Taking Stock!

(Posted in 2014)

Ok, so where were we … ah yes … the very last day of 2014 … now this was a year!  In the words of the great South African Poet … Yoh!  (Pronounced Yoh!)  So much change around us, and so many people clearing the decks in preparation for changes ahead, as we plunge into 2015.

I always love this week between Christmas and New Year (I started writing this blog 5 days ago) … our social family (I hesitate to say “commitments” because that sounds like a chore, but this time of year comes with its set of expectations … so commitment will suffice) have been fulfilled.  That crescendo of shopping has been ravaged, dinners have been cooked and consumed, bubbles have popped and belts have been un-notched (just a smidge) … there is a definite lull in both energy and events as we enjoy the end of the twinkling lights, as many steady themselves for New Year’s festivities. 

This week between feels like a natural time to sit, reflect, consider our triumphs and things we could have done differently, regroup, review, plan, re-address, decide, relent, release and plant the seed of intention for your 2015 … this glorious clean, fresh new year ahead!

As in other years Zenith sets you the challenge … selecting 3 ambitious words for yourself for 2015.  Do you remember your 3 words for 2014?  Mine were Writing Abundance Adventure and my HAT were they just that!  This year I saw the Abundance everywhere, whether it was traffic, or work, or birds, or flowers … I saw it and loved every second of it!  I smiled and said to myself – well you asked for abundance!  Writing  was a wonderful Adventure, in 2014 I e-published a short story with a fellow author … it was an amazing experience and we are learning every day.   

So let’s revisit the criteria for the Challenge … you need to select 3 whole glorious words!  Specific to what you want for you for 2015!
  • 3 words that are positive!
  • 3 words that speak to you and your intentions for 2015 – personal goal setting!
  • 3 words that encapsulate all your hopes, desires, needs and dreams for your 2015!
  • 3 distinct individual words like Travel, Abundance & Balance instead of Win Lotto Please!

Think about it, I’ll leave it with you for a couple of days (and you know I will ask you) … we will come back to it!  Share it with friends, it is an amazing party discussion point.  Ready, Steady, GO! 

Feel free to post your 3 words in the comments or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ZenithThinkingBlog.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

My 3 words for 2015 will following in the next post ... I'm still wrestling with them ... 

Much Love & Happy New Year All!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … Thinking Out Loud this is my boy at the moment and I just love the words … Ed Sheeran

What a Gift!

Well here we are … December 2014!  In fact we are 16 days into December and as yet, I have not posted Zenith’s word for December and that is partly due to the word itself! 

December’s word for Zenith is Present!  Not the noun present, as in gift (although it works for December) but as the adjective form of the word … being PRESENT!

In early December 2013 our oldest partially shaved off her eyebrows, in an attempt to “fit in” with the kids at school and in remediation to something one of the kids meanly said to her … reverberating, unchallenged in her 13 year old mind.  But wait … it gets worse, Bad Mother of the Year Award 2013 goes to me, because for a whole 36 hours I did not even notice. 

I was completely consumed by getting to the end of my working week (and year), when I would be on leave, that everything else was, dare I say it (out loud), on the back-burner.  I even told my children (more than once), “let’s just get to the end of the week and then we will be fine and we can enjoy our holidays together”.  I shudder when I think about it now.

At the time I was crippled by guilt, that all I could do was cry … that frustrated, shameful cry that we hide from others.  Well-meaning friends talked me off the emotional ledge, reminding me that eyebrows grow back (I knew that), pointing out that it was year-end, I was exhausted, I needed my leave, that at the time I was in the midst of an altercation with a friend but all of those were kind excuses … because the event (Eyebrow-Gate 2013 [EBG 2013] as we affectionately refer to it now) haunted me for months … well into 2014.  Why was I so upset?  Because I did not notice.  36 whole hours passed and I wasn’t present … not even close.  So I resolved to use the learnings and make it different this year!  So picking this December’s word was a bit of a sacred slam dunk … and so far we are doing really well!  I can report that everyone’s eyebrows are indeed intact!

So what have I learned … lets share the learnings … the lessons from EBG 2013 were many and this December has indeed been very different.  I have actively slowed down to make sure that I am living in as many moments as possible and when I am not … I take a deep breath (or five) and force myself to do so.  Things can wait a moment longer, the universe will not wobble off its axis.  I have found meditation particularly helpful for me with this, and I am very pleased that I have increased this practice, this year.  Loving it!

EBG 2013 also taught me to listen to the quiet tremors and to close the loop with the child, so that they know that I have taken action.  Senior mentioned the comment to me and I down-played it (hoping to minimize its refraction in her mind) but I made the appointment with the beautician and in my pre-occupied, single-mindedness I didn’t close the loop with her, so she took things into her own hands.

I make sure that one of us (the parental units) is with the girls when the other can’t be due to commitments … BEING with them, not just being close to them.  Yesterday, said oldest and I had the most wonderful day, out shopping, not particularly spending a huge amount of money (although I think the Bank Manager might disagree) BEING together, seeing, laughing (oh so much laughter), touch and loving every second … being present.

There were other lessons;   not being so harsh on myself, releasing the negative emotions around the event and making sure that she knows, deep within, that she is perfect and beautiful … but those are for another blog.  

I keep smiling at the awareness of it all … that BEING PRESENT has become the PRESENT that we are giving each other.  And my word … but what a gift!  #BlessedAbundantly!

As we end-off this year, let’s be present for ourselves and for each other …

Love you all madly!  Let’s be PRESENT as we kiss 2014 farewell!  MAKE it COUNT!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … Rather Be  by Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne … good to know … (interesting video J)

That Which Does Not Serve Us

Wow!  As 2014 races to her conclusion and the rest of this year takes on a life of her own, can we look back on 2014 and say that we Made It Count? 

On Monday I overheard one of my colleagues declared that this is going to be HER YEAR!  My immediate hasty answer was “well you are a bit screwed, because it is November”.  Suddenly realization tumbled, tomorrow would be her birthday.  When I got out of my own way … I loved it!

This month’s theme for Zenith is Release or more commonly known as Let That Shit Go!  This is going to be a big one for me … I’m really bad at it.  I am very reluctant, completely averse, absolutely hesitant, recalcitrant (oooo love that word) of note!  But that completely stems from fear … and I need to get better at it … to get out of my own way so to speak.  Clear out the old … make way for the new.  Release that which does not serve me - uncluttering my mind, my heart, my cupboards, my desk and indeed my life.

About a year ago, I remember consoling a friend who had lost a big contract, her source of income.  Having said that, it was a contract that had her working every hour that was sent and not appreciating her for the vast value she was adding.  She was devastated.  I understood why at the time.  A thought fought its way through … out with the old, making way for the new.  I know there were a couple of months of great financial concern, but now she is working on a new exciting project and one that seems to appreciate her more.  Even at the time, although there was trepidation around finances, she knew that she had to release that contract that was not serving her to make space and way for the exciting new one.

Sometimes we are forced to release – then we really hate it, fight it.  When it is not our choice it can be very scary (even when it is our choice it can be) but change is necessary and then release is absolutely required.  As that lovely quote goes “Let go or be dragged”.

Historically I have been particularly reluctant to release people from their “contract” … but I am getting better at walking away and if I am really working it, I can steer clear before it takes hold.

So what have I learned … It doesn't need to be the 1st January or the beginning of a new quarter or the 1st day of Spring to make a change or take a big step … and for my colleague, she claimed this new chronological year, which happens to start in November.  I LOVE IT!

So the challenge has been thrown down for this month … November for Zenith and I will be the month of Release.  Letting go of that which does not serve me.  Not being dragged but stopping and realizing it was never going to be, that job, that person, that comment, approval … so let it go.

What big life changing stuff are you starting in November?  If we start something today, where will we be in one years’ time.  I love that quote … so let’s do it now … let’s take that step!

Love you all madly!  It’s November!  Let’s MAKE the rest of 2014 COUNT!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … Let me let go ...  by Faith Hill

The Day I Didn’t Wake-Up …

Wow!  Now how Drama Queen is that title … but it is absolutely true!  Towards the end of August 1994 I had a “fatal” asthma attack.  The report hints that I “possibly expired”, my near-death experience and according to the medical reports of that week … I lost consciousness, stopped breathing and I woke up in ICU a week later.  It changed my life forever!

Recently I was asked by this amazing woman who survived a rare form of lung cancer - Heather! to write something for the USA Healthy Lung Month.  In South Africa, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s not too much of a stretch to link Lungs and Breasts … so let’s just raise the vibrational awareness around both!  Heather asked me to share my lung story … here it is …

My story (for me) was absolutely empowering – if unequivocally scary at the time.  Really for the people around me more so than I, because I rather dastardly took the easy way out and lost consciousness, losing seven days to the darkness.  An entire week … vacant.  Gone!  Nothing!  But let me start from the beginning.

I can’t remember having asthma before we moved back to South Africa.  The wrenching and emotional trauma of returning to Cape Town, triggered asthma in seven year old me.  Even today, that seven year old scared little girl comes screaming out when my “we don’t want to play with you” button is pushed!  I remember experiencing asthma for the very first time within the first week of our return to Cape Town.  I was devastated, I was seven years old and I couldn't breathe … it was April of 1980.  The move was my trigger but having said all of that, it was in my genes, our whole family on one side, were chesty folks, both great boobs and shitty lungs, it is something that has meant the end of many a grand and great grandparent (not the great boobs the shitty lungs).  It’s in our genes … we know, it is what it is.  I had even lost people to asthma attacks, who could not get to help fast enough.  But NOT I … I bravado’ed out.  I was not that group of delicate people who dropped dead so quickly … we were made of stronger stuff!  Stranger things have happened …

It was a very normal winter’s night in August 1994, crisp, damp and cold as Cape Town tried to survive winter.  My then fiancé Paul (now husband) and I had some rather strange nocturnal habits (keep it clean) and he took me home that Sunday night, well into the wee hours.  My chest was tight but I thought that as soon as I got home I would be fine.  I wasn’t.

I woke my sister (one of the heroes of this story) and could barely ask for help.  She phoned for an ambulance.  The local provincial ambulance service, before everything went private, told her that they would not be able to get to me for about 3 hours.  She bungled me up in her car and that was the last thing I remember.  Fortunately, by some stroke of blessing, a hospital had been newly opened down the road from us and my sister raced me there.  I lost consciousness en-route.

I had long hair back then and it was up in a pony-tail, while driving, my sister repeatedly grabbed my pony-tail and kept hitting my forehead into the (thank heavens) padded dashboard, to force me to breathe.  Accordingly to her, she pulled up in the ambulance bay outside emergency, called for help and the wonderful Milnerton Medi-Clinic staff took over.  My sister Bernadette told me, that I threw up all over a rather gorgeous Doctor – sorry for that doll – and they fought tooth and nail (literally my teeth were chipped, when they intubated me, in my unconscious state I fought them off – unaware and terrified) to keep me alive.  I am forever grateful to those unknown strangers … they changed shift before I could learn their names.

I don’t remember … anything.  I STILL remember the feeling of not being able to breathe.  I have a few vague memories of my father, my sister, my friend Dorothy, my then fiancé Paul and strangely enough my boss at the time, as I drifted in and out of consciousness in ICU that week … nothing else.  A week later, by a miracle of both the Divine and modern medicine … I woke up.  Lost, with no memory of the event.  To this day, almost 20 years on, I still don’t remember anything.

After piecing bits and pieces together over the following 2 weeks, I could regale that story fluently and with hilarity.  Even now, I could make people listening laugh … but not those nearest and dearest to me.  One day when I was regaling the tale, full of humour and gorgeous Dr’s, chipped teeth and banging my head on the dashboard, my fiancé pulled me aside and begged me … “please stop telling that story”.  I didn’t get it.  I even said to him, quite indignantly, “what’s up with you, it’s not like it happened to you” he answered me full of horror “exactly, I just got to watch, unable to do anything, utterly helpless”.  I rarely tell the story any more, other than here now, and I don’t do it with humour.  I do it now with awareness and fear … it could have been so very different.

Even then, it took a further week of rehabilitation, for the psychological effects of that week to really hit home and I had a melt-down in the middle of a shopping centre when it hit me.

So … what have I learned and what did my lungs teach me that fateful Sunday night …  so clearly the Friday before, I waved good-bye to our receptionist at work Marion and said … “See you on Monday“.  I didn’t.  I didn’t see her on Monday because I was fighting to stay alive in ICU on that Monday.  Afterwards, it hit me! 

“There is no rule that says we are here tomorrow!”

This near-death experience changed everything for me.  Soon thereafter, Paul and I traveled internationally, what were we waiting for?  We married.  We had children.  We really started living!

Now, I live unapologetically … I love more, I laugh all the time, even in the face of fear (particularly then).  I tell people when they look good and smell good.  I take moments to stop and see those beautiful pictures that our Divine Universe presents us.  I cherish my family and friends.  I am fiercely protective and loyal – those relationships are critical to me.  I feel deeply, both the good and the lessons.  I hug closer, I cry harder, I feel deeply.  That experience with my lungs made me live life fuller.  Now I drink from the fire hose of life.  Now, I MAKE IT COUNT!

Another thing it did back then was, I started actively taking control of both my lungs and the bits of my life that I could.  I started managing my lung health very carefully.  It turns out, after a few specialist visits that I actually am one of those asthmatics that die waiting for help.  Something known as a "Brittle Asthmatic" .  Quick, no warning, unstable (hahaha) and fast.  I don’t let it get there now.  I know the signs.  I protect my lungs ferociously!  I am that annoying family member and friend who will not sit in the smoking section of pub or a restaurant … but I am worth it.

My chest still constricts when I hear someone cough, particularly that phlegmy chesty cough.  And I step forward immediately begging folks to go to the Doctor because it doesn't sound good.

So this month’s theme for Zenith … is something I have said for all of 2014, October has raced up to us … but this month let’s make it real.  Zenith’s theme for the month of October is MAKE IT COUNT!  There is no rule that says we are here tomorrow …

What are you going to do this October that is going to protect something important to you?  Your lungs?  Your breast health?  What are you going to do this month that is going to make you start living???  What would it take for you to make it count?  I would love to hear from you …

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!  For a whole 10 months we have been saying it … Lets MAKE IT COUNT!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … Stay with Me! by Sam Smith

To learn more about the rare form of Lung Cancer Heather beat read Mesothelioma

To learn more around Lung Cancer Awareness

To learn more around Breast Cancer Awareness!   Go and get checked!  Peace of mind!

Highly Favoured!

I met an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G woman yesterday.  I don’t know her name, I might not ever see her again but she left an indelible impression on me.  Something I will carry with me forever … She was the Concierge at our hotel.  We approached her needing directions … BOOM did she deliver!

The hospitality industry is a demanding and tireless industry, it’s an industry my path interlaces regularly.  Not so secretly  ... I love it!  I am always in awe of that special kind of person that is needed to make that moment’s interaction feel genuine, regardless of the mania going on around them.

I approached the desk and looked up into a beautiful smiling face and she asked me how I was.  I have been particularly impressed by this hotel’s friendly manner.  Although there are no budget hotels in Sandton, our hotel is designed more towards the modest scale, their hospitality and service however are not.  Those two factors are soaring in the 5-Star space.  From the moment we arrived, the staff have extended an exceptional level of welcome.  It is something you constantly hear about Johannesburg, how friendly the people are (much to the annoyance of the rest of the country, we all want to be The Most Friendliest People in South Africa – Well I do), and although my expectations were high (I was\am determined to invoke a wonderful experience here) … still my anticipations have been surpassed, and some (and we all know what a princess I can be).

Where was I … oh yes, I looked up into this beautiful face – a physically beautiful woman but I swear she shone, she was iridescent - and then she spoke.  She asked me how I was and I gave her my honest (if a little annoying) I’m Fabulous Thank You!  I asked her “How are you?” there was a heartbeat of consideration and then BAM … there it was, I’ve seen it before, a moment when souls connect and she said … I am HIGHLY FAVOURED!  She arrested me energetically for a second, as I digested what she had just said and then the BIGGEST smiled filled my face I LOVED IT!  HIGHLY FAVOURED!

What could I say after that other than can I have an AMEN sister!  My mother and I (I’m her travel-buddy for the week) instantly connected with this woman.  BOOM!

She was of course, referring to a beautiful scripture in the Bible in Luke 1 … her statement spoke to me so intimately!  She didn’t say it arrogantly, she wasn’t saying that she was like the mother of Christ, but it was a warm confidence that she is indeed Highly Favoured by her Divine and that she was indeed blessed in that knowledge.  I loved it!  She set the tone for our day (and indeed our week) and what a blessing she was in that moment.  What an impact! 

While enjoying a different shower this morning (a fantastic shower head, must go home and get one of those, it was like showering in a warm rain forest – or so I have been told) I contemplated the impact she had on our day, and how very important that knowledge is.  When you know deep within your spirit that you are Highly Favoured, not more than anyone else but as well as everyone else, and then how can you not see and focus on the abundant blessings we are presented.

So what have I learned … this interaction of but moments yesterday (re)ignited in me that Divine Knowledge that we are all Highly Favoured by The Divine.  Not one more than another, but me individually and you individually and then challenged to live unwaveringly in the security of that knowledge.

When someone meets your spirit with that level of generosity, you can’t but recognise the moment for exactly what it is … a Divine Intervention, in every sense of that word.

That Lady also re-directed my vision for the day, billowing over into today and I know it will follow me for a while yet … lovingly demanding of me to see only (mostly) the beauty that surrounds me in this month of adventure and indeed in every day that follows.

Lately, we seem to have been surrounded by scary world events and the passing of many people, a stark reminder to us to make every day count, make every day an adventure – even in the ordinary - and to make every day a blessing, both to ourselves and to others. 

What brave new steps are you taking this September to live the life that your Divine has favoured for you?  Would love to hear from you …              

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … God Gave Me You! by Blake Shelton

Don’t Forget You!

So sliding into almost the final hour of August, we have been working on LOVE this month in Zenith - It starts with you and me! 

Something that came home loud and clear to me this month, was that included loving ourselves too!  It was very easy for me to make August about me showing love to others, there were so many birthday’s and they were wonderful and we had a great time but a message that wouldn't leave me alone this month was that, you can only do for other’s, what you practice on yourself. 

How much do you love you and demonstrate that to yourself?  Not in a boastful vain ego trip but in the ways that count.

Do we speak our truth?  Do we stand up for ourselves, when others laugh at our expense?  Are we listening to our bodies, or are we pushing ourselves to “just get through to next weekend”?  Are we executing good food and exercise choices to fuel our bodies, that we demand to the max?  Are we walking away from that toxic relationship because it hurts too much now to stay?  Are we doing what makes our souls sing for a living or are you doing what pays the bills but it sucks the light out of you?  Are you curling up with that book you have wanted to read?  Are you starting to train for that marathon you want to run?

I thought I had August waxed – Love, I've so got this.  Lavishing love on others comes easily for me but August slapped me up-side the head and said, NO!  Don’t forget you!

As we slide into Spring tomorrow in the Southern Hemisphere, the 1st September is already here … New Beginnings!  I declare September the month of Adventure!  It’s one of my 3 words for 2014  and the time is now!  So let’s throw open those windows and doors and declare September the beginning of our Adventure and embrace New Beginnings!

Who is with me?

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … Listen By Beyoncé

It Starts With You And Me …

In the absence of anything mind-blowing to write … I remained silent.  Truly rare for me, but there you go … it can be done.

May’s theme of the month was Enough and June’s theme presented itself as MemoriesJuly’s theme was supposed to be a mid-year check-in on where we were with our 3 words for 2014  … do you remember your 3 words?  How are you doing?  Mine were Writing!  Adventure!  And Abundance … the last 6-months have been interesting - thoughtful, adventure might be a bit of a push but I am hopeful and I can feel it … any minute now!  As for Abundance – absolutely!  I have enjoyed seeing the Abundance in my life … that has truly been a blessing.

And already August is staring us down … the 8th month of 2014!  This month’s theme was an absolute no brainer for me.  Normally this theme is associated with February but not for me … August truly is my month for love.  Yes LOVE is our theme for August.  For me, almost every single day of August (I kid you not) is marked with an opportunity to love.  Now some would say, that every millisecond of every day presents us with many opportunities to love, but for me, August stands out above all the others.

We start the month celebrating our baby’s birthday (she was 9 this year … where did 9 years go to?), then we race on to the festivities that are my Mother-In-Law’s birthday, shortly followed by our oldest’s birthday (she is 14 this year and boy when I say that out loud, do I feel my age), with less than a day or two to recover, we fly into a friend’s birthday, my brother in law, a niece and then finally, I dragging myself over the finish-line with my husband’s birthday.  You must know, that by the time we get to his day … it’s not just the budget that is exhausted.  But every year we galvanise ourselves in July for the marathon that is our August.  Not this year!

This year I have made a concerted effort to do things differently.  Instead of pacing myself through rapid events, praying for the end, I am living and loving every single moment and event as a celebration of that person and in between loving everyone else in my path.  I challenge you to join me …

This is my month to show love – all the many forms of love.  So I extend the challenge to you too.  How many people can you show love to this August?  Taking every day and every single opportunity to choose love over all the other options;  that vicious comment that we could release in anger, instead holding it back in love.  That special person you long to cuddle but you don’t … because what would people think?  That colleague that always has to be right, let them be.  That tongue that trips me up in a mean moment.  Silent prayers for the world at war today.  A long-term partner that gets lost in the craziness of life.  A cup of coffee, desperate relief to a friend chasing a deadline.  So many opportunities over and above the obvious ones …

So what have I learned … August can be mayhem for me but this year I am determined to make it real, with so many wonderful opportunities, I’m challenging us to dig deep and go beyond the “low hanging fruit” to reach beyond our comfort zones and show this currently crazy world … that love can be in the every day, in the ordinary and it starts with you and me.

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make August and 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

For our girls … Song of the Post … Little Me by Little Mix … Shout out, be prouder, speak up, anything you wanna be …

Languages of Love

What is your best memory of your father?  I was asked this question yesterday, on Father’s Day … I thought about it for a moment … a long moment …

As life had it, we found ourselves away this year, on Father’s Day.  As I thought about the question - my best memory of my father - I walked into the hotel bathroom.  My eyes fell upon the soaps and shampoos that the hotel leaves for you.  I smiled and the memories flooded back.
When I was a little girl, I must have been somewhere in the 3 – 6 year old region, my father was in the Rhodesian army, at a time when Zimbabwe was fighting for her independence.  I don’t remember much, my mother and sister kept me very protected … but I do remember his returns home.  Moments after arriving home, with childish excitement (both him and I), my Dad would unpack his kit-bag.  I don’t know where he got them from (we suspected a bit of border crossing), but he would always reveal bags and bags and bags of red sugar-coated peanuts and bizarre tiny soft tin-tubes of strawberry jam – like miniature toothpaste (don’t even think about the packaging, I am sure we glowed in the dark – I might still).  Dad saved his tubes of jam from his army rations and brought them home.  Unbeknownst to me, these were difficult times and this unusual ritual was imprinted on our family’s DNA forever.

In my teens, my father found his passion, starting out as a Coach Driver, ultimately becoming a Tour Guide (I think it quenched his thirst to travel, still being chained to his responsibilities of family and a home).  Dad would go out on the road and this time his rations weren’t kit-bags but were all of those complimentary coffee & tea sachets and shampoo’s that are left in hotel rooms.  Sometimes he would head out on a quick tour up the Garden Route, then his stash would be minimal but if he went up country for a couple of weeks he would return with a bounty.  It was like living in a hotel but at home.  I think this ignited my love for hotels and all things Princess …

So what have I learned … Those who live in my real world or some might know from previous blogs, know that my father and I had a splintered relationship – both making mistakes from ignorance and pride.  My father now has dementia and every day we witness the slippage a little further.  Yesterday when I called home to wish him Happy Father’s Day … he couldn’t hear me, because now he is also mostly deaf.  But now as I look back with a bit of life and parenting experience of my own, I realize that my father has been one of my Great Teachers and that gesture of bringing home mangled sachets of coffee and sugar, and dodgy flattened showercaps and bottles of conditioner was his language of love … when the words and the emotions could not be articulated.

So quite coincidentally it’s Father’s Day and I’m in a hotel bathroom and I’m looking at the upmarket shampoos and soaps and little sachets of coffee and tea … and I am smiling!  That was my best memory of my dad … and as a tribute to a World War II baby’s desperate need to squirrel away rations … I continued the tradition and brought home my very own stash (they almost lost the little natty kettle - KIDDING!) … smiling warmly …

What is your best memory of your father?

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … In My Life by Bette Midler from the movie For The Boys!

Enlightened My @$$!

Whenever someone asks my Religion, I describe myself as a Zen-Buddhist-Catholic (my apologies if any of those are offended) but I do.  My vehicle is Catholicism, and my faith and its rituals has me deeply rooted within Spirit.  Having said that, I am also utterly open to the messages from My Divine … in whatever philosophy that might appear in, but all of that unpacking is for another blog.  This blog is about how I fell off my Enlightenment Pony in church (nog al), during mass, 5 rows from the front and oh boy, did I do it properly!  Let me set the scene …

Our youngest daughter, who is 8, is another wonderful high energy human being.  She is a wonderful child, very loving, observant, affectionate, she thinks outside of the box, she has a joyful thirst for life, she is clever and an absolute charmer.

We drove off to mass and right at the front door, I got my first message … I noticed she did something a little more peculiar (than normal) the alarms where going in my head.  Right then and there I should have gathered up my babies (13 & 8) and turned around and gone back home, but noooooo, not me … persevere I must.

We find our usual pew (5 rows from the front) right next to Juniors God-Mother, fortunately a good friend of ours, who has grown children of her own and we are surrounded by other folks that have watched Junior grow (which is code for they know her … fortunately!).  Mass starts and the crazy revs.  Junior starts loudly flicking through the hymnals (we don’t need them, we have all the words up on a screen).  At the moment, Junior and I are working on a particular life-skill, which is learning to sit still (a time and place for everything) so I quietly whisper in her ear “Leave the books alone, we don’t need them”.  Ok, books are down, let’s find something else.  Pews are interesting pieces of climbing apparatus, so first up on the chair, jumping down on the floor, dancing along the kneeling bench like she was about to enter the Olympics … triumphant dismount and all.  Again I whisper in her ear, “please don’t do that, you are disturbing the people around you”.  Deep breath … it will all be ok!  I return to the service.  Then we settled in for the homily, I learned very early to distract her, so I tickle her through the homily (tickling has the same effect on Junior as it does on Trout – Google it) because face it, it is difficult for a little person to keep still for 15 – 20 minutes of very grown up words and lessons – I get that!  For a short while, there is stillness … I can breathe.

The homily ends, we hit the Creed and Junior takes it up a notch … if I had not been right next to her I honestly wouldn’t have believed it.  For what unfolded next to me blew my mind (and not in a good way) … as Collection is being taken up my youngest starts her best and most elaborate chicken interpretive dancing impression, together with clucking.  I look down at her and quietly with a tone that would have stopped Ivan The Terrible “what on frikken earth are you doing?” … she is silenced and halts … for a moment … until I look away … only to start-up a millisecond later with said chicken interpretive dance routine again but this time in silence.  Because obviously I wasn’t clear that neither the clucking nor interpretive dance should be done in the middle of mass.  I close my eyes and carefully weigh up my options:  1.  We could leave (she wins), 2.  I could dispense one short sharp smack that would hopefully send a clear message (she would get sympathy and I would look like a terrible mother … that, and you can’t hit your kid in church – wrong on so many levels), 3.  I can continue to negotiation with her, a tack I normally never do but this is my spiritual place of sanctuary damn it … I am here for connection!  Reluctantly, I continue to try that.  Thank heavens a hymn starts up (together with drums) where I can quietly hiss into my child’s ear, that this is not acceptable behaviour for mass, which she knows, and to please cease and desist all of this truly odd behaviour, which she has NEVER done before – in or out of church.  Ok … I am gulping at air and clawing at my crystal rubbed forehead, begging for Divine Help.  “Lord please give me patience” I grit out through clenched teeth, “because if you give me strength, I will need bail money too!”  The dance stops … only to be replaced with the head and neck exercises, together with facial gestures – I kid you not – like something that escaped from a mental institution.  Oh and did I mention that my poor other child (13) sitting on the other side of me, has been fighting off a cold and so she has a blocked nose and proceeds to breathe LOUDLY through her mouth like Chewbacca from Star Wars, did I mention LOUDLY (they could hear her in the Vatican), while all of this craziness is happening to my left.  It’s a cacophony to my right - I tell you!  I’m trying to pray people!!!!

Back to the head and neck exercises … I’m going to leather the hide off her!  She is messing with me and I know it!  Junior believes I will not follow through (even though I always do) I calmly (too calmly) look down at her, the 3 grown-ups behind us flinch and Juniors God-Mother now gets out of arm’s length.  I stare Junior down (I’m losing ground by the second and I know that too) … did I mention we were 5 rows from the front. 

The most sacred part of mass starts and Junior decides that her being on the other side of her God-Mother is safer, so she not so quietly sidles around the back of her God-Mother to be out of my reach (and sight).  FINE!  I think, closing my eyes, I can’t even remember why I am at mass and I’m praying for … what on earth am I praying for?  I know she is safe with her God-Mother.  I go for communion.  Junior goes up for a blessing with her God-Mother.  Junior thinks she has outsmarted me and tries to sit far away from me.  I collect her (probably too forcefully) and let her know, in no uncertain terms, that this was unacceptable … the dramatic moment … cue the violins … Junior realizes she has gone too far and the tears start.  I feel feathers!  And it was all a blur after that.

Now before I get a deluge of comments pointing out to me where I went wrong and how difficult it is for a young child to keep still and quiet for such a long time … I know that.  But that doesn’t mean that we mustn’t teach them.  It is the ONLY hour in a week that this is expected.  It is a life-lesson she will have to get!  And for everything there is a time and a place … this is that time.

So what have I learned … I spend a great deal of time living in introspective space, self-improvement, self-growth, being a better human being, working towards being a better mother and partner … it’s all a constant journey … which I adore and love … but none of that did me any good on this day … for some reason this pushed all of my buttons.  Repeatedly!   Our family are going through a thing at the moment and it is all a journey and growth, and I am very aware and we are talking through the events in the hopes that we will grow and learn.  But for all of my work around meditating, being blissed out, getting the lessons, being the Zen mother, working on being the evolved wife and human being … this one did my head in!

I get that our children can be and are our greatest teachers.  And I KNOW there are many lessons in this event for me but I lost it.  I’m not proud, but I am human.  I don’t know how I am going to face all of those fine people that were around us next week at mass … but they are all parents and they are all understanding of how this plays out.

I had a shocking night’s sleep, with great disturbance in the force because of my discord with Junior.  The immediate lesson in this for me was … not getting disillusioned, but rather to get right back up on that pursuit of enlightenment pony … that, and maybe that is why people sit at the back of church!

Love you all madly!  Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … I Will Survive! By Gloria Gaynor

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