Friday, December 5, 2014

Words can indeed express

My sister wrote this really cool e-mail to her son's school about a teacher who was beyond awesome in the way she handled the kids and did her job with such passion and excellence.  What struck me in the mail was that she said something like: words can never express how grateful I am etc.  I imagined the head calling in the teacher and showing her that mail and I just know the affirmation that she would feel and would keep forever.  I then later read something on a private FB page about what words were once said that hurt deeply and remained painful years and years after they were carelessly uttered.  Everyone that commented had messages said to them they could not forget and defined them and damaged them.

We have all received tangible gifts over our lives.  Some were boring, some were special and most have been used or lost or long forgotten.   Words however, both good and bad, those we so often keep.  They have the power to make us or break us.  The responsibility that this evokes for all of us is huge.  Sometimes we feel shy or awkward to express how we feel, to say something personal or make ourselves vulnerable.  We keep it casual, a love u instead of an I love you is far safer.  With more and more communication being on-line and long conversations on whatsapp and FB instead of a call, we get a little braver.   It can be good and it can be really ugly too.  Social media bullying is rife and it seems adults are just as bad typing all sorts of nasty.  We have good sites too of course, safe places where people can post what is on their heart knowing the community of strangers shares and supports with no judgement.  Places where encouragement and affirmation is given because in the real world the person is unable to get that unconditional support.  

Sometimes when we hurt we lash out but what is said stays there.  A sorry cannot erase those words and for deep wounds, even time cannot alter them.  I want to be more aware of what I say both good and bad.  I want to take the time and effort to tell people in my life that I appreciate them.  I think I am OK with people in the middle, its the ones closest to me I need to tell and not assume they know my heart.  And its the everyday people that I want to commend when they are excellent, the waiter at lunch or cashier at the grocery store or a business that gives great service.  2015, I will take the time to write letters complimenting staff and tell people.  Sincere words of praise and appreciation make anyone feel valued.   Before I call you all and love you up I am off to shower because I went for a cycle.  I was doing my usual ugly to myself routine going down the very steep hills holding on the breaks.  Me to me: You such a scardy cat and waste so much time going down the hills.  (I stay a little nervous since my accidents)  You not even brave!  Me to me:  Actually, the fact that I am cycling at all makes me brave and if I need to break a little going down the hills so be it.  Being brave is being afraid and doing it anyway.  Right!   I am going to be kinder to myself too although I will probably still give myself a hard time but then I have my come back.  My nice self that will drown out that nasty critical bitch who I will force into submission.  I love you, I love me. x

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dearest darling me: Letter A and letter B

When I have had big moments in my life with huge expectations I write myself 2 letters while I am still sane.  Because I get so crazy excited about stuff and run miles ahead if things don't work out I land up absolutely crushed and lose all perspective.   I helps to go back and read the: So it didn't work out but you still OK letter.

When were wrestling over the fight for our 4th child we dealt with the ups and downs of adoption and then decided to go IVF due to the vasectomy and it was a crazy emotional time for me.   I was desperate for my 4th, my last piece of my puzzle.  Gary's puzzle was already complete.  After calling off the IVF as it just didn't feel right we were back on the adoption path.  She was 2 and her name would be Anna and I would use the princess curtains that her sisters had used when they were little.  Gary warned me not to run ahead but I was already dealing with how my black daughter would cope in a mostly white school.   I prayed for her as she was already born and I didn't know her circumstances. I even typed her letters that I would paste in her baby book so she would know how wanted she was like her siblings.  I knew Gary wasn't that keen but I was so wrapped up in this fantasy I forged ahead even going to the orientation at the agency.   And then he said a simple sentence that ended it all:  You can any dog you want if we don't have another baby.

A dog?  So you willing to get the Jack Russel you don't want and I do so we don't have to have that 4th?  Right Mel, grow up and get real and forget about this make believe daughter because forcing your partner to take on a child that already has rejection in her life is just stupid.  He would have, for me, but that's not enough.  I gave up the girl that I never had in the 1st place and I went away for 2 days to deal with my anger and grief and irrational feelings of loss.   Anna felt like a God thing.  Like He had this person out there and I was going to be her mom.   Anyway, just typing this makes me want to cry.  I clearly need to go and read the So it didn't work out but you still OK letter.

I did letters for Singapore too.  One for going and one for  So it didn't work out but you still OK.  I had that worried feeling all the time but with 3 weeks to go you allow yourself to relax.  It was f*cking devastating not going.  My Dystonia is my permanent reminder of that huge trauma as it was after the great big non move that my wheels came off and I went on the anti-dep that cased the Dystonia.  That company will never know the true cost of what they did to us.  We apologize for the inconvenience caused.  REALLY?   Oh, no worries, relocating a family with 3 school going children and your one dog (that would be the jack russel) and re-homing your other dogs and and and....    So I had that letter.

And now its time for a 3rd but all of a sudden I am thinking the other 2 didn't work out that well so do I write the letter?   Will it even help.  Mmm, I might still.  Its about my big triathlon race btw.  One is for me making the cut off in time and completing the whole race holding my medal in amazement.   The other one is for me not making cut off.  For pushing and fighting and sweating along that bike course but time runs out and the truck comes and makes me stop and loads up my bike and then swerves as crazy me is now in the road lying in front of the truck broken because I didn't make it.  I know I sound melodramatic.  Imagine training for 5 months (lost the 1st month due to bike accident) 6 days a week and you don't make it on race day?  In my head I know no one will say I was useless or a loser or a failure.  The logical side of me knows this.  I am a non athletic 43 year old with osteo arthritis, long term damage from Sheuermanns Disease and Oro-mandibular Dystonia.  I can only do my best, it is all I have.  On paper I am not the horse you want to bet on.  BUT, I will tell you one thing.  When it comes to determination, commitment, self-discipline and hard work I am a damn podium winner.   If I don't make it I will at least know in my head and heart that I could not have tried any harder than I did already and I really hope I will be wise enough to be kind to myself.  

PS, I know you all want to say of course you will finish but the reality is I am very slow on the bike despite doing all the training so while I might very well finish but I also have to consider the possibility that I might not make it.  I am praying that God honours my hard work and everyone will remember 2015 as the year the wind did not blow, the sea was calm and race conditions were perfect.  It was the year Melanie Loebenberg Novitzkas did her 1st and last ironman70.3 and finished it.    

Thursday, October 30, 2014

50 shades of blue

I have many days when I want to stop studying and I have days when I wonder if I will even use this degree I am working so hard for.  If somehow I don't finish it or I never actually practice I will probably regret the amount of time it has stolen from my life but never the knowledge it has given me.  I am a thinker by nature.  I love to ponder about stuff and although I am not great with current affairs locally and around the world, I am great at knowing what makes people tick.

My fascination with the human psyche and why we do what we do and think what we think makes my degree perfect for me.  Always one for the underdog and very justice motivated studying social work with psychology as my 2nd major seems like the ultimate fit.  On November 14th I have been a Christian for 15 years.  It has been amazing journey of self-discovery and God discovery.  Knowing so much less than I did 10 years ago re God means He gets to surprise me every day.  I no longer force Him to fit the picture painted by others or know Him through others.  I know Him spirit to spirit, raw and real and gentle and kind and fierce and loving.  Many times I just don't get it and that's OK.  As I have mentioned before I can no longer really call myself a Christian according to the world's definition and based on the gross misrepresentation of who God is, I am quite happy to be known as a seeker of Christ.  Someone who doesn't have all the answers and whose truth a decade ago has changed and will change again in another decade.

Can you imagine painting the ocean and the sky in 1 single shade of blue?  It would be flat and unreal and one dimensional.  Painting my daughter's room lately inspired this post as we went through many, many shades of blue till we found the right one.  What if your truth was your perception clouded by the opinion and lessons of others and left unexamined and unchanged?  What if your truth was simply one version, one of the shades of blue?   Imagine borrowing the colour of another to add to your picture, mixing the paints and shades and textures.  I am not an artist by any means but the visuals of all these blues really represent different interpretations and truths and when we open ourselves up to a wider view we get to experience some incredible things.  We see and know sides of ourselves and others and God we didn't even know existed.  The proverbial cast in stone becomes fluid and alive as we grow and learn and morph and change and toss things out and add others in.

I know for many Christians they think opening yourself up to other ideas and beliefs is considered dangerous.  They feel safe and comfortable and 100% sure that their blue is the only real blue.  They consider people with other shades to be blind or deceived or confused.  I am not judging them and in some ways it must feel very secure to be so sure of something but I was never that person.  Because I say so never quite cut it with me.  Why?  Why do I have to be this, say this, act like this, dress like this, watch this and not that, read this and not that?   Jesus obeyed God, not the rules of the day or his Jewish rulers.  I am lucky to have so many like minded friends who are also open minded to all that life has to offer.   We obey the basic rules or try to anyway.  Be kind, treat all people with respect and ensure we all have the same rights, love others, love yourself, love God.   

My old lady hands and less firm skin is the not so much fun part of getting older but the contrasting increased elasticity of my mind and thoughts and ideas more than makes up for it.  But enough random waffling on, time to get back to my books and learn new things.  Exams next week! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Introducing Pricilla-Mavis-Serelda

Firstly let me apologize for my somewhat inappropriate FB status update today.  For those who read my blog and are not FB friends I wrote about this fantasy I had while on my long training cycle.  Let me give you some background info pre FB post: The cycle was far and hot and full of rolling hills.  My legs were aching and my butt and girl bits squashed and bruised.  Basically I was having a lot of non-fun and passing an injured cyclist being worked on by paramedics on the side of the road with ambulance waiting did not add much positivity to the experience.  I also knew come the end of my 80km cycle I had to run 8km in the blistering noon day sun.  Why on earth would I subject my 43 year old body to this mare you may ponder?

Well its because in a moment of foolish bravado, I entered Ironman70.3.  I did my 1st open water swim last Feb, taught myself to run in March and got my bike in June.  In October last year I did my 1st sprint Triathlon and I loved it.  I have done a few since and somehow had convinced myself I was now a triathlete and wanted to really challenge myself.  Take yourself out your comfort zone something exciting that scares you.  How about a 1.9KM swim followed by a 90KM bike on rolling hills and a fabulous half marathon 21KM in the hottest part of the day mid summer.  Well arsehole, are you happy now?  Scrawny, exhausted, overwhelmed and poor.  And too far gone to turn back considering the money spent on entry and accommodation and training.   This is VERY, VERY tough.  I have to swim 3 times a week, run 3 times a week and bike 3 times a week.  The cycling makes my shoulders knot and spasm so the pain has also sent me to strengthening classes once a week and Pilates once a week.  I also have Mondays as a rest day so do the math in terms of 6 days and 11 exercise sessions to get in.  Add 3 kids to the mix and my Social Work Honours degree and I am feeling pretty wasted.  I write my 1st exam on the 5th of November and I have not been very diligent lately so its time for some serious graft. 

OK so back to the fantasy.  Because I am a nervous cyclist and my shoulders are basically jammed tight I cannot turn around to check for cars.  I rely on my trainer to tell me when to cross and hope like hell he isn't having a suicidal day.  At the end of my cycle I get to a huge busy intersection and crossing it makes me poop myself.  Agatha (my other friend you know aka my anxiety) goes wild!  I imagined just going for it and crossing and sadly...I got hit by a car.  Clearly I can no longer train and do this mammoth race because I am now in heaven in my hammock on the beach drinking my frozen margarita while reading a really engrossing book.  I never quit you see, I just died.  People sadly remark how well I would have done and race in my honour.  So that was the fantasy, me pegging and no longer training.  I really don't want to die so no worries re sending my psyche around but today I did want to STOP.

But I am babbling on again which is frightfully rude considering I promised to introduce you to my friend Priscilla-Mavis-Serelda.  I know its a mouthful so I just call her PMS for short.  She comes to visit me for a week each month.  Sometimes she is chilled and other times she is very demanding.  I have tried to tell her not to come and used various tactics but she always finds me.  Despite Gary having the snip I am on the pill just to try and tame her.  It used to work well and she was less invasive and only came for 3 days.  Somehow she is back with a vengeance and prefers to stay the week.  She demands biscuits and chocolates and she doesn't like guys.  Poor Gary and Daniel become more annoying, even my swim coach Ryan gets yelled at across the pool.  She makes me want to cry, she makes me negative and she totally demotivates me.  My drive and ambition and positivity gets sucked right out of me and I am filled with doubt and just want to quit.  When I ran the charity I would want to quit.  My studies, my training, everything.  Just DON'T wanna play.  I am glib about my friend PMS but for the small percentage of the female population that have their own PMS friend, it can be debilitating.  It feels similar to depression and even though you logically tell yourself its just hormones, it doesn't help.  Obviously if anyone else tells you this you will react violently so its best not to ask if one is PMS when they seem somewhat temporarily bitter and twisted.

So I am sorry, I am tired, I am over emotional, I am negative, I am filled with doubt re my ability to finish this race and I am horribly PMS.  I will be amazing next weekend, I have a fairly long triathlon race on Sunday and I will be all amped and excited.  Right now though I am off to eat some more chocolate for Priscilla-Mavis-Serelda and find some family member who is willing to rub my shoulders. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dilbert and my study path

You may have noticed I have not mentioned my studies much on FB lately.  I was on such a roll and then after the botox I got totally demotivated and haven't quite found my way back.  Speech and swallowing was just awful.  This is somewhat problematic as I write exams soon.

Having that annoying and exhausting competitive streak means I cannot simply allow myself to pass the subject.  I go for distinctions which means I have to work pretty hard for them.  19 subjects done, 17 distinctions earned.  Each semester I try and make myself chill and ease the pressure by allowing myself a comfortable pass.  Then as I get closer to exams I think race pace...lets ramp this up a little and see if I can do really well.  Its bloody exhausting and I wish I wasn't such a pain in the arse.  I can't even blame my folks as they never pushed us or forced or pressured us to do well.  I study on-line so its just me to compete against.  So now I have 3 papers to write and I really need to get stuck in.

I have been thinking about what I am actually going to do with my Social Work Degree once I eventually graduate.  Adoptions and fostering is one area that has a special place in my heart.  Then possibly working for Nurture again as I loved working with Mel & my sis and all the other super cool Nurture chicks.  And then a braver project which would probably require a few courses:  I become a counselor that focuses specifically on bullying and the effects thereof.  I teach parents and teachers and kids.  I visit schools and do talks.  I educate myself on the effect of social media bullying and I have a private practice as well to teach kids social and coping skills. little problem.  Yes, its Dilbert the do*s.  My US readers I can't actually write the word do*s because its really rude.  Its pronounced dowus but 1 syllable.  As you know Dilbert is the name I have given to my Dystonia.  One of the biggest problems is talking.  Its painful and tiring.  If you want to get an idea move your tongue around constantly and read something out loud at the same time while staying coherent.  I speak against my tongue and I concentrate very hard so that I don't sound unclear.   It is not a normal flow for me though and I can hear it sounds different although I probably sound normal to the listener.  Unless the person is just being kind?  I like kind, I will take it.     

Anyway, having a job where the main focus is talking is clearly not that fab when talking is the one thing my Dystonia affects most.  So what the hell to do?  Just give up my studies?  I am almost half way there.  Plus my hope junkie self still thinks God might just heal me overnight.  Or send a doc who can or some drugs or anything (God you just do your thing...ready and waiting!)  Studying can get boring and tough so to think I might do this for these 5 intense years and then not even be able to practice is just crap.  I can't give up though.  Can I?  Shit I don't know, it is pretty tempting as I get ready to hunker down and study my butt off for the next 4 weeks.    

Going to bed now.  Been up since 4.30am as we had to leave at 5.00am for the race today.  Think of all the time I could use to train if I stopped studying!  But we all know I won't stop, I have to remind myself even if I never practice the growth that I have experienced and things I have learned in the past 3 years has been literately invigorating.  As a seeker and thinker having my mindset challenged and learning new things and gaining different perspectives has been priceless and regardless of what happens, I will never regret the 3 years I have done so far.  Going to hobble off to my bed now because I wouldn't allow my poor body to take it easy on the race today.  Mind over matter... 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Jesus loving non-christian

This post is about the Big R...RELIGION.  Actually it is about identity and spirituality too.  Before I debate the current, I need to visit the past.

I was born to a Catholic mother and an father whose own father was a non practicing German Jew.  My grandfather was a leader in the Jewish Youth league in Germany.  He spent some time in prison for his faith and along with his brother Ernst, managed to move to South Africa and avoided the concentration camps of so many of his fellow believers.  He did not marry a Jewish woman and did not practice his faith in SA.  I am not really sure what or who my father believes in but I know the past 6 years and all the shit our family have gone through along with losing my nephew Ben 10 years ago had him thinking.

My mom was born in Holland to strict Catholics and attended a convent in South Africa when they emigrated here.  Many of the nuns were cruel and unkind and the reason why my mom stutters to this day.  We were raised Catholic, got baptized, went to mass, had 1st Holy Communion and later confirmation.  My many questions re confession, the bible, the trinity etc were frowned upon by my catechism teacher.  I walked with God back then, I have always walked with him.  I never had a love relationship though and much of the Catholic guilt and rituals were part of the package.  After school I only did the Christmas and Easter thing.  And then at age 25 my Daniel was born and I came face to face with God as I grabbed my slippery vernix and blood coated infant and pulled him onto my chest.  This is your boy to raise, he does not belong to you but I have entrusted him to you.  I knew I would need to give him back to the world and he would have a specific purpose and role to play.  The gifts that God would bless him with would come with responsibility.  I still know that and so does Daniel.

Anyway, I looked radiant after he was born.  I could see something in my tired face, I could see I had experienced something life changing and it wasn't just becoming a mother.  Between trying to get the hang of mothering and dealing with a shattered heart and the sole responsibility of maintaining and paying for my home and raising my boy, I felt very deserted by this God who had paid me such a brief visit.  I continued to question though, to ponder and crave more.  I felt like I couldn't possibly be a Christian because I could never be that well behaved.  I had not learned the gift of grace yet.  I pondered about Buddhism as a maybe for me but mostly I ran after Daniel and healed that shattered heart I was left with.  When he was 3 I attended a Christian service at a church in Camps and that day it all changed.  Something happened and when I walked out the church with a golf ball sized lump in my throat it changed into a river of tears when a random stranger asked if I had enjoyed the service.  It was November 14th 1999.  Someone prayed for me and just like that I was now a Christian.  I learned plenty along the way, some I have kept and some I have discarded.  This post will get far too long if I go into detail so I will try keep it short.  I did The Alpha course which is designed for new Christians and I GOT it.  Jesus loved me.  Yes I know I sound like a sticker or a kids song but He loved me.  ME?  Non virginal single mother, weed smoking, lapsed catholic, prone to swearing on occasion, drinking too much at times ME.  In fact He thought I was incredibly precious and beautiful and fascinating and so worthy of 100% love and acceptance.  He might not love all I had done and was yet to do but me, ah, I was His girl.  For the 1st year I would sit in church and cry the whole service.  How could I be worthy?  Grace is one thing but for me?  The cross became more than a fashion accessory Madonna wore for her concerts.  This simple symbol represented that this gift of redemption and grace was not to be taken lightly and I had a second chance.  I had a constant guide who would ever so gently nudge me in the right direction.  And when I took the wrong path and would have to deal with the inevitable consequences, I never got an I told you so, I got a hand offered to pull me up and a new chance to try again.  Grace.

And then I got sucked into others opinions and rules and ideas of how it should happen.  Being new I questioned my own truth and it got clouded by their truth.  I followed the straight and narrow path for a long time but I always had questions and sometimes I would look back and wander if I hadn't perhaps taken the wrong path.  Could their be other paths leading to the same destination?  Other modes of transport?   I had the obvious questions too like how can the earth be 6000 years old?  Why can't creationism and evolution co-exist.  A world created by God and evolved over millions of years.  Many stories in the bible became symbolic because my rational sensible mind could not quite get 2 elephants walking side by side next to 2 beetles (we have 250 000 species, which ones did he choose?)    Did they watch all the people they knew drowning in this flood as they sat in their big boat?  The guy in the whale?   The lady turned to salt?  I have a hundred other examples.  I also struggled to reconcile the violent harsh God of the old testament who would kill all the baby boys under the age of 2 because they did not have a splash of red on their door.  Thousands murdered in wars.  Only a select few group of people who mattered?  Why were the others created?

Fast forward to 2014 and I have left that narrow path that only allow a few access to God.  That discredit millions of people as not knowing God because they call Him by another name.  Am I sad they don't know Jesus?  Yes, I want them to have that same love and grace and acceptance and not be bound by such strict rules and formulas and conditions of worth.  I love my church and I love the people who go there.  I love the worship and the presence of God that is so tangible there.  (And yes I know I can experience Him anywhere)   What I don't love about the greater church, is the deception.  We would rather have gay people deny who they are, lie to those they love and even deceive someone by marrying them than be who God created them to be.  We base their ability to parent on their sexuality.  We don't allow them to marry the person they love and some don't even believe they will go to heaven or can possibly know and love God.  I believe people are born gay and do not choose to be gay.  We find evil and sin where it doesn't exist.  We turn something innocent into something dark without even really questioning what we believe and what our gut tells us.  We are animals in spiritual captivity who have lost the gift of discernment.  Questions are seen as rebellion and disobedience.  When I read Eat, Pray, Love she spoke about forming your own religion.  We all have a one-on-one personal unique relationship with God so how can we have 1 exact formula.  It has taken me many years but I am in a place where I listen to my gut and what the Holy Spirit is telling me.  I always err on the side of love.  If I get it wrong and I stand before Him one day I would rather He told me I loved too much than be given points for blind obedience.  God is love, yet another sticker...  But He is.  He is magnificent huge mysterious all encompassing love, I just can't believe He sweats the small stuff like do your kids watch Harry Potter, or is Halloween evil, acupuncture, Tinkerbell or a hundred other random things people like to get excited about.  He is GOD.  He creates and He loves and He guides and He protects and He strengthens and He comforts.

PS, I love my friends Christian and non and those odd ball people like myself somewhere in between.  Please don't send me scriptures or try and convince me to squeeze myself into your shoes and walk your path.  I will get lost sometimes, stumble and graze my knee, skip along, walk, run and occasionally jump on His back for a piggy back ride but know the path I walk is my own spiritual journey with the very same God who walks with you on yours. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Handing over the baton

I am now at the grand young and old age of 43.  Some days I feel like I am twenty and I look down in amazement at the top of my hands which betray my age more than any other part of my body. 

Growing up we are given a title, an identity.  This sounds somewhat conceited so please forgive any inadvertent vanity but my role was The Pretty One.  The Model.  Mel-the-model.  I have always been a sensitive soul and a deep thinker so I took no pride in the fact that I was a model.  It hardly takes a genius to wear whatever the stylist has handed you and pose for a few photographs.  I never fitted the scene because I was quiet and shy and the dramatic me-me-me types I met who did my hair, my face, my wardrobe and took my pics basically ignored this quiet teenager who they probably dubbed stupid or boring.  I didn't care.  My face was my air ticket and my travel bug was insatiable.  I would shut up and smile and wear boiling hot clothes in summer and splash in icy water in my bikini if it meant I could see Paris, Milan, Madrid, Hamburg, Miami, Rio, Salvador.  I could sail on fancy yachts and ride horses bareback on the beach.  I smiled quietly on the inside and I took all the perks modeling had to offer as I protected my mind, body and soul from drugs, sex, gossip, apathy, vanity.  It was not a nice world.

At age 20 I quit.  Enough already of the BS of the business.  I had made enough money to be independent, to buy my car, to travel, to support myself.  Life went on but I knew I could use my looks in other ways.  I suppose if I was a die hard feminist I would refuse to be treated any differently based on the fact of being attractive or not attractive.  I am afraid I was more of a realist and I knew when it came to getting what I wanted being The Pretty One could be milked a while longer.  I met Gary at age 30 and I know looks are important for him.  He likes to call me his trophy wife but I do not play the role very well.  Being completely non materialistic I refuse to wear the brands that supposedly dictate success and status.  He knows better than to buy me anything expensive or labeled.

As time goes by my looks of course fade and I used to wander what it would feel like not to be noticed anymore and to blend into the crowd.  Would I mind?  What would my new identity be?   Gary jokingly calls me the aging beauty.  Emphasis on AGING.  This is not a fish for compliments because at most I will are lovely for your age. FOR YOUR AGE.  And it is OK.  It really is because here is the thing.  The years of life that have taken away my youth and my looks have bestowed other gifts upon me.  Lasting gifts like insight and wisdom and compassion and curiosity.  Grace and tolerance and a brave heart.

What is being pretty?  It is fleeting.  I can be attractive and sexy and still look good for myself and my man and I will be all that.  I will never let myself go because I enjoy my femininity and I want Gary to feel pride when he has his old trophy on his arm.  I, myself, want to feel attractive regardless of my age.  So, the time has come for me to pass the baton to my lovely daughters.  I will NOT be that jealous competitive mother desperately hanging onto her youth.  I will stand back in pride and watch my lovely girls grow into themselves reminding them all the time of what makes them truly lovely.

So guess what I am now...The interesting positive one!   Seriously.  My doc loves me, he keeps me there for ages and we chat about so much stuff.  He thinks I am an interesting person with views worth hearing.  Then I met my Chairo the other day and he told me I was a really positive and interesting person.  It was one of the nicest compliments I have ever received and I thought right, I had a good long time of being TPO and now I am TIO.  Time to go, Sofie has a casting.  Kiddie modelling for now but I will decide later if I will allow them into that world I once inhabited.   Feeling liberated!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Life with Dilbert

Acceptance, that is the stage where I find myself after 2 long years of battling Dystonia.  WTF is Dystonia?  Dystonia involves involuntary contraction of muscles that normally work in cooperation, so that a body part is held in an unusual and often painful position as a result. Dystonia can affect any body part, and can result in both embarrassment and the inability to perform daily activities.   Mine is called oromandibular or lingual dystonia, sometimes also known as Tardive Dyskynesia.  My jaw, my tongue, my palate.  I have decided to name my Dystonia and his name is Dilbert.

This stage of acceptance brings both peace and grief at the same time.  I call myself hope junkie as I am the eternal optimist, the idealist.  I crash and burn often yet somehow when I catch a glimmer of that magical elixir called hope I breath a little faster and before I know it I am flying with possibilities and what ifs in Magic-land.  Sometimes they really do come true and sometimes I am hurtling back to earth with the bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth.  I remember googling my crazy side effects of the anti-depressant I was on and copying the link in a mail to my sister and husband.  I was in so much pain and so freaked out and when I read: months, years and sometimes forever I freaked out.  FOREVER?   What do you mean FOREVER?  I cannot do another day of this, not one more day.  Well guess f*cking what?  You can and you will and you have to.  Over 700 days, I have lived with this for over 700 days.  Not because I am brave or strong, because I have young children and a husband so I cannot take my own life.

Have I thought about it?  Oh yes.  Very much so.  I have tried various medications to tame or even kill Dilbert and the one made me so suicidal.  I thought about taking my own life every day.  Many times a day.  It came to a head on the 2nd of April and I raged all day, literally fighting for my life that day.  It was the classical battle between good and evil with death standing very close and pulling me little by little closer to the edge.  I prayed and prayed all day and ironically it was the suicide of my own grandmother that meant I had to stay.  I was not going to take on that legacy and not going to do that to my mother or my children or Gary.  To be THAT family spoken about in hushed tones.  When Gary came home we had a chat and he called my doc that said depression was a side effect of those meds and I went off immediately.  The suicidal thoughts also went away.  Geez it was a hard and scary time for me.  I remember my birthday tea on the 9th of April, exactly 1 week later and looking at my friends thinking if only you knew how close I was to not being here just 1 week before.  But enough of that, its horrible just writing about it.  And no, I don't want to talk about it.

So what am I writing about?  I suppose in the light of Dystonia awareness month I am writing to try and explain what life is like for me.  I posted a clip of myself showing my spasms on FB.  It was ugly and embarrassing but also a little liberating.  When you are trying so damn hard to be normal and act normal but actually you are dealing with a neuro movement disorder 24-7 you never quite feel normal.  Its a lonely place to be.  Apart from the pain the worst part is speech.  I have to talk against my tongue.  Its very hard and very tiring and it makes it hurt far worse.  That makes me feel disabled which in turn makes me super cross.  I blame Lilly the drug company for making Cymgen (Cymbalta generic) and then denying responsibility.  I blame my hard as nails don't give a f*ck psychiatrist who prescribed the meds, reported my case but then when Lilly said it doesn't cause Dystonia she washed her hands off me and hasn't answered a single mail since.  Her time will come, we are all held accountable for what we do and do not do. 

So how do I manage?  I suck sweets, I have a baby teether, I drink lots of hot tea, cold water.  I use masses of lip-ice/chapstick.  I try not to talk on the phone and save my speech for when my kids get home and I need to do homework.  I cannot read them stories anymore and it makes me sad.  If I say something and they don't hear me (its hard to speak clearly) I want to cry at the thought of having to say it again.  Thank God I can write and thank God I don't have it in the rest of my body.  I can exercise so I do.  One gift of Dystonia...becoming a triathlete.  Its my great big F-you to Dilbert.  I am sorry I have to swear so often.  It helps with the cross bit.  I am not a loud or screaming type but sometimes I want to collapse on the floor and rage at the world like a 2 year old crying and yelling.  Itsnotfair Itsnotfair Itsnotfair.  Then I watch clips of people with it all over or really bad facial grimaces and parts of me feels guilty because I am mild in comparison and parts of me so afraid that mine could get worse.  I saw a clip today that was so horrendous I thought no way would I live like that.  But then I thought I need to hold Daniel's baby for the first time one day and I need to button up the back of my daughters' wedding dresses like my mother did for us girls.  I have to stay and I have to just hope that it never gets worse.  I have to hope that I can manage it better and maybe, just maybe, I might even hope that they find a cure for it and I can have my life back.  Its possible that I do not have to do 40 more years of this.     

PS:  I have thought about what the hell I am going to do once I graduate and I start my career as a counselor with the real possibility of not managing to speak for lengthy periods.  My response...hope junkie thinks in the next 2 years somehow something happens and it lessens or stops and I just open my great big mouth and talk.  Fluent, easy, painless.  Please God.    

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fighting the good fight

A very kind friend gave me some dope crunchies for the Dystonia.  I tried them twice but I get so insanely stoned.  Last night in desperation I ate half and I was far less stoned but still had that cool experience where your thoughts are on a deeper level. (And it helped the spasms!)

One thought process was for a particular person and I shared the info with them today.  I know it was the right time and the right info and I was so relieved it was received in the absolute love it was sent with.  At the time I thought this is soul wisdom, a deep wisdom and I need to tell this person.  Seems God can speak to you perfectly fine when you are a little stoned!

The second revelation I am actually going to share at church one day and I want you to share it too.  Show your kids, your class, your friends this simple diagram.  Once again it felt like soul wisdom.  (Shit I still sound stoned, promise I am not!!)  Anyway, picture a big white circle bright with light and warmth.  Then have a led grey pencil in your hand.  Everytime we are mean, unkind, unforgiving, nasty, negative we colour in a little section of that circle.  When someone is ugly to us they colour in that section and when we respond in kind, we add to the grey,  More and more white gets covered and less light and warmth is allowed through.

Now picture yourself and others doing good things.  Kindness, honesty, integrity, forgiveness, caring.  It adds to the white and removes some of the grey.  Its in the tiny things, the smiles, the love, the positivity, the gratitude.  All that adds to the warmth and light and the circle/world we live in can stay a place for growth and health.  Its fighting the good fight, its keeping the warmth and light in.

I never want to colour in grey, I never want to block the light or stop the growth.  I am choosing to fight the good fight and even when someone is a major arsehole I am going to try and get my eraser out and erase their actions or words by responding in the opposite spirit.  I won't get it right all the time but I am certainly going to try.

I know I sound a little nutty, a little hippie and very idealistic but as I age I operate on a deeper soul level and it is amazing what we discover when we venture our thoughts to a different less safe space.  Know I don't just do this after a crunchie!!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Girl Sh*t

When you are a girl mom or even just a girl yourself you understand how complicated female friendships are.   This starts at about 4 and judging by the actions and behaviour of my mother and her friends and me and mine, it continues throughout our life.
Guys in comparison are simple creatures without that need for the intense friendships we have.  They can speak to their mate every so often and it’s no issue.  If someone doesn’t like them, it’s a f*ck them thing.  They don’t agonize over why the person doesn’t like them and they move swiftly on to another chap to speak about the latest footie game or what is happening at Google.  Now I do know you get the exception and I am generalizing here and yes you do get the deep and sensitive chap.
Anyway, I see how my girls have struggled over the years and the teen years have not even started yet.  Girls bully by exclusion, who can or cannot sit with the current cool crowd, eat lunch with them or be included in their game.  Rebeka has 2 special friends and I am very grateful she is over the isolated pushed out phase.  Obviously 3 is often a crowd though with someone inevitably being left out.  Sofie struggles socially and it kills me.  I know she can be stroppy and she acts all tough but she finds it hard.   As many will identify, we handle most of the tough stuff re our kids OK but when it comes to them feeling left out or like they have no one to hang out with at school, well that is like a punch to the heart for me.  I wish I could teach her to be more likable at school and not pretend to be all tough and pretend she doesn’t care.   Every group I suggest supposedly has one girl in it she thinks is mean.  She cannot seem to just play with the rest and ignore that one.  Or they will be playing netball or something and when she asks to join in they say no.  Oh it kills me.  So I guess it’s not just my appalling ball skills and lack of aggression on the hockey field I have passed down, it’s my over sensitivity.    
The good thing about being sensitive and aware is you see things; you feel things and experience things that pass many by.  Colours are brighter, music is louder, pain of others filters onto you even when you don’t know them.  It is why I will be a good social worker and counsellor and it is why it will be hard for me too.
Yesterday Sofie tells me it’s alright she doesn’t need friends because she sits with her sister or she walks to the library or reads her book to pass the time and the characters in her book are her friends.  I wish I could help her, be a fly on the wall to see how she handles social situations so I can advise her.  Thank goodness she has 2 gorgeous out of school friends, Dani and Teagan, and me, her BFF!
It’s been a long week, my Dystonia has been horrendous and unrelenting.  I am going to think about fun things, Polly-Anna things.  I am going to make more of an effort to see my friends, FB ensures we know all the details of each other’s lives but it doesn’t mean as much as face time.  I am going to start my Ironman 70.3 training soon, my leg is now on day 25 and healing well.  No running yet but walking, spinning and swimming.  I am going to finish my assignment I am really into and I am going to think about my end of year holiday even though it’s a thousand sleeps away.  Hey, I just counted, make that 127 sleeps.   Its 6.48pm, I wish it was bedtime so I could write this week off and wake-up tomorrow with the promise of a new day.  I know everyone has felt the death of Robin Williams this week and it has left us all feeling rather raw and sad and even exposed.   OK, rambling now, going to go and chat to my Prisca.  What a bonus that even though Daniel and her are no longer really friends after being BFFs years ago I get to keep her!   Love my kids’ friends, love mine too.  Bye x

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day 4 of no exercise

My op was on Wednesday afternoon.  Thank goodness I had a full week of training before then and the Friday was going to be my rest day.  The training for Ironman 70.3 only starts early August but I thought I would train for 2 weeks so I didn't absolutely die when I started.  I am very intimidated by the training ahead, by this crazy race I have entered which leaves me both terrified and excited.

Initially when Dr Toogood saw the wound he said 7 to 10 days. (Plastic surgeon and his name is Toogood!)  It felt very long but the consolation was I would be OK when we started the training programme and I would also be able to run the Spar Ladies 10KM I have entered on the 9th of August.  Last year it was my first 10km run so it has sentimental significance for me.  The swelling on the one side of my leg concerned my doc (and husband) which is why he thought possible fracture so he sent me off to x-rays.   Yay for no fracture which would have meant a longer recovery.  When he did the op he found the swelling was due to the skin separating from the muscle creating a cavity he could put his whole hand in.  He had to do internal stitches to re-attach and then sew up the other surface wound. 7-10 days had just become 21 days.

That is a very, very long time.  I see him Tuesday to have my dressing changed and I will then ask him what I can safely do so long.  Maybe some walking and swimming with the pool buoy between my knees so I don't kick.  As you know I only began exercising somewhere in my thirties.  I only starting exercising hectically in my forties.  How I survived my twenties doing nothing is beyond me.  I think a combo of a fast metabolism and natural predisposition to anxiety, the way I walk normally (I walk so fast I practically run) and having a little ADHD boy meant I was running around far more than I thought.  When you a single mom without much money you are forced to do plenty free fun stuff with your kid.  Much of this involves physical activity like swimming and hiking and playing ball or simply running after him.  He was hectic when he was little, hard to relate to now having morphed into a teen sloth.

Fortunately my road bike accident was nothing stupid I did unlike my mountain bike accidents.  I made sure I had 4 people in the group.  We left at 8.30 to avoid the hectic traffic.  One of us had a phone.  I asked the guy cycling with me to check my left gears which he did while we were cycling next to each other and I don't know if he pulled the break or what he did or if we simply got stuck together but I was falling and my feet were clipped in and I could not avoid it.  Something on the bike jammed in my leg.  The good thing is I managed to pull myself and my bike out of then road and the timing meant no one drove over me which is always a bonus.  I think its a God thing.  I had been super anxious before the cycle.  I even wrote something on a friends FB page.  While cycling I stayed anxious and my friend still asked why I looked so down.  I just prayed and said nothing can really protect me except you Jesus so please keep me safe.  I know for many of you, me having the bike accident means He didn't keep me safe but for me I believe my anxiety was a premonition of far worse and the urgent need to pray is the reason I am not sitting on my beach chair in heaven admiring the view while typing this on my laptop.  Do you ever get that awful feeling of worry that randomly pops up?  I do.  Sometimes Gary is on his way home or one of the kids is doing something and I get that dread feeling and that is when I pray for God's protection.  I believe if we look back at a movie of our lives we will see how many times He stepped in and kept us safe. 

Its crazy how I now notice what I am eating all the time.  Before it wasn't an issue as whatever I ate was simply fuel to be burned up at the next training session.  Now a combo of bored, PMS and miserable AND stuck at home means I eat more rubbish.  I will never live like this given a choice.  I also know now overweight people will ALWAYS be overweight if they do not exercise.  You can Noaks and banting all you like and never ever sniff a single carb but you will not be slim forever and you will not be healthy and physically strong.  You will just be deprived and food obsessed. 

The moral of this rather boring, sad post is get out there and move your body.  Find something that you like to do.  Start off slow, walk your dog.  Find a yoga class, cycle a block with your kids.  Swim a few lengths in the pool.  I know what I do is extreme and after Jan next year I plan to be more 'normal' in my exercise but I do know exercising and endorphins are essential for optimal physical and mental health.  Once recovered I will never ever have a time in my life when I do absolutely nothing regardless of my age.  The privilege of being able to be mobile and move our bodies is not to be taken for granted and wasted.  17 days to go!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

To my Daniel on his 18th Birthday. EIGHTEEN?!

The world considers you an adult today. Eighteen years old, you can vote, drive, go to prison, buy property and be a legal guardian to your sisters.  This is totally crazy for me because how on earth could 18 years have flashed by this fast??   Happy birthday Daniel.  You might be an adult in the eyes of this world but you are my boy and I will always stay your mom who worries about you, nags a little, protects you, looks out for you, stays proud of you and just absolutely loves you with everything I have.

The moment of your birth is so clear.  I have told you this before (Getting old, repeating myself!) but the moment you were born I knew that God existed.  I was not what you would call a Christian back then but I just knew without a shadow of a doubt that God really did exist and created you.  I felt so entrusted with you.   Like He was personally handing you over telling me you were mine to raise but you did not belong to me, you belong to Him.   In the early terrifying days of being this young mother I would look at my face in the
mirror and I could see I was forever changed.  Love had come like a massive wave and crashed into me and when I emerged I was not the same person.  I couldn’t believe I was capable of love like that. I cannot wait till you hold your own baby and we make eye contact for that brief intense moment and you get it.
Remember what I am telling you now. Only then will you understand how much I love you.  And don’t make it too soon please!  And not too long either.  Anytime from age 25 will do thank you!! 

We have had so much fun getting you to this point in your life.  I know you are not thrilled with the big nose and skinny legs I have handed you but you have my travel bug and sense of humour too.   Being able to laugh at stuff, it’s important.  Life is still going to throw you many curve balls and I wish I could save you from some of the storms but that isn’t how it works. Know you can always come home and have a place that is safe and dry.  Speaking of home I am so glad you are not moving out yet.  I know I have to let you
go and I have done this bit by bit over the past 5 years but I am not quite ready to have you no longer being around to irritate me and eat all my food and leave your smelly washing lying around.  

For years and years I have been telling people how successful you will be one day.  I am not bragging or being biased but I just know.  I also know way back when there was an old Loebenberg grandpa who prayed blessing and favour over his descendants and this includes you.  You have a path to travel before you get there with lots of hard graft.  Stay humble and learn all you can from those around you.  Do what you do with excellence and passion.   Don’t forget you have to buy me that beach house one day.  Your success will come with responsibility and I am glad you are generous because God will expect you to pay it forward.   
I know you don’t do warm and fuzzy and this is probably the longest thing you have read in forever so I will try and wrap this up.  I am glad your arsehole teenage years are mostly over.  Thanks for not being a
complete brat.  I know half the time you got caught up in the peer pressure of needing to act rebellious or
argumentative because that was the done thing in the arsehole years but I never quite believed you.  I appreciate this new you.  Respectful and more considerate and taking ownership of your studies and your life.   

Daniel please, please be very careful.  Drive carefully, never ever get into your car pissed or anyone else’s car.   Be safe in Thailand and enjoy your adventure.  You are at the brink of your grown up life with endless possibilities and it is so exciting.  Work hard, love hard, laugh hard, be respectful, stay humble, be safe, stay true to who you are and have a blast in this 18th year of your life.  I am so proud to be your mom and enjoy you so much.   LOVE you!!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

To my Sofie on her tenth birthday

TEN?  You can’t possibly be 10?  That is 2 whole hands!  That was a lot of sleeps to finally get to this one precious day of your happy birthday.  I am so very sorry it wasn't as fun today as you wanted and that tomorrow we have to cancel the ten pin bowling but I PROMISE I will make it up to you and we will go later in the holidays.
Sofieliscious you were one of the biggest and best surprises of my life.  Spending 9 whole months so convinced you were a boy.  Doing your room up in blue dinosaurs and spending that entire time making the blue bear quilt as we all waited for you to arrive.  And then you did and the first thing I did was raise you up and we were so shocked.  GIRL?!   It’s a little girl?  Rebeka has a sister?  Where is Zack?  Who is this little quiet content brand new person with her large wise eyes? 

When we sent everyone the text to say Sofia Josephine had arrived at 3.9kg everyone was most confused.  I was delighted.  I SO wanted another girl and I really wanted Becks to have a sister.  Daddy and I were crazy about you from minute one and we stay crazy about you still.  If I had to think of a recipe that showed who you were I would say a fillet steak with chocolate chilli sauce.  You really do get something like that and it’s this fascinating blend of different ingredients that somehow all work and are unique and delicious.  Unique means only one exists.  There is only one Sofia Josephine Novitzkas.   You are so brave and I know your tummy gets sore because you find things scary or they worry you or make you feel yucky.  You do them anyway, you take a deep breath and you dive off that block and swim, swim, swim.  Or you get up on the stage all alone and sing in a voice that makes everyone in the room absolutely silent.   God has given you many talents and you are a lucky girl.  We stay grateful to Him every day for your healthy strong body and your beautiful singing voice.  For your super flexible body unlike the rest of us stick figures.  

I know school hasn’t been easy for you and you get stressed.  I also know some of the girls can be so ugly.  Don’t be ugly back.  I know it is very, very hard and it is natural to be mean back but you will see that some people are just ugly inside.  Even Mom and Mimi and Aunty Tertia and Aunty Nina have to deal with mean people.   I always think something in their heart must be broken to make them so unkind.  People get jealous or insecure.  Insecure means they feel like they are not good enough and they don’t like the fact you might be better than them at some stuff so they try and make you feel horrible about yourself.  And remember not to be nasty to others or think you are better because you have a gift they don’t.   God made us all different; it is what makes life interesting.    Even dogs have different personalities! 

Well done on your school report!  I told you it would be fine and you did better than fine.  I am so proud of you because I know it was hard and you were tired from Annie shows.  When I watched you on stage I just wanted to cry.  My little girl, my Sofie, Blicksie, Fifi girl singing and dancing like that.  Well done my amazing actress.  None of us can do what you do in this family and we are all beyond proud of you.  Sofia I cannot tell you how much I love you because words are not big enough for the feeling in my chest.  I know you get this because your chest is also bursting with love for us too.  You leave me breathless.   I am your biggest fan and your cheerleader and I will support you in whatever you want to do in your life.  We don’t know what that is yet but I know you are someone.  Even now when we walk through the mall and you are all dressed up you turn heads.  You have swag my Sofieliscious and I am excited to see where life takes you.  Happy Birthday my gorgeous!