21 Days Of… Breakfast

Life is currently kicking me into shape a bit, and that shape is – well, as I type, I’m pretending I don’t have a cold and am attempting to engineer my way towards smacking a few deadlines on their heads. But something caught my eye this morning, so I’ve signed up to do it (and it has to do with the first sentence of this post).

I’m not a very “let’s do a challenge!” or “sign me up for that diet” person. In fact, group hype about something is not the best way to pique my interest in something (which is why I’ve never yet, and probably won’t ever, read or watch anything of the Harry Potter franchise – friends, feel free to flee me now). But this one is a little different, and it’s something that can be done, quickly and integrated easily. It’s 21 days of awesomeness, overseen by my adventure compadre, GI Jane. 



It’s completely up to you, what you choose to change or commit to and, over the 21 days, people who have signed up for the challenge share their commitments, perspectives and ideas on what they’d like to do for these three weeks. I’ve chosen to commit to eating breakfast.

Yeah, I know – I sound ridiculous. But here’s why: Since the beginning of this work year, I have failed to eat breakfast every morning, instead ending up wanting to gnaw my desk by 10am, because I “had to attend to that urgent email”. I end up feeling flat, emotional (in a bad way), grumpy as all heck and my ability to work starts to wobble. The stupidity is, I sit with my daughter every morning as she eats breakfast and I attempt to regain my personality with a cup of coffee. By skipping breakfast, for the sake of my inbox, I’m effectively ruining my own day before it’s begun. So, here goes – starting 15 February 2016, I will start eating breakfast with her again.

What would you commit to doing for 21 days, to make your life a little better, or to feel a little healthier? You can sign up here. (By the way, it’s free).

The Extraordinary Thing.

You spend the major portion of your adult life with a backup plan in your pocket. This isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card. Life isn’t Monopoly. It’s a survival tactic that’s sewn into the fabric of your personality. Then your life does a kick-flip and you realise that you need that back-up plan less and less, because the plan you have before you is actually better. Sure, it takes hard work, learning and a bunch of really difficult curveballs to create, but this one is pretty darn cool, so you’ll stick with it. Eventually, you throw away the back-up plan because you haven’t updated it in years.

I’ve never been a huge idealist when it comes to marriage. Even just typing the word still feels foreign to me. I always just found it an impossible idea. In fact, it’s something that I had pegged as an experience I would not be going through, and I was totally okay with that. P knew that too – I like our life, with the homes, the dogs and the kid in-between. Were we to stay like this for the next 5000 years, I’d probably die from an overdose of satisfaction in my dotage.

But if there’s one thing life has taught me about this man, it’s this – that I should never expect the expected. Six years ago, when I thought he had come over to feed me baked goods and talk through a problem he was enduring, he got down on one knee with a post-it note and asked me to be his girlfriend.

Since then, it’s been six years of surprises. Of leaning, learning and loving. Of homes, dogs, parent-teacher meetings, take out menus, spreadsheets and me doubting myself, while he doubted me not at all. He has believed for, and in, me, far beyond myself, and far beyond anything I could ever have imagined.

I’d arranged a special starter for our anniversary dinner for him. Something he’d been wanting to try, and that I hoped would raise a giggle. We’ve done years of HUGE surprises for each other, and years of smaller ones. I thought this would be a very cool one.

After he finished eating and we were giggling and laughing, he engineered a conversation with my daughter that made my eyebrow do the telltale arch. He asked her what she would say if he asked her for permission to marry me, and she nearly exploded in a smile and tears with a resounding yes. Then he turned the conversation to chatting about my brother because, as it turned out, he’d asked him too, earlier on that day.

And then he turned his sparkly-eyed face to me.

This funny man, who has made me laugh (mostly at myself) when life threw the biggest wads of horrible paper at me. This human, who stands up for me whenever and however he can, especially when it’s me that’s talking me down. This one. The one who saw my life as a package deal, and signed up for it, terms and conditions accepted.

With a ring in his hand and a knee on the floor, the man I’ve given the most uphill to, who has stood by me through more than anyone can imagine, asked me to be his wife.

It’s the easiest question to answer that I’ve ever been asked.

Most people get married, find a home and have children. But there’s nothing usual about us at all, so it makes sense that we do everything in a roundabout way.

As it turns out, we are the extraordinary thing. 

Just Instinct.

When you’re 24, pregnant and everyone calls you highly neurotic about, well, everything, it seems like a really good idea to hang curtains.

We’d just moved into the flat I used to live in (I once had a weird habit of moving back to the same homes, over and over again, I’ve broken it now) and I was determined to “raise this baby the right way”.

She was a surprise. An incredible, delicious surprise I would discover much later on, once the fog of no-sleep-new-baby and holy-shit-my-father-died lifted a few months later. I took for granted the way she would sleep through the night early and I could always get her to nap if I just laid down and let her twirl her pudgy fingers through my hair. She still does this, ten years later, except she twirls her own hair nowadays and it’s a telltale sign she’s tired (If I ask her if she’s tired, while she’s mid-twirl, she will vehemently deny it. Still)

But that’s post-fog. Let’s get back to the curtains.

It was a week before she would arrive. My alleged neuroses over EVERYTHING were at an apex and I knew I had to head to the doctor for what would be our final pre-natal appointment. Weirdly, I felt calm, even though my brain was all “hang the curtains. it has to be today. don’t let anyone else do it. yes, everyone says it’s dangerous. ignore them. you’re fine. hang the curtains”. I had my little schedule all jotted out in my head — go see dad in his hospital bed, pop upstairs to see the doc, come home, hang curtains.

On that Friday morning, surrounded by boxes and the like, I had THE URGE. I’d finished the “baby room” (what a laugh that was. I knew from the moment we came home with her that she’d use that room far less than we originally thought) and was working on getting the lounge into some semblance of a living space.

I came out of the bedroom and looked around me. I HAD TO DO THE CURTAINS RIGHT NOW. Call it pregnancy hormones, neurotics, nesting, ridiculous self, whatever. They had to be done.

So I hoisted myself onto a chair (not an easy task. I couldn’t even get out of bed unaided at that point) and hung them. My arms tiring more quickly than I wanted, but I got through it, grunting as I went.

Then I left the flat, and began my schedule. Dad, with his “darling, you don’t have to come here every day” platitudes (yes, yes, I really actually have to, sorry. it’s selfish. I don’t care) and my pseudo-pretence at “being okay” while watching the man who made me, wither away in some hospital bed with too crisp sheets and an uncomfortable pillow.

At the doctor’s, I smiled and said “I’ll be seeing you this weekend” and he chided me, again. We had a charming understanding that I was “know it all new mom who Googled too much” and he was the professional. It helped us along, as we could constantly poke each other, humorously, while he made sure I was doing okay with this gestation. He told me, laughing as he spoke, that he was going on holiday that weekend, and that my baby wasn’t yet ready to come (there’s still three weeks to go, stop Googling) so he had full confidence that he’d see me again the next week. I said:

“Call it maternal intuition. But I’m ready. She’s ready. I don’t think she knows about holidays yet. Maybe you can tell her about it when I see you this weekend”.

Leaving the hospital, I stopped in at the cafe, picked up a vegetable curry pie, and meandered home. We lived within walking distance of the hospital, with no hills to make it hard. So I walked. I loved those little walks, even though they were a skip, really — except for me, the waddling wideass who took a full fifteen minutes to get home.

As I walked into the flat, settled down to eat my pie, I looked to the right, assessed the newly hung curtains and said, out loud: “okay baby, I’m ready”.

Fast forward to that Saturday afternoon. It’s raining, he’s setting up an old school Scalextric track at his folks, I’m talking to mine. And the urge to pee is so strong, I have to go back to the bathroom three times before I’m done.

I call my doctor, and say: “Look, guy, I know you hate me but, really, it’s happening”. He laughed and returned to his fishing, after telling me to “stop Googling, or you’ll give yourself labour”.

I walk back into the lounge, and sit next to my dad who’d been discharged for the umpteenth time that morning. I look at him, grab his hand and say:

It’s happening. I don’t know why I know but I know. My doctor says it’s not but I know — it’s happening. Can I just sit here and let it happen?

He says:

Your mother and I have done this three times. It’s not like we’re inexperienced”.

So I sit, and wait. The rainy afternoon happens and I’m neurotic all over again, as I feel a little kick that turns into a big one banging against my belly. My dad sees the shape of a foot against my dress and laughs.

It would be the last time I hear his golden laugh.

By the evening, I’m in the hospital. By the next morning, I’m a mother.

By the next month, I’m at my father’s funeral.

By the next year, I’m sitting in my office when everything goes dark and I don’t know why until the phone rings and then I’m rushing my daughter to the emergency room.

By the next five years, I’m kissing my mother goodbye for the last time.

By the next ten years, I realise that what everyone called neuroses, was just instinct.

I finally trust it.


Also published here.

Advice for the new person

Sitting at my desk this morning, while herding two crazy dogs and trying to type up an important email, I accidentally upended a very necessary cup of coffee right down my front. I giggled at the memory of someone telling me that my chosen career was, and I quote, “glamorous”.

This is what people think — that I sit down at this desk every day and conjure up some eloquent muse who directs my fingers to “put this word here”, “write about the stars” or some other fart-busting, yet angelic, thing to do. The romanticisation of writing as a career is, I’m sorry, hilarious. This is it, right here:

A deadline is a deadline is a deadline
That means that, no matter what, you need to meet it. This is why the “surprise teas because you work from home” aggravate us. This is why we can’t “just pop out for a quick lunch with the gals” and, honey, our deadlines are — for 99% of the time — not set by us. While we may work from home, set our schedules and the like, we don’t have a boss to answer to. Yay! Except we do have to answer to ourselves, and to our clients. Think of it this way — you have one boss or manager to answer to, and on any given month, I may have ten clients who need my answers. This creates the unique situation whereby — I have ten bosses. You’ll probably pull — at least a few — all-nighters and, if you don’t, well, you’ll never know the beauty of watching sunrise happen while you’re still trying to find a really useful synonym for “obtuse”.

Just add creativity and stir
You are required to be instantaneously creative, all the time, every day. You will need to ferret out a hook, a line but hopefully, no sinker. Those things that sink you will be self-doubt and a lack of curiosity — more on that, later. Now, every single person has a bad day — a drudge day — whatever you want to call it. Your bad days can’t count, and they can’t affect the work you do. It is also exceedingly difficult to be creative over something you either know nothing about, or don’t really care for, but you will have to be.

Curiosity cannot kill you
Your sense of curiosity needs to be piqued 24/7. Yes, all the time. Here’s what always shocks people when they choose to “become a writer” — a lot of the time, you don’t get to choose what you write about. This can be disheartening to a newbie, but it’s part and parcel of the job. It’s the path you need to travel to become good at what you do. But, it’s for this reason that I like niches, although… we also have to go way beyond our niches. With the right kind of push, great clients and good mentorship, you can and do stretch beyond your niche. I started out thinking I was a “parenting” and “health” writer, but nowadays I’m more “technology” and “finance” because they’re actually something I really enjoy and have learnt a lot about. You will never, ever, ever stop learning, because you have to do it all the time.

Consumed by subject
But you’re not just learning about something when you write about it. No, you’ll need to be consumed by it. My friend and a magnificent mentor once called it akin to “creating artisan bacon”. You’ll need to be consumed by the subject, obsessed with the words you create around it and dedicated to a polished outcome. If you’re not those three things, trust me, it will show. Oh, and you’ll research a topic until it is absolutely the only thing you can think about. Page 25 of Google Search Results? That’s where you live.

This is the thing about creative industries — from performing arts to wordsmithery — you will be criticised. And, while it may take you a while to get there — you’ll need to learn the difference between criticism and feedback. Divvying up the two is really hard at first, because everything feels personal. Remember how I told you that you would need to be consumed by the subject? Well, guess what? Now you need to detach from it and look at the work you’ve created, from an objective standpoint, just so you can understand where and how you could’ve done better. That’s feedback. When it comes to criticism though, you’ll learn to choose which ones you listen to, and which ones you don’t. Here’s a tip — nobody who likes you, loves you or calls you a friend will ever be your biggest, most appropriate or useful critic. Sorry. Also, Facebook likes or positive comments are very sweet, but they are also just pandering to your ego. You’ll need to keep that in check though, because…

You are only as good as the last thing you wrote
Some people sing a hit pop song; have it rock the Christmas charts and everyone buys their album and discovers that everything on that album — barring the one hit wonder — is complete trash. No matter though because, chances are, they can live comfortably off the royalties of their one hit for the rest of their lives. This is not your future, sorry. You are only as good as the last thing you wrote and, in a world where instant publishing, immediate reading and time-dependent creation are a must… you’re probably going to bomb quite a few times. And you’ll bomb hard.

New things beckon
You will never stop looking for new things to do though, and that’s a great source of redemption. While you feel you might’ve failed at X job, you get the chance (if you work hard enough and haven’t given up by now), to give it your all on Y job. Once you’ve created and curated that sense of curiosity, you will never stop looking for new things. Thank goodness, because you’d be bored otherwise. And if there’s one thing a creative person should not be — it’s uninterested. Why? Because you will spiral, very quickly, downwards, from there. Your work quality will bottom out, your passion will wither and, suddenly, doing the crossword will seem like a gargantuan task you can’t be bothered with.

You don’t have to write a book
If I had a Rand for every time someone told me “you should write a book!” I would not have to work ever again. Here’s the thing — (1) Book deals don’t just plop past your desk on their way to the spa for a manicure; (2) Book deals are not a guarantee of wealth, never mind income and 3) Not everybody who writes, wants to write a book. Some of us have zero desire to write a book, and that’s somewhat underpinned by the existence of reasons (1) and (2).

Knowing your worth and your place
Starting out, you will write about anything and everything people will trust you with. You’ll be grateful for this, and enjoy it because it is experience and income. Eventually though, you’ll realise that you are good at some things, not so good at other things and downright terrible at even more other things. Like, I can’t write radio scripts (which is embarrassing as all hell for me because, guess what? My dad had a career as a scriptwriter once). The only way you’ll figure this stuff out though is if you try it. I wish for you a really good mentor and an abundance of opportunities to fail, because you’ll learn more from failures than you will from being congratulated on creating a “good” piece of writing. You will come to the point where you know your worth, and your place. And once you do, you’ll work even harder to expand that place. Just a warning though — this will make you feel like you want to shrivel up and disappear, often. That’s okay. But it is hard.

So, while I sit here in my coffee stained top, writing this out, I giggle again at the ‘glamorous’ appearance this chosen career seems to have. Anyone for coffee?

Also published here.

The Forest of Curious Creatures

Beneath the luscious canopy of beautiful trees,
in the very dark wood.

There lived a goblin,
who was up to no good.

While the greenery gasped and smiled at the sun,
the goblin liked to play tricks and none of them were fun.


This is what it’s like to live in the forest of my head. Your life tree can be healthy and growing, joyful and jubilant. But, underneath it all, there lives a sneaky goblin who occasionally prompts you to think of the worst things, or to make imaginary, emergency backup plans in case all the trees come tumbling down.

You see, this is where I am right now. There’s a level of weariness to me that I’ve been ignoring or submerging into a sea of “Other Stuff To Do”, like you pretend not to look at the spilt juice on the counter top, or you try to ignore the sink of dirty dishes until you just cannot put another plate in.

This morning, for whatever reason it may be, I tried to jam another dish into the sink. And, just like that, my sneaky goblin came out to play.

He’s been sending letters and notification alerts to my brain that he’s bored and wants to run around a bit, but I’ve ignored him. Instead, I’ve re-channelled his chirps into “Finding Other Things Important” or “Over Investing Energy Into Things That Don’t Matter”. And now, because I’ve let him fester so long, he’s pissed off and taking over the forest.

A revolt, so to speak. One that stalls all progress, takes everything too seriously and, if I’m not careful, he’ll probably set a tree or two on fire and start ruining stuff. He makes so much noise, drowning out the birds’ chirping and obliterating every single bit of gentle conversation that’s going on between the woodland creatures. He’ll bash on the bark, poke squirrels in their tummies and finally, he’ll attempt to set stuff on fire. He always does this and, before, I would let him.

The thing is though – I’m not like I was years ago. I know that if I let him run around for a while, play him all his favourite music and let him dance around the woods, he will, eventually, get tired and I can whisk him back to his place, to admire his little treasures of pebbles or whatever it is that he keeps in his satchel. I know that if I just pummel through, tolerate his playtime and let my true self respond to him for a bit, he’ll feel satiated and leave my real life alone again. The one I like – the one with the gorgeous canopy of leaves that lets through the most beautiful sunlight, dappling the life I have built below it.

Today, for whatever reason, I will let him run around. He’ll leave me alone eventually.



The irony of me posting this as a blogpost is not lost on me. But watching something this morning has made me think again about something that’s been swarming in the back of my head for a while now.

It was this.

I don’t want to join the choir of hypocrites and say “Yes, she’s right” and then continue to painstakingly post the minutiae of my life online. I’ve been realising for a while, through an internal process, that, really, I need to curb it. It’s just so easy though and, even though there are now clearly delineated parts of my life I won’t share anymore, I still find myself shoving the innermost thoughts I have into some sort of 140 character rubbish I probably shouldn’t post anyway.

The thing is, for me, and I don’t know what it’s like for you, so I won’t assume or presume anything… is that, right now, life online makes me tired. I feel powerless to it, and I feel like I’m consumed by it, often. I don’t feel the need for affirmation that others may feel, as Essena outlined in her video, but I do feel a need to stay connected, and realising that said a lot more to me than I thought it would.

About halfway through this year, I committed to not logging on during certain weekends. I did this because I noticed that, the moment I sit down every day, I open three familiar tabs. And then, for the first few minutes of my day, I read. I catch up. I “connect”. Except, I don’t. Instead, I get sucked in to some maelstrom of other stuff I don’t really care about, and then I feel compelled to say something. Be intelligent. Or funny. Whatever. I’ve found myself wanting to not be here, but the truth is – I have to be. This is what I do, where I live and how I work. Hell, I make a living out of being online, although my career is not defined by my online persona. I can, however, thank my online life for my career. Does this make sense? It shouldn’t – I feel like I’m experiencing a contradiction in thought, just by writing it.

This is how I find new work, keep in touch with people I care about (and I do, actually, care about the people who live inside my screen) and figure out my life moving forward. But as I’ve slowly curbed the stuff I share online (there are some areas of my world I will never, ever share…right now being one of them, because we have stuff going on, but it will be fine), I’ve become more territorial about the things I do say or share online. And as I’ve taken more and more elements of myself offline, and mentally marked things that I will not let anyone in on, I feel like I’m reclaiming pieces of myself. Pieces that I gave away, freely. And a lot of the pieces of me I gave away, started from a place of personal pain.

The thing about pain is, there is a relief to sharing it. When I talk about something horrible that has been experienced by me, it always ends up two ways – one, where people roll their eyes and click “next” or the other, very sweet, “we’re here for you” approach. The thing that I have always found to be healing, is in sharing that pain. Heck, it’s how and why I began writing in the first place. But as I started leaving things out of my life online, I also stopped talking about the inner turmoil that I feel on many days. I started sharing less of what I really felt like, and honestly, right now, I feel like a complete failure at a bunch of stuff I am scared to confess to.

But I am also happy, so please don’t think the two can’t co-exist. In my real life – the one where I bake for my dog and oversee my kid’s homework or, you know, watch a movie with my boyfriend – I am exceedingly joyful. I have everything I could possibly have desired in my real life, and that includes the sometimes melancholy parts of me. It’s in that part of me, that I have always, and probably will always, find a muse. It is in the quiet self-confrontations that I am able to discover and pinpoint the things I want to say but can’t find the words in the jumble of a day.

I made a pact with myself that, this year, I would say goodbye to a lot of my pain. No, that I would bid farewell to sharing a lot of my pain publicly but that, in itself, is very much a farewell to it. I have my reasons for it, all of which are tied up in a bundle of wanting-to-acknowledge-a-journey-I’ve-been-on. And while I may still share a fear or two (I have many, constantly, every day), I also needed to focus on the fact that I have come a really long way. Longer than I expected, better than I thought. Not as good as the world often desires me to be, but I like this place. I like this place for me.

I am not the girl who would sit in front of her computer with a cigarette burning her hair, crying into her keyboard at 2am. Anymore. There were a million beginnings in that girl, but a thousand more endings that got her there. My inner pain… it had become a crutch for me. An excuse, even, to prevent me from moving forward in my own life.

In actively working to bid my personal pain adieu, I realised it was me who kept putting me through it, over and over again. That’s the thing though – life happens and pain occurs because of an experience. I’m not saying I’m immune to it now, but I am saying that I’ve learnt I can have some element of control over how I choose to express it. Realising that I choose, and not the circumstances I find myself in, was a revelation in its own right.

And that’s why I don’t blog as much anymore. That’s why I’m trying very hard to log off when I need to. And that’s why I’m not going to tell you about some things. And mostly, I’m never going to do it to get some likes.

Health Checks With A Smile – A Visit to the Discovery Store

Last week, I was invited to check out the newly opened Discovery Store in our neighbourhood. I’m pretty militant about going for my annual check ups and the like, but I also really like the idea of being able to undergo a quick assessment to see how I’m doing on the health front whenever I like.

Discovery Store 1

The Concept
Simply put, the Discovery Store is a one-stop shop for you to pop in, check on your health status, undergo some assessments and rack up those Vitality points we all love to have. It’s a one-stop shop for you to see how you’re doing on the health front, without having to book a consultation at your GP to find out how your blood pressure’s looking nowadays.

Discovery Store 2

My Assessment
As you walk in to the Discovery Store, there’s a bank of swishy new iMacs for you to use. You can check on your medical plan and other Discovery services, and do some of the online assessments as provided on the Discovery website. After that, I stepped into a wellness room with my consultant, and filled in a short form before beginning a series of short assessments. She checked my blood pressure, cholesterol and a few other things, and it took just a few minutes. Analysing my BMI and body fat percentage was easy too, and the whole process made that much sweeter with friendly conversation going on. Of course, we chatted about our dogs (I will talk about dogs to anyone who will stand and listen nowadays. Officially a Dog Lady).

A little perspective
A lot of people avoid checking on their health status because they’re scared to really know what’s going on, or they’re a tiny bit afraid of their doctor. The Discovery Store makes it really easy to do and, something that normally stresses me out a bit, ended up being a fun experience. There’s also a nutritionist, dietician and biokineticist on-site, and a bunch of super helpful Discovery team members on hand to help you through any queries you may have. I’m also told that the team will be setting up events and group fitness activities soon – I’m looking forward to those!

All in all, I ended up being a little surprised at how much I enjoyed this experience, and pleasantly surprised at how well I’m actually doing on the health scales – better than I expected!

<Disclaimer: I am a Discovery Health member, and was invited to experience the Discovery Store on my own terms. I was not reimbursed for this post.> 


Living on the edge?

No, it’s not just an Aerosmith song, although you should probably listen to it now, because it’ll help me get my point across.

I read this, this week, and find myself wholly believing in it. It’s articulated the way I’ve been thinking for a while and, hey, when so many of us are stripped of ‘safety nets’ we’re taught to need, we starts thinking differently. We’re getting quickly to the point where we don’t need more money to throw at things (including problems), but we need more effort.

Reading the news this week too (I actually went out and bought the newspaper for a change, during the week), and it struck me that, well, adults aren’t the solution.

I’ve long maintained that the world would probably be in a far better state if we (aka, the adults) let the preschoolers rule us for a bit.

And frankly, the more that this year speeds by, things pile up and the anger within everyone grows, I can’t help but feel that it’d be a good way forward.

I mean, wouldn’t you?

There would be no corporate monopolies. Anyone trying to monopolise an industry would be told by their fellow playmates to share or else they would not be allowed to play with any of the toys.

Nobody would be allowed to call anyone nasty names. There would be no dessert for anyone insulting anyone else in the media.

Naptimes would be obligatory every day. Anyone who did not nap would be grumpy and well, grumpy playmates are ignored in the sandpit.

Regular, repeated watching of Gummi Bears would be a treat and the norm. In every motivational book we read as adults, we’re told to channel our inner child. What better way than to settle in and watch a little of what made our childhood great?

Our imaginations would reign supreme and, every day, we could choose to be whoever we wanted to be. Everyone wants to be a princess, right? Or a cowboy? Yep, go ahead and do it. Again, we toil away behind our monitors every day and are told to “get creative”. Our imaginations are our greatest creations. So, frankly, be a princess or a tiger, if you like.

There would be no war. Simple, really. Have you ever tried to negotiate with a five-year old? I’m willing to bet you’d end up striking a deal that left both parties happy. Negotiations around a boardroom table would run much more smoothly if they were executed with crayons, than if they were all white-papered and gazetted.

Our animals would be loved and played with, not left tied up in the garden like some adults do.

Bathtime would be our favourite time of the day. There would be no rushed showering, just so we can head back to our laptops in the evening. We’d be rubber duck-playing and blowing bubbles whilst we cleaned.

Every day would end with a good night song and a story.

Holding hands would be the most important thing to do when we’re out of the house. We’d stick together and we’d be safer.

Good manners would rule everything we do. Yes, even in traffic. No, you may not cut that guy off in the traffic, that would be rude. And rudeness means no ice cream for you.

Talking would be more about exploring a story as it unfolds in your mind, in comparison to just rushing to get your own point across, and jostling for your position in the conversation.

We’d ask more questions. We’d explore more. We’d live a little more slowly.

We’d spend more time being fascinated by the flowers, rather than wondering how we could tame them into a neat bush that doesn’t impinge upon our walkway.

We’d love more. We’d simply love more.


this is the thing you do not know

this is the thing you do not know.
it lives, it sleeps, it plods through the snow.
but sometimes life sends us a spark.
through characters 140, there comes an arc.
you might not see it.
you may be snoozing.
but keep an eye out for it,
and you’ll never be losing.

During the year of 2013, I became aware of the existence of one Dylan. He came across to me online as funny and unafraid. I liked that, so I followed him. To my delight, he followed me back. A simple thing, yes, but one that would create a moment that’ll live with me forever.

It’s a good thing I did. I have many stories like this – where people have sprung from the screen and into the reality of my life. Heck, that’s how I know most of the people who know form a centrifugal force in my life. Some of them stick, some of them go – it’s the way of life, and friendships.

But this one has stuck. Why? Because some time in late December 2013, I noticed he tweeted lyrics of an obscure Alanis Morissette song, and that was when I slid into his DMs like a clammy-handed fan.

Soon thereafter ensued a day of emails that happened on Boxing Day – traditionally now the quietest day of my whole year, as my kid goes off to spend time with the other end of her family, and everyone else is rolling around in a food-induced daze. It was only fitting that I spend it in front of my computer, exploring a quiet world. But this day wasn’t still – it was heady and explorative, as I pummelled his inbox with my secret treasure finds of B-side Alanis tunes, and he pummelled back.

Since then though, it’s grown, as his art has grown. Dylan is an artist, but not of the conventional kind. He writes stories differently. I’ll regularly share his creations online, but I very often set them aside when he’s posted them, and wait until I have a working weekend lined up. That’s when it’s headphones on and, for all intents and purposes, I indulge in Dylan’s art while I do the work assigned to me, or that which I’ve assigned to myself. At one point, Dylan was my accompaniment on my runs – keeping me focused as I pounded the pavements. When I go grocery shopping, I pop my earphones in and he keeps me company then too. When I clean the house, those earphones go back in and I am mopping a floor while listening to a marvellous tune. Through the hard tasks and mundanities of life, I lean on his mashup tunes and kaleidoscopic magic.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 09.51.10 AM

He provides a soundtrack to the world that speaks to many aspects of my own life course, and we’ll giggle into our phones when we happen to reference similar things simultaneously. He will posit a point that’s been swarming my head for a while, and say it far more eloquently than I could. Or anyone could, really. He asks the hard questions, and outlines solutions that are sometimes the ones we don’t like to think about. He faces facts, and then puts them down into little lines of sound.

When people tell me that an online life is bad, I agree with them, on occasion. But for me, as I step back from a lot of the way I used to do things (read: live more life offline than I used to, that’s why it’s so quiet around here), I realise and remember that it remains a conduit. It’s just one conduit, but an important one nonetheless. Through it, I am able to discover and enjoy the finest minds (and sometimes the most awful ones too, but this isn’t about that). That’s how I discover artists like Dylan, and usher them into my world. The world of my head and this great big life we all share.

He knows me incredibly well, because we share a frame of reference that isn’t hindered by social pressures or niceties. He can call me on something, and it was it is. And while I may know him through lines of code and over-the-air waves, I probably know the trueness of him better than I would if I’d happened upon him at a party. He is an artist and a friend – someone who sits on my 2am call list. He would respond, too.

Here’s the thing though.

We’ve never actually met. 


Compulsion and Elation

I have a compulsion to write this evening but, you know how you get stuck on a sentence and it just won’t fit? I’m there right now. So here I am, just spitballing it, trying to find the correct word to start this machine up again.

Oh, that’s right. Elation.

Over the past week or so, I had to face a fear. I say “had to” like I’m forced into it, but – in truth – it’s me that forces me into it. I don’t it for sadistic reasons though. I do it because I have a future-thought in me that says I’d like to feel some level of assurance that I’m going to be around for quite a while yet. And I say “fear” but what I really mean is “thing that is scary enough for me to be concerned, but not scary enough for me to actually be scared of it and run away like some kind of ninny”. I am not built like that – I have to run towards that stuff, or else it just haunts me. I will run towards it every year – heck, every day, if I have to – just to know that it does not control me.

I wasn’t always like this. Call it getting older, responsibilities, parenting, life purpose, whatever… I spent many years, just gently prodding a stick at the mist in front of me and half-hoping I wouldn’t bump into anything. I’m a lot not like that nowadays. I like to have a plan, even if my abilities to make them extend only so far as the next fortnight. I like to know if there’s something about to bump into me.

But to get that reasonable sense of assurance, I had to be prepared to face an uncomfortable notion that I hold deep within me, but actively share with other people. When it comes to my health… this is probably the near healthiest I’ve ever been in my life, and I like it that way. I like everything that’s going on right now with this face and person, and it’s bloody liberating to *finally* feel that way.

Except, of course, when the alarm bells go off and you’re suddenly standing in the bathroom trying to ignore the dog barking at a bird, because you’re trying so hard to think about when last you updated your Last Will and Testament. In my situation, you would go there too. I’ve had a lot of conversations with the air around me over the last week. At one point, I genuinely, loudly, asked my mom to just “show me something because I actually can’t with this.” (Yes, I’m a bit of a woo-woo-head, so what?).


I tried very hard not to think like this, but life has thrown me a little too much evidence in loss to prevent me from taking a trip to Mopeville (Population: Me; Location: My Head; GPS Coordinates: You have your own ones) now and then. In these particular circumstances, anything that threatens to derail me on that level, is a big one I have to gulp back and push on.

Time Limits
I allowed myself one day to not feel okay with this notion. Sitting with facts and figures, statistics and the like, I wallowed. Wallowing is good for you, sometimes, because it’s a way to process stuff you don’t want to face up to – but it has to have a time limit. I played “worst case scenario” for 24 hours, didn’t sleep much, couldn’t eat and annoyed my dog by having an epic staring competition with him. He won.


Taking Control
After that though, I had to take control. By the time I met the nice man (he looked like a mashup of Leonard from Big Bang Theory and a friend of mine… like, if they had babies, this guy was it), I was ready to just get it all over with and keep moving. Heck, I even cracked five jokes while I was lying there, watching them poke needles into me. I know I cracked five. I counted. They laughed. It wasn’t pity laughter. My family tree laughs in the face of scary stuff… I was just carrying that lineage on.

The Leaning
I leant then. I just leant. I knew after I’d come home that it wasn’t really up to me anymore. It was up to science and good people who do their jobs. Which is when it really hit me – Science! I have it on my side. While I was lying in bed, pondering these wonders of science and realising how flipping great it is that I’ll actually know if there’s a problem, and it can be dealt with. But beyond science, there’s an army of people for me to lean on. So I did, like it was a wall and I had 97 pictures to hang up, but no hooks.

An interminable wait
Waiting is the hardest part. A friend had warned me that this wait would feel like I was treading molasses and that I’d jump every time the phone rang. I thank my lucky stars for her, because she got REAL with me, FAST, and I needed that. I really, really needed that. I trod, I jumped and I spent a few days feeling like a startled cat, but trying very hard to be one that purrs when its belly is rubbed.

Thing is, those results came back… they came back good. They came back so good that my doctor got a barrage of relieved noises and grunts I could only counter her conversation with. I stared out of the window as she spoke to me, feeling the extremities of my body tingle and shout with glee. Once I’d put the phone down, I felt so very, very free. I could’ve floated.

I am so intensely grateful for the past week of my life. Not because it made me wobble, but because I wobbled beyond it. For those of you who were with me through this, I cannot, ever, thank you enough.