On Instawalks: Jozi, You Beautiful Thing

#fordsbynightstartGetting out of bed at 4am is hard. Real hard. As I pulled on my jeans over thick stockings and socks, added 2 warm jerseys and a thick jacket, I wondered if it would be worth it.

I followed Brandon into the city, laughing at his”HOW’S MY DRIVING? 1800 EAT SHIT” bumper sticker. It was just before 5am, sunrise was almost 2 hours away and the streets were empty except for a few cold security guards, speeding taxis and a red Mini. We gathered on the corner of Mint and Fountain streets in Fordsburg and set off to explore, a pre-dawn patrol still under the cover of night.

Made our way to the pedestrian flyover bridge next to the M1 to look across over the city, and admire its sprawl, bathed in the eerie dark before dawn.

#fordsbynight-4#fordsbynight-3The safety railing long gone (sold for scrap metal) and missing, the only thing standing between me and the edge was a sharp sense of vertigo. The sky was getting lighter by this stage, although we never saw the sun rise. It was an overcast morning, the edges softened with fog and and blurred by streetlamps.

IMG_4975#fordsbynightsunriseWe crossed over the bridge, picked our way down a crumbling concrete staircase and slipped around in a bit of mud to emerge under the highway. We were greeted with the bared teeth of monsters sprayed into life on the pillars all around us. We were in Newtown.

#fordsbynight2#fordsbynight#fordsbynight-5#fordsbynight-11I lost track of where we walked and all sense of direction, paying attention only to the art, architecture and history all around me. Drinking in the detail, the sense of being part of Joburg’s story.#fordsbynight-7I’d always wanted to see the old Park Station up close, with my own eyes. It didn’t disappoint. It’s hard to comprehend that this piece of architectural and engineering ingenuity has been a part of the Johannesburg landscape since 1897, and that it’s been to Pretoria and back in its lifetime.  It had rained the night before, leaving us lots of puddles to play in. #fordsbynight-8#fordsbynight-9#fordsbynight-10My curiosity sated, we left Park Station and crossed over Nelson Mandela Bridge, urged  by a cold wind.

We turned a corner, ducked behind yellow barriers and looked up. Faces turned skyward, eyes darting over the layers of dirt, grime, paint and creative expression.

#fordsbynight-15#fordsbynight-13@brando_zacThree hours had passed in a blur of exhaled steamy breath, cold fingers, busy eyes and wet feet. Most of those hours were spent looking through the lens of my iPhone. It was now past 8am and time for me to go home to my family,  back to the warmth and cleanliness of the suburbs.

As Brandon walked me back to my car, I was distracted by the graffiti all around me. I’d always found it fitting that these artists call themselves writers; the city a blank canvas on which to scrawl their beautiful words. I gave in to the urge to snap a few last photos before climbing in my car and leaving the city behind.

IMG_4907It was my first Instawalk, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Many thanks to my seasoned companion walkers, who let me tag along with them: Alessio, Alexio, Tim, Hayley, Brandon.

It’s a bug, and it’s bitten. I can’t wait for the next time I get to explore some more of Jozi.

[View the rest of the #fordsbynight photo pool.]

Posted in life things, love things | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

On Adult ADD: 5 Things I Want Non-ADD People To Know

eastrand-sunrisePeople are always surprised when I tell them I take medication because I’ve been diagnosed with ADD. “But you’re an adult,” they say, “how can you possibly have ADD?”.

Well. ADD is something that you have your whole life. Much like the colour of your eyes or the size of your ears, it’s with you for life. It starts when you’re young, and it’s still there when you’re a grown up.

Mostly the discussion around ADD starts when people ask me how I’ve lost so much weight. The truth is that the medication I take every day to keep my brain on track completely suppresses my appetite and I get so caught up in concentrating on work stuff that I forget to eat, or don’t notice that a meal time has passed and I haven’t eaten yet.Yes, it’s awesome that ADD medication helped me lose weight, but there’s so much more to my ADD that I’d like you to know.

1. I’ve always been ADD. I just hadn’t had the label applied to me until I was in my late 20s, and it was something that came up purely because it was something that we were going through, with our firstborn. Attention Deficit Disorder is the inability to concentrate. It’s distractibility. It’s the inability to filter, to prioritise. It’s not starting what you finish, because you just can’t force yourself, once you’ve lost interest. It’s an inability to multi-task. It’s forgetfulness. It’s absent-mindedness. It’s disorganised. It’s overwhelming. I don’t have the hyperactive component, which means I am not ADHD. Nor is my son.

2. The decision to medicate when you’re an adult is just as life-changing as the decision to medicate a child. Sure, I’ve made it this far in life without medicating, but it’s been tough. I’ve failed in certain areas of my life and not been able to do other things, without knowing the reason why. I’ve thought I was not good enough or I didn’t try hard enough, when in actual fact, there’s something in my brain that isn’t like other people’s. My brain doesn’t work the same. Just like the decision is made to medicate a child because you don’t want him to be at a disadvantage in the classroom, so the decision to medicate as an adult is made, because suddenly you realise that you shouldn’t be at a disadvantage in the workplace, either.

3. The side-effects of the medication are quite severe. But the benefits of the medication must outweigh the side effects, in order to be justifiable. The fact that I have lost a butt-load of weight (literally) is small consolation when it comes to the other side effects. I blogged here about some of the side effects but forgot to mention (because I had forgotten about how hectic it was in the beginning) the fact that I spent weeks clenching my jaw, grinding my teeth and dealing with muscle spasms in my arms, neck and shoulders. My eyeballs dried out, my nose dried out and my skin dried out. I was constantly thirsty, on edge and felt a bit strung out for a while. My heart would start racing for no reason and I would feel anxious beyond belief. Sleeplessness, the inability to stay asleep.  The positive side effects of the medication, on the other hand, are remarkable. Enough to make it worth dealing with all the bad stuff. Which brings me to my next point.

4. There are positive aspects to having ADD. Even as an adult. Especially as an adult:

  • I am creative. Able to to find alternate paths to overcome obstacles.
  • I am adaptive/collaborative, adventurous, courageous and I don’t have the same boundaries as most people.
  • I am always finding alternate routes to locations. (It’s not that I lack a sense of direction, it’s just that I explore.)
  • I am always willing to help others. I am more likely to do things because I want to, than because I should. This means that I’m wholehearted in those things I want to do.
  • I can see the bigger picture, I don’t get caught up in the details and I can see patterns in the chaos because I have a broader focus, I am more observant.
  • I am intuitive and, when I choose to be, I can be empathetic as well.
  • This intuition comes from the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated events or people, because I can see the bigger picture.
  • I can look at the situation from all angles, think on my feet.
  • I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I think this is in part due to the impulsive nature of ADD people, but people eventually come to appreciate my bluntness, because they learn that it comes from a good, honest place.
  • I am open and non-secretive, mostly because I don’t have the attention span to keep a secret or maintain a lie.
  • I am down to earth, I don’t tolerate boredom and I am willing to take risks that other people aren’t. I am loyal. I  am intense when I am interested in something or someone.
  • I’m forgiving. I don’t hold a grudge for very long (unless it’s serious) and once we’ve concluded an argument or resolved the conflict, I’ve moved on and forgotten about it.
  • I learn new things easily, I am quick to grasp the basics of a situation/skill and you rarely have to show me something more than once.
  • I am good at finding lost things. (when you’re constantly forgetting where you put something down, you get lots of practice finding things).
  • I have a great sense of humour. I can laugh at myself. I’ve had to learn to.
  • I am humble. (It’s not hard when people are constantly pointing out what I’ve done wrong or what’s wrong with me.)
  • I’ve had a varied and interesting career as a result of my ADD. I’ve tried different things, learned lots of new skills – all because I can take chances and put myself out there.

5. I am so much more than my ADD. I’m trying to get to a point in my life where the realisation that I am ADD is a blessing, and not a curse. To get to a point where I can tell people about my condition without feeling like I’m making a confession and it doesn’t carry a tiny bit of shame along with it. It’s a process and it’s on-going. I have good days and I have bad days, but long story short: I want to set a good example for my ADD son. I want to be a good wife to my husband (who has his own head issues to deal with). I am trying to do these things.  I am a great friend and a hard worker. I am still me, I’m just trying to be a better version of me. And there’s nothing shameful in that, is there?

Posted in life things | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On Having Boys: It’s An Adventure, For Sure

boys-are-funnyA few days ago, I spent a morning working at my favourite coffee shop/waffle house in the Vale. Despite being absorbed in my writing, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a conversation going on next to me. Two moms were discussing their (pre)teenage daughters. Swapping accounts of having to have the “period talk” and dealing with hormonal teen skin and problematic boys. It made me glad.

Glad that I was a boy mom, instead. When I first discovered I was pregnant with the Toffee, I was convinced he would be a girl. Hoped that he would be a girl. But got a boy instead. And am grateful for it. I know how to deal with boys. I know how to change nappies for a boy, I know how to dress a boy, I know how to entertain a boy and I know how to deal with boys.

A few weeks ago, I’d visited my person on a Friday night. I’d attempted to tell her 4 year old daughter that it was time for bed. She burst in to tears. I’d treated her exactly the same way as I’d have done my sons and she bawled her face off. I only know boys. I only know parenting with a firm hand, and not gentle coddling and bedtime negotiation. Give boys too many options or allow them too much wiggle room, and they’ll walk all over you, forever. I don’t know how to deal with girls. I only know cars and dinosaurs, swords and guns. Bashing and smashing, fighting and wrestling.

Boys have no volume control. They’re either asleep or loud. There’s no in-between. They’re just an explosion of energy, pointy elbows and hard work. But they’re funny and it’s easy to make them laugh. It’s fart jokes and calling each other “boogerface”. I’m not much of a girly-girl, and I’m glad I don’t have to pretend to try. I won’t have to go to ballet recitals or learn how to do French braids. I won’t have to go training bra shopping and I’ll never have a total meltdown because my 10 year old daughter wants to leave the house in a miniskirt and crop top.

Sure, there will be boy things to deal with. Embarrassing boy things. But I won’t have to do it alone. There’s dad for that stuff. Plus I get to enjoy that special mom-son bond, twice. I mean our kids love their dad, but it’s always (usually) mommy-first. Toffee walks around the whole day calling out for his mummy every 5 minutes. If I answer him, he’s cool. If I don’t, he comes running to look for me.

Boys are another breed. In my eight years of being a boymom, I’ve been in some really interesting situations. Like the time The Kid covered one of our cats from head to toe in Vaseline and baby powder. That cat was not pleased. Or the time The Kid wrote his name on my car in permanent marker, and then tried to flat-out deny it was him. I often find lemons in the swimming pool, rocks in my car and The Kid is always trying to prank his parents. He’s squeezed out a whole tube of toothpaste and filled it with antibacterial handwash and he always tries out any new water pistol on the cats. He’s set the underside of his bed and his duvet on fire after playing with matches and stolen steak knives from the kitchen and stabbed holes in his pjyama pants. While wearing them. There’s also the time I had to take him to the emergency room to have a stone removed from his ear.

Toffee is just as mischievous, trying to run down the cat/dog with his car/lawnmower. Doing his level best to water the cats with the hosepipe and sticking coins down the rubber of my car window, swinging on the gate, riding his black plastic bike in the house and climbing the burglar bars on the windows. I know I haven’t seen the last of the inside of an ER, because this one is fearless.

fearless-toffee

I know it’s only going to get more interesting as they get older. Because that’s what boys do. When I hear the stories from my grandmother about my father, I know it’s only a matter of time. Before they blow up the neighbour’s postbox with firecrackers or bring home ducklings and try to hide them in their bedside drawers. It won’t be long before they steal my car and get arrested. There will be broken bones and shattered windows and skateboarding accidents and I’ll have dealt with more than my fair share of blood, snot, vomit and human faeces. I know that as they get older, they’re going to do serious physical harm to each other, as siblings have a tendency to do. Like that time my husband dumped his brother headfirst inside a rubbish bin and split his scalp open. Or the time my father tried his new toy tool set on his sister’s face. Or the time I broke a squash racket over my brother’s head, sideways.

I’m not ready for it, but I know it’s coming. And looking at these faces, I know there’s going to be a lot of it. I know I won’t be able to stay mad long, though. Who would? Just look at these faces.

thumbs-up-toffee

kid-spray-art-tattoo

Posted in family things, life things, love things, parenting things | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

On Fathering: You’re Better Than You Think

IMG_0062

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Despite the Hallmark commercial nature of the occasion, it was an opportunity for me to reflect. To appreciate and recognise you as my partner in parenting. To acknowledge your contribution and take time to make the father of my children feel special.

Because you are. You’re  a rare breed of responsible man. You didn’t have to be. We’d only been dating for two months when I discovered I was pregnant. You didn’t have to stick with me, you didn’t have to make a life with me. But you did. You gave up chasing your dream career and took a stable job as a tradesman, to provide for your family.

By the time our son was born, we’d only been dating for a year and we’d just moved in together. Eight years after we first met we’ve now bought a house together, got married and had another kid. It hasn’t been easy, but that’s life. We’ve been together and we’ve stuck it out and that’s what counts.

In moments of self-doubt, when we’re arguing, you often tell me that you’re  afraid that our children will grow up to be just like you. That I should take the kids and just leave. That we’re better off without you. But we’re really not. In fact, if my sons turn out to be even half the man their father is, I’ll be proud.

If our sons turn out to be like you, I know they’ll be generous. Because you are. You’re always thinking of everyone else, before yourself. You never miss an opportunity to spoil someone, and you’re always wanting to pop in at the toy store to find something that the boys will like. You do small things to show me you’re always thinking of me. Like collecting all of the My Little Pony McDonald’s Happy Meal toys for me, because you know I loved MLP when I was a kid.

If our sons turn out to be like you, I know they’ll be courageous. Because you are. You’re not afraid to stand up for yourself, you’re never one to keep your mouth shut. You make your feelings and opinions known, even when those opinions piss everyone else off.

If our sons turn out to be like you, I know they’ll be loyal. Because you are. I’ve never seen so much loyalty in one person before. My trust in you is unwavering, because you’ve never given me reason to doubt you. You’re always there for me when I need you. You always stick up for your friends and family, no matter what it takes. Even if I’m in the wrong, you’ll back me up and fight tooth and nail to defend me, because I’m yours.

If our sons turn out to be like you, I know they’ll be caring and considerate. Because you are. Everything you do, is done with your family in mind. You’re loving and sensitive. You feel things deeply and you’re connected to your children in ways that I’m not. You always know when they’re about to get sick. You’re always there to look after me when I get sick and feel miserable and you always know exactly how to make me feel better.

If our sons turn out to be like you, I know they’ll be conscientious and moral. Because you are. You have a strong conscience and an unwavering understanding of right and wrong. You’ve forced me into being a better person. You’ve made me rediscover my conscience and shown me the importance of always doing the right thing. From you our boys will learn that even though the right thing is usually the hard thing to do, it must be done.

If our sons turn out to be like you, I know they’ll be determined and committed. Your stubbornness, hardheadedness and resolve can be frustrating for me sometimes, but it’s also inspirational. Where I would have thrown in the towel, you carry on and on until you’ve finished what you’ve started. You’ve also stuck by me, through thick and thin for nearly a decade, which is a miracle in itself.

If our sons turn out to be like you, I know they’ll be self-assured and outspoken. Because you are. You’ll teach them to never accept anything less than they deserve, and you’ll teach them to argue for what they deserve. Because of you, they’ll never settle for less. They’ll never have to make do with less. They’ll have high standards and high expectations, but this will serve them well.

So you see, my love, there is so much good in you that it’s impossible that our children will be failures. It’s impossible that they’ll turn out to be bad people. Yes, you’ve got a temper and you don’t always know how to deal with it, but you try harder every day to come to grips with it, where other people wouldn’t even give it a second thought.

This fathering thing. You’re better at it than you give yourself credit for. You’re better at it than you think. Ever since that moment when I saw you hold our firstborn in your hands, I knew that you’d be a good father. You’ve got so much love and potential for goodness, that it would be a disservice to my boys to deprive them of that.

I know you’re having a hard time right now, in your own head. But I know it’s not forever. I’m here for you to lean on, as long as you need to. Until you find your way to being comfortable with yourself. Until you’ve made peace with yourself. Because I have faith in you.

So happy Fathers’ Day, my love. I’m really grateful that I don’t have to do this parenting thing alone.  But most of all, I’m really grateful I don’t have to do this life thing alone. Because as much as you can drive me batshit crazy, I’m also batshit crazy about you.

10600648_10204226168709671_2147571678216975957_n IMG_9682

Posted in family things, life things, love things, parenting things, relationship things | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On Adulting With ADD

I wrote a while back, about our firstborn’s ADD and the decision to medicate. In this article, I made reference to the fact that I’d been diagnosed with ADD myself, but didn’t venture into what this meant for me. So I’m writing about it now. Because it’s so closely linked to our Kid’s story, I won’t be able to tell the two separately.

We’d been dealing with the possibility that The Kid might have attention/concentration issues for more than a year and we’d tried every alternative to medication. Omega oils, special ADD vitamin supplements, diet changes and the like. We’d first thought that he was simply much younger than the rest of his classmates, and that all he needed was some extra “help” to catch up. So we did occupational therapy, extra reading lessons, extra English lessons (this one struck me as particularly bizarre, as my Kid has an extensive vocabulary and absolutely no problem communicating verbally), a reward system and the like. None of it helped (much).

From the outset we were determined not to medicate. When we eventually got to see an ADD/ADHD specialist in July 2014, our stance on medication had changed. We’d tried everything else, our son (in Grade 1 at the time) wasn’t showing sufficient improvement. We couldn’t let him battle any longer, so we’d decided to go through with the ADD/ADHD assessments. Once it was confirmed (and yes, an ADD diagnosis is a subjective thing, fair enough), we could start dealing with the one fix we hadn’t tried. Medication.

The funny thing, the psychiatrist said, was that if the child is ADD, there’s a good chance that one of the parents is ADD, too. And if one of the parents is, it’s likely that both are. ADD/ADHD people have a tendency to attract one another. It was at this point that a little red flag went up in my mind. I thought back over my school career. Over my childhood. Suddenly everything made sense.

I’d always known I was different to everyone else in my class, but didn’t know that ADD was the label that should be applied to it. I didn’t thrive in a classroom environment.  I didn’t pay attention and I didn’t take notes in class. I just wasn’t interested in what the teachers had to say, and they could not hold my attention.  I taught myself each subject syllabus, not from the class notes or handouts from the teacher, but from books in the library and study guides. I was smart enough that my ADD didn’t put me at much of a disadvantage.

I aced my matric exams, and my lowest mark was 79%. I did just as well at university, even more so, because it was more of a self-study kind of vibe anyway. The thing was, I could only study or do assignments, homework or  whatever it was, after a massive dose of Bioplus. Bioplus was my way of self-medicating my concentration issues.  If I’d had Bioplus, my ability to hyperfocus (an ADD thing) was excellent. If I hadn’t had any Bioplus, there was no way any work/studying was getting done.

I’d developed other ways of coping, without realising what I was doing. Uni-tasking instead of multi-tasking was one of them. But there were still other things that I was failing at, without knowing why. I was always badly organised, everything got left to the last minute, I procrastinated excessively (with the excuse that I performed better under pressure) and I often forgot to do things. I was self-involved, inconsiderate and didn’t really consider the consequences of my actions, until it was too late. My husband pointed out (as one does in arguments) that I am a terrible woman because I cannot multi-task. Easily distracted, no sense of time and a steep learning curve for life lessons. My husband was frustrated with how many times we’d have to have the same argument about something, before it actually sank in and I did something to fix it.

Honestly? In my mind once an argument is over, I’ve moved on and forgotten what we were fighting about. As if it never happened. In truth, that’s exactly the way it is, for ADD people. There’s a tendency to live in the moment and forget what came 5 minutes earlier. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I just didn’t think it would be that big a deal”, when something I did, turned out to have serious consequences.

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to know that all of my failings weren’t because I was a shit human being (Well, I was, but there was a reason why). So began the medication experiment. I tried Ritalin, I tried different doses of Concerta and a combination of both. I have since settled on one 36mg Concerta tablet daily, with a Ritalin 30mg on those days that are particularly demanding, or when I have a late night of work ahead of me. The difference has been immense.

Initially I’d asked my psychiatrist for something to help me with my moodiness. I was constantly grumpy and easily angered. Lacking in patience and always tired. He advised me against taking any medication other than the Concerta. Once my concentration issues were being dealt with, I would find that my mood would improve, as would my ability to deal with life. The doctor was right. Although every time I catch myself in a good mood or notice myself smiling, I’m still surprised. But it makes sense. Treat the cause of the problem, instead of the symptoms.

Now that I am aware of what I am, and what I have, I try to make a better effort to be more organised, and to plan better. It doesn’t always work, but I try. The medication helps me to focus on what I need to do, without being distracted by everything else, and gives me what I need to get through the day, without feeling like I need  to have a meltdown. I’m less forgetful (it’s not a wonder drug, I still drop balls, just not as often), I don’t procrastinate as much and I generally feel more in control and able to deal.

The side effects aren’t all wonderful. There’s the occasional anxiety attack, for no apparent reason. I’ve learned to identify these for what they are, which makes it easier to hang on until it passes. I’ve had to (mostly) give up caffeine, which is hard, because I love a good cappuccino and went from drinking 5-7 cups of coffee a day, to only drinking 1-2. But the caffeine gives me severe muscle tension, which builds up in my shoulders, neck and arms. There’s also been killer headaches and intense thirst. I drink up to 3 litres of water a day, sometimes. Giving up caffeine was hard, but I’ve had to tell myself that the medication I take is enough of a stimulant without piling on more. There’s been sleeplessness, inability to stay asleep and intense dreams. Some weird skin irritations and dry eyeballs.

But then there’s also been good stuff. Like the fact that I lost 12kg without actually trying. Every time someone makes a remark about how much weight I’ve lost, or asks how I did it, I feel a bit ashamed. I didn’t make an effort, I didn’t diet, I didn’t exercise. I just didn’t eat. ADD medication has completely killed my appetite and I skip meals because I literally forget to eat. I’m working on that.

I’m still working on the rest of everything, too. But finding it a lot less overwhelming. So what’s it like to have adult ADD? It’s been life-changing, knowing what it’s called. Knowing what to look out for, being able to identify behaviour traits and work on them. It’s been liberating. Not all ADD-stuff is bad, there are perks. Taking medication hasn’t changed my personality (in a bad way) or made me any less of a person. It’s opened my eyes to the good stuff that was there, and cleared away (most) of the clutter that I let myself get bogged down in, because I had no way of filtering it out.

And that’s really what it was all about – the inability to filter leads to an inability to prioritise, which leads to trying to do all the things, all at once. That just leaves you exhausted, with nothing (complete) to show for your efforts.

Every day is a challenge, but I’ve made peace with the way I am. I might have a defect. A deficit, or a disorder. Whatever you want to call it, it’s what I am. I’m different, but I’m no more broken than anyone else. And that’s what I’ve learned. Different is sometimes better. And if I don’t fit in, because of it, I’m cool with that.

Posted in family things, life things, love things, parenting things, relationship things, work things | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On Lessons I’ve Learned Since The Big Three Oh

I didn’t pay much attention to the fact that I turned 30 last December. I was too busy chasing deadlines and trying not to be a shitty mom to notice that I was no longer in my 20s. Since life has slowed down a lot in the last few weeks, I’ve had the breathing space to do a lot of introspective stuff. To acknowledge the lessons I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made and give myself the space to accept the fact that I’m actually adulting now, and I’m doing ok.

Here are a few of the things I’ve pondered and realised:

  1. It’s incredible how much life can change in a few short months. Even if you don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay to take it day by day for a while. Whatever it takes to make it through to bedtime. Just keep swimming.
  2. Accept that you can’t please everyone, all of the time. Pick a few people that matter, and concentrate your time on those people. You’ll find you might even have some time left over for yourself.
  3. Nothing can prepare you for marriage. Not dating, not living together, not having kids together. Learn on the job, and learn fast.
  4. Getting married is not a promise, it’s a decision. A decision that you make every morning when you wake up. A decision to be married, to stay married and to be there for the other person.
  5. A marriage isn’t a 50/50 partnership. It’s one person being strong for the other person. It’s being there for the other person to lean on. It’s accepting responsibility for the fact that you made a commitment for better or worse. It’s taking the other person’s help and acknowledging that you need it, too.
  6. Being a better spouse isn’t that difficult. It’s as simple as asking yourself every day “what can I do that can make life a little easier for my other half today?” and then doing it. The small things have a way of adding up.
  7. Don’t take it personally, unless it’s got your name written on it. Not everything is criticism, not all criticism is bad. Just because the shoe fits, doesn’t mean you have to wear it. If you’ve tried your best and given it everything you possibly could, you have nothing to worry about.
  8. It’s okay to open the doors to your past and have a peek. It’s okay to get nostalgic. Don’t step back through those doors. You are where you are because of the fact that you closed those doors and walked away. Don’t forget that.
  9. Forgiveness is easier than holding a grudge. It doesn’t mean that there wasn’t wrong done, it just means that you don’t have to hold on to that hurt any longer.
  10. Patience is the one thing you can never have enough of.  Next to sleep, of course. Work at having more of both.
  11. Being nice is its own reward. Doing nice things for people and then getting pissed off when they don’t acknowledge  or show appreciation negates the good deed. Do things without the expectation of a thank you.
  12. Never forget your own manners.  Please and thank you will always get you further than you expect. Being polite doesn’t hurt. Being an asshole does.
  13. It’s okay to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means that you need back-up. When it comes to other people, offer to help. Mean it. Follow through. Pitch up. Be there. Get involved.
  14. Don’t overthink things. Just let them go. If they don’t want to be there, don’t force it.
  15. Accept compliments. Smile. Return compliments. Compliment strangers. Just be nicer.
  16. If the day was tough, don’t be tougher on yourself. Tomorrow is another day. Try harder tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.
  17. Put your foot down when you need to. Stand up for yourself. Communicate when someone else has crossed your line.
  18. You’re not a mind-reader, don’t expect anyone else to be. Express yourself. Tell people how you feel. Don’t assume that they know.
  19. Humble pie isn’t poisonous. Admitting when you’re wrong isn’t the end of the world.  Not being enough isn’t the end of the world, either.
  20. Be selective. Even when making a decision means choosing not to choose, do it for the right reasons.
  21. Give it a chance before you decide it doesn’t work. Try everything. Try some more. Make sure you can say that you’ve tried absolutely everything to make it work.
  22. Know when to keep your mouth shut. Sometimes that will be your only victory, but that’s okay too.
  23. Love them anyway. Even though your children can be obnoxious, moody, rotten and ungrateful little shits, love them. Love them more, love them harder. Same for spouses.
  24. Accept that someone else needed it more than you did. Just because you wouldn’t have handled it the way someone else does, have the grace to forgive.
  25. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Only once, though. Twice is foolish.
  26. Make peace with the fact that you’re different to other people. Work with what you have. You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for.
  27. Your reality is not the same as anyone else. While they might not know how you feel, expecting understanding and a sliver of empathy isn’t unreasonable. Try to return the favour.
  28. Take advice the way it’s intended. For your benefit. To help you make a decision. Realise that it comes from a good place and that there is a difference between criticism and advice.
  29. Be careful who you open up to. Be careful with someone who trusts you enough to open up to you. Don’t make them regret it.
  30. Try harder not to dwell on your regrets. Guilt has a funny way of snowballing. Holding it inside isn’t a strength, it’s a weakness.

Most importantly. Acknowledge what you have. Realise how much you have.

mom-and-boys

IMG_8869

Posted in family things, life things, love things, parenting things, relationship things, work things | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

On Bouncing Your Brains Out

Last Thursday we got to attend the launch of something exciting. Something really exciting. The likes of which we’ve only seen on TV, and never dreamed that we’d have in South Africa. What am I talking about? BOUNCEInc.

BOUNCEinc-lifestyle-centre-waterfall

Located next to the gym at the Waterfall Lifestyle Centre in Midrand, BounceINC is wall-to-wall trampolines and bouncy heaven. You can bounce and play basketball. You can bounce and play dodge ball. You can bounce off the walls and you can bounce your heart out, right here. Both of my kids had the best time ever. I must mention that there is an age requirement – only kids over the age of 3. They made an exception for The Toffee on opening night at my insistence, and because, who can resist watching a Toffee bounce?

Toffee-at-Bounce-INC

My 7 year old Kid also enjoyed himself thoroughly. He was sweaty and exhausted, utterly thrilled to be able to throw himself around and jump as high as he wanted, for as long as he wanted. I barely saw him the entire evening.

Kid-at-Bounce-INC-launch

He declared it the best fun ever, and has insisted that we return soon. We definitely will be coming back, as there is a lack of (seriously) fun (seriously active) things to do indoors in Joburg in winter with kids.

Pricing is fairly reasonable and you can book online, here.

Posted in family things, life things, love things, parenting things | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On @AfricologySpa & Making Me-Time

The last time I went to a spa was probably over 6 years ago. It’s not something I choose to do, or generally have time for. With 2 kids, 1 husband and a full-time job, who has time for spas? Not this mama. So when I was offered the chance to try out Africology Spa’s Mother’s Day special in May (it’s now June, I’ve only just forced myself to make time out for myself) I seized the opportunity with both hands.

africology-spa-mothers-day-package

I’d read and heard a lot about Africology Spa on one of the brands I spent a lot of time working on, but never had a chance to experience it for myself. So two Fridays ago, I spent the morning with my bestie, while she had her eyebrows done and took me for breakfast. Dropped her back home and took myself off to Rosebank Mall, to the Africology Spa.

Therapeutic in approach, Africology makes a big deal about only using natural ingredients in their products. These ingredients are special, in that they’re bio-identical to the ingredients and natural minerals found in your own body, to enhance the integrity of your skin. Their product formulations and spa treatments are inspired by the wisdom of Africa’s traditional healers and are a celebration of  Africa’s vibrant heritage, communities and botanical bounty. Africology Spa promises to ensure that your body and biology are treated in harmony.

africology-spa-rosebank-panoafricology-spa-rosebank-waiting-areaafricology-spa-productsafricology-spa-soap-displayafricology-spa-rosebank-treatment-room

africology-spa-rosebank-treatment-room2

On the massage: With months of stress and tension knotting my back, shoulders and neck, a massage was exactly what I needed. This was no ordinary massage – it was a crystal massage. Focusing also on the energy around me, the massage began and ended with the chiming of bells over me. This, I imagine, is a method of dispelling and cleansing negative energy. The crystals were hot, which was welcome on the first seriously cold day of winter in Jozi. I had a choice of massage oils, I chose Marula oil. It’s beautifully blended with Neroli and Rooibos and my skin afterward was so incredibly soft and well hydrated.

africology-spa-rosebank-massage-oil

My therapist, Lungi, was superb. A strong, firm touch – she worked every single kink out of my body, from head to toe. I’d been battling with a constant ache in my neck and left shoulder (an old injury involving an office chair. Don’t ask.) and when I walked out of the spa, I realised that I was pain-free for the first time in months. A total win.

On the facial: I don’t usually enjoy facials, and don’t much like someone else touching my face, but I was pleased that I enjoyed this one. Mostly because there was no steam portion of the treatment (you know, the machine that blows hot steam over your face), but rather hot, steamy, fragrant towels were placed over my face, which was rather nice given that the day was so cold. I lost track of how many different oils and balms were slathered into my skin, massaged in and rubbed off. I blissed out and focused on relaxing instead. Everything smelled beautiful. Everything felt amazing and I was surprised at how quickly the 90 minutes passed.

Long story short? It’s important to take time out for yourself. It doesn’t have to be often, but when you do, it should be something special. Even if you’re pressed for time, there’s no excuse as many of the Africology Spa treatments can be squeezed into your lunch hour, or slotted into a Saturday morning. I’d like to say I will definitely make more time for myself to go to the spa, more often, but I’d be lying. So this one heavenly experience will have to tide me over for the next few months, but it was that good that it definitely will!

I also received a Gratitude & Love candle from Africology, which is on my nightstand. It smells like peonies and because of its strong, relaxing fragrance it gets lit every night before bedtime. It’s also kinda handy for unexpected loadshedding, let’s be honest.

africology-spa-candleThank you, Africology Spa, for forcing me to pamper myself. For fixing my tension and helping me relax. I needed it more than I realised! Being that June is Fathers’ Day, Africology Spa has a special offer up their sleeves for dads. You can read all about it here.

Disclaimer: I was not paid any money to write this blog post. The spa treatments were offered in exchange for review space on my blog, which I have provided. My review is honest, and in no way biased by the fact that I did not pay for the experience out of my own pocket.

Posted in life things, love things | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

On My #AeroLetGo Moment

#AeroLetGo Blogger Drop
What’s the best part about blogging? Most people would assume that it’s the free stuff, right? The press drops and blogger packs that show up at your office. It’s a topic that’s been on my mind recently, this influencer campaign thing. I didn’t get into blogging with the intention of getting as many freebies as I could and I didn’t set out to be an influencer. No. I got into blogging (way back in 2006) purely to express myself.

I got into blogging to write. I’m not one of those bloggers that bothers with stats and I’m not interested in things like bounce rates or unique visitors. I don’t have a contact form on my blog. Why? Because I’m tired of the free shit. Unless it’s cool shit. The cool shit will find you, even if you don’t have a contact form or stats plugin on your blog.

Why am I tired of the free shit? Because it’s not free. It’s never free. There is the expectation that if you get sent free shit, you will reciprocate with a blog post (at the very least an Instagram/tweet/status update about the free shit. The thing is, sometimes the free shit really is shit. Or the campaign isn’t well thought out, it’s not really personalised, and it’s definitely not relevant to me or my readers and they’ve only selected me based purely on the fact that I have a high number of Twitter followers. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Lately, however, I have had the fortune of being involved in a few cool social campaigns and the recipient of some really cool shit. This is one such influencer campaign and this is one worth writing about. This is the #AeroLetGo campaign.

What was the point of the box? To introduce me to the new Aero Bubble chocolate bars. Apparently it’s lighter, more delicious and easier to snap into pieces.

What was inside the box? Two sets of gardening tools. One for me, one for Toffee. A voucher to the Garden Shop and a few interesting booklets with gardening tips. I think I might actually have gasped when I noticed the voucher. The rest of the box was weighted down with a massive stack of Aero Bubble chocolate slabs and instant hot chocolate cups. Flavours? Mint, Duet (white and milk chocolate), Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate.

#AeroLetGo ExMi box

#AeroLetGo ExMi

aero bubble chocolate
Now, I have to tell you right here that I don’t even like Aero chocolate at all. It’s not something I would ever have bought for myself, because I prefer my chocolate to be more along the lines of a Snickers bar. Nutty and gooey, not soft and melt-in-your-mouth bubbly chocolate. (Confession: we have eaten most of the chocolate already. It’s pretty good.)

This campaign (and its blogger drop) is the only reason I am even writing about this chocolate right now. If they’d sent me just the box, balloons and chocolate, I wouldn’t have done anything more than fire off an Instagram and cross-post it to Twitter. But no.

Someone put a lot of time, thought and effort into this hamper. Someone managed to interest me in their product, by appealing to another of my interests. Gardening is my stress relief. It’s how I let go. When my hands are dirty and I’m digging in the soil, I’m not thinking about anything, or worrying about anything.

What do I like about this campaign?

  • It’s personalised. And I don’t mean that someone hand wrote my name on the envelope that holds the brand message. It’s more than a box of chocolates. A Garden Shop voucher was the perfect excuse for me to spend money feeding my addiction buying succulents. Money that wasn’t my own.
  • The message is clear. Aero Bubble chocolate is pleasurable. Indulging in Aero Bubble chocolate is a moment of happiness and joy, and it’s the small moments that make a difference.
  • The call to action is simple. To inspire these bubbles of light-hearted fun, Aero entices you to have your own #AeroLetGo moments, with a series of challenges, life hacks and dares posted on the Facebook and Twitter pages. Taking on the challenges puts you in line to win great prizes. What kind of prizes? I’ve seen shopping trips to NYC, lots of vouchers and chocolate being given away.

Aero-Let-Go-ChallengesMy hamper also had its own little secret challenge to *let go*. I had to pop the balloons to discover a tiny rolled up piece of paper that instructed me to get creative and strike a pose in the garden with the kids.

That will have to wait until this weekend, but in the mean time, here’s what I bought with my Garden Shop voucher. (I had a glorious kid-free hour on my own last Sunday to wander around the nursery and pick out a whole bunch of succulents that I didn’t already have. That in itself was a great #AeroLetGo moment.)

Aero-Let-Go-MomentSo thank you, Aero South Africa. For thinking of me. Good job on turning my love of succulents into a love (that my whole family shares) for your chocolate. I can’t wait to spend some more time in the garden, planting out my spoils.

Posted in family things, life things, work things | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Makin’ Babies & Succulent Propagation

succulent-carpet

succulent-garden-exmi

In Johannesburg, no pavement gardens are safe. If it grows on the road-side of your boundary wall and it contains succulents, there’s a chance I’ve raided your curb garden. You see, I have a succulent addiction. Like all of the best addictions, it’s a very expensive habit. Especially when you’ve got as much garden to fill as I do. Some call it botanical thievery, I prefer the term ‘guerrilla gardening’.

A few slips and cuttings plucked here and there, and I’m steadily working my way toward re-homing a succulent jungle on my property – one that is made up almost entirely of shoots and roots from other people’s gardens. Every time I post pictures on Facebook and Instagram of my habits, I get questions. So I decided to put together a little blog post, containing all of the tips I’ve picked up from my personal experience on the thievery, propagation and growing of all things succulent.

Tips for guerrilla gardening: (aka how to perform the pull over, pluck, duck and dash.)

  • Keep a pair of tongs, a couple of bags (I prefer canvas bags, plastic bags tend to get too humid and sticky in summer) and some hand sanitiser in your car.
  • Use your time in your car to scope out new areas and gardens for potential raiding. Whenever I go anywhere new, I try to give myself at least half an hour to take a drive around a few blocks and see if there are any succulent gardens worth stopping at.
  • If you’ve spotted a garden that you’d like to browse, do a slow drive-by and check to see that no one is home. (It’s not impossible to raid someone’s garden if they’re home, it’s just a little trickier.) Or you can do what I do, and ring the doorbell to ask permission.
  • Stop your car as close as you can get next to the pavement garden you’re raiding. Use the doors of your car as a shield to conceal your guerrilla gardening tactics from oncoming traffic.
  • If a car does come down the road while you’re busy, just try to look like you belong. Honestly, no one has ever stopped to ask me what I’m doing.
  • If you can’t raid it right then, move on. If I spot a garden that I desperately want to get stuck into, but the timing isn’t right, I mark it. I take a few pictures and drop a pin in the Maps app on my iPhone, with a description. This makes it easier for me to go straight back there the next time I’m in the area.

guerrilla-gardening

Tips for planting your newly-acquired succulents:

  • If you’ve snapped a cutting of a succulent off the main plant, it is important to let the stem tip dry out before you plant it or root it, to prevent the cutting from rotting and eventually dying.  A freshly-snapped stem looks green and raw. It’s ready to be replanted/rooted once the tip has dried out and healed.
  • You can put succulent cuttings out to dry on a sunny window sill for a few days. Or you can just do what I do, and leave them in the boot of your car to dry out. (This is where a canvas bag comes in handy, as its breathable. Plastic bags aren’t.
  • Planting cuttings out into your garden is as easy as digging a hole and filling it with sand. While succulents are known to be water-wise plants, it’s important to water them daily until you’re sure they’ve settled in your garden.
  • All succulents (and most plants) can and will grow an entire new plant, just from a cutting or a leaf.
  • Don’t throw away any succulent leaves or roots that you might have left over, after planting any “re-homed” succulents. These can be used to grow new plants, ala succulent propagation.

Tips for propagating succulents from leaf: (aka how to grow succulent babies from just a leaf)

  • An entire plant can be grown from just one single succulent leaf, if you’re patient enough. It’s much easier than you think.
  • Use egg cartons filled with potting soil (or dirt you dig up from your yard) and arrange the little leaves on the surface of the soil.
  • Leave in a semi-sunny spot. Water daily, using a spritzer bottle.
  • In a few days time you’ll notice roots appearing from the leaf, and it won’t be long before you notice a new plant forming at the stem of the leaf.
  • If you’re into making an effort and doing things properly, you can use honey as a rooting stimulant. Mix it in with the water in your spritz bottle.
  • If you don’t feel like using soil, egg cartons or honey, you don’t have to. A pile of succulent leaves left in a warm spot will do its own thing.
  • These can be planted into your garden when the old leaf has shrivelled away and you’re left with just the new plant.

 propagating-succulents-from-leaf

growing-succulents-from-leaf

Posted in life things, love things | Tagged | 2 Comments