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!