Saturday, December 31, 2011

I am better at Hello's than Goodbyes!

Whilst most people get into party mode on this date, I am the opposite and have coax myself into celebratory status. I said goodbye to my dad on this day 29 years ago and  I feel like I am saying goodbye to another year of my life. I am better at hellos than goodbyes -  I enjoy beginnings more than endings! So to prevent becoming introspective and melancholy this year and to cheer myself up, this year I am going to think of the highlights of 2011.

My birthday in January celebrated with special friends at Shamwari Townhouse was a lovely day to remember. Being spoiled in such elegant surroundings was divine!
In March I crossed another item from my bucket list by enjoying Cirque du Soleil in Cape Town - I have admired this art form since I fist saw it over a decade ago on the Royal Variety Show.

More special because we we went with Sean and Nadine and also enjoyed some family time exploring  wines farms in the Robertson district.
April was a double celebration and we proudly attended Sean's MBA graduation and two days later I flew to the UK to see family and to enjoy a very special wedding!

May brought adventure and the opportunity to cross off another 'must' as we floated above the Karoo in a hot air balloon to celebrate the special birthday of an old friend. It was very peaceful up there and the experience was followed by a weekend of fun with friends.
June brought another flight - this time to visit the family in Pretoria and to sped precious time with our Grandies - who are now back in PE - YAY! another reason to celebrate!
Sean and Nadine set off for Melbourne in July for a year - which is flying by - and then in September, Paul and Shelley relocated back to PE as if the universe knew that we needed family close by as Tony celebrated his 60th in Hugh Heffner fashion with his bunny girls!

It seems that all I did in July, August and September was work. I embarked on a programme to be trained as a Business coach - a lot of hard work and tricky time management but I was VERY proud to find out that my POE was accepted and I was declare competent first time! Quite a rare achievement.

A visit to Shamwari with Jessica was a trip to remember - I was lucky enough to be a winner on Algoa FM and this was a prize to treasure.

October brought more YAYA fun with the Greek Christmas Tea and an opportunity to get close to local celebrity Fab Gino Fabbri!
November brings about a flurry of activity as we run out of time and the year rushes to an end! This year was no exception. In the midst of all this I was putting together a photobook of family pictures and the time spent scanning in memories was a welcome breather from the race against time. We also celebrated a successful year at the embroidery guild, bookclub, work functions and BWA.
So in retrospect its been a busy but successful year - Two radio interviews, three magazine articles and several letters published, 51 blog entires this year and my blog is getting more attention, lots of my photographs in the media and I have managed to get another qualification ......and through it all I have spent precious time with friends and family. Lots to celebrate, be thankful for and feel good about.
Some goodbyes are bittersweet but you have to let go to make room for the new and next year's experiences await with more memories in the making!   Goodbye 2011.

 Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Adventures

Cant believe its 3 weeks since my last post - that's quite a scary fact as it seems like last week! However it is the silly season and I have been away for a few days ....not far away and not for long...but enough to catch my breath and spend some 'together' time with my beloved!

We arrived in JBay on Sunday afternoon and headed straight for the beach to clear our lungs of city air and explore. We paddled along the waters edge stopping to admire the treasures that the sea threw at our feet - JBay is famous for surfing and shells. The latter are a wonderful distraction and I lagged behind photographing some of the most beautiful ones. When I raised my eyes to the horizon my dearest was sat on a rock waving - I raised my camera to capture the moment and watched as his smile turned to surprise and then a grimace. Remember the poem by Steve Smith - Not Waving but Drowning -  well he was not waving but he had an octopus attached to his leg! Yes - of all the fish in the sea - my unique 'usband had to catch an octopus! There it sits smiling under the rock chewing a small spec of Tony's ankle!

Later we dined at the Kitchen Window, we were rewarded by a beautiful rainbow and were tempted to order octopus but decided to forgive and forget.....Perhaps not the waitress though as she was treated to a viewing of my unique one's foot in an effort to get some sympathy from a pretty girl!

Day 2.....and after a delicious breakfast and an hour on the beach - - well away from octopus rock! We picked up freshly caught calamari and headed for the estuary at Kabeljous - my favourite part of JBay as its so unspoilt and windswept. Hearing that there had been sharks spotted earlier in the week - I locked Tony in the car with the paper and headed off for an hour with my camera. The waters here are crystal clear and sandpipers love to sit on the sand banks. I chatted to a young father who was teaching his girls to cast off - times have changed - these were girls learning to fish - not knit! The beach was deserted otherwise and I had the horizon to myself - Bliss!

Day 3.... I was on the beach in my nightie at dawn to capture the sunrise and was not disappointed.

Breakfast with roses - not those farmed and unscented horrors but REAL garden roses - all round and open and dripping with fragrance (the B&B owner brings them from her farm garden)
Another hour on the beach and then a trip to the mall - at the suggestion of my 'allergic to shopping' 'usband - this was an opportunity not to be missed! We scooted off in opposite directions. Me looking for anything to wear that was different and fits me and Him for anything different. He did not disappoint and came back with a Jolly Penguin Paradise and some rather dangerous looking knife tool thingies!

Getting a little bored - my unique one decided to sit in someone else's chair and I would have stopped to take more photos but I just knew the security guard was about to pop out from somewhere and we had a date with Aston Bay and Paradise Beach on the other side of another estuary. We used to take the boys there for day trips and have spent many happy hours barbequing  and fishing in this secluded unspoilt spot. We got lost - No way did this built up township match our memory of this place and we were feeling quite depressed until we turned off the beaten track and found the causeway that took us down memory lane.

On the other side we parked and watched the birds - remembering the picnics, the mud caked feet, the inflated dingy's, the impromptu hand held fishing lines, the sunburnt cheeks, salty kisses, the laughter and yawns coming from the backseat on the way home...and the sandy bath before bedtime - SIGH! We loved those days!
Remebering ours had flown the nest - I captured these birds and enjoyed watching them take off and land as they decided where to spend the night.

We ate prawns with our feet in the sand at Walskipper and then more beachcombing - today's finds included a smiley faced shell and a shell in the shape of an 'S'

And so our too brief holiday ended - Back to PE and trying very hard to keep that holiday feeling!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Life within that Dash....

At this time of year it is my task to listen to the exit presentations of learners who have completed our Management Development Programme - working people who have invested two, sometimes three years of their life in their development. Without exception they experience a great change in their lives during that time and I am happy to say that the biggest part of that change happens within themselves as they emerge as confident, rounded and enlightened professionals. One of them compared their journey to that of a caterpillar being enclosed in a cocoon and emerging as a colourful and beautiful butterfly.
As you can imagine this is immensely satisfying for us who have had he privilege to be involved with this journey. Perhaps what is unknown to others is how much we learn from them! Each one of the twenty four presentations contained some reminder of how tough growth can be, how immense the human capacity for endurance is and how fragile the balance between work and personal life.

I was reminded today about the timeline that represents our life. If you walk around a graveyard you will see the headstones of people with their existence represented by a date - a dash - and a second date. The game of life is short in comparison to the time that stone will identify us and the life contained within that 'dash' remains a mystery to those who come after us unless we make a record of how we spent our time here.  Of course, there are historical and legal documents, but these don't define the person that lived since what is recorded on paper is abut a diluted version of the event it commemorates. Even if we knew the person there are so many things about him or her that we will never know; the feelings of pride, joy or sorrow at each milestone of their life; the dream, goal or wish that was put on hold for more important life events or reasons of survival; and the exciting, embarrassing or trusted secrets that were too personal to ever share. I guess that's why photographs and capturing the moments are so important to me as they provide a visual record of what life is and the essence of that person.
I also reflected on the fact that the word 'dash' is for many of us, what life has become - a dash from one event to the next, from one activity to another, from one day to the next. This was my last day of work for the year and I was reminded not to go dashing anywhere for a while - to enjoy and savour each moment of the festive season and my well earned rest and to resolve to take more care in creating a lasting legacy from my gift of life.

I guess this poem says it all!

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning….. to the end
He noted he first came to her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on this earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own:
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard….
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider whats true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger

And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
And more often wear a smile….
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?