The dreamer’s disease. Fine by me.

Age does not make of you a dreamer less …

 

‘Oh dear.’ said Sister Margaret. ‘ This one’s a dreamer for sure.  What to do with her?’

Oh dear, in the Silver Street avenue, she is a dreamer still.  What will become of her?

When all my friends were dissecting the dead frog – I cried for the loss of the little jumping fellow. Cleary a biologist was not the future.

When others were doing their math – I as staging a ballet in the garage for the SPCA. Someone had to look after the abandoned animals.

Friends told me that golf was not my thing, obviously, as I was picking up pine cones, dreaming of winter and my mother’s Dutch soup.

She still believes in fairies and elves that sew and make magic.  In the bunny at Easter, Father Christmas and his gift to the lonely at the festive season.  She dreams of great things for her children, for tucking in and stories.  For family feasts and holding old hands as they speak of dances in tulle and pretty shoes.  She believes in artists who suffered for their art.  In flowers … she is a great believer in flowers, and seasons.

And she is not alone. Life may have send those curveballs in their hundreds.  Despite all resistance raised the ugly of mankind and greed.  In indifference.  In broken hearts and broken dreams.  Some of them did break, mangled and brick broken. Disenchantment. The practical and must do attitude remain foreign to the dreamer.  Be it young, or older, those who dream – of what was, or could be is fundamental to the being.

True dreamers do not dream of millions (though it would help with that lotto ticket) or summers in Monaco – they dream of little things … like sunshine, nestling, a gathering of happy people.  They dream of rain on the roof, saving the little fledgeling fallen, of tea to save the moment and every busker, every forgotten, every child given a chance.  Of blossoms and crumpets on a grey day.

The nuns gave up on me.  There had to be a cause and remedy, they thought.  The girl likes cemeteries for goodness sake!  The girl runs and dances in the garden during break.  She builds houses from sticks and engages in witchery.  The adult dreamer cries all the time.  In the movies, at songs, just because the world is beautiful. And loves despite it all – loves snow, her children needing her, lovers and weddings.  Best friends, coffee, missing all. She is the writer, the baker, the  fetcher and believer that Paris is the city of love, still.

To say she was useless at fighting for the first spot, is true.  That she was useless at being the competitive, the originator, the driven, is true.  She choose to dream of mud luscious puddles and hated seeing ‘the kill’. Dreamers stay clear of aggression – of ‘that’s life’ for it is not their lives – love above all, is.

It is the best disease to have in life.  To be a dreamer. It can be infectious in it’s own way.

Where are those nuns now I think.  I hope dreaming that one little girl, now a Silver woman,  stills sees the world in the most optimistic, though a veiled, humbalicious, magnificent, light way.

Image – pintrest

When we are old and ugly … sorry, when we are old.

Cindy Joseph – Model

Chatting to a friend the other day, about getting old.  I said ‘ When we are old and ugly …’ instantly met with a … no, no, ‘When we are old.  Full stop.  We will never be ugly.’ And she is right.

We choose how we want to look and feel, despite the mature years. We choose.

We baby boomers are not for sinking into old age.  We are soaring into maturity. Could I say even, becoming the first generation that makes the mature years totally glamourous! I think so. All around us there are beautiful women in their fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond who are nailing in the confident, together, empowering and looking better than they ever have.  Think Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergman for example.  Then we have women like Cindy Jospeh, Yasmina Rossi and Carment Dell’Orefice who are inspiration deluxe!

Who would have thought it when we remember our mothers, aunties and grannies in their perms and twinsets and pearls?  Bless ’em.  Going to gym, doing yoga, partaking of the odd tweak, nip and tuck?  Not so much. Not the proverbial we.  Breaking of stereotype is more like it.  And you don’t have to embrace the grey if you don’t want to, but if you do … look at the possibilities. 

Nowadays women are facing the ‘gray divorce’, starting businesses from scratch, travelling more and finding their place in the world – they have been there for their children, their spouses and family and ultimately finding that ‘settling’ is not for them.  And not for us easy.

Must admit that life sort of bashed me around a bit in the last two years and I found myself going, ah what if the roots showed, what if the tracksuit was more comfortable … making an effort was an effort, and I needed the vegetate hollow to get myself back on track.  Happened faster when I was reminded that getting older did not mean letting go of who you are and how you look. And let’s face it, looking good is feeling good.  We have the mentors, the women who have blazed the path and this baby boomer is back on track.  Still going to wobble she knows, but starting with the never letting herself go when life lets her go.

Maybe you can relate.  For a long time, looking for new clothes was kind of blah.  I had clothes, practical clothes, clothes that maybe one day I would fit into again. Would go shopping and say .. right, first to get rid of all the old stuff … starting again … and not doing it. The wardrobe of settling.  Justifying the putting on of the odd pound, I needed the comfort food. Will change tomorrow.

Tomorrow arrived today. Went shopping and thought I need to be inspired and only I could do that, with the help of these incredible mentors.

Growing old, for sure.  Ugly … never. Owe it to myself, as you do.

Images bored panda, pintrest, telemetro

 

Humba Khale. Go well and to understand. And be understood.

Of moet dit wees ‘n stofdeeltje wat op die plaaspad beroer word en ‘n oomblikkie lank bestaan en weer gaan lê?

Of ‘n blink filofyn grassie wat ‘n oomblikkie lank die son sien voordat die skadu hom weer bedek, en sy blaartjies toevouw?

Dit is genoeg.  Dit is bestaan.

 

Elsa Joubert, ninety five years old, famous South African writer, has published her recent book, called ‘Spertyd.’   To beat a self-imposed deadline. A friend recommended I read this, thank you Marna, and I not only read it, but wished that everyone who has ever had to be with her mother in her last years, could.  Should.  I wish I had read this in my mother’s last years.

In all the taking care of my mother, the frustration, the worry and the knowing that time was short, I never really felt the devastation of growing old through her eyes.  Elsa makes it plain.  She is that age, and writes of the frustration of what it is like to lose everything, to be in a home where others die as regularly as meal times.

Brutally honest, humorous and poignant, she speaks of her own story.  Of being old and close to death.  The friends who were once there, and now gone, her husband.  All familiar lost yet not giving up. Not just yet.  Failure of body, prodding of medical, caring of strangers who become the lifeline of daily existence.  Frustrations and loss. Without complaining.

My mother never complained.  We were so adamant that she understand that selling her house was best for her, moving her to frail care was in her interest, having security and pills was essential.  Afternoon tea and trying to adjust was just the way it was.  Elsa speaks of the smallness of her reduced life, the going back when going forward is short, when being afraid is normal. Giving over and trying not to give up.  The uselessness of feeling valuable and counted for when all is shutting down.  And wondering about the purpose of it all, her life, her existence.  As I said, honest.

My mum is gone.  Many friends are struggling with the situation now.  They are exhausted and terrified at the same time. Children becoming parents and parents becoming children.  Elsa is never the child in her book, grateful for her family and acutely aware that her time has come, and gone but that her life counts for something. She makes the best of it, without regret.

She speaks for all who are there – at the end of the platform.

Humba Khale is a Zulu term for go well. Never goodbye but travel well.  This book shook me in a way that I always saw my mum’s life ending, but never as part of another journey where I cannot go.  I miss her still, but I am saying Humba Khale to her … and I am sorry I never really understood how it must have been, being removed, re-located, parcel in another chapter she wanted little part of. Without complaining – maybe we just get to that stage where we know others mean well and there is no point in fighting the inevitable?

What is our meaning, our purpose on this earth.

‘Or is it a speck of dust on a farm road, that stirs for a moment and then settles again? ‘

‘Or a shining tendril of grass that catches the sun for an instant before the shadow enfolds it again?

It is enough.  You exist.

Understand all, in youth and old age.  It will be your turn soon enough. Listen and remember the young girl in your mother and say ‘Humble Khale Mama’ – you were part of the universe and always will be.

Image: Dave Ross photography

 

 

Friend-preneuring.

Friend-preneuring.

It Happens.

Let’s face it, being here, right now, at this time of our lives … different.  The pages of the book of our lives turn a little too fast, like those animated cartoons they draw and then wizz the pages by so frantically until it all seems to come alive. Woosh!

Everyone though is different.  Some are content with the blessings bestowed and some well … really starting all over again. Complacent or energised? So much to do, much to accomplish, a few dreams to be dusted. Life not even close to settling.

Starting or building up a business at this stage … it’s not so different to all generations.  We have the same blocks to build, the same networks to form, the same goals to achieve.  When it comes to  networking … it is different.  We are fortunate to have the experience, so you see, times it does count. Might not be in your known field, you may be wanting something totally different, but this is where I find the concept of networking so special.  And more so as a women in her Silver Street.

Let me tell you why. And this is important.

I network a great deal for my business. What I have found so enriching about most of it, is that the people I network with, almost all become friends.  

Women are like that.  We don’t meet on a golf course or in a board room, but in a coffee shop, over lunch, in a park, in our homes.  Sharing similar goals and ideals on how to achieve financial freedom. Doing what we love, be it in the creative, financial, medical or education fields.  We chat, first about ourselves, our families, our history and before long we are connected on a deeper level – we actually care about each other over and above our business interests. We want to help each other on a level deeper than business.  How can we help?  How do we tell others and recommend their business? Foster their goals? How do we serve someone who is perhaps, also beginning a new life, a new business – see what’s happening here? We are friend-preneuring.

Of course we want those we form relationships with through networking to help us in our endeavours, believe us worthy of recommendations and build lasting relationships, but we are going deeper than that, we are caring, as women do, and wanting to help.  Is that not our nature, particularly at this stage of our Silver lives, to embrace and empower our sisters and in doing so they will do the same for us? If anyone said friends and business don’t mix, I disagree.  It is the many friends we make through networking, the coming together of like that encourages and fosters our business.  We form a network of kindred souls and my business has grown because of this.  Because friends, some new, some from long ago, are also out there, working hard for their families and themselves and understand the silent language of women in business with lives that may be difficult, wonderful, personal. Women who have lived and turned over many chapters. Friend-preneuring is about the personal. My clients become my friends, my friends give me business, my business thrives because these friends care and I endorse them and care for them in return.

True success in life and business only grows if those you believe in, believe in you.

Networking in this hurried world is not all about landing the contract. The brief. Not in my business anyway.  Being in the travel and events business, being a writer and motivational speaker is a business I can only grow if I learn to understand my clients, their personalities.  They want the best wedding for their children, a memorable trip, a resonating voice.  To be heard. I am not selling a material object but a dream.  To be successful in this, I need to feel trusted and understood. Many great women who are in business do this.  They offer more than the goods, they offer compassion, clarity, vision and in our Silver Street, understanding of what it is like on this road of life.

Networking is great. It is also hectic at times.  But every so often, someone comes across your path and you connect – your get each other, your business interests may be different but your willingness to take care of each other, is mutual. You want to be there for them and they for you. And you work together, as business partners, and as friends.

I look at networking, or entrepreneurship more as friend-preneurship.  And I love it. My clients are my friends and more than that I am theirs. And business is blooming.

So when you go out to network, go out to make a friend. Best of all worlds.

Image Mogul

 

 

Time for white.

 

 Time for white.

Your time now.  The ‘let’s decorate in white’ time.  Back in the day, when little ones were still running around with chocolate covered fingers and crayons, the thought of white couches were a no go.  White couches belonged in penthouses, magazines and hotel lobbies. Not in your home.

Now it’s time – in the Silver Street time, to take on the white.  You have earned it.  Even though the grandchildren may pop in, it’s your home and your rules and bringing in white will not only create an more elegant feel, a more dare I say it ‘grown up’ feel, but put in place a new era of how you want to live in your home.

Rover and kitty will have to learn to abide by the rules.

Always loved white linen, the pristine, classical appeal of fresh, white sheets.  Plump white duvets beneath white covers.  Crips white cushions – like sleeping in a cloud. White bath sheets, white linen bags, almost everything white except for what had to be practical in a family home.  But I am leaning towards the white everything now – right down to the appliances and wall colours.  Touches of colour in art and design pieces but I like the feeling of clean and crisp.

Can only admire the genius of The White Company as they do white so well.

Down to the exterior.  White cushions on the patio to sit in for that cool white wine.  I love the idea of being surrounded by white iceberg roses in the garden. Sunset makes them pop. Talking about gardens, its been years since I fell in love with the white garden at Sissinghurst.  White and Silver that gleans even on the dullest of days.

Be bold, even in the smallest way and make a statement for you present state of mind.  Add white to your home and your life, you will surrender to the elegance of it all.

Time to make a change and reclaim your life space. Go with white.

 

 

Images: novainteriors, pintrest and country living.

The danger of the waning thrill.

There is a difference between being contentedly bored,

And that gnawing lull of ‘being over it’.

Now, would the second be something you feel lately?  I have. Admittedly I have times that the numbness of everything is nestlingly comfortable – and some may say a tad depressive, but it is a very real thing when life seems to be on playback and repeat rather than thrillingly mobile.

There are healthy debates about this, but the truth is that at this stage, all the gathering and doing and planning have could reached a flat lining plateau in your life.  The house has been painstakingly decorated, your clothes suffice, the garden is well, gardened and so forth.  You just don’t get the thrill out of shopping anymore (say what!) and work, relationships, just about everything seems dull and repetitive. Boring. 

A discussion the other day, about this very ‘blah’ feeling we get, is that our generation has perhaps really done it all in a shorter time frame;  we have been in many different jobs, travelled often, moved home more than a few times, educated and seen the children fly,  attended a hundred functions and over the gym.  Rather than toss our furniture and stuff – we hang onto them now for sentimental reasons – this reminds me of the children, that when our parents were alive – something else from someone else and our nest becomes our museum of our own making.  We hang onto clothes that may come in useful when the plague is back in fashion, or all those knitted jerseys and beanies never quite looked good so why knit some more?  Tired of your own cooking – it happens.  Cooking may even cease to be anything but practical. Series watching seems less work.

The Thrill is gone, or waning and leaving the building. 

Our lives seems to get smaller (some say they like this) and the thrill of starting anything new seems too much effort.

So, the other day, in one of those distinctly sitting and staring at nothing outside kind of moments, I was not bored, I was thrillless.  Without the slightest flicker of a thrill situation. This could have gone on indefinitely but I was likely to join the likes of Miss Havisham at the table with cobwebs glistening in my hair – it was time to realise I was the bad kind of bored.  I was the thrill missing in my life kind of bored and that is not good.  Not good at all. 

I was leaving my own table with nowhere to go.  So what to do other than the weekly must do’s and the occasional blimp of a highlight on the horizon. Anything but nothing I said to myself and set a task to get the bum off the chair and the blood pumping to Thrill status again.

It may not be skydiving but there are some thrilling little creative lists in action.

Don’t let the waning of thrill get the better of you. And don’t tell me you are content. Only Charlotte Collins, nee Lucas, is. Choose Elizabeth Bennet.

 

Images:  Craft your content.

Choose to show up

 

 

 

Choose to Show up in your own life.

On your terms.

With all your messy make up,

Your unfinished business.

With tattered ballgowns

and good intentions.

Bring your past.

Do not forget your heart.

 

Choose to show up.

You are your own brand.

Lieflingskos – My family’s recipes …

In all the moving over the past nine years, so many treasures have taken a severe beating – including my heart, and I have cried hot tears over ruined family treasures; water damaged Coffee books, moulded photographs and of course my collection of Recipe books.

I am the avid reader and once collector of recipe books supreme.  Who would forget the essential Wedding present from my mother-in-law ‘Kook and Geniet?’ (Cook and Enjoy) No self respecting new bride would be without one and believe me,  I needed it badly.  For one who never eats eggs, boiling one or unable to boil one was embarrassingly disastrous for me.  The most patient husband ever.

As the little ones grew, my home and garden and little family were all.  I was happiest with Iceberg roses in a vase on the kitchen island  and Delia Smith’s ‘Piedmont Peppers” recipe open on the page whilst darling was barbecuing outside.  I could do this!  Ended up being rather a dab hand in the kitchen thanks to the best friend recipe books.

And then there was my mother’s recipe book. Mom may not have taught me to cook, but she sure could bake.  Every Friday in our home, and I continued the tradition, was baking day.  Day for stocking the shelves; bowls of sweets and flowers throughout the house day. 

Truth be told, my grandmother was a baker rather than a cook also.  The Croxley exercise book handed down to me contains recipes they both loved, primarily baking, but also many Dutch recipes.  Over the years I added my own, with entries from Prudence, Philomena and friends …

Few escaped the move.  Heartbroken to pry pages stuck together, mouldy and forgotten in the garage for a too small kitchen in the flat. It was as if my heritage, my history and a happy part of my life were as mouldy and water logged as my favourite books were.

Which is why I am starting a new one!  No time like the present to create for the future and my children.  It is time to stop sobbing over what is lost and cherish was was, add to it and plan for those seventy cupcakes required when grandchildren have their birthday parties.  

This will be my Lieflingskos – my collection of loved food and memories.

It will be simply.  My Grandmother, My mother, mother-in-law, my housekeepers and my friends recipes will be restored and written about. With a story to share in the future.  More than capture their recipes I am adding our cultural favourites, Dutch and Afrikaans.  Add all the others I love, that marked a special occasion, tried and tested by my family.  It will be my gift to my children, just as I received from those I love and continue to be part of who I am.

As a gesture of just how awful I was as a young bride about to cook, I will share Delia’s recipe for Piedmont Peppers.  Still a favourite, always my first attempt. Yay!

PIEDMONT ROASTED PEPPERS

This recipe is quite simply stunning: hard to imagine how something so easily prepared can taste so good.

Its history is colourful too.  It was first discovered by Elizabeth David and published in her splendid book Italian Food.  Then the Italian Chef Franco Taruschio at the Walnut Tree Inn near Abergavenny cooked it there.  Simon Hopkinson, who at it at The Walnut Tree, put it on his menu at his great London restaurant Bibendum, where I ate it – which is how it comes to be here now for you to make and enjoy.


METHOD

Begin by cutting the peppers in half and removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact (they’re not edible but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape).

Lay the pepper halves in the lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, then drain them and slip the skins off, using a cloth to protect your hands. Then cut the tomatoes into quarters and place three quarters in each pepper half. Watch How to Skin Tomatoes here.

After that, snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into rough pieces and add to the tomatoes. Peel the garlic cloves, slice them thinly and divide the slices equally among the tomatoes and anchovies.

Now spoon 1 dessertspoon of olive oil into each pepper, season with freshly milled pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies) and place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the peppers to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Then transfer the cooked peppers to a serving dish, with all the precious juices poured over, and garnish with a sprig of basil leaves.

These do need good bread to go with them as the juices are sublime – focaccia would be perfect.

ADDITIONAL

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

EQUIPMENT

For this it is essential to use a good, solid, shallow roasting tray, 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm). If the sides are too deep, the roasted vegetables won’t get those lovely, nutty, toasted edges.
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Do you have a memory of a favourite recipe that captures your heart? 
Image:  Delia online

What a privilege it is to have someone worry about you.

One of the things I do when I get back to the ‘Old country’, is to call my friends.  Old socks friends, the rooting kind of friends, the Silver Street same avenue friends. Time to catch up.  And you know what … each one of them, bless their hearts, is worried about someone else.

Most are mothers.  Worried about their children – hardly a word spoken about themselves.  

‘How are you? ‘ I ask.  And they speak about their children, or those who don’t have, about someone else in their lives … and they care about, and worry about.  Interesting it is.  Some are about to become grandparents – they worry about the birth, how their children will deal with it, excited, but yes, worried.  Some have children who seemed to have lost their way … how to reach through to them, tell them it’s going to be ok when they are grown and following a part of their own making.

Some are worried about friends. Their health is scary, things are happening (as we well know in Silver Street) and worried that they will be alright, make it through, be assured of their being there for them.  Some are saying goodbye, nursing their parents, wishing things were different with partners and loved ones … each worrying about someone other then themselves. 

So, a flurry of calls to those I deem important in my life, and quiet moment to take in the love they have for others – it is amazing and gorgeous and I know, I worry about my own children , and those I love, but to hear it, to sense the outreach of it, to be surrounded by those who spoke of their concerns for others … what a privilege all of you out there, to have others worrying about you. That you come first, that you matter … that we in make it our day to worry and wonder at your wellbeing, your personal happiness, your life matters. It had me thinking … if I am guilty of being an over protective mother, worrying too much about my friends and those I love, I am not alone.  You are all doing the same.

And those being worried about … you are blessed. Someone has you in their corner.  They will fight for you, no matter what.

The truth is I do worry about those I love. I want the best for them. I want to take the hurt of life away and say it is ok.  I want them to know I will fight the bears, the dragons and the demons for them … and I am not alone. Rather than call us overprotective, meddling, too close, call us mothers, friends and lovers.  It is our calling to worry about you …and you should be happy we do.

Worry is a strange word sometimes. Negative perhaps, and lovely to know that someone may be doing the same for you.  Worrying you will be ok.  As long as you worry about them, it will come back to you … and in all that worrying, it will be alright.

Great to catch up and know you put others above you. Great to know others have someone in their corner. It is a win, win situation don’t you think? What a privilege to care that much.

Never dismiss another worrying about you. Value it.

Images: Quotes, my journey back.

The joy of Easter Friday.

You may wonder at the photograph –  a nice house, a bit of a view and lots of fog. Imagine it thus.

A seven bedroomed house, perched high up on a cliff with a view of the ocean, endless blue to gaze at from the pool deck with a glass of wine whilst the barbecue sizzles and the conversation is … we are finally here.

We are finally here.  A year of planning for a client’s birthday in South Africa.  Some clients are just that extra bit special and this is one such occasion.  An emotional event, friends from all over the world, coming together in Cape Town and the Wine lands to celebrate, not only a milestone but the bonds that link them.  Parents, grandparents, children and friends.  And this morning it was raining. 

Raining in the Cape.  A thirsty province in the grip of drought and though we from London and Ireland would go … why does it rain when we get here, instead we are blessed with the moisture from heaven – a good sign to say the least.  After church, I drove to Cape Town to make sure they had arrived safely, tired yet thrilled to be here.  The children just ran, I mean ran through the house, reuniting with cousins and eager to share this holiday freedom.  Left feeling elated, and as I drove along Camps Bay, the fog lifted to reveal sunlight on the beach.

Coming home, I was met with children playing on a building site across the road.  How I remember the joy of playing on a building site, half formed rooms, piles of sand, ledges to climb, places to jump down from. Not strictly allowed and a little .. oh oh, when they spied me, but I am the child who remembers that freedom and so as I sit on my little veranda, the sun still high at six, revelling in the outdoor frivolities of children, I thought about the message in church today.  And it is a Christian day, it is a Jewish special day … it is the day that we remember sacrifice of those who give us the traditions and beliefs we hold today. It is the grounding that allows us to feel alive and fortunate to have been given this world, at this time, despite the negativity, despite the hardship, we get to play a little longer in the sunlight.

To all my friends that believe in the higher power, the good, I wish you a beautiful Easter, a beautiful Pesach, time to reflect and yet a time to realise that we are but small, gorgeous creatures in a bigger place.  And we matter.  You matter.

I am blessed to be here in this sunshine.  Blessed to honour this special weekend and looking forward to the eggs on Sunday! Though times have been so tough, I am so in love … with it all.

The point is – times you have to move out of one’s own sphere and limited life to the bigger picture and today was joyful.  I helped people be happy, the children showed me the same and before the sun sets … love came through the clouds into my heart and showed me how great it is to be alive.

The picture: tonight the view is magnificent but we needed the rain to make it so.