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.

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..

On holding grudges

I’m curious: do you hold grugdes for any length of time or are you able to let go quite easily?

I always marvel at how people can fight like cats (especially online) and then, soon thereafter when loyalties shift, they are the best of friends.  It baffles me.  I mean, if someone does you harm surely you don’t put up with them?  I always thought that you either like someone or you don’t and that you shouldn’t give them a chance to keep hurting you?

Let me explain a scenario from my own life:

A long long time ago I had this boss.  As bosses go she scared the living bejesus out of me and caused me untold anxiety and stress. Nothing was ever good enough for her, she was terribly arrogant, critical and demeaning and she generally treated people like shit.  She was a textbook example of How Not To Manage People.  We didn’t part on good terms and I literally had nightmares about her for years after.  I still get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about her (which, thankfully, I don’t do often).  Of all the people from my past I really don’t miss, she’s number 2 on the list, only surpassed by her own boss at that time.

Needless to say, I don’t harbor many warm and fuzzy feelings toward her.  In fact, over the years tales of how things haven’t worked out well for her made me smirk and gloat a little on the inside, admittedly not my finest moments.

Until last week.

Imagine my horror when I spotted her at gym at 5:15am the other morning and every other morning thereafter.  I mean, really Karma.  What the actual friggin hell?

I’ve now gone over this in my head (Etienne says I’m obsessing about it and I should just ignore her) repeatedly and I just cannot bring myself to greet her and I feel quite aggrieved that she is encroaching on, not just the gym I go to, but also the suburb I live in.  And she uses the machines in the same area I do, so there’s no dodging her. I’m seriously contemplating changing gyms, that’s how strong I feel about her.

I know I’m a big girl now and in the end it’s been a lot of years (think the previous century).  I know that the wheel has turned and all that. I know I should simply walk past, look up, give her the evil eye I perfected since raising toddlers and then smile falsely and greet. I know that I am a bigger person than my current behavior.

But seriously.  Holding on to that grudge is so much a part of me by now that it’s really hard to let go and besides, why should I be (a) false and (b) talk to someone I really have no time for?

I’ve come to realise obsessing thinking about this the last few days that I am actually a Master Grudgeholder.  Hurt one of my friends, my family or especially one of my children?  Treat me with disrespect, lie to me or steal from me? You will find your name on my shitlist and almost impossible to have it removed.  Call it self-preservation, call it shallowness or a product of my personal history, I don’t care, but don’t mess with me or the people I care for.

Do you hold grudges? If you don’t, how do you let them go?

ps: Do I care that she might read this post?  Not in the least, maybe she needs to see how people feel about her and think about the negative impact she’s had on people’s lives.

pps: there are probably a couple of people out there that feel this way about me as a manager and if I ever made you feel bad I apologise. I’m a lot better these days, promise.

Keeping calm

I don’t know what it is with shit happening whenever Etienne has to go away.  You might remember what happened back in June, so you can understand that I get a little nervous.

We received an sms from our domestic worker at 9h30PM on Sunday night: she doesn’t think she is coming to work because of the strike.  We had heard rumours about a possible strike, and from previous experience I know that to get out of Khayelitsha when there is trouble isn’t pleasant.

But still, Etienne was going to be away last night and I was looking forward to just spending time with the kids, not running around like a mad thing trying to get washing, cooking and cleaning done deep into the night tonight.  But thankfully she arrived yesterday.

I’m feeling like I suffer from a little PTSD with everything that has gone on in the last few months.  I just need a month where there is no drama and no-one is sick or has broken arms.  Pretty please with a cherryon top, I promise to be good.  I need to calm down just a little and start walking again for the welfare of my mind.

This morning I looked out the kitchen window and for the first time since forever saw the sun reflect off the vineyards before we leave the house in the morning.  I had this feeling that took me a while to realize was optimism that winter was actually going to pass. (yes, unheard of that I would complain about winter, but dammit, my feet have been cold for the last 3 months and I’m miserable when my feet are cold).

Daniel’s also going through a whole personality “thing” at the moment and is completely ignoring any instruction I give him, it feels like I constantly have Etienne intervening in basic stuff like getting “his” son into the bath.  Very tiring and downright boring.

I really needed to get them dressed and out the house as I had 2 drop-offs today (after a less-than-ideal night of sleep), so he comes waltzing into the kitchen at 06h15: Mom, I need an insect for school.

Into the playroom we go, no luck, no plastic insects except for a pink butterfly that he knew wasn’t a good idea to take to school. (more about this later).  They eventually found the smallest, most suspect-looking thing, under our bed that promptly got stuffed into a container.  Job done.

The girls proved once again on Saturday that I can take them anywhere and they will pretty much be ok.  I was lucky enough to meet the lovely @laurenallot and her brood and also got to introduce the girls to @mingbean’s kids, and after the initial limpet-stage they were quite happy to play.  It did help that Lauren’s house is the most childfriendly house I have ever been to, everyone had a ball.

On the way
there us girls had a chat in the car.  I’m always amazed at what the kids remember, often really random stuff that obviously got stuck in their minds.  In the car Mignon wanted to know why I helped my folks move and Etienne had to stay with them, months ago.  I tried to explain to them that when your parents get older it is your responsibility to take care of them and that one day when Daddy and myself were old that they would also want to help us.

A little silence.

Isabel pipes up: But Mom, you are already old!