Archive for Love

New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

I suck at these… not so much because I fail to keep them but more because I fail to remember them. Maybe that should be my New Year’s resolution: Remember to remember your resolution. Yah ok, that’s totally lame.

I’ve never actually believed in setting a resolution (maybe I can’t remember it because I never set one… hmmmm) but I do believe in setting goals and I do believe in new beginnings and a fresh start. So in the last few hours of this year, I’d like to reflect on the goals I set throughout 2012 and maybe I’ll stumble across a few I want to set for 2013.

I wanted to find true love… ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic but I had this life plan in High School and by now I should have been married. The plan made sense then, you know back when a week was actually a long time and back when our life expectancy was 70 and happiness measured by the size of your family. Now it makes a lot less sense: our world is a bit messed up and needing someone to love me in order to validate my existence is just as messed up. So, I didn’t quite find that one that I can grow old with but maybe in 2013 I can learn to love myself again.

I wanted to quit my job… yeah, that didn’t happen. Instead I found a weird way to actually like my job – by being sort of good at it. It’s strange but I finally feel like I’ve gotten the hang of it and since this is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, it’s rather cool. We did manage to win some awards and jump way ahead when everyone else just seemed to go backwards. Hopefully this year I can get the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with some of my pears.

I wanted to get back into Directing. This one I actually did achieve. Along with a friend we managed to trick… uhm I mean convince 40 teenagers to dress up in strange suits and mock history. We also produced a play wherein I was particularly psychotic – seems to suit me. I hope to do that again in 2013 but this time I want to use plays that I wrote and maybe even through in a pantomime just for good measure.

I wanted to get back to talking to my old friends. That did not pan out. Well, actually there are 6 that I reached out to again and even though there are still a few more I’d like to get back into contact with, I’ve realized that sometimes people change so much that they no longer have anything in common and it’s ok to let go of those people as long as you are willing to allow others into your life. In 2013 I’d like to learn to trust new friends more.

I wanted to be more fun in 2012. That lasted about 5minutes! I’m an only child and as such I like my alone time and just chilling at home with a pizza every once in a while. I did however go out at least 3 times every month and have a party at my house about once a month. I also took 15min a day to talk about movies and books and music and all the other normal things, at WORK! For me that’s really huge! I like having my life compartmentalized. Maybe next year I’ll make it 25min hahaha but in all seriousness, I’d like to be able to switch off more often and just sit on my porch (sort of like right now) staring out at the stars or watching the monkeys attempting to steal mangos.

I wanted to change my wardrobe. I forgot about this one and then one day I woke up and it was just sort of there… apparently my style is evolving with time. Who knew? In 2013 I’d like to donate more of my clothes regularly, rather than just keeping it in my closet gathering dust. I’d also like to have more shopping trips aka female bonding days – I guess this one should tie in with my being more fun resolution.

In 2012 I was happy just to aim to be good at my job but in 2013 I want to own part of the company that I helped build. I want to invest in my own future and not just float around waiting for life to tell me what to do. I want to take back my voice and stop being afraid to share it. I want to do all of this more calmly than in the past and maybe without jumping to any conclusions along the way.

2012 was a year full of ups and downs but in true Zimbo fashion I am holding on to the fact that next year will be better…

Have an awesome 2013!!

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Lessons learned from my dad

I remember being 3 years old and riding on the lawnmower (well sitting on the red hood of this yellow bladed contraption after my dad finished cutting the grass and was taking it back to the garage). That simple little thing- my dad probably didn’t even think about it twice- but that is one of my favourite memories of all times! I loved just being with him, racing him to the fridge when he went to get a beer after spending the whole day outside in the hot sun; him letting me position the sprayer in the middle of the garden and opening the tap as I was still standing next to it so that I can race the stream in an attempt to stay dry, ironically the same stream I will get totally soaked in the next 10 minutes while my dad watches over me. From these tiny little moments, I learned that you don’t have to take your kids to Disney World for them to have a good time; all you have to do is be there.

 

I remember being 4 years old and my mother was in hospital on bed rest before giving birth to my baby brother and my dad and I were staying at his parents’ house so that I would have someone at home when I got back from school. It was cool to get to hang out with my dad and talk to him about my homework because before I would always step aside so that my mom could talk to him when he got home but she was in hospital so we had some time alone. I also got to see the side of my dad that was still a boy and needed his mommy as much as I needed mine. And when my brother didn’t make it, it took a lot for him to be strong and not breakdown in front of my mother. This thought me that we sometimes protect those we love by not sharing our true feelings because it might hurt them; I also learned from the days to come and the support I had to give my mother that she felt he didn’t care because he didn’t cry in front of her; so ultimately I learned that when we lie about our feelings to protect others, we end up pushing them away and hurting them even more.

 

I remember being 5 and learning to ride a bike. I really wanted the training wheels off from the first day! I wouldn’t stop bugging my dad about it until he finally gave in and took them off so that I could take my first step as a big girl. I remember being on our lawn, the same one I use to sit on the lawnmower and all of a sudden it felt so small, like that tree was so close. My dad was right there to catch me and motivate me and after a few tries (no more than 3 because it was one of those old kiddie bikes where if you stop peddling it’s the same as braking and it was difficult for my little girl legs to gain any momentum) we went out to the road in front of our house. Still not sure why we didn’t use the drive way, maybe because it was only 2 narrow strips of concrete slabs I probably wouldn’t not have had the aim at that point to stay on course. So there we were: outside with half of the neighbourhood kids and parents watching as my grandparents and mother walked to the front of the house leaving the braai in the back garden and I took my first pedal and I was off! I was off and I only looked back once, causing me to lose my balance in that split second. Wherever my head went so did my steering wheel. I tried again and it just got better from there. This monumental moment in my life that most see as a right to freedom from their parents and their independence taught me that sometimes you have to leave the safety of the grass and risk it on the gravel; it taught me that it’s not failing unless you stop trying; it taught me that you shouldn’t look back unless you plan on going there and that I could always come back home when I was tired of riding.

 

I remember having heated debates about racism and judgement with my dad at the age of 6 and even though I was terrified that my dad would stop loving me for having a different opinion to his, he didn’t. He also didn’t treat me like a 6 year old during these discussions: he didn’t just back down or sugar coat it or say ‘because I said so’ he actually took the time to listen to my view and go through all of the facts… it took years of us having this same debate until one day when I was 11 and we were driving in the car and my dad got frustrated at a stupid driver swerving in front of us and made his usual judgemental comment and just as I was about to defend this fictional character my dad was being prejudice towards, the words came out of his mouth. That was one of my proudest moments, knowing that my dad listened to me; that he was willing to change his mind based on the facts presented even though it came from his own little spawn. It thought me that you should never let pride get in the way of the facts; you should always stand up for what you believe in even though it’s hard and that my dad would love me forever no matter what I might do in the future to disappoint or hurt him.

 

I remember being 7 and my dad having a conversation on the phone with one of his old friends about the threats our family were getting simply because of my dad’s job and the decisions he had to make. I remember the fear in his voice muddled up with the excitement of talking to his long lost friend who hadn’t grown up yet. I remember the concern on my mother’s face about our future and I also remember the way my dad comforted her and restored her trust. I remember going to look at storage containers and freight trains and trucks and trying to figure out how we would fit our entire lives into one of those. I remember that my dad was as sad as I was to leave my little dog with his parents while we packed up everything in what felt like overnight and moved to the other side of the country where sarcasm was the general tone of voice. I remember the fights I had with my dad and his money concerns and that no matter what; he wanted me to be happy. I learned that home is where your family is; I learned that it’s not always easy to make a drastic change but if it’s for the good of those you love you don’t mind doing it; I learned that money causes more problems than it fixes and that you can move to the other side of the world but it won’t change who you are.

 

I remember being almost 8 and trying to settle in to our new lives. I remember cancelling my birthday party because at that age your parents invite those who have invited you and if I invited everyone, they would have to invite me and I would never really know who wanted me at their parties. I know it sounds insane but I’m paranoid that way and growing up with parents who were willing to answer every question I had, made me question and over think everything. Instead of my dad freaking out, he bought me this awesome game book with Disney games in it and yes, it was huge and yes it was colourful and amazing but my favourite thing about it was the electronic dice. And my dad appreciated that, my dad sat there for hours with me just trying to figure out how the electronic dice work and going in detail with the entire math criteria involved. He also got me a really cool tent and other camping stuff which lead to so many great memories, the first being my mom and dad sneaking out the night before my birthday to set up the tent in the garage and even though I didn’t know what they were doing in there, I took some comfort in knowing that they couldn’t really surprise me. I learned that my parents would always put their differences aside for my happiness; I learned that my parents accepted my insanity and even though they didn’t understand my reasoning behind cancelling my party, they trusted me and just went with it; I learned that maths and algorithms are really fun and I learned that camping is a great way to get a break from the stuff in your life that is overwhelming.

 

 

I remember being 9 years old and watching my dad as he washed his car. He’d start by checking the oil and the water and changing the spark plugs and then he’d spray off the wheels and mix his precise measurements of soap into hot water with a touch of cold water and then mix it until it foams. He’d go over every single corner and scrub it and dry it, sort of reminding me of ‘wax on wax off’ from Karate Kid and obviously he’d go all out with the wax: not too much, just enough. Standing back after the hard labour and admiring its beauty. This simple thing helped me realize that we should have pride in the things we own and look after it; that anything can be cleaned no matter how muddy it is and that spark plugs are really fragile.

 

I remember being 10 years old and playing netball on a Saturday morning and my mother deciding that she could make some extra cash on a Saturday by opening a sweet stall in the market so she couldn’t come to my games any more, which didn’t really bother me because as soon as I am on the court, the only thing that matter was getting that ball. So my dad started coming instead. It was really cool to have him there, not only did it give us extra time to spend together as we’d make a whole day out of it by going to the bank first and I got to learn so much about finance while standing in the queue. We also went shopping and it was like a scavenger hunt looking for the butter. And before we’d go to my match, we’d eat sardines out of the can in the car and I’d walk around the entire school holding my dad’s hand and showing him off because everyone else’s only had their moms there. I felt so proud and played some of my best matches simply because I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. This experience taught me that family dynamics change with the times; it taught me that I will always have at least one of my parents there to support me and I learned that omega 3 is really good for brain stimulation.

 

I remember when I was 11 and my dad was making an awesome chicken potjie. We were at my grandparents’ house and the entire family was there. They always disagree which means we end up having several different dishes to make everyone happy but not when my dad made food, when he made it everyone ate. I remember the queue my entire family was standing in to get their food. Looked like a page out of the Lady in the Shoe book. It made me really happy that my dad could go from this rugged guy who can fix anything to this guy who could wave a spoon like a magic wand and present an awesome dish that 40 very different people could all like. It taught me that food can be a great social equalizer; that people can have many hidden talents and that my dad knew every single one of them because he’d been watching and listening even when he wasn’t talking.

 

I remember being 12 and talking to my dad about my future and how all of my friends wanted to go to Stellenbosch University and when I asked them what for they had no clue but felt that they had no choice, they had to go there to fit in… I remember telling him that I wanted to be a movie director and expecting him to shoot me down but instead he told me about his dream of being a gymnast with such passion. And I found it strange that he could have that kind of passion for something he wasn’t doing anymore. He explained to me that we can be dead sure that what we want right now is something we will want forever but sometimes we’ll find something more amazing that takes its place so even though he was passionate about his art & sport, he liked mechanics more. With this little talk I learned that my dad would always support my dreams; my dreams may change but my passion will not and that going to a University just because everyone else is going there, is not sensible.

 

I remember being 13 years old and almost ready to go to high school. I was having a difficult day at school and the pressure was getting to me and I was just really, really angry over things I didn’t even understand and had been holding in for many years. And I can’t really remember what exactly was said but my dad was a little upset with my mom and I was just angry in general so I went with it and somewhere in my rant I called my mom ‘she’ for the first time. Just to clarify in Afrikaans you refer to your mom as mom, never as you or she or her but always as a version of mom. So this was quite big and shocked me as I heard the words coming out of my mouth and then my dad stood up for my mom. Even though he was mad at her, he still stood up for his wife. In that one sentence I learned that I don’t want to be that kind of kid who yells at their parents; I learned that I need to talk to my mom about our fighting and the anger; I learned that my dad still loved my mother and would still be there for her even when I couldn’t be.

 

I remember being 14 years old when my dad let me in on his new passion and allowed me to share mine with him too. I got to help him work out fundraising projects and I loved how he would listen to me when we were at the venue setting up and everyone would chime in with their ideas but he would listen to mine and not judge it as the view of a kid but rather the opinion of someone who has given it some thought. 99% of the time, he actually took it and stood by me even though it meant he had to explain it to the rest of the committee and it helped that I had good ideas but I’m sure that my dad would have trusted me even if they sucked because he wanted to give me the opportunity to try it. I learned there will always be someone willing to give you an opportunity to try out your wild ideas, you just have to keep looking and that age doesn’t equal wisdom.

 

I remember being 15 and my depression starting to get the better of me. I wouldn’t leave my room over the weekends and I wouldn’t sleep and wouldn’t want to talk to all of the strangers/ friends in our house, I would much rather just hide in my room and write or draw. It was around this time I started realizing that my anger towards something that happened in the past was getting me down and actually starting to affect my regular life. I didn’t laugh out loud any more. I was actually one of those people who said ‘That’s funny’ instead of just laughing. I was withdrawing and I’m sure my dad saw this and when we were at my cousins wedding with the rest of my family camped out all over the place, I had a dream in the 1 hour I actually slept. I told my mom about this dream that scared the crap out of me but I did not tell my dad. I still regret this. My mother said all the right things to comfort me back then but it’s no use right now. The next day my aunt had organized a spit braai but didn’t quite think it through because as it turns out no one (out of 60 people) had ever done one so as usual my dad stepped up and made the most amazing meal ever and all without using the actual sauce because my aunt forgot to give it to him. It was exactly like my dad to be the one who steps in when no one else wants to. I learned that sometimes you have to stand up and do something scary that you’ve never even tried before simply because someone has to step up; if you don’t try something new, you’ll never know if you could have done it and that you should not leave things unsaid.

 

I remember being 16 and having my first real boyfriend. Once again I opted to not have a party for my birthday but rather have one with all of my grandparents and my parents and my boyfriend. It was relaxing but my dad was so proud of me because I hadn’t changed simply because there was a new guy in my life and I was happy at least to some extent. And my dad told this story of my birth. It probably sounds weird but my birth was not exactly easy… Besides the fact that I was two and a half months early, we also lived on a farm. So my mom was rushed to the hospital and pretty much made it in the nick of time. The hospital was a university hospital which means that people still learning how to be doctors were in charge and since I was early; my mom’s doctor was also on leave. The positive part of the university hospital was that they specialized in premature babies so that probably saved my life, however the intern doctors and young nurses over dosed my mother so she doesn’t remember a thing until my 3rd day. I turned out fine, even though my parents had no say in my name because my grandmother picked it out (which I really prefer to the alternatives). The best part about this story is that my dad always told it and got teary at the end. From this I learned that it’s okay to show your emotions and that moments we remember that make us feel something are the ones we need to cherish forever.

 

I remember being 17 and my dad calling me a bitch. Yes, this one is very different from the year before and he didn’t really mean it and all that jazz but it still hurt, even though I pretended it didn’t. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even do anything to provoke him, it was just one of those long days where he was tired and had a migraine (signs of his high blood pressure that we missed) and it just came out. As shocked as I was, I had had years of practice with my mom on how to handle insults you never saw coming and how to save face without making it worse so I pretty much responded in a humours way with “Yeah I’m playing a female dog in the play at the end of the month”. I guess what I learned in this moment is that words can hurt; that these words can come from the most unlikely sources; that parents lose it sometimes too and that I can handle a shocking moment without losing my temper.

 

I remember being 18 and feeling like I wasn’t going to make it to my 19th birthday. I couldn’t explain it, it was just a feeling I had and this feeling resulted in me doing absolutely everything. I was 6 years ahead in my 8 year plan. I even took on a large chunk of our senior yearbook when it was in total chaos and I had to get companies to advertise. I got almost enough but I just needed a few extra bucks to put us solidly into the black. So I pitched it to my dad stating how their company support all the other schools every year but have never supported ours and that this is great advertising. He just smiled and said: “Good point, make the ad and place it”. I was still prepared to fight for it but he could see my determination and knew that he raised me not to give up, so it would be no use resisting. While all of this yearbook chaos was going on and we were getting closer to our final exams, we had a final dance to prepare for and my amazing long distance boyfriend was flying down for the week. We had this whole perfect 80’s movies Grease kind of summer fling that automatically became something more. Time apart didn’t change our feelings and it was really amazing to see my dad with someone I loved and know that my dad trusted my judgement and would accept my choices because he knows that he raised me well. I learned that loving someone means loving the people they love for their sake; I learned that I can accomplish anything and that movies can reflect real life if we pause long enough to let it.

 

The next year we went out to lunch on 7 May 2006 and it was great and even though I wasn’t a kid anymore I still collected all of the kid’s toys at SPUR because we could buy it. This time it was a movement generated torch (could also run with batteries) I got a blue one. When we left the restaurant and were walking out of the mall my dad pointed at a clothing store and said: “let’s go and pick out your birthday gift”. I hate gifts but I love the thought behind it and this was pretty cool. I got this brown jacket and my mom wanted me to get it one size bigger but I wanted this one, even though the button was slightly dented and my dad agreed that it looked better so we got it but I didn’t wear it until 2 days before my 19th birthday, May 30th 2006… to my dad’s funeral.

The day after my dad bought me the jacket, he had a stroke about 30min after getting home. I walked in after feeding the dogs and saw his face was slanting. I told my mom to call one of my dad’s friends and get the next door neighbour to help carry my dad to the car while I grabbed our phones, medical insurance card and jackets. I called the emergency room and we went to the hospital. Shortly after getting there my dad had another stroke. I spoke to him a bit after wards and all that he kept saying was that his head hurt a lot and that he was sorry. And before I could even think or respond I heard myself say that he should not be afraid, that everything will be okay, he just needs to rest. Several operations; run ins with respirators and 16 days later my dad died 2 min before 8pm. We were standing next to him and the voice in my head kept saying: “I love you and I know that you love me. Don’t be scared. You are not alone.”

 

It’s been 6 years since that day and it does get better, in general, dealing with that loss but every year during May and June it’s like a rest button that takes me right back to that place. But I have learned so many lessons from my dad and every decision I make is based on some small act of kindness or moment of strength that I experienced in his presence so I know that he lives on in me.

 

On this day, Fathers Day, I just want to say thank you to my dad for being there all those years and for fitting a life time into such a short period so that I would be able to live the rest of my life feeling his presence with me forever. And to everyone else out there who started this day with hesitation and everyone who misses their fathers, I’m sending you a hug and want to remind you that they too live on in you, simply because they shared a life with you.

Feelings that don’t go away

A few years ago I wrote Today I’m Not Okay shortly after my dad died. To be very honest I remember why I wrote it and I remember everything that led to me writing it but I don’t actually remember writing it.

 

I just remember sitting down feeling frustrated because everyone was so worried about me and my mom and they were trying to help but they ended up just getting on our nerves. Plus, I really don’t like being told how I should feel even when it is with the best intensions and in the form of “It’s okay to feel…” So I took the same pen and book I’ve been using for the last few weeks while my dad was in hospital and we were planning the future and our life without him and in this same book I wrote a letter to everyone I knew saying thank you for caring but back off!

 

So 6 years on I’ve been spending today trying to hide my pain and sadness and last night I even tried alcohol which would usually at least make me a bit sleepy but instead it had no effect whatsoever… I guess my emotions are just a lot stronger than anything else at the moment. So on top of my regular insomnia I had absolutely no sleep what so ever last night and don’t foresee myself getting drowsy tonight either ( but I sure will try every trick I in the book). And for some unfathomable reason work decided to call a meeting tonight full of slideshow presentations and 10 staff members all getting the floor for 20min a piece and I couldn’t really get out of it. To be fair, I didn’t try that hard.

 

See, a small part of me hoped that if I had something else to do today that I would be able to ignore the pain, after all, what makes today any different from yesterday? It’s not like my dad is any more dead than he was that first night… Or like I miraculously found the solution to grief… Or like I love him any less or remember his love any less for that matter… A part of me wanted to believe that simply being around people would fix it. But that only works when the people in question actually know that there is something that needs fixing…

 

Anyway, I walked out of the meeting a few minutes ago and I will be faced with a lot of questions from everyone who stayed. It’s funny how I don’t trust these people enough to tell them that I am not okay yet my brain believes that they have the power to fix it. Sort of reminds me of the moment that the doctor fist told us that they couldn’t ‘fix’ his stroke with the surgery and as the words awkwardly fell out of his mouth I kept on thinking ‘just take it back’ ‘rewind and say that you made a mistake’ ‘could Ashton Kutcher jump out and say you’ve been Punked already?’ Like he had the power to change this chaos simply by speaking it. And even though this isn’t true for his illness, it does make a difference in recovery! One thing I have learned is that speaking up and asking for help gives you the power back and yet, here I sit after running away from the people I’ve spent most of the last year with….

 

So here’s me saying: Today I’m Not Okay. Today I am sad because I really, really miss my dad and all of the memories we will never have the opportunity to have. I want to hug my dad one more time! I want to be able to remember the last moments we had together without bursting into tears. I want to be able to not worry about 25 May every year! I want to smile when someone talks about their fathers or their wedding day or not cry like a little baby every time I watch a movie with a funeral in it or get INCREDIBLY sad every time someone mentions that they lost their dads…

 

I was sort of hoping that by writing this I would have a similar kind of insight that I had all those years ago but I guess that didn’t really work out so instead all of you spent the last few minutes reading my sad sob story with no real epiphany… Sorry but let me try to selvage it by letting you in on one thing I have learned: letting it out, even if it is just by admitting it to yourself during convenient the excuse of a sad movie, does help!

 

So don’t ever apologize for showing your emotions because when you do so, you are apologizing for the truth… Hey, guess I did learn something, tomorrow when asked why I ducked out of a ‘very important’ meeting, I will through a quote at them and maybe I’ll be able to trust one of them enough to tell them the whole truth…

 

Here’s hoping

Mother’s Day

So tomorrow is mothers day… I don’t even have the interest to write it with capital letters. In my older years I seem to have become cynical. Like I don’t understand the fascination anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother and I am so thankful for everything she has done for me but it’s not like I need a day to tell my mother any of this. I tell her this every week, sometimes more often and if you knew me, you’d understand that a week in my time is like a blink of the eye so if I manage to speak to someone more than once in a week it really is huge.

I guess what I’m feeling right now is that a gimmick of getting people to spend money in order to prove that they love the woman who gave birth to them is making me pretty angry. A mother is someone who wipes your tears when you fall out of a tree for the first time; who gently explains to you that writing on walls is not appropriate; who holds you tightly while explaining the circle of life when your dog dies; who helps you prepare for your first dance and picks up the pieces when all of your dreams fall apart… The woman who makes those phone calls you are too scared to make; who accepts your apologies even when they’ve heard it a thousand times before.

Right now I’m in that 20+ stage where I don’t need my mother to pay my bills or feed me, I don’t even really need her to give me advice as much either, I just need her to be my friend… And for that I can say thank you and I love you and I appreciate you every single day, I don’t think one little 24hour day is enough to say thank you to someone who has been there for me my whole life; I don’t think a card will ever make up for all of the mistakes I’ve made or even will still make; I don’t think flowers can be enough payment for all of the advice she gave me or the times she listened to my ’emergencies’ when she had a lot more going on inside of her. I don’t think that a box of chocolates will make up for her showing me that it is okay to cry and that the bravest thing you can do is show your emotions. All the breakfasts in the world can not be thanks enough for the lessons I learned simply by watching her when she didn’t even notice.

I love my mother and yes, I will be calling her to say this but not because it’s Mother’s Day just because it happens to be the day we have a Skype date planned, I don’t need an excuse to thank my mother for loving me

All over again!

It’s been a while since I posted something. Partially because I’ve been writing things for my baby cousin instead and spent a little time telling the people in my life what I was thinking directly and not via social media.

It’s paid off. I’ve been having a bit of a hectic month. I’m looking for a new job; the place we were supposed to move to at the end of the month is no longer available so I desperately need a room to rent and my mother and her boyfriend are coming to visit in 2 weeks which is quite stressful. It’s not that I don’t love seeing my mother or that I don’t miss her, we just have a long history and as with all Virgo’s in my life I tend to get really stressed out in their presence. All of these crazy things were messing me up to the extent where I was withdrawing from the one person I love most in this world.

I was getting snippy and overreacting to everything JS was saying and it got to the point where I considered pretending to be asleep when he got home so that I wouldn’t have to talk to him. That sucks!!! So the other night he came home really really late and I was a bit sick so I was actually sleeping and he sat next to me on the bed and woke me up and said: “I’m sorry” At first I thought he meant sorry for waking me up, so I just said fine and turned around to continue sleeping but he gently tapped me on the shoulder and said it again: “I’m sorry” And I got it this time!

I can’t really explain how many feelings and emotions came rushing at me that very second but to be able to hug him and hold him and just have a whole conversation with one touch is something truly magical. Anyway, we talked and we said a lot of the things we were keeping bottled up while we were walking on eggshells and as it turns out we have the same fears and doubts. Now that it is out in the open it is so much easier to just be around each other again.

It’s like we get to stop being mad at the situation and focus on all the things we love about being together. This morning I woke up and I couldn’t stop smiling: no matter what! I just keep seeing him and it’s like I fall in love with him all over again every time I hear his voice or think of him. Being in love is amazing but falling in love with that one person you truly love all over again, is even better. We tend to get so distracted by all the crap in our lives that we forget about the amazing people we have to share this life with. 

No matter what life throws at you: You are not alone! It might feel like you are; you might not be able to see how much the people around you care but ultimately, they are still there. You are not alone, so don’t pretend to be. Don’t cut yourself off from the ones who love you, don’t bottle up your emotions, let it out…

 I’m a little out of practice with this whole sharing thing but basically it comes down to this: I love the people in my life and if I let them, they’ll love me too.

The end,

AM

Grandmothers

I know it’s Valentine’s day and the worlds marketing companies would like you to focus all your energy and money on that special someone… but like my friend Chrisselle would say: today is just a day; the same as tomorrow. The question is why aren’t you showing them that you love them every day?! Well, for some reason… today… I’ve been thinking of my grandmothers all day.

Grandmother A died of cancer in 2007. As much as I miss her and wish I could have another conversation with her, I’m really glad for the time we had together. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and less than 3 months to live… that was a year and a half before she died! Morphine is a great drug but even that looses its effects after a while. I’m really glad she is not suffering and for the great memories I have of her.

I’ll always remember my excitement when they came to visit. Not because they brought me teddy bears or presents wrapped in shoe boxes but because they loved me. I could see it when I was still in preschool and even the last photo I have of us together it is clear that they loved me and each other. I’ll remember her as the women who took me for walks on the beach at 5am and made me sit on the bench [for what seemed like hours] so that I could watch the waves as she taught me they were all different, yet perfect in their own right. As a 3 year old I didn’t get it and figured she just wanted to get me out of the house so that I wouldn’t wake everyone else up [which is probably partially true]. But as we walked on the beach, my grandmother noticed that I was throwing some shells back and she asked me why I didn’t keep all of them. I simply pointed out that they had holes in them and weren’t perfect anymore, so I didn’t want them. Right there and then my grandmother stopped and showed me the beauty in each of those ‘faulty’ shells. In the beginning I didn’t get why she was making such a big deal about finding the perfection in everything, after all I was only 3 years old. When I was about 11 I asked her about it because I was convinced she did it to be all philosophical and stuff but couldn’t figure out why she only did it with me. She just laughed it off and we never really had that conversation again until I was 18 and her sister’s husband came to visit us. He suffers from OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] and because she saw the signs of early OCD in me and had knowledge of how to handle it, she taught me how to retrain my brain in a sense. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be able to walk into most rooms without freaking out. Through those 5am conversations we had during the years, I learned how to find the perfection in everything and focus on that instead of everything that’s wrong. The only 2 side effects are the fact that to this day I still only pick up broken shells because to me they are truly beautiful and the other being that I see the compliment in every insult so you practically need to use neon boards and spell it out for me. Small price to pay for living a fairly normal life.

The thing I miss most about my grandmother is her majestic composure and incredible ability to unite our family only through love. The conversations we had will remain with me forever. I remember when I was also about 4 years old and I said something about our acting president that my aunt and grandmother did not like at all! They stormed out of the room and rushed off to yell at my dad for allowing those thoughts into my head. That fight taught me that it’s alright to disagree with the people you love and have your own opinion. I will never neglect her memory by pretending that my opinion is worth nothing. Even as I was growing up, we had very adult conversations and a part of me believe that she knew she’d never have the opportunity to have those conversations with me when I was actually an adult. I love her for every hug and miss her for every comforting word of wisdom.

But as I’ve said before: I’m very lucky! My dad’s mother [Grandmother B] is still alive. I remember her as being the first person to let me brush my own teeth. Again I was about 3 and I went to stay with her for the weekend. My mother was very over protective and didn’t want me to do it wrong, so she just did it for me. So when my grandmother asked me if my mother allowed me to brush my own teeth, I did the logical thing and lied! Still feel a bit bad about that and should probably apologize but I’ll never forget that sense of independence and having my grandmother there to share it with me. She was also the women who explained to me that the reason my dad was crying was because my baby brother went directly from my mommy’s tummy to heaven. I wasn’t even 4 years old yet and I hadn’t even known my brother but my grandmother didn’t see me as just a little kid, she saw me as the person with all my dad’s wisdom and all my mother’s experience. She explained death in such a way that even though I still [to this day] miss my brother, I was actually really excited for him at that point since he got to go somewhere I haven’t been yet. Somehow in those few simple words she gave me, a 4 year old girl, the strength to support her parents in their very different states of grieving while still allowing me to feel safe and vulnerable every time she placed her arms around me.

I actually looked forward to seeing her mostly because of her hugs and wet kisses. She may have always seen me as the adult I am right now but she still makes me feel safe and cared for like back when I was still a toddler. I even sat on her lap until I was 14. I know that’s a bit much but I still can’t get enough of her hugs and if I didn’t believe that I would squash her, I’d still sit on her lap today. Contrary to Grandmother A’s 13 grandchildren [14 in 2 weeks time], Grandmother B only had one, me. They only had my dad and his brother, who happens to be gay. Yes, they all spoiled me! And even tried to buy my love but I had a conversation with my grandparents about that when I was 12, making sure they knew that I loved them and not the stuff they bought me. The not buying my love thing lasted quite a while, until my dad died in 2006.

My mom and I were visiting them for the day with a couple of friends. We barely left them ~ didn’t even make it to the highway yet ~ and my phone rings: it’s my grandmother. “We didn’t give you any pocket money” and I practically started laughing and said: “uhm… ok…” but my grandmother insisted: “We didn’t give you any money and I thought your grandfather was giving it and he thought I was giving it and….” She breaks down in tears. So now I’m sitting in this car trying to convince my grandmother that money really really really doesn’t matter to me while she’s crying and afraid she’ll never see me again. So we pulled over so that my grandparents could give me money. To this day that still seems extremely weird to me but I understand why they felt so strongly about it: they had just lost their son and were afraid that they’d lose me too. They may have even thought that my mother would poison me against them or keep them from me. Logically since I was already 18, that wouldn’t have happened but see with grieving, logic seems to fly out the window and I love them for showing such intense desire to love me.

In the last few years I’ve been relying on my grandmother’s recipes for Christmas dinners and pretty much everything else because her years of experience and tweaking has made them idiot proof! I also admire her devotion to my grandfather and how strong she was when he died of lung cancer last October. She is a hard working woman and keeps ploughing along, no matter what life throws at her or how many times her path seems to have changed. I admire her love for her son even though she doesn’t fully comprehend how he could be happy being gay, yet she [nor my grandfather] ever loved my uncle any less! The amount of love we had in our tiny family was just as great as that of my mother’s side of the family.

I love my grandmothers and my grandfathers for that matter… actually my whole family and each of you have made a huge impact on my heart and the way I live my life. Now that I am in Zimbabwe I’m meeting a whole different part of my family and because of the values my grandmothers taught me, I fit right in and it’s like we’ve know each other forever.

As I wrote this I couldn’t help but think about my little unborn cousin, Rose. She’ll never get to meet our grandmother but she has 13 cousins who’ll make sure she learns the same lessons we did and get to have the same conversations we did. There really is no greater love than that of a family. And I love my family.

AM

PS: The names of my grandmothers actually start with an ‘A’ and a ‘B’… I don’t rank the people in my life. They are all important to me in their own way.

Room to breathe

JS and I had a really long conversation last night and we decided to give each other some room to breathe. I love him and he loves me too but we’ve been acting like an old married couple and it’s driving us crazy.

We’ve loved each other for the past 6 years, even though the longest we’ve been in the same country has been the past 3 months. Our love is not going to change, nor does either of us want that to change. And we’re really good together but it’s the not being together that’s driving us crazy! I miss him too much and he worries about me too much. I know it sounds a bit backwards: giving someone room because you can’t stand not being with them… But trust me, it makes sense.

See, I’ve been with his parents for the last week while he went back to work for the opening of their stores and it’s pretty hectic and busy, which is why I decided to stay here a bit longer. Yesterday I could have gone back to Harare with his brother -it was a last minute thing- which is why I called him and we had this long conversation. Basically about the reason I stayed here in the first place: his work is keeping him really busy and I didn’t want him to worry about me waiting for him at home. And as it turns out, it worked. He got a lot more done because he could stay at the office until 10pm without feeling guilty. So during our long conversation we decided to be honest and not just say what we thought the other wanted to hear. We actually came out and said it: we need a bit of room.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being with him and all of that is easy and comfortable but we’re both still young and to have a relationship that in our hearts have been going on for 6 years, is really intense. We both still have dreams and ambitions and if we are to achieve them, we need that to be our main focus point. Look, I would prefer to be able to achieve our goals collectively but they’re just sort of challenging. We’re not breaking up… we’re not even really changing that much in our relationship… we’re just not taking love so seriously. I want him to achieve everything he has ever dreamed off but by loving him to the point of suffocation; it is not going to make that a reality. And to be completely honest this loving him forever and always thing is actually really scary and slightly stressful. So we’re just taking a step back. Most people would refer to it as slowing down but we’re way past that point.

I love him and that’s not going to change! Our relationship is still on, it’s just not our only priority… actually I’m not even sure it’s our main priority… this does not mean we love each other any less; it just means we are focussing on our future a bit more and ALL the things we want in it. I want it all: career, family and a life I can be proud of. Not just a man who completes me. I don’t need any of those things but not going after them, just because I’m content is so not like me or JS for that matter.

He is a strong man and I love him more than anything else. He is smart and sweet and caring and proud and capable of great things. I want him to be great! If that means I have to let him live more of his life without me, then that is a price I am more than willing to pay!

JS you know I love you and I’ll never stop showing you. But I don’t want you to see me as a liability or an extra burden so I’m taking our relationship down a few notches just until we don’t have to work 20 hours a day to make our career dreams come true. Besides, we’ve had intense feelings for a really long time, so time really is irrelevant when it comes to our love.

Look, I just thought I’d share this conversation with you: mainly because love is complicated and relationships require work but taking a step back and allowing love to be fun again and not so intense is sometimes the best solution to maintain the purity of your love. The only thing that’s really changing is our mindset and as soon as I hung up the phone, I actually felt relieved and love JS even more for it.

AM

Do you love him? Yes, I do

Here’s the last random thing I forgot I wrote: Do you love him?

*****

Do you love him? Yes, yes I do.

It’s so not like me, this isn’t what I do. I don’t do vulnerable yet I really love you

I’m not use to staring out the wind with tears in my eyes as you drive away

I’m not the kind of person who waits to hear what others has to say

When it comes to you every rule I ever had

Flies out the window with the notepad

I’m too scared of loving you this much but the alternative of loosing you is not even an option I can stomach

I try to eat but the food doesn’t really dull how much I miss you

I can’t explain it in words or even thoughts

I can’t pretend I don’t feel it and I don’t think I can tell you

I want to say that every time you go away I want to run in front of your car and jump on the hood screaming: don’t go!

But that won’t happen… I’m too guarded and protective

I want my thoughts to stay my own and sharing is a new concept to me

I’m scattered in thoughts and lost in emotions pulling me into 68 different directions

Maybe we should talk or maybe I should just smile quietly

Will you believe what you feel when I think of you or do you need me to say it out loud?

Do you need me to take your hand and say I love you or will that split second look be enough?

Can I hold your hand tightly while you sleep jerking every time you move just to make sure you won’t leave

I missed you before you even left and I cried inside when I couldn’t reach your hand

Happiness is not a big enough word for what I feel when you are around

I feel your arms around me when you’re not there and I wonder if you feel me too?

*****

Don’t know if any of you will even understand what I meant when I wrote it but hey, if I never show you, I’ll never know…

Sharing my view,

AM

Lasting Love

Love starts out all innocent and exciting and yet more than 50% of marriages end in divorce…

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, honestly I believe in looking for the moments that make it worthwhile and holding on to them during times of trial. My parents spent a great deal of my childhood fighting like cat and dog or actually more like the Zulu and Xhosa [if you’re not from Africa then replace those cultures with any two who have had a long standing feud]. Well, needless to say it broke my spirit… I mean, there were amazing moments and terrific memories in between but in the end that’s pretty much where I spent my time: in between! I didn’t want them to fight each other so I got them to fight me instead~ at least that way they’d be on the same side. When that stopped working, I instigated a few subjects I knew they were extremely passionate about and more importantly agreed on and subtly nudged the conversation in that direction and all their anger and frustration would be directed away from each other and our family onto something pretty trivial. See when people who spend most of their life time together fight all the time; they’re usually not fighting about anything important.

I remember the first time I discovered how ridiculous my parent fights were: my 4year old cousin and I were watching TV while my parents went in and out of the house fighting and she turned to me with those big innocent blue eyes and asked: “Why are your parents fighting about a hat?” I couldn’t help but burst out laughing because back then I was so wrapped up in their emotions and their train of thought that I was having their fight internally… I was fighting myself harder than they were fighting each other because I would never choose between my parents… and I was reading between the lines that didn’t actually exist to the point where I couldn’t even see how silly their fights were anymore. I guess that moment [sitting on my grandfather’s chair with my little cousin watching Mulan] was when I decided to let them fight their own battles and if they ever tried to involve me, I’d just laugh at both of them…

While visiting my future parents-in-law I realized how much they are like my parents. Initially I wasn’t thinking about the fighting… they’re just very alike in values and the phrases they use and the things they’re willing to fight for… Obviously their lives have once again been turned upside down so stress is not a big enough word but you can see the pressure building. Occasionally they erupt and have their little storm offs and their kids [both spent several years at boarding school] are not use to this. They don’t want to see their parents as normal human beings who don’t have the answers to everything…

I still remember in the beginning when my parents fighting – at least in front of me- was still new… it was scary and I went through all sorts of emotions but many, many years later I stand here thinking that maybe they did love each other more than I could understand. “We come to blows but every night the passion’s there so it’s got to be right, right?” ~ Alecia B. Moore. I mean, parents always say the reason they set up rules or get angry with us is because they care. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t waist their breath. So maybe that’s part of the key to having lasting love! Maybe we have gotten so use to marriage ending in divorce that that has now become the norm, that walking away from your family [ for whatever reason] is now completely acceptable instead of remembering that it should only be the last resort! Don’t get me wrong: I hated growing up in world war III but at the end of the day when I saw my mom take my dad’s hand or heard that song my dad always played when he couldn’t find the right words to apologize, I remember the love. I remember that my parents were passionate about each other even though they didn’t always know how to show it in a healthy way.

I guess what I’m getting at is that love is complicated. Even the worst relationships in the world started from a little seed of love. Even the ugliest fights are based on passion that can’t be contained. Even the marriages that last several decades will have their declarations of war. Waving that white flag is where we get it all muddled up… Waving the white flag and saying, I’m sorry is hard. Justifying constant arguing by saying that ‘I still love you’, is just a sneaky lie. So where’s the line? If you just stand there and smile and never fight, you’ll have a lot of pent up aggression and if you’re not taking it up with the person responsible, then you’ll take it out on someone else, someone innocent. And if you fight all the time, you’ll be pretty exhausted and innocent people will probably end up in your crossfire as well…

So here’s my view on parents and fighting: If you were adult enough to have a child, then you ought to be smart enough to communicate properly! Raising your voice won’t make the words coming out sound more logical. Not listening to each other will most definitely not solve anything.  Disagreeing is normal and healthy but throwing things and slamming doors shatter more than just glass. To be in a relationship you need to find someone you can be yourself with and merge your entire life with, so if you feel the need to change entirely or try to convince your partner to change their beliefs then maybe you shouldn’t be together. However if you are only disagreeing on day to day things then it’s worth sitting down and having that conversation, no need to shout or get defensive. If the trust is there then you know that you’ll eventually have your turn and don’t have doubt that the other person will listen to you as you are listening to them.

Fighting sucks, especially when you’re watching it from the outside and don’t quite have all the info or understanding needed to fully comprehend the fight. Honestly, I’d rather just laugh at a ridiculous or short tempered comment rather than actually responding but I have a few buttons and if you push them, I could explode on you… Obviously the longer you are with the person you truly love, the easier they’ll be mindful of your buttons and will be able to understand if you get overly emotional about a harmlessly intended comment. But you’ll only get to that point by communicating! Yelling and throwing fits won’t result in a lasting relationship!

 If people you love are fighting, just remember to let them know that you love them. More importantly, don’t make their fight your fight. They probably know things that you don’t know, so refrain from judging either side because it usually just leads to more tension and regret in later years… And when the argument is over and both sides have said their piece, and then leave it there. Lay everything down on the table so that when all is said and done, it’ll be truly over. Don’t say you forgive and then hold this fight in your back pocket in case you might need it, because that is destructive behaviour.

Fighting is a form of passion but anger is not a form of love… Please make sure that you know the difference.

AM

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