Monday, 28 July 2014

Alphabet Clouds

I have days - like today - when I think too much. When it feels like I'm walking around with my insides on the outside and my endless thoughts twist and tumble over themselves in alphabet clouds set in a sky the colour of old bones. Days like today are hard.

Normally, I try and write. It doesn't always work, because alphabet clouds are intangible. I can't pin down the feelings, much less the words. They slide between my fingers, and hide between the keyboard keys, and I just can't string them together into a coherent thought. Everything seems too much - too loud, too bright, too hard.

So today I left work early. I picked Immy up from school, and we came home to chase rainbows instead. It went down something like this.

Freshly baked choc chip cookies. That smell that saturates the air with sugar. 

Sunset soccer. 

My wildling. And her imagination.

Finding this. An orchid plant which has never, ever flowered. And today it looks like this. Feels like a kiss from the wind. 

Tea with Granny and Grampy. Sharing cookies and cappuccinos. And having a living room dance party. Our playlist? Van Morrison. The Weather Girls. Tom Jones. You get the picture. 

Bubble baths, shower caps. And facecloth sandwiches of course.

Days like today remind me how little it takes to transcend the ordinary. An afternoon of small, happy moments that can change the axis of the world for me.

Tomorrow when I wake up, my alphabet clouds would have rearranged themselves neatly throughout the night into words, sentences, paragraphs. Structure and sense and reason.

Today we'll just weather the storm.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Art Jamming

We had a spontaneous adventure today. We woke up late, had eggs on toast for breakfast and then headed to Melrose Arch for some art, some food and some living it up. We sang Let it Go - which I'm sure is the current universal favourite song of 4-year old girls the world over - about a million times on our way to Jozi. At the tops of our voices.

We stopped on the way to look at autumn leaves. And to prove that princess dresses and Puma's totally rock. 

Today was our very first art jamming experience. It was awesome. Every surface of the place is covered in paint. Literally. There are bottles of paint, and brushes, and paint-spattered easels and kids covered in paint.

House rules state: no crying, no whispering and no soft music. 

Once we painted, and dried the canvas with a paint-spattered hairdryer, it was time for the good stuff. The Splash Zone. Immy was dying to splash.

A mini Jackson Pollock in the making. 

We left with our canvas, having made a new friend and found a new favourite place. Next stop was a giant jumping castle, lunch and Haagen Dazs chocolate chip cookie dough ice-cream on the way back to the car.

Spring is inching closer. The sky already seems bluer. The days are warmer.

So many things I'm enjoying:

Monthly spa dates with two of my most spectacular, hilariously funny and rock solid girlfriends.

Paper Towns, by John Green.

Strawberry and mint gin and tonics with old friends.


And new words. Like these.

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. ~ Rumi

It's been a busy, thoughtful, heartbreaking, happy week.

Breathing easier every day.

It's all good.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

I go to seek a Great Perhaps

I was reading Oh, the Places You'll Go! to Immy the other night, and I was struck - as I always am - by the wisdom in this silly, rhyming children's book. I started reading this to her when I was still pregnant, imagining a world full of endless possibility and adventure for her. Today, a chance remark in a conversation led to the comment that I like 'spoiling' her, when I mentioned that I was hoping to take her to the mountains for a few days next month.

I find this very odd.

I don't buy her lots of toys. She doesn't watch a lot of television. We don't even own an iPad. She has lots of books because I want her to love words the way I do. But when it comes to showing a child the world outside of her very small life - filled with vast, beautiful, infinite possibility and promise? This is not spoiling. It's education. And more than that, it's about making memories that will be tucked away for all time. Preserved and precious. Stepping stones towards a life less ordinary. 

The fog is lifting at last. 

I am loving so many things this week.

New books. And summer flowers.


Flaxen hair and winter sun.

Perfect cappuccinos at the touch of a button.

Learning our letters.

My super cute Polaroid camera. Which I haven't used yet because the film is terrifyingly expensive and I have to read the instructions first. In the meantime, just looking at it makes me happy.

Typography. My current favourite is Jasmine Dowling, and these are my two favourite prints.

This one, for me.

And this, for Immy.

Music. And Turkish Delight cocktails. Long dinners and winter afternoons spent with friends. A photography workshop. Weekly trips to Jozi for writing and good coffee and even better company.

The future? It looks like this.

A birthday weekend at the Royal Livingstone with a friend. Watching the sun set over Victoria Falls and feeling my soul lift off. 

Mauritius with my flaxen-haired girl. Cocktails and mocktails and swimming and sandcastles.

A few days in the mountains. Picnics and walks and pony rides.

And best of all, a new home in spring. She likes it. And so do I.

It's a beautiful life.

And today, I am excited about everything.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The fault in our stars

I watched The Fault in our Stars this weekend. I read the book a while ago – in March actually, just after everything fell apart, and it became maybe my best book of all time. For now.

The movie is searingly beautiful. So many things in it spoke to me. I identify with Hazel in so many ways. When she is staring at the swing set, and she tells Augustus ‘the sky is making me sad’. Yip. I get that. The sky makes me sad too sometimes. The way she describes falling in love. The way she understands things. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.  A life lived, really lived, despite the shitty hand she gets dealt.

Another week. Another rough one for various reasons. Lots of people have been asking me about my tattoo. Why I chose the words. I don't explain it because it’s too difficult. Complicated. It means so many things. Too many to explain in a casual conversation.

But here I can sound it out to myself. Figure it out. Walk my way along it, placing markers along the path for each thing it means to me.
Be still. My greatest lesson so far. Pain. Peace. Happiness. Sadness. Joy. Heartache. Loneliness. Crowdedness. The good light. The bad light. Whatever it is, taking it in. Allowing it to become a part of me. And once I've made it part of me, keeping it if I need to. Or letting it go if that’s the best.
Be brave. Even if it hurts. Facing up to things. Experiencing them. Doing the right thing. Being the better person. Because that takes courage. And we all have it in us.
Be strong. Even when I'm feeling weak.  And if I am weak, surrounding myself with friends and family and people who really love me and want the best for me. People who protect me. Who encircle me. With their love, and their honesty, and their arms and their long telephone conversations. With glasses of wine, and jumping in the car to be with me when things start getting really rough.

Be true. To myself. Because at the end of it all, it comes down to me. Who I am. The things I hold onto inside of myself because they help me navigate a world that turned out to be not at all what my heart expected.

Finally? This. Psalm 46:10. Be still, and know that I am God. 
I leave you with a quote from this extraordinary book:

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
It's not fate, you know. It’s just life.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

A piece of quiet

I have had a lot of time to study the face of grief. How it looks, and feels, up close. We always associate grief with death, but this is death. Just in a different way.

Sometimes I look back at previous blog posts to see what we were doing a year ago. And this week, when I did that, I came across this post. I read it. Soaked in the pictures. Wondered - for the millionth time - how it all comes apart so quickly. Thought and thought about what love really is. How we use the word so loosely, but how it represents so many complex things.  The unconditional, wildly protective, fierce love that I feel for Immy. The love that infuses me when I am with my friends, laughing and leaning on years worth of good times and bad. The love that I have for my family - solid and dependable. The tangled emotions that I feel for the man I have spent my life with, the father of my child. The love we still share, and the grief that accompanies the realization that sometimes it's just not enough. Every day a balance between sorrow and sunshine. Sometimes the scales are tipped more towards one than the other. But I am doing okay. Finding my way. More able to face the hard things, and make the right choices. For me. And for Immy.

My beautiful daughter. In the hours we spend together I am amazed to see how similar we are. We make each other laugh. Her sense of humour - a mirror of mine. Her easy smile - mine. And her sometimes faint melancholy - I am feeling sad, mama - mine too. In the car, we hold hands and listen to music. She falls silent when certain songs play - these are the ones that whisper to her heart. She asks to hear them again and again. She is learning to understand that music can channel our thoughts, our feelings, our hopes. That in our hardest moments it can be an unspoken prayer. That somewhere beneath the lyrics and notes and melodies, there is healing. And peace.

But sometimes she will say say: Mama. Can we just have a piece of quiet? And in this one thing I know more than anything that she is carved from me.

And we switch off the noise, and we hold hands, and we are still. And I feel profoundly grateful that she will understand this lesson that I would like so much to teach her - that in stillness, we find our way. Back to ourselves. Or forwards to the right choices. That sometimes, we need to be still - to breathe through the pain, to hold the hurt close to us, to feel it tearing through us, so that we can release it. So that we can be free.

My tomorrows are still invisible. I am making decisions, slowly. Some are too hard to face, and for now that's okay. I know that I will face them when the time comes.

Moving forward. Bruised, not broken. It's a good place to be.