17 July 2015

An unwanted trip down memory lane

I read a heart-breaking article this morning about a 12-year-old girl who committed suicide – all because the 'cool group' saw her as fat and ugly. This brought back a rush of memories from my own school years, memories that still sting 14 years after leaving school…

I can’t remember much about my earlier years in Primary School, but I do recall wanting to be a part of a group of girls, the cool group, and them voting no on me joining the elite. At that point the school library became my haven – I lost myself in between the pages of whatever book I could find. In my last year in Primary School I was put in charge of the library, I think Head Library Prefect would be the correct translation. I was told by my peers that the only reason why I had the title was because I was sucking up to the teacher. No dears, the reason why I had the title is because you banned me from your group, because you were the Wolf Pack.

Eventually I entered High School, with high hopes that I could leave my lone wolf status behind me, but things proved to be more challenging that anticipated.

My first year I was bullied so badly that my mother had to intervene. The bullies, being ‘sport heroes’ of our grade, nearly got away with it and it was only after I threatened the principle with my mother, that he actually reacted. You see, my mom has piercing blue-eyes that, when angry, would make Lord Voldemort quiver with fear.

I found myself floating from group to group and eventually settled down into a group halfway through High School. This is it, I thought. Friends. Belonging. Acceptance. BFFs 4 life. When you are a teenager that is all you want.

It was only in my last year in High School that I found out that my “friends” were getting together over weekends – and I was never invited.  

I’ve been told that my school experience sharpen and made me the person that I am today – sure, but it doesn’t take away the sting, even years later, so imagine what it felt like at 12.

Today, at the age of 30-something, life is very different. 

They say that as you get older your friends become fewer, this isn’t so, my friends have expanded and I can honestly say that I can pick up the phone, at any time, and phone any of them and they will be there. No 'but', 'maybes' or any questions asked. They are not fly-by-nights, nor friends from school. They are my friends, the true kind. Heck, 14 years later I even belong to a Wolf Pack. ;-)

My message is this, don’t lose hope. School isn’t forever (even though it feels like it), hang in there and walk out with your head held high cause you survived.

Teachers open your eyes, take notice. You see these children every day, act. Parents talk to your children, open the lines of communication, teach your child compassion. 

Bullying isn't just a child hitting others or being verbally abusive. It is a  real or perceived power imbalance. It is subtle. It is hurtful. 

14 November 2014

A loss and gain situation

If you are a regular reader of my blog (or know me), then you will know that we lost one of our kittens in May this year (and may I add, unexpectedly. Very, very unexpectedly). I am often struck by the big gap Tulip left in our house and our hearts, she was tiny for a fully-grown cat but had a larger than life personality.

My husband and I spoke of getting a companion for Meeko (Tulip’s sister),  but somehow we always found an excuse to put it off to later, the end of the year, well, maybe in the new year. Till one day, not so long ago, we got a call from our regular vet asking us if we are ready to adopt, as someone just brought in a kitten that was found at the local hospital. We were happy to meet him and then decide. There wasn’t much time for the “deciding” part because we left the vet with him – and a stock of special kitten food.

It has been quite an emotional rollercoaster. The reasonable part of my brain knew we were under NO circumstances replacing Tulip, but that didn’t take away the emotions. It didn’t take away the fear of whether or not we were doing the right thing for Meeko, give an equal amount of attention to both (i.e. not make Meeko feel replaced) or the fact that I so badly wanted Tulip back – followed by guilt of “but does that now mean that I can’t love this kitten”.

My reality is that I would do anything, ANYTHING, to have Tulip back, but I can’t, and I would never exchange our new kitten for anything. And that is the reality of losing something you love dearly and gaining something you love. It is conflicting, it is confusing, but perfectly normal.

One thing can never replace another, some things can’t be undone (or redone) and you will never forget, but you will create new memories. This experience has made me realise that life is a bit like writing a book. Tulip is a part of our story, she is the chapter before this one. Nothing can erase that, nothing can change it but the story must continue.

The story of our fur-kids continues with Meeko and Oliver. The orphan who found his forever home and the human who found the capacity to love another, again. 

Meet Oliver; 

05 June 2014

The death of Wimpy coffee

Wimpy coffee and I have walked a long happy road together. The sweet, caffeinated taste of the famous favourites, since 1967, carried me through long Sunday hours at my part-time job. I was a student and, like most students, my favourite past time was staying up until something-silly-am – shower and hit the gym, not to train, but to work (I was a part-time receptionist).

The first hour and a half was torture and then the employee from the Wimpy next door would come in a bring me my saviour in a red cup. It was routine, they knew as soon as they get in, take a cup of coffee to the blond next door.

That was how my journey with Wimpy coffee started.

As I entered the world of adulthood, responsibility, work and no more something-silly-am shenanigans, I came to rely on the strong caffeinated  taste of  the famous favourite, since 1967, to kick start my day (at random point during the day).

Of late, I have noticed that the strong taste of caffeine has been dying a slow death of pure milk. How is milk going to keep me going? My mom in-law, you must love mothers – they always have the best advice, suggested that next I ask for an extra strong coffee. Of course! Extra strong coffee is guaranteed to contain all the caffeine an adult woman would need to function.

This morning I popped into Wimpy, “One cup of famous Wimpy coffee, please. Oh, make it a mega, extra strong please, loads of caffeine, thank you”.

That first anticipated sip… was dreadful. I sipped again and again and again, but the taste wouldn’t change. The famous favourite, since 1967, tasted like nothing but glorified milk and water with a dash of, what taste suspiciously like, jik.

More than half the cup remains untouched.

Wimpy coffee has died. RIP my dear, dear old friend, my saviour in a red cup.

Wimpy coffee, famous favourite, since 1967 to 2014. 

21 May 2014

In memory of Tulip

Our dearest Tulip

I’ll never forget the day we met you…

We went to Kitty & Puppy Haven to meet Meeko, her picture drew our attention because of her raccoon-like features. When we chatted to the volunteer and she suggested we get two kittens, we didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’, but first we wanted to meet the raccoon-like kitten, we would choose a second kitten in a bit. We didn’t realise our second kitten would choose us. 

We entered the enclosure and Meeko ran away, something she still does today when strangers enter her home. We sat down patiently waiting for her to come out, instead you came. You trotted to us, tail in the air, and climbed onto Craig’s lap, you purred and climbed, clearly saying ‘take me home’ and we knew we would.  

A week later, I fetched you and Meeko. 

To my surprise, once we got home, it was Meeko exploring her new surroundings and you who hid under the bed. I left you, knowing you would come out when you were ready and you did, when your human-dad came home. He sat down and you crawled all over him – you had that ginger-bond with each other.

We did everything, Tulip, everything to keep you safe, to protect you and your sister from harm. We thought of all external factors that could hurt you, take you from us, but we didn’t know it would be an internal factor that would rob you from us.

The vet said it was pancreatitis, an asymptomatic disease, which caused internal bleeding. We lost the war – a war we didn’t even have time to prepare for. A war that came down on us in a matter of minutes and was over in a few hours.

The house is empty without you, Lulu-Bear. Our hearts are broken.

We miss your purrs, the cheeky meows, your morning cuddles and evening kisses, the way you showed off your tail – the longest tail in the world (I know, I measured), playing fetch with you, watching you play with Meeko and try to sneakily sit on her (to pin her down), your squirrel run, your little smile, your mischievousness, you batting your treats across the floor, your tail (everybody’s favourite toy), your lucky paw and dirty little nose, and your 3am wake up calls. Yes, Tulip, I would give anything to have you wake us up, every single morning, at 3am if it meant that I could have a few more years with you. But we won’t. Our time with you was too short.

Thank you Tulip for the time you spent with us, for the memories, the laughter and paw-kisses. You will forever be in our hearts. We love you – always – forever and a day. 

09 April 2014

16:05 - it's time to walk down the aisle

The joke between my hubby and I was that I would just rock up on our big day and him, the moms and my closest girlfriends would’ve planned everything. I wouldn’t need to do a thing. As it turned out, having gone through planning a wedding, I am quite a control freak, a Nazi about detail and planned everything down to the last second.

After setting the date, selecting a venue, getting quotes and choosing suppliers, I started getting the ‘what time must the food be put out’, ‘what time should we be there…’ questions. The only answer I had was that the ceremony would start at 4pm, but no, suppliers wanted to know what time they must be there – I don’t know. 

The best way for me to establish who must be at the venue and what time – and what needs to happen when, was to create an Excel spreadsheet and work it out. Work it out I did – down to the last minute cause that’s what brides do, right?

Turns out not a single one of my friends or past brides (that I/the suppliers knew of) had such a detailed programme of events. Oh, don’t get me wrong, most knew what was happening in which order, but the actual time? Not a chance! Weddings have a dynamic of their own and things happen which you have no control over. True, but it turns out that I got quite twitchy when I didn’t know what time the next step would take place – or what the next step would be. 

My programme of events soon became colour coordinated (based on who is responsible for what) and had notes column (of things the responsible person MUST NOT FORGET).

This programme of events was not only emailed to every single person involved, but printed out and put into (pretty) folders and given to people. 

Ok, perhaps the exact time stamps were a bit much, but in my defense, I thought that is what brides do. The suppliers loved knowing what time they must be where, what the order was and what they were responsible for. They loved that there was no need to run around (after people) and that things went smoothly. Give your supplier that – in which ever format you prefer.

My matron of honour and MC were put in charge to ensure that things happen smoothly, flawlessly and 'on time'. Do that. Have responsible people do the running around so you can chill. My matron of honour was amazing in lining the ladies up for their hair and make-up, and our MC was brilliant in ensuring that everything went smoothly.

But be flexible. Weddings do have a personality of their own, but things somehow work out. Plus, you've left people you trust in charge. 

In case you are wondering… Things didn’t happen exactly according to the times on the schedule. In fact we were about two hours ahead of schedule with hair and make-up, which wasn’t such a bad thing, as I got to do a mini-bridal boudoir shoot with the photographer.

We remained ahead of schedule for pretty much the whole wedding, which was great, cause instead of starting the party at 21:30, we started at 20:57. 

03 April 2014

Say ‘YES’ to the dress!

Wedding dress shopping. It is possibly one of the most magical shopping experiences of a girl’s life – that and her husband buying her a pair of shoes after 24 hours of marriage.

My mom and I went to a bridal shop, I selected five dresses I wanted to fit – one which was the biggest and puffiest dress in the shop. You must. You have to choose that one dress that will leave you giggling – and the bell-dress! Fit a bell-dress and swing your hips, all brides do it.

Picture: The bell-dress.

I remember walking past the mirror – all dressed in white – that’s when it hit me. I was going to be a bride, I was going to marry the man of my dreams. It was remarkable walking out of the dressing room – my mom’s eyes filled with tears (as she got the camera ready to snap some pictures), strangers gasped and told me how spectacular I look, and the shop assistant took my hand and put me on a pedestal (literally). There I stood, all pretty in white, all the markings of a bride-to-be, caught up in the magic.

 By the third dress, I was over it. I could suddenly understand why brides didn’t eat on their wedding day. It wasn’t because of nerves, it was because you can hardly breath – let alone eat! One slice of cucumber and the water retention would have you popping out in all directions. Caught up in the magic, I tried on one last dress…

It was the shop assistant’s pick, by the way.

It was during this moment that I realised I didn’t want an Oprah-dress. To clarify with all the dramas of an Oprah show; “You’ve worn that dress and you can wear the dress! You wear the dress – you all can wear the same dress!”

I wanted MY dress that had MY personality written all over it! I wanted something different. And something different I got. 

Bless my dress-maker, she added layers, a bow and small touches to make it ‘wedding-dressy’, but never before and never again will anyone have a dress like mine. 

I said "YES" to a dress that was me and no one else...

10 April 2013

I should’ve listened to my mom – and a little lesson I learned

I have been struggling with my lower-back since last year October, in short my muscles went into spasm and wouldn’t loosen up. I have gone through some drastic measures to get it sorted, including physio, acupuncture, biokinetics and cortisone injections. I didn’t see the spasm for what it really was – my body’s way of saying “hey, hold up, take it easy, slow down”.

I woke up one morning so tired that I would’ve sold my soul to the devil for an extra hour’s sleep. The type of tired that I felt is something that you have no clue about, unless you have been there. Felt it.

I started going through the motions of life, simply because I had to. I had to work, so work I did. I had to study, so study I did (how much I actually took in is debatable). Going out with friends required brushing my hair and getting dressed, a thought far too exhausting so cancelling was easier.

One night when I was driving home a robot turned red, like robots do. The mere thought of a minute’s delay to get home was simply too much, so I bursted into tears. It was at this point that I realised I had burned myself out and carrying on, pushing, was simply no longer an option.

I went to see my soul coach (or, what most people will call, counsellor – though her role in my life far exceeds the way you’d define “counsellor”). It amazes me what you can achieve through constellation work (healing on a soul level). It was during this session that I learned a lesson which I will hold near and dear to my heart for the rest of this life;

Honour your journey, trust the path that you are on. Respect who you are right here and now. There is absolutely no need to rush anything – where you are is perfect. What is meant to be, will be. 

Between all the medical treatments, it was the treating of the soul that did the world of good. I woke up yesterday morning, for the first time in months, feeling like I could conquer the world, instead of hiding from it.

That said, the one “medical” treatment that I did see value in was going to a biokineticist. In my last session she indicated that we’ll be doing some posture work. The one exercise involves pulling back your shoulders, the aim is to straighten your shoulders and, as a result, your back. It was at this point that I realised I wished I had listened to my mom when I was younger, she always told me “skouers terug en rug regop”, which roughly translates to “shoulders back and keep your back straight”. I had to laugh, it turns out that mom does know best. 

About the scribbler

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Lover of cats, books and red wine. My journey.
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