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Since I've joined the 100 words project, I've been well prepared each month, knowing what I want to say, and following a theme for the month. I even prepared for July.
But I am getting tired of so much navel gazing.
Don't get me wrong, it's a truly fantastic learning curve for me, exploring the shadows in my being, learning from them, and in the process becoming a more complete being.
But: I need a holiday from learning.
So this month I'm simply going to delight in the little things. Let's rest a bit and simply find joy in observation.
The swallows have left. It's been weeks since I've heard their sweet, clear calls tumbling down into the city centre.
It means winter is here, a fact confirmed by the cold temperatures.
I am not overly fond of winter. It is too dry in this part of the world, too smoky, and too brown. No snow to change the face of this barren winter world. No rain to put some moisture back into the atmosphere. Worst: No clouds to lift my eyes to the heavens with their glory.
I keep searching for blossoms, swallows and clouds. Soon they will come.
This afternoon Germany beat Argentina in the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals. And what a match it was! Truly spectacular!
I am not a soccer fan, but World Cup fever is running high here in South Africa, and you can't help but get intoxicated by it.
And well, it's Germany, you know.
During the previous World Cup I was in Germany. I remember the same excitement there, the unbridled joy when Germany won a match, the despondency when they lost.
This afternoon was filled with bitter-sweet memories, seeing their victory, feeling the happy excitement ... and wishing I were there.
I'm learning to live without salt. Or at least, a whole lot LESS salt.
Ever since I discovered that salt lies behind the regular migraines I suffer from, I've changed my diet. Of necessity.
My whole life I've had a close relationship with salt. I love salty foods and snacks. I crave it! I get cramps when living salt-free.
But one more migraine after a transgression, and suddenly it becomes easy to say "Never again!" Now I take magnesium, which helps both the cramps and the migraine.
And slowly my tastes are changing... I'd never have imagined it possible!
The sun has already turned back towards the Southern hemisphere, yet winter hasn't even reached its middle mark here yet.
I drive along the highway, and something yellow catches my eye. It passes so quickly, right in the periphery of my vision, that I ascribe it to the morning glare of the rising sun.
I remember to check the next time I pass this place, and there it is: No sun glare. Rather the first yellow dots of the Forsythia planted along the barrier, an early (very early!) promise of spring approaching.
The sight fills me with bliss beyond words.
Yesterday I read about the three R's:
Respect for self.
Respect for others.
Responsibility for all your actions.
This little piece of wisdom comes at the exact right time for me. As I ponder the direction my life is taking, I realize how many times I've let situations get out of hand because I did not show respect to myself.
And hoping that other folk will show me the respect I need, well, that will never happen, will it? There's only one person who can show me respect, and only one person who can take responsibility for my actions:
The tumour has robbed away about all of my mom's brain. She doesn't often recognize me lately. She's completely bedridden, only her left arm still able to move, her face normally slack.
This morning, however, when I checked in on her after the night, she had the broadest smile on her face. Oh, she looked so happy! She was reaching up her hand to something or someone beyond me, smiling, smiling, smiling.
I was happy to know that her life right now is not all about suffering. That sometimes she has this amazing link to Heaven.
It gives me hope.
I have a secret.
I'm a glitter sprinkler.
The spot where I usually park during office hours sparkles when I approach it in the mornings. The driveway at home welcomes me after work with scintillating flashes of brightness, lighting up the evening gloom.
To me it is an expression of grace, scattering these tiny twinkling blessings everywhere. And it keeps me smiling, even on the darkest days, whenever I catch a glimpse of bright coruscation.
Throwing a handful of glitter into the sunlight and watching it swirl down in millions of mini explosions of light, ah, that's purest hedonism!
Spinach and cheese.
A deadly combination.
Not to me - I quite enjoyed it - but utterly fatal to my poor laptop keyboard.
I've always considered myself a fastidiously neat laptop owner. Heck, I even have a large paintbrush to dust it with.
But in one moment of lapsed concentration, I spilled spinach and cheese on the keyboard. The righthand column of keys protested. I removed and soaked the entire keyboard. And it died. Simply died.
Now I'm limited to a USB keyboard, waiting for the replacement part, and praying it will do the trick.
I'm NEVER eating near my computer again!
Living with the reality of both my parents' cancer is hard work.
It's been a year since their diagnosis - and the nightmare continues. Not a day goes by I don't plead with God to release them from this suffering, in whichever way He thinks fit.
Most days we simply survive. It takes so much energy taking care of necessities and fighting off the depression, that little remains for anything else. There are days I wonder how long this particular journey is going to last. It's already lasted longer than I thought possible.
I don't have the strength for much more.
It struck me today.
Cancer and entropy are one and the same thing. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of chaos inside the body. Entropy is the uncontrolled growth of chaos in our daily lives.
Now that I am fighting my parents' cancer, I am becoming hyper-sensitive to all the entropy pressing in on me from every side.
Every little thing I can do to keep entropy at bay helps me feel more in control. And control is good, because it creates hope.
So that is what I do in every little way I can: To create hope through order.
How do you fight entropy when every day is a battle against fatigue and despondency?
You throw away the trash. You scrub the toilet. You wipe out the bathroom basin. You pick one thing from the overstuffed cupboard every day and trash it or donate it. You keep your email under control and your car clean. You go to bed early.
And slowly, new hope forms, a tender spring bud bravely pushing against the winter cold.
Yes, life might be challenging right now, but not all of it is out of control. There is hope.
And that's what's important.
In the Southern Hemisphere it is winter right now. I hear Northern folk complaining about the heat, and I think: "Come on! It's summer there, of course it's hot!"
But naturally down here we complain about the cold, too. As if winter has never before visited us.
What is it with us human creatures? Why can't we simply accept the weather as reality, and get on with our lives without needing to complain about it?
I miss the summer heat, it's true. But I think from today I will simply say: "This is the weather. I accept it with gratitude."
If you were a character from the world of Winnie the Pooh, who would you be?
I often wonder, always coming to the same conclusion: There is a little bit of every character in the Hundred Acre Wood in me.
I love eating, like Pooh.
I get morose, like Eeyore.
I'm sometimes mean, like Rabbit.
And sometimes exuberant, like Tigger.
Patient like Kanga, playful like Roo.
And sometimes wise but too wordy, like Owl.
But most of the time, I'm timid, like Piglet, and hopefully, just as big-hearted and courageous.
And that's not a bad role model to have!
If you've been reading here since the beginning, you'll know that I'm a gypsy. Living with my parents during the week, and spending weekends at my own little place, The Cottage.
There are days it makes me feel quite displaced, only half at home no matter where I am - a challenge for someone who hardly feels at home in this world in any case.
It often lends a surreal feeling to my days, and I don't know how to counter it except to learn to become at home within myself, so that no matter where I am, I can relax.
This month I gave birth to my self-respect, finally starting to choose what is GOOD. For ME.
It is a novel experience, turning my focus from what others might think to what is important to me.
It is strange, walking the new pattern of my days, now that I have eliminated certain aspects of my old life, and toned down certain relationships. I find space around me I can now fill with other activities and relationships. And peace.
Do I miss the old patterns?
Not as much as I thought I would.
Self-respect is a powerful, heady drug.
There is excitement bubbling up in me, a sense of big things waiting to happen. It's close to the way the sap rushes up in the trees when spring approaches.
It's the kind of feeling I want to savour, as much as I want to rush on and jump into the next season of my life.
So here I find myself, hanging in the balance between anticipation and fulfilment ... dreaming and doing ... and it's a good place to be.
It's exactly where nature is, too, gripped in winter, but already eagerly pushing out the first too-early buds of spring.
I cannot feel it in the chilly air yet. I cannot see it in the length of the day. But I can feel it in my veins:
Spring is approaching.
These last few days there has been a frizzing, rushing joy in my blood. It is coming, it is coming!
Oh, to see long days again, feel the embrace of the heat on my skin, dive into cool water when it gets too sweltering, find the flowers and butterflies everywhere! To spend languid nights listening to the crickets...
It fills me with such anticipation, such excitement!
I can hardly wait...
Today was my last day at the dentist. Three visits, two and a half grand in bills - sheesh, may this dental maintenance last a good while.
He's a good bloke, this dentist, doesn't believe in inflicting pain. Which is why I received three shots of Novocaine for today's repair work. Even my nose went numb!
I felt schizophrenic walking out of his rooms, half of my mouth turning up, the other half turning down. It took an amazing 7 hours before the full effect of those shots wore off.
It sort of makes up for all the toothache before, right?
I've been wondering about the phenomenon of driving force. Not being driven, but having an inner drive that motivates you to realize your dreams.
Seems desire is the greatest motivator, but how do you keep up that daily attention to the act of moving forward?
1. By reminding yourself WHY you are doing this.
2. By ending each day with a plan of action for the next day.
3. By reviewing progress at the end of each day.
I've started doing this for my job, and I am ready to implement it in my personal life.
It should be interesting!
Two weeks ago, the one lift in my office parking lot broke down. When I took the remaining lift, it just remained on the ground floor, pondering, then rose one floor, and pondered some more. It wasn't a good sign. I took the stairs for the rest of the way.
Ever since, I've been taking the stairs - for my own safety - and in spite of the fact that they are the vilest, most malodorous place in the city. Even when I'm exhausted or have migraine, I take those five flights every day.
It's amazing what you can get used to.
The Poinsettia in front of my mom's bedroom window has always been there. And its flowers have always been meagre compared to the lush red blooms you find on Christmas cards.
Being wintertime here, of course it is blooming now. But this year, suddenly, it is blazing with glory! Huge, red blooms cover it, swaying in the breeze, shining in the setting sun, light falling through the petals even more poignantly than through cathedral windows.
It is as if it knows: this is the last time ever my mom will see it with earthly eyes. And it is saying farewell.
This week I planned my days better, and it worked. Waking up every day with a plan to follow, greatly increased my direction, my productivity, and my personal satisfaction.
I rocked the world this week!
And I will continue to do just that next week, and ever after.
But I need to plan for rest as well - something I'm not good at when I get all purpose-driven. My body cried halt last night, and I had to spend today in bed with a humongous headache and flu symptoms.
I'm taking heed, not planning anything for this weekend.
Much to the frustration of my son, I'm a terrible gamer. Especially as far as first person shooters such as Modern Warfare go.
I agreed to play this afternoon, at least until the motion sickness caught up with me.
The practice run in the pit went OK. But the first battle, oh dear ... smoke and noise and disorientation ... which of course led to being killed again and again, because I forgot all the controls on the keyboard in my panic.
It's just a game, I know.
But it doesn't stop me from freaking out. It simply gets too close.
OK, kids, time for some tips:
What do you do when you feel utterly overwhelmed by, say, the clutter in your place? Or your inbox?
You set a timer for 15 minutes and you just work on decluttering for that time. When the timer goes off, you rest for 15 minutes, and after that you move on to the next task for 15 minutes.
If you really feel tired, you just do one or two little things as soon as the timer goes off, and rest the remainder of the time.
Honestly, it's a simple but life-changing strategy.
I've been hearing the happy little krrrr-krrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr of the weavers' song almost every day this past week. It is as if they can hardly contain their excitement.
'Listen,' I say to anybody and everybody, 'they're calling spring!'
Today I see a brand new nest being woven, still bright green from the fresh palm fronds and grasses used to create its intricate design.
My heart leaps!
Because it means that this spring fever that has been rushing through my veins is not my imagination. Nature is feeling it, too.
Spring is on her way - and soon she will be here!
It is hard to believe the month is heading towards its end. I never cease to be amazed by the relentless forward motion of time - it remains a comforting constant in an ever-changing world.
I like the fact that there are time boundaries: New years to plan for change, new quarters to refocus, new months to assign a theme to, new weeks to reset our intentions, new days to start over ... even new hours to pull us back to our purpose.
What made this month a worthwhile one?
And what are you planning for the brand new month ahead?
"Ramadaan is fast approaching" I read this week.
The word play made me smile. Indeed, it won't be long till the new moon announces the start of Ramadaan.
As a Christian I started observing this sacred Muslim time many years ago as part of a prayer initiative. Initially my focus was on praying for the conversion of Muslims. But through the years I've grown to find this approach arrogant.
These days I pray for my own - and everybody else's - growing closeness to God, and that His kingdom come.
It is a journey I look forward to this year as well!
You start a month with no clue how it will end. The same way you start life.
This morning my mom passed away. Fifteen months after being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, half of which she spent confined to her bed.
It is a relief to know she is not suffering any longer, that she has broken through the limits, that she can run and walk and talk again.
I can finally think of her the way she was before the cancer: a happy, unpretentious outdoor kid.
I am sure she is having a blast ... laughing and barefoot in Heaven!
Well, didn't this month end in a surprising way?
It leaves me fairly speechless.
How do I summarize the month when all that's really spinning through my head is my mom's departure from this world?
It's been a good month. I achieved much.
(And I daresay my mom achieved much as well, breaking through the cancer straight into Heaven!)
It truly opens up a whole new life. From this point forward things are different. And different is not necessarily bad. Everything grows, everything changes.
It is up to us to grab those changes and soar with them.
All is well.
My mind is already reaching ahead towards August.
What will this new month bring? What new adventures? What unexpected challenges?
Uppermost in my mind is the fact that I have to adapt to my mom's not being present in this physical realm anymore. I still want to check in on her every time I walk past her room.
My dad needs help with this adaptation, too. Facing his own battle with cancer, sad and lost without my mom, he is - understandably - unenthusiastic about the future.
But what this journey has taught me is this: We are able.
I am able.
The Tip Jar