I am unsubscribing

Some of my favourite things2

Last week I had an amazing week.

A wake-up and smell the roses, call yourself on your stuff,  “this is it” kinda week.

There is this issue I have been battling with.  Gnawing at, regurgitating, “derms uitryg” sort of around and around the monkey mind circus type of thing. For about four years this “silly goose” has been at it. I kid you not …. four years , people!

Some of you (all of you?!) will know what I mean.  When you find yourself in a situation and you just can’t seem to find a way out.  If you are anything like me, you exhaust yourself conducting imaginary conversations with people who don’t give you the time of day in real life.  I am afraid I spent a great of my very precious energy on “communicating” (ha ha!) with people who have no idea that I am unhappy with them or the situation.  Although I suspect maybe there were a few tiny clues.

Last week I finally decided I had had quite enough, thank you kindly.

I surrendered.

I sat down in my meditation chair and asked for help.

The next thing I know, I remember a Journey process I experienced more than ten years ago.

During this process, I realized that I had been carrying guilt about the fact that my mother had a breakdown after my birth.  I thought I had made her ill.

Turns out I was a gift of healing.  I was born so she would get help.  Which she did.  She experienced no problems with either of her two subsequent pregnancies .

As I remember this realization, it clicks.

This issue I have been ferociously jousting with, in a fashion Don Quixote could only have dreamed of achieving – is ALL IN MY MIND!

Quite literally I have been playing a game, ascribing roles and motives to people who are innocently going about their business of doing the very best they can. As we all do. Constantly!

Poof – it’s gone, dissolved and I am left with the lessons I wanted to learn. Also a feeling of being a silly goose which brings a smile to my face and irons out the furrow that has been developing between my eyes!

Suddenly I know there is a loving explanation for every action and experience because that is all that is real. Only love is real.

Sunday was the anniversary of my mother’s death thirteen years ago. It is as if she herself came to help. The date might have passed me by, but as fate would have it, I received a report about the circumstances surrounding her death on Friday reminding me of the anniversary and my love and connection to my mother.

In my heart, I thank her for this gift – one of so many gifts she gave me when she was alive and long after. I live in a house I bought with money she left me.

I consciously set about unsubscribing to anything that does not honour me and the precious silly goose I like to play at being from time to time..

This time I use my body as a barometer to decide whether something or someone honours the unique being I am.  I choose the most loving interpretation of all the experiences that come floating my way as I remind myself : nothing is personal!

Only love is real.

 

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What is in a name?

Lost ChildMy name is unusual.  “Perdita” means “Lost Child”.

When I first introduce myself, people invariably do a double take and try a few versions of my name on for size. So I have taken to telling them what my name means and that I was named after the heroine in “The Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare.

I then add that the other well-known “Perdita” is the mother dog in Walt Disney’s “101 Dalmations ” ie. Pongo’s wife. This is normally a very good ice-breaker, especially if my partner is on hand to add: “Princess or bitch – your choice”!

Recently, for various reasons, I have been feeling lost, pondering about my family of origin and the significance of my name.

Growing up, I was seldom called by my given name. Those closest to me called me “Diets” or “Dietsie” whilst member’s of the extended family (both maternal and paternal) chose to shorten my birth name to ”Dita”.

At the age of forty, a relative stranger asked me why I was called “Perdita” exclaiming in horror : “ Why on earth would one call someone :”Lost Child”? “

I remember feeling startled and realizing for, at the time, religious reasons – I was actually uncomfortable with the name on some level, because the root of the “lost” was “perdition” as in damned!  There I was on the road to hell and all!  It didn’t help that people often chortled :”I’m sure you have been found” or something to that effect. Or worse still, knew about the  going to hell thing…

The stranger proceeded to ask me: “Who on earth called you that?”

I replied: “My father”.

“Is he dead?” the stranger asked, to which I replied that he was very much alive.

“So, why don’t you ask him?” my stranger said.

So I thought – why don’t I?

My father believes “Perdita” to be one of Shakespeare’s most beautiful female characters. She was a king’s daughter (hence my partner’s “princess”!). The king suspected his wife of adultery, promptly sentenced her to death and banished the baby.  Little Perdita grew up in a shepherd’s family, was always true to her royal heritage and LOVED nature.

She fell in love with a prince and found her way back to her father’s court (“seker om ouers te vra!”). It turned out that her mother had been kept alive by her ladies-in-waiting, all was forgiven, the family re-united and everyone lived happily ever after! Yay!

This made me feel a hell of a lot better! Even in religious terms, it put a whole new slant on things- what with me really being a king’s daughter, if you know what I mean, wink, wink, nudge, nudge!

Here’s the freaky thing though: I went on some transformation courses, played some games that showed me how I conducted myself in life and learnt that somewhere along the line, I had chosen to play small, to give my power away and a whole lot of other silly goose things!

So I proceeded to bewilder my brothers and all who know me, by re-claiming my birth name (and I believe with it, my power).

I learnt something really amusing : I came to show the Way.  Divine sense of humour, don’t you think?  A “lost child” showing the way!

So here I am. The longing of my heart is that the whole of humanity be a family. Not just any family though – a happy family- one in which diversity and individuality are celebrated. Also one in which there are bonds of love, support and belonging and all those lovely things.

Where to start? Well, as they say, charity begins at home.

 

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Heartbreak Hotel

When grief comes a knocking

When grief comes a-knocking , creativity calls.

Heartbreak Hotel

I have known for a while now that I am due for a visit to the Heartbreak Hotel.

If there is one thing I have learnt along the way, it is as the Afrikaners say: “jou beurt is jou beurt”.  If I have booked a ticket to visit that place by the decisions I have taken or if Life has dealt me a card that means I will need to open that door, no matter how reluctant I am, I do need to open the door.

For those of us (actually most of us) who have paid intense grief a visit, the reluctance to do it again, is born from knowing how painful it can be.  How painful it is!

That said, like some of my most precious friends, who have really and truly had to grieve (and still do many days) I will tell you this: when the worst happened and my heart was torn from my body and my life as I knew it, crumbled to dust, nothing was ever the same again.

When The Heartbreak Hotel shuttle stops at my door to pick me up for another visit, I may hesitate before I get in, but I will, eventually – I will give in. I have given in – I am writing these words.

My worst brought with it, one abiding gift that will serve me for the rest of my life (as it serves me now) – the knowledge that I can survive even that.  I know it because I did it and that means, if need be, I can do it again. God forbid, but if I need to, I can.

The day comes when I notice the birds singing outside my door and the sunlight on a rose in full bloom and I find I am alive and filled with Gratitude for the small and big things.  I realize too, that the worst has made me stronger, wiser, more compassionate and in many ways more joyful and aware of the important things in life.  Friendship, creativity, gardening, walks on the beach, Love in its’ many guises, you name it – it is here.  It is the Life I live.

I know Life is fleeting, precious, delicate and, oh so beautiful and that Love is everywhere and in everyone, waiting and ready to comfort and inspire.

So I straighten my shoulders, raise my hand and climb into that shuttle – the one I said I never wanted to use again.

As I get in, I tell myself not to make this visit another task.  Something I need to do and master.  I remind myself that I am a human BEING and that this hotel has its’ own perfect process.  I definitely don’t need to do it right – I just need to surrender, rest and let the grief and the healing find me.

See you on the sunny side of the street. I will be the one with the happy smile on her face.  You might want to put your sunglasses on …because this gal’s Light is gonna shine bright – just saying!

 

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For the love of roses

For the love of roses

My writing rose

The last few birthdays I have found myself saying: “Roses, give me anything with roses”, when asked by my offspring what they can get me.   I was mostly referring to perfumes and bath products, of course.

This year, what with the water shortage and all, I couldn’t bring myself to request the bath products – knowing what a conflict it would cause in me.  Although I love a guilty pleasure as much as the next girl! Make no mistake.

So this year, I came right out and asked for an actual rose: a specific climbing rose called ”Cecile Brunner”.

It has a delicate pink flower and was one of my mother’s favourite plants.  When one went home to visit, there would invariably be a tiny vase or glass with a single minute rose next to the chocolate bar and welcome card at one’s bed.

I recently decided to use my house in Fisherhaven as a writer’s retreat and have spent the last month or so lovingly painting and restoring my little house into a space filled with colour and creativity.

It has been a delight re-discovering forgotten nooks and crannies and deciding how to re-purpose the home and garden.

I was amazed again at the speed with which things unfolded and conspired once I had taken the decision to gift myself with, not only the space, but also the time to do what I love best.

The blessings along the way have been so touching and sacred.

The first blessing came in the form of my friend, Annorien, who offered to come and do a clearing and cleansing of the house for me.

A circle.  A spiral.  I met her when I fell in the love with this house.

She was living here and was understandably reluctant to move.  Her husband had created the magical garden which drew me to the house among the trees, like a homing pigeon.  They had filled this house with Love and Peace.

I had already put in an offer on the house and was driving past to gaze upon it in passing, when I saw her car parked in front.  On an impulse I got out, met her for the very first time and blurted out to the total stranger that I was buying the house.

And…get this…that I suspected she was holding onto the house!!!

Bloody cheek, I realize now.  In my defence, I did add that she could take as long as she needed to find a new home!

Amazingly, she and her family found a lovely place on the lagoon in no time at all.

Best of all, she forgave me and we remain friends to this day.

The latest blessing filled with me awe.

Out of the blue, I got invited to a birthday celebration. A breakfast for an exceptional woman.

She is, amongst, many other things the agent who sold me this house.  We became connected in a profound way and shared some beautiful, yet heart-breaking moments together.

To be invited to the celebration of her life and to realize what a sacred privilege it was to share those parts of her journey with her, was very humbling and life-affirming for me.

A blessing indeed.

As are the roses my loving daughter gave me for my birthday that we have planted at the entrance to this house.  With one on the balcony outside my writing space cheering me on me as I write.

A blessing also that my son and his love, who visited here this weekend, share my love of roses and plants especially “Peace in the Home”.

Best of all, perhaps, this amusing fact – Annorien’s surname is “Roos”.

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So it begins again!

Love

LOVE – sculpture by Barbara Du Bois

A new year is here.  It seems suddenly.  Quickly, in the blink of an eye, the old is gone and the new is here.

I am ready for the new year.  I am sitting at my desk in my house in Fisherhaven writing my first blog for 2018.  This is the first one in a very long time. I ‘ve been making changes and moves in anticipation of this being the year I focus on what I love to do most : write!

Already old patterns and the demands of earning a living and life in general, stole my creative time yesterday and I missed the opportunity to write on the first day of 2018. Sigh!  I had such good intentions. We all know about those and where they lead!

No new year’s resolutions for me.  I ‘m gonna NIKE – “just do it”.

If I slip up  like yesterday and get side-tracked making meals, answering booking  enquries , doing DIY around the house and allowing work to seep out and devour my time and energy, I will stop.

Stop, right there.  Pause. Then I will straighten my shoulders and smile. I’ll put on Chris Rea’s “Road to Hell” to remind me of those pesky intentions and  I’ll dive in , as I am now, and write away to my heart’s content.

There are stories I want to tell, worlds, characters and situations I want to create.  There are places I want to visit in my mind that I can share with others.  I want to write about the things that touch my heart, things that make me happy or sad.  Things that make me smile or laugh until my belly aches.

Dreaming away on the back of the motorbike on the last day of 2017, I was filled with ideas and impulses for stories and as if the Universe wanted me to know that I am on the right track, the very first e-mail I opened in 2018 was about a short story.  I wrote it many years ago and have a soft spot for it in my heart (as I often do!).

At some stage, on an impulse I dug it up, re-crafted it  and then entered a competition on-line for African writers .  It was a while back – when I am not sure, but there it was again.  Out of the blue, on my screen as an affirmation that this plan of mine to find ways to support what I really love, is going to work.

What I didn’t know was,  that the competition had been suspended in 2016! The e-mail was to let me know that I entered a competition that didn’t exist!  Now that is what I call really amusing – and symbolic and telling on so many levels. But, get this, it is being revived and I am welcome to submit my work.

Ahhh, the writer’s life.  So it is.  I write and write and craft and craft and then I submit it and if I know what is good for me…I forget all about it.  It is not that I don’t love my story or drama or blog or whatever .   I do!  It is not that I don’t wish it well.  I send it away with love and blessings and a deep heart felt prayer that it will find it’s way in this world.

Often, when I least expect it, I get the news.   My heart is glad and grateful and I celebrate for a wee while.

When the news is long in the coming,  I remind myself again and again that the joy is the process, in the creating, in the telling and yes, even in the crafting!

My wish for us all in this new year of our lives is that we will love ourselves enough to spend time on what we truly love and that our endeavours will find their way in this world.

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One woman’s day!

My hart se punt croppedFour years after the birth of my son, I was heavily pregnant with my second child.  My colleagues took me to a farewell lunch and I was asked if I knew the gender of the child and if I had a preference?

Not wanting to jinx things, I gave the diplomatic answer that I didn’t mind as long as the baby was healthy and had all the necessary appendages.  Then, after a small pause in the conversation, I took a deep breath and admitted that if Truth be told: I would love a daughter.

When she made her elegant, effortless appearance on the planet, I received the biggest and most exquisite bouquet of flowers, that had all the nurses oo–ing and ah-ing, from my former colleagues.

With it was a small card, that read: “It came as no surprise that you were able to arrange things perfectly!” The perfect sentiment for an executive assistant to receive from her former boss.

It was not of my doing at all, though. My daughter just slipped into the world swiftly and without fuss and has been that way ever since.

Even as a tiny little girl, she showed an uncanny knowledge of other people and their motives.  I remember going to a movie with her at the age of two.  She could just express herself in words, so I was amazed when she tugged at my sleeve and announced in a loud whisper: “ Mommy, I think he likes her!”

She was pointing to the two romantic interests in the film and made this observation long before the plot had begun to unfold.

I suppose I should have known then that she has something special.  An ability to see and sense things that are not always apparent to others yet.

I think it is this vision that makes her able to visualise and conceptualize a show.  It enables her to cast exactly the right actor or actress and to see the backdrop or the scenes when she is working with a new production.

She and I sometimes look at the text of a new play together and I find myself blown away by this ability to see quite concretely how and where the action should take place. She lights up as she describes what she sees, her hands moving and her eyes bright.

As the production takes shape, through the hard work and discipline of all concerned, I and others begin to see what she has in mind.

I especially love and admire the way she creates a space for the young people who are part of the production to contribute and own and shape the action as it evolves.  It is always as much their production as it is hers.  She lovingly refers to them as “her kiddies” and delights in each and every one’s achievement and growth.

Every year, when she chooses a theme or play, I am touched.  There is, without a doubt, a special reason for the choice.  It seems to me it is always a relevant and worthwhile choice.

This year she has chosen:” My children have faces” by Carol Campbell – a beautiful story about the “karretjiemense” of the Karoo.

She and her cast of young people from Tygerberg High School are making this story their own and once again it is about growing and learning and enjoying.

Yes, there are accolades and recognition along the way, but the real joy lies in the creative process and hard work.

As my beautiful daughter and “her kiddies” spend her birthday today creating a Karoo world and telling an amazing, uniquely South African story, I celebrate this talented and loving woman.

I am so proud to call her my daughter.

In my heart, I send her a huge bouquet with a card: “It comes as no surprise, that you are able to arrange things perfectly”.

It is no wonder you were born on Women’s Day.

Happy birthday, Jeanne Marguerite Du Bois.

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Dit gaan oor persoonlikheid, Juffrou!

Student

‘n Foto uit my studentejare. In my finale jaar.  Let asseblief wel: Nie ‘n blonde skoonheids-koningin-haar in sig nie!

My oorlede ma was ‘n wyse vrou.

Sy het vir my net een stuk raad gegee, toe ek universiteit toe vertrek.

“Oppas vir tokkelokke en mense sonder ‘n sin vir humor”.

Nogal rare raad, voel dit vir my.  Veral aangesien ek nie eers geweet het wat-vir-‘n- ding ‘n tokkelok  nou eintlik is nie en haar moes vra.

Skaars op die kampus aangeland en die volgende gebeur:

Dis middagete in Huis De Villiers toe ‘n afvaardiging mans die eetsaal binne seil.  ‘n Vreemde verskynsel wat ons almal regop laat sit.

Hulle pyl op die HK-tafel af en daar word omtrent gegroet en gekloek en gedoen tot hulle almal hulle sit kry.

Kort voor lank, staan een van ons slanke, beeldskone HK-lede op om te verduidelik.

“Dames, verwelkom asseblief die HK van Dagbreek. Hulle hou vanjaar saam met ons jool en is hier om kandidate vir die Mejuffrou Matieland kompetisie te kies”.

Die manne loer so onderlangs en bolangs na ons almal en konfereer en griffel op papiertjies.

Na ete word die name van die mooistes en blondstes onder ons eerstejaars uitgeroep.

Ek het by die aanhoor van die aard van die manne se sending summier alle belangstelling in die spul verloor.

Ek is dus uit my geloof uit geskok om heel laaste my eie naam te hoor.  Ek slaat gloede uit en kyk verwilderd en verward na my mede-eerstejaars met totale verbystering op my gesig.  Ek trek my oë op skrefies en skud my kop om seker te maak my ore speel my nie parte nie. Maar sowaar, my maters kyk my almal aan, wens my geluk en stamp liggies aan my.

Wat kan ek doen, ek stap saam.

Op pad na Dagbreek-manskoshuis, begin ek vermoed hoe my naam op die lys beland het.

Die naamuitleser stel hom aan my voor. Hy is van my tuisdorp en die ouer broer van een van my vriendinne. Hy wou my ontmoet .

Daar ontspan ek ‘n bietjie en besluit daar is niks te verloor nie. Ek kan net sowel saamspeel.

Tot ek my alleen in ‘n kamertjie met ‘n klomp vreemde mans bevind, wat die eienaardigste vrae aan my begin stel.  Dis van vol swembaddens en mans en vrouens en wie eerste moet uitklim en ander ewe onverstaanbare vrae.

Daar staan ek verbouereerd in my pofmou kolletjiesrok soos ‘n bokkie in die ligte, want ek kan voel daar is ‘n dieper betekenis aan die here se vra, maar slaat my dood, ek het nie die vaagste benul wat dit mag wees nie.

Ek hou my “pose” en bars eers ná die marteling buite op die stoep in trane uit.

Dadelik is een van die vername manne by om te vra wat dan nou skort?

Ek beduie in ‘n bewerige stem dat ek myself glad nie as skoonheidskoningin-materiaal sien nie en wys ewe vir hom my ongeverfte vingernaels as onteenseglike bewys van hierdie feit.

“Maar, Juffrou, dit gaan oor persoonlikheid”, verseker die man my. “Jy het, om die waarheid te sê, die tweede meeste stemme gekry en is beslis een van ons drie kandidate”.

My hart sak.

Ek probeer nog ‘n keer.

“Ek voel regtig nie dat iemand soos ek geskik is vir ‘n skoonheidskompetisie nie”.

“Hoekom nie?”

“Ek was dan hoofleier van die CSV (Christelike Studente Vereniging) op skool”, kry ek dit uiteindelik uit.

Daar skaterlag die man en sê:

“Juffrou, ons is almal op een ná, tokkelokke”.

Oeps, help, Mamma.

Terug by my koshuis, smeek ek my HK-lid dat hulle eerder die volgende op die lys moet stuur, maar sy wil niks weet nie.

Die kishou : “ Doen dit vir jou koshuis”.

Kom die tyd en ek herhaal paniekerig hierdie mantra’s vir myself: “ Ek doen dit vir my koshuis” en “ Dit gaan oor persoonlikheid, Juffrou”.

Ek haal diep asem en probeer nie te veel kyk na die baie wel-bedeelde beoordelaar wie se rondborstigheid glad nie deur haar rok verbloem word nie.

Toe my beurt kom, projekteer ek my hele persoonlikheid in die antwoord van die vrae oor my “naam”, “van”, “waar ek vandaan kom” en “wat ek studeer”.

Dis klaarblyklik nie genoeg nie. Baie verlig, trippel ek langs die kabbelende leivoor terug koshuis toe.

My skoonheidsloopbaan iets van die verlede.

Vir die res van my universiteitsloopbaan, vermy ek tokkelokke en mense sonder ‘n sin vir humor.

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