Magic and Other Mumbles

My friend over the wires makes magical things in kaleidoscopic ways. This is one of them. You should listen to it. Go on, pop your headphones on, click, read, scroll down and listen. It’s magically magic.

But within the bars and beats, listen carefully and, you’ll find this line:

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

JK Rowling said that. She of Harry Potter fame and incredible tweet game. Now, as an aside, before I continue, I should tell you that I’ve never read a Harry Potter book, nor watched one of the movies. I have my reasons for it, but, as my daughter begins to climb into them soon, I know that will change. I’m happy with that change and, perhaps, I’ll dive into them with her. It’ll be an exploration we can undertake together.

/an aside, over/

I really love that quote by JK Rowling, because it speaks to something I’ve had to make a conscious effort over. I’ve been doing a lot more internal… well, I’ll show you. This is me, on a normal day:


Somehow though, recently, I’ve been feeling stuck on steps 1 through 4. And when you get there, and feel middlishly-muddly-and-muddy, well, it’s hard to get out.

Instead of sticking there and trying to wait it out though, I decided to go for one week, just one, and force myself to do things, to get unstuck, de-muddled, whatever you call it. Here’s what I did:

  1. Forced myself to smile. This is hard, because I sometimes feel like I look like a murderous clown when doing this. My face is as easy to read as a newspaper, typed in size 72 Times New Roman.
  2. I forced myself to smile while working, I forced myself to smile while out and shopping and I even forced myself to smile while sitting in a queue at the local tax office. Okay, on the last point, I pretty much rage-tweeted my time there, but I still smiled the whole time. Told you I am a bit murderous when I do this.
  3. I also demanded of myself to take an alternative view when confronted by things. On one front, I determined that, when someone got weird/angry/strange with me, I’d try empathy first, instead of my usual response of “You bit my head off, now I’m going to chew your face off.” Here’s one instance of how I did it:

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 19.08.15 PM

Now I’m not here to save the world (neither are you) or to write a self-help book, or do anything rather grandiose. I’m not about to hand over life advice, unless you asked me to, or start a hashtag. But I will tell you this, little blog of mine – just doing those two things meant I had a good week, despite the roll-around-hedgehog-wheel of life that happens. I’m going to try it again next week, and that includes another trip to the local tax office, among other things. I don’t know, smile sometime. Make yourself. It won’t fix anything, but it sure as heck won’t make anything worse. Change your perspective, just once, and adopt an alternative view when your brain instantly goes into MDK mode when confronted with an annoyance. Just, I don’t know, try it. I think I needed this more than anyone else.

The Chefs Table

Suspend your disbelief for a second, and imagine you’ve been invited out on a blind date. It seems promising, and you’re pretty sure you’ll – at the least – enjoy a good meal, even if it never gets any further. Now imagine arriving at that date, sitting down at the table and the restaurant doors open, to reveal your blind date. And that blind date just happens to Channing Tatum. Or Justin Timberlake. Or, you know, whoever goggles your eyeballs.

That’s what it felt like when I ate at The Chefs Table, and Durban, you now have your very own Channing Tatum of a restaurant. I’d suggest you get to it and  make a booking. If you read nothing further, just follow that instruction and you’ll end up in that same heady-weird-food-coma I experienced the first, and the second, time I popped in.

First Up
Here’s something you should know about me: I hate phone calls. Like, if I could avoid talking to people over the telephone forever and ever, I would. But a call from Head Chef at The Chefs Table, Kayla-Ann Osborn, turned out to be the start of one beautiful experience I am so very glad I didn’t miss. Followed up with a personalised invitation (in the post, mos!), I started to get a little excited over my lunch date,  where I was joined by some new and some regular faces from the Durban food, lifestyle and blogging scene. If you don’t bother to read any further from here, read Shirley’s review on Cuizine, and then pop over here and make a booking. Have I mentioned that you should make a booking? Good.

The Chefs Table doesn’t just serve up your restaurant standard fare – in fact, there’s nothing standard about it. Instead, taking inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, and utilising seasonal produce that’s sourced from local farmers, The Chefs Table serves you food that will make you cry. I don’t say that in a bad way, I mean it in that – after you’ve eaten here, anything you eat at any meal thereafter, will just be disappointing. The menu changes in accordance to available produce and focuses on bringing out the best flavours, aligned with an exceptional experience.

As the afternoon meandered onwards, and we enjoyed tasting plates of a selection of menu items, paired with epic wines that brought forth the unique flavours of each dish, all I could think about was:

“Damn, I wish my family were here. They won’t believe me when I tell them about this.”

I’ll put it simply – when you read the menu, you’ll think one thing about a menu item. What ends up on your plate is not what you expected.


Coming In For Seconds
Lucky for me (and that beautiful family of mine!), I have been back a second time. I got so excited about it, that I could barely sleep the night before… I am not joking. And, of course, as I expected, The Chefs Table did not disappoint, as my kid and I giggled over her roast pumpkin tortelli and my fiance made what I call his “food noises” over his Moores-Pitt Rolled Chicken.

Saving The Best For Last
And while the menu changes as and when needed, I hope there is one item that stays stuck on it like that piece of double-sided tape you put on the wall to hang your precious Indecent Obsession poster back in the 90s and which is probably never going to come off, even if you charge a bulldozer through your house. It’s the Chocolate and Popcorn, which is the perfect example of “what you think you’re getting…but you’re wrong”. Just promise me you will add this to your Must Do Food List, and let’s be done with it.


Now, when are we going back again? Food is, aside from providing sustenance and nutrition, meant to be a positive emotional experience that engages and delights you. I’m pretty certain that, within the next few months, when you look up the term “positive emotional experience”, you’ll find a picture of The Chefs Table, right by its side. I’ll be back soon, Channing. Er, I mean, The Chefs Table.


Disclosure: I was invited to attend two dry runs at this restaurant in Durban before it opened to the public. I was not requested to create this post as payment for my attendance, but it’s just that damn good that it inspired me to crank open my blog again and get writing.

New Glasses

I signed up for new glasses a few weeks back. Here’s the thing: I’ve been wearing the same pair I got in 2002. The one lens is popping out, they’re scratched as all heck and…I cannot work without them. Heck, I used to think that cigarettes were my essential ingredient for writing but, as it turns out, it’s my glasses.

Please don’t think I’ve gone all that time…not getting my eyes tested. I did. In fact, in 2010, I got myself a beautiful new pair with smart frames and that just felt so great on my face. They worked well for watching TV and work, and I was pleased as all hell with them.

Of course, I lost them. Not just on my head, mind you, but really lost them. So, I went back to my trusty beauts with the one lens trying to pull a Houdini on me.

And that’s where I’ve been ever since. Well, until two weeks ago.

Having my eyes tested was a, er, test in itself. As it turns out, my eyesight is so far removed from what my previous, trusty, lens-popping pair of spectacles could help, that I may as well have been applying Zambuk to my eyelids and then trying to decipher hieroglyphics using just a match and some fine twine.

Thankfully, I now have two new pairs of beautiful glasses, set for my eyesight as it is today, and I’ll be having my peepers tested again in six months.

What’s the point of my Saturday night ramble? Well, there’s two three points, really:

  1. As I worked today, my hand – as per habit – reached out for my glasses before I started typing. I put on my old glasses (I can’t bear to throw them away) and had my new glasses on my head the whole time. No wonder I hated this morning. When I realised the error, I finally put my old spectacles in their box and stashed them in the bookcase. Now that I’m wearing my new ones, this screen seems exceptionally large, and I keep hitting “zoom out” to make it feel normal again. That said, it’s quite nice to not be stabbing at the keyboard with blurry precision. My point? Don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re trying something new.
  2. They’re taking some getting used to, but I’ll get there. Hopefully soon, I’ll have adjusted to using these beautiful gogglebits and they’ll feel good on my face. And yes, I got two pairs, in case I lose one, as is my routine. My point? Adjustment is a process, but you’ll need to sign up for it if you want to actually see clearly in life.
  3. Change is hard though, and it’s doubly hard if you feel like it was foisted on you. I’ve felt that way before though, so I reckon it’ll just take some time. I talked about having change foisted on yourself here, too.

Also, not reading as much news as I was… No, that’s wrong. By committing to not scrolling news sites seven times a day, and trying to not be refreshing my social media feeds every ten seconds, I’m quite enjoying taking a little step back from the world. It feels too jangly and jarring right now and, hey, sometimes we do just need a little nap from it all. I know I’ll be back to my eager eyeball ways again soon, and with a new pair of glasses to peek out at the world within (and beyond) my screen.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of a cat. We could probably all do with looking at pictures of cats right now.



Born In A Storm… Eleven Years On.

When I think about the way you entered this world, I marvel, every time. The panic that set in when you made no noise as you arrived into this life… that three-second arched eyebrow your father and I shared, which shot right back down into reality as you mewed your first noise… that was our first taste of this love.

It’s now eleven years later, and I still panic when you don’t make a noise, but for entirely different reasons. You’re happily focused on a book, or plotting your next move in a game. You’re strategically setting out your books to study, or you’re meandering avenues of your mind I will probably never truly know.

There are an abundance of moments in our life where I am caught short of breath, as I realise the no-noise-child born into this world during a thunderstorm, is now the determined young lady before me at the dinner table. You have ideas, desires, dreams and rules for yourself. You have limits and boundaries, you have talents and skills. You have so many things I wished for you, and so many things I see you got straight from my book of life. I see your father in you, so very much, and I see myself, reflected back, sometimes painfully, but a lot of the time, hilariously.

I am the deep sea. The trunk of the tree. And now you are eleven, An incredibly big number to be.

You’re a wondermind of ideas, gently hewn by the notion of always putting other people before yourself. I’m trying to help you not to do that all the time, because this past year has shown us isolated (but luckily, not terribly harmful) situations where that’s not always the best plan of action. Figuring out when that’s a good move, and when it isn’t, is a life lesson I can only be part of, because the lesson is taught to you, by you, and through you.

The idea that children grow up has never scared me. The reality that children grow away from their parents terrifies me. But we are just the tree trunk and you, the child who must grow towards the sun, the branches and leaves that reach up towards the marvels of the sky.

Slowly, as you’ve grown taller, so too have your branches and, little by little, your leaves turn their faces towards the glowing sunshine of life.

Do not forget, however, my sweet child, that your family is the trunk. We are here, as you grow, when you want to recoil from the world and when you want to leap up towards it. We are here to keep you strong, help you reach higher and grow even more leaves. My job now is to be that trunk, and help you figure out which is the best way for your leaves to turn, to ensure maximum sunshine potential. I could ask for no better privilege in life.

When you turned five, we laughed over how you were now a “whole hand”. Last year, when you turned ten, I quietly mused into your sleeping head on the eve of your birthday that I’m running out of fingers and hands.

And now, as we begin the ascent towards your eleventh birthday, I realise I have run out of fingers to count the years of you, and need to use my toes too. As each year brings with it some great new skill to learn, or some giant lesson to tangle with, or an astounding discovery of the forests and worlds that live within you, I am reminded that you are on your own life journey. I was just the beginning, and my life – for you – must provide the navigational lessons to help you find your own way.

This is not to say that I am not with you. You know all too well that I’d helicopter my way into everything you’d let me, with rotating blades flapping wildly or quietly, whichever you prefer. But it’s up to me to respect the way you welcome my helicopter motions, and to respect the times where you tell me they are not required.

We talk, often, about wonders of the world we live in, or the fascinating ideas beyond our front door. In the oceans of life, as they ebb and flow, I am the deep sea, but you are swimming towards the sun.

The deep sea is a fortress of life, where things that cannot live in the bright and shiny world find safety and solace. They are the secrets of the world, mostly unseen by humans. Many assumed that not much lives in the deep sea, some 1800 metres below. But science has proved them wrong, for the deep sea is teeming with life and has a constant temperature, unaffected by the planet’s seasons or weather patterns.

That is my love for you – the sweet child born of me. I am your deep sea, unaffected by the life and events beyond ourselves, and a constant and infinite place where you never need to be unsure of me. I am the deep sea, the trunk of the tree, and I will always be.

Whatever it is you need to be, however you need to take on the world and see, as you swim towards the light of life or reach up and unfurl your leaves towards the sun, know that you can always return to me. No backsies-swapsies-or-deals required. I promise to keep every secret, love you past every pain and forge ahead into life committed to understanding first, and questioning second.

I am the deep sea.
The trunk of the tree.
And now you are eleven,
An incredibly big number to be.

Happy Birthday.

Badum Belaxing. Adam for nightum. X




Hey Mom, I’m Getting Married | Six Years

It’s six years since we had to say goodbye. You’ve missed all of the parts I wish you could’ve seen. All those things you wished for me are coming true, and all the things I said I’d do, I did.

I like to think you haven’t missed them, but I miss you in them. We’re planning a wedding, and I keep looking for the part where I can stop and ask you what you think about menu choices, or where you think we can be socially correct with seating arrangements. Who are the people you’d insist were on the guest list, and who can I skip right past? Look, I know my own answers to those questions, but sometimes I want your view. I want to tussle with you over these things, and have you pull the pursed-lip, arm flung-over-head move on me. I miss fighting with you over the most stupid of things, and isn’t that just the most ridiculous thing to miss someone over?


So yes, Mom, I’m getting married. And it still feels weird that I am typing that, because it remains entirely surreal to me. Excitingly surreal, like I won a life lottery that I forgot I bought a ticket for.

So, instead of a list of things I have to discuss with you, all I have is a calendar reminder that on then 5th of June, you shuffled off. Not just shuffling off down the passage at 10pm, like you did for almost all the evenings I can remember, but you really, really shuffled off. It is a symbol of my lineage that I find that funny to contemplate. The thing is though, you never really shuffled, whether in life or in endings. No, you were always triumphant and bold with what you did, which served as your way to overcome everything internal or from life that sometimes expected you to feel small. You were a warrior, even in the quietest of fights, and my word, what a warrior you were. You are, still, it’s just that it’s the bodies and minds of the people beyond you that act it out. The courage and wisdom within the little-people-now-growing-bigger that live beyond you – that’s where your fire burns brightest still.

Six years seems so very long, but I swear it was just yesterday that I noticed your hair was turning blonde in the sunlight. Perhaps it was the magnitude of you that meant you were gone for just a moment – that you’re just in the next room – yet an entire six years can live in that moment. Time has still not faded you, and it never, ever could. That’s because you are indelible and undeniably here, somehow, in the little things. Whenever I say the word “indelible” I think of you, because you referenced the word so often in my memory. I guess that’s a significant word for me to remember when thinking of you.

As I wind back the time and look across the expanse of these years, I remember the things you said, the incredible things you did, beyond anything I can ever imagine (and some of the things I will probably never know about). I meander through the words of you, in my head and on paper, and as I look towards the future, I remember the possibilities of beginnings, and how they sometimes look like endings, at first. The ones you’d hoped for me, the ones you’d wished into life and the ones you grabbed with both hands at glee. All the ones you wished for me.

Mom, I’m not afraid to speak anymore, and when my voice shakes, I know it just means it’s even more important that I say it.

Hey mom, I’m getting married. I wish you were here for it.

I miss you forever. Adam For Nightum.




You Have A Nice Face

As a teenager, I used to catch the bus home from university every day. If I was lucky, I could catch an early bus, then a second one and be dropped almost neatly at my front door. If class ran late, I’d have to wait around for the last bus that went into my neighbourhood and then hope that my dad would realise I wasn’t home, and be waiting for me when I stepped off the bus.

If I tell you that I’m highly neurotic about time, you can predict that, pretty often, I was keen to get home on the early bus, so I was regularly at that dirty little bus stop a little more than I should’ve been (with apologies to my lecturers. I’m sure your classes were great).

It was during this time that I started to notice what my mom would call “nice face disease”. Random people would walk up to me and start talking to me. I never once had a bad incident with this, as I could generally sniff out someone who wished to do me harm from five paces away, and it led to interesting conversations while I waited for either the early or the late bus(if it was the late bus I was waiting for, you can bet your bottom Yen that the number of crazy people around increased exponentially. It’s science. I actively calculated this to highlight how important it was for me to get on the early bus once). My mother and father had the Nice Face too, and I know both my siblings have it too. They’ll have a barrel of these stories to share too, if I asked them. I remember my mom saying it’s because “we have open faces, that invite the world in” once.

The bus stop wasn’t the safest place in the city, but it was what I had to work with, if I wanted to get home. I tried to apply the don’t talk to strangers rule, but it didn’t always work out that way.

There were quite a few of these Nice Face situations, but two people who will forever stick in my mind are Flower Man and Bag Woman. I have no idea what their names were, and I hope they can forgive me for calling them this. I spotted Flower Man walking towards me, dressed in his dark suit, and green tie. He walked as though he’d not been off his feet since last year, and yet had a smile that made me think of the colour yellow as he ambled along. Flower Man walked up to me, smiled, sat down next to me and gave me a purple flower. While my mind raced thinking that it might be laced with something, he said:

“So many people walk up to young girls and tell them to smile. I’m telling you that you don’t have to, but that this flower is for you. You look like you could use one.”

Then he got up, walked away and I never saw him again.

Bag Woman sat down next to me a few weeks later, opened her bag, tapped me on the shoulder and said:

“I have everything in here that I will ever need. Except for my husband. He’s dead. I haven’t emptied my bag since he died because I can still smell our house a little bit when I open it. The house is gone, he’s gone and I have nothing to do except go to work and catch this bus.”

I hugged her, held her hand and together we picked through the contents of her bag, and she showed me bits of paper (the last time they ordered KFC)and the lipstick she was wearing on the day she got the phone call. He’d died three years ago, but she clung on to those things like they were gold. They were her gold and all she needed was someone to acknowledge her treasures. I missed the early bus that day, and waited with her for hers to come. I looked out for her every single day thereafter, and never saw her again.

I’m long past the days of catching buses and avoiding boring lectures now(oops, sorry, I mean, you were great! I learnt so much!) but “You Have A Nice Face” has stuck with me. Just yesterday, I had an inspiring conversation with my cashier around her ideas on how to change the world. I told her to write them down, so we could write a business case for them, because they sounded really cool. I never expected she’d email me this evening, but there it is, sitting in my inbox.

I often wonder what happened to Bag Woman and Flower Man. Sometimes, if I doubt myself too loudly, I start to think they were figments of my imagination, dreamed up to save my mind from wasting away while I waited for the bus home. But if I look into my scrapbooks from 1999 and see the pressed flower, I’m reminded that these people were not imagined. They were as real as the ideas contained in the email just sent to me, and the young woman who is determined to be far more than a cashier in her life.

If you’re reading, Flower Man and Bag Woman, and the host of characters who once peppered my days at that smelly and dreary bus stop, I want you to know that I remember you; that your treasures are real and your life is worth more than those grey afternoons that couldn’t go fast enough.

I worry for the quiet ones.

The way I see it, we’re not getting anywhere close to where we need to be. Wound up in the worldly items we’re somehow taught to care about, we slowly slip away from the place of being connected.

I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. But the constructs within which we seem to operate our societies is such that, unless you buy in to the dream someone else says is meaningful, you’re fobbed off as being different, strange, lacking meaning, or worse. What meaning is there to be found in a bunch of numbers you’ve got allocated to your name in a bank account that’s actually owned by a corporation who views you as a number, but promises you extra special service when they address you by your initials?

It’s done for the sake of convenience. That whole live-faster-die-faster-get-things-done-dont-let-it-get-to-you-you-are-very-stressed-accumulate-whatever-you-can-this-is-a-race-catch-up lifestyle is so, well, whether we like it or not… it is the lifestyle we are born into.

It seems almost romantic to give it up and go live in a teepee in the forest, but it’s also impractical. I love the idea of doing that, but if I did it… how would I educate my kid? I’m a crap hunter-gatherer, so how would I feed my family? How would I afford medical care when we needed it? (because, we will, at some point, even if I live in denial of this idea). Of course, there are people who have done this, and done it well… but the ones we hear about have, most often, done it whilst remaining connected to something we all care more about than we should (me included): The Internet.

The Internet is the most enabling tool humans have ever discovered and created. The irony is, of course, that humans that – very often – use the very same Internet to disable others.

Now, I’m not saying it’s all bad (it’s not – every aspect of my life is proof of this – but the problem with creating such an enabling platform, is that it enables both great and awful. Where there to be Elders of the Internet or some sort of Grand Council presiding over it, it would immediately eliminate the empowering force it can be. It’d become dictatorial, where one opinion counts more than the other, or power could be swayed to suit a certain viewpoint. Heck, there are global rumblings already of that being set down.

The thing is – it’s already happening online already. Very often, the ugly opinions get more eyeballs and the quiet, gentle sharings of life and humanity are shouted down. It becomes almost scary to open up a new tab and discover something new, because, by now, someone else has had their chew on it and you’re probably reading some sort of spittle-defiled and skewed version of it.

It’s an element of humanity, I suppose, where the louder voices are heard first, and the quieter ones need to wait for the swell of their own songs to bind together and become louder.

I worry for the quiet voices, nowadays, especially, as the blazing fastfire of the online world rampages more quickly and loudly than ever before…I worry for the quiet ones. The less we listen to the quiet ones, and the more we listen to the boisterously opinionated and typically loud, the less we’ll hear the nuances of our own humanity and hear even less our own inner voice that says…

This is not a competition. You were not put on this earth to beat and defeat each other. If you want to compete, do it against yourself and nobody else. We’re all born into the world in the same way – naked and pissed off. Do your best to get past that and then do something with your life that keeps you grounded, makes you happy and – if possible – makes a sensible contribution to the planet we’re all stuck on together anyway. 


Less Than Par

I like to think I’m a high-functioning human, able to complete a multitude of tasks within a day, in an ordered fashion that enables me to progress through life.

hazy-lakeThat’s a nice idea, and it has regularly felt that way for me. 2016 is, however, teaching me otherwise.

A friend and I have this inside joke about “coasting”, whereby people do the bare minimum to get by, and somehow end up strangely successful or well-balanced in life. We loathe coasting, and are probably completely misconstruing their development. Thing is, in the last month, I’ve become a coaster, and not the type you set your glass down upon.

It’s been a regular thing, that happens about once a year, where persistent headaches and sleeplessness enter my world, and I battle it through with the help of painkillers and pretending like I’m fine. It usually lasts a fortnight and I’m fine again. This time round though, when week 3 started up all up in my face, I gave in, went to the dentist and – hey – not only is my weirdly perpendicular wisdom tooth again pressing on all my other teeth, causing all this ridiculous head stuff, but there is (well, was) a raging infection. Moreover, there are other things wrong in jawline, that have probably needed attention since about 1999.

It’s been hard to quantify to myself that I am less than par, and it’s even more difficult to explain it to others who I am fully convinced I am disappointing, whether it be professional or personal. Most people are sweet about it, some are not. We ignore and deflect the latter through ranty tweets.

So it’s worked out that I – who previously flung herself towards work every day for hours on end, demanding silence and protesting about her inabilities to get to the end of the list – actually cannot do that. As this week has gone on, I’ve noticed more and more how – between dealing with pain and antibiotics – I actually can’t compute much. So much so, that I’ve forgotten things. This is a cardinal crime, to me, because I am the biggest flipping remembering person on the planet. I have lists, whiteboards, diaries, alert systems… heck, I even have the date in my calendar app that tells me when I first kissed a boy back in… well, I won’t reveal that. I feel very  much like I’ve lived in a fog for a while now, and it has yet to lift.

But being less than par no longer feels like I’ve failed. Instead, it’s taught me (well, reminded me) that self care is the best care, so putting some limitations to what I can do (even though it’s disappointing) has helped to relieve the barrel of guilt I’ve felt over being less than par. And that, sometimes, when you are not able (read: willing) to do it yourself, life will do it for you. Moreover, that you are a human. It is allowed for you to feel and be this way, for a bit.

The fog will lift soon, and I will return to being speedy supergirl soon. But, for now, I need to watch the fog a little more.

36 | 72

This coming Saturday, I will mark my mother’s 72nd birthday.

Except it’s not her 72nd birthday, because she’s not here to celebrate it.

But her children are.

I am.

I’m turning 36 this year.

That halfway point in our ages hit me as I walked up the stairs yesterday afternoon, puzzling over my priorities and choices, life tasks and duties. I had the same thoughts as my mother probably did at this age, and probably a whole bunch more.

I pick up on all the similarities between us now – where she made choices in her life, and now I see those same ones reflected back in my own. I untangle the ones I haven’t made her way, and glue even more stickily the ones I have. Hell, I see her in everything. Everything I do. From the way I talk to my dogs, to the way I parent, to the way I can sign people off from my life when it is required. That steeliness? That alleged flippancy you see from me when I am actually just implementing self-preservation?

I get it all from her. But the underside of hurt that I bury underneath it burns the same. Like the fire in her eyes that I knew could engulf a room or embrace a stranger.

That fire, the one that lived within her but she never extinguished, no matter how many times people and life tried to hose it down. That fire always had a purpose, and a place. I used to feel pity for people who met it, when they irked it awake. I used to feel great shame for them when they would hurt someone she loved and cared for. That fire, that begins with grace and ends in obliteration… I’m still learning how to manage it.

And as I realised all of this. I also remembered that I will be the age,this year, that my mother was when she gave birth to me.

I am ever aware that, at this age — the part where she gave me life — I need to use the flame more, the way she did and did not.

I need to carry on learning to choose my anger, and find my answers.

But in many ways, as I realise this halfway point, I see my own mortality too, and question the impact of my own life. Have I done enough? Have I done the things I loved? Do I do them every day? Am I helpful? Am I useful? Am I changing the things that need to be changed? Am I learning?

My mother was an eager learner. So much so that she changed careers and paths more times than I can count. She was always reading, always learning, and never scared to encourage someone else to flex their mental mettle.

As I look at that halfway point, the strange one that hit me as I walked up the stairs of my house that she never got to see, never got to know, never got to feel. She never will know the rhythm of the home I live in, that my little family created together. But underneath the rhythm of our family, there lives a beating drum that has never stopped in tempo. Just as she beat the drum for our family, she taught me how to continue it. Beneath the rhythm of this home, with crazy dogs, to do lists and funny magnets, askew on the fridge… if I listen very carefully, I can still hear that drum.

Today, as I walk up the stairs and contemplate that halfway point, I remember her too. And I hope like anything, that you’re proud.

Happy Birthday, UM.

Morning Rituals

Ask anyone who has ever lived with me, and they’ll tell you – I talk when I’m in the shower. It’s here that I get my best ideas, find that hook for a story or finalise an idea.

When we arrived to view this house, I walked in and loved it, immediately, without walking upstairs. When I did eventually go upstairs, I peeked into the bathroom and laughed at how big the shower was – we could probably host a dinner party in there. But there’s another thing about that shower you need to know – it has something in it that struck me when I first saw it.

Perhaps it’s a flaw in the tiles, or whatever, but if you squint your eyes a little, you’ll see it too – there are two things on this tile that I stare at every morning and most evenings (I grew up in a house with four other people, with only a bath. Trust me, I like showering. We have an eco-friendly shower head, calm down).


At the centre of this image, you’ll note a weird shape. Squint a little and it’ll become a heart. To the right of that – yes, that’s a question mark. No, it’s not pen or anything – it’s in the tile.

Every morning, I stare at those and they help me focus – think about what needs to be done today, and throw some ideas around for a cool story or the like.

If there were ever to be two symbols chosen for my life – they would be the heart and the question mark. I question everything, all the time (mostly myself) and try so very hard to do everything I do with love. It’s been like that for as long as I can remember, and it really used to lead me feeling hurt when I was a kid. A lot, actually – more than I am willing to admit – some stuff that happened to me at 5, still stings more than it should. The question-everything-aspect is something I see with my kid (and I see the heart thing with her too, more again, than I think anyone else knows) and I endorse it, over and over again. It’s that quality that will help her find the answers to things that plague her, and it is by heart that she will be guided through life.

Anyway, when I spied this little funny flaw in the tiles, I knew all over again that this is where I wanted to live. And every morning, as I step in to think and clean, I look at those two things and am so weirdly reminded of why I woke up this morning.