Monday, June 16, 2014

Languages of Love

What is your best memory of your father?  I was asked this question yesterday, on Father’s Day … I thought about it for a moment … a long moment …

As life had it, we found ourselves away this year, on Father’s Day.  As I thought about the question - my best memory of my father - I walked into the hotel bathroom.  My eyes fell upon the soaps and shampoos that the hotel leaves for you.  I smiled and the memories flooded back.
When I was a little girl, I must have been somewhere in the 3 – 6 year old region, my father was in the Rhodesian army, at a time when Zimbabwe was fighting for her independence.  I don’t remember much, my mother and sister kept me very protected … but I do remember his returns home.  Moments after arriving home, with childish excitement (both him and I), my Dad would unpack his kit-bag.  I don’t know where he got them from (we suspected a bit of border crossing), but he would always reveal bags and bags and bags of red sugar-coated peanuts and bizarre tiny soft tin-tubes of strawberry jam – like miniature toothpaste (don’t even think about the packaging, I am sure we glowed in the dark – I might still).  Dad saved his tubes of jam from his army rations and brought them home.  Unbeknownst to me, these were difficult times and this unusual ritual was imprinted on our family’s DNA forever.

In my teens, my father found his passion, starting out as a Coach Driver, ultimately becoming a Tour Guide (I think it quenched his thirst to travel, still being chained to his responsibilities of family and a home).  Dad would go out on the road and this time his rations weren’t kit-bags but were all of those complimentary coffee & tea sachets and shampoo’s that are left in hotel rooms.  Sometimes he would head out on a quick tour up the Garden Route, then his stash would be minimal but if he went up country for a couple of weeks he would return with a bounty.  It was like living in a hotel but at home.  I think this ignited my love for hotels and all things Princess …

So what have I learned … Those who live in my real world or some might know from previous blogs, know that my father and I had a splintered relationship – both making mistakes from ignorance and pride.  My father now has dementia and every day we witness the slippage a little further.  Yesterday when I called home to wish him Happy Father’s Day … he couldn’t hear me, because now he is also mostly deaf.  But now as I look back with a bit of life and parenting experience of my own, I realize that my father has been one of my Great Teachers and that gesture of bringing home mangled sachets of coffee and sugar, and dodgy flattened showercaps and bottles of conditioner was his language of love … when the words and the emotions could not be articulated.

So quite coincidentally it’s Father’s Day and I’m in a hotel bathroom and I’m looking at the upmarket shampoos and soaps and little sachets of coffee and tea … and I am smiling!  That was my best memory of my dad … and as a tribute to a World War II baby’s desperate need to squirrel away rations … I continued the tradition and brought home my very own stash (they almost lost the little natty kettle - KIDDING!) … smiling warmly …


What is your best memory of your father?

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … In My Life by Bette Midler from the movie For The Boys!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Enlightened My @$$!

Whenever someone asks my Religion, I describe myself as a Zen-Buddhist-Catholic (my apologies if any of those are offended) but I do.  My vehicle is Catholicism, and my faith and its rituals has me deeply rooted within Spirit.  Having said that, I am also utterly open to the messages from My Divine … in whatever philosophy that might appear in, but all of that unpacking is for another blog.  This blog is about how I fell off my Enlightenment Pony in church (nog al), during mass, 5 rows from the front and oh boy, did I do it properly!  Let me set the scene …

Our youngest daughter, who is 8, is another wonderful high energy human being.  She is a wonderful child, very loving, observant, affectionate, she thinks outside of the box, she has a joyful thirst for life, she is clever and an absolute charmer.

We drove off to mass and right at the front door, I got my first message … I noticed she did something a little more peculiar (than normal) the alarms where going in my head.  Right then and there I should have gathered up my babies (13 & 8) and turned around and gone back home, but noooooo, not me … persevere I must.

We find our usual pew (5 rows from the front) right next to Juniors God-Mother, fortunately a good friend of ours, who has grown children of her own and we are surrounded by other folks that have watched Junior grow (which is code for they know her … fortunately!).  Mass starts and the crazy revs.  Junior starts loudly flicking through the hymnals (we don’t need them, we have all the words up on a screen).  At the moment, Junior and I are working on a particular life-skill, which is learning to sit still (a time and place for everything) so I quietly whisper in her ear “Leave the books alone, we don’t need them”.  Ok, books are down, let’s find something else.  Pews are interesting pieces of climbing apparatus, so first up on the chair, jumping down on the floor, dancing along the kneeling bench like she was about to enter the Olympics … triumphant dismount and all.  Again I whisper in her ear, “please don’t do that, you are disturbing the people around you”.  Deep breath … it will all be ok!  I return to the service.  Then we settled in for the homily, I learned very early to distract her, so I tickle her through the homily (tickling has the same effect on Junior as it does on Trout – Google it) because face it, it is difficult for a little person to keep still for 15 – 20 minutes of very grown up words and lessons – I get that!  For a short while, there is stillness … I can breathe.

The homily ends, we hit the Creed and Junior takes it up a notch … if I had not been right next to her I honestly wouldn’t have believed it.  For what unfolded next to me blew my mind (and not in a good way) … as Collection is being taken up my youngest starts her best and most elaborate chicken interpretive dancing impression, together with clucking.  I look down at her and quietly with a tone that would have stopped Ivan The Terrible “what on frikken earth are you doing?” … she is silenced and halts … for a moment … until I look away … only to start-up a millisecond later with said chicken interpretive dance routine again but this time in silence.  Because obviously I wasn’t clear that neither the clucking nor interpretive dance should be done in the middle of mass.  I close my eyes and carefully weigh up my options:  1.  We could leave (she wins), 2.  I could dispense one short sharp smack that would hopefully send a clear message (she would get sympathy and I would look like a terrible mother … that, and you can’t hit your kid in church – wrong on so many levels), 3.  I can continue to negotiation with her, a tack I normally never do but this is my spiritual place of sanctuary damn it … I am here for connection!  Reluctantly, I continue to try that.  Thank heavens a hymn starts up (together with drums) where I can quietly hiss into my child’s ear, that this is not acceptable behaviour for mass, which she knows, and to please cease and desist all of this truly odd behaviour, which she has NEVER done before – in or out of church.  Ok … I am gulping at air and clawing at my crystal rubbed forehead, begging for Divine Help.  “Lord please give me patience” I grit out through clenched teeth, “because if you give me strength, I will need bail money too!”  The dance stops … only to be replaced with the head and neck exercises, together with facial gestures – I kid you not – like something that escaped from a mental institution.  Oh and did I mention that my poor other child (13) sitting on the other side of me, has been fighting off a cold and so she has a blocked nose and proceeds to breathe LOUDLY through her mouth like Chewbacca from Star Wars, did I mention LOUDLY (they could hear her in the Vatican), while all of this craziness is happening to my left.  It’s a cacophony to my right - I tell you!  I’m trying to pray people!!!!

Back to the head and neck exercises … I’m going to leather the hide off her!  She is messing with me and I know it!  Junior believes I will not follow through (even though I always do) I calmly (too calmly) look down at her, the 3 grown-ups behind us flinch and Juniors God-Mother now gets out of arm’s length.  I stare Junior down (I’m losing ground by the second and I know that too) … did I mention we were 5 rows from the front. 

The most sacred part of mass starts and Junior decides that her being on the other side of her God-Mother is safer, so she not so quietly sidles around the back of her God-Mother to be out of my reach (and sight).  FINE!  I think, closing my eyes, I can’t even remember why I am at mass and I’m praying for … what on earth am I praying for?  I know she is safe with her God-Mother.  I go for communion.  Junior goes up for a blessing with her God-Mother.  Junior thinks she has outsmarted me and tries to sit far away from me.  I collect her (probably too forcefully) and let her know, in no uncertain terms, that this was unacceptable … the dramatic moment … cue the violins … Junior realizes she has gone too far and the tears start.  I feel feathers!  And it was all a blur after that.

Now before I get a deluge of comments pointing out to me where I went wrong and how difficult it is for a young child to keep still and quiet for such a long time … I know that.  But that doesn’t mean that we mustn’t teach them.  It is the ONLY hour in a week that this is expected.  It is a life-lesson she will have to get!  And for everything there is a time and a place … this is that time.

So what have I learned … I spend a great deal of time living in introspective space, self-improvement, self-growth, being a better human being, working towards being a better mother and partner … it’s all a constant journey … which I adore and love … but none of that did me any good on this day … for some reason this pushed all of my buttons.  Repeatedly!   Our family are going through a thing at the moment and it is all a journey and growth, and I am very aware and we are talking through the events in the hopes that we will grow and learn.  But for all of my work around meditating, being blissed out, getting the lessons, being the Zen mother, working on being the evolved wife and human being … this one did my head in!

I get that our children can be and are our greatest teachers.  And I KNOW there are many lessons in this event for me but I lost it.  I’m not proud, but I am human.  I don’t know how I am going to face all of those fine people that were around us next week at mass … but they are all parents and they are all understanding of how this plays out.

I had a shocking night’s sleep, with great disturbance in the force because of my discord with Junior.  The immediate lesson in this for me was … not getting disillusioned, but rather to get right back up on that pursuit of enlightenment pony … that, and maybe that is why people sit at the back of church!


Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … I Will Survive! By Gloria Gaynor


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

To Be Continued …

Finally I have nailed myself to my writing desk to write the 2013 & 40th Year Wrap-up … the continuation to this post Zenith - Red Lipstick!

2013 was a big year for me!  I turned 40 (Yikes!) with all of the panic and excitement that 40 brings!  Here’s to finally closing the loop on the year that was 40 … and to welcoming my best decade … yet

My 40th year was indeed huge for me and there were indeed Red Letters, 2-pairs of Red Heels and the ever constant search for a stunning Red Lipstick.  Let’s start there …


Red Lipstick … The Red Lipstick World is indeed big, bold and bright!  Someone approaching their 40’s should know that not all Red Lipsticks are made equally and that indeed there is a right and a wrong red for your skin tone.  Not normally highly versed in the dark arts of make-up artistry, I set off in search of my new tools of sorcery.  Fortunately I learned quickly and bought 6 or 7 red lippies, that would tide me over nicely … or so I thought …

I learned (quickly), that some red lipsticks merge with your skin like new-born lambs and that some bled into your skin (read lines – I’m still in denial) and some go on like a bad kindergarten pastel.  The kind that gets on your clothes and the item of clothing needs to be thrown away … the same day!  That particular red met the bottom of my bin - swiftly!           
The writer in me loved loved loved the names on these red lipsticks … Scarlet Siren, Are you REDdy, Fire & Ice, Red Velvet, they make the mind wonder down a fabulously debauched road … ok P302 could have stretched themselves a smidgen more … but I have let it go …

I can also report that Red Lipstick is indeed VERY Princess and SUPER HIGH MAINTENANCE.  Although the world of princess-land is not foreign to me, I’m not a fusserer over make-up during the day.  Make-up goes on once a day (unless you are running out of the office to a hot date after work) with a quick re-application of lip-gloss for the rest of the WORKING (HERE) day… I don’t fuss over make-up all day long, I don’t didn’t live with a mirror on my desk to ever constantly check that my face is on correctly (course maybe I should … but I fully expect that in the future I will have people for that!)  But now I find that I have to apply, re-apply and horror of all horrors, constantly check the damn lipstick every 20 minutes of the day … to make sure I haven’t inadvertently smudged red lipstick across my face. 

I also learned that if you have streaked said red lipstick across your face accidentally … no-body will tell you?  What on earth is up with that?  Did you think it was my intention to have a streak of red across my face for the whole day?  I mean seriously?  WTF?

Drinking with Red Lippies is manageable, although the kitchen staff will curse you forever!  But eating … well that is just ugly!  Don’t even bother, stop eating! 

Having said all of that, there is something about red lipstick … something empowering, something liberating, something bold and it spoke to the older wiser me.

I also found that Red Lipstick did things to people … both men and women … and it was very interesting to watch the subtle reaction.

Red Heels … well they fall into the same category as the subtle reaction by both men and women and again … a good pair of red heels are very liberating.  This year I learned to love heels again!  Something fabulously delicious about them …

Red Letters … I officially entered the professional writing world last year, and I loved every second of it.  Those were 2 stunning red letters.  I can feel it … more to follow …

So what have I learned … when I was in my 20’s & 30’s, I remember my mother saying that these would be the most difficult years of my life and that it would all change when I turned 40.  Now don’t get me wrong, she didn’t say that every day for 20  years, that particular little pearl popped up every now and then when I was going through some kind of “they don’t like me” crisis.  Something we girls go through far too often.  I remember at the time thinking, GREAT only 15 years to go!  But she was right, that mum of mine!  On the day I turned 40 I literally heard the switch flip.  I’m not saying I am 200% bullet proof, because I am not … I have my moments.  BUT I am better at releasing a little quicker.  I work REALLY hard at being me, being a good me, being a better me, trying to be the best me I can be for me, for my soul, my children, husband, family, friends, colleagues and indeed everyone I interact with daily … but if for some confounding reason, you decide that you and I don’t fly … I’m so so so seriously ok with that.  It’s ok …

I do have one irksome thing left on my list from the Year of 40, that as yet I haven’t done … but it is still very much on my list.  I haven’t done my tat yet.  But I have settled on where and what … I’m just working on the brave part, for the when!  I’m working up to it!  What do you think?
  


I’ve been really enjoying a journey with Louise Hay.  She isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I LOVE HER!  She is 87 years old this year and she says that this is going to be her best decade ever.  I loved that … what a legacy …

2013 & ME & 40 was EPIC and the best part (for me) is that … the best is yet to come …

What plans do you have for this decade … is this going to be your best decade yet?  I would love to hear from you …

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … the best is still UNWRITTEN  by Natasha Bedingfield


Sunday, May 4, 2014

No Extra Required!

Our journey this year has been an interesting one, can you believe we are already five months in?  It looks like it is going to be a learning year for me (aren’t they all).  In January we immersed ourselves in a month of thinking about our PURPOSE.  Then we moved into February and practised a month of KINDNESS – I know that felt good!  March ran right up to me and we used this wonderful month to ENCOURAGE where we could, and then in April I challenged us all to live with great COURAGE … one of my absolute favourite words.

Those words sound easy enough but there were moments when all of them took us out of our comfy space and were difficult to act on … but I’ve interacted with a few of you and I am loving listening to how the journey is unfolding … it’s exciting to see and be aware of the growth …

This month’s word, wasn’t supposed to be this month’s word.  At the beginning of the year I roughly mapped out themes for each month and this month’s word was supposed to be happiness and it is indeed a great word and we will visit it later down the line.

Instead May’s word was demanding, it showed up – more than once – and insisted … things happened and life stepped in and this word jumped out at me and said … you must!  May is ENOUGH!
    

Emotionally, ENOUGH is a difficult word to probe … and really we would rather not, let’s push it away for another day when we can make light and can minimize its gravity … but do you feel you are enough?  Really?  Honestly?  In your work place?  In your relationships?  In your home?  In your relationship with Spirit?  At your job?  How many of us feel that if we worked harder, were thinner, prettier, hotter, cleverer (is that an actual word?), more competent, faster, worked harder at the gym, actually get to the gym or richer, that everything would be ok … we would be better … more.  It is a demon I grapple with every day. 

There is a deep psychological entanglement to be undertaken, as to why we feel this way but my suggestion this month, is to entertain that you are (already) ENOUGH!  Fake it, until you make it!!  Come to every situation, not thinking that you are less than but that you are perfect for your contribution, that you are indeed enough.  Not in a boastful, arrogant way but in a healthy, whole way.  Let’s just practice this for one whole month and then let’s revisit it at the end of May and see what has changed … I know there is going to be change!

So what have I learned … every time I think I have a handle on this one … something knocks me on my butt and forces encourages me to revisit. 

I have done the digging (the pit was deep and wide) and I know where this particular fear factor comes from (for me), so I highly encourage doing the excavating, regardless of how difficult it is.  After all, how can you know where you are going, if you do not know where you have been?  Let’s not pull punches here people, as one of my favourite Spiritual Teachers Iyanla Vanzant says, “let’s call a thing, a thing people!” … it is brave work, BUT when you push through … the A HA moment is mind-blowing and it is worth the work!

As I embrace this exciting journey, I am getting better at being enough … most days!  But it really is a bit of a habit.  If every single time you are faced with a doubting moment, you took a deep breath and said to yourself, I am enough … eventually you would start to notice, that indeed … you are more than enough … and that no extra is required!


Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … Raise Your Glass by P!nk


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - What do you see?




My 8 year old and I see a high-rise for fairies J.

Much love


All credit to the photographer – unknown.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Live with Great Courage!


Those fabulous people that share my real world know, I am the eternal planner.  Sometimes I worry that stops me from living in the now but I must be honest, I take great calm and comfort (probably safety) in knowing where I have been, where we are going, what is coming up and what is happening next … for the next 6 – 9 months.  Even if I am sent a spiritual curveball, that requires the Great Divine GPS to “recalculate”, that is fine … I can handle most things having a plan in place, even if the plan changes. 

But planning, facing and living our lives boldly, takes great courage!  In the words of the great David Foster “there’s nothing ordinary in the living of each day”.  And I am always blown away when I see it in someone.  Tucked away in March’s word of encourage, is our word for April … a word that has great power … courage! 

Somehow we slipped right through March (too swiftly) and we are already half way through April … so there is no time to lose.  I invite you (and me), to live with great courage as we navigate the rest of April 2014 and indeed the rest of our lives.

Courage is very personal, and for everyone it means something different;  taking a stand, speaking up for yourself, staying silent when words will not help, setting boundaries for yourself, speaking your truth, facing that scary test you know you have to face, keeping your head and your head up in the eye of an unfair storm, making yourself vulnerable by telling someone you love them, walking away from that relationship that isn’t serving you …

This journey, at times, can be … hard.

Over the last couple of weeks, my sister, some friends and I have been sharing thoughts around Marianne Williamson's  “A Year of Miracles – a Daily Devotional & Reflections”  (we highly recommend it) and again we were reminded of her powerful message in her words …


Every word of this poem blows my socks right off, every time!  But I’m particularly partial to this bit … “Your playing small does not serve the world.  There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.”  I love it … it says LIVE AND DREAM BIG, WITH GREAT COURAGE because “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we're liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.”

I love that by us taking our lives in our own hands (with kindness) and by doing what we want (with gentleness) not what others want us to do, by going after our dreams, living large and out loud (respectfully), other people will think, well if she can, maybe I can and then tentatively take their steps, to do the same …

I’d love to hear what you are going to do next for you that is going to take courage.  Me?  I’m going to go edit another couple of chapters of my book … because every page I approve, is one page closer to publishing!

We can only do it with courage!

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … The Power of the Dream!