The WTF that was 2019

In my mind it still is June. I don’t know where the rest of the year went or what happened to it. It just happened so quickly.

2019 was nothing short of being caught in a riptide. The times I can remember when I had my head above water was few and far between. More often than not I was caught in a desperate gasp for air and space and quiet and rest.

Most of the year was spent in a zombie like state between trying to get from one job to the next while smiling and making small talk, while deep down, all I want is my bed. On more than one occasion I felt that booking myself into a hospital and requesting to be put to sleep for 2 weeks seems a very viable option. Right now, as I’m sitting here and everyone is feeling festive and happy and in celebratory moods, all I can thing of is how long it is till I can go to bed.

But, it’s not all bad. My Love and I have a deeper and stronger relationship than ever before

My son is back home and he has turned into the young man I always new he could be. He makes me more proud with every day that goes past.

I couldn’t be more blessed.

I’m sorry about friends that were lost this year. Getting upset because I again can’t make it to a braai or not liking the fact that I call your bluff on gossip…. Well, do I really want those kind of “friends”? I am grateful for knowing who my real friends are – tho ones who understand and stick around and jump out to help at the drop of a hat, those are my kind of people.

I am healthy, albeit a little overweight.

I have a job that pays well enough

I have a safe, secure, warm, dry home that is filled with love and laughter and crazy moments and friends that pop in at all hours and a garden that gets better by the day

I have grown and healed and walked a step or two closer to the person I am meant to be

I am happy.

Is there really more to ask for?

Besides making me tired (which I intend to remedy with a lot of sleep over the next couple of days), 2019 have made me stronger and wiser. I am not broken or bruised by the year, but instead I am filled with hope and a bubbling sense of anticipation. Next year can really only get better!

2019, The Review

In a previous post, sort of midway through the year, and then in yesterday’s post (what you are reading now was started on the 21st of December so the “yesterday” I am referring to is in fact 20 December. Bear with me, you’ll see below why it took 9 days to get here). I mentioned how busy we have been and how little time we have for…. well anything.

Now I suppose you may sit there and think: how busy can a person be? Let me tell you all about it. In a nutshell, this is was Being Busy has been all about this year

Being Busy – Part 1
In October 2018 my Love started a coffee business. That means getting up and 4:30am 6 days a week so he can be ready to go with the first cup before 6am. Believe me when I tell you that it’s all lies when they tell you getting up before the sun gets easier as your body becomes used to it. It doesn’t. With that started social media marketing on my side, scouting for events, helping at events and so on.

Being Busy – Part 2
As you may recall, I took up studying in January 2019. 4 Years to my Financial Accounting degree is, thankfully, now down to 3. Being Busy meant cramming for exams and really putting my brain to the test. It’s been hard work, but fun at the same time. I really missed studying and it has helped a great deal with my work this year

Being Busy – Part 3
In April I decided to start my own business, which only runs over weekends. It’s been going OK and had its ups and downs. I’ve learned a lot and worked even more. We made some money and thankfully have not lost any. It’s been going OK, but not OK enough for me to want to continue. Working 7 days a week and only getting a day off once in 4 months is not cutting it for me. So, we are at a crossroads to either change the business concept entirely or give it up as something we gave a solid college try.

Being Busy – Part 4
My son moved back to me and I’ve been homeschooling him (for various reasons). Best decision ever! The results have been absolutely mindblowing and I am one seriously proud mom.

Being Busy – Part 5
Yes, I still have a very demanding day job, hence the 7 day work week mentioned in 3 above.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but we’ve been busy, busy, busy.

No time for any form of exercise, exhaustion, stress – all of these have taken its toll on us. We have reached the point where going to bed at 7:30PM and sleeping for 10 solid hours once every 2 weeks have become somewhat of a treat. Getting to bed before 8:00PM is something that we seriously look forward to. My sleep tracker is very concerned with my rather uneven sleep habits haha. I’ve also learned that too little sleep, coupled with stress, poor eating habits (because getting take out on the way home from a long long day is much easier and quicker than actually cooking) and the female hormone cycle that goes haywire after 40 (that really is a thing!) and no exercise leads to weight gain, which I plan to tackle head-on (starting tomorrow ;-))

I am happy to say, however, that our relationship is stronger than ever before. We’ve had our Jeremiah year and we have proven that we, as a team, can stand as a united front against anything that comes our way.

2020 is all about scaling down and building on what we have learned this year.

My 2020 post, coming up later today or tomorrow is going to be an interesting one…..

Influencer

Influencer – An influencer is someone in your niche or industry with sway over your target audience. Influencers have specialized knowledge, authority or insight into a specific subject. Their pre-existing presence in a niche makes them a useful launching pad for brands in search of credibility. 

https://sproutsocial.com › glossary › influencer

I’ve always said that if one day when I die and people stand around my grave, just one person was to say that I have positively influenced them; that I made a tiny little difference in one person’s life, I would know that I did OK. Those few little words would mean that I’ve accomplished what I was put on earth to do.

Pause to take note that I’m not saying I’ve figured out my purpose, but deep down I feel that that is something that I am meant to do. Perhaps something that we are all meant to do, but that’s a topic for another day

Influencer, yes, getting back on track. I suppose I am what you could call the most consistently inconsistent blogger you’ll ever get to know. My writing efforts have been lacking something, somewhat, some sort of ….. finality. Well, to be honest, it completely and totally lacked any actual writing effort whatsoever. My “imaginary” writing skills, well those have been on fire. I’ve had probably 4 or 5 pieces a week this year; countless stories I’ve been burning to put to paper; stories which were planned and plotted and edited to masterpieces – in my mind – I’ve had countless pieces that have all disappeared, stories I can never get back., but for that, I only have myself (and time, way too little time) to blame. So, in light of all of this, I found it very funny when Luke called me an “Influencer” earlier tonight.

While clearing the dinner plates he walked past my laptop; a black page on it with the cursor slowly blinking in the space that would soon be filled with the words of a post completely different from this one; he looked at the screen and said -in a very typical I-know-it-all-and-you-are-old 17-year-old teenager filled with hormones kind of way – “so, I see you are starting your own blog, you should rather start vlogging you know, maybe do your own YouTube channel. A blog is so…..old, like you”. “It’s not a new blog” I replied. He paused for a second, his eyes widened and surprise flooded his face, “O! You mean it’s still the same one from back in G Bay? Wow, Mom, I’m impressed, you’re actually an influencer!”. I chuckled as I was correcting him. Being an influencer would mean that I, first of all, need to be more consistent, I would need to know – really know – what I’m talking about (opposed to the random ramblings I blurt out from time to time) and lastly, but not in the least less important, I would need to reach a lot more people.

On that point, may I add a thank you to those who are still subscribed and still make the effort to read what I write. In spite of my total lack of starting, finishing and actually posting something, you are still here and still reading and responding. For that, I am truly grateful.

Maybe, through my ramblings and experiences and thoughts, I can influence someone somewhere in the world. Maybe that person can be you…

PS: I am not making any grandiose promises of writing more often or better. If this year has taught me anything, it is that time is precious and you make the best of it. I will no longer feel guilty over things that weren’t mine to be guilty about to start with. Nor, will I feel guilt over not meeting the expectations placed on me by others to silence the little voice in their own head, the little voice that is meant to nudge them to start and do something. I am me, I am busy, I will write as and when I can. 

Do I hope I’ll get to do it more often? Yes! Do I hope you will contribute and comment? Definitely yes! Do I hope to influence someone? You bet I do!

Chortle, you’ll love it!

As the words for this post came to life and gained momentum in my mind, I found myself pursing my lips quite a few times.  I’d stop and wiggle in my chair and try and push it away, just for it to creep back a little bit later.  What was formulating raised a “disapproving” nudge somewhere inside of my.  “How can you be promoting the use of drugs and alcoholism?  You’ve seen first hand how it destroys lives!”  “But I’m not!” a part of me shouts back, “it’s just…..it’s just….heck, I don’t know what it is”

Let me backtrack, life got in the way of living lately.  We’ve been so busy being busy that we haven’t had any time to just ….breath.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that it is a worthy cause and we’ll reap the benefits (hopefully sooner than later) so I’m not complaining, but phew….. being busy is tiring and when you find that the idea of going to bed at 7PM is enough to make you want to do cartwheels, you know you’ve been just way too busy

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During a recent visit to our favorite sushi restaurant (because it’s easier and faster and less effort to get them to bring you the food than it is to shop, prep, cook and clean), I found myself staring at a 4 year old for most of the evening.  His dad was entertaining him by pretending to drop the sushi every time, trying again, dropping it and then FINALLY getting it right.  This blue eyed blonde little boy just couldn’t stop laughing.  You could see the giggle build in his tiny body and then completely lose it as the laughter ripped free and filled the entire place.  His eyes pinched together, tiny button nose pulled up into a wrinkle and his entire body shaking.  It looked so free and honest and real that it brought tears to my eyes, I was in total awe of this child’s innocence

The next day, while stuck in traffic leaving the airport, everyone desperately trying to make it onto the N2 and get home, or get to a meeting or a conference or whatever it is that we are all chasing, I caught sight of (what appeared to be) a homeless man.  He stood there on Airport Approach road, laughing so much he couldn’t stand.  He quite literally had to grab a hold of the fence to prevent himself from falling over and he stood there and just laughed and laughed and laughed.  Scold me for this, but my first thought was “tikkop”, because obviously no one in that condition could be that happy that he would be laughing that much.  As we went past him and turned onto the N2, I was reminded of the little boy and how he laughed and it saddened me, again.  So what if he is as high as a kite?

(See this is where the one part of me goes all bitchy and tell me to stop promoting the use of drugs)  Bear with me, I’m not saying we should all become junkies, not at all, so please don’t judge, just yet.

So I say again, so what if he was as high as a kite?  For that moment his (undoubtedly) miserable life – through whatever circumstance (and that is irrelevant in the context of this post; a different topic for a different day) – was not miserable at all.  It was filled with a childlike innocent joy and freedom and happiness.  Yes, it is a false sense of happiness and yes, all of that, I get that and I support that, but he was happy and laughing; laughing like I haven’t done in the longest time and THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what this post is about.

The next day as we sat with friends, I told them about the boy and the homeless guy and how they laughed, and I asked when is the last time you laughed with such abundance.  “O”, the shrugged, “every time we get stoned” they looked at each other and burst out laughing

That really got me thinking.  When is the last time I laughed like a child?  The last time I was really… inebriated.  Well, I can’t really get drunk every time I need to have a good laugh, can I?

We get jokes every day via some form of social media and we “laugh”, but we don’t really laugh do we?

Go look at the different definitions of laughing and you’ll see that we smile, grin, smirk, giggle, snicker and chuckle.  Hardly ever do we get to the “chortle” stage – Chortle: originates even deeper in the chest and involves muscles of torso; usually provokes laughter in others;

 

So why don’t we laugh more often?

Let me be very clear about this:  I am not unhappy, depressed, sad, going through a midlife crisis or anything like that.  To the contrary:

Spiritually, I am connected

Relationship, happier than I’ve ever been

Studying, yes and acing it!

Working, with real job satisfaction for the first time in years

Finally started a business of my own and it’s taking of nicely

My son and I have a better connection now than we’ve had since he entered puberty and brought all the hormones that comes with that

I’m happy, really really happy

It’s just that life get’s in the way of us living the way we are meant to.  We are so pressured to meet deadlines and budgets and get kids to school and to work on time and make it to the shop and cook dinner and catch up on admin and and and and and……………

My friend google led me to a very interesting website.  I learned about the benefits of laughter and then found some laughing exercises

So, next time you find me having a good cackle in the face of someone throwing a tantrum or at any other inappropriate time or place for that matter, just know that I have not lost my marbles, nor am I high or drunk, I am just improving my quality of life.  Well, as long as said tantrum thrower does not assault me for laughing at them 😉

Whatever you do today, find something to really laugh at, you’ll thank me later!

How NOT to wax at home

Us girls have so much to do.  We wax, we pluck, we color, we tease, we Brazilian (both kinds), we gel and…. the list goes on.  Can I just, again, put on record how lucky men are?  They have no idea what we have to endure in the name of beauty.  But we do it with a smile and are filled with anticipation at the idea of a pamper session.  In a way all girls are slightly masochistic, I guess

See this than as my personal contribution to any girl who have considered waxing at home; a guide if you must.

A short while ago, just before we were meant to attend a wedding, a friend told me that there is no way we are doing the wedding without some serious waxing on my part – I’m hairy by nature.  Very hairy, a true lioness.  She whipped out her bag of magic and the process started.  “It’s simple”, she said.  “You simply melt the wax in this very convenient cup that is provided with your product, apply, wait for it the dry and then … rip.  All done!”  Wow, that is really simple, I thought.  Why do I pay to get this done, I thought, and off to the shop I went to buy my own.  That was over a month ago and, for the life of me, I simply could  not find this specific product.  I’m a bit of drab when it comes to buying stuff.  If I know it works, I buy it and I won’t settle for anything else.  Imagine my excitement when the store phoned today to say that their stock have arrived!  I rushed home, finished the last-minute work my boss had given to me and set out on my first attempt at a smoother, sleeker, sexier me.

Because I love you all, here’s what not do.

  1. Do not under any circumstance touch the mug when you take it off the stove.  It is made of metal.  Metal, surprise surprise, is a very good carrier of heat.  Use a glove or oven mit or dish towel or anything – anything other than your bare hands.  It took everything I had to not throw the entire lot on the floor.  The only thing that saved it was the fact that I remembered that I paid for it.  Back on the stove it went while I scampered for the flour.  FYI – another useful tip since I’m already sharing – flour works brilliantly for any kind of burn.  Just stick your hand in the bag or cover the burnt area with flour and leave it to cool.  Once you rinse it off with cold water it will still be sensitive, but it won’t form a blister.
  2. Do not stick your finger in it after (what you imagine to be) a sufficient cooling period.  It’s not going to be cold enough and you will have to go for the flour again.
  3. Do not go for the full facial wax on your first attempt.  You have no idea what you are in for.  Baby steps sister, baby steps.  That little face of yours ain’t so little when it comes to ripping hair out of it
  4. Do not underestimate the amount of hair you have.  Just because you can’t see them, it doesn’t mean that they’re not there.  Believe me, when I tell you this.  There must be a scientific formula for this, but I’m sure it goes something like this.  The amount of hair on your face is an exponential opposite of the number of hair you can see.  Or maybe that’s just me.  When I started this, I could probably spot let’s say 30 wayward strands of hair.  Once wax is applied they breed and 30 turns into a thousand in the blink of an eye.  I’ve always known that there is no such think as the stork and that my parents did actually catch me in the mountains and chopped off my tail.  Today it was proven to me.  OMG do I have a lot of hair!!
  5. Do not underestimate the staying power of hair.  Those little f…… suckers wanna stay.  They like it there.  It is their home.  It is easier to rip the skin off than it is to get those pesky little hairs to up and leave.
  6. Not too thin, Not too thick.  Apply the layer of wax too thinly and you end of yanking of tiny pieces of wax of about 1cm by 1cm.  Apply the layer of wax too thickly and you end up with a clump of gunk on your chin that won’t even crack, let alone give you half an inch of grip to yank it off
  7. Not to fast, not too slow.  If you rip the wax of too fast, it tears.  Too slow and you are just delaying the torture.  You will know exactly where each little hair is based and it will hurt.  Every time.  Without fail.  Get your yanking speed right.
  8. Know the level of torture you are willing to inflict on yourself.  This one is very important.  If you are easily hurt, rather leave this to the professionals.  There is nothing worse than finally getting a decent piece of wax, thin enough and long enough to yank off in one go only to stop halfway because your DNA stops you from inflicting any more pain on yourself.  Again, referring you back to point 3 above.  Baby steps.
  9. Do not start the process while you are waiting for your hair dye to develop to the perfect shade.  It’s not a quick process.  30 minutes into my color developing to a luscious vibrant red, I was only about three-quarters of the way done.  At this point I was torn between rinsing my hair and finishing the wax job.  Wax won and after 45 minutes of developing, my color has turned to a sullen mulberry.  Not at all the vibrant vixen I had in mind.
  10. Get everything of your face before introducing said face to water.  Mmmmm.  I don’t really know how to describe the result without putting a PG rating on this post.  After 45 minutes of yanking and pulling and pleading with every last piece of wax to come off, and my color turning darker by the second, I gave up and headed for the shower with little pieces of wax still stuck to unrelenting pieces of hair and skin.  It turns to gunk.  Think C, no wait D-grade, porn movie.  Sorry if that’s too much for you, but that’s all I can come up with.  It melts and congeals and becomes gooey and stringy and ….. yuck!
  11. Do not forget the finishing wipes.  I, being a newbie, did not even consider that when I made my purchase.  Every pore that’s been relentlessly cleansed of whatever was covering it is now very much alive and in need of some soothing.

Having said all of that, it’s not all bad.  I have (in general) a less fuzzy look and my fingers are still constantly finding little flecks of wax sticking to a tuft here and there like there’s no tomorrow, so it’s keeping me busy.

Save to say, I won’t be trying this again soon.  Ms T, I will need a standing appointment with you every month until we’ve used up every last drop of wax.  You are way better at this than me!

Happiness and hope

I want to write happy stories

I want to capture the magic that is falling in love – flushed cheeks and a fluttering heart, the heat in the pit of your belly as a million butterflies takes flight when your eyes meet, the insomnia that you welcome with open arms as you dream up possibilities and live and breathe hope.

I want to tell long tales of searching and finally finding that thing that fills the whole in one’s soul. The internal – and, yes, sometimes the eternal – battle that ravages your soul as you fight in denial that this might be it and then when you are done fighting and can only accept, then the falling into that thing. The peace that comes with knowing that your search is over and your spirit has found a kindred one; the serenity and comfort as you allow yourself to be wrapped in a warm and nurturing silence where you don’t need to fight or explain or rationalize, where you can just…. be.

Just like the masters of these tales since time immemorial, I want to pen those tales. Those tales are what makes us human, but why does there always have to be pain? I’d like to find the fairy-tale where it just goes smoothly. The one where you can love with the innocence of a child and the completeness of God. If you know of such a tale, please share it with me. Ours is still in the making so it doesn’t quite count. Our story is not done yet.

Is that the kind of love that can only be known in God, when we are dead? What then is our purpose here on earth? It is said “it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”. Is that true? Is it not better to not know the pain of having your heart ripped out and chewed and spat out on a sidewalk like it never carried life at all? Is it not better to not know the highs and lows of this specific ocean? To what end do we have to endure this suffering.

If I look at Shakespeare, Juliet had to die and Romeo too. If I look at Bella, she loved Edward and Jake the same but different and in the end, only one could win

Love, the central theme of humanity

Why then is it so hard to find the happy ones. I want to tell those tales.

I don’t want to write about fear and anger and I don’t want to cry for every happy ending in a movie – perhaps that’s why I prefer plot-less horrors or predictable thrillers, because I can distance myself from the murder and mayhem and psychosis. Maybe there is something to be said about my psychosis then. Or is that just who I am? Am I just doomed to forever ask the questions that no-one dear speak, to see love blossom and wonder

What if?

To cry at the beauty of a wedding, the innocence and hope….. to cry for the what if… to madly want to protect that and fight for that and nurture that

I want to write the happy ever afters…

Critter Control

Apply yourself
Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not
come easily to you.

I’m a nerd.  Always have and always will be

Learning is something that comes easy to my so my initial thought was to just skip this prompt all together.  What kind of writer would that make me though?  So, I started to think..

My mind went back to school and new jobs and diplomas, but they all came easy.  AHA! My driver’s license, now that surely didn’t come easy (still hasn’t but soon will), but it’s still not in line with the prompt.  I’ve never had my driver’s licence because of a long list of reasons – some valid, some cop-out’s.  The Universe, I suppose, have conspired against me and I against it.  I’ve had my learner’s licence 4 times and am now, FINALLY, at the point where I will be booking my driver’s licence on Tuesday.  With a couple of lessons under the belt, my instructor reckons “I’m a natural”.  Heck, I’ve been a backseat driver long enough, I suppose it’s time for the real deal.  I’ll let you know how that pans out.  So again, I seem to be a quick study…

After my little tantrum earlier in the week, I’ve taken the necessary steps and registered at a college.  Ladies and gentlemen, I now officially have a student number.  I am excited and scared at the same time.  It’s been years since I last studied, but I’m sure I’ll take to it like a fish to water.  The end result is going to take about 3 years to complete, but if you stick around for long enough, I’ll let you know once I’m qualified as an accountant!!!

This is the point where my mind sort of went blank and I couldn’t really come up with anything that has ever been difficult for me to learn.  Just as I was about to give up on this prompt altogether, it dawned on me..

I don’t know if it was a flutterby that gently reminded or a cockroach that tried to derail me, perhaps if I look deep enough, you could call it denial.

Dealing with my bugs is the one thing that’s never come easy to me.  If I had to be brutally honest, I guess in a way I’ve been nurturing them for many years.  It’s only recently that I have recognized their existence and started to make an effort to get rid of them altogether.

A couple of days ago a few of them desperately tried to derail me – and it’s funny how they always try to mess things up when I am making a comeback; when I am strong and confident and raring to go.   Two days after my slight emotional meltdown, I was in full fighting mode.  Confident that I won’t give up and that I will get this done, regardless of what it might take.  Out of nowhere in a moment where I was caught in awe at how much my office plant has grown, they crawled into my brain.  After about 10 minutes of debating and rationalizing and trying to fight them, I managed to scare them off.  It might sound like nothing to you, but it was quite a major feat for me.

To love is easy, to look past someone’s flaws and only see the good in them is easy.  Trusting is not.  Believing is not.  Fighting the critters that come to throw you off track, that is not easy.

So, by the help of Socrates, the wisdom of my love and years of experience, critter control is what I am applying myself to.

Round 1 – me 1, critters 0

Homegrown

Free association
Write down the first words that comes to mind when we
say . . . home. . . soil. . . rain. Use those words in the title of
your post.

Our minds work in mysterious ways…

This prompt immediately took me back to my primary school days: afternoons in my gran’s garden between the fruit trees and vegetables, listening to the neighbor calling his homing pigeons back; then to my mom and I establishing a flower bed in the most horrendous circumstances; then to my carefully manicured garden in Durbanville before it all went up in smoke; then to the garden I have now and how much care I need to take to gather water for my plants; then to the severity of the drought – farmers committing suicide and the total hopelessness that prevails as family estates go to ruin; then (from out of nowhere and for the first time in ages!!) to this – complete fiction.  I hope you enjoy the read (even though it’s sad, but hope always remains)

“Why, Lord, why?  What do you want from me?”  Gertrude’s thermos cup makes a thud on the barren red soil as she drops it on the ground.  The last bit of fight she had in her seeps away as the hot coffee turns the dust to a dark splatter of blood; the ground crying out for water.  She had no more tears left and sat completely broken next to, what used to be, their oasis, willing the skies to fill with clouds and restore this place to its once crowning glory.  Memories washing over her as the last rays of sunlight disappears over horizon turning the now defunct windmill into a dark skeleton on the top of the hill, the Karoo skies open and clear.  Day 1680 without rain had come to an end

“Let’s go away” Cobus had said to her on that evening 10 years ago.  They were busy clearing the dishes  after, yet another, successfully hosted lunch celebrating NatGro’s latest major contract.  Their guests had gone on and on about the perfectly cooked shank paired with a beautiful Franciacorta, an Italian Pinot Noir they brought back from their last visit.  They both smiled dutifully and made small talk as they willed the evening to an end.  They were tired.  Tired to the bone and their souls carried an insatiable hunger for more.  Corporate life had taken its toll, not only on the them but their marriage too.  The glamour couple wanted out.  They longed for the careless days of reading a book, doing a crossword together or going for a walk on the beach; the beach they always dreamed of and eventually bought.  Gertrude turned to Cobus, his reflection a perfect silhouette against the setting sun, waves gently lapping at the shore behind him and suddenly she couldn’t remember the last time they had set foot on that beach. 

“What do you mean?  We’ve just come from France and Germany is 2 weeks away”

“Everything.  Let’s get away from everything.  I love you and I miss you and I’m done with the rat race to signing the next contract and the next one and the next one.  I want my life back.  It never ends!”  The crystal shattered in a million directions as the wine drew a new picture over the painting he bought on auction not even 6 weeks ago.

For a moment of stunned silence Gertrude stared at him, shocked at this sudden show of anger and intrigued by the urgency in voice.  A light flickered in her eye as a spark of excitement flared up within her core.  Getting away from it all has been her biggest desire for a very long time, but he was doing so well, how could she possibly expect him to give it all up because her spirit longed for home.  The small Karoo town where she was born have always been home to her.  Their house was perfect, built to match her every dream, but it was never home.  The more they traveled and the busier they became, the more her soul longed to go home. 

“I thought you were happy here?  Where would we go?  What would we do?”

Cobus took her by the hand, a bottle of wine and two glasses in the other hand and walked her down the pier.  They sat in silence and watched the ocean turn from blue to orange to silver.  He pulled a box from Brown’s out of his pocket and handed it to her.  “I bought you this to celebrate, but I couldn’t remember your favorite color.  Then I realized that there’s a lot I don’t remember.  I don’t remember the smell of your hair as you come out of the shower.  I don’t remember the blush on your cheeks when you are excited.  I don’t remember the last time we had pancakes on the veranda as we read the Sunday paper.  What are we doing?  I see you everyday, we go to bed, we wake up, we talk and eat and travel, but when last did we see into each others soul?”

She tried to speak, the words silenced by his lips as he draws her closer.  The salt of her tears mingled with the smokey white pepper of the wine on his lips.  They sat their and talked as they hadn’t done for ages.  The sky turned black and the milky way shone bright.  When they eventually made their way back to the house, his jacket draped over her shoulders, the full moon lit the way and Gertrude was at peace once more, she knew it was all going to be OK.

5 Weeks later it was all done.  Cobus’ share in the business transferred to his partners, the house sold furniture and all, her SLK and his X5 traded for a WildTrack… all they had in front of them was the 6 hour drive to their new home “La Tranquillita”.  When Cobus first mentioned it, she thought he had gone mad.  A game lodge in the Karoo?!   He was adamant and had already signed the deed of sale.  She was going home!

The next 6 years was spent in bliss.  Cobus spared no expense as the run-down lodge was turned into the most popular place to say outside of the Karoo National Park.  Their days were spent taking tourists on game drives, their evenings next to the fire as he pointed out the constellations she could never remember.  Sundays was her favorite though.  They would take the day off and spend it next to the dam, reading and eating and drinking wine and making love under the willow tree.  They were madly in love and didn’t want for anything.  

The harsh “kak-kak-kak” of a Lanner Falcon rips her from the memories.  She’s surprised to still see one in this area.  The animals and birds which had not died had all migrated by now.  Their oasis lay bare before her.  To think of how it looked…. That was 4 years ago before the rain stopped.

El Nino they had called it and everyone said it wouldn’t last long.  But they were wrong.  At first tourism slowed down as more and more animals died and water restrictions were put in place.  Homes put up for the sale in the first year still found new owners, but the empty skeletons that litter the town now are testimony of lives that were once lived there, of people moving on and starting afresh somewhere else.  Year after year now the farmers had to watch as their sheep die of thirst, how the last bit of greenery disappeared into dust.  Her own vegetable garden turned to nothing more than a highway for tumble-weed, her chicken coop dilapidated and falling apart.

This morning over coffee, exactly 10 years after Cobus declared they had to get away, he looked up from his paper and again said those words.

“We have to get away from here.  Our savings are running out, it’s never going to rain here again.”  The defeated look in his eyes told her what she had already known.  “Mark made me an offer.  I can go back.  We can start over.”

She fled and came here, looking for answers, looking for a way out.  Deep down, however, she knew they had no other choice.  The rat race had won.  They had to go back.

“It won’t be the same, I promise you that, as God is my witness in this barren land, it won’t be the same”  Cobus’ voice jarred her from thought as his arms wrapped around her.

He gently kissed her on the head “This time will be better, going back will not be the same”

That which remains unsaid

On my return to WordPress, I was very disappointed to learn that the “daily prompt” no longer exist. In my amateur opinion everyone, even Steven King and Khalil Gibran needs a spark to get the creative juices flowing. They must, I’m sure, be able to find that spark in the little things every day – a walk in the park or a spilled cup of coffee might lead to a bestselling novel. This aspiring writer is not there yet. So, I rifled through the web in search of something similar and came across their 365 Days of Writing Prompts, which will have to do for now. Granted, I’m a day late, but here’s the one for yesterday:

Ripped from the headlines
Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.

The first headline that caught my eye on News24 was the news that Margaret is now divorced. For those of you who don’t know Margaret, here’s the long and short of it

Margaret, the farmer’s wife on a small town in the middle of nowhere decided to spice things up and delve into the world of sexting with her husband. The photo ended up going to her daughter’s hockey WhatsApp group and went viral from there.

What is not being said in this little story? Who’s to say her husband didn’t ask her for the picture? Who’s to say it wasn’t a regular thing between them? Who’s to say if it was not meant for someone other than her husband? Who’s to say…. Fact is, with it being a small town she was ridiculed and their entire family suffered as a result of one message. Strange thing then, that she decided to move to town while her (now ex-) husband stayed on the farm? It if was me, I would have high tailed out of there in the blink of an eye. So, what is not being said…

The story that developed in my head was a bit 50 Shade-ish (gasp), so I’ll rather not bore you with those details. It got me thinking, however, about everything that remains unsaid and how well we really know people.

I’ve often said that we only really know people as much as they allow us to know them. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. The smiling, obedient wife might be the victim of abuse. The busy executive who is always away on business might be having an affair. The couple who’s always hosting and throwing lavish parties might be struggling financially. The cheery blond, who is always the life of the party looking for the next adventure, might be an extremely lonely, hurt and scared little girl with tons of issues. The quiet one in the corner with the “leave me alone” expression, might have more to say that anyone would ever know.

There’s a lot to be said for not being a “quiet” person. I would much rather sit back and listen and observe than make small talk. You learn so much about people if you just stop and listen – really listen.

The biggest communication flaw we have is that we hear to respond, we don’t really listen. If you stop and listen instead of just hearing, there is so much to be learned from every day conversations. People don’t realize how they allow little vulnerabilities shine through with things that they say, and when they do it is usually quickly fixed with a joke that leaves everyone roaring with laughter to distract from the truth that was spoken – the truth they don’t want people to know.

If I could have a super-power, it would be to be able to read people’s minds. Then I will really know what is being meant or what truth is hidden or what lie is being sold as gospel. The world has taught us to not verbalize what we really think or feel – we might get rejected, we might be misunderstood, our fears might scare people away, our dreams might be too big for them. So, we keep it to ourselves. We don’t share our innermost wishes and fears and hopes and dreams, because we don’t know how it will be received. And that is where things go wrong.

I could for instance say that I enjoyed my December home making so much that I don’t want to go back to work. My boss might read it and see that my commitment to work is waning, which is completely wrong.

If you can’t be totally truthful about what you feel and want and need – however messed up it might be (I take you back to Margaret and her husband now) – how can we ever have successful relationships? Perhaps Margaret and her husband found themselves in a slump in their marriage and instead of giving up on it, they read 50 Shades and decided to spice things up and work at their marriage. Granted, some people might say if that is the case they went about it the wrong way, but we will never know will we.

The thing is that our thoughts and needs and emotions can be scary. One of Robin Sharma’s tactics is “speak your truth even when it’s scary”. A lot can be achieved by doing just that if, and that’s a big IF, we don’t allow our fears to cloud our minds.

A friend recently suggested that we do a 100% truth evening. The thought of it was so uncomfortable that we decided not to follow through. Do we really want to know the absolute truth of what someone thinks about us and our ideas, would we be able to handle it?

If your “truth” is too much for someone to handle or if your “truth” is not what they want to hear or accept, is that person really the kind of person you need in your circle? I don’t know. Until I’ll do, I’ll continue to listen and share my truth here.