Watch this space…

With the end of the year looming and the end of my academic year nearly coming to a close, I’m beginning to feel a bit anxious and excited at the same time. Excited, because pretty soon I wont be a student anymore and I’ll be free to do what ever the hell I want to, but I’m also a little anxious, when listening to everyone’s big plans. Plans to travel, plans to work, plans for the holidays, so may plans, the same kind of plans that I used to make. Funny how things have changed and how people change you.

I used to be an awesome planner, but for the first time in my life I can honestly say that I have no set plan and I’m okay with that. I haven’t the faintest clue as to where I’m going to work next year or what I’m going to do, I’m simply taking it day by day. There’s a world of possibilities out there ready for the picking and I’m overwhelmed by the choice.

So, if you all thought I was going to share my plans, hopes, fears and dreams for the future, I’m afraid you’ll be left a bit disappointed. Thing is, I don’t have it all figured out just yet, all I know is that I’m happy and loved…and that is enough for now. But watch this space and I’ll keep you posted on my journey of non-discovery!

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Best Friends & Bridesmaids

This post is about two weeks delayed, but never the less, here it is.

Today I said goodbye to my best friend which wast the weirdest thing ever. You see, I’ve gotten so used to saying my goodbyes to my family and friends every time I jet off on another one of my ‘expeditions’ that its gotten a lot easier to wave goodbye without all the waterworks. But this time around, I was the one staying putt and watching her drive off to a new town and a new life.

You see my BFF and I have been practically joined at the hip for the past 14 years and no matter how near or far we are from each other, we’ve always been very involved in each other’s lives. Its one of those friendships where you can not see the other person for over a year and when you meet up again, you simply pick up right where you left off; or where you argue about something trivial and after a week of not speaking to each other, you forget what the argument was all about, because you’re simply bursting to talk to each other.

Our friendship has been a long and winding journey and there have been many bumps along the way, but despite the rough patches, we’ve managed to stick it out. When we were younger, our biggest issues were boy crushes and our parents, who just ‘didn’t get us’. But, now that we’re all grown up, we’ve discovered that there’s a whole new level of friendship to be explored in our ‘adulthood’. Last year. my BFF and her long time boyfriend tied the knot and I had the honour of being her Maid of Honour. This was the speech I said at her wedding, which I think chronicles the history of our friendship up to our current point quite well, I’ve used pseudos for their names (RJ= My BFF; D= My BFF’s Hubby):

It’s very surreal for me to be standing here today witnessing my Best Friend marrying the love of her life, as I remember the first day R.J. arrived in my Grade 4 class like it was yesterday. This loud mouthed girl with pitch black hair and a whole lotta guts. I found her so intimidating at first, that it was only sensible that we started out as arch enemies. 

Luckily, that soon changed and before long, we became inseparable. We’ve been friends for 14 years, that’s a long time, a lot of memories and a lot of ups and downs. Like the time R.J. and her family relocated to the US and I thought I’d lost my best friend forever. Or the time we didn’t speak to each other for a year because of some stupid argument. 

Today is another memorable moment and luckily this one is a positive one. When RJ and her beau first started dating, I’d already known him for a while and for the life of me I couldn’t understand what my friend saw in this guy. I had come to know him as a very quiet and shy guy and literally had to drag any conversation out of him, whereas RJ was the complete opposite. 

I remember how excited and nervous RJ was when they first started dating (a bit like she was today) and her admitting to me how terrified she was that D would try and kiss her, as she didn’t know how it was meant to be done or if she was any good at it. Well, I’m sure that by now, you’ve both mastered the technique. 

I was very territorial when they first started dating, as I didn’t want just any guy messing around with my BFF and I’m sure that D can attest to the fact that I gave him a really hard time. I should probably apologise for that now, but lets just agree that it made you a stronger man and a lot more determined 😉

To D I’d like to say thank you for putting up with RJ and my hour long conversations, our midnight meltdowns and our many, many sleep overs; as I’m sure you’d have loved to have her all to yourself every now and then. Thanks you for loving my best friend and for being the man that she deserves. 

To my Best Friend, thank you for your friendship all these years. I love you to bits and I’m overjoyed that you’ve found someone to love and make you happy. 

To the both of you, I’d like to offer some words of wisdom, but since I’ve never been married before , I’d like to draw from my life experience and say that: I believe that all you’ll ever need to know, you learned at Pre-school, so remember:

1) Share everything- love, sorrow, joy, pain and especially the bed covers

2) Play fair- in work and in play

3) Don’t hit people- or throw potatoes at them RJ (inside joke)

4) Put things back where you found them

5) Always say please and thank you

6) Clean up your own mess

7) Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone

8) Wash your hands before you eat

9) Ask for help when you need it- especially when you’re too proud to admit it

10) …and most importantly, remember to flush!

I wish you both more happiness than your heart can hold. Congratulations and Thank You!

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Oh the places you’ll go!

I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of an explorer. I love discovering new places, jetting off to different countries and getting to know more about people’s cultures and so its no surprise that my favourite Cat in the Hat book is Oh the places you’ll go!

It’s one of my all time favourite books, although I’ve never owned a copy, something which I hope to remedy soon. However, everytime I read the book it sparks something inside me and inspires me to explore further than my little corner of the earth. One of my favourite lines from the book goes a little something like this: ‘ So be sure when you step. Step with great care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. ‘

I think the book describes the life of a traveller very well, because it talks about the great adventures you’ll have and the exciting things and places you’ll discover, but it also reminds you of how lonely it can be, how sometimes you’ll fall on hard times and the winds will get knocked out of your sails, something I can relate to. I absolutely adore this book and once I get my hands on a copy, I’ll be sure to pass on the lessons in the book to my own children one day. That Dr. Seuss, he sure is a wise guy 😉

An excerpt from the great Dr. Seuss (Oh the places you’ll go):

‘And will you succeed? 
Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and  ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains! 
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’ Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. 
So… get on your way!’ 

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Street Art Revival

Street art has had a revival thanks to the Begging Board Project! I stumbled across this really cool creative project a while ago and have only just gotten around to sharing it with all of you. 

I think  this fresh take on street art by Avantgods is absolutely brilliant and adds a bit of character to the usual ‘please give small change’ signs we all see on the side of the road.

If I saw a guy walking around with one of these wicked signs, I’d certainly be digging into my pockets.

Check out some more of their work here:

Why I have conversations

I spent a lot of time in my previous job speaking to people. Many of them who were near to then end of their lives, many who were terminally ill or were dealing with life altering conditions. Some were young, as young as 8 years old and still afraid of the Boogie Man. Others were ancient, 80, 90 years old and had survived not one, but two World Wars. All of them fighting their own battles, but each one of them had one thing in common, they needed someone to listen, someone to talk to.

For the most part, I was there to make sure that they were taken care of. Administering meds at different times of the day, cooking up nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch & supper, that sort of thing. But, that was the easy part, because although all of these things contributed to their well-being, the only thing all of them wanted was someone to talk to, someone who would really listen to them.

You see, they’d talk all day, most of them anyway. Talk to their daughters 3000 miles away, enquiring about their health and what they were eating. They’d talk to their doctors who’d ask them about their symptoms and medication refills. They’d talk to their friends who never stopped by anymore, because their lives were far too busy. Talk, talk, talk! Lots of talk about lots of important things, but all they really wanted to talk about was what was on their minds.

I guess that’s where I came in. I’d sit and listen for hours as a 98 year old war veteran suffering from cancer, would tell me about scaling the Straits of Gibraltar. I’d listen to a 9 year old girl, who suffered from more than 10 epileptic episodes a day, tell me all about her imaginary friend Bunny and their magical adventures. I’d listen as 48 year old artist and icon, dying of an incurable brain disease, shared her life stories with me, using what was left of her memory and limited vocabulary. I’d listen to them all talk about love, life, loss, about their fears, their hope and dreams, about how they’d been forgotten, how all they wanted was for someone to care, all they wanted was to say the things they never got to say.

I have conversations with people because sometimes all anybody needs is someone to listen, sometimes people just want to hear about your problems to escape their own bleak reality. Sometimes it’s just good to know that there’s someone else in the room and you’re not alone.

Most of the time, it wasn’t so much what they said,  but what they didn’t say that stayed with me. Their eyes and body language spoke louder than any words could ever and the saddest part was that their daughters 3000 miles away or friends who only remembered them by means of Christmas Cards once a year would never hear those unsaid things, which could not be said in a letter or in telephone calls. The conversations I had with these individuals are some of the most memorable and treasured conversations I’ve had in my lifetime and they will stay locked in my heart forever.

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Living dangerously

”She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched taxi cabs, of being out, out, far to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”

-Virgina Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway) 

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100 Things To Do Before I Die

Well, now this list is one that I’ve been writing for a while and although I haven’t quite reached 100 yet, it’s a work in progress and I can proudly say that I’ve managed to accomplish many of the things on my Bucket List. I’ll share with you a few of the things I’m dying to do and others I have yet to achieve or work up the courage to do. So, here goes….

1. Go bungee jumping
(Eeeek!!! I’m still working up the courage for this one)

3. Obtain a degree
(Nearly there, only another 7weeks to go :D)

11. Live in a foreign country for at least one year
(Mission accomplished, due to a two year Gap Year in London)

17. Learn at least one African language
(Uh, Uhm! A bit of a tongue twister, but I’m determined to get it ticked off)

20. Get my Driving License
(…and third time’s a charm 😉

24. Visit India
(The magical land of curry and saris and of course Slumdog Millionaire, is an absolute must do!)

34. Learn Karate
(It’s never too late to learn right, besides, self defence is a great skill to have)

47. Own my own Coffee Shop
(I’m working on it, but the idea already in place- read more about it here)

51. Climb Table Mountain
(Check and check. I’ve done it a few times now, so I can definitely check that one off the list)

64. Take a Photography Course
(Something I’ve always wanted to do and hopefully next year I’ll be able to tick this off my list)

I actually revisited this list at the beginning of the year and for a long time, it’s always just been a list that I constantly add to of stuff I hope to do one day, but after thinking about it some more, I realised that I actually need to start ticking off the things on my lists.

I don’t want to be one of those people, who are old and grey, with one year left to live and trying to accomplish a list of things I made 50 or 60 years. So I decoded it was time to start ‘doing’. I want to do this stuff now, while I’m young and full of energy and while I can still remember the relevance of why I put certain things on the list. So these are a few of the things on my incomplete Bucket List. I hope to be able to tick everything off my list before I die, which hopefully wont be anytime soon.

So, what’s on your list?

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The Mammas and The Pappas

It’s been quite a few years since I moved out of my parent’s house. I was about 18years old the first time I moved out and I remember thinking to myself… FREEDOM!!! Well, a lot has changed since then and when I made the decision to move back home last year and back to the comfort of my parent’s den, I must admit that it all seemed very daunting.

How could I ever live with my parents again, after being on my own for so long? After doing my own laundry, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning, all at my own leisure. Well, it’s been 9months now and surprisingly, I’ve survived. Admittedly it took some adjusting. Getting used to not cooking your own dinner, having dinner at 18h00 instead of 22h00, in fact having dinner at all. It’s all been a bit of learning curve, kinda like learning the things you’ve un-learnt for so long.

My Mom and Dad are two of the most unique and bizarre parents I’ve ever known. My Dad is proper old school. I’m talking flannel plaid pajamas, khaki shoes, ‘always keep an extra pair of clothes with you in case it rains’ old school. Anyone who’s ever met my Dad will probably tell you that he’s a pretty straight talking, serious business looking type of man, who happens to like Oprah. My Mom (another Oprah fan) on the other hand is a social butterfly, all bubbly and cheerful  with many a blonde moment. Always cooking up a storm and her melt-in-the-mouth cakes are probably one of the reasons why my diets never last very long.

As much as I love my independence, I’ve gotta admit that I’ve quite enjoyed having the comforts of home again, like the fridge always being fully stocked and never running out of biscuits. Yes, it’s been challenging relenting a lot of my independence and allowing my parents to take care of me. In fact, when I first moved back home I constantly had to reassure my folks that I was fine, I didn’t need anything, I had my own money and they didn’t need to always factor me into their plans.

But, the more I tried to retain my independence in my parent’s home, the more they insisted on taking care of me. Till, eventually I just let go of all my inhibitions and let them do what they did best, love and nurture. Because  sometimes the best gift you can give someone is allowing them to take care of you. 

I’m all grown up now, but my parents are still my parents. And even though I can walk, talk, eat and do most things all by myself now, sometimes it’s just nice to know that you don’t have to do it all on your own. So here’s to my Dad who gets up at 06h00 in the morning when it’s freezing cold and dark outside, even though he doesn’t need to get up for another two hours, just to wave me goodbye as I speed off to work. And here’s to my Mom who’s always faffing about me, worrying that I don’t eat or sleep enough and brings me warm cups of tea when I’m stuck at my desk for hours. To The Mammas and The Pappas, what’d we do without ya?

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My big fat BIG dream

So I’ve always had this dream and perhaps it’s a bit random, but my big dream isn’t really that big at all. I’ve always wanted to own my own little bakery and coffee shop. A cute, cosy little place that’s always warm and sends smells of cinnamon and vanilla travelling down the street, luring passers-by to come inside.

A place where fresh coffee is always brewing and the sofas are so big you can sink into them. With bookshelves lining the left wall and poetry on the right. It’d be an insomniacs paradise, open 24 hours a day and always cooking up a storm. A snug little refuge where old and new friends gather, where lovers whisper to each other behind old books and family come to indulge their sweet tooth.

The food would of course be out of this world amazing, with everything from halloumi and avo bagels to Nutella and banana pancakes. Oh and cupcakes of course, there’d be plenty of those. The aroma of home-made hot chocolate with a hint of chilli to warm you on wintry nights and refreshing age old recipe ginger beer or lemonade for those hot summer days.

My dream is to have a place where people come together to share. Share food, share love, share life stories, share time, share dreams  and visions, share ideas and inspirations. Beacuse after all, sharing is caring….and that’s my big fat BIG dream 😀

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