grows and grows. The circles grow wider and wider until the entire lake is alive with the energy coming from one center point.

The lake is still beautiful.

When someone close to us die the impact of the loss goes so much deeper and wider than what we can think in that instance. Like water, in time the loss will flow into all the little nooks and crannies of our lives touching every part of our being and changing the way we were before.

Sometimes the ripples turn into waves crashing into each other one after the other – enough to drown you.  That is ok.

When you are ready you will come back up and start swimming again. You will make new ripples – mixed with the ripples from before they will dance around the lake, catch the sunlight and be filled with beautiful memories from the past, glistening brightly with hope and courage for the future.

The lake will be different but still beautiful.