Your weather forecast for today

If ever I have thought of believing in pathetic fallacy, today is the day. The crazy morning we have had so far has seen rain, strong wind, warmth, heavy rain, sunshine, cold, calmness – and it’s only 8.30. But that exactly mirrors the emotional turmoil inhabiting my body. I cry at the drop of a hat. Actually, I cry before the hat has even started moving. Who am I kidding… I cry just thinking abou- Hang on, just getting a tissue.

You see, I am packing up my house and moving to Australia. My kids have grown up and flown the coop, and I have sisters across the ditch. I am single (and not for lack of trying, as you well know!) I have been unsettled for a few years and this feels like the right move for me. I have decided to take just 10 boxes. I don’t need to take my furniture – it’s cheap enough to replace over there and I don’t have any antiques that are worth keeping. I don’t need to take pots and dishes – they are also cheap enough to replace. I don’t need to take my car. Wait. My car. I NEED TO SELL MY CAR!!

I made the decision to move on September 11. I felt that was a good day to make life-changing resolutions. Since then, I have been sorting, selling, giving, packing and donating. I sold my house within 5 seconds of it being on the market. I met the new owners last night – they are a beautiful young couple who are so excited about buying their first home. It makes my heart happy.passage

I have been in NZ for 21 years. Because I am a participant in life, not just a spectator, I have embraced everything the country has to offer. The people, the food, the culture. I have travelled to almost every corner and seen all the beauty on offer, like I did in South Africa before I came over. Now I will do it all again.

The only problem is the size of Australia. How long do you think it will take for me to see all of it?

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Expect the unexpected

Last Wednesday night I was walking down Queen Street in the middle of Auckland city at 10 o’clock. And no, I wasn’t in a mini and fishnets, trying to supplement my income. I was walking up to Aotea Square with my Raglan Co-op Reusable Bag of groceries.

This was pretty unusual for me. Not the reusable bag, but the fact that I was still awake at 10pm. And in the city. Be that as it may, what was not unusual was the assortment of homeless people either curled up against shop windows or wandering aimlessly. One such man approached me and started telling me how great God is. He didn’t ask for money; he just put his hand on my shoulder and kept repeating, through the gap in his mouth where his front teeth once were, that God does great things for us.

I wished him equal blessings and made my way further up the street to the little Japanese hole-in-the-wall that sells matcha cupcakes. I handed over a $5 note and declined a bag for the sweet treat I was going to devour immediately. When I turned around, my blessing friend was not far from me so I took the few steps to him and gave him my $1.30 change. I then offered him half the cupcake. He told me he didn’t want half, ‘jutht a thmall piethe.’

As I was breaking off a bit, a young man stopped next to us and his eyes lit up. Naturally, I though the also wanted some of the cake. Instead, he asked, ‘Is that marijuana?’ I answered, ‘No, sweetheart, it’s a healthy cupcake.’ He looked fairly disenchanted. I thought it was funny.hand-with-three-coins-vector-clipart

What is not so funny, but equally as unexpected, is my mid-life crisis. It’s not that I thought I could go through life in some Polyanna-like unreality. It’s just that I didn’t realise the crisis would last for four years.

I want to be the glass half full person. The friend who hosts dinners and BBQs. The Energiser bunny who leaps out of bed in the morning because there is so much living to do. I was this person. Then I turned 50.

Now I have this pervading sense of dissatisfaction with my life. I’m restless, listless. Very aware that time is running out. I know that if I’m going to make any life changes – new school, new city, new country – it has to be now. Very aware that time is running out. I don’t know how to stop my churning mind or itching feet, how to get back to finding the joy in the everyday, how to be satisfied with the amazing life I have. How to be at peace.

And I’m spending so much time second-guessing, double-bluffing and self-assessing that I’m driving myself crazy and feeling exhausted. In the amusement park that is our life, I’m still on the carousel but I’ve fallen off the horse.

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10 years is a short time

We all look back and think, ‘Where did the time go?’ I still remember when my son was excited on his first day of school, with his oversized backpack and sandals one size too big. Now I can’t get him out of bed to go to uni. And it seems like just last week that I was sitting on the end of my daughter’s bed, telling her everything was fine. Now she rings me from 600km away to see if I’m okay.

My mum and I were really close. It’s hard to believe it’s thirty years ago she surprised me by flying in from the other side of the country for my graduation. Or twenty years ago she saw me off at the airport when I emigrated. Or ten years ago that she died. But then time has a funny way of letting us hold onto precious things.

mum

This is the poem I wrote for her funeral.

Butterfly Net

When you think of my mother’s passing,
Don’t think of her with regret
But rather as a brave and free spirit
Catching life in a butterfly net.

She spent her life always running,
Knowing life had so much to give;
Not even cancer could crush
Her indomitable spirit to live.

In the magical world that she danced in
Her footprints were laughter and song,
Her shadow was hope for the future
And love for us all kept her strong.

So rather than mourning her dying,
Let’s celebrate the life that she knew.
When we pick up our nets to catch rainbows
She’ll be running along with us too.

 

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Punching above your weight

On my way to work this morning, the breakfast DJs were talking about research showing that people on Tinder tend to punch above their weight. When faced with a cornucopia of faces and seemingly endless possibilities, we swipe right on the people who are, on average, 25% more attractive than we consider ourselves. And therein lies the dilemma. With everyone encouraged to judge someone solely on their face, how shallow are we becoming?

Dating today is not what it was when I was younger. In my teens and twenties we would go places and hang out in groups and do things. We got to meet a whole lot of other single people and, inevitably, couples formed. We got to know people and could decide if we liked spending time with them. Mutual attractions led to marriages, but the attraction was based on the whole person, not just the face.

I am on NZDating and I look at the profiles of men who are educated, at least my height and weight and who live in Auckland. Among other criteria. I also only look at profiles that have a photograph. Is it true then that I only send messages to those guys I feel are more attractive than me? I don’t think so. Almost every day I get a message from someone new. I message back. Obviously, there has to be something about their face that is appealing, but they don’t have to be beautiful. (And yes, men can be beautiful.) If a man is able to engage me in written conversation that shows interest in me and isn’t just about what he’d like to do between the sheets, I am more likely to want to meet him. A pleasing canvas on a hollow block mount does not interest me.

Which brings me back to Tinder. If everyone is only swiping right on the beautiful people, how is anyone ever going to get together? A swipes right on B, who in turn thinks A is not attractive enough and swipes right on C. Everyone is inflating their opinion of themselves. It’s no wonder the expectations are so unrealistic. And the encounters so fleeting.

We are teaching our youth that looks are the most important thing about them. In a world that is fighting against body shaming and promoting ridiculous fads like ‘no make-up selfies’, does this not seem contrary? Be yourself, but just make sure you are gorgeous.

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Me at my gorgeous best

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Winning by default

My netball team lost tonight. Again. And before you get too impressed – no, I don’t play. I manage a school team. The Premier team (although, their commitment to the team makes that laughable). We didn’t just lose. We defaulted the game before the girls even stepped onto the court. You see, only two of the actual team pitched up. To avoid disappointing our opposition, who were looking forward to a game, we ran around asking junior players if they wouldn’t mind playing another game.you-win-1143113_960_720

And so I ask the question – is it worth winning if you win by default? Because, in the world of dating sites, sometimes a person can be chosen simply because everyone else was taken. Or the guy decided that he would take a chance on the second person who messaged him that week. And you won. By default. Because you were the only one who messaged him.

And then there are the guys who feel like they are doing you a favour by spending time with you. Recently, I met someone who said he didn’t want a serious relationship. We had dinner and parted with no firm plans to see each other again. He texted me to say he had ‘unique skills’ and he would like to meet up with me on a regular basis. Now, am I the only one who thinks that sounds a bit fifty shades-ish? When I said I wasn’t interested, he backtracked and apologised for sending suggestive messages. He asked if we could get to know each other so we sent numerous texts that were deep and meaningful – ‘Good morning.’ ‘How was your day?’ ‘What are you cooking for dinner?’ When I told him I wasn’t going to see him again, he was shocked. He said that he had planned to see me on Saturday so he could decide if he wanted to go out with me… See what I missed out on?

I don’t plan on ending up with someone by default. I’m not going to take the ‘spray and pray’ approach, messaging numerous guys and then waiting to see which of them favours me with his attention. I am also not going meet everyone who shows interest – there are not enough hours in a day!

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I Forgive Me

I went to church this morning. I haven’t been for a while, but I felt like going. The priest said something that caught my attention. He said that the Pope will allow some divorced people to take communion in church. Only some. I’ve been a Catholic my whole life. Okay, most of my life – except for the years I went to the Methodist church. And the other years I went to the Presbyterian church. Other than that fifth of my life. Anyway, I started to wonder today if I’m not a good Catholic.20180722_102640

You see, I have been divorced twice and I take communion every time I go to church. I haven’t had either of my marriages annulled because I don’t want the church (or anyone) to give me permission to say the marriages never happened. They did. I tried to have ‘forever’ relationships and they didn’t work out. To be honest, I’d rather have tried and failed than not had the courage to open my heart to another. Why would the church judge me because of this?

I believe that when our lives are falling apart or we’re balancing on shaky ground, the church should be there to steady us, not to condemn us. Because the biggest obstacle to forgiveness is ourselves. Even if the church grants us absolution, we still need to sweep up the bits and like the way we have stuck them back together. Sometimes the pieces are so small we have no alternative but to mould a wax figurine with the bits stuck inside. But, making a voodoo doll of ourselves and presenting it to the world is not always a good idea…

Speaking of relationships and inviting others to stick pins in us, I’m thinking of going back onto a dating site.
You: Just thinking?
Me: Okay, maybe I’ve been working on the wording of my profile.
You: Just working on?
Me: Well, maybe I’ve uploaded it.
You: Just uploaded it?
Me: I might have activated it.
You: What’s his name?
Me: Shut up!

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Woohoo! I’m in pain!

Last week an amazing thing happened. I hurt my back. Not just a needing-a-back-rub sore either. I’m talking lower back seizing and being stuck halfway between climbing off the couch and landing on the floor. Who hurts themself climbing off the couch? And before you get any funny ideas… No! I was alone. And fully clothed. I was watching a forgettable movie and trying to get up to make a cup of tea. I know, I know. You’re all jealous of my whirlwind lifestyle.backpain-1944329_960_720

Anyway, let me tell you why this was amazing. I was due to leave for the annual English teachers’ conference early the next day. When I woke up still unable to move, I cancelled my plans to drive my colleagues down country, then set about feeling sorry for myself. Is this the amazing thing, you ask? Not quite. When I realised I had missed the keynote address from my favourite author, I was devastated. How can this be amazing, psycho? – I hear you ask. Sit down, lovey, let me explain.

Because I girded my loins and put on my big girl panties (and dosed myself on Brufen) I was able to drive down in my own car. I got there in time for the Q&A session with…my favourite author! And yes, that was amazing.

But the real amazing thing was that, because I didn’t have to drive anyone home at any particular time, I was able to meet up with someone for lunch after the conference. Was it someone special, you ask? Yes, it was. Stop all that ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more’ stuff! The person was special because she is one of my ex-students. We had burgers and chatted for hours. I got to hear how well she is doing at uni and I feel very proud for having had the opportunity to contribute to her education.

Teaching is often a thankless job with little reward. Having an ex-student want to catch up, and share what is happening in her life, reminds me that I do make a small difference.

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