Plan for Joy.

 

Luxury is not measured by material possessions, but by love and pure joy.  These two things elevate life from the mundane to the luxurious.’

The past weekend I found myself in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.  The haven that is Franschoek: the occasion, a wedding that will live in my memory forever.  There are three reasons of this:

  • South Africa offers some of the most beautiful wedding venues in the world.  Nature provides the backdrop, be it in the bush, in the vineyards, on the beach … each spectacular, unique. I was reminded of this.  This is why I love doing events and weddings here.
  • The wedding was one long awaited.  Two souls who have been together for a long time,  the bride converting to Judaism to prove her love, a gesture so great, the occasion was sweeter for it.
  • A reunion of lifelong friends.  Literally lifelong as I am part of a group of exceptional women who have stayed friends since birth. Fifty odd years of commitment and joy to each other.  And we celebrated this.  We have led extraordinary lives, times uneasy, times fraught with the living of it, but never without each other’s undying support. I count myself blessed to have a sisterhood unlike any other.

As the sun clipped the top of the Helderberg mountains, turning the landscape a romantic hue of pink, love and joy were tangible for all to succumb to and revel in. We cried in our love for the couple, Tamsin and Jarryd, tears of joy as we witnessed their devotion, depth of  religion, traditions, uninhibited joy. 

Which reminded me:  we have to plan for joy.  

In the daily grind, we plod, through the routines, the schedules, the diary filled with what to do.  We become blasé to that feeling of giddiness, of exultation, of romance in our lives.  Guilty on that score when things seems dull and ugly.  So we must make the effort, we must plan for joy.  In the smallest of occasions, in the grandest of celebration, we must plan to make that moment, as it was for me, a day to remember. The event planning, the months of work, will be worth it, no matter how small the celebration, make it unforgettable and purposeful. Fill your life with flowers, with small gifts for others, put thought into making others happy.  Plan for joy.

 

Then came the interesting comment. ‘You are very brave to attend this wedding on your own.’

I must admit, since I became ‘on my own’, I have avoided weddings and special occasions, for this very reason.  My new, single status seemed ‘without the plus one’ and we know how that feels.  I pondered for awhile and then I said:

I still find myself in that luxurious state of love and unending romance. I find myself exactly where I want to be.’

Let’s just say, I planned for joy, and I found it.

Note to self.  Sometimes you have to make a plan to find joy, it needs some commitment but the rewards are unending.

Are you planning for joy?

PS whilst I was indulging in romance, love and joy in South Africa, my children were celebrating Halloween in London – with planned joy. Divine! Nothing like an occasion to celebrate life xxx

 

Images: Chatz wedding, Tasha Seccombe, Fleur le Cordeur

#boschendal #fleur le corder #okasie #franschoek #southafrica #emilysiannecox

The Gratitude Diary. A personal approach.

‘I realised that my focus was always on the negative and on what had to be done, rather than on what I’d already achieved or the things I could be grateful for.’  Wendy Fry on how a Gratitude diary helped her be more positive.

Times really don’t want all the cheeriness about.  Clichéd quotes and all those preppy, positive utterances which sort of sends me into a deeper depression than the one I am trying to escape from – back off happy hippy!

But, and she says but, I admit to having a gratitude journal.  Sort of.  Actually do, although I don’t write in it everyday and times I have to think really hard about what I can be grateful for – this is tricky when life has just dished out the latest slap on the back of my head sort of thing, so I don’t push it.  I would have to be drug induced to smile everyday with that gratitude label when it ain’t such a great day.

But, I digress.  The journal, at it’s proper time, is great.  And this is how I snuggle up to mine.

  • Morning is best for me.  With a strong espresso and a fluid, black, ink pen.  Early means the day still has plenty of promise.  
  • Everything looks more ‘to be grateful for’ in the morning.’
  • Weird as I am, I usually list one thing that is not so good. Short, sweet, just like that.  Something happened, a diary entry.  Then I write one word to address it – what I am going to do about it.  Sorts that one out.
  • List three things I am grateful for i.e. my children, my ability to travel, my home.  Pick up on the three key points, children, travel and home and think of three ways I am going to enjoy them more. In a short amount of time, I have thought of a day out with my children and something to do in my home – even getting a bunch of flowers would be perfect.

 

(The Flowers I can have, the Hallway?  Still a dream …)

In a quick sip of the espresso, I have dealt with a negative, listed three things I am deeply grateful for, and swung into positive action.

Short and so, so sweet. 

Images:  Gratitude forward TCK, writing forward, Pintrest

 

 

 

The sentimental sort of mothering.

IMG_6255 Just as there can never be enough space in a mother’s heart for her children, there can never be a greater compliment for a child when their mother holds onto every little bit of their childhood.

I am so sentimental!  One of the problems of downscaling and moving house, has always been my dogged commitment to keeping every little piece of my children’s years; their early ‘interesting’ art, scribbled phonetical lines.  Their letters to Santa (which of course were posted), reports on poems said, galas swum and of course the birthday cards, inoculation cards, dance cards and then there are the photographs. These tangible pieces of their lives are lugged around from country to country, home to home, at times in lieu of furniture or favourite pieces, for these are the days of their lives (literally)

IMG_6263 Times life changed from the plan, and they grew up.  Times they did not want reminding that Mom was always reminding them of ‘when you were young’ – Mom, don’t do that sort of thing – but she does.

‘Grown don’t mean a thing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown. In my heart, it doesn’t mean a thing.’

Toni Morrison.

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Today I dipped back into the boxes. Old friends.  Laughs and giggles and in a way, a reminder that I did good.  I am the keeper of childhood, the maker of the King and Queens and overall, in the large scheme of things, as life as it throws us like surf on the highest wave, I did good.

I am a sentimental mother.  Guilty and giddy with the thought.

 

Giacometti, The Tate Modern and merde – she says no, no, no

fullsizeoutput_75d7 ‘Be it ancient or contemporary, Art speaks of our time on earth.’

Times mistakes are good.  Blond here had a ticket for Stanley Tucchi’s film ‘The Final Portrait’ with Geoffrey Rush, depicting the life of Giacometti. Happens to coincide with the exhibition at the Tate Modern.  Sunday, sunday, sunday she had drilled in her head.  Problem was, Sunday past and my entrance into a very empty cinema confirmed my dilly lack of detail. ‘Merde’ she hisses … but I am at the Tate Modern, to Giacometti I will go. Stream the movie later.

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Sensory overload.  Understanding contemporary art requires careful observation.  Standing back, reflection and looking at the careful details of every aspect of what is presented to the viewer.  Story telling in the art. Don’t rush, don’t rush.  These are statements on politics, social interaction, the world perceived by those who strip the everyday to the core. Sometimes, I find myself looking at splotches (yes a bit like a child throwing paint on canvas) but then comes the question – does it make sense as a piece on it’s own, or more if we learn what the artist was trying to express?  What are your thoughts?

fullsizeoutput_75d5 Then, we come to the raindrop.  The artist, mesmerised by the spiritual qualities of a raindrop, and how to transform in concrete terms … I stand and look, and look and in the looking … behind me a woman says in Afrikaans ‘lyk soon ‘n tiet’ – looks like a tit! Boob dangling from string – are you totally without I wonder, but laugh as she does to realise I understand the language.  The art is decidedly lost on her and her partner, in fact a few minutes later I pass them again, her voicing the need to find an exit to all this nonsense.  No, No and no again … And so it goes … should I smile, should I shudder … but that is contemporary art for you … each to his own I guess.

I, on the other hand, am inspired.  I cannot do this, so I appreciate others who can. May not always understand, but try to,  There is a reason these pieces have a place in this great gallery. 

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Aaah, ’twas a great afternoon. I live in a city where all the great works come together.  The Tate, the Modern Tate and all the other galleries that offer me the chance to see the greats.  Not too shabby she says as she takes the lift to the 10th floor. The viewing deck.

IMG_5596IMG_5611 London Skyline

Standing up there, with a full 380 degree view, Art is everywhere. Ancient, modern, traditional, futuristic, it’s all for our pleasure. 

I want more of Botticelli, Michelangelo, Titian, Pollack, Warhol and everyone else that paints, sculpts, draws and puts to paper, canvas and metal the world the way they see it, to enlighten, enchant and entertain me … for I learn.

 

It’s official. You have to stop playing the Lotto – like now!

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It. Is. My. Turn.

We all know about the Struggle.  We do.  We live it, write about it and light candles to pray for the stopping of it.  The struggle is exhausting, and sometimes, all the hard work and millions of little dreams just elude the overcoming of the Struggle.

So the Lotto win is the next big thing. Have tried it at times, and weirdly, at times taken a ticket and never looked to see if I won anything – have you done that? ‘Perhaps winning something ticket’ lies in my purse until I tear it up, too arsed to see if a pound richer I am. Useless.  So I reckon, if I appeal to everyone on the planet earth to stop playing the Lotto, just for a little spell, I have a chance.  I need to win that Lotto, and my reasons are pure. They are:

  • I reckon I earned it.  Have dealt with the Struggle more than most of late.  Lotto will reward me for the Struggle.
  • In the eddy of Struggle, I have had to make do with Boots generic face products.  This is sad to say the least.  Trés sad.  I believe darling Helen Mirren says ‘f…king’ helps little all those moisturisers but it feels SO good to have expensive creams on the wrinkly face.  Bits of gold leaf in neck cream is awesome.
  • Need new gym clothes.  I don’t go to the gym but wearing them around the house makes me feel healthy. Haute couture gym clothes is all for working on the laptop.
  • Googling exotic destination holidays on waitron salary is fatal to the soul. A la masochistic mode. A little Lotto booty will take me from Southfields to the South of France and we all know, a girl needs the Cote d’Azur for uber wellness.
  • Mermaid Honda Jazz is sick.  She is valiant, but sick.  Ignore anyone who says it’s fine – trying to outsmart a Range Rover Vogue is not only frightening but makes us feel like  Thomas the tank engine next to Gordon the Big. I need Range Rover injection.
  • Surrounded by big city fashion labels.  I don’t really like fashion labels (bullies all of you) but sneaking into Primark is random stuff. Just once, just once, Lotto can get me the Loro Piana, Hermes and wine – circa made by monks with no screw top.
  • Letting someone else struggle with the unruly Macbeth hags hair.
  • Foregoing Ryan Air dehumanisation in favour of turning left on British Airways.
  • Allow for setting up trust funds for my children with great titles that sound important.
  • Centre court tickets at Wimbledon.  Tennis is not my passion but centre court sounds so grand.
  • Being told, of course you may have a table, and not being lied to about full bookings because you ask for a table for one.
  • Charity.  Being able to share the Lotto with others rather than thinking, sorry mate, I have beans for the rest of the month myself.

And you know what?  I don’t want the millions – seriously – it brings it’s own headaches and heartaches, but a little extra would be welcome.  

And you know what?  If I won, I would most likely give it all to my children.  Actually more in love with the packaging of Uber brands than spending money on the items themselves. Have no need for yachts or watches, sports cars or holiday homes.

Just want the feeling of saying … maybe I could.

Truth be told … very happy with what the Struggle has made of me, the great opportunities presented and the drive created.  But, and I say but … a little of the Lotto would be nice.

So again, stop playing all you lovely people – this dame needs a windfall of possibilities.

You can play again, say in a month or two.  And if the saying that every draw creates six winners of millions and I figure this has being going on for a while, surely the odds are in my favour if you all desist for a while …

images-40 The price of a new car, cosmetic ‘upliftment’ and that little black dress means winning the Lotto – so help a poor girl out will you?

PS if I win, having taken two tickets tonight, I shall share it with the first person who tells me how winning will change their lives, in the most interesting way, for the better.

PS – if you believe that I love you, but seriously, a little for the information.

Images: Pintrest

The size ten looking back at me – Jenni Button’s and my glory story

Jenni-Button-store-copy Back in the prime years (did I just say prime? is it not the prime years now she wonders?).  Back in the prime years, living in South Africa, Jenni Button was my idol.  An icon in the fashion industry, sleek, elegant and classical designs much admired and barely affordable by moi.  But I loved her look.  Loved her philosophy.

The joy of the day that I found myself able to afford a few pieces by  Jenni Button, and better still, fitting into the size ten clothes – oh, happy day I remembered fondly. Still hanging onto that one.

Fast forward to the story of a women who built up a formidable business, went into a partnership deal and lost everything, including the use of her name in the fashion industry. Pointless legal battles and like my waist, went sideways. Jenni, like my body, had been sabotaged.  

Unlike my body, menopause does scoff at the size 10, Jenni did not succumb to the muffin top of life, and despite huge loss on both the financial and spiritual scales, turned her talents to Philosophy, her new clothing line.  Quick to thwart any more surprise attacks from those ugly powers of high, she also registered her name internationally, for one day, clever woman.  

kko0Qn85 The real Jenni Button

I do believe, nasty, scheming, unkind people never win, and so it was a delicious taste of Karma when the new bossy company went into liquidation a few years ago.  Sadly Jenni Button, Hilton Weiner and Aca Joe, all favourites, went with the sinking ship.  Lesson learnt I hope.

The real Jenni Button, as she likes to call herself, is going strong and a story for all of us.  Especially me. Still remains a fond memory of buying her clothes, feeling special being able to do so and the clothes may lie fallow in my cupboard, but will never be tossed for the size ten, like Jenni’s story, may well find restoration – post menopause.  I look at them every now and then, not with sadness, but fondness and expectation.  They are my possibles.

Interviewed by the ‘Entrepreneur’ magazine in 2009, Jenni told her heartfelt tale.  She also spoke of hindsight, learning from a bad experience (like Jo Malone) and moving on.  Some of her insights to success and inspiration are valid even today, and advice we should all follow, and I quote:

Jenni Button’s secrets to success & inspiration

  • If you don’t have absolute passion and pure conviction about your business venture, don’t bother doing it.
  • Being naive has its virtues in business but make sure you get all your admin perfectly in place. Many an otherwise savvy business person has been brought down because they didn’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s when it came to issues of partnership agreements, tax or legal documents.
  • If you choose to delegate (something I don’t do easily) make sure you check and double-check that it’s been done, and done properly. Your business relies on it.
  • Make sure you have a business plan and that it covers all potential areas of risk.
  • Do not procrastinate! “Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.” – Don Marquis
  • Change your thoughts and you can change your position in life. “It’s not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it’s the one that’s most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
  • “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill.
  • Refuse to be a victim! “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” – Steven Biko
  • Be flexible. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
  • “If moment by moment you can keep your mind clear then nothing will confuse you.” – Sheng Yen
I think of Jenni every time I peek in the cupboard and defy all who say, throw out the old clothes, for these are now even more valuable.  An inspirational, beautiful woman and one I hope to meet one day, preferably in the size 10 clothes she made for me.  Felt like a princess, thanks Jenni!
Images: twitter and destiny

Summer days, swimming days and those summer nights.

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“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.’ Albert Camus

‘Hey what did I hear you say … you love summer?  Ditto darling – I am intoxicated by it. Born in the Southern hemisphere, summer is in my blood.

Love the seasons, truly I do.  Something about Paris in winter, London in autumn, but summer, summer is the happiest time for me.

I remember myself in summer as a child.  Swimming until my blond hair turned green.  Swimming all afternoon, after homework, after sports and washing my hair with ‘Beer on tap’ (remember that?)  We were allowed to play outside in our pyjamas. Parents were happier in summer, as were we, holidays at the beach, romances fleeting but poignant, besties sharing secrets beside the pool.  Growing up was summer in my mind.

IMG_1090 2 Remember the tanning?  Cooking oil.  How the records we played warped in the sun? Nut brown and happy. Summer solved everything. Even drinking Coca cola. Times we swam in dams on farms, shrilling at the thought of a barbar nibbling at our toes.  Times in the river, but it was ok, we were brown skinned, carefree and unafraid. Accomplishing the ‘back dive’ without death was a serious achievement. Achievements were small in the huge world of things but these were ours, as were our summers of teenage transition and longing for the bikini moment.

My children are summer children. Grew up in the sun.  Skinny, naked bodies in the water. Wandering in rock pools. Swimming birthday parties. Slightly sun kissed, in their pj’s playing games in the garden until late in the evening. Barbecue children.  Farm children in the summer when going on a night drive was fun for finding spring hares and living by the light. Watermelon children, marco polo children – children who understood the idea of playing no matter the heat, but those summer evenings made all the difference.

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Living in a costume has to be a privilege. Better to play, to lie on the grass and glance at the clouds, make mud houses and climb trees. Stripped of everything. Sleeping with open windows at bedtime, waking to the sun.  That is summer.

As I sit here tonight in London, it has been a very hot day.  A glorious day.  People hit the parks, and wilted on public transport. Families held picnics in shade, hats on, white skins, languishing in the gift of sun.  And I thought, this is great, this is summer, but also … thought, I remember the halcyon days of summer when water was close, swimming was all and those nights on, not my balcony, but on my veranda, smells of braaivleis, light natural till ten, families together and children running, swimming, and the laughter … the laughter of being outdoor summer babies.

For me, the evening swim when it got too hot, naked in the water … that was when I knew I was a summer baby. It was a long time ago, but it was the most free I ever felt.

Exhale

Swan

Times you just need to exhale.

Seriously, just do it.

Exhale.

There have been times when my heart was pounding so hectically in my chest I thought I should just go, it’s time … this is how it is going to happen … my will is sorted … and it didn’t.

Anxiety attack leads to … waiting … waiting … and then the exhale.

I know I should be doing yoga, embracing the moon and counting the stars, but right now, the mere act of doing is what is important. Post f …ed up life is now becoming, sorting out time.  And I am busy, busy little bee I am.  Sorting, shifting, setting up goals, till … there goes the pounding of the heart and I know … I need to just exhale.

Amazing little mechanism that is.  Exhaling. Physically you go aaaaaah, and mentally you go … let it go for awhile. Pause. The world is not going to explode despite the politics, the weather, the unknown job or finance nightmare may still be there, but let it go.  For a moment and just … exhale. And I am not an exhaler of note, but learning.

We need to pause and drop the mess for a moment.  Put on the favourite song, go through the photos, leave the mobile behind and look outside.  The swan is still gliding, the birds still chirping and why am I saying this?

Met a friend in the city today. We go way, childhood way back, talked of the present, our spouses, our children, our lives and then, when the conversation of all that is negative ended, we began to talk of the good stuff.  Still being friends.  Come a long way since the mud cakes and tree climbing and still here.  Gave our young ones the best advice and now … have to let it go.  Have to exhale. Be in the moment of each other with different paths and infinite wisdom combined in lives lived darn well.  I had forgotten that.

Home to a text from another friend in the first throes of divorce.  Exhale. 

Home to a text from another who is lonely and purposeless.  Exhale.

Home to what is now, is, and looking around at the change and … exhale.

Breathed in the love, the passion and the exhausting taking course of just about everything. Breathed in the loss, the promise, the ambition and lack of it, panic and stress and as the sun is out later, the jury is out and going home, I remembered that to exhale is my right, right now. Tonight, for a moment or hours, for days or a month – I can do that and I choose to go …

Phew! Good day. Good day. Exhale and enjoy it. Tomorrow can wait.

Image pixabay.

A tête-ả-tête with two interesting perspectives. We learn.

475ea273d0d0c3f0efa329d52906da86  It was a good day.  Wonderful friend, client and innovative entrepreneur for a meeting at The Bar at Gilbert Scott’s in the gorgeous St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel this afternoon.  We were chatting, planning a fabulous 50th in Franschoek next year.

Both excited. Me as the Event planner with dreams in my mind and my friend, with the idea of a special occasion to show her husband how much she loves him.  Should have been champagne but it was a little early, and then the conversation turned to our different stages in life.

Caroline runs a successful company called ‘Baby proof your life‘, is a speaker of note and manages to combine a very busy working life with raising four amazing sons.  Even in this Silver Stage when we sometimes think we know just about everything, we learn.  Where Caroline is inspiring women to have full lives, I am at a stage inspiring women who may have to start again, like me, having done what we thought was right and finding ourselves having to begin all over again.  Which I might add, is not such a bad thing. Bad things do happen but it is how we face them and change that makes us all the more interesting.  Age does that sometimes, from the building up, to the facing of the other side when everything seems to be slipping and then go ‘whoa’ not ready, lots to still do and finding the courage to do it. Caroline is teaching women to see the future where having a great career and being a mom is a plan to ensure self worth on all levels.

So what am I saying here?  Never think that we are filled with the lessons in life. Learn from those younger, perhaps smarter and add that to the new path.  That is what I must say I love about living in London – anything goes, genders, relationships, business, life is so out there, so flexible, so malleable and ultimately, and opportunity to put the stereotypes of life at rest with the surge of possibility at my fingertips.

It was a flipping great day.  I found a new address, met someone I greatly admire and forged a new contact in my new business that makes me, on the trip home. on the tube at rush hour, undaunted, music in my ears, bopping to the Bee Gees and thinking … women are like play dough. We bend, we mould, we set and then we just find others who think outside the norm and go, wow, we can morph into a whole new ball of wonderful.  And begin again.

I hope my girls feel as empowered as I do right now.

Hope my girls will take on the world and paper maché it into a better place. Find a tribe of women that inspire, support and nurture a better life. I have and for that I am forever grateful.

In my Silver Street, tonight, another door opened on the journey – and the view is spectacular.

Saturday spent with the mysterious girl.

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Out to dinner in the village last night, Mid the experience, which was lovely, my vision is drawn to a couple, dressed in full wedding attire, striding past the window.  The ‘bride’, how do I put this, not a vision of beauty , marches ahead, dress hitched up and with the groom following behind.  Odd.  Odder still was their plonking themselves at a table close by.  The dishevelled bride is clearly worse for wear, in every way, and ravenous, the groom engrossed with his phone.  It’s burgers and fries in the wedding dress, No, no, and no again as we all think, and all a stare.  There is no glamour here, no beauty, no passion and no mystery. As they tuck into the grub, the tiara falls off and the veil thrust onto a chair and I am thinking, dear Lord, what happened to the beautiful?

Found it today.  A morning spent with tulips. Bed upon bed of beauty.  Short lived, these blooms are symbols of art in their colour, their shape and their ability to captivate.  There are over 5,500 types of tulips in the world today.  Each waits beneath the cold earth in winter to push upwards and perform in their finest days.  Icons in the renaissance of season and I could put that horrible vision far from my mind.  It’s the mystery you see.

Better still, the afternoon was shared with Johannes Vermeer in a documentary of ‘The girl with the Pearl earring.’  For over four hundred years the identity of this woman remains a mystery, and in that lies the beauty.  It does not matter that we have no name, but that we have a painting that engages, that takes our breath away and we are seduced by the artistry of someone, living so long ago, that could capture the wetness of her eyes, her lips and make us want to know more about her.  It is the mystery in her look that draws us in. To think that someone was able to harness the mastery in paint that transcends the normal and yet holds our imagination still.  That is beauty.  That is the mysterious.

We have become creatures of modern times when all is out there.  Social media and global living leaves us so tuned in, so up to date, so exposed to the baseness of it all.  Nothing is sacred in its mystery anymore.  All is instant, doable, current and frankly, sad.  We no longer wonder what lies under the sea, or up in the stars.  We know everything and if we don’t, we Google. Then we do.

There are times though, when we just shouldn’t .  Go back to wonder.  It has always been tough to get through life, so what am I saying here?  I did not like the frankness of the experience last night, and have to remind myself all the time that it’s about the moments of intangible experiences that really matters.

I will never paint like Vermeer.  I will never know the identity of the girl with the beautiful pearl earring – or why tulips are so beautiful, why some can capture life in art and not me, but I will always choose wonder, be enthralled by the mysterious.

Call me a dreamer – guilty as charged. Saturday spent with the girl with the pearl earring. It is her mystery that seduces me, the mystery of why tulips are so beautiful and the mystery of what is, and can be, that keeps me thinking that the love of it all, is worth it.