Friday, November 25, 2016

Balls, IT and Heroes!

Its been a while.....I couldn't get to my G Spot! I know it sounds bad and it was - I have had problems with IT. The joys of technology :-( My laptop just died on me and I had to get a new one and just logging into everything was problematic. But here I am so what can I tell you?
Where have I been?
Well, I have been gallivanting again. This time up the Wild Coast which I love and we stayed at Umngazi near Port St Johns and it was great. Its one of those old family resorts where generations of families have holidayed since forever. Children's, children's children are now holidaying there and it is an amazing place to park up, relax and let the kids run wild. Thankfully we went during school terms so there weren't that many (and please friends with children don't be offended - we love kids but appreciate some quiet adult time) and I can image in school holidays that Umngazi is wall to wall or should I say dune to dune - kids! The drive through the old Transkei was as eventful as ever with mad drivers, mad cows, mad goats, and a mad horse that refused to budge from the middle of the N2. But we arrived in one piece and enjoyed a long weekend in addition to the wonderful scenery and watching the comerants fish on the sunset cruise,  the highlight was the seafood buffet on Saturday night followed by the entertainment. One minute we were being served by elegant waitrons and the next they were drumming up a storm and dancing in traditional dress - I have to say they did the latter far more energetically! I did a bit of dancing myself last week too.
Who have I met?
I have met Ryk Neethling the Olympic swimmer at a very la-a-a-rney occasion - the Ighazi Ball - which is THE highlight of PEs social calendar. Jason Kriek showcased his magnificent fashions, Ian Von Memety showcased his amazing talent and all of PEs glitterari were there including our new mayor. We all put on our best frocks, our best faces and our best smiles (I have a niece who calls this grin-fu****g which I think best describes that sort of polite nodding grin we exchange at functions). Everyone looked splendid and I must say PE knows how to put on a party! Ryk was very dashing and patient as every woman in the room wanted a photo with him but I could see his grin was fading towards the end of the evening - he just wasn't smiling with his eyes anymore. To me the real celebrities of the night are the courageous cancer survivors who are living life thanks to the work of the doctors and nurses who care for them in Provincial and St Georges and GVI oncology. Two beautiful women in particular, who went through the same treatment at the same time and are now proud ambassadors of survival.
I have also met the editor of Glamour magazine - Pnina Fenster - again at a breakfast to support cancer patients and she is such a wonderful speaker - I cant remember a thing she said lol - but I remember thinking what a great speaker she is - and what a gorgeous. glamourous lady!  I have also met numerous learners and adults travelling on this life-long journey of learning who never cease to impress me with their enthusiasm to share what they know and what they hope to know. I learn as much from them as they from me and that is why I love my work!
What I have learned?
I have learned that those exotic blooms,  orchids, are cheaper than flowers in the long run. Mine are now flowering for a third time and that R200 splurge has brought 6 months of gorgeous prettiness to my home. I have learned that getting dressed up and going to a ball is worth the effort and the reward is feeling glam and special with or without glass slippers (I opted for comfort). That goes for life too - it's very tempting to come home and loll in front of the TV but it will get you nowhere, so its worth the effort to dress up and show up and so I have been doing that at every opportunity! I have also learned that eating spaghetti bolognaise the day after the ball in your PJs is a very acceptable way to relax and recover.
Finally - BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER DAILY SUSAN :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wild Thing 2



When you put a bunch of strangers together for four days - you never know what the result is going to be and I always applaud myself on my courage to venture off into the unknown as a solo traveller joining a group. Driving to Pumba was no different - I was excited by the prospect of three days of wildlife, nature and photography - my biggest concern were the other animals I may meet - the human ones! Experience and my work has taught me a lot about group dynamics and we were a text book case of Brian Tuckman's four stage theory of group development - Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing!

We all arrived quite promptly on Thursday and sat down to lunch where we ate and engaged in polite small talk with one another - exchanging basic information and sharing travel experiences. We were a group of 6 - five females and one male - plus our ranger/host/photography expert and so the day panned out and more pleasantries were exchanged during the game drive and over dinner that evening. We were all on time the next morning and out again at sun up. We were forming!
There was a little bit of storming the following day as I sensed tension between two of the ladies - nothing major but definitely some eye rolling and a pursing of lips and the odd sigh of irritation. It all started with an empty dish of baby marrows - a large serving spoon - an embarrassing comment and all of a sudden there was an elephant in the room!
By that afternoon, though we were back on track literally -  sharing funny stories, fleecy beanies, alcohol laden coffee and even the odd jelly baby. On that particular drive I disclosed that in all my time in Africa I had never seen a leopard, truly in the wild - the depressed leopard that I once saw in an enclosure at Pumba several years ago didn't count. I then endured several leopard sighting stories and promptly declared that if we spotted a leopard (excuse the pun) then I would arrive for dinner that evening in my leopard print pyjamas. That exciting prospect fuelled by the alcohol laden coffee suddenly set off a flurry of leopard spotting (again sorry). "Oh look there's one by the watering hole with her cubs." "If you look in that tree right over there - there's one - posing in the branches looking straight at us!" The only problem was I couldn't see any of them ........some desperate people will say anything to see me in my pajamas!! I had to add a codicil to my promise that stated that photographic evidence must be supplied. I enjoyed supper in my jersey and jeans. We were norming!
The next morning though I decided that I had been on  my best behaviour long enough and appeared for the morning drive in fleecy leopard jammies to a round of applause and one cat whistle! It was a lovely morning - crisp and clear as the bush calling birds welcomed the day. The horizon was green - fifty shades of green topped with some purple capped hills and all of a sudden in the foreground one bright cerise pink bush! "What is that and how did it get there?" asked Ms Baby Marrow. The ranger pulled over and we all admired this splash of  random pink. "I am not sure." he said. "I know", I heard myself saying as 6 heads turned my way to witness my floral expertise. The ranger looked worried as I started to explain,"As you know, I came here several years ago and if my memory serves me right this is the location we stopped on a game drive back then - I needed the loo and this is the exact spot where I relieved myself," I continued. "Usually an English rose in pink flourishes on the spot when that happens, but the night before I was drinking local wine, so obviously this beautiful pink indigenous bush was the result!" The bush resonated with the sound of humans laughing like hyenas - the ranger shook his head. Even if I say it myself - it was funny!!!! "OK lets get on with our photography," he said. " Last night we did the light metering module - set your camera on IS01600 and point your camera at Sue's bush!" More laughter and several camera clicks in my direction and I had to issue a strict warning that if anyone posted photos of my bush on the Internet then I would sue. More hyena laughing - we were in hysterics - we were performing,
Another day and we would have been a real team but that was our last drive and it was back to the lodge for breakfast and goodbyes. I brought back some wonderful photos of the weekend but just as important for me was the laughter and just recalling these special moments brings a big smile to my face and my heart is laughing like a hyena!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wild Thing!

If I were to list my favourite things the top ten would contain nature, animals sunshine, flowers, birdsong, photography and last weekend I experienced all of this together with good food, good company and good fun.  A while back I saw an advert - I think in the Go magazine - for Pangolin Photographic Tours when I was planning my Chobe trip and I inquired but the dates didn't work for me. However I kept in touch and when I saw that they had a similar trip planned for Pumba, I thought that I just had to go. I thought hard because its not cheap, but I had wanted to go to Namibia this year and Vs illness prevented that so that is how I justified it to myself. So from Thursday to Sunday I was in for a treat!
Pumba is only an hour away and its easy to get there. We were accommodated at Gameston Lodge in the reserve which is very comfortable and perfect for our small group. We gathered on the deck at lunchtime - six of us and enjoyed our lunch and some polite conversation before our host/teacher/ranger/wildlife photographer took us through the basics. We were issued with a Canon 7D camera and a very powerful lens and, as we were all used to SLR cameras, we just needed to familiarize ourselves with the features of this newer model. Our first game drive and the fun began!!
What can you say about the special privilege of being in this game reserve - wall to wall buck, wildebeest, zebra and their signature warthogs - aka Pumba - from the Lion King! On that first drive we also saw a family of rhino - all fully horned and looking really healthy - in fact all Pumba's animals do! Elephants were feeding right next to us including the herd's latest addition - a three week old baby running in between the legs of his mom as her family closed in protectively. Driving back at sunset we caught the golden glow behind the crest of the hill and I took some wonderful silhouettes.
What a great start! We all excitedly up-loaded our photos compared and celebrated our best before tucking into supper.
The next two days were filled with photographic tips, lessons and Q&A sessions, game drives, shared travel experiences, warm beanies and liquor filled coffee! We had many close encounters but the most special were the ones with the white lion. We found them on the morning drive of day two - a proud male and two females but the following afternoon that we heard that one of the younger females had strayed away from the pride and was alone, hungry and distressed - we set off in the direction of her calls and there she was quite restless and calling to the wild in the hope of being heard by her family. I have seldom heard such a pitiful call and she looked so sad. We hung around a while taking photos and hoping that we would see her reunited with her brother and sister when the radio crackled and we were told that there was another lion in the area heading towards her. We waited.......eventually he came into sight - not who she was hoping for - it was a male from another pride - her uncle, but at least she wasn't alone now and we were reassured that the group would follow and she would at least get to eat soon (she was too young to hunt alone).  We started the return to base happy and excited with our days 'takings'. A glass of warming red wide and the coals were ready for the braai when we got back but later in bed I couldn't help but think of that lonely lioness our there and I hoped that she had also feasted that night.  The next morning we were off again and heard that she had in fact been reunited with the rest of her group and they had hunted down a red hartebeest - they were still busy breakfasting when we found them - a happy ending after all.
In addition to our lion sightings, we were treated to an hour watching the cheetahs play - they like to hang around the west boundary of the property and I was surprised to hear that they use the boundary fence when chasing down their prey. We saw numerous black backed jackal lone creatures - and they didn't hang around to make friends - they were up and off as soon as they caught wind of us. We crept up on the hippo on the banks of the river where they fed for a while before sliding off making their deep guttural grunts before submerging.
 The bird life was amazing too - I am not at all good at remembering their names or identifying their calls but I recognised the kingfisher and managed to get some good pics of him.
So all in all a great experience and worth every cent - I haven't had enough spare time to really go through all of my photos but I will spend a day doing just that soon.

Thanks Pumba, Thanks Pangolin and Thanks to Neale Howarth our teacher and ranger!

Ps - this is the official record of my weekend which was not without special "Sue" moments - I will write of those this coming week :-)



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Spring is in the air and our minds turn to summer and enjoying the outdoors, fun in the sun and here in sunny South Africa - the beach! If you are in Europe and are now feeling a little envious - DON'T! The pressure is huge,,,,,, it may be lovely and warm here but it means that we wear less clothes - we cant wear a baggy jumper and a long coat on the beach there is no place for our cellulite to hide!!So right now all over SA we are bracing ourselves to put more of us on display - we are shaving, waxing, exfoliating, scrubbing, clipping, painting and slathering ourselves. What's more we are regretting the pies and puds we ate during winter and have just a few weeks to lose zillions of kgs. When it gets really warm I am also limited to the amount of clothes that I can remove without it getting a little scary so clever dressing is required and a visit to the mall for lightweight clothes with sleeves, preferable that make a size 16 look like a size 10!
That's where it gets really depressing - the fitting room "Mirror mirror cold and flat - how dare you say I look like that?" If you are shuffling out of the fitting room and shoving an armful of hangers at the assistant muttering that - then you have been in Truworths! I chatted to Karel - if you live in PE and you don't know Karel then you don't get out much! Karel was installed in Truworths with the shop fittings and is an expert on what not to wear. I bumped into him and mentioned that I thought that there was another woman with a huge bottom in the fitting room with me ........and then I realised it was my rear view reflection. He has a way of making you feel fabulous and offered consolation telling me that even Miss Universe (Michelle McClean - who Karel has worked with often - Karel is also a name dropper of note) anyway, Miss Universe has to turn her back to the mirror when trying on clothes so she doesn't see her btm  -can you believe it?? That made me feel a whole lot better Karel!
I have read that 'overseas' which in SA means in a first world country that is far more civilised, intelligent, trendy and modern than ours - overseas, they are experimenting with fitting rooms without mirrors - research is showing that 7 out of 10 women who try clothes on don't buy them. Really??? For a glorious day dreaming moment, I thought that maybe this was the beginning of an age where women don't care if they look 'sexy' or 'trendy' or  'cool' or 'frumpy' or any of the other labels we add to the labels that we are trying on! I thought we may be heading towards an era where we start buying clothes based on comfort or what they smell like or how cool they really are. No - the psychology behind this decision is that we will buy it - try it on at home - shove it to the back of our cupboard for a time when we are thinner, younger or prettier or forget to return it!
I think rather they should plough their research money into designing a fitting room that makes us feel great. Get rid of those cramped sweaty boxes with strip lighting and flimsy curtains and create fitting rooms with soft lights - calm neutral walls - lots of space so we feel small, red carpets, chandeliers and a video screen with George Clooney with that questioning, sort of shy admiring, beckoning type of look on face that says - "Gee if I was 20 years younger....!" There would be a gentle breeze wafting through our hair and an arm would offer us a glass of bubbly and a fat free canape and we would leave that fitting room with the magic dress over our arm and head straight to the till!
OK - till that happens its back to scrubbing, starving and slathering and online shopping for the perfect look!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lip Service!

You know you are going to have an interesting conversation when you go to look at new lipsticks and the person who comes to assist you is wearing blue nail polish, has bronzed sculpted cheekbones and is male! I was just browsing really as I have about 5 lipsticks at any given time on my person but one that I got free with a Clinique purchase was particularly impressive for long lasting - I just wasn't keen on the colour so I just thought I would see if they had one in a burnt coral shade. I told him/her that most lipsticks seem to disappear on my lips and I was told to outline them in pencil, then fill them in with pencil, then lightly dust them with transcluscent powder, then apply the lipstick again - sensible advice and nothing I didn't know. I get strangely irritated when younsgters with blue nail polish tell me stuff I have known since my teens as if they are imparting pearls of beauty wisdom!
Anway I went along with him/her and tried a few shades - too orange - too red - too brown and eventually a Goldilocks moment - "Perfect!" he/her said. "What is this shade called?" I asked. Well I had to ask as the writing on the bottom of lipsticks is in elf language - too small for anyone taller than 5cms to read without a magnifying glass. "Perfect Pink, I was told with a flourish. Great - it's exactly the shade that I was wearing when I came in! I'll stick to using my free with purchase one! He/She pouted and off I went to powder my nose and my lips!! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Fine-hair Things of Life

My hair! It is supposed to be a woman's crowning glory but mine alternates between a pancake and  a birds nest. Baby fine, Bum fluff are adjectives that come to mind and I have tried every product on the market that mentions VOLUME or HOLD or THICKER, or BODY and nothing works, if fact the latest products are all about flat, straight and gloss - three words that spell DISASTER to my crowning glory! So I make the most of it especially for the first hour after my hairdresser (me) attends to it in the morning after that its all downhill and I have given up believing anything will make a difference. That was until I walked through Dischem and saw a new range of products and in particular a shampoo that promised 95% more oxygen in my hair. I have been using it for a week and not one person has commented that there is almost twice as much oxygen in my hair. I tested it on several friends asking, "Have you notices anything different about my hair?" Replies have been, "Lovely colour!" " Erm - No!" "Changed your hairdresser?" "Is it a wig?" Not one person has noticed my 95% oxygen boost. I am disappointed - especially when lamenting this situation to my sister who when asked if she had noticed anything different mentioned my earrings! Julia suggested that seeing that I live in the windy city that I could have saved myself some money as our PE breeze would have done the oxygen job - Sigh!
Sometimes I regret being an optimist because I know the wonderful things that are happening in the world with technology and space travel and now hand transplants and making Winnie Mandela look 20 years younger using only face cream (no botox). These make me believe that there is hope for my me and other beings destined to have hair like a maltese poodle! Perhaps one day I will have thick beautiful tresses full of volume, body that will hold a style for more that 30 mins - Perhaps one day I will have a swinging bob - till then I will have to rely on the breeze to blow me away!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Everyone is a Kardashan....

I have a secret pleasure and I am about to make it public! Well you all know I love photography - no secret there but I also love to watch people being photographed especially when they dont know I am watching them! People giving their best smile - I know you have practised this in the mirror - and others just pulling a face or fooling around because they have practised their best smile and didn't like it. Even better I love to watch people taking selfies - I was guilty of this but have now taken pills to stop the compulsion to pout at myself in public - the effect of this medication wears off when under the influence of alcohol! I was once in the queue in the ladies at Kei Mouth Service Station and the lady in front of me was taking selfies of herself - a bit extreme I thought!
Best of all is watching young people pose like they are in a magazine or like they are in a Kadashan fashion shoot. I love to watch them lose their inhibitions and just seize the opportunity as they drop on one hip while thier fist finds the waist and they throw their headback - Classic pose! I have seen them turn thier back to the camera and look seductively over their shoulder and I have seem them spreadeagled against a rock with the wind whipping thier hair around like a Mens Health Calendar Girl but larger than life. I watched a group of young girls doing exactly this last Sunday at sunset on the beach by Something Good - there was no sunset as it was one of those strange misty dusks we had - it was suddenly very cold too but nothing could dampen thier enthusiasm as they strutted their stuff oblivious to the line of cars they faced. They were our entertainment as we enjoyed our fish and chips.
I am not being judgemental - I really do enjoy watching them project that sass and rock that moment. There is a Kardashan in us all - but we are just all not brave evough to let our inner celeb out!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Gentle-man

I went to a funeral this morning - the heavens opened as we said farewell to a young man you died very suddenly of a heart attack aged a too young thirty four. The church was packed, as it so often is when a young person dies, with young people from all walks of life and my heart went out to his parents - his dad was inconsolable. I think all in the church had a question in their heart - Why? I also sat there listening to the wonderful testimonies from his best friend, his two brothers and his lovely young wife thinking Why?
I was thinking why I had not got to know the depth of this young man - I knew him as a friend of my sons Mark and Paul and I remember him from his youth when he was DJing with my youngest Sean (who is the same age) and he was always a quiet, respectable and hardworking youngster but I had no idea, nor had I given a thought to, his good kind heart. I sat considering why it is that the quiet souls amongst us get ignored and I realise now that I am poorer for ignoring this gentle hearted man. I learned that he had a spiritual home in his church and I learned that he played rugby for his school and was a prefect long ago. I saw photos of him as a shy youngster and heard how he loved to make biscuits and was teaching his daughter how to bake. I admired the way his brothers told of thier childhood memories growing up with thier younger brother who wanted to be included in everything they did. I learned how he had been not only a proud father, but how he had been a loving and positive influence on his step son. My heart went out to his incredibly brave wife as she spoke of their love and gave thanks for all he had brought to her life. She questioned where she and the children would get the strength to carry on living without him. I thought about why God was so cruel to take him from them and I just knew that her strength would come from the people she was surrounded with this morning. As in all situations of stress to me, I thought what could I learn from this morning.
I learned that it is easy to underestimate those among us who walk quietly and smile gently and who live thier values and their life in peace with others. Greatness lives in small and humble actions and in the love given to others. I learned the true meaning of the word 'gentle-man'.
His parents can be so so proud of raising this gentleman - I wish I had known him better.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Peek at my Week

Life is chaotic and this week has been a busy one - action packed and full of daily challenges but I have managed to find small pockets of stillness within the chaos and they have been beautiful. Just now I sat for a moment in my sunroom and felt the sun on my face and just closed my eyes and enjoyed that simple pleasure. Its moments like that that keep me sane I think! Sitting next to V and listening to his breathing - a little rattly as his cold is lingering and weakening his already fragile strength, I gave silent thanks for my health and the simple breathing that most of take for granted.

Where have I been? Mostly to work but because of being sent home thanks to  protest action I got a free day which I always treat as a gift - Time is the most precious resource and I spent this windfall by driving to a little shop that always inspires me - the Chameleon in Humansdorp! Just a lovely eating and shopping experience - the food always beautifully presented and there is always something different to buy. I found something pretty to wear but Vernon was not feeling well enough to brunch so we then drove on to St Francis with take away coffee and found a sunny spot to park and enjoy the waves crash onto the sand - pure therapy!

Who have I met? I have worked with some interesting groups this week - Women on a Leadership programme who discussed the challenges that we face working in a world designed for men by men  and how we as women can extend the positive impact we have on our families to our workplaces and in doing so heal this sick planet and ailing world. Women hold up half of the sky so we have a responsibility to create a world that we want to live in and use our influence where we can. Women have an authentic type of power that we need to harness for change. I loved our conversations.
Yesterday I was tasked to develop a service mentality with a group in hospitality and we explored the topic of keeping motivated and energetic in our work. Most were enthusiastic but there was a small minority influenced by one particular person who seemed hell bent on blaming their current unhappiness on their boss, their finances and their race. You really cant teach happiness and some people are just happy being - well being unhappy. To me happiness and positivity is a daily choice to make the best of what you are dealt with. Problems and challenges are part of life  and always will be whether you moan or worry about them or both, or whether you choose to just get along with solving them is what makes the difference to whether you have a miserable life or a happy one. The rest of the group's enthusiasm made up for them and I left there feeling that I had made a difference. I have also met my pharmacist - and seem to have a daily meeting with him for as fast one of Vs challenges disappear another one pops up the following morning! Who else - Oh yes! I Skyped with a nephew that I have met only twice - once when he was four and then a few years ago at a  funeral. He is coming to SA in December and I am looking forward to get to know him and his wife a little better.

What I have learned? 
Dont sweat the small stuff. It really isn't worth the worry.
Never take your health for granted.
Make the most of cancelled plans and use the time freed up as a gift.
Make time to enjoy simple pleasures - right now I am enjoying looking at a jug of yellow freesias and the smell is reminding me that Spring is around the corner.
I have learned to sit and enjoy an episode of my favourite programme at the moment 'Doc Martin' for no reason at all.
I have also learned that reading Marlina De Balsi's books - set in Italy and dripping with pasta, porcini and pastries make me yearn for La Dolce Vita.......the sweet life! I love her writing and last night I read just like fruit  "Some people ripen, some rot!"  thank God that I am ripening!



Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Road Less Travelled

Over the thirty odd years that I have lived in South Africa I have driven many times up and down the N2 to Cape Town and in the last two months alone, I have done that return journey three times and in addition spent a girls weekend in Knysna with my granddaughter and last weekend I drove as far as Wilderness. for a healthy retreat.  People have been astonished that I have driven it alone and comment". "Shame, you must be exhausted." Well I want to comment in return, "Shame you don't know what you are missing!"
The Garden Route looks BEAUTIFUL at this time of year and my problem is not driving this route, but making myself stay in the car, because if I stopped every time I wanted to take a photograph or enjoy the breathtaking views - I would still be en route and going nowhere slowly. One day - I will have the time to go nowhere slowly and enjoy every minute! 
Fields of fynbos contrast with lush green farmlands, long winding rivers cut through rocky gorges, the endless blue ocean on one side and mountains that graze the sky on the other. The windy road brings sudden slashes of bright yellow crops that cut into the earthy landscape and now and then you have to slow down to avoid a baboon family feasting in the road or a farm stall entices you with promises of home grown produce. I love this route! I love this land!
Today I enjoyed it from the air - and was back home by 12,30! I flew to accompany V back to PE. My 7 am flight was cancelled (thanks SAA for not letting me know so I didn't have to get up at 04.45) so I was on the 8am flight arriving at 9.30 and on tenterhooks as our flight back was at 10h55 and check in time was at 10,00. Because the flight was running late, the pilot explained that he was flying lower than usual to try and make up time, and as it was a perfectly clear day the aerial view  was fantastic. I followed the N2 and knew exactly what little coastal town or settlement I was looking down on and enjoyed that earth toned patchwork quilt from above. 
Last weekend, when I was in Wilderness, I decided to find the road less travelled to circumnavigate those lakes and lagoons from the other shore. I followed the railway line once graced by the Outeniqua Choo Choo and bumped up muddy tracks to Karatara passing farms called Moon Rising and Serena and Groenveldt. I passed tumbledown cottages and wondered who had sat on those sagging stoeps. I passed a man (could have been a woman) in overalls, boots that looked too large and a bandana, vigourously tilling the vegetable patch not a meter from the road. Engrossed, he raised a hand but not his eyes in greeting.  I saw carefree skipping children with broad grins who waved like mad or raised thier thumbs and gazed curiously after my car. 

The road turned and climbed and I was surrounded by verdant fields and chewing cows full of lazy disinterest and was now able to look down again on the still waters, now in miniature below me.
 Soon there were signs of life and I drove through a settlement - rows and rows of RDP houses - new, shiny and totally out of place is these ancient lands - I slowed behind a farm truck and reluctantly joined the N2 again.

I enjoyed the last of the suns rays on my balcony - writing my journal - a few geese flew in noisily and settled in the reeds, then another a family and another. As dusk fell a thousand or more geese joined them and noisily made thier home for the night - becoming silent as darkness swallowed them. The following morning at sunrise, they all took off again in thier family groups, in the direction from which they came reminding me that I must also leave return from whence I came but like the geese - I will return. There is much more to explore!

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The road ahead

So much has happened this month! None of us know what the road ahead holds but we can drive from one side of the country to the other just by seeing the road illuminated in our headlights - that's all we need - to see the moment in front of us and to navigate that! Giving up is conceding that things will never get better and that is just not possible.
South Africa has voted for change and the mood is upbeat as an ocean of blue congregated in our metro to support and welcome the DA as our new political party of choice, sending waves of optimism through our midst. Voting day was cold and wet but thankfully we turned out in our millions to make our mark and it has paid off - I am looking forward to some real governance in our metro and the DA living up to its promise.
The second thing that has happened is that I have a new man! Well the same one but made new because he has gone through his stem cell treatment. Its amazing what science and medicine can do but it has its price - not just the medical aid price - but the toll it has taken physically and mentally. Some major doses of chemo (they literally take you within a whisker of what your body can survive), three weeks of isolation - in a room with beige walls, white bedding, a view of the hospital roof and a bit of mountain on a clear day through dirty windows - really is a sight for sore eyes. Most days V was too sick to care but its true that most survivors of this treatment have a touch of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) due to the experience. Anyway it is behind him and although he is weak, each day is an inch of progress and healing has begun and will continue from Thursday in PE.
But....right now I am in a really good space - Literally! I am in Wilderness at Lodge on the Lake watching wild geese and sailing boats and listening to the sound of silence. this morning I went exploring the back roads off the N2 to where my mind has wandered before me as I travelled up and down the Garden Route. Muddy tracks and derelict cottages and cows and birdsong for breakfast.
I am staying in a room the size of one of those labourers cottages with a vase of white roses and lavender, a soft bed and a view to die for! I have started a new book by Marlena De Blasi  (click for the review) The Thursday night Umbrian Supper Club - which is mouth wateringly good and this afternoon I shall be renewed with a facial and a hot stones massage before sleepwalking back to my room and enjoying my book and later a movie that I have been saving.
Tomorrow I will wend my way home mindful that its Woman's Day - I may even stop and shop a little - Life is like a roller coaster - live it - enjoy it - You can choose whether you scream or enjoy the ride!



Friday, July 8, 2016

Its not unusual!

Neglect! My blog is suffering but all in a good cause - a casualty of my current circumstances. Since I returned from Singapore  - it has been work work and more work (thank goodness that I had those two weeks off) and now its hospital hospital and hospital! Vernon ended up coming to Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital for his stem cell treatment so he has a long stay here and now life revolves around that. Thankfully he has a daughter and family here so they have been a great support but are now en route to a warm island for a break - and we have had somewhere to stay when not in hospital. I am two weeks into this stint with V being in high care for five of those days and has now been in an isolation unit for a further 5 days. The few days that he has been out of hospital have been a blessing - he cant be in crowds or near children who are known walking germ tanks!

We have had lovely drives though. and being in confinement makes one so much more appreciative of wide blue skies touched by staggering mountains - distant horizons brushed by the ocean and a wintry landscape that holds its own beauty. Grateful. Being surrounded by people who are either very ill or nursing and healing the sick makes you grateful for even your challenging circumstances. I am staying in a lovely home fairly near to the hospital and drive in a warm car there each day. I don't have small children to worry about and I have a job that is flexible. My heart goes out to the young parents that I encounter and the plight of women trudging up the hill to visit - some accompanied by 3 or more kids. I have also seen parents whose children are so sick wearing brave smiles as they walk or push their 'patient' children around the hospital to get a change of scenery.

My google maps has become my best friend - one wrong turn returning from the hospital in the dark took me to a bus station in a dodgy area and I have ended up at the Muslim cemetery more than once as I overshot my turn! I have become thankful for athletics which taught me better judgment when being asked to turn in 100 metres, 150 and 250 metres - I have learned to mentally put myself at the start line of those long ago races so I don't misjudge the distance!  I just wish there was a GPS for inside the hospital - Its huge and the first few days I contemplated tying a ball of wool to my car and leaving a trail as I turned right and left and then right and up a floor, and over a walkway and that was just the way to the lift! This morning though I was happily directing people - one poor young woman almost in tears as she couldn't find the stairs she had come up! I am used to getting in the lift with pyjama clad people wheeling their drips around while looking for the paper - yesterday was very lively as we debated Oscars sentence and this evening I took my chance with a Rastafarian sporting a toothless grin and a regal looking African lady with her navy blue Sunday hat on and a furry leopard skin coat - 3 sizes too big. We found common ground with the bitter cold weather and I silently coveted that coat and that chunky knitted. red, green and yellow hat! Some of the characters look so interesting that I am tempted to take my camera but I am afraid I may end up in casualty.
As much as I love Cape Town, I have to say that many of the pale folk here are so snobbish - I am used to PEs cheerful smiles in the supermarket queue and not being given the once over down a long pointed nose! REALLY! I could understand it if it were Fortnum and Masons but this is Pick and Pay for heavens sake. Conversations are peppered with Absolutely and Pherfect and Exactly and Awesome - this must be the superlative capital of the world.
So today was a successful transplant of Vs own treated stem cells which all went. As with his treatment in PE the medical profession have been brilliant and he has managed most of it well, but this time he has lost his hair and he has been warned that the next few days will be challenging. Grateful. That word again! So grateful for the great care and respect that he has been shown by the medical staff who handle him so gently - almost reverently. He has struck up a great friendship with Eric - one of his nurses and who hails from Alice in the Eastern Cape. If you know where Alice is you will appreciate that its a small rural dorp, and yet Eric has the manners of a refined old Etonian and more intelligence! Being in isolation is not easy and the mind plays a bigger role than anything in his recovery so its lots of 'living in the now' and a lot of bandwidth too as being able to access the outside world through the internet is a real sanity saver!

Back to the lift! I got in the lift this morning and there was a cheerful soul using his drip stand as a mike and singing "What's new Pusseycat", When a nurse got int he life on D floor he started singing "Shes a lady!" and on E floor the doors opened and he burst into a rendition of  "The Green Green Grass of Home". A doctor in the lift with us commented that he should get himself checked out as it sounded like he had Tomjones disease." "My goodness whats that - Is it rare?" I foolishly asked. They both looked at one another and started singing,"Its not unusual".......AGHHH!



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Singapore -Take 2

My Holiday has been over for two weeks but I haven’t finished telling you about it. In true “Sue Style” I landed on Friday – slept one night in my own bed and then dashed off to Graaf Rienet to drink wine on Stoeps at the Graaf Reinet Stoep Tasting . One day I was surrounded by sizzling mirror faceted sky scrapers and the next I was tramping around the dusty streets bordered by tin roofed, white cottages. Both equally interesting but totally opposite – the one futuristic and sophisticated and the other historical and charming. Wine tastes equally good in either setting!
So back to Singapore and my impressions. I saw a souvenir mug that says that Singapore is “A Fine City” and that is perhaps why it’s orderly clean and structured. In a country where chewing gum is illegal everyone behaves! Littering will cost you $1000, Smoking where you shouldn't smoke and the fine is $500 and for speeding $5000.

I saw more of the Shopping Malls on this visit – there are hundreds of these temples to consumerism rising heavenwards with lifts and escalators permanently in motion. You can get everything your heart desires or that exists on this planet within them and they are full of stunning art and architectural accents and usually a water feature or three cascading down walls or squirting upwards to make you gasp! In the Marina Bay Sands Mall you can even explore the ground floor by boat and swim on the top floor while looking down on the skyscrapers. Gucci, Prada, YSL, Givenchy, Armani – I met them all – in name that is - and even Gordon Ramsay’s posh nosh is there. I hope though that when he is resident in this kitchen his language is as clean as the floor that I was walking on – I should imagine that there is a fine for that as well!
Talking of restaurants – there are 8 500 of them! From Dim Sum and Noodles to American Ribeye, Japanese and Italian and from the Hawkers Market centres with Formica tables and benches to plush silver service with views to enjoy of the wall to wall ships in the harbor. I enjoyed two of the best Italian meals that I have ever had - great food accompanied by great service and great company.
You can’t visit Singapore without coming under the spell of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Like Cape Town has a mountain that dominates its landscape, so this vast building is a landmark and a compass point on your exploration of the city.check it out here
I had high-high-high tea and enjoyed my smokey Lapsang Souchong from the clouds – Afternoon tea with a difference and served with mushroom cappuccino, mini munchies, macaroons and Madeira cake! Living in lego land is the norm here and when you are staying on the 12th floor you feel strangely low when on the ground – Fear of lifts would be life threatening here as everything happens above the horizon and when faced with climbing 57 floors on a regular basis – I think the fear would fizzle out!

The waterfront is busy and beautiful and bright in the sunshine but at night it sparkles. Lasers, Light Shows and long watery reflections dance on the water as people come out to dine alfresco in the warm balmy evenings – Yes! It’s 30C at night which makes for very thirsty evenings under the stars.
Gardens at the Bay come alive in the evening with light and music shows that really make you feel like Titania, Queen of the fairies, is about to come out to play. The lawns are spread with people of all nations as music is a universal language enjoyed by all.
Despite my grand and larger than life experiences – my most rewarding time was that spent with the little people in my life – both children and grandchildren. I enjoyed attending the playgroups sessions with Nadine and Katherine and seeing how children from all walks of life and nationalities are pretty much the same when it comes to appreciating play time and I enjoyed interacting with some of the moms and learnt that the British playgroup leader has a sister living in Blue Water Bay and one of the moms knew two ladies that I know in PE and her mom lives around the corner from me! So it really is a small world.
Also loved my very special last day with a picnic breakfast in the park, a gourmet Italian feast at lunch followed by a lovely foot massage in the afternoon and special story time with Katherine and Adams last bottle – well the last one I shall feed him as he will be eating Fish and Chips when I next see him!!




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Special Time

I am here in the east and in the land of order and routine where everything is on time, in time and works - like clockwork. Its lovely! The only chaos is behind closed doors with a 2 1/2 year old toddler and a 14 week old baby - Occasionally in public too with the toddler!
Its amazing how we have become used to living behind walls, gates, barbed wire and locked car doors in South Africa - here there is such a feeling of safety. I haven't been asked for money - no one has asked to park my car and the locals are relaxed and eager to smile and engage in conversation.
Time with the children is special and time with the grandchildren even more so. We have swum most days and visited the park strolling through lush vegetation - no pot holes in pathways and unlike SA ALL the streets are pedestrian friendly and have pavements. No dodging taxis skipping red lights and hooting - even rush hour is orderly here.
 Noodles, Dumplings, Dim Sum, Sushi and Green tea. Food is fragrant and plentiful and the choice endless. I love Thai food and the way it is presented. I was treated to an exquisite Italian gourmet meal for a belated Mothers Day from the top of a tall building with views to make you dizzy.

Getting to know baby Adam is a joy - such a good little chap and I love looking into his eyes and knowing there is a little bit of me in his history. Katherine skips, scoots, runs, hops, climbs and bounces everywhere - her curls bouncing with her. She is full of energy, mischief and curiosity as every 2 year old should be. This morning she made a turtle at Moms and Tots group attached with string to walk slowly to the music - but hers was the racing model and her turtle went everywhere at the speed of light and on occasions flew. She excelled in the Hokey Cokey - which she obviously gets from her nanny!







 She is napping now and I am savouring the quiet. I am enjoying my time here - slowing my pace to cope with the heat. We have a boat cruise planned, a trip on a cable car, China town calls in the morning and a special afternoon tea to enjoy later in the week. Lots of playtime planned and story books to enjoy. Life is good and I am grateful!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Gym Tales and Pony Tails

I am being quite diligent with my gym visits - I have been three times this week and intend to make it a record by going tomorrow too......maybe Sunday as well - although last time I went at the weekend I was the oldest person there by far and the only female without a high pony tail! I think I should get a clip on one just for gym because it looks so attractive on the treadmill when your pony tail is bobbing up and down - makes you look as if you are moving faster (have just googled 'woman on treadmill' in Google images and EVERY image has a woman with a pony tail). Anyway I was on the treadmill this morning thinking how ludicrous it is to pay money to walk indoors - my Nan Westwell would laugh herself silly at the notion. I used to walk regularly in the fresh air as the good Lord intended till I moved here and no matter how I plan my route around Walmer Heights, I always seem to end up in Builders Warehouse car park and I am not sure the good Lord wants me to walk there. It used to be safe to walk anywhere but you cant take your safety for granted these days and I also like to contemplate while I am walking and you cant do that with the neighbourhood dogs going ballistic - so its off to gym I trot!
I saw Gerald again this morning - who taught me how to use the machines and who was impressed with my leg flexibility on the hip abductor. He avoided eye contact - I think my comment about giving birth four times embarrassed him after all!  I nearly collided with him as I was distracted by a lunging lady - Yes a young woman was taking HUGE strides around the gym carrying iron weight! She was being shouted at by a mean looking, pinched faced, skinny bitch who obviously lurves her job! Yes! Something else Nan Westwell would find incredible - people pay to be tortured so they can have firmer thighs. Soft thighs were all the rage in her day along with kind eyes and well filled cardigans,
 
Gerald was striding towards THAT section of the gym - the Holiest of Holies! This is where testosterone rules, tattoos are compulsory and huge tyres are moved around with ease - weights clank and there is the occasional grunt - no one here makes eye contact - least of all me in case I am challenged to a stare down. I astonished how they take it all so seriously and also a little distracted by those oiled biceps. Anyway I did my circuit trying not to notice anyone else and ended up on the bicycle where I pedalled like mad for 15 minutes only to be told I had done 2,5 Kilometers - Nan Westwell would have snorted with laughter at the thought of going nowhere and not very fast.

I was never the Sporty Spice Gym Girl at school but back home and showered I feel quite proud of myself - there is a great pleasure to be had in slight ache of muscles that have been stretched a little and I am hoping to do it all again tomorrow! Now where can I get a clip on pony tail???

Monday, May 2, 2016

A peek at my week

Another month and we are half way through the year - that is a sobering thought! Well it is for me as I set myself challenges at the start of each year and at this stage I am not making progress - "Could do better" as my school report often said. "Must try harder." was in there too so I shall be trying harder from now on.
Where I have been. I have been.
Mr Niemack was in PE for the long weekend so we took ourselves on a roadtrip to Port Alfred. Roadtrips with V are always different as he is inclined to reverse, do Uturns and take off across fields if something takes his fancy. He sometimes forgets that I have a nifty red polo and not a bouncy backie. We bounced off to Bathust and went up to the toposcope.
 This is the site that Colonel Jacob Cuyler's camp was stationed when he supervised the allotment of land that the brave 1820 settlers were to farm and settle on. Its circular and there are plaques pointing to various directions stating the number of miles the party had to travel, location, leader of the group, English county they came from and the ship that they arrived on. All very interesting to me and also to others - so interesting that some of the plaques have been stolen....... and not by settler descendants I fear! Its quite a bleak spot and the wind was gusting as winter decided to arrive that very day as we stood there! After a little think about these pioneers we did what they probably did on a cold windy day and headed down into the village inn which looked quite deserted until we followed our noses, ducking under a low ceiling, around a little passageway and through a latched door and we were in a warm noisy smokey room where men propped up the bar and booted ladies sat on high stools, while a buxom wench (surely an Emslie) pulled pints and served bar lunches to the locals. We caught our breath and warmed our insides and then headed to the local antique shop where we enjoyed an hour remembering all these familiar items - This is when you know that you are yourself an antique! V picked up a replica of his lunch box from when he was a train driver and couldn't put it down. I found a dish reminiscent of a fruit set my Nan Westwell had in her display cabinet. The shop owner told me it was lustre ware and was given away at fairgrounds at the coconut shy or the shooting range. All I can say that my gran aka 'Annie get your Gun' must have spent many hours at the fair! V then found some LPs with Dean Martin, Connie Francis and a compilation of smooth jazz contained in a cover sporting a naked beauty discreetly draped in a red piece of  silk - 1960s porn V said! Of course he bought them!
Back to our hotel which was also historical - the older building now refurbished but still keeping some lovely features, a handcrafted staircase,  a quaint Queen Anne wood stove, polished yellow wood floors and beamed ceilings. We were in the new part - our room light, a bed to get lost in, space age lighting, our furnishings luxurious and our floor soft grey laminate and in the corner a frosted glass cube - the space age bathroom!!! NOooooo! If there is one think that brings me out in a cold sweat its a bathroom that has no door. V is the same - we lay in our 400 count percale pristine linen chunnering about the bathroom and what was the world coming to when design and decor comes before privacy and human comfort. We spent the weekend visiting private loos within the hotel - with DOORS!
Who I have met.
The locals of Port Alfred, Bathurst and Grahamstown, Lavinia, a lovely beauty therapist with beautiful royal blue nails who painted my toes the same bold blue and tried to sell me the secret of eternal youth in a jar for R 2750.00. Sorry Lavinia but I cannot afford to be that youthful! A wholesome young girl in a coffee shop in Grahamstown where V ate oxtail pie and I a French coconut tart. I thought she was a school girl until she told us how much her one year old loves rooibos tea - another sign of antiquity when young girls who look like they should be playing with dolls are caring for real babies!
V had to have a couple of medical tests while he was here in preparation for his continued treatment in Capetown. I met my bookclub friend who I have seen dressed as an elf, Santa, a bunny, a hobo, and wearing a wedding dress - usually with a glass of wine in her hand. This time she was in the uniform of a nurse attending to V in a most professional and expert way. Ironically part of the test had to be performed in a glass cube with V blowing his lungs out! He passed with full colours!
I must also make mention of Gerald who has been putting me though my paces at the gym and kept a very straight face when assisting to position my legs into the machine designed to reduce thighs - you know that one that you have to push your legs together and then the weights drag them back out to that very unlady like position. Well all I can say is that having four children helped and my experience of elephant back riding came in useful!
What I have learned.
Crochet - at long last I have mastered the art of crochet. I joined a beginners class where I met some nice ladies but learned not a lot about crochet. I then discovered tutorialhere and have a sizable collection of granny squares. I have tried before several times and failed - I think because I am a pretty experienced knitter. I tried harder and kept at it and hey presto I am hooked! Am keeping it simple for now but I know that I will be enjoying this for many years to come - after all I have the contents of a small wool shop in my garage cupboards ready to be transformed into blankets! I have a new camera too which is completely different to my Canon so I am learning weekly to manage the settings. I have also learned that being alone is actually a blessing at times. I am free to pusue my interests and am making progress towards my plans for the year. I am working, I have joined a gym, I am reading, I am journalling, I am writing, I am learning and I am starting art classes this month.  Happiness equals Reality minus Expectations. I am no ways going to reduce my expectation of life so I am increasing my reality by filling my time with my favourite things and people. Its as simple as that!




Sunday, April 17, 2016

THAT GIRL

I would like to make it official that I am not THAT GIRL. I realised this once more as I arrived at a function last week - one of those that invites you to bring along a plate of eats and a bottle of something. THAT GIRL arrived with a home made Quiche beautifully garnished on a gorgeous platter within a special container - probably Tupperware - with a dome over it. I arrived with my snacks in a plastic WW packet still in the packaging and nothing to spread the soft cheese with. HER wine was in a floral cooler bag - mine was in my handbag! We all know THAT GIRL. I envy her but I will never ever be her.I have tried!
I just don't have the organising skills - whatever part of the brain they live in - I was born without it. I wonder sometimes that I have a professional job which, I believe I do quite well. I don't think I have ever forgot an appointment or a group of learners.  I manage to satisfy my accountant by keeping my financials in reasonable order and I have a filing system - sort of! I meet my deadlines consistently and I ......... I don't know why I cant apply all of this order in my personal life.
I have done my share of entertaining - how I don't know - and many friends have dined at "Chez Moi' but they have also gone home without  me serving the home made bread with the soup, the cream with dessert and once I put the garlic bread in to warm while the apple crumble was in the oven and my good friends politely ate garlic apple crumble for dessert without batting an eyelid.
I have had many hobbies and each time I find something creative that I love to do, I throw myself into it with wild abandon. I beg, borrow or buy everything I need and all the lovely ways to store everything I need. I have made umpteen sewing accessories - beautiful pinwheels, scissor keepers, needle cases and quaint tote bags to carry it all to my embroidery lessons. The reality is that I arrive with my crumpled project in a WW plastic carrier bag and my needles and threads in a tangled heap somewhere amongst it. THAT GIRL has matching sets of all the said sewing accessories finely stitched in single thread with colour coordinated scissor and thimble.
I love Scrapbooking and have many albums and most of the equipment. I have a case on wheels, a special container with little divisions in - like a tool box - from Builders Warehouse. I have a portable stand with compartments to hold my glue and scissors and tape and inks, that  can sit on my workstation so when I go Scrapbooking THAT GIRL has all that too,,,,,,, with her! Mine is all at home - somewhere - and I arrive with my stuff in a WW packet except I forget my scissors and my ruler and even though I have THE perfect papers for this project bought overseas, I have left that at home too!
I was born this way - I realised at school. One year my class teacher bought everyone in class a small gift - sweets and a lip balm. My gift was a comb - even this humiliation could not bring about the desired change - my curls - like my school stationery - refused to be tamed! I didn't have the full set of Colleens I left a trail of pencil sharpenings and my eraser left dirty marks on my work. I had brains but no finesse - nothings changed!
I don't think I will ever stop trying though, I will continue to collect the photo boxes to keep my photos in - even though they lie unused in the spare room while my photos are in a huge pile in the study. I expect that now I am learning to crochet , that I will have a lovely fabric roll to keep my crochet hooks in, and a wool stash in a wicker basket which will be a decor accessory, giving the impression to visitors that I am a homely organic girl. I also expect that I will arrive at class with a WW packet with my work hurriedly stuffed in and my crochet hook will be under the car seat and I will have to use someone elses for the lesson (like last week). I have lovely camera bags and yet my spare lens is in a fluffy sock which I stuff in my pocket on the way out. So darlings,  you make look at me and think that I am a swan sailing though life serenely but underneath the surface I am paddling like a turbo duck trying to get my ducklings in a row!
PS If you are THAT GIRL -please know that I am in awe of you :-)


Friday, April 15, 2016

The Gift of ME

L-O-N-G time since I blogged - I almost got through February with my commitments to spend a month blogging about Love and then........I was blogged out! Writing or any creative pursuit requires that you give something of yourself and for the last few weeks I haven't been in that place. Frankly,  I had nothing to give and have felt quite drained both emotionally and physically. Having to cope with my own health issues, an operation and juggling work commitments on top of worrying about my beloved's illness and all that goes with that has left me depleted. So............. I decided this week was going to be about ME. I had a couple of work things to do but for most of the time I have made a conscious effort to be kind to me, to indulge in activities that enrich me.
I am very fond of using the Wheel of Life Activity - you know that one where you draw a circle - create a wheel with eight spokes and then label them into areas of your life and then reflect on your level of satisfaction in each area on a scale of one to five.  I thought what makes me - ME and what sparks my joy and labelled my spokes under those heading. I reflected on health, creativity, friendships, self esteem, spirituality, energy, hobbies and home and these were the areas that I focused on deliberately seeking out opportunities to replenish them. So this week I have attended a crochet class, committed to an evening art group from May, joined a gym and have already attended, had an evening out with friends....and another one tomorrow! I have had lunch with three special friends, pottered in my garden and planted colourful pots to brighten my coming week. I have bought a Nutri bullet and have been experimenting with smoothies and what I call 'swamp juice' - that's spinach and a whole heap of veggies liquidised and down downed to get your healthy five a day! I have read, meditated, journalled, watched TV in bed till late and slept in till 8am. I have had long soaks with a face pack on - I have visited the hairdresser and I have been chasing sunsets, I have joined an online photography group and a group of Fabulously Inspiring Women online.  I have listened to my favourite music and have danced around my bed more than once. I have been shopping with my granddaughter and then we had fun on the beach with our cameras. I have tasted the best Thai curry that I have ever had ,,,,,,,,and I am going back for more!
The week is coming to an end but I still have a birthday party (my grandson is turning 7) and evening performance of Suzelle and the rest of a series to watch. I am not looking at any work until Sunday afternoon even though its sitting in my study ready for my facilitation next week.

I feel a whole whole lot better and a whole lot more ME. Now the challenge is to keep on giving to me. I think of my heart, mind and soul as a dam and if you keep giving - and you do in my line of work on top of relationships and family,  you empty your dam  and you  just cant give to others if you are empty - so this week has been a deluge of self love and a lesson to keep that dam topped up in proportion to what is being channelled to others. Let my writing and blogging flow again. Let me not forget to put myself first often.


Monday, February 22, 2016

You have Mail


If you sent a message out of the blue to your man saying "I love you" how do you think he would you respond?  A group of ladies attended seminar on how to live in a loving relationship with their husbands.The women were then told to send a text message to their husbands - "I love you, sweetheart." To make it more interesting, the women were asked to exchange cell phones and read aloud the text messages received.
These replies would will make you laugh or maybe, ponder a little.

1. Who the hell is this?
2. Eh, mother of my children, are you sick or what?
3. Yeah, and I love you too. What's up with you??
4. What now? Did you crash the car again?
5. I don't understand what you mean?
6. What did you do now?
7. ?!? #@*
8. Don't beat about the bush, just tell me how much you need?
9. Am I dreaming?
10. If you don't tell me who this message is actually for, someone will die.
11. I thought we agreed you wouldn't drink during the day.
12. Your mother is coming to stay with us, isn't she??

Very funny but sad too! Seems like the spark can go out in our relationships very easily  if we done keep the fire going. To keep a fire alive you need three components - All South Africans know this because we are a nation of firemakers - the braai or barbeque is a national sport! You need oxygen, heat and fuel.
Am goind to bed now to start a fire and tomorrow I will disclose how I did this!!!! 
I bet you cant wait!!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Enduring Love

Watcb this and ponder how enduring is your love - where and when did you realise this was the ONE.

This is an interesting TED talk about what love looks like - I found it interesting because is was not what I expected it to be and it made me realise that a random and unplanned act can change the course of our life irreversibly. I met Tony when I was an art student and needed to work to fund my studies. I was 19 and he was 20, He was an apprentice and needed extra money as he had been transferred to St Helens to continue his studies. Those two thing were the only things we had in common - we were both studying and had no money - we were married within 10 months and yet we shared a love that spanned 4 decades. Our love was built day by day from the challenges we faced and overcame. We had very little money and had our children young, and yet we overcame everything that life dished out and were determined to succeed.
Vernon and I also had little in common when we met - we share a love of nature and ......and ..... Well I cant think of anything else! We met in August and committed ourselves to each other the following June - also 10 month later - although V informed me on our second 'date' that he planned to 'marry' me by July the following year and I informed him that he was crazy! We also had challenges - living 800 and odd kilometers away from each other being the first - his fear of flying being the second and then there is a lodge in to run in Natal and my work here to consider. If that wasn't enough to keep us on our toes, then his illness entered our lives!
Where would my life have taken me if I hadn't been in that place at that time on both occasions or for that matter if they hadn't been in that place at that time? The life I am living now - my current reality - is a product of the choices I have made and yet most of my life changing choices have been made in a blink of an eye ....or in Vs case a wink! That's when you believe that its all meant to be and that we really have little control over what is destined for us in life. EVERY little thing is as it should be and we are all where we are absolutely were God needs us to be. Loving and being loved by those who have been sent to us by the universe!





Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I Love what I do

I love what I do! To spend time doing what you love and then to get paid for that creates the energy that fuels the passion that enables you to become your best at what you do. If that makes sense? Like a self charging battery. I once saw the Oprah Show in Johannesburg and remember a young woman asking, "What is the secret of success?" Oprah replied that you have to find what you are passionate about then become excellent at it and then success will follow. The working world would be a better place if we could all have this experience but we don't live in Oprah Land and to be realistic that's not possible especially not in our South African situation - some jobs require that you make a decision to fall in love with them every day. I find that the quickest way to change the way you feel about something (or someone) is to change the way you think about it (or them). So if you find your job is uninspiring, tedious or unfulfilling - ask yourself "What does my job do for me?" "How does my job help me to provide for myself and my loved ones" or "What skills are my work developing within me that will assist me in the future?" of "What can I do to make my work more enjoyable?" In other words looking for the positives creates a positive mindset and if you look for good in your work and in others you will find it. There is a wonderful DVD that I sometimes use in my work called "Celebrate what's right with the world." Its all about our perception of our circumstances and our environment and how it can shape not only our present but our future.
When I came to South Africa the only job I could get was in the office at Woolworths - I cant speak Afrikaans and it limited opportunities to work with people in business.I was grateful for that job - very grateful!  When I was shown the office where I would be working - the lady operating the switchboard picked up her bag and relocated to another desk as there was an unspoken rule - Last one in the office got to handle the switchboard as well as their other work! This was not the work I envisaged - but it was work! I had never managed a switchboard before and I can relate it to having a crying baby - when it wails you have to answer it no matter how busy you are - incoming calls are always urgent and as I was employed in accounts this 'crying baby' interrupted my calculations and my concentration and so it was hard to put a smile on my dial and in my voice, before I answered it! However, I made a decision to do it and do it well - I decided that I would see this disadvantage as an opportunity to learn and to get noticed - I got to speak to everyone in the company so it was great exposure AND I fielded all the Head Office calls so I got to know all the decision makers in Cape Town .......and for them to know me. Several months later a vacancy for a personnel assistant was created in PE and Mr Fourie the CEO in CT suggested to our branch manager that I should be given the opportunity based on my 'people' skills on the phone! That is how it works - That opportunity shaped the rest of my life, created the opportunity for me to study and  to discover my passion for HR and was the vehicle to get me to where I am today enjoying a job that I love.
PS - To this day I care deeply about an unattended ringing phone and I cant walk past one in WoolWorths - I have been know to answer the phone on the sales floor and call  a sales assistant to help LOL!