Hello Saturday. Where did you come from? The week has melted away and left me with a weekend of activities to look forward to. Tonight I will be going to a local twitter, beer-tasting event where I will perhaps get a little networking in. Or at least try a new beer or two. Not too many though, as I have to take the girls to a birthday party tomorrow and have been told not to show up useless. I have to handle a glue gun, so therefore need to be on.
Hmm, hopefully I won't glue my fingers together...
So, this week I share a short video that struck my fancy. A friend sent me this and it just tickled my yoga bones. I have been lapse in my practice over the last six months, but returned to the mat recently. This felt like an affirmation that I am on the right path with re-embracing a yogic balance (in a weird kind of way). The scary thing is that I completely know and get everything she says. Does that make me a freak? Ha! Maybe, but I am okay with that!
I am off to the gym now for the kids' yoga class! Maybe grab a glass of wheat grass after (probably NOT!).
Someone sent me this clip, asking if I felt it was true. For those of you unfamiliar with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, she is considered the expert on grief studies and set the standard on the five stages of grief (in case you are curious, they are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You don't necessarily go through all of them, but you might get hit with waves from any of them at any stage of your grief). I have read a lot of grief books and have come across her and her theories more than once. She has merit in her thoughts, but her rigid stages have been debated.
While I had not read this quote before, I thought I would share it with you today. What do you think? Do you have to suffer, struggle or battle strife to transform your soul into a beautiful thing? I can recognize some of these traits in myself, but was it due to my struggles or was it in me before? Can't anyone have a compassionate soul? I like to think I was compassionate before my grief journey, but was it ingrained in my soul early due to the loss of my father at an early age? I know that I get swarmed by children on the playground, as soon as I am spied. Is that because these young humans see my gentle soul and can't help but respond to it?
Well, I just might ponder this a little more on my road trip this afternoon, but I am curious what you think. Would you care to weigh in?
The last of my days in Africa slipped through my fingers. We returned to
Cape Town and I managed to sneak in a few more visits here and there. I visited
with my cousin Greg, went out to my aunt’s house for a last cup of tea with her
and enjoyed a final braai with my uncle’s clan. It was heart-wrenching to let
go of the continent, that I felt like I was just beginning to get to know, but
it was also time. I had been gone for ten months and my homeland called to me.
I longed to see my mother’s face, to feel my sister’s hug and to hear my friend’s
excited banter. To know that this new continent that I had come to love would
be so far away in a matter of days was bewildering, but acceptance tamed my
qualms. It had to.
A phone call arranged a layover in Germany to visit with an old dear
friend on my return flight. I would have a week to decompress and adjust to
life away from Africa, before winging back to Canadian shores. It all felt so
lacklustre, but I tried to muster up a little excitement at the prospect of seeing
a long-lost friend and catching up on her life and times. I wondered though,
how I would process stepping onto European soil after my earthy African
adventures that spanned the southern half of the continent. Europe would be
like a different world. Of course Canada would be an adjustment all over again
the week later.
For now though, I tried to imprint every image, taste, feel and smell of
this land that had gotten under my skin. The concept of leaving was akin to abandoning
a homeland that I dearly loved and feared I would never see again. Africa was
home to my soul and I ached at the thought of leaving. The fates refused to
give me reason to stay though and I begrudgingly packed the last of my things,
adding last minute trinkets to my battered backpack to keep Africa close
On August 29th the last full moon arose to wish me adieu to the
continent of my dreams. The following day, I drove to the airport with kin that
would forever hold a piece of my heart. With a few strings pulled, I was upgraded
to the luxury of Business Class and slid into the ample seat with a sad sigh. A
flight attendant materialized with a champagne glass topped off with orange juice
and a smile. I peered out the window of the plane, tipped my glass to Table
Mountain and let a tear slide down my cheek in farewell. I was going home, but
leaving a heart-space behind. All the moments that I had lived in this amazing
continent seared into my brain as the jumbo jet lifted off the ground. Just like my first flight, there would be no sleep on the return journey. With aching soul, I left a
piece of me behind, but more importantly, took a bigger piece of Africa with me. It
would always be, and continues to this day, to be a part of my heart.
With a siren in the not too far distance, the school bell rang. I thought nothing of it, although the bell seemed to be early. A quick look at my watch confirmed this, but the children were gone by the time I looked up. All of them. With doors swinging shut behind them. Firmly. Only tracks remained in the fresh snow to urge me to get on with the day before it got too sloppy to drive in.
An hour later and I was glued to the radio. I desperately scanned the local twitter feed for news.
"Code Yellow - School is on holding pattern"
and my babies inside
my life! my God.
"40-something year old male, possibly armed, over a dozen police vehicles surrounding the scene. Refusing to communicate."
This scene so close to my babies' school that they are locked in for safety. But what safety did I have from the panic that threatened to overwhelm? Tears, friends and prayer. For several excruciating hours. Walking round, and round, and round again, wearing grooves in the floor. Leaving a trail of fear behind me, only to stumble upon it on my next tour around the kitchen.
"Have a tea for your nerves."
Distractions that didn't work, because I didn't want them to. All I wanted was for it to end. And end now.
And it did. Safely and without harm to anyone, aside from 600 some-odd parent's nerves, plus teachers and their loved ones. Ten hours worth of stand-off. This on Friday the 13th. This after 5 bank robberies in a single day this week, a Hell's Angel biker shot (and 3 others injured), plus several rub 'n tugs torched. This after a full moon that has obviously made my part of the world go a lot too crazy.
Is it Friday yet? Can I call it a day? Can I sign out on life for this week?
My babies lie in their beds sleeping, unruffled by the events of the day. They were curious why I showed up early to sign them out. And why other kids were leaving too. They wondered why I cried all the way home and hugged them fierce once the door was locked. They thought it was a hoot to start the weekend early. Movies, popcorn, pizza and a fire? Sweet!
Sweet; the feel of my life blood tucked under my arms, as we snuggled in our blanket cocoon with blinds drawn to keep out the world.
Breathe. Remember to breathe. Remember that tomorrow is a new day and this one is now done.
“The spring flowers are a sight to behold,” promised my uncle.
He didn’t have to sell me on one last excursion though. The suggestion alone was all that was required to convince me, and with that I was travelling again. This time, I was in the back seat of my aunt and uncle’s car though and we were headed to Springbok to stay with my cousins for a few days. I would not have to carry my pack, nor stand at the side of the road in hopes that a ride would soon materialize. And I certainly did not have to worry about anyone’s hands or where they tried to put them. That was an adventure much more to my liking.
Namaqualand was well worth the drive as well. Just as my uncle had promised, the desert had blossomed into a multi-coloured patchwork of blooms. Orange, purple, yellow and white flowers filled the eye, as far as one could see. We wandered up on the dusty hillside behind Anne and Pieter’s house, but the trip to Namaqua National Park blew me away. Everywhere I looked, the daisies turned their pretty faces to the sun and I was in awe. The normal brown and dusty green shoots that struggled to exist during the rest of the year, exploded into a brief, brilliant rainbow after winter rains gave them a fleeting taste of life. Just as quickly though, those blossoms would be gone, burned away by the hot South African summer sun. During those few days in August, I was blessed to behold the desert miracle of life for its season of rebirth and renewal. The pictures I snapped were flat compared to the beauty I was surrounded by. I took them anyway though.
One prickly plant drew my eye in the midst of the blanketed foliage. Where most of the other plants were tucked close to the ground, Pachypodium namaquanum stood tall, if not quite erect. When I asked my uncle about the curious cacti, he gave one of his hearty laughs and launched into a tale of folklore about it.
“Do you see the bend at the top of it,” he asked.
“Of course, but what of it,” I wondered.
“So the story goes, a local tribe was being driven South by another bloodthirsty tribe. Attacked and suffering in numbers, they retreated from their homeland and made their way towards the Richtersveld mountain desert. In grief, a few of their numbers turned back to gaze North towards their former homeland. The Gods felt sorry for these poor folks and turned them into halfmens, the plants you see there. In that way, they could always gaze towards their homeland and find some small comfort in the view,” he explained. “The halfmens always grow with their tips bending north.”
I listened to his tale and stared at the tree. It was a delightfully sad tale and one that resonated with me, as I gazed North towards my own homeland. The picture taken that day will stay with me forever.
The holidays have come and as of Monday will be gone again. They certainly shook up schedules, routines and the like while they were brewing and playing out. That is how it is though and I guess I wouldn't change it. So while this week more poetry flowed out of me than has in a while, work related prose was limited. That included my trips to Africa. Hmm, I sense a link. I guess we need to pay the bills somehow though, so what will be, will be. Monday and a return to schedules will happen soon enough.
In the mean time, baking, presents, cheerful time spent with friends and family has left me tightly in Christmas Land and far from Africa. For that I am a little sad, but tomorrow is always a new day. With my African tale almost at a close, I wonder whether I should just finish it off solo, saving the ending for you folks for the hard copy when it comes out or continue through my last few days on the continent with you safely stowed in my dufflebag. Hardly fair, especially for those of you who have been with me from when I sat waiting for the call. And really, without you this tale might not have seen fruition at all, if not for your steady encouragement. That is truth and if nothing else comes from this writing experience here in this online sphere, I thank you all who stop by here regularly, on occasion or just at random. I am at the culmination of a lifelong dream and you helped to make it possible. On my own, this book would have made it to page 12 or 21 at best. Whether you have read every page or not, you dear folks have been along the bumpy trail of almost 200 pages now. In fact, once pictures are added and proper page breaks are tucked in place, I am pretty sure this little adventure memoir will actually be a sale-able length. Again, I question whether I could have done this myself and knowing my track record with stick-to-it-iveness, somehow doubt it. Bless you all. I am truly grateful.
As it is Saturday, and I believe I have missed a few of them over the last couple of weeks, I am going to dig through my inbox and see if there is anything worthwhile to share with you folks today. Give me a second...
Well, as I seem to be all about gratitude and reflection today, how about this feel-good one about Feng Shui. It came from my Mother and could have been deleted without even reading more than the first line, but I actually took the time to scan, then read through them all. You certainly don't have to read them, but you might find one or two that resonate with you that you can take into the rest of your day. Regardless, thank you for being a part of my life today.
Katherine Feng Shui
ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully. TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other. THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want. FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it. FIVE... When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.. SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married. SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight. EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much. NINE... Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely. TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling. ELEVEN.Don't judge people by their relatives. TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly. THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?' FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk. FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze. SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson. SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions. EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship. NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it. TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice TWENTY- ONE. Spend some time alone.
What are your dreams for a new day? Go mention them to G-Man. He will listen, offer commentary in 55 words, then book! Sorry G, I will have to work on that central plotline, but this is 55 words! 8:01 and posted!