On Ageing

I’ve never really been worried about growing old. I loved 30’s and am LOVING 40’s. I could never understand my friends that had an existential crisis over turning 40. To me it was a license to embrace and accept who I am and not take shit from anyone.

I’ve been a little smug about the fact that I have always taken care of my skin, hardly ever go in the sun with my face and have used proper sun block, eye cream and moisturisers since the age of 20. (thanks Mom for drilling that routine into me)

However.

I suddenly find myself looking in the mirror and noticing an alarming amount of wrinkles. I’m not talking those beautiful laugh lines that women with ever-youthful skin have. I’m talking deep grooves under my EYES. Right under the bags I have suddenly acquired. WTF?

The skin in my neck suddenly resembles that of a plucked chicken. Or really thin tissue paper. With a tinge of pink. What’s with the tinge of pink anyway?

The tops of my hands suddenly look, well, old. Ish.

Let’s not even venture further South to discuss droopy boobage and protruding stomachage (despite slowly losing weight).  Trust me, it could get ugly.

Am I only going through my existential mid-life crisis now? For those of you that are around my age, did you feel yourself getting older or did you also wake up one morning, look at yourself in the mirror and, with horror, realise that you’re suddenly not looking so suave for your age?

Or have I just been in denial all this time?

How do you handle suddenly coming face-to-face (pardon the pun) with your ageing face and décolletage?

The black-eyed bastard

I may want to come back and delete this post at some time, but it needs to be said.

For various reasons I find myself stuck in a cycle of anxiety, sadness, insomnia and worry. If you have yourself or have ever known anyone that suffers from depression you will know how this usually ends. Generally not well, definitely in the company of a lovely therapist, with an arsenal of chemical weapons and some hard-core anti-anxiety meds.

Then, onto the “getting better” stage, followed by the “weaning off” stage. It’s such a bloody pain in the arse.

The worst thing is the self-doubt.

Am I feeling unhappy and sad because of certain events or was I unhappy and sad to start off with? Which came first?

Am I overreacting?

When I feel the need to make some drastic changes I wonder whether it’s because it feels like I’m mumbling from under a pile of blankets or whether I’m just being honest with myself about things I simply cannot accept or keep living with.

Is it these things that are making me feel worse?

Is my sadness transparent? Am I hiding it well enough?

How many people do I know that hide it better than I do, how do they just plod along and get the job done?

I know my son can see it, he asked me the other day when I walked in the door why I looked so sad. (I know, I have no words) I have no idea how to mold my face into an expression that looks like it did several months ago. How do I get back there?

Do I want to be back there? Or is this the cusp of a change that’s been looming anyway?

So, I’m doing what I do best:

I take control

I keep busy

I hug my kids harder

I fix shit

I look for the happy in every day (hence the continuation of my 100 happy days photo project)

I try to be kind(er) to myself

I eliminate toxic people from my life

In the process I’m sure to alienate people, my capacity for dealing with shit in my personal life is greatly diminished. The people that matter will understand and support. The rest?

Well.

So be it.

Do you ever battle with depression? How do you manage?

About stress

This past weekend we were all in the car and the kids stuck an Alanis Morissette CD in the player that Etienne had found at Checkers. (He gave them a choice between Coldplay and Alanis and they chose Alanis when they were scratching in those boxes of CD’s you find at the tills. I trained them SO well)

We listen to a lot of music at home, but it’s mostly mixes on 8tracks, my favourite app, so I hardly ever get to listen to an entire CD of an artist, but this just rocked my world. Later in the day it was just the sussies and myself in the car and we cranked up the music. Loud.

It was bliss.

It made me think of my days of drowning out feelings and hiding in my room with loud, angry Alanis*.

It also made me think of how I manage being stressed. Some of us drink, some smoke, go to gym, shout or withdraw from life until we have managed to work through whatever is wrong with the world at that particular time in our lives.

Depending on the level of crap I’m going through at any particular moment in time I have employed all of the above, sometimes all at the same time. With the possible exception of gym. I consider going to gym the most mature way of handling stress and sometimes you just don’t feel like being all mature and behaving like an adult.

Sometimes all that helps is getting all shouty with Alanis with a glass of something alcoholic in the one hand and an illegal fag in the other. It makes you feel a little rebellious and lot FU to whatever hurts or stresses you out.

And that is strangely empowering.

Just so you know: I’m not in a terrible space or unhappy, my life is great, there’s just A LOT going on so sometimes it’s good to feel 21 again, even if it’s only for 10 minutes before I have to deal with being 41 again and all grown-up.

What do you do when you feel stressed? How do you make it better for yourself?

* Incidentally, if you search for Alanis Morissette on 8tracks you will find lots of her music hidden in “break-up” type mixes. Go figure.

About making my blog private

I’ve been having a long, hard think about this blog, about my reasons for blogging and what I get out of it.

Let’s be honest. Most of us that blog (myself included) do it because, deep down, we love the attention/crave feedback/need someplace safe to vent. We thrive on the comments and the collective outrage when something goes wrong. Some people even make shit up, post terrible anonymous comments on their own blogs or re-publish old posts because they need the traffic it will generate or because people weren’t outraged enough first time around. (sadly, this is true)

I specifically chose not to make the blog commercial, instead opting to write when I want and what I want. (I won’t bore you with the standard “I don’t have enough time anyway” excuse). It’s not important how many people visit the site or how many comments are left, although I do love them. What’s always been important is to be true, honest and authentic, and right now I can’t be those things because I have no control over who is reading. There is a post about religion sitting in my drafts FOR A YEAR I haven’t had the guts to post lest I offend too many people. That post (and then some) is like that stupid piece of Lego you step on in the middle of the night, a constant reminder that I’m not entirely authentic anymore.

The other reason I blog is to leave memories for our children, but somewhere along the line the lines got blurred between wanting to write good content and leaving a trail of shiny stones for the kids about the beautiful triviality of everyday life in our house and the awesomeness of who they are and how much we treasure them.

Lately there has been a lot that I haven’t been able to talk about, not because things aren’t well, but because I feel too exposed. More and more I find that people know everything about my life because they read it on my blog and I know nothing about theirs. It has an impact on my friendships, it has become disconcerting when I meet new people and they say “So glad you managed to sort X and X out, I read about it on your blog. Oh, and nice to meet you”. Or, even worse, they’ve read my blog, have already put me in a box and don’t tell me. That freaks me out just a little.

It is however fantastic when I meet someone and they say “thank you for talking about X, it made me face XYZ”. When I have those conversations I’m blown away that I had a positive impact on someone’s life.

But is it enough?

Sadly not.

I’m sick of spam.

I’m sick of being someone’s punching bag.

I surround myself with people that are positive, interesting and brave in real life, why should I let random trolls on the Internet (and above is not the only example) upset me. So what if I like making pretty things and not being a good Mom/Wife causes me endless anxiety. The rude comments cause me more anxiety, they must go. Not because I don’t value feedback and cannot handle criticism, but because there’s no need to be a doos about it.

Lastly and absolutely the most important reason: Our children are very adept at Google, especially Daniel. He asked me recently what he would find if he Googled me and I told him that he would find a blog where I write about how much I love him and the Sussies. But there comes a time when you can’t talk about your children as openly as you used to, it’s not fair to them.

So. I’m making this blog private, I’m taking it out of the public eye. Going solar, off the grid.

If you want to continue reading I’m happy to invite you to read and you will receive a notification when I do post something, but I will no longer be publishing to Social Media and I’m unsubscribing everyone that is currently subscribed.

Just leave me a comment from the email address you want to use and I’ll set it up, otherwise request from the page that will come up when you visit the site from Friday.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

 

On smells and memories

I posted a question about perfume on FB this evening and realised how many memories I have that are linked to smells in general and perfume in particular.

I used to LOVE perfume, but when I was pregnant with Daniel I couldn’t bear even the lightest of perfumes, my sinuses revolted. Then I was breast feeding and I didn’t like him smelling of perfume. And then, soon after, I was pregnant with twins and my sense of smell was so acute I could smell when a colleague changed her brand of softener she used in her washing.

But looking through the comments of this post I’m instantly reminded of my Grandmother’s lavender scented powder and stretching up to see her ‘do her face’ at the dressing table that now lives in the girls’ room.

My first boss in London at Selfridges that wore Amarige, just like my mother used to, and how terribly homesick it made me feel whenever she wafted into the office on a cold, dark London morning.

The first perfume I bought myself in London, First by Van Cleef and Arpels. Followed by Aromatics Elixir from Clinique, that I wore for many years.

Another, much loved, boss that used to wear Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. To this day I think of her when I catch a whiff of someone wearing it.

Wearing Chanel’s Allure on my very special wedding day.

A friend that is no longer in my life that used to wear Red Door, never a personal choice of perfume for me.

I could go on for ages, I may even come back to add some memories, but you catch my drift.

I wonder what smell my kids will remember me by one day?

Do you also remember smells?

The roles we cast ourselves in

Whether you’re in a relationship and/or a parent you find yourself cast in a certain role.

I am The Worrier.

You would probably laugh if I told you about the things that I worry about and, yes, I know all the blah blah about 90% of the things you worry about that won’t happen. I just try to see the shit coming before it hits us so that I know whether I should duck, scoop or throw it back. I like to Get Shit Done, to varying degrees of success, as the many unfinished art projects lying around our house will attest to.

I’m the one that feels helpless outrage on behalf of my children, carefully disguised as a distracted listener. The one that gets terribly upset with people much to the mystification of my husband. The one that sticks her nose in where it doesn’t belong and questions things that are sometimes best left alone.

I’m the not-so-fun one. The one that has lists. The one that gets cross when kids don’t listen. I feel like a failure when they don’t have a protein, a carb and a fruit in their lunchbox. When I forget about school stuff, which I do. Often. When there are things that I miss out on because I’m at work.

I sometimes wonder if other homes work like ours, whether the things I worry about are normal gender differences and most other women are like this or whether I’m a freak. (Either way, I don’t really care if I’m a freak, I’m just curious. Turning 40 gave me license not to care)

I’m (contrary to what you might believe after reading this) actually quite comfortable in my skin and very happy and blessed with my life. I prefer to be the Worrier, because I somehow find comfort in the quagmire that is my noisy mind.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I want to be free of the what-ifs and the how’s and the why’s.

I wish I could just shut down the noise for a little while. It’s really exhausting, all that noise and justifiable (out)rage.

Or I just really, really need a fucking holiday.

On walking

I haven’t been to the gym in, well, many weeks. There, I said it. It’s been cold, it’s been dark and our bed was nice and warm at 5am which is the only time of day I have to exercise. And there has been spooning. I love spooning.

Last night I decided that today would be The Day, so at 5am this morning I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and realised that it was sort of light enough to walk outdoors in our beautiful suburb instead of heading off to the gym where the lights and sounds can be pretty jarring.

So off I went, at a considerably slower pace than several, er, weeks ago.

It was the absolute best walk I’ve had since the last time I walked outdoors at 5am, a good 7 months ago, a promise of summer now in the air.

It felt like visiting old friends. I meandered past all my favourite houses on my usual route, some of which are being renovated, some that are now for sale. I passed the pretty B&B that never seems to have anyone staying there, even though it is immaculately maintained. The house that has been standing empty since this time last year as the owners only seem to be able to work on it over weekends, although they’ve made great progress. The house with the really loud electric fencing.

I saw some of the usual people I used to see, the lady jogging with her sweet poodle, the guy with his boxer that’s never on a leash. The guy in a bakkie dropping off newspapers. The frail older man walking his large black dog.

Toward the end of my walk I get to walk right next to the vineyards, I always save this best bit until last, the vineyards are so very beautiful this time of year as they explode in green leaves, soon to be heavy with grapes. The rising sun kissing the hills. The sounds of a neighbourhood waking up slowly.

It was so lovely I may just do it again tomorrow.

On Friendship

friendshipI’ve been thinking about friendship for a while now and thought it apt to publish a post today, on International Friendship Day.   I haven’t been thinking about friendship in the I-want-to-stab-my-friends kind of way, more in a how-lucky-am-I kind of way.

Friendship is a little like dating, you know how it goes:

You meet someone.

You hit it off.

You spend a ridiculous amount of time together in the initial throes of this AWESOME relationship.  You want to know every minute detail of their life which, at the age of 40, is A LOT of catching up to do.

You may or may not gossip about people, but you might forget odds are that, if this new friend gossips about her longstanding friends to you in a slightly malicious way she’s guaranteed to eventually do the same to you.

You introduce this new-found love to your family, just as you would a new bo. If you’re lucky everyone might hit it off.  If not, well, it’s a little awkward.

Once you pass the “honeymoon” phase of a friendship it gets a little tougher. You may have a difference of opinion about how to raise children, your friend’s husband (or yours) might be a douche or her (or your) children might be insufferable brats.  Almost like fighting over which way the loo-paper goes or squeezing the toothpaste tube differently. You grind your teeth and keep quiet.

At this point in time you may back off a little and re-evaluate.  Maybe you even say how busy you are (yes, we are ALL very busy ALL the time, myself included) and cool things down a little.  Or lose your phone, depending how badly you want that toilet-roll to roll over the top and not from the bottom.

When you go through the break-up of a friendship it can also be considerably harder than that of a relationship because you often don’t have an official “break-up”, there’s maybe the quiet FB unfriend, a little bitchiness on twitter and the hurt and confusion that goes along with it. That hurt lingers a long time, it’s often a lot more personal, because we all have the Bitchy Gene. Yes, ALL of us.

You may also decide that you are in this relationship for the long haul, so you suck up the things that leave you a little uneasy, nobody is perfect after all.

Either way, us women generally gain different things from different friendships.  I say “us women” because, lets face it, our friendships are much more complex than those of guys.  Guys are more about beer/sport and women are more about other women/food/wine/politics (between women)/lengthy discussions on sex, parenting and marriage.

It’s hard work!

Guys (and by “guys” I mean my long-suffering husband) also don’t understand the intense feelings that go with feeling hurt or snubbed or lied to, especially by a friend you thought held you dear. Which is why you need other friends so you can analyse ad nauseam, preferably over some wine.

But every once in a while you fall completely in love with a friend and end up in a committed relationship. You may not get to see them as often as you would want to, but it doesn’t matter, because you feel safe and treasured in that friendship.

These are the friends you want to keep.  When the shit hits the fan they will always be there for you and they will whack you on the head when you’re being an idiot or give you the number of their therapist when no amount of w(h)ine helps. And they will bug you until you call. They will come over with soup when you’re sick in bed and send you a message to tell you that they are thinking about you when they know you are having a tough day. They will take your child off your hands when you need some time with your husband.

That is the kind of friend I strive to be, not because I need to have those acts of love reciprocated, but because they are simply that: Acts of love. I often get it wrong, I’m terrible with remembering birthdays and buying gifts, I’m too blunt (but am luckily blessed with equally blunt friends). I often don’t answer messages and I often don’t listen because of all the other noise in my head.

But I love my friends.  I am so blessed, you know who you are and I love you all stukkend.

Thank you for being in my life, just in case I forgot to tell you recently.

And I’ll try to remember to not fuck up the toothpaste.

 

 

The day my head exploded

exploding_headI haven’t blogged in ages. Not that I haven’t thought about blogging. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about blog posts and things I *need* to write down.

Thing is, I haven’t come up with anything that wasn’t either very sad or very angry or wasn’t a stream of incoherent drivel or didn’t sound like the horror of middle-class problems.

Sad because I feel like I can’t say anything about the imminent death of Madiba because it doesn’t feel like he belongs to me and who am I to call him Tata. It feels like I’ve been sitting in the voorkamer waiting for death to take him away. It’s exhausting. I have already spent enough time crying after watching this Johnny Clegg video and it really feel like the entire country is in limbo.

Angry because of the ANC’s electioneering during this time. It infuriates me beyond belief to see Jacob Zuma use Madiba’s imminent death to his own benefit. Angry also because people like Steve Hofmeyr and Dan Roodt are fanning the flames of racial hate. These people all make me cringe and  embarrassed to a. be South African and b. be Afrikaans. Fuckers.

Incoherent drivel because there is just too much going on in my head at the moment between work and planning to go away next week. Organise car / what to pack / plan menu / sort out kid activities for plane / plan packing / check flights / interview Au pairs / sort out girly grooming crap / make lists / make lists of things I need to make lists of / delinquent dog that needs to be sorted / make sure the animals are taken care of when we’re away / make sure house sitters have food / check on domestic worker and so on and so forth.

Middle-class problems because, ag, don’t worry, I couldn’t be bothered to talk about finding an Au Pair for our kids here. Know that I’m worried and stressed about our kids and what’s best for them. For the last week it’s been a mad dash every day to interview people at home.

But I don’t feel guilty. So I guess that’s a thing.

Today is my last working day before we are off to Durban for a week and I think we are all at the end of our tethers today as I hear Mignon had an epic meltdown when Etienne dropped them off at aftercare this morning.  (to be honest, she had a meltdown this morning when I put my foot down about the short-sleeve bolero jacketS she wanted to wear over a sleeveless dress.

Almost there!

sleepingps. I took this pic of the girls sleeping last night, I love how Mignon had her hand against Isabel’s head.  Whenever they sleep in our bed we find them touching in some way, it’s such a twin thing.  Posting it felt voyeuristic, I’m not sure I’ll publish another pic of them sleeping again. It somehow feels wrong now, I can’t really explain why.  My head might just really explode.

pps. any suggestions of things for the kids to do on the plane?  They were very keen to play hide and seek on the plane, but I don’t think so.  We might rather unpopular..

Another Gym Post

How’s your week going? Mine’s been pretty cool so far, but it’s going to be a busy few days ahead.

I recently wrote this post about gym (the place, not the person) and how I was sure I’m allergic as I forever kept getting sick.

Subsequent to that I changed to another gym and what a difference it has made.  No, I still don’t enjoy waking up at 4h50 in the morning so I can drag my sorry ass out of the house and into the cold and dark, but I’m never sorry that I went. And it rained this morning when I came out of the gym at 5h55. Just rude.

The new gym is a lot bigger than the old one and there is such a mix of people there, from serious, 5am-make-up-wearing-gym-bunnies to Dads and their boys hanging out on the circuit. I’m completely amazed at how packed that gym is so early in the morning, so many cars in the parking lot!

The best thing about the new gym must be their treadmills.  Each treadmill has a TV screen, so you can watch TV whilst you sweat.  For someone like me that cannot bear doing only one thing at a time this is very pleasing. My favourite channel is VH1 Classic and I spend a lot of time either grinning like an idiot or trying not to bop along whilst trying to walk my 4km in under 40 minutes.  I also may or may not have given in to flicking fingers and waving arms around whilst keeping pace. But I’m not saying. I do dread the day I either trip or something equally stupid that lands me on my ass on a moving treadmill.

All in all?  I’m having fun.  I enjoy being able to just do my thing and not having to make eye-contact with or talk to anyone.  It’s just me and VH1 Classic. No need to try and figure out the whole sub-culture of gym that I can see exists. And I have yet to run into a single person I know.

Awesome.

This morning’s favourite was Take That’s Back for Good, complete with bad boy Robbie Williams. I had such a rush of London memories of when they broke up and the gay guys at work were all crying. That was London in the 90’s for you!

Here’s the song and remember to look out for Robbie..

 

Now I just need to get off the treadmill and try something else at the gym.  Or just start running, like I promised myself I would.

What do you do at the gym?