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8 years on

I wanted to comment on a book reviewer’s blog post but in order to do so I had to log in to my own WordPress account. Can you imagine the trepidation? I mean it’s been 8 long years and so much has happened. I eased into the site and updated About Me. Then I spent a bit of time reading the old posts which made me chuckle. If I thought I was getting old at 39 what must I say now 6 months and one day away from knocking on number 50’s door.
So a very quick update:
My children are 19 and 17. And to answer an old post – they didn’t just turn out ok, they turned out perfect. Yes, yes, I can be biased.
There have been lots of caving expeditions, weekly climbs at an indoor climbing gym, yoga, hair cuts, work, books, reflection on life and coffee… mugs and mugs of delicious coffee.
I still have my travel plans. I still stop and see, yes really see the rainbows, the rain, the flowers, the mountain. I am still content. And my headstone is probably still going to say: Here lies “coffee lover”. She lived and loved. And while the Helen of 10 years ago wanted “She lived and loved with passion. I’m not so sure I agree. I think this Helen would prefer it to be “She lived and loved and made a difference.”
Anyhow, now that I’ve ventured into WordPress and given smellthecoffeebru a tip of the hat, it’s safe to say I’ll be back.

I’d say that’s long enough for anyone to justifiably give up. I almost did. Blogging that is. And then I reread a few of my friend’s posts and I was reminded of how valuable words can be. You see, this friend died earlier this year. Almost six months ago. I still find it hard to think of her as no longer being. Hugely hard. But her blog, and the constant updates by her husband of her daughter and day-to-day life keep her essence very much alive.

And so, it’s time to write again and quite simply put fears of what others may think out of the way.

To celebrate this return I’ve updated the theme and the  “About Me” (well actually still need to do that). Much has happened in two-and-a-half years….

Yesterday I tried yoga for beginners. My friend would softly urge me to try it while I laughed off her suggestion. Me? Yoga? Nope, don’t think so. My feel good endorphins, my special place and my exercise come together in the form of running. Well okay, let’s be honest… jogging. The days of committed, meticulous and heart-pounding training are over. I jog. And occasionally I run a little faster. Nonetheless. I digress. I tried it. And I must admit that the stiffness I feel in my shoulders, chest and arms is unexpected. As climbing is my other love I never imagined that I would feel this muscular pain and yet I do.

The first lesson I guess is always the hardest. And although this was very much a beginners session a start is all you really need. I may or may not join a class. For now, attempting to do the few basic moves correctly is what is important. And so I will try it again. For Lia.

Glory me, it’s been a few months since my last confession (um) blog! It isn’t because I haven’t had much to say but more a case of not quite knowing how to say it. Even now, I sit and think and think and sit and wonder what topic would the readers of this blog be interested in? What is truly on my mind is the topic of time. How much of it do I have left? How much of it do you have left?

And the reason for this topic is this… If you were to die today, what would your tombstone say? Terribly morbid isn’t it, but it’s a question I ask myself often. In fact I pose it to my colleagues too much to their disgust. But it is the one question that is really important to answer. Because it’s a reality check. It’s asking and answering whether you’re happy doing what you’re doing… right now. So here’s what mine would say… Here lies “coffee lover”. She lived and loved.

What I would like it to say is this: She lived and loved with passion. And those two little words at the end dear readers, is what makes all the difference. I am happy with what I’ve achieved thus far. I am content doing what I am doing. BUT I am missing the passion! The very essence that makes me me.

And that is why there has been no blog for four months. Because every time we commit our thoughts to writing we take a good, long look at the reflection of our soul.

Deep… but sweet.

Reality Check

At the hairdresser… that’s when it happened. I stared at the mirror and the face that looked back had aged. I took a good, long look at the creases round my eyes and it struck me that many years have passed. Not an awful, awful lot, but enough to make a difference.

It isn’t the physical toll that unsettles me… it’s the realisation that time is beginning to run out. The fact that I turn 39 in a few days scares me more than turning 40. I can’t quite fathom why but perhaps it has to do with it being the last year of the magical threes. I’d rather just hopscotch straight over it into the next phase.

And that led to yet another thought… The things I keep putting off till I have a little more time, or a little more money, or a little less responsibility may not actually happen. So after a little drowning of the sorrows in a delicious, yet wicked black liqueur that I will not be touching for another 20 years, I’ve decided that next year I will do at least one of the things on my bucket list.

So, if you happen to see an almost-40-yr-old woman riding hard and fast on an open road on the back of a beautiful black ninja or if you admire the breathtaking pics I post on FB of my trip to Ireland think of your bucket list and when you plan to tick the items as done:-)

For the first time in over 4 years I desperately needed to smoke. The trigger – deep-seated frustration at the inability to calmly explain to my daughter that she has the potential to do something she believes she cannot. The stress is firmly on the word “calmly”. Very few people know and have seen my very worst side. And yet, the very person – very little person – who shouldn’t see it… does.
The issue was incompleted work brought home for completion. Daughter would have preferred to play with the dogs in the garden rather than write “A message in a bottle”. Reality check young one! Life is a whole lot more than having fun. For the next 15 minutes my 9-year-old had to listen to the ranting of a mad woman. How life is about hard work!! HARD WORK!!! Get that?!! And guess what, it’s about to get harder over the 9 years of school you HAVE LEFT (silently to self – God willing)!
If the neighbours heard – they very kindly did not let on (thank you)! But here’s the hardest part of all… after all the yelling (mine) and all the sobbing (hers) my daughter wrote a wonderfully, imaginative “message in the bottle”.
What can I deduce from this? That she achieved the goal because she was dealing with an unstable mother? Was it fear of getting a jolly good smack if she didn’t? I thought fear was the most debilitating of all emotions and yet in this instance it spurred success. I don’t want to believe that it is the key driver, for my children or for me. And yet, I can’t help but think it is.

Today, the brightest rainbow ever graced our skies. As we got to school a young girl got out of the car in front of us and saw it. “Mom,” she exclaimed, “look at the beautiful rainbow!” Mom, muttered something as she leaned further into the car whilst daughter gazed admiringly at the vibrant colours. “Mom, look!”… to which mom replied “Yes, yes I saw it.” And then she hopped into the car and quickly sped off. She saw it…. but did she see it?!

So many children noticed that rainbow whilst all around them parents briskly got on with the business of the day. There’s something to be said for simply pausing… for a minute, for five to drink in what’s around you. Stop. Look. Smell. See. Hear. Feel. Touch. That’s all… just for a minute… just for five.

Have you ever wondered why you’re attracted to certain building styles, towns or countries? I have this belief that I’m from another age and place. I have this strong affinity to England/Ireland, adore castles, love brick buildings and a few things Victorian. My favourite books are on English and Irish history. Looking at pictures, especially of the landscape, it feels like home! But here’s the catch, I don’t have any English relatives, I’ve only been to England once (and loved it!) and can’t think or find any relevant childhood memory/event to associate with this feeling of “belonging”.

Am I crazy or is this a pretty normal thing to experience. Is it something that I long for because for one or other reason I like what I see or did I spend a past life in either place?

I don’t have specific plans or dreams as I believe in living in the now but I have a plan to visit England and Ireland when I’m 40 (or in my 40s) and spend as much time as I possibly can exploring the countryside. Perhaps therein lies my answer…
Better still have you similar experiences? I’d really love to know!

Right now I’m pretty much ready to wave the white flag. They say parenthood doesn’t come with a “How to” book but I figure they’re wrong (ever wondered who the proverbial “they” are???). That aside, the rules are there it’s whether we choose to follow them or not that makes all the difference…

And here I was thinking I was doing just that. Then along comes an afternoon. Let’s call it Thursday afternoon, when you’ve had a bitch of a week, you’ve survived (as has your daughter) a mammoth set of numeracy Q&As, and you’re just about to start supper when all of a sudden you hear: “Moooooooooom, my sister won’t let me watch her play the Buzz Lightyear game!” And in quick succession little voice no. 2 says…. “But he’s copying me! He KNOWS I hate it when he copies me!!”

At this point all I want to do is roll my eyes, take a good long swig of wine, shape my thumbs and forefingers into a big W and say… whatever! Childish? I know!
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries… what the hell. I don’t know about you but between my two I’ve lost count of the boundaries and the punishment that comes with the inevitable transgression! It just seems to get worse as they grow older, more opinionated, more sure of what they like, want, don’t like, don’t want.

Each day I say to myself “It’s not too late to go back to basics”. But I wonder if it is isn’t. Have I missed the boat? Lost the opportunity to instil some idea of what’s permissable and what isn’t? Did going back to work 5 or so months after my children were born contribute to this? There are a few questions that I don’t have the answers to. Yet, at the same time as I say all of this, I believe deeply that we’ll all get through this. That when my kids are older I can look upon them as their mother and say “you turned out just fine”:-) More than fine in fact… you turned out perfect:-)

It never ceases to amaze me how the mere mention of a car can ignite a conversation in a matter of seconds. Case in point at work today… Fred happened to mention that he popped into Barons for a test drive of the new Golf. He may as well have said free food. The boys descended on him to find out how he experienced the new version, the web was consulted, the pics ooh’d and aah’d over and then the debate as to what colour is best for XYZ car. Of course the dissection of every part of the car was par for the course. The front looks like a Volvo, the back like an Opel!
Verdict… don’t bother to test drive the new Golf 6 other than for a few minutes of driving pleasure. Why? Well if the boys’ conversation was anything to go by… nothing much has changed from the last version to this one and it’ll put you back at least R250K.

Public holiday and the plan to hike up to Elephant’s Eye cave begins to see the light of day. The hike takes about an hour-and-a-half to complete and it’s fairly walker-friendly. No real scrambling up rocks or tunnelling through tiny spaces but be sure to take an extra t-shirt along as you work up quite a sweat.
Elephant’s Eye is situated above Tokai Forest and is so named because the eastern profile of the mountain resembles an elephant. It is said to have been the retreat of a Khoi princess, its former name was PrinsesKasteel (castle of the princess).

The view from the cave is breathtaking and we took our time eating our lunch. At that point you can’t help but wonder what the landscape must have looked like to foreigners. I mean, we could make out the M3, Pollsmoor, Steenberg Estate, Blue Route Mall and – viewed through a good pair of binocs – our homes. Imagining tracts of untamed, untilled and undisturbed land made me realise just what spirit sea-faring adventurers from long ago must have had.