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Ode to Life and its Lessons

Life's moments and lessons captured in words.

Author

chuwechuwe

Small town girl. Big city life. A fugitive from the law of averages. Huge Chelsea FC Fan. Lover of high heels. Hockey Player. Fitness Fanatic. Bookworm. Lawyer. A lover of words. Zimbabwean born and raised. South African resident. An African Woman. Life has had its ups and downs for me. I have laughed till I cried. I have cried till I could cry no more. I have buried loved ones. I have loved and lost and loved again. I have grown. I have stood still. I have made friends. I have made memories. At every turn, I have found a different version of myself. At every turn I have learnt something new. Along the way I started this blog as little reminder of a few of the moments that have made me who I am today.....a small collection of randomness because memories fade but words are forever.

Time to Say Goodbye

Woman-Waving-Goodbye

“Time to say goodbye.
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te,
adesso si li vivrò.
Con te partirò
su navi per mari
che, io lo so… non esistono più,..” ~ Andrea Bocelli
I love Andrea Bocelli. He is amazing. I can listen to him for hours on end. Often I sing along passionately to the emotion with little care for the words. After all, is language not secondary to feeling when it comes to music?
For the sake of this post though, it is important that I am understood so the above is translated to English as follows:
Time to say goodbye
To countries I never
Saw and shared with you,
now, yes, I shall experience them.
I’ll go with you
On ships across seas
which, I know… exist no longer.
I am very private individual when it comes to my dealings with people I know and do life with. I prefer not to burden them with the deeper, more intense version of myself that co-exists with the chatty Cathy, half-baked comedian, devoted aunt, time-conscious friend who tends to laugh long and loud.
The former version of me is seen only in two ways, by people who live with me and/or through my writing. In the run up to our marriage and moving in together, I warned my husband that I am not always chatty. That sometimes I keep quiet for long moments or even lengthy periods for no good reason. That I can get really intense with no forewarning. “You!” He laughed. “That will be the day.” Shock on him #chuckles. My siblings know very well that the chatty moments are interspersed with my locked bedroom door, requests not to be interrupted and sometimes, just silence.
I rarely ever talk about the things that keep the “intense me” preoccupied. I don’t want to. I never did. Perhaps its that misguided notion that “they would never understand” that feeds my reluctance. Perhaps I just prefer that certain aspects of me remain private. Perhaps I would talk to a shrink because they are legally obliged to keep what I say to themselves but almost never to anyone else. But the thoughts chased each other in my head with such fierce intensity that the preservation of my sanity demanded a coping mechanism.
Enter writing.
As a teen, I kept secret journal upon secret journal. I would scribble away for hours. I was a moody and melancholy teen. My then best friend asked me to write a poem about her. I did. It was beautiful and melancholy. She read it with deep disappointment. “Its beautiful but its so sad. Why don’t you write happier things.” So I never wrote for her again because I learnt that melancholy is not for everyone ergo my writing is not for everyone.
That might be part of the reason I kept my blog a secret from family and friends for such a long time. Inevitably, one day someone who knows me found it and told a friend. And then another person found it and told another friend. And they enjoyed my writing. Imagine that. It was humbling. I was touched.
It was uncomfortable but I could live with it. I continued to write.
As the circle of familiarity grew, something new happened. People I know began to act on what I wrote and speak to me about what I wrote as though we had the conversation with each other about it. It was as confusing as it was funny.
Recently, a friend served food at a get-together. I was next to serve. She turned around and looked at me and then her plate with a somewhat guilty expression on her face. Odd, I thought as I reached for my plate. “This is how it happens isn’t it? I really shouldn’t but I will eat clean during the week,” she said to me. I was mildly confused and just as mildly interested. “What do you mean? Are you on a diet?” I asked. “No, its that thing you talked about.” Now I was interested. Did we have a conversation I forgot about I wondered. Worse still, since when do I say things to people that make them self-conscious about food??? How rude was I? Did I say something flippantly in another conversation. My mind flipped through all our recent conversations and returned a blank. “What thing,” I asked as I cautiously fished for a clue. “You know. That thing man,” she said. I was still confused. In addition, I was starting to feel a little stressed that we had obviously had a conversation that I had no memory of. She thought for a moment and then declared, “the love chub relationship!” Relief. We didn’t have a conversation at all. She read a blogpost.
This happened with 3 other women at the same event. Each one went to great lengths to explain their food choices. I felt bad.
Over the course of the past year or so, I have tried to be comfortable with writing what I really feel knowing people in my immediate circle are reading it. Once or twice I have even succumbed to sharing a post here and there. In the background, my discomfort continued to grow, fed by each “oh by the way, I read your blog. so and so sent me the link.”
I guess eventually we all have to be honest with ourselves. My heart sinks to my knees when I see a post shared on Facebook or on another blog and I am tagged. I always untag myself as quickly as is polite. Alternatively, I block the post from appearing on my wall. I feel strange but I listen politely when I receive passionate “instructions” from well meaning friends about how I should grow the blog. When I get the occasional, “you should blog about hair or beauty. It will make your blog more interesting,” I smile and wave. When people express how hurt they are that I would write about something but not tell them about it, I apologise.
While doing that, I also found myself posting less and less because my pool of “not” private subjects or subjects I don’t wish to explain is a bit thin. Things like the Novice Wife Chronicles (which I absolutely loved writing) have become a bit of a no-go because they are intrinsically private. What part of figuring out marriage isn’t? I also find myself becoming self-conscious about my writing and consequently enjoying it a lot less. Now this. This is catastrophic. This is due to no fault on the part of the reader but 100% the fault of the demons in my head.  I am bizarre, I know.
I just wasn’t ready.
The truth is now apparent to me though. My love for writing about the true, dark and raw version of myself is no longer compatible with this blog and its time to say goodbye to posts unwritten, to words unsaid and to stories untold. For the boat that would carry my words across the sea has sunk. We had a good run though.
All the very best to everyone. Thank you for taking the time out to indulge my words.
c’est la vie.
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No Financial Literacy. No Success.

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“It’s never too early to teach your children about the tool of money. Teach them how to work for it and they learn pride and self-respect. Teach them how to save it and they learn security and self-worth. Teach them how to be generous with it and they learn love.” ~ Judith Jameson

Living in Johannesburg (and on the internet), I have come to realise that we are a melting pot of people from all walks of life. Some of us come from poor backgrounds, others from middle class backgrounds and, a few, from wealthy backgrounds. We are all thrown together in this metropolitan melting pot to do what we can to not just live, but to thrive.

I am sure I speak for a great many people when I say that our parents did a great job at parenting us. Most of us are well-mannered. Our parents invested in that. We had access to education. We had decent clothing and food most of the time. Our parents invested in that. We were taught to be ambitious. Our parents invested in that. Safe sex and abstinence? If not the parents, then certainly the schools invested in that. Personal grooming? Of course, there was plenty of investment in that. No-one wants to be the girl or guy with the hairy, smelly armpit. Articulate and well-spoken? Articulate folks are a dime a dozen. We seem to be a bunch of well-rounded human beings with a good education. What more do we need?

In the final year of my law degree, I genuinely felt that way. I felt that as soon as I had that degree, I would be fully equipped to face the world and win. I got the degree and stepped out into the world and reality burst my bubble instantly. In the boxing match between myself and reality, I got knocked down a good many times. Each time, the following was confirmed: A degree was not enough; Good manners weren’t enough; Good personal grooming wasn’t enough;  Even a first job wasn’t enough. I needed a financial education and I needed it fast.

All of sudden I was assailed by the concepts of good debt, bad debt, personal loans, car loans, store credit accounts, buying lunch, surviving from pay cheque to pay cheque, taxes, budgets… in short, financial management and literacy. I was ignorant about one of the most defining factors of the success recipe. Allow me to illustrate how much of a defining factor it is: Donald Trump.

Slowly and painstakingly, I taught myself both from experience and from the experiences of others that buying everything for cash is not always wise in the long-term unless you are already wealthy. That you need strategic debt in order to build a credit record. That a good credit record opens a lot of doors when you need good debt. That a clothing account is not good debt. That a credit card is dangerous in an inexperienced hand but you need the bank to trust you with one later on in life when you want to shop online from the comfort of your bedroom. That you need discipline in the early years of earning income in order to be comfortable in your later years. That you don’t need everything you want. That bad decisions and ‘YOLO’ financial decisions are the main reason why so many people cannot afford to retire. That it can take up to a decade to dig yourself out of a year of bad financial choices. That Mike Tyson can go from having three hundred million dollars to being bankrupt because of financial illiteracy so it can happen to you just with a lot less money.

I have even grazed the tip of the iceberg of lessons that hit me.

Our parents equipped us as best as they knew how with the hope that we would do better than them. Is that not every parent’s ultimate goal. In doing the same for our kids, we need to ensure that we close the gap and equip them to make smarter choices than we did. They say a wise man learns not from experience, but from the experiences of others. Let us be the generation that learnt that financial literacy is the difference between success and failure and let our children be the generation of wise men and women who learnt from the experiences of their parents.

The earlier you teach a child to swim, the more comfortable and proficient they are in the water as they grow older. The earlier you teach your children the founding principles of money, the higher the chances are that they will excel when their peers are trying to figure it out 2 decades from now.

The Novice Wife Chronicles: Get Thee Behind Me Satan!

not-today-satan

Ever notice that the whisper of temptation can be heard farther than the loudest call to duty ~ Earl Wilson

I have zero doubts that the devil is alive and walks on this earth tempting man and woman alike. Now I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that among his favourite targets are Catholic priests, African Political Leaders, Pastor Mboro (Yes. He is  real person. Yes. He named himself that. Yes. It was on purpose) and newly-engaged/married folks. 

The day after I got engaged, I spent what felt like 20 hours trying to work while fielding what felt like an endless stream of calls from well-wishers. My husband posted an engagement announcement on Facebook at the crack of dawn. Lol. I was so not ready. The day was a blur after that first “I saw on Facebook…” What I do remember is my Top Shutter (old school Zimbabwean slang term for very close friend), after the screaming and excitement, pulling me aside and saying, “Babe, listen. A lot of weird things are going to happen and some weird temptations are going to present themselves in the coming days and months. You need to pray and be alert to what is going on around you.” I didn’t quite understand but she spoke with such gravity that I nodded and promised I would. 

Boy, was she right!!!

What I am about to tell you is a true account of a real events in my life…

I am a grown woman so being hit on by random men while I’m out and about is not new. Most of those men are not even guys I would give a second look for any number of reasons so the temptation levels are zero. This is especially so when I am in a relationship.

On a random day, a month or so after I got engaged, my human and I had a lover’s quarrel and I left his flat and headed to my favourite place: the mall. I wondered aimlessly around for a couple of hours, picked up a few items and finally reluctantly decided to go back and deal with it. 

I paid for my parking and headed into the parking lot. There was a tall, male figure walking in my general direction whose outline I could see with my peripheral vision. Having lived in South Africa for a decade, I immediately did the smart thing. I randomly turned between cars while still making my way towards my car to ascertain whether he was following me. He stayed with me. I wasn’t sure if he posed a threat or not but I was on red alert now. I still hadn’t looked at him properly because I would have to turn awkwardly to do so but I reached into my bag and took out my phone. At this point I was so close to my car that I had to make a decision: Walk past it or turn around. I chose to turn around and…. there he was. A guy who looked like he walked right out of a Telenovela with a shy smile on his face. He might as well have been Eugenio Siller himself which his long, curly, brownish-blonde hair pulled away from his face. He walked right up to me and stopped. 

Eugenio-Siller-1024x768.jpg

I. Wasn’t. Ready. He was devastatingly handsome. And I was speechless. The very short conversation that followed went something like this:

Him: Hi. I’m sorry. Did I startle you? I didn’t mean to. It’s just that I saw I saw you in the mall. You were in… (he hesitated a little and seemed to change strategy.)

Me: *Head turned slightly to the side while I listened. My verbose self didn’t produce a single word. Not one. I just looked at him.*

Him: (Taking a deep breath, he plunged on…I’m sure he was wondering whether I could talk at all) I guess it doesn’t matter where I saw you, what I am really trying to say is that I think you are beautiful and I was just wondering if maybe I could have your number?

Me: *my eyebrows shot to my hairline I’m sure* (Notwithstanding the WTAH that my mind produced, I calmly and politely said) I’m afraid that’s not possible. I’m engaged. 

Him: (Taking an immediate step back and looking very apologetic. He had manners too. What. Was. Happening???) I am so sorry. I hope you are not offended. Please take this as compliment and all the best to you and you fiance. 

And off he went into the sunset…literally. Yes. I turned around and watched him go under the guise off putting my shopping in the boot unnecessarily slowly. 

I got into my car and the first words out of my mouth were:

not-today-devil

Although this little story is a Hall of Famer, over the months of my engagement (mostly immediately after and right before the wedding) a lot of strange things happened. The random ex reached out for no particular reason. Then the ex’s cousin called incessantly asking to meet. The girl who was his high school friend was suddenly devastated because she always thought they would wind up together eventually according to one relative who decided to throw this in at a dinner party at my house that I was hosting for his family. Because, as we all know, that’s the perfect time for such (sarcasm level:100). The only thing she achieved was making sure that poor girl wasn’t invited to the wedding. “Are you pregnant?” was thrown around a time or two. Relatives who had hitherto acted like I was for all intents and purposes dead, called literally shouting about their rightful claim to my lobola.  The level of devilish activity on his side of the world spiked up as well. It was truly a weird and wonderful time. 

i-prayed-on-it source

 Thank God for solid friends who know when to give the “brace” command. Coincidentally, this will probably be the subject of the next installment.

Equality, Biology and George Orwell’s Animal Farm

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source

“Feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men, it does not mean you hate girls that have nice legs and a tan, and it does not mean you are a ‘bitch’ or ‘dyke’, it means you believe in equality” – Kate Nash (on her blog)

What Kate Nash says here is what I believe. I believe that being a feminist means that I believe in the equality of the sexes. I have written on my views on feminism a couple of times here (An Unexpected aha moment (My Feminism) , Are Men Still Men? and “We Teach Girls to Shrink Themselves…”) This list is not exhaustive.

That is not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk a recent visit to the gynae that led to the realisation that, in some ways, in real life, equality operates exactly as it does in George Orwell’s Animal farm. All are equal but some are more equal than others.

I believe the best illustrator of this is the question of having children. The battery in an average man’s biological clock must be a Duracell because it lasts much much longer than an average woman’s. In fact, an article on a study done on male fertility by American Researchers stated that “although men may have a biological clock, it does not start ticking as fast as women’s. Scientists claim women’s fertility begins to decline in her early thirties and then drops rapidly between the ages of 35 and 40. However, men do not reach a ‘threshold’ of sudden decline when they hit a certain age…It is more a gradual change over time.” Very very gradual if you ask me because many men can father children up to their 70s.

I have heard many women tell each other that they can have babies whenever they want to. I’m not so sure that that is true. I am pro choice but, beyond that, I am pro informed choice. If you are very keen on being a parent one day, take the following into account:

The Age Game

Like it or not, age remains the biggest determinant of fertility. “No matter how much you take care of yourself, you can’t slow down ovarian aging,” says Dr. Kutluk Oktay, medical director at the Institute for Fertility Preservation at the Center for Human Reproduction in New York City. Here’s why you shouldn’t wait until your 40s to hit the baby panic button:

Your ovaries have a life span. Making a baby requires a healthy egg, but eggs become more scarce as you age. You’re born with about a million eggs, but most of them never mature. By the time you reach puberty, you’re down to half your original supply, and the number continues to fall each year. And not every egg that survives can make a baby. Even in your prime, about half of all eggs have chromosomal abnormalities, and the proportion of eggs with genetic problems increases as you age, explains Dr. David Adamson, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Eventually, you simply run out of viable eggs. “As of today, we have no way of changing that,” he says. “It’s the natural course of human life.”

Fertility peaks in your 20s. Most women hit their fertile peak between the ages of 23 and 31, though the rate at which women conceive begins to dip slightly in their late 20s. Around age 31, fertility starts to drop more quickly — by about 3 percent per year — until you hit 35 or so. From there, the decline accelerates. “The average 39-year-old woman has half the fertility she had at 31, and between 39 and 42, the chances of conceiving drop by half again,” says Adamson. Approximately one in four women age 35 or older have trouble getting pregnant.

The average woman can have a baby until age 41, but that’s no guarantee. Your ability to naturally conceive a child ends about 10 years before menopause, but “we do not have good tests to predict when that life change will occur,” says Adamson. While the average age at which women deliver their last child is 41, for some women it’s 30; for others, 45. Currently, doctors can measure a few markers of fertility, such as the hormone FSH, but “these only tell us the bad news,” says Oktay. “Even if FSH is normal, that doesn’t tell us how many reproductive years this woman has left. Once it’s elevated, we know it’s too late.”

Fertility patterns can run in families. “But it’s not something to plan by,” Adamson says. “While your mother may have had her last baby at 43 years old, you can’t count on that being your destiny.”

What the article quoted above says is exactly what the gynae told us regarding considerations in making the decision to have a child. Its not for anyone to tell you when to have a baby but when you make that decision, make it knowing women are at a decided disadvantage in matters relating to the biological clock.

  • A man will be able to have babies (with a fresh young egg) long after your body is no longer able to.
  • The risk of genetic abnormalities and birth defects increase with age.
  • The likelihood of conception is greatly reduced after the age of 35.
  • Once the biological clock slows down or stops, it’s irreversible.
  • I have a colleague who had her first baby at 42. Both mum and baby did great. The possibility of a “late,” healthy pregnancy is real. I also know a remarkable number of women below 35 who are struggling to conceive so the reality of the risk of difficulty conceiving is real too. Research shows that “at 40 a woman only has a 5% chance of becoming pregnant in any month.” At 30, its 20%. Those are some heavy odds. My colleague may have just rolled when she was hot or she is a defiant exception.
  • A woman over 35 is nearly 2.5 times more likely than a younger woman to have a stillbirth. By age 40, she is more than five times more likely to have a stillbirth than a woman under 35.
  • For a woman aged 40 the risk of miscarriage is greater than the chance of a live birth.
  • Sometimes its the man who has fertility issues and not you.

When its all said and done, fertility is ageist and it favours men. When you make a decision on when to have children, consider all the factors and make an informed choice.

 

 

 

My brother (the youngest in our family) just launched his own blog and I had to re-blog his first post. Not only am I incredibly proud of him, his subject is about a fundamental life lesson so it falls within my genre #score 😉 . He has saved me a blog post today 🙂 “Live long and prosper” hun xxx

Orphaning

My imagination has always amused me. I’ve had to give myself a mental high five several times because of the sheer brilliance that goes on in my head or laugh out loud to my own musings in aisle 3 of a supermarket only to see the family next to me staring and blatantly annoyed by my sudden noise.. “hi guys” (walks swiftly away). Happens to everyone though, right? …anyone …no? ..oh

When I lost both my parents I didn’t realize that slowly I started visiting this happy place more and more until it became the place that got the majority of my attention. I would spend most of my time zoned out, deeply invested in my own thoughts, in particular, I would be thinking about my future. Surely, years later it wouldn’t still hurt this much. Perhaps I would have made sense of it all. I was fully persuaded that…

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Criticism: Its How You Take It – Rambling, Random Post

criticism

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale

My friends and I had the most hilarious conversation this past weekend about the most horrible things/back-handed compliments and all-round mean things people have said to each of us over the years. Truth be told, the human being has incredible capacity to be mean. I know it’s not funny but I still manage to chuckle every time I think about it.

How’s this for all kinds of rude:

My Friend to a girl she knows: “Your top is gorgeous. Where did you buy it?”

Girl in the said top: “Thank you. They don’t sell tops for fat people though.”

Seriously!?! LOL. Who raised you?

While I can’t for the life of me imagine what the right answer to this girl and people like her is, I do know one thing for certain: criticism is par for the course in this life thing. It comes in many shapes and forms and we can’t control when and how we receive it. The only thing we can control is how to deal with it once it is gently or cruelly given.

While criticism hurts (and has definitely knocked my self-esteem down a few notches (or all the way down) more than once in the last few decades) it would be remiss of me not to give it the credit it is due for making me a better version of myself over the years. Some of the most significant positive changes I have made in my life arose from a critical word thrown at me with little thought here and there over the years. The more I think about it, the more I believe that sometimes, the life lesson is, rather than reflexively kick back every time we are criticised, to use that criticism as a means of self reflection. To take it and use it to improve what we can and laugh off or ignore what is simply malicious.

Allow me to illustrate:

Playing hockey –  This is one of the things a lot of people commend me for doing very very often.

There was a time, soon after I started working, when I didn’t play hockey. Instead, I loved to talk about how  much I enjoyed playing hockey in high school.  In response to another bout of hockey nostalgia an ex irritably responded, “if you were so good at it and you enjoyed playing it so much, why don’t you just start playing again and stop talking about it.” The sting of the comment aside, his criticism was valid. Why re-live a past nostalgically and pointlessly when you can simply choose to do what you are passionate about today and make new memories.

The next day I googled Johannesburg hockey clubs. 9 years later, long after he became history, hockey is my life. I am not only a good player, I have made priceless memories and built timeless relationships within the hockey fraternity in these parts. My legs and arms are seriously toned (seriously) and I have even branched out into coaching and have built a solid reputation for myself there as well. I am delighted that he said it. It needed to be said.

The Power of Body Language – I was excruciatingly shy growing up. If my people believed in psychology I may have been diagnosed with agoraphobia AND anthropophobia. I remember the acute anxiety I would feel when my mother sent me to the store to buy bread. She worked most days so she had no idea what preparation went into any foray out of the house. I had to psychologically prepare on a scale I can’t even describe. When I did leave the house, I would walk with purpose, without looking up as much as possible, to exactly where I needed to be and then straight back home. The entire time my anxiety levels would be at 92%.

Did I mention that I would pretend to be normal so my mum wouldn’t harass me *chuckles.* I would wake up, clean, open the windows and the doors and make tea, as one does. When my mum left at 6.45am, I would quickly finish cleaning, close all the windows, curtains and doors and relax in the semi-darkness until 3.45pm then open it all again in time for her to come home. Sometimes, when people knocked, I pretended I wasn’t home so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. I was 16/17 on that long school holiday between O level and A level so my siblings were at school. I had zero interest in boys. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I turned down all my suitors

Towards the end of my holiday I had to go and pick up something from my mum’s nursing colleagues at the hospital. My worst nightmare. I walked there as slowly as I could and practically tip toed into the “duty room.” It was my worst nightmare.  The room was choke-full of nurses doing whatever it is nurses fill duty rooms to do. They absolutely picked me apart, albeit good-naturedly,  as I stood in the door and wrung my hands. The pain was almost physical. The last thing one of them said stayed with me since then, “why are you so distressed by us engaging with you. Are you shy? You should be careful of that. Even if you are shy, this inability to meet people’s eyes doesn’t say you are shy to a person who doesn’t know you. It says you are dishonest.”

Dishonest?!? Me. Is what people saw when they saw me? That hurt. It hurt a lot. The experience left me feeling like I had been emotionally scalded in boiling hot water. The more I thought about it over the remainder of my holiday the more I realised that I had a real problem. I immediately set about fighting my urge to keep my eyes glued to the ground all the time.It took me years to work out the right coping mechanisms but I started trying immediately. I was always comfortable with people I knew but never with strangers (i.e. majority of world). This also made it difficult to make friends because they have to be strangers first, not so?

When I went back to high school to do my A’ Level, my interaction with people was different. I spoke more. I worked on faking my confidence until it became real. Sometimes the anxiety made me feel like throwing up but I toughed it out. Suddenly, I became a prefect, I was noticed by the debate society and declined their invitation to join the debate team, I captained the school Athletics team, the school hockey team and the provincial hockey team. As I reaped the benefits of putting myself out there a little more, my confidence increased and I improved as a person.

I particularly focused on cultivating the ability to be relatable to a wide range of people. From a girl who could barely make eye contact, now I am the girl who drives her husband crazy because I make eye contact with strangers (and with anyone who is talking to me), smile at them and talk to them. On a good day, a complete stranger will tell me their life story while waiting to pay for bread.

If I am being completely honest though, because it doesn’t come naturally, I can switch it on and off. If I don’t want to be approached or relatable, I simply resort to my default setting…the resting B**** face.

Right before a hearing or speaking in public or a major meeting, my stomach will tie itself into one hell of a knot and I always get that familiar wave of nausea. What I have mastered is ensuring that no one else in the room knows it.

All the old fears and insecurities are still alive inside me. They are just not as well- fed as it used to be.

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I could give a hundred examples, literally. To save you the trauma of a book of such examples I will end with this: criticism has been the doorway to countless life lessons; updating my style, being more creative with my hairstyles, being more gentle with my words sometimes (I can be a little too blunt at times), sifting out the constructive from the destructive words, how to excel at work (your boss’criticism will tell you what they want you to do better), growing a backbone (my boss actually said I need you to get tougher and to grab people by the balls when you need to), writing better, defending my opinions, embracing my ability to change for the better and, even more importantly, recognising that changing one’s self is a choice. Self-improvement and absorbing criticism (or  not) is  always an option and, as far as it relates to me, I am always in control of the option I select.

The Novice Wife Chronicles: The Power Of Two (plus Love Chub Update)

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“One day, in your search for happiness, you discover a partner by your side, and you realize that your happiness has come to help you search.” -Robert Brault

I am experiencing something akin to “the honeymoon period” in my marriage lately. There is no other way to describe it. I am absolutely loving it.

My latest lesson in marriage is not profound at all. It is so simple as to border on humdrum. Despite this, so far, it is my favourite.  

It is this: for every profound, character building difficulty in marriage, there are a hundred beautifully mundane moments of perfection interspersed with some pretty spectacular episodes.  Those hundreds of moments are the very reason why I know I would choose my human in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I would find him and I would choose him. 

Now enough with the mushiness and on the update on the raging battle against the Love Chub.

I have been thinking about it a little more over the past 3 or so weeks and my view is that everyone’s body is different in the same way that everyone’s fitness and health goals are different. Its important to know what you are after before you chase it.

An equally important consideration is sustainability. The Love Chub is not a one time threat. As such, a one time solution is not appropriate. Drastic diets etc. may be effective in knocking off weight fast but if they are not sustainable, the weight will inevitably return. The same applies to drastic workout regimes.

Know what your body’s weaknesses are. For example, regular  consumption of sodas (coke etc) not only gives me breakouts, but also appreciably increases my waistline. As such, I hardly drink soda. I will have the odd one once is a long while (or the odd too many over Christmas *chuckles*). I have a friend who has one everyday with her lunch and her weight never changes and her skin is perfect. Know your own body.

Know what motivates you.

With the above in mind, I have faithfully implemented the following controls since I posted on the Love Chub:

  1. I increased my workouts and the intensity of my workouts. Instead of 3 or 4 longish sessions a week, I now aim for 5 or 6 short, intense sessions per week. This has been surprisingly effective.
    • I have given myself 2 sutainable options that make it difficult for me to make up excuses. If I can’t or don’t want to get to the gym, I do a T25 home workout. If I am travelling and staying at a hotel or BnB I can still do my T25 workout.
    • I am motivated by targets. I like competition. I like to win. So the fact that my medical aid rewards me in raw veg drinks that I don’t particularly like for meeting my workout target each week will get me off the couch. Its not the drink I’m after but the satisfaction of winning it. Crazy, I know.
  2. I stopped mirroring his plate. I still eat with him but my plate has smaller portions, limited or no starch, more vegetables and my normal protein intake.
  3. If I’m not hungry when he eats, I don’t eat. I just have tea and chat to him.
  4. I have started eating significantly more fruits in between meals.
  5. I have also started snacking on the odd handful of nuts as an alternative source of energy. My primary source of enery used to be carbs.
  6. I have always drunk 2 litres of water a day so I have just kept this up.
  7. Most importantly, I am educating myself on low-carb diets. If I am going to do anything long term, I need to know what I am in for. In addition, why reinvent the wheel? Someone else has already figured out 200 recipes that work with this lifestyle so I don’t need to build from scratch. I just need to understand and then pick and choose what meals appeal to me. Over time, it will come naturally to me to plan low carb meals without help…but not yet.

Its been quite an adjustment for me but today made it all worthwhile and even fired up my motivation engines a little more because not 1 but 3 unrelated people complimented me on my weight loss…my human included!  *dancing emoji*

grinning-emoji

The Memory You Never Made

can-you-miss source

They say, “you can’t miss what you never had.” I believe them.

What they never tell you is this:

Can you miss the loss of something… someone…somewhere… you didnt know you had?

A fleeting presence that you missed entirely.

Does knowing it was there once upon a moment of your existence entitle you to feel ownership?

To feelings?

To a strange kind of loss?

Does it entitle you to a tear or a smile?

Confusion? Certainly.

But can you miss it?

Can you wonder what it would have been like had you known? Of course.

But can you wrap your mind around a shape you never saw?

Can you love it? What are you loving? The ghost of presence unknown?

Can you reach into the darkness to grasp …. what?

What exactly are you grasping for? A fading shadow? A wisp of a memory you never made?

Does it matter?

Does it count?

Was it really ever yours?

Now that it’s gone, can you miss it if you never knew it was there?

(c) chuwechuwe.wordpress.com

 

 

 

If I Should Have A Daughter – Sarah Kay

words-are-magic

If, like me, you have a raging love affair with words, it is worthwhile to not just read this poem, but to listen to the TED talk in which she recited it and spoke passionately about passion (chuckles) and got 2 standing ovations for her efforts here.  It is truly something special. It speaks to me as a daughter, girl and woman and to the daughter I don’t have yet.

“If I should have a daughter…“Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”

She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried.

And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.”

But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boats nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it.

I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.

You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.

And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.

“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.”

Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.

Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.”
― Sarah Kay

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