Tag Archives: life

Parts of the process

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”

– Benjamin Franklin

All the mistakes, all the bad decisions, all those missed opportunities, all the moments of indiscretion – these are parts of the process.

And the triumphs, the opportunities seized with cautious yet eager hands these, and all the glorious moments are also part of the process.

The people who took advantage of my insecurities, the friends who showed me the way, the colleagues who offered me a drink when I needed to drown my sorrows, the lovers and the dreamers- they too are part of the process.

The times I had to fight back the tears, the time when I felt free driving a tractor through a corn field, the times I felt trapped in my body, the time I  felt complete dancing in the street with children I’d just met – these times are part of the process.

The tequila I drank like water to make everything feel right, the ice cold watermelons I devoured under the scorching Israeli sun, the gelato I ate in a small Tuscan square which made time stand still, the cheap vodka mixed with chocolate milk which made me sick to my stomach – all these things are part of the process.

The house in Ghana with it’s cold showers and turtles in buckets, the apartment in the clouds with shiny floors and bath-time cigars, the cottage surrounded by vineyards with a wooden spiral staircase, the house I grew up in with gutters full of leaves and closed doors – these places are part of the process.

The months I retreated from the world when my friends needed me, the nights I walked the streets yearning to be part of something bigger, the days I felt completely numb, the Christmas I spent alone in a strange house eating pizza, the day I said goodbye for the last time – these times are part of the process.

The relationships that taught me to be kind, the relationships that forced me to be brave, the relationships with no strings attached, and the ones that made me believe in fairy tales – these are part of the process.

So don’t mind being at odds with the status quo. Embrace this new age which allows us to choose any path we like. Sometimes it’s a highway, sometimes it’s a slow and meandering lane. Choose one that is full of experiences rather than just achievements. Enjoy the transformation. The process that follows the rhythm of your heart. A process you can’t stop. For once you stop changing, adapting, evolving and growing, you cease to be you.


Mostly the Mother City

I’m trying to re-adjust my thinking, re-programme my vocabulary and re-align my chakras. Trying to live, speak and act like a Capetonian again. It’s not easy, but I’m trying. I’ve noticed a couple of things since moving back and realised I’d also forgotten some.

You know you’ve living in Cape Town when:

The waiters say to each other: “This is a RESTaurant, so we should rest, man!” (while you wait 15 minutes for a coffee). And your waiters name is Blessing or Progress..

Cars move faster in the slow lane than the fast lane.

You use a mountain to help you navigate whilst driving.

Taxi drivers use the pavement as a short cut through traffic.

Many people still wear brightly coloured clothes made from hemp and sandals made from car tyres.

Your car is constantly covered in a thin layer of salt from being parked near the sea.

A gap in one’s teeth or a missing a tooth, is described as “having a puncture in your face.”

Rush hour starts at 3:30. On Friday’s, at 2:30.

You see people do their grocery shopping in bare feet on the weekends.

You realise that most also hibernate in the winter.

Otters swim past your balcony most evenings.

London’s Lessons

Like any city, London has its quirks and idiosyncrasies. But I think, because of its size and intensity, London has developed more than most. Some of them are dangerous, such as: Never Dawdle on Pavements. Dawdling can be lethal, particularly if you’re shopping in Oxford St on a Saturday afternoon. Shoppers in this area become militant whilst searching for plastic sunglasses and leopard-print leggings. Primark bags filled with cheap underwear become battering rams and are used indiscriminately to navigate a clear pathway into Topshop. Walk as fast as possible at all times to avoid obliteration. Note that prams and umbrellas are also deployed to maim and decapitate bystanders blocking the entrance to any high street store with a sale on.

Some I will never understand, such as: Queuing for Sales. And I don’t mean queuing for an hour or even two hours, I mean spending the night in a sleeping bag on the pavement outside the store in order to be one of the first to get their grubby hands on the 70% off items.  Boxing day sales induce mass hysteria all over London and many families will abandon their Christmas dinners early to rather spend the night in a tent outside Selfridges. I’m still baffled as to how anyone could want a half price sofa that badly but apparently lots of people do.

Queuing for the new i-phone 4

Some are soul-destroying, such as: Public Transport turns Normal People into Bad People. Myself included. Being herded onto the tube in rush hour and having to stand in a position most contortionists would find difficult with a strangers armpit 5cm above your face for about half an hour seems to bring out the worst in people. Funny that. No one speaks unless we’re ‘politely’  asking someone to “please move down” (whilst in our heads we’re thinking “move your fat ass out the way lady!”). Even when the trains are a minute behind each other we become consumed with a desire to ram into the back of people already on the train so our heads get mashed between the closing doors. Just so we can get to work about 45 seconds earlier.

And some defy the laws of nature, such as: Drunk Teenage Girls do not Feel Cold. I’ve seen this one so many times but am still in awe of these creatures. You can spot them lurching down Charing Cross Rd at around 2am on a Saturday morning, their shoes in one hand and a bottle of WKD in the other. They’ll either be singing, screeching at passing men or throwing up in the bus stop.

Looking good

Even in February when the temperature is below zero and arctic winds howl through the streets they’ll be wearing little more than a tea-towel and a tampon. These girls are immune to the icy conditions and seem to be virtually indestructible.

These are what make London one of the world’s great capital cities. Oh how I will miss them.

Not yet at home in Beaune

Mr Papin doesn’t seem to like me. I’m not sure why. Each time he trundles out the driveway in his little red van I wave and smile at him, but in return all I get is a blank stare. He lives in the house next door to the place I might call home this summer. My New Home is on the slopes of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy and has views of some of the world’s most famous vineyards; although I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford the bottles of Pommard and Montrachet that are produced on my future doorstep. I’m going to have to chip away at Mr Papin’s frosty exterior with a large ice pick if I’m ever going to win his affections.  I am determined though and have visions of us one day chuckling over a glass of wine, reminiscing about the days when he was not bowled over by my winning personality.

My New Home

I spent last week with JD in my New Home and saw the New Year in there.  Living in Burgundy with your lover, learning French and eating foie gras for breakfast may sound idyllic, but as I learnt last week, the reality of the situation can be far less romantic. Rural France is rural and my New Home is a 400 year old stone cottage with no heating, dodgy electrics and the most difficult toilet in France to flush. Can I also just say that the novelty of building a log-fire every night wears off pretty quickly when it’s permanently cold and damp; outside and inside the house. In my short time  in Burgundy I managed to collect a few nuggets of information which will be invaluable in my attempt to adapt to a new life there:

  • Grand Cru Montrachet vineyards make good emergency lavatory facilities – be sure the spot you choose cannot been seen by passing cars though.
  • Not all towns in Burgundy have quaint cobbled streets with charming shops and bistros. Some are filled with people that all look inbred, chintzy shops selling cheap clothes and rococo inspired cafes serving stodgy crepes. Note: avoid Lons le Saunier.
  • You will never, EVER know all there is to know about wine.
  • Most Burgundians have cute dogs. Some of them are called Robin and like ‘gin tonique’.
  • The hot chocolate in Beaune has ‘incroyable personalitie’.
  • There really are men in France who walk through the streets wearing a beret with an armfull of baguettes shouting “Je t’aime mon cherie!”.
  • Laptops dont like having Grand Marnier spilled on them.
  • Boules is best played in a large pair of Wellington boots with a glass of cider in your free hand.
  • You have to drive like an asshole if you want to get anywhere.

The reasons for change

A change in search of happiness. A change to realise my goals. A change because I am brave. A change to escape repression. A change for the thrill of the new. A change because the wind makes me restless. A change for all that is good. A change in the name of love and wine. A change to meet my expectations. A change beacause I get bored easily. A change to ease my longing for change. A change to cure my trepidation. A change  to keep myself young. A change because my feet are itchy. A change for the sake of my heart. A change because life is short. A change for all the right reasons. A change for all the wrong reasons. A change because I seek adventure. A change because I love cheese.  A change so I can walk the long road home. A change because the light is fading. A change to make my candle burn brighter. A change because I am a soldier. A change because the avalanche inside me is imminent. A change because love will tear us apart again. A change to make me stronger. A change because I’m claustrophobic. A change because I hear footsteps in my mind. A change because I want to be better. A change to sate my appetite. A change so one day I’ll look back and smile. A change because I see it in his eyes. A change to mend the broken pieces of my life. A change because ‘what-ifs’ poison the mind. A change to learn the language of love. A change so I can look up and see the stars. A change to release all those words. A change in order to grow. A change because I can. A change because the time is now. A change to complete the transformation. A change because change is inevitable.

Am I a grown-up now?

I recently made the transition from my twenties to my thirties. My dirty thirties apparently. As I mentioned before, I was daunted by this prospect. However now that I’m officially a thirty year old woman (and I suddenly feel comfortable referring to myself as a woman) I’m starting to understand what all my friends, who’ve already reached this milestone, are talking about. Something shifts in your thinking once you turn thirty. Things that used to bother you, don’t anymore.  You start to care less about what other people think. A new confidence emerges. You have a clearer vision of where you are going and where you want to be.  You become a lot more comfortable in your thirty year old skin.

I remember how shy I used to be. How unsure of my self I was. Always avoiding eye contact, staring at the ground when I walked, constantly worrying and wondering what people thought of me, turning my phone on silent in case it rang while I was on the train so I would be spared the embarrassment of having a conversation in front of other people.  It used to happen on an almost weekly basis that a stranger would walk past me in the street and say “give us a smile” or “cheer up love”. But in reaching thirty I seem to have graduated to the next level of cat-calling and now the construction men/BT engineers/random chavs flatter me with comments such as “hey sexy” or ” excellent lady”. This is progress indeed.

And now I’m doing all the grown up things that grown-up people do without a second thought; I can stand up for myself, question people, query things on a bill, disagree with people, make my point, I’m better at arguing (not sure if that is progress?) and I have even started wearing make up and painting my nails. Check me out. I also love that I don’t take myself so seriously anymore. Life is way too short. So it seems that the answer to my question is ‘Yes’ – I really am a grown-up now. A round of applause if you please.

My mid-week mid-life crisis

When I say ‘looking forward’ I mean it in the literal sense.  As in ‘I’m thinking about the future, planning ahead.’ My 30th birthday is one of the things I’m currently contemplating. I didn’t want to think about it and have actually been in denial about this milestone until recently. But people keep asking me what I’m planning so I’ve been forced into thinking about it. Yes, I know age is irrelevant but the thought of being thirty terrifies me. I feel as though I should have achieved more by now: be settled with a career, husband, kids and a mortgage. At the moment I have none of these things. Well, I have a career, but not the one I really want. I remember thinking about being thirty when I was in high school and imagining someone very different to who I am now. While I sometimes feel I’m lagging behind in the race of life, I’m also quietly pleased I’m not yet burdened by all of these grown-up things. “What a childish thing to say” you’re probably thinking. A family, home of your own, and successful career are fundamental to a fulfilled and happy life, right? Probably, and perhaps I am childish, but I think growing up is over-rated. I want to keep my youthfulness for as long as possible. Don’t get me wrong – eventually I would like those things too, but I’m in no hurry. I have great friends who also like drinking tequila, who inspire me and who I can go disco-dancing with. I have a wonderful lover who takes me to Tuscany to eat gelato, who does the crossword with me and who sings (off-key) to me when I’m sad. And these things make me feel fulfilled and happy. So even though I’m daunted by the prospect of being thirty it’s an inevitability I have to deal with. And I plan on growing up at my own pace.

Me thirty years ago.