Thursday, February 28, 2013

Go big or go home

Although Nelson never wrote this poem, he did use it at one of his speeches and it inspires me and makes me think of our Madiba:


It is our light not our darkness that
most frightens us
Our deepest fear is not that we
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful
beyond measure

It is our light not our darkness that
most frighten us

We ask ourselves, who am I to be?
Brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually who are you not to be?

You are a child of God
Your playing small does not serve the world
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you

We were born to make, manifest the glory of God
that is within us
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone
And as we let our own light shine
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same

As we are liberated from our fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others!

(Written by Marianne Williamson)

I have been told lately I am too intense, too tense.   People worry I am too serious, too hard on myself.   They don't get it, why I want to jump higher, reach further and be better.  Its not a superiority thing.   My 'competition' is only with myself.  I know stress makes Agatha worse and it certainly makes my TD worse and my tongue extra crazy.  (Agony at the moment!)   I also know much of my stress is self-induced and as I write I have butterflies at the thought of that 1.6km Waterfront canal swim I am doing at 6.00am tomorrow morning.  Yet, I want to.  Life seems fragile and unpredictable and I don't want to take anything for granted.   I just don't want regret of not doing things, trying things, discovering things.  Many will not be fun, I will suck at some and fail at some but I just want to try so many different and exciting things in my life.   My mouth is so bad lately and I am about to try new meds.  If they don't work I am screwed and doubt whether I can continue my studies.  They have to work and I have to, want to, need to, desire to do new and challenging things and live my life bright and fast and fierce.   My body feels so screwed with my chronic back pain and now the dystonia and I am forced to cope with this broken body.  On dark days I don't want to play, that prognosis of irreversible makes me sad and mad and just nuts.   I need new goals and I am hanging onto the word I had from 2 friends this year.  One believes God will heal me 100% and I will be pain free and the other told me I would have a good year.  It felt like a proclamation.  I will have a good year and than means a whole lot less pain so healing has to come.  In the meantime, no guts, no glory! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Back in the water

I have been wanting to blog for ages and have plenty of things to chat about.  Unfortunately time as per usual is just too tight and blogging is a luxury and not a necessity.    Right now I should be doing my anthro...the effects of Islam in Africa and its connection to African religion.   Its actually interesting and my studies are pretty much on track.  If I wasn't going on my AWESOME trip to Sing, Bangkok and Cambodia the pressure would be less intense but I am certainly not studying when I have those precious 2 weeks with my baby sister in such amazing countries.  43 sleeps my peeps, yafrikkinhoo!

But back to what I want to chat about:    Swimming, water and I.   On Sunday I finally did my Xterra swim and I am presently officially an Xterra warrior.  You just have to finish to be one of those and I did it, I finished.   The build up was so huge and I thought I was prepared.  Its a little like birth.  You've read the books and done the classes and spoken to other mothers and then you actually go into labour and you cannot f'ing believe how hectic it is and just how little you know about this birthing and mothering.   We arrived with plenty of time to spare and a pumping atmosphere.   I love the energy of these events and camaraderie and I am always so chuffed to be part of it.   Many competitors were well know professionals from around the world and many did all 3 disciplines while some like me, were part of a team.   I must just quickly interrupt myself here to say if I was a single gal I would hang out at these events to meet a guy.  Hot, fit, healthy, driven men.  For you girls, not me!  I have a man, a hot man!

So I get ready wearing my new tri suit which I bought 2nd hand at a bargain and my goggles and the swim cap they gave me.  I tightened my goggs as they had been leaking which turned out to be a big mistake later on!   961 swimmers are at the waters edge with all the pros in front.  I am nervous but fairly calm until the gun goes off and everyone hits the water.   As I get in I panic and I can hardly breath and a hundred limbs are kicking and knocking me and I am freaking out thinking there is no way I can do this.  That buoy is SO damn far away and then its the next one and the last one. You think 1.5km doesn't sound far but holy crap it looked far.  I prayed and begged God to help me with my breathing.   I struggled the whole way wanting to cry and desperately not wanting to give up.   Stubborn me will die first before I quit but wow it was hard.   I also just didn't want to be in the last 100 swimmers and hoped to get in under 40 minutes.   Eventually my feet hit the sand and I ran through the water and up the hill getting a massive calf cramp on the way.  My cyclist was waiting for me pumped to go and it was finally his turn.  Then my fabulous runner which meant with the 2 of them we did pretty well and came 24th out of 65 mixed teams.  It was no thanks to me with my 36 minute swim but we did it.  

I wish I had enjoyed it more.   The water is very significant for me.  My post is getting too long and I will elaborate this story but at 2 years old I almost drowned and had to be resuscitated and rushed to hospital by ambulance.   People went on their knees that day and begged God for my life.  Someone must have come against the fear of water too because my love for water and swimming is beyond.   I have always been a fearless swimmer regardless of how insane and rough the ocean is. I LOVE it!   That panic and horrible disappointing swim was just awful and while I am super chuffed to have finished it, I felt like I needed my aqua-love back.   This morning I went for a surf and landed up leaving my board on the beach half way.  I swam and tumbled and body-surfed and just reconnected with my incredible life giving water.    

Naturally after giving birth my open water swim I swore not to put myself through that again but sorry, I can't give up so easily.  I will train harder next time, I will know what to expect, I will improve and I hope to even have parts of the swim where I enjoy it.   On Friday at 6.00am when your alarm clocks are going off I am doing the Waterfront canal 1.6km swim with some girlfriends.   The water is supposedly clean and checked.   I hope I won't hate it and get my confidence back a little.  I hope not to cramp.  I so want to master this open water swimming and I still haven't shelved doing a mini tri.  

This is my awesome teammates that allowed us a 3H31 minute finish time in one tough, tough race:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Might I have a thing?

What's YOUR talent Mom?  I remember Rebeka asking me that question after bedtime prayers when I had thanked God for all of hers.  Well lets go down the list shall we:   I don't sing, I cant dance, I can only cook normal unexciting food, I don't knit, sew, bake.  I have nominal ball skills and I can't do cartwheels or run or mountain bike.  Pottery not so much and mosaic OK and that's just because it doesn't require perfectionism or patience.  I don't have a brilliant maths brain, take incredible photographs or bake like a French pastry chef.  I am not especially groomed or smart although have been known to scrub up well.  In short, I am not a master at anything but a Jack Jill of everything.   I am an all rounder OK-ish at everything.  Now I should probably be grateful but hey, doesn't everyone want to have one area where they excel?  I do, I do!

My achey back takes me out of many things I have the potential to be good at.   The one thing I AM good at is determination and hard work.  I am not lazy and you add my competitive streak which means if I am not good but have the potential to be, I'll work my arse off.   Today, I SWAM my arse off and I am so frikkin' chuffed.   I find it hard every-single-time.  Like I never get anywhere or feel less exhausted.   With 9 days till the big race, this is worrying.   Today, I cruised.   I wanted to time myself and even though the pool is vastly different, I still get an idea.  My aim was 60 lengths freestyle in 30 minutes.   A month ago I had recovered from my op to get to 40 lengths again in about 35 minutes. I took breaks in between and did breastroke when tired.  This was a solid 60, 1.5km no rest.    I have booked 3 little lessons with my girls swim coach and on Thursday she taught me a few things.   I got in the pool today and off I went trying to be mindful of all Angela had taught me.  Up and down slowly but surely and for the very first time, I wasn't vomit-tired.  I didn't have to rest and I found my groove.  60 solid lengths later I got out the pool and checked my time.  32 minutes.   Not the 30 suggested but for a newbie, I am well pleased with myself.  

I just CANNOT come last stone next Sunday and if I can also not be in the last 100 (1000 take part) then I will be pleased.   Maybe this will be my thing?   Open water swimming taking part in events.   Improving all the time, getting stronger and hopefully having less back pain.   So I won't be no Penny obviously and I know I am way weak compared to most real swimmers but this gives me something to work towards.   I have a cool little group of girls to swim with thanks to Hanel and we want to do sea swims, dam swims, the Waterfront canal and all over.   I found a 2nd hand wetsuit for the cold swims for only R700 (R3000 new!) and have bought real goggles.   Í am so amped and although I still haven't given up on trying to run and cycle, realistically its probably out unless God makes me His poster child for perfect healing.  NO back pain and mouth spasms gone for ever.  Please God, I will smile so nicely and even wear make-up when we do the poster shoot.

PS.  I ate a carrot cake and chocolate Lindt ball just before the swim, it will now have to be part of my training schedule.  Clearly!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The remaining 50% of my life

Its been a while since I have done a light post prattling on about whatever or wherever.    In the early days of blogging pre work, studies etc I had much more time and I loved blogging daily.  Somehow I never ran out of things to say and I would check my stats every day to see what my numbers were.  Of course the BB blog was also a wonderful tool for raising money and getting clothing collections from around the world.  Every parcel I opened with gorgeous little foreign clothes made me want to cry at the compassion and generosity of strangers and friends from our global village.   You girls have the coolest baby stuff!!

Now I blog when I feel the need for therapy or clarity or I am feeling that self-indulgent awful emotion aka self-pity and need to vent a little.  I study every day, literally.  I have my entire semester worked out with number of pages to cover per subject per session.  Last years distinctions means I want to try and keep it up.  Its been hard because the combo of Rivotril and reserpine I take for my mouth movement disorder makes me tired.  And stupid!   Anyway, it leaves me with no time for frivolities like yakking on my blog or mall coffee dates etc.   Afternoons are filled with kids extra murals.  My friend accused me of needing to fill my life every afternoon by having them do so many activities and ferrying them from A to B lugging swimming costumes and horse riding boots and sticks and lunches and all the crap that Mom has to remember.   If I wanted to fill my life I would lie at the pool and read my book, catch up on  my studies, nap or hang out with friends.   Crazy sport schedules and homework are what I do because I have to and my kids are at that age.  When I am big and they have cars and homes etc I promise I will have very different afternoons which finally brings me back to my topic, my bucket list.

Now some are real cliches, some are pretty realistic and some are far off but possible none the less.  Lets start with what I don't want to do which might just be on your list.
I don't want to do a cooking course in Tuscany, I'll just come for the sight seeing
I also don't want to learn to paint in Paris or anywhere else.    (I'll come with for the chocolate crepes)
Become a missionary
Do the Argus, the Comrades or any marathon. 
Go live in Australia
I do want to do and will do some:
Manage a mini traithlon if I can conquer my back pain
Finish my Social Work degree, hopefully cum laude
Live in my beach house in Hermanus or somewhere else within 50 meters of the ocean
Learn to meditate properly
Always seek God in all I do and all I am
Go on a snow ski holiday with friends
Do more hikes and possibly even conquer Kili.
Visit Vietnam and also do Thailand again but NOT Phuket.
Visit India in a long holiday
Do a European holiday in 10 years time with my sisters and nieces and my mom and my girls
Help my daughters dress for their weddings
Hold my son's newborn in his or her first few hours of life.  Oh I am going to cry!!
Spend loads of time with my grandkids, my house will have a separate room just for them
Write a book when I am much older and the physical challenges have been ticked off
Enjoy time with my husband and do plenty traveling
Walk my dogs on the beach every day when I am not out the country

I think that's it.  I will add some things and take away others and re-plan and dream and reach.  They say life is what happens while we making other plans which looking back, I know to be largely true.   Yet...I also know if you don't enter the race you are never going to place.   Have a lovely Saturday you all and enjoy the fresh pretty rain for those fellow fortunate Capetonians.    

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Its a raw deal

There have been many times during my 17 years as a parent where its been painful.  I feel exposed and raw and vulnerable and so unprotected from the pain that our children directly or indirectly cause us.   I look back over the years and I look at my friends in the many stages of parenting and I realize that the rawness will always appear and re-appear as we go through various transitions and experiences.

Do you remember that first shot your newborn got in his plump baby thigh and how you felt like someone had stabbed you in your chest.  The shocked look and indignant scream that followed at each immunization where you just wanedt to cry.  Sleep-training where they do that hiccup cry when you finally fold and pick their sobbing body up and squeeze them so tight in mutual relief.   Falls and scrapes and fevers and little fingers caught in draws.   Then its pre school and that massive separation where you feel like the shittest mother ever when they pry your toddler off your leg.   Are they REALLY smiley and happy 5 minutes later?    I remember Daniel being about 3 and getting a new teddy kind of backpack he was trying to show his friends.   Look, look, look he said a 100 times and they ignored him and I wanted to yank their little heads around and say LOOK, just look for 5 seconds OK!   I remember when Sofie started stuttering and my whole family froze in terror.   Her Mimi stutters and the thought of our Fifi having to endure that, oh please God no!   Our kids hurt and disappointment becomes multiplied in our own over protective hearts.  Primary school is scary teachers and friend politics and bullying and performance pressure.   Not being chosen and finding out you are not good at everything, in fact you suck at some things.  Not all our kids are mainstream and you realize life for yours will not be the smooth sailing you so carefully hoped, prayed and tried to prepare for.   I hated star charts when little girls like Abigail and Hannah and Chloe would have a solid row and my busy, distracted Daniel would have nothing.  Silly behavior charts for smug girls where my boy only had one side filled out.  Not sitting still, interrupting, fighting, wrestling, not finishing his work....I could go on.    Of course now that I have Rebeka I am on the other side, the smug girl side but I don't take it for granted or pat myself on the back for excellent parenting.  All our kids differ and not everyone fits in seamlessly.  I have one who struggled badly but has learn to cope, one who excels and participates in everything and teachers adore and one who is pretty average.   Its nothing I have done or have not done and I am the very best mother I can be parenting each one according to their needs.

You might be at the stage where your toddler bites and hits, your grade 1 struggles to read, your older kid has no friends.   A teen with acne, low self-esteem.   A bully kid or one who bullies.   You might be struggling to navigate your way around the teenage years or you might even be sitting in your empty nest feeling really raw and wandering what the new rules are with your grown up child.  Wherever you are its frikkin' tough being a mom and trying so damn hard and never quite feeling like you have got it all together because you don't.   Its exhausting and worrying and painful and wonderful and joyful.    Its just so much, so huge but its not clean or tidy or pretty.  Its 100% organic and its a really raw place of vulnerability.  Its a raw deal indeed and I salute you all.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Keep on swimming, swimming, swimming...

So in 3 weeks times I take part in 1/3 of a triathlon called Xterra.  Once upon a time I had a dream to complete a mini one before I hit 45 but I am beginning to think that dream is unrealistic.   In fact before my swim today I thought of teaching myself to cycle and run this year and do the xterra lite next year.

When I decided on this triathlon I was still living/swimming in la la land with clear water and no waves and a thick black line to keep me on course.  I also had a wall every 25 meters to push against and knew at any exhausted point, I could simply stop and put my feet down.   For some extremely stupid and short sighted reason or lack of reason, I didn’t really think about open water swimming and how different it could be.   Being Nike girl who has the Just do it attitude I recruited my cyclist, my runner and went on-line and entered team De Hoop.    Today was my 3rd dam swim and I went up with a proper adult swim team.  I could just see by muscular bodies and wetsuits and fancy goggs that these people didn’t  f*ck around.    The first buoy was 500 meters away and the next one 1000 meters away.  Very old people, small children and the sick and lame could swim the first buoy and then swim back making it a 1km swim in total.  The real swimmers would do the 2km and then most go for a run afterwards.   Well duh, clearly I would have to do the 2nd buoy or at least swim in-between those making it 1.5km which is the race distance.  So off I go and I swim and I swim and I swim and then I look up and that first red ball is so damn far away I just can’t believe it.  I can see buggerall and every now and again I get a wave hitting me in the face and take a not so delicious gulp of dam water.  Eventually I see no swimmers anymore apart from a dad with 2 primary school children.  After 20 trillion strokes I make it to the first buoy and there is no way in hell I was even going to attempt to swim to the next one.    I swum around it and started crawling my way back.  It’s like a mirage, you keep on looking up through those misted foggy goggles and the people on the beach just don’t get closer.    As I get to the end, the first finisher of the 2kms swims past me, grabs his trainers and jogs off into the mountains to do the running section.    

I felt so depro and useless and over whelmed.     Losing sucks, that just for fun BS, not for me.  I know it didn’t help that I had an argument with the teen critters just before my swim and my mind was mulling and brewing but I can’t blame that.  I just don’t have the experience, the strength, the knowledge or the training.    I told Gary and he asked why I don’t get a replacement.    Why?   Because the only thing worse than losing, is quitting!  I just can’t give up like that.   I promise I have informed my team mates that I will be right at the back and they OK with that.  But to just not swim?   No, I will do this and learn along the way and the next time it will be a little easier and I will be a little better.   With my spinal pathology I have a good chance of never handling the pressure running would place on my back so maybe swimming is all I have.  If so then I plan to work damn hard and improve so I at least have a few people coming after me, be them old people and little kids!