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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Ken jy hierdie skrywer, Mevrou?

Soos 'n skilpad

Soos ‘n skilpad

Verlede week woon ek ‘n sessie by die Kleinmond Boekfees by.

‘n Paneelbespreking : “Om ‘n boek te publiseer”.

Daar sit ek in die geselskap van bekendes en kundiges en dit voel my Kleinmond se see kom woel in my gemoed.

Want sien, ek loop met stories in my hart.  Al vir jare lank.  Dis erg persoonlik en tog (so vertel die geleerdes) ook universeel.  Daar is glo niks nuuts onder die son nie.

So luister ek na die mense wat al jare in die publikasiebedryf werk en wat hulle te vertelle het, krap my behoorlik om.  Die hoop is min. Publikasie is maar vir ‘n uitverkore minderheid bestem. Dit wil-wil my moed breek.

Ek bewonder hulle vuur en drif en die herhaalde klem op professionaliteit.  Daar is selfs van hulle wat ook die pad van die skrywer stap (of al gestap het).  Ek wonder heimlik of hulle paadjie soos myne voel. Dit klink tog so.

Theresa Papenfus se: “Die angs het ‘n wonderlike werking” klink en voel vir my so reg.  Ek moet voortdurend waak dat die angs my nie lamlê nie. Dit kan my so maklik verhoed om selfs te probeer.  Dit kan my vir dae muilband.

Genadiglik is dit nooit vir té lank nie.  Daar is iets in my wat moet – ten alle koste wil skryf.  Dit dryf my.  Ek is eenvoudig nie myself as ek nie skryf nie. Dis beter vir al wat leef en beef dat ek na hartelus kan tik.

Ek worstel met my gevoelens oor die gesprek.

Dan onthou ek die skilpad.

Op ‘n dag lees ek dat ‘n skilpad die simbool van ‘n skrywer is.  Dit maak vir my volkome sin.  As skrywer steek ek my kop uit.  Ek waag dit om iets te probeer verwoord en neer te pen –  vir die wêreld om te sien en lees. Kom daar positiewe terugvoer, is die vreugde groot.  Is die kommentaar minder vleiend, trek ek summier terug in my dop, waar ek mooi met myself moet praat voor ek dit weer huiwerig uitwaarts waag.

Ek lees graag oor ander skrywers en hulle prosesse. Onlangs verslind ek onder andere JK Rowling en Stephen King se top tien wenke vir sukses en sug van verligting.

Want sien, ek herken tog myself daarin!

Ek herken my gedurige stryd om te glo dat ek kwalifiseer om myself “ ‘n skrywer” te mag noem.

Al die aanmanings van die groot geeste oor wat skryf nou eintlik van ‘n mens verg, laat my glimlag, want ek kan vasbyt!  Ek kan torring en oorskryf en weer oorskryf.  Ek kan ook, deur die genade, terugstaan en met verwondering kyk hoe ander dit wat ek begin het, neem en daarmee toor. Ek kan my verlustig in die skeppende samewerking wat uiteindelik tot ‘n finale produk lei – een wat hopelik betower en verryk. Iets wat ek wil beweer die wêreld ‘n beter (of sal ons maar beskeie wees en sê “‘n veranderde plek”) maak.

Ken jy hierdie skrywer, Mevrou?

Ek skryf omdat ek nie anders kan nie.

Ek wil iets wondermooi skep wat ander raak en verander. Dis my geskenk aan die wêreld.

Dit maak my gelukkig.

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Toi-toiende beskermengele

Daar was hierdie week twee prentjies op “face boek” wat my gees laat wandel het.

Een was van ‘n voeding-stellasie vir kalwertjies en die ander van ‘n Aga-stoof  en varsgebakte plaasbrode (Fotokrediet – Die Goeie Ou Dae – https://web.facebook.com/Die-Goeie-Ou-Dae-411664659032082/)

Die Goeie Ou Dae

My Afrikaanse plaashart roep my en ek moet antwoord.

Jare gelede het ons op Tulbagh gaan boer.  Hoe ons daar beland het, is ‘n lang en ingewikkelde eg Afrikaner-familie-saga-storie.  Kom ons los dit eerder net daar en sê net dat ek en my gesinnetjie vir ons ‘n mal (maar bittermooi en opwindende) perd opgesaal het.

Die plaas het vir ongeveer twaalf jaar braak gelê, die kweek was die wingerd vol en ons het geen kapitaal gehad om mee te boer nie. In ‘n poging om die nodige fondse te genereer, het my man in Johannesburg as ‘n konsultant gewerk en net vir ‘n paar dae ‘n week huis toe gekom.

Toe ek my oë uitvee, is ek die boer.

Gelukkig was daar ‘n baie ervare span werkers. So kon die groentjie Mevrou (en die plaas en sy mense) oorleef tot manlief weer tuiskom met opdragte oor wat volgende moet geskied.

Daar was dierbare bure wat die nuweling jammer gekry het en allerlei maniere gevind het om onopsigtelik raad te gee.

Die dierbaarste was oom Japie, my ses-en-tagtigjarige buurman se manier van doen.  Sê die oom : “ Ek sien Pieter Oukloof ploeg nog nie!” Dan weet ek, ek moet aanstaltes maak om te ploeg.

Oom Japie het vir my hanslammers aangedra tot ek ‘n fris troppie gehad het.  Net die eerste een het ‘n naam gekry – Mêrie.  Die werksmense het ‘n stellasie geprakseer. Dit was ‘n lang plank hout met gate in met onderstebo Bashew-bottels (op die solder gevind) en koöperasietiete sodat die lammers op ‘n streep langs mekaar kon staan en melk drink.

‘n Mens moes net bystaan en die gulsiges ‘n raps op die boud gee as hulle eerste klaar was en dan hulle mater uit die pad gestamp het om ‘n tweede tiet te gryp!

Die melk is deur Bonita verskaf. Later was dit ons plaas se trots, Elektra, wat op 27 April 1994 gebore is, wat die lammers van hulle voggies voorsien het. Ek was nooit self regtig ‘n wat wafferse melker nie (al het ek probeer!) en moes my ook daar op die vaardigheid van die span beroep.

Bonita was dragtig met Elektra,  toe ek, vergesel van oom Japie en sy seun, Anton, op my heel eerste BKB veiling die geluk gehad het om die regte koei te kies!  Meer geluk as wysheid! Genade en dierbare bure was volop!

Ek moes baie dinge leer en vinnig ook.  Ek was terselfdertyd ook die meestal- alleenma van twee laerskoolkinders met al die karwei ensovoorts wat dit behels.

Ons het elke week twee maal Kaap toe gery om manlief te gaan haal en weg te bring, soms saam met ‘n vraggie groente vir die mark.  My bure was erg besorg oor die ryery, maar ek het altyd gespot en gesê my beskermengele toi-toi waarskynlik vir oortyd, want ek het nooit eers ‘n pap band ervaar nie.

Hierdie week (‘n goeie twintig jaar later) sit ek by my boeklub en die vrouens praat oor hulle ervarings en gee mekaar raad.  Ek onthou skielik ‘n heel oomblik op Tulbagh.  Ek en my buurvruens hou bybelstudie en skielik is daar ‘n ongemaklike geskuifel en ek sien hulle kan my nie lekker in die oë kyk nie.

Hulle stamp so liggies aan mekaar tot een brawe siel kug en sê: “Ons mans het gesê ons moet jou vra of jy bewus is dat die man wat jy so bestuurslesse gee in die tronk was vir manslag?”

Hulle het na my voorman verwys en ek het gelukkig wel sy geskiedenis geken – dit het alles op die lappe gekom toe ons onderhoude met elkeen gevoer het toe ons by die plaas aankom.  Wat ek altyd sal onthou van daardie oefening, was nie Dawid se bende- en tronkgeskiedenis nie, maar die totale onbegrip in sy oë en gesig toe ons gevra het wat sy drome vir homself is!

 

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Praying our goodbyes!

Chased by a tolbos

The day we were chased by a “tolbos”(tumbleweed)!

Many years ago during a period of great transition, I was introduced to the concept of “praying our goodbyes”.

Now, as my love and I are poised to embark on new (and as yet unknown) adventures, I find this phrase dancing in my heart.

It is about consciously letting go what was, to make way for the new. Also about examining each experience, place or relationship whilst savouring it’s essence and marvelling in the gifts it has brought into one’s life.

The purpose of this examination, I suppose, is to become aware so that the letting go and the inevitable grieving that forms part of any change, is experienced fully.  This is certainly a good ritual for someone like me who is inclined to the sentimental and soulful way of being.

It might seem to some that this process is maudlin and that it is unhealthy to wallow in sadness and feeling.  I know my partner will almost certainly see it that way.  He is made of sterner stuff and prefers (or so it seems to me) to close the door firmly without so much as a backward glance.  He is also the one who loves change and thrives on the thrill of new challenges.

For me though, this ritual replaces a practice I had for many years of collecting things objects , pieces of paper , train tickets, feathers – you name it, I collected – countless reminders of places visited, people met and experiences had. Whenever I had to move, there would be boxes and boxes of these tangibles mementos that needed to be carted with me.  At the new dwelling, however big or humble, space would have to be made for all these boxes.

At some point, I decided it was enough.  I let them all go. I unpacked them one last time, handled them with love and care, said goodbye and moved on.  Some of the mementos were passed on to my daughter, son or to others that might enjoy them, but most were burnt with the certain knowing that whilst the object might be going up in flames, the experience never would.

It seems Life had taught me, at long last, that we are the sum total of all our experiences: the good, the bad, the ugly (yay …soundtrack!), however we may label them.  With each new encounter, we are transformed whether we are aware of it or not.

So, as I pack up my worldly possessions to leave the beautiful place I have called home for the past four years, I gently and tenderly embrace the starlit skies; dew speckled morning walks; the sunlight glinting on the dam / the sea as we look out to the horizon bumping along on the road; the jackal buzzard’s gliding flight; amazing surprise sightings on the road of leopards, porcupines and so much more.

I reflect briefly on the people and happenings that have become part of my life as is my bent. Some will stay in my heart forever and others will gradually fade from my memory having played their part in changing me.

And for all of this, I am truly grateful.

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To write again!

We have been on leave for the last three weeks. Tomorrow we head back.

To real life. To the hospitality industry that challenges me in so many ways.

Time is up and I have not written at all.

Not one word!

So here I am ready to try  before everyday demands attempt to devour my time and energy again.

I have not spent a lot of time on Facebook whilst on leave, but there was one post that spoke to me on so many levels.

I love the “Ravenous Butterflies” posts that come my way from time to time. The posts  consist of beautiful, I mean simply exquisite, images…often paintings filled with colour, delicate feminine figures and the like.

Invariably , I feel my soul respond and I share it to my timeline so that I will find it again in the endless stream of posts and impulses that is social media.

This particular post was no exception.

Posted on 26 January at 9h44 pm was this  painting by Anders Zorn with the quote:

“ In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty”.

ravenous-butterflies-anders-zorn

I felt my soul cry out in recognition of a sense I sometimes experience when watching a wonderful movie or reading a really gripping story. It visits me too when I listen to moving music or see actors perform from the magical place where their true Being resides.

This longing, this urge and compelling desire that wells up in me , I realized, is exactly this: to create something of beauty.

It is not necessarily “pretty” or particularly easy- this thing I want to create. It is often raw and real rather than pleasing.  The  beauty lies in the authenticity. The honesty that calls to my soul and hopefully also to other kindred spirits sometimes. It is one of recognition and response which makes me feel less foreign and different in this world.

I had not made the connection, though. That this urge that we  have to create,  can be  our protest in “such ugly times”!

Often when I feel the call, there is a distinct , yet nebulous , sub-text of wanting to make a difference .  My Inner Mean Girl immediately dismisses this as grandiose  and narcissistic !

Here’s the thing, though.  For me ,  part of wanting to create,  is being thin-skinned, sensitive to impulses and images, tones of voice and even , dare I say it, energies  that seem to pass others by.

Seeing this need of mine to create “beauty” , as a protest,  really works for me.

On a deep and profound level.

Being  more  sensitive, open  , exposed  and instinctual  than some others (or at least feeling that this is the case) means that I often feel overwhelmed and despairing about the state of the world and man’s inhumanity to man (and women , of course)!

Tend to lose my precious sense of humour,  when I need it most.

So ..Inner Mean Girl., guess what ?

My desire to write, to create,  is a protest. My humble protest against the ugly times we live in.

The revenge of the bookworm, the nerd, the “over-emotional” me!

And I’m gonna do it! Whether you like it or not.  I’m gonna write. Protest my little heart out.

So ,put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Stand aside …this gal is ready to toi-toi!

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