About me, when the going gets tough

Health, stress and its affects have been front and centre of late. Call it circumstance, fate or whatever – multiple people that we know are ill to varying degrees. I suppose being away for a few days has also sparked another spell of thinking. How do you or is there a right way to deal with stress?

I’m very vocal (not always to the stress causer mind you) and if my office walls could talk I’d probably need to take out a gagging order! Lets put it this way I’m a firm believer in better out than in.

Music is my figurative punching bag. Hard rock, classical or something that makes you cry – there’s a tune to pretty up and every mood (that said rap and hip-hop have yet to reveal their purpose to me).

In a utopian world, you’d be able to tell your stresser that they are the root cause of your stiff neck and twitching left eye but until then ………………

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music” Aldous Huxley

Five Days – Day Two

A good friend of my husband has been re-diagnosed with colon cancer after being in remission for 2 years. He is an articulate, courageous man bearing a heavy burden ….

I am awake, lying in the dark

Like every night

You see, I don’t have to pretend in the dark

I don’t have to pretend that I’m upbeat and positive and brave

I can let the anger consume me, the anger that the cancer is back …. again

The anger has a companion, unholy fear and they form an omnipotent partnership

I can feel it spreading in my belly, as the enemy invades my body the fear crawls all over my skin like a virus threatening to overwhelm the essence of me

I want to reach inside myself and rip out the darkness, toss it on the rubbish heap and live.

I’m afraid of the way ahead,

What if it doesn’t work?

What if I’m too weak to fight?

What if I lose this war?

3 Steps left of Centre

In an attempt to resurrect our former “walking” week, DH and I cajoled each other into a 5km jaunt last night. He runs, I “power walk” (a.k.a. walk jolly quickly) – that said somehow the last six weeks skidded into obscurity without any tar pounding, shameful 😉

So on a night strongly reminiscent of Wuthering Heights (heavy mist, breezy and deathly still) we laced up (thank you Nike) and headed out. Passing the local community/civic centre we noticed a fruit salad of cars in situ. The occupants looked to be vociferously participating in a game of indoor jukskei– a harbinger of the incongruities around the corner and up the hill.

Passing the half way point, a small dark shape caught my eye (which was surprising in itself with half the blinking street lights out of order – I know you’re supposed to report the pole number but who has pen & paper to hand while sweating your way up hill and down dale). Expecting a wandering cat to skedaddle off into the shadows, I was surprised to find that the cat was hopping remarkably like a rabbit. Yes indeed, a black rabbit crossed my path and vanished into an adjacent garden (which I sincerely hope was it’s home and not the snoozing spot of ravenous rottweilers) – a black cat usually means bad luck I think, maybe a black rabbit means winning the lotto!

It had momentarily slipped my mind that things happen in threes and convinced that the last hill home would be mundane the presence of two snuggling cars parked on the verge didn’t even engender a jolt until I glanced in the car (it was red you see). The driver of the white truck was snuggling as well – with the driver of the red Audi! I’m guessing boy/girl – didn’t stop to investigate further. Surely in this day and age there must be a better place to canoodle than the side of the road? Or maybe I’m just an old married bat with no sense of adventure – hell I hope not! DH pressed a dodgy button on his watch so our time disappaeared into a digital netherworld but at least the hams got a work-out.

Now shall I walk
or shall I ride?
“Ride,” Pleasure said:
“Walk,” Joy replied.
~W.H. Davies

PS More practice pictures – will be trying my hand at birds tomorrow I think, hope the little blighters are prepared to pose 😉

 

 

Getting away from it all – observations from the wild side

So DH and I went on holiday – we fled to the hills for a healthy dose of R and R, recharging the batteries, rejuvenating the mind and all the other lyrical pursuits much expounded by those in the know.

In a thatched sanctuary beneath the shadow of our favourite hilly host (can you have a favourite mountain?) we whiled away 5 splendid days.

Somehow, actually getting packed up and on the road is always fraught with high drama as we vociferously debate the number of t-shirts that one needs for a mid-week break liberally sprinkled with comments like *you cant possibly need another pair of socks*

And food – do you eat more on holiday than at home? We do, to the power 3.

Being sprogless we tend to travel out of school holidays benefitting from the solitude that is in abundance. The lure of the mountains revolves mostly around hiking. On most non-rainy days we are to be found out and about.

From mountain top to valley floor, whispering river to grassy knoll we walk and climb and breathe. By some stroke of luck we both favour similar pursuits and on this last expedition while lunching on top of the Sphinxs head,

we came across this delightful creature sunning himself under a bush and completely unperturbed by the presence of 2 humans.

As we carry our own supplies the likelihood of a gourmet spread is not great but he seemed quite content with a piece of cheese. There is great camaraderie and kinship in being out together and the wintery season adds to the uniqueness of the experience. The high peaks were enveloped in downy snow while we dozed on the slopes in the sunshine.

On a more esoterical but personal note, I derive great soul sustenance from mountains. They seem to exude stability and calmness that transcends all shenanigans that life brings with it. Now ………… after a visit from the men in white coats and on a practical note, are you a pretty walker? In other words, do you return from the great outdoors bearing a strong resemblance to Miss World cuddling her sceptre?

Well you see, not I! I can proudly raise my hand and say with conviction that I am always in an advanced state of disarray – excessively glowing with the make-up du jour a courageous smear of sun-cream.

Nature – love it or hate it, its never dull.

Of clouded observations and in your face opinion

I am not, by nature, one to ponder the passing of time. Yet of late I find myself a little more reflective, perhaps even ponderous in my musings. The cliched “watershed moment”, “midlife crisis” etc are not pertinent  – it is instead merely a cold, hard realisation of being in my 40’s. Physically sound, well perhaps other than a distince lack of extendable arms which seems to point towards a quirky pair of specs before 2012 (something purple and fabulous – the specs that is).

The maelstrom of my daily existence is ever more often regulated by a moment of blinding clarity. This morning, in the midst of a vexing “numbers” problem it was – I am at peace with myself, truly! The more youthful angst of trying to impress, of being your outer shell and not your inner soul, of being the bouquet garni and not the stock have been relegated to a dusty corner (yes dusty – would you ever!)

For now – self-belief, serenity and harmony are the building blocks of the future and I honestly don’t give a rodents nether regions about the rest.

“I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses” – Gloria Gaynor

 

Aging is a state of mind

The passing of another year recently came amongst overwhelming (well may be not, since I’m still breathing) circumstances – illness, work-stress of epic proportions (which probably accelerated the illness – go figure) and a general malaise: big dark clouds of anxiety and exhaustion. My healing – a conscious effort to batten down the hatches and protect the source – in other dramatic words – me.

I literally went to ground (awfully reminiscent of my favourite Mole  – “The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.” Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows)

– I went to work (no other rotten choice), I came home and I did just enough to function. I took the time to be kind to myself, to occasionally put myself first and remember just why I’m happy with being me. The sum total of the process (liberally sprinkled with a few curious glances from my other half and the odd “are you ok darling”) is that the phoenix has arisen – well perhaps more appropriately the ash has been shaken off and I’m beginning to preen, liberally.

Oh yes, the big news is I have a secret – being 43 is outrageously fabulous.

Seeking Solace

Whilst on a life saving break from the salt mines yesterday, I was dragged kicking and screaming (by myself) into a local bookstore for a nose about. Now the sparkly bit with Msasa is that they do second hand books as well (read cheap,cheap). In the search for glorious fantasy I came across a more serious expose of obsessions, addictions and fetishes. The book’s overall theme was how humanity’s inner feelings of inadequacy/demons etc push them towards unhealthy practices. A plethora of eye-opening but really “sad” stories (to flog an over-used adjective). Obesity, alcoholism, body-mutilation and the like – people in turmoil with overwhelming feelings of being lost (damn, the name of the book escapes me completely, will look again).

The phrase “comfort eating” is often bandied about when women’s issues are spoken about and I’ve been mulling over the whole concept of seeking solace when life just gets too much. Do you turn to religion or food or alcohol or other people for succor? Does your glance turn inwards for a good dose of self-reflection in an attempt to answer the myriad of questions that being a member of the human race throws at you.

Personally, I think I’m more of a look inwards type of personality (is there a defined genre for that) – I yearn for peace and tranquility, silence and harmony – the sound of trickling water does far more for me than a slice of cake. Music (in any shape or form) brings me great comfort.

Yet, as varied as people are so will their coping methods be (one of my dearest friends is a runner – when there’s mayhem she can be found pounding the pavements). It also hit me upside the head about judging people – how many of us can say we haven’t thought negatively when you see an overweight person out and about, or looked down on somebody that is drunk? Are they physical manifestations of a life in crisis?

Big Skies, No Rain and wistful thinking

  

  

Snapped out of the passenger seat with trusty cellphone (nokia something or the other) while out and about over the weekend. Skies full of promise and not a drop of rain – it’s so dry you can literally feel the life evaporating out of all and sundry. It’s been really oppressive in our part of the world – almost as though you’re moving in a primeval ooze, in truth summer is not my favourite time of the year. Bring on the crispness of autumn and the bite of winter.

We continue to walk twice a week and as much as it pains me to admit it’s incredibly therapeutic. Getting going is the biggest hurdle to overcome, especially after a crap work day. We are fortunate to live in a “green belt” with lots of trees, a valley or two and a smattering of quietish roads to pound and once the initial shock has worn off of actually having to exercise your lungs for some other reason than yelling obscenities there is a certain rhythm to the whole process which helps to clear your head. The sound of the wind through a family of pine trees, teeny tiny bats of some description swooping through the rays of a waning sun, even the incredulous glances of passing motorists as they roar off to some incredibly important destination makes for a rich 45 minutes.

Because some days are diamonds and some days are coal

Its been a crappy week after a fabulous weekend (we “chilled” and bonded and laughed, a lot).

We walked (very dull postboxes owned by folk in our part of town)

We gardened on Sunday (foto out of the bedroom window courtesy of trust old cell phone). Sunday was hot – we steamed like a well done plate of vegies as the constant recent rains came back to bite with a vengeance). Did fit in a quick breakfast at a local eatery and a hasty spin past the bookshop to acquire some reading material on sale ……………

Frivolous froth and a glass of Tall Horse Merlot (the blue one) must lie on my horizon somewhere ………….. please!

My place of torture looks like this today

           

You will notice there is no evidence of what lies on the floor, it is a deliberate omission, it’s not a pretty sight – paper EVERYWHERE. Himself aka the name on the letterhead has landed himself in hospital with a bout of pneumonia – he still has his cell phone with him – he is making really bad business decisions 😦

There is the prospect of a chicken, butternut and feta bake with pumpkin seeds for dinner – mmmmmmmm delish, does merlot go with chicken???? Well it does tonight, culinary rules be damned.

Baking for Dummies 101

Given my recent drought in the “sweet” department I decided to restrain myself last night and not venture into the bread world with anything too exotic – so, I “cheated” or you could say took a culinary short cut.

Snowflake EasyMix Farm Style Bread – i’ve seen the packets on the shelves and always turned my nose up thinking that it would taste as artificial as it looks. Not so and after a healthy slice of humble pie I can confidently say it’s really good. One packet of mix, 2 extra large eggs and 500ml of buttermilk/plain yog gives you a medium sized fabulous loaf full of yumminess. I chose not too add any extras for an initial try and at most would throw some extra seeds on top next time – the finished product has a great crust and a beautifully textured inside. I actually remembered to take some phone pics and then also remembered too not bring my cable to work hence my verbosity and lack of immediate photographic evidence.

After an enforced cooling period while DH lurked (a lover of bread is himself) we tried a bit with ham and cheese, another bit with delish Simonsberg cream cheese, a third bit with mulberry jam (courtesy of our local home industries store) and a final bit with a swish of butter.

Step 1 on the road to being Nigella , I think not but it was great fun.

“[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells…there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”

M. F. K. Fisher, ‘The Art of Eating’