Tori Amos and Gratitude

So we went to see Tori Amos last night.

I’m not a concert connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, but I have seen my fair share of live music to know that what we witnessed last night was something spectacular.  It was absolutely amazing.  Pitch perfect and crystal clear.  She was seated between a keyboard and a Bosendorfer piano and she pretty much played both instruments for the whole concert, one hand on each.

There was a deferential hushed silence whilst she was singing.  Afterwards there was much talk in the girl bathrooms of how long they had waited (20 Years!) to see her and how they wished they had brought tissues.

Sitting there, having gooseflesh travelling up and down my arms for 2 hours, I had for the first time in a very very long time the opportunity to just be still and reflect and just BE.  Not the mindless reflection you do when sitting in front of the telly, but that meandering of the mind we never allow ourselves because we are always running to get something done.  That lying-on-the-beach-soaking-up-the-sun nothingness.

I reflected on the very special people in my life that were there with me.

I reflected on London in the 90’s.  On Alanis Morissette. Man did we listen to a lot of Alanis Morissette back then.  On Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses blaring out of a window in a street in Earls Court on Christmas Day 1994. The Gloucester Hotel in Gloucester Road. On working hard and playing harder. Going clubbing until 06h00 in an old church off Leicester Square and going straight to work via a shower.  And then still going out after your shift ends for a beer.

On being 21.  And then 22.  On the boys I knew (let’s face it: we were pretty much still girls and boys then).  Friends I made and lost along the way through circumstance or through choice.

On being independent for the first time.  The togetherness of friends and the ease with which you let people into your life at that age.  People that camp out in your lounge because they are backpacking and passing through. (even though I bitched and moaned about this extensively at the time)

The giddiness of total freedom and feeling invincible.  And missing home so much that you physically ache but knowing that you wouldn’t change where you are at that moment for any money in the world. 

The feeling that time is truly on your side.

Watching sleet go past my office window on Christmas Eve in 1995.  Kensington Gardens.  Camden Town on a Sunday.  Haagen Dazs.  Pret-a-manger. Chocolate Chip muffins from Cullens in Gloucester Road.

And then I thought about how irrevocably different our lives are now to what they were then.  And all the way we have all travelled since then, since the 90’s. And how I don’t feel like I could possibly be approaching 40 at the rate I am, somewhere inside me is still that young person, just (hopefully!) vastly improved with age. 

And how amazing it all turned out and how I wouldn’t trade my life now for anything in the world and the rest is actually just Middleclass Problems.  That I should stop the bitching and moaning and be thankful for all those incredible memories that no-one could ever take away from me.

Ps: Yoav opened for Tori Amos.  He was also completely amazing and another product of Cape Town.  I’m sure he is from behind the Lentil curtain…

Glass Full to the Brim

It occurred to me again today that life is all about perception.

I’ve been a little pissy lately about a couple of things I can’t talk about here at length, but I took a long look at our life of late and I have decided that, instead of being angry/hurt/sad about things that aren’t the way I think they should be I would be spending my time a lot more constructively by choosing to see them in a positive light.

For example:

I could choose to be upset about my Mother pulling The Full Hypochondriac on our GP yesterday when she had to take Mignon or I could choose to be grateful that she is there to help us out and take our kids to the doctor when it is impossible for us to do so.  So I choose to be grateful. (and roll my eyes quietly)

I could choose to completely lose my shit over spilt porridge in the morning or I could choose to be grateful that the kids demand to be independent. (Wow.  And how)(They get that from me) (Of course)

I could choose to feel sorry for myself when I leave a sick child at home or I could choose to be grateful that at least I work close enough to home so I can pop up and spend a little time with her and steal a hug and a cuddle. (it’s just sad that they only sit still when they are under the weather)

I could choose to resent Etienne because I *have* to work or be grateful that he is the kind of Dad that chooses to have balance and actually enjoys spending time with his kids. (truth is, I would have worked anyway.)

I could choose to get annoyed that our domestic lady isn’t great with understanding medicine and taking temperatures or I could choose to be grateful that our house is immaculately clean, our washing is done and our clothes are beautifully ironed and packed away.

I could choose to worry about money and Christmas coming up or I could be grateful for the awesome job I have and trust that we will be just fine.

So.

I choose to be grateful. I choose to feel rich.  Especially when I find all this in our bed in the mornings:

 

Daniel trying to hide, Isabel in the middle and Mignon looking as sick as she is at the moment. And Etienne. Poor guy.

What are the things you are grateful for today?

 

Work stuff

As a matter of principle I don’t blog about work, but the work I am doing now is so humbling that I have to share some of my thoughts.

I have had the honour of meeting a lot of people from disadvantaged backgrounds lately.

People that come from all over Cape Town and from varying degrees of challenging circumstances.

People that have used their last money to travel to our office to see us or have borrowed money for taxi-fare.

People that have been through untold horrors in their lives, some of which they share with us.

People that put on their very best clothes because they desperately need (and want!) a job.

People that often couldn’t finish school because they have had to work to support their families.

People that are incredibly bright and desperate to make a difference in life, but are limited by their circumstances.

People that have been judged and looked down upon because of where they are from.

And I think to myself:

I take SO much in my life for granted. I come home to a warm home at night. I have healthy children. I drive a car. I have access to 24/7 internet. I’m not in an abusive relationship. I finished school. I don’t live with 8 people in a small house, but a lovely big house with a garden. I get to spoon at night because I like it, not because I have to. I come home to a marvellously clean house and cooked meal every night. And I have a job and a wonderfully supportive and loving family.

So tonight, sitting in front of a lovely fire, on my couch, in front of the DSTV with my Husband snuggled right next to me I say Thank You for all I have.

That is all.

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(Isabel in all her cute glory tonight)