I bet this is a surprise hey, old readers!  Yes, I decided to update my blog again.  This time though, I have a favor to ask of you…

I belong to a photo meetup group in Baltimore, Creative Exposure, (and no, that is not a euphemism for nekkid photography, as one of my friends suggested!) and for the next meetup, we need to bring our best prints, framed and ready to hang.  They will then be hanged on the wall of a cafe in Baltimore, On the Hill Cafe, and offered for sale.

Eek!  I’ve never done something like this before!  But I’m willing to shuck down that fear and go for it anyway.

So, if you feel inclined, I’d love you to click on the image link below (which will take you to Picasa Web Albums)  and let me know which photo you think is the best.  Feel free to leave as much or as little feedback as you like.  Constructive critique welcomed too.


Creative Exposure Potentials

New Blog

I have a new blog, oh faithful readers.  Yes, I do have a select few of those – faithful readers 😉 .  Thank you to my faithfuls for sticking with me through thick pain and thin blogging.  You know who you are 😉  I know who you are.  I follow you faithfully in return, not commenting much, but always there.

My new blog is about my quest for a baby.  The quest is about to get scary and I figured a new blog would do it justice.

May I present to you…..To the Womb and Back – One Woman’s Quest to Have a Baby.

The future of this blog?

I’m not sure what to do about this blog.  I don’t have the time to dedicate to it, nor the motivation to find the time – April was my last post for goodness sake.

Do I just leave it out here for prosperity?  Delete it?  Or maybe just protect it.  What about my readers?  If I have any anymore that is 🙂 .  I just don’t know.

I’m kind of-sort of motivated to start a photography blog, to showcase my amateur hobby and to solicit constructive feedback.  So do I just convert this to a photography blog?  And leave all the old stuff?  Or start afresh, on a clean slate?

One of the issues I have with this blog is all the pain.  So much pain written on these pages!  I still have it, the pain, but I just can’t face blurbing it all out there for the world to see anymore.  I seem to have gone internal with it.  Or maybe I just don’t have the energy for it anymore.

World, do you have an opinion about this?  Can you help me reach a decision?

One of Jenty’s recent posts inspired me to pay attention to my blog again. She is sad one of her really good friends is emigrating to New Zealand very soon.

I’ve emigrated twice, first from South Africa to the UK and then from the UK to the USA. Ten years ago last month, Jenty said goodbye to me too. It’s taken me years to fully understand what that leaving did to the friends and family I left behind.

I very nearly lost a dear friend forever (not Jenty) because of the resulting sadness and anger. We fixed it though and reached a new level of understanding between us and our relationship has grown because of it, but it was scary for a while.

I bitterly disappointed my Dad and Step-Mom when I left the UK – they were in the process of emigrating from South Africa to the UK to be with their newly born grandkids and all us kids who had made our way to the UK – and then I left to go to the USA. Of course they “understood”, but the feelings were raw and I think still are to a degree.

In many ways, it’s easier to be the one leaving. You have so much to look forward to, so much to think about, you don’t have time to really dwell on anything. It’s sad for the person leaving, but even sadder for the people left behind.

But it changes.

The people left behind get drawn back into their regular lives and although they miss the person, their lives are pretty much “normal”.  Slowly, the resulting gap is filled back in, albeit with tiny air holes.  Because, let’s face it, that’s life.  People may not leave an area, but interests change and friendship dwindle and new friendships start.  It’s a natural process, but generally a slow and relatively easy progression.  The hurt may always be there, but it gets mixed in with normal life.

For the person who left though, those gaps are never filled in.  Because it’s not just one gap, left by one person.  It’s a whole family gap, a whole friends gap, a whole time gap, a whole history gap, a whole philosophical gap, a whole culture gap, sometimes even a whole language gap.  You no longer have the attitudes, beliefs and norms, which you pretty much absorbed as an infant, as your security of being and assurance of your place in the world.  You have to learn all that again, as a conscious adult.  You likely sound different from the people around you.  Your difference is always noted.  Your loss is always there, just under the surface, waiting to have its scab picked at by people around you who are excited by your different-ness.  You try to fit in and do fit in – mostly.  But there is always a difference and beneath the difference lies the pain of homesickness.

Of course, I speak from my own experience.  Others may not have experienced emigration this way, but I have also observed it time and time again with other expats.

I never expected this.  Ten years after leaving my homeland, the pain is more bitter, more intense.  I regularly break down in tears because of it — like now.

So why, you ask don’t I just go back?  Because I can’t.  Physically, I am safer here than in SA.  My kids will have a safer and happier existence here than in SA.  I have made a life here – I have fought for a life here.  By the time I realised this pain would intensify and not diminish over time, it was too late.  I was too deeply entrenched in life here with my american husband, step-kids and wonderful soul-sister friends.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the US – for so many reasons that will fill a few posts one day.  But my heart aches and yearns for stark, raw Africa, the land of my birth, childhood, teenage-hood and early adulthood.   And even though I only lived in the UK for 5 years, I miss that precise shade of green that I’ve only ever encountered in rainy England and the ancient European history that just oozes from every town and village.  But mostly, my heart justs aches to be with my immediate family who all live in the UK now and my friends who are now scattered around the globe (OZ, NZ, SA).

Jenty, I am so sorry for your pain.  I know that every friend or family member who leaves just adds to the hurt and amplifies the old hurt again.   As someone who commented on your blog said, at least we have the internet.  It doesn’t make it all the way better, but it does help some.

Today is a really, really big day for me!  Today is the day I post my first photo online taken with my brand new camera!

I love that it’s for the Earthmosaic project.  And I love that I have an image I’m relatively happy with.  But please, I am no photography expert, in fact, I wouldn’t even call myself a photography amateur, so please feel free to critique the shot.

After threatening for the longest time, I finally bought my camera on Saturday.  And I love it!  It’s a Olympus E-410 DSRL, my first SLR camera — the smallest SLR on the market.  It takes pics so fast!  No horrible delay like from my digital point and shoot.  And I can take action shots from within a moving car and actually get a halfway decent shot.  Awesome!

This pic was taken from my back deck, looking out over our townhouse development.  We just moved here and I haven’t yet found a permanent place for my chimes yet.  So for now they are hanging from the birdfeeder pole.

Grateful for Today

From today’s Daily Kabbalah Tune Up email:

Just as you are certain that your life will be filled with abundance in the future, appreciate what you have right now.
Focus on five things you are grateful for today.

During this hectic time in my life (a story for another day), I’m finding it tough to just stop and smell the flowers.  It’s a real pity seeing as we’re at the start of what promises to be a glorious spring.  Just today, the petals from the blossoms of the cherry blossom trees began drifting to the ground beneath them, ironically mimicking the snow falls of a few months prior.

So today’s reminder was timely indeed — and now I find myself blogging again after a long, dry hiatus — miracles truly never cease.

So then, what am I grateful for — right here in this precise minute?  In no particular order:

  1. My insatiable curiosity for knowledge and the intelligence to process and integrate it.
  2. For my current career, web creation.  Not only does it satisfy my technical brain needs, but it fuels and drives my creativity.  I get to work with colour!  And design!  A far cry from my first 10 years in IT where I programmed investment bank back office transactions in a dry, old mainframe language.  Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for my dry, old mainframe days; heck, it enabled me to move from South Africa to the UK and finally to the USA.  But the work I am doing now, speaks to my soul, in a way the early days never did.  What more could one ask for?
  3. A wonderfully understanding, supportive and loving husband!  Saturday we celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary and words cannot describe how grateful I am to have him along with me on the strange journey we call life.
  4. Friends and family, old and new, near and far.  I am especially grateful to my longstanding friends who have seen me through 2 country moves, a divorce and numerous other stressful life events.  Thank you for sticking with me, even though you are so far away.  You’re always near in my heart.
  5. I am eternally thankful to have found my connection to spirit.  Many seek, few truly find the way.  I found it through Reiki.  I am not always connected every minute of every day, but I how how it feels and I know how to get there.  I just need a reminder and a nudge every now and then to go to where I need and want to be – my spirit home.

So there you have it, my “Grateful For” list.  What are YOU grateful for today?


Soooooo…..she finally writes a post (I hear you mumble)….

It’s actually a bit of a “nothing” post though, just a quick catch-me-up type.

Life is just so THRILLING right now!

New house – closing by end January, moved in by end February.
New baby – well, not quite yet, but in the making.  And am also thinking of starting a new blog to document the progress.
New job – shhhhhh….it’s supposed to be very quiet.  And, well it is.  More to come on this by the end of this week.

I just wanted to record this wonderful feeling of bursting out of my skin with excitement!

And say that even though I am not blogging very much, I am still reading your blogs.  Those that celebrate the December holidays, hope you had a great time.  And a very Happy & Prosperous 2009 to everyone!

The Real Mom Meme

Jenty did this meme today inviting those inspired to join in.  No, she didn’t tag me, but something my step-daughter said a few days ago, inspired me to write and to jump on the band-wagon.

Apparently it’s about mutation?!

“Proponents of memes suggest that memes evolve via natural selection – in a way very similar to Charles Darwin’s ideas concerning biological evolution – on the premise that variation, mutation, competition, and “inheritance” influence their replicative success. For example, while one idea may become extinct, other ideas will survive, spread and mutate – for better or for worse – through modification.”

So we’re all about mutation and propagation here, people. As we’ve all already subdivided and had kids, let’s mutate! Add yours to the list.

1. Real Moms don’t flinch when they talk about boobs. They do make you laugh your brains out.

2. Real moms go on vacation. Real moms go on vacation and learn to play traffic cop.

3. Real moms brag about their kids

3. Real moms do not mince words when they present the truth.

4. Real moms juggle

5. Real moms “resist the guilt and embrace the journey”

6. Real moms don’t give a damn to media generated Mommy Wars

7. Real moms have kids with potty mouths

8.  Real moms sometimes forget about toddler-proofing

And mine….

9. Real moms can be step-moms

The rules:

  • Copy the above text to your blog, leaving all links in tact and add in who tagged you.
  • Add your ‘real mom’ contribution to the list.
  • Tag as many moms as you can.
  • And meme-ify!

I hate tagging!  So here is my mutation (along with any grammer errors I might have found)…if you feel inspired, join in.

Step-Moms are real too!

With all the innocence of a 7 year old, my step-daughter said recently “One day soon you will be a real mom!”, excitedly referring to her Dad’s upcoming vasectomy reversal.  She soooooo badly wants a baby in the family, preferably a sister, sharing her room.

I looked at her and said “Honey, I’m a REAL MOM already!  Being a step-mom to you and your brother is as real to me and you as your real mom is”.

Of course I understood what she was saying…one day soon, god(s) willing…I will be a biological mom.

But I wanted her to know that the mothering I do for them is just as important as what their “real” mom does.  When the kids are with us, if I am not mothering with all my heart and soul (mistakes and all)  I am doing them and myself a disservice.  How much more “real” can you get than that?  I mean, really!

The words coming out of my mouth surprised me as much as her.

Wow.  I’m impressed with where we are now in this complicated “blended family” business, compared to where we were 18 months ago.

Welcome President Obama!

Wow!  I kinda can’t think of anything else other than WOW! to say, really!  Words are failing me…

The emotion around this US election from people everywhere around me, is just huge.  From immense fear, felt deep in the core — to elation and tears of joy.

Well done Mr. President!  You have achieved something beyond what anyone thought would ever happen here in the US.

May you rule as wise and as blessed as Mr. Mandela.  May you bring the strength and beauty of the essence of the Rainbow Nation to the US.

Today is a day that will go down in history across the world. In case you missed it (as if!), today is the US Election Day, a culmination of an historic electoral process, and possibly the day the US gets their first black president.

Wow! I feel truly privileged to be alive in these times and even more privileged to be witnessing this process first hand, here in Maryland, USA.

And yet, it is strange for me. I am resident here, married to a wonderful American man, step-mother to 2 American kids, had property on US soil, hopefully soon-to-be mom to an American baby – and yet I cannot vote. Massive decisions are being made about my life today – and I do not have a voice.

Oh, please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t expect to have a voice – yet. I understand why foreigners should not have a voice. It’s just disconcerting. Wanting to have a say in what will affect my life and yet not being allowed to. Shades of how it might have felt for woman all those years ago? And black people, not too long ago? Obviously it’s not quite the same. But still, it’s really got me thinking.

With a strange sense of disbelief, I’ve been reading the pleading blog posts, begging people to vote. Apparently there are some who think it is cool not to vote. Huh? How is it cool not to have a voice? It is only through the privilege of knowing you can vote if you want to, that you have the luxury of not voting in the first place. How do people not see this? How do people not see that could be ripped away at ANY MOMENT?

As my husband went off to vote this morning and I stayed behind, I couldn’t help but think about the last time I voted.

It was 1994 in South Africa and I was 23 years old.  It was to be my first vote (I was old enough to vote in the previous elections, but I really had not become involved and it all seemed pretty  meaningless to me, and eventually I didn’t bother voting). Apartheid had been abolished, Nelson Mandela had been released from prision and was then the head of one of the major running parties, the ANC. It was also the first time blacks were able to vote. As whites, we knew that we would probably go from our all white, mainly Afrikaans government to a black government. The non-white population outnumbered the white population by 10 to 1 and of course the blacks would vote ANC (and who would not vote for Mandela, the hero and legend?). So we knew our lives were going to change dramatically. We just didn’t know how. And we were very, very scared.

The whole country had voting day off work, school etc as it was declared a national holiday. The powers that be were making damn sure there would be no reason people couldn’t vote if they wanted to. Logistically speaking they were managing a process the magnitude of which had never before been seen in South Africa. They were expecting people to have to queue all day long to vote. They were expecting violence and intimidation. It was a dramatic and energy-filled time and place to be alive in (as today in the US is).

The day dawned and it was a beautiful sun-filled April day, unlike today which is grey and overcast (in MD anyway). I knew what I was voting. For me, wrapped up in fear, there was only one choice really. I would vote for the National Party, the traditionalist white party. I was so scared of the unknown; I just could not vote ANC. I was aware that my vote, in the vast sea of expected ANC votes, would not matter, would not tip the scales. But I wanted to have that tiny voice anyway, even if it was to be drowned out. There was also a tiny flicker of hope that a miracle would happen and we would stay the same and not head into unknown oceans.

I remember being so scared that day. What would happen at the polls? Would we be attacked? Would the police and army be able to keep any unrest at bay?

So my friend, her husband and I queued at the local primary (elementary) school to vote. It wasn’t too bad. If memory serves correctly, I think we only queued for about 2 or 3 hours, which was great considering the predictions. We debated amongst ourselves…would we bother voting if the queue was really long…would we bother standing the whole day? I was so grateful to not have to make that choice, because I really wanted to vote, but couldn’t fathom standing a whole day to do so. There was no violence or intimidation (where we were anyway) and everyone was quite jovial. I don’t recall seeing many blacks though, but assumed they would be queuing nearer their homes (we still had segregated living then). I don’t recall the actual vote itself, but I remember feeling awesome after the fact. I had voiced my opinion in government matters, first time ever!

In retrospect, I am ashamed that my vote was governed by fear and color, not the actual issues at hand. My only excuse is that I was young, and brainwashed, and very, very afraid.

When we returned home we spent the rest of the day watching the television coverage of the elections. That day I gained a new respect for my fellow black country men and woman. They stood for hours and hours and hours to vote. They stood during violence and intimidation. They stood on dirt roads with children on their backs, with little or no water, under the baking African sun. They stood till the sun went down. And they stood some more. And still it wasn’t enough time.

They were a determined people. They would be heard. No matter what it took.

The powers that be decided that the next day would be a national holiday as well, to allow those that had stood the whole day, another opportunity to cast their vote.

So they stood again, after standing the entire previous day. And as they cast their votes, we watched on TV. It was a humbling experience. Voting had to be extended to a third day, but that day was not declared a national holiday.

I will never forget the lessons I learned on those historic days. How very important it is to have a voice and then to voice it, even if you think it won’t make a difference.

Of course the ANC won the election, as we knew it would. And we had our first black president, the great man Nelson Mandela. It was not an out-and-out win though (2/3 majority). A tripartite government was formed, of which the National Party was one. So my vote DID count. And in a good way. We now had a more balanced government.

Nelson Mandela will always hold a special place in my heart, but not for the usual folk legend activist reasons. But because he took our country in his hands and held it gently. He could have massacred us whites, us who had imprisoned him and terrorized and murdered his people for so many years. He could have taken away our voice. But he didn’t. Instead, he fostered the Rainbow Nation. For that he will always be the greatest hero our generation has ever seen, in my eyes anyway.

So today, sitting here in the US, as I ponder on how yet again I may witness a first black president, think about what it might be like to not be heard. And know that as much as it might not seem possible in this day and age, that right could be ripped from you at ANY TIME. So use it, damnit! And be grateful.

As an aside, it is gratifying for me to see that out of all the many blogs I follow, the people (that I know of) who are monitoring the voting locations, ensuring safety and fairness for all and not just talking about it or blogging about it, are my pagan friends. Yay for pagans!

For the record, if I could vote, I would vote for Obama. The reasons are long and convoluted and not really interesting reading. But I just thought I’d mention it, because it’s just so interesting for me to see where I came from and where I’m at now.

I might also add that because of this election I have decided to become a US citizen as soon as I am able to. I want a voice where I live.

Happy voting, my US friends!

(If you’re up for it, here is some further reading: 1994 SA Elections, SA Voting System and History, Mandela )

Sign Language

One last thing for the evening…

There have been *at least* two people doing sign language interpretation at the conference.

I think this is SO AWESOME!  This is the first event I have been at where I have seen something like this.  And it just makes my heart so warm.

Yay for Accessibility!

Learning to Touch Type

I decided I need to teach myself to touch type.

Yes, after all these years in Information Technology (> 11 years) I still look at my keyboard and type with only a few of my fingers and make a lot of errors.

It was so fascinating watching some of my colleagues at the conference today, taking notes on their laptops.  In my university days we used pen and paper.  These folk were typing faster than I ever could write and not making any mistakes to boot.  I’ve also watched my hubby doing the same thing.  I think I could work much faster and far more efficiently if I could only touch type.

So, I went online and found an online tutorial and am slowly going to work my way through the lessons.  I am committing to an hour a day on work days to practice.  Think that will be enough?

At this point I am only on lesson one.  And after only 3 tries, I  am getting worse, not better and my left fingers are aching.  Oh dear.  Lots of work to do.

Web Conf Guitar Hero

What do you get when you have a conference full of geeks and plenty of free-flowing alcohol?  Well, a Guitar Hero Tournament of course!  All evidence here

Yep, that’s right folks.  That was the entertainment last night here at the HighedWeb 2008 conference.

And may I say, what a blast?  (Mmmm…maybe that makes me a geek too 😉 )  Well of course I must have some geek in me, because I had a smashing time last night and am very much enjoying the conference as a whole.  And no, I didn’t participate in the tournament, but I did give it a good go cheering all the other good sports on.

What a treat to be in the company of so many like-minded individuals who get the concept and application of social media!  And how enlightening to speak to (the many) folk who are in the same boat I am -> one man/woman web bands for colleges.  And just to listen to some of the amazing technology being used.  And…and…and…well, you get the picture.  So much good information here!

Having a quiet evening to myself tonight though.  Feeling a bit overloaded with information and people.  And still nursing my cold which wasn’t helped by cabin pressure changes from the 2 flights getting to the conference.

Nutters Talking

Mmmm…reminder me never again to wear my “Keep Talking.  I like watching your lips move” t-shirt…without a bra…out to McDonalds.

It really draws out the nutters.  One wanted to know if I kissed on the first date.

Ummmm no.  Just no.

Excitement in Sleepy Surburbia

This morning, at approximately 6:30am, a sleepy, wiping the sand from her eyes, Natalie, noticed unusual activity coming from her neighbour’s property.

Four unmarked cars parked out front and two men dressed in jeans and navy blue fleeces standing chatting to each other and into cell phones on the front porch.

Peering through her blurry eyes she makes out some yellow writing on their fleeces…State Drug Enforcement Agency and ATF.

Wow!  Crikey Moses!  It’s just like Law and Order and CSI and, well, Hollywood – sans the flashing lights,  blaring horns and yellow crime scene tape!  I have the DEA and ATF outside my neighbor’s house!  Technically, they are outside my house too, because one of the cars is parked on our part of the street.

Oh my!  My curiosity is just overwhelming!  Nearly 2 hours later and they are still here.

On his way to work this morning, Brian stops his car next to one of the cars and asks them if they can say what’s going on.  One of the officers says they are carrying out a search warrant.

Well, duh!  After me spying on them for just 5 minutes I could have told you that 🙂 .  Yes, (hanging head in shame), I was spying.

I wonder what my neighbour’s been up to?

The Oak

I wanted to share my joy and pride in my little brother’s latest accomplishment – The Oak at Hockley Heath.  It’s a old English pub in Middle England, turned modern gastropub, where he is one of the owners and operations manager.

How beautiful it is, Ant!  And knowing you and Hash, the food is simply scrumptious!  How wonderful that I am able to sample a taste of the magic over the miles, thanks to modern, magical technology.

Congratulations!  My, we have come a long way since sunny SA! 🙂

OK and Back on Track

Hello again.

Well…after my last post, I feel I need to check in with you all and say I am ok.  I’ve realized that I tend to blog most when I am down.  Journaling is a well known therapy tool which is very effective, and I guess I’ve taken that to heart.  My blog is my therapy journal.  Oh dear.  Makes for very depressive reading, doesn’t it.

C’est la vie.

So, I am ok.  I met with a friend on Friday evening fully intending to dump all my stuff on her (she’d make a great therapist 🙂 ).  Except she’s going through identity theft right now (ick!) and was all over the place.  So I turned to my familiar old role of comforter and counselor and tried to help her, mainly just listening.  The old role felt good, and safe, and familiar, like slipping into comfy old slippers.  It felt good to forget about my woes and concentrate on someone’s woes for a bit.  It helped me put into perspective my own woes.

So Saturday morning I walked through the Weightwatcher doors and weighed in.  I think weighing in is the toughest part of the whole weight management thing.  I deliberately didn’t unpack my scales the last time I moved as I tend to be a bit OCD with them.  I’ve been known to weigh myself with clothes on, take them off and weight again; weigh before using the toilet and again afterward; weigh before a meal and again afterward.  Did you know that a full set of clothes can weigh as much as 2lbs!  And that a liter of water consumed, a full pound!  Seriously, the scale can become a complete obsession for me.  So I made the healthy decision to just not have them.  Hence the Weightwatcher’s weigh in being such a terrifying time.  Anyway, the upshot is that I gained 2.6lbs over the last 3 weeks or so.  So now my total weight loss is only 13lbs.  You know what the funny thing was?  I was hardly disappointed in the weight gain.  I was more relieved that I finally knew what the damage was and that I was in a place that could help.  What a liberating feeling.  Staying for the meeting was a good thing too, because they spoke about the bad times and how so many of spiral.  And I realized that at least this was only a 3 week spiral and not a 5 year spiral, which is what happened before.

So here I am, back on Weightwatchers.  An interesting thing was on Saturday I felt like I’d gone way over my points, but when I captured them, I was actually well within the limits.  So Weightwatchers is proving it’s worth, if only for showing me when I do well.  Because it’s just so easy for me to focus on the bad all the time and not the good.

My last words on this subject for the day is that Weightwatchers has a “Lose for Good” campaign going, and for 6 weeks, for every pound you lose, they will donate a pound of food to two hunger agencies.  So for every pound I lose and for every treat I say no too, I am feeding a poor, starving person.  Isn’t that awesome?  I find it so sad that I am so far gone that I need this type of thing to motivate me, but I really do, so I’ll grasp onto whatever I can.  So if you’re thinking of joining Weightwatchers, now would be a an especially good time to do so.


Rant warning! Feel free to skip ahead….

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Rest in Peace

Today my heart is sore.

Last night South African crime claimed it’s first victim from my family.

Many of my close friends and family members have been victimized by criminals in South Africa over the last few years:

  • My mom was car-jacked and held at gun point. Luckily she escaped with her life, purse-less and car-less, but unharmed. At her pleading, the villains were kind enough to at least leave her very expensive medications.
  • My dad was car-jacked and held at gun point and lost his personal belongings and his car. He was also lucky enough to escape unharmed and alive.
  • My brother-in-law was car-jacked and held at gun point with an AK47. He also escaped with his life, banged up some, but alive.
  • A good friend was held at gun point in his factory and robbed.
  • Another friend and her family (incl. 2 small children) were attacked in their home, bound and robbed. They too escaped with their lives, but not before some serious threats were made towards their lives and insinuations of rape made towards my friend and her little girl.

(These are just some of the violent and ugly crimes I can think of right now).

But last night was the first time someone close to me actually lost their life to South African crime…my uncle. I don’t know the full details yet, but he was murdered in his home in the early hours of the morning.

I feel sick. And so very grateful that I no longer live in South Africa and that most of my friends and immediate family live in more peaceful countries. It is hard being so far from home. But oh-my-gosh, the pain of separation is far better than the constant living in fear and wondering when it’s going to happen to me or my husband or my kids.

May you rest in peace Uncle Allan.

It has been a strange time…with death surrounding me this whole month.

18th August – My birthday. A few days before, I was clearing out some paperwork and found a old birthday card. It was the very last birthday card my mother ever sent me before she died in December 2006. I hardly ever keep cards, so it’s a miracle I still had it. It felt like a gift from her, sent down from heaven just for my birthday this year.

20th August – My uncle Brian and uncle Ian’s birthday.  Except Brian is no longer with us as he choose to barricade himself in his apartment, set it on fire and then jump out of the window when someone tried to bash his door down to save him.  He never knew my mom had died as he had disappeared from the family and no one knew where he was. He died as a pauper without his next of kin being notified. My uncle Ian went on a countrywide search looking for him and found out his fate about 2 months after he died.

26th August – My friend Nicole’s grandmother passed away. Nicole was very close to her grandmother and is feeling the loss acutely. My heart goes out to her.

27th August – The 1st anniversary of my cousin Clint’s untimely death. He was 39 and left behind his wife and small son. The doctors still don’t understand what went wrong exactly, so there is a lot of unresolved pain around his death. Clint and I had lost touch over the years, but we spent many childhood vacations together. We had just become reacquainted via Facebook in June 2007 and then he died in August 2007. I cannot bring myself to delete him from my Facebook friend list. So there he still stays, like he is still alive and never left. Strangely, I dreamt of him during this past week. He appeared to me as a spirit protector. How wonderfully comforting that was.

29th August – The anniversary of my grandfather’s death. He was a lovely, gentle, peaceful man. This day is also my brother’s birthday. He turned 30 this year.

30th August – The day of Nicole’s grandmother’s funeral. This day is also Kat’s, another good friend, wedding.

3rd Sept – Today my uncle Allan is murdered in his home. Out of 4 siblings, only one remains. My mother passed away in December 2006, prematurely, through smoking complications. My uncle Brian committed suicide December 2007.  And now my uncle Allan – gone. My heart goes out to my uncle Ian. Loosing all his siblings in an 18 month period. Today is also the day of my father’s birthday.

What a month of bitter sweetness….of endings and beginnings…of joy and sadness. The wheel of life really does continue turning.


I don’t know how long this has been going, but today I read about 1-800-GOOG-411.  It’s a FREE directory service provided by Google (probably only for the USA).   All you need is a phone – and a need for a phone number.

It sure beats the $1.25 currently charged by the regular 411 directory inquiry service!

Cry, The Beloved Country

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

Once again I found myself emotional when watching a movie about South Africa. And the above quote? I happened to be quietly teary just before that, but when James Earl Jones quoted that piece in the movie, I could not contain myself any longer and just broke down sobbing. My dear husband is so sweet and patient with me when I become overcome like that. I just could not get over how apt that quote is for me…”For fear will rob him of all“…and indeed it has. It was fear which drove me away from South Africa, which is still driving my friends and family away.  Will it ever stop?

The book was originally written in 1946, 2 years before apartheid became official, and already fear was shaping the nation.  I was born into that fear, nursed on it.  No wonder fear wracks through me still, even 10 years after being away from it.  It was almost as if Alan Paton could see into the future when he wrote that he wonders if love will be transformed into hatred.  I wonder what he would think if he were to see what South Africa is today.

I just have to read the book now.  The movie was powerful, but books are always better at capturing the nuances.

SD Called!

Today is a date to remember.

SD called me on the kid’s cell phone. Of her own free will. That is the first time ever.


The kids are on vacation 8 hours away with their BM and Mom-Mom (or grandmother for all you non-US folks). SD called to say they are having fun, arrived in daylight yesterday, had time for a swim before bed time and will probably go to the amusement park today or tomorrow.

I am touched beyond belief. Not only did she call. But she just called to chat and to share some of her happiness.

While the kids hardly ever call their Dad when they are not with us, they certainly they NEVER call me. Wow. I guess we are making progress…little itty bitty steps.

Abbreviation descriptions can be found here.

An Open Letter

An open letter to all telemarketers and door-to-door salesman:

If I pay you the courtesy of answering my phone to an unknown number or opening my front door to a stranger and then actually listening to you, please return that courtesy.

If I ask for specific product information, please respect me enough, to provide the information I asked for.  Please do not continue to deliver your (badly memorised) irritatingly monotonous script.

If I then tell you I am not interested, please respect me enough to take me at my word and politely end the call or leave my property.  Please do not ignore my polite decline of product or services by talking over me and suggesting yet another ‘wonderful’ opportunity.

If you cannot respect me (and yourself) enough to honor my simple requests, I will simply reiterate my non-interest and politely end the call or quietly close my front door, even if you are still talking.

Thank you for your understanding that I will not be bullied, nor will I turn into a ranting mad woman, trying to enforce my basic human rights to a quiet respectful life.  Sadly, you do not yet realize that if you had treated me politely and genuinely, I probably would have listened to your spiel and possibly even purchased your product or service.  It wasn’t your product or service which lost you your sale, it was your continued blatant rudeness.

Have a nice day.

Yes, unfortunately, twice now in the past week, I found myself having to quietly, but firmly enforce my basic human rights.  It is with amusement that I note how most of these ignorant people really do not know how to deal with polite persistence and seem to be flabbergasted when someone actually puts down the phone or closes a door in their face, whilst remaining politely calm and serene.  They have only ever used strong-arm bullying tactics and I imagine are often met with retaliating tempers.  The serenity truly confounds them.  I am enjoying my new-found empowerment 🙂


Oh wow!  Today’s Kabbalah’s Daily Tune Up really hit home:

There was a time, before you were born, when people didn’t make the connection between the dumping of toxic waste in the ocean and thousands of people becoming seriously ill from eating ocean fish.

It seemed as if a plague had hit. It was scary. People felt as if something awful was suddenly happening to them, something over which they had no control.

Eventually, through careful research and investigation, the connections between the toxic dumping, the fish, and the illnesses were made. Cleanup efforts began, and people stopped getting sick.

Chaos is the misperception that there are no connections. In fact, everything is connected. Everything.

Today, remember everything you do starts with you and ends with the world. Think before you speak or act. Your actions and words have everlasting effects.

It reminds me of the pebble thrown in the pond and the far reaching ripples.  And how a tiny insect at the edge of the pond knows not what caused the ripple that knocked him from his perch.  But make no mistake, there is a reason, there is ALWAYS a reason, even if we can’t fathom it.  It reminds me that we truly are ALL ONE.

What a timely and powerful reminder!

Touching The Light

Today from my Daily Kabbalah Tune Up email:

Judging from emails I’ve been getting from students, there are some of us who feel like we have never experienced ‘the Light.’

Let me tell you that you have. We all have, even though it may be fleeting.

Think of the moment you put the final touches on a project that you fiercely believed in, one that took lots of time and effort to complete. That rush of a job well done is the Light.

Or how about that time you thought of someone and they called just at that moment. That too is the Light. Or when you get a great idea or answer. That too is the Light.

So you have touched the Light. The more you look for it, the more you will find it.

Today, find the Light in everything you are doing. It’s there. Allow yourself to recognize it.

Have a delightful day.

Isn’t this wonderful?  The idea that we are continually “touching the Light”, except we just don’t know that we are.  There are many times where I know I’ve touched the light, but there are a few times that stand out with brilliance for me.

The first was soon after my ex-husband and I arrived in the UK.  I was feeling really down, homesick and bluesy and we were out with some friends we had just become friendly with.  They took us on a gentle hike, up a hill somewhere.  At the top we stood, looking down into the valley, almost entirely surrounded by magnificently tall pine trees.  As we stood there, I finally felt able to breathe deeply again and I took great big gulping breathes of the sweet pine scented air.  And then I felt this sense of peace pervading my body.  I felt like the trees were breathing life into me, blowing out the melancholy.  I felt my soul start to sing again.  And I felt tears of joy.  What sweet relief that the debilitating sadness had left me!  I kept saying over and over again, “Oh my gosh!  This is soul food!” (my companions thought I was funny and just laughed at me), but I recognized that I was having an intensely spiritual experience.  I later came to realize that those particular tears, were the tears I would experience every time I connected that deeply to the Light.  That was the very first time in my life that I experienced God (or The Divine) and it amused me no end that it was through nature and not through pompous churches and so-called church leaders.

The second was through Reiki.  I cannot remember the exact time sequence, but it was some months after I had completed my Reiki I course and I was doing the prescribed self-treatment.  It was also at a time when although I had developed some sense of energy, I was no where near as sensitive to energy as I am now.  So there I was doing my self-treatment, which until now had not been too remarkable and would usually just send me to sleep, and I had my hands over my chest and heart and suddenly that same sense of pervading peace and calm that I experienced from the trees, filled me.  It is a difficult sensation to describe and “filled me”  sounds to inadequate, but it really did fill me until I felt like I was completely filled, even overflowing, almost like I became one with the peace, like there was no lines and edges to my body, like I was just an energy mass.  This time though, there was also a sense of ecstasy and intense joy, I think because I recognized what was happening.  And again, the quiet joyful tears.

It is amazing to me that these 2 brief experiences have been so life changing for me.  They sustain me now, many years later, when I sometimes feel no hope and want to curl up in a ball and die.  I KNOW that I can reach that peace again, that “this too shall pass” and that I just have to hold out a little while longer and get just a little clearer.  And I KNOW without a doubt that there is “something else”, more than just this physical world we see. And I also KNOW that there are many paths to the Light and that no one is better or worse than the other.  It really is what works for the individual.

I feel so very blessed to have had these experiences and been able to develop these absolute knowings.

A List Apart

I just stumbled across a LOVELY website for people who make websites…clean, easy to read and navigate and full of useful information specially around web standards and best practices -> AListApart.com.

They also just published their 2nd survey for us web professionals which gathers data on who we are and how we work…check it out.

Wow, I guess the Universe really does work in miraculous ways.

Through my blog stats, I discovered the CNN.com link and then I actually read the article.

I had been feeling confused and unsure about whether B did the right thing in telling the kids a bit about what happened between him and his ex. The cardinal rule in divorced families is never to bad-mouth the other parent. But what happens when the kids blame themselves or others inappropriately for the breakup? What happens when the truth is bad? And to tell it, you have to ‘bad-mouth’ the other parent?

Do you perpetuate the untruth in the name of protecting the kids? Or do you give them the truth, in the most unbiased way possible?

After a series of happenings in our house…(M thinking she had to stay with her Mom and not come to us because her Mom had no one and was lonely…M not understanding why Daddy, Mommy, Mommy’s friend and me could not all live under one roof – happily…both kids blaming me for the fact that their parents were not together, when it was their Mom who took another lover during the marriage, and them acting out with me severely because of that belief…the kids thinking ‘Daddy left them and their life’, when yes Daddy did leave but that was because Mommy was living with her lover under the same roof and he decided the healthier option was for him to leave)…B decided that the kids needed to learn some of the facts (as much as you can explain to a 6 and 8 year old anyway).

And so he told them:

  • How Mommy decided to love another woman and not Daddy anymore.
  • How Daddy moved to the basement to give Mommy and her new ‘friend’ some space and yet still be their Dad in every way possible.
  • How Dad eventually realised what a half existance that really was and that he needed to move on and start his own life.
  • How Daddy was paying for them and their Mommy all the time (while she played stay-at-home-mom) even though they didn’t know it.
  • How Dad found and met me – after Mommy and Daddy split and Mommy found her ‘friend’.
  • How we got married and moved closer to them so that he could be as much of a Dad to them as he could possibly be (he now has 50/50 custody).
  • How Mommy then decided that her new ‘friend’ was not good enough either (after the kids formed really strong bonds with her and were calling Mommy’s friend ‘Step-Mom’) and started loving another woman.
  • How first ‘friend’ moved to the basement (seeing a pattern yet?) and then finally moved out of the house.
  • How if Mommy was alone, it was through her own choosing. And how in fact she wasn’t as alone as they thought she was.

I think the kids were amazed. They had all sorts of questions about Mommy’s ‘friendships’ and we had to explain that although it doesn’t happen in all families that 2 Mommy’s can love each other the same way that husbands and wives can love each other. They wanted to know why their Mommy did not marry if she loved second ‘friend’ so much. So then we had to explain that marriage between 2 woman in our State was illegal. Things kids shouldn’t have to know about at such young ages.

All really tough stuff. The kids were ok though. I sensed relief from them that Daddy did not abandon them like they’d been allowed to believe.

I think he made one crucial mistake though. One of the kids asked him if he still liked Mommy. And he said no. They asked why. At that point he should have explained (IMO anyway) that sometimes people no longer like each other and relate it to their changing childhood relationships. But instead he said that he thinks she makes bad decisions. They latched onto that and threw that one specific statement back into their Mother’s face the next time they saw her.

Anyway, the point of this post was to say that in the CNN/Oprah article, Gary Neuman says there are times the cardinal rule HAS to be broken:

Gary says a parent needs to break the cardinal rule. “Children in these circumstances, we cannot have them feeling that they are somewhat responsible for the rejection from the parent who has abandoned them. So that’s the time when we have to say to our children, ‘It is wrong as a parent not to be there for your child.'”

I now see that in our case, the cardinal rule had to be broken. There were just too many misconceptions that were being perpetuated into the kid’s belief systems. I believe that healing can only happen in truth.

Featured on CNN!

Holey moley!

My post “Speak to us of Children” has had hits directly from a CNN.com page! See http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/07/29/o.children.of.divorce/index.html.

The pages features an Oprah.com article entitled “Getting kids of divorce talking about secret thoughts” and down at the bottom of the page a section entitled “From the Blogs”. And there in broad daylight, my post “Speak to us of Children“.

Wow! Way cool 😉 Off to read the Oprah article now 🙂

My Post on CNN Page

My Post on CNN Page

Natural Born Huntress

Last night hubby and I were sitting at the kitchen table and we heard the unmistakable sounds of a death cry. Uh oh, our huntress cat, Kati, was at it again!

So we go outside and see her stalking something in the bushes outside our back door. Scattering movement…and in the dark, I saw something scoot behind our trash cans. “Weird, it’s plump-ish, like a hamster. Ahhh…maybe it’s a baby rabbit?”. We eventually give up trying to rescue whatever it is, because it keeps scurrying away, which is understandable since Kati is still hunting and playing with it.

Settling down at the kitten table again, we hear the death cries again (more like squeals actually).

Baby Bunny being held and cuddled against me (Apologies for the bad photo. It was taken with Hubby's iPhone.)

Baby Bunny being held and cuddled against me (Apologies for the bad photo. It was taken with Hubby's iPhone.)

This time hubby goes out and he finds the most adorable baby rabbit ever, in the middle of our back yard lawn – Kati’s plaything. He brought him inside and I went all gooey over it. His one eye had a pin prick of blood on the lower edge and his one ear has a streak of blood, but other than that he seemed ok – stunned, but ok. So I cuddle him for a while, wrapping him in my t-shirt. He is so still, that I worried about whether he had internal injuries, but when hubby picked him up, he gives a good strong kick. So I think his stillness was just him settling into the comfort and warm of my t-shirt and hands. Awww…

Not sure what to do now that he was safe, we turned to trusty Google and we find the best advice is to remove any predators, aka cats, and return him to the yard. He still had a white patch on his head, which apparently meant he was young enough that he might still have been nursing, and wild rabbits are notoriously difficult to hand raise. So we put him back outside on the lawn, hoping he could find his nest and that he would be ok. And locked our cats inside.

Unfortunately, a little while later I went out the front to get the mail and Kati escaped! We tried catching her, but she was having none of it and disappeared. By this time the baby bunny had moved from his middle of the lawn spot too. We could do nothing, other than hope everything would be ok.

Well, this morning we found out that it was not ok. Kati found him. And ate his little ears and feet 😦

Now today I find myself looking at my sweet Kati and feeling this weird mixture of love and revulsion. She played with, then killed, then ate that sweet little baby bunny, who had snuggled in my hands just hours (or maybe even minutes) earlier. Oh, I know it’s just nature etc. But still, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Of course I cannot be mad at her, she was just doing what she knows. She will not change her behavior, nor can I expect her too. It is me who has to come to some kind of peace about it, not her.

It reminds me that we too are driven by natural instints. Instincts I don’t believe psychologists have even begun to truly understand. It reminds me that when people in my life act in ways I find repulsive or when I just don’t get them, that I cannot be mad at them and expect them to change. All I can do, is accept them for who they are, find compassionate love for them and set up boundaries for myself, to protect myself from their natural instincts.

Speak to us of Children

Let me apologize in advance as not all my readers will know of my back story and so this post might not make sense all the way.

Today I came across the poem by Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet called “Speak to us of Children”. And I listened as he spoke. And I was inspired.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
– Speak to us of children!

And he said:
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come trough you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-narrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

And now I find myself in terrifying waters! I just made tentative moves to break the tension between B’s ex and myself, agreeing to a meeting with the 3 of us, with the goal of talking through our issues. This is not because I like her and am secretly missing her (as if!). It’s because I think we will all parent more effectively in a cooperative environment instead of in a conflicting one and I think the kids will ultimately benefit from a united parental front (and so will the parents!). However, I am terrified that all I’ve worked for over the last year or so will just slip through my fingers in the name of ‘playing nice’. And I DO NOT want that to happen. But I also know how I can get. At my heart, I am a people pleaser and I often tend to forget all about my own needs. I then either burn out or grow more and more unconscious in my unhappiness and eventually explode with suppressed anger. Over the last year I have worked really hard to figure out what I want and to stand up for it, in spite of ‘politeness’. And I have really pissed her off in the process. And lived through it (gasp! Imagine that!). I’m scared I will let myself down and just let it all go. And all in the name of ‘co-operation’.

I think I need to write/blog/journal on this some more. Before we meet, I need to have figured out and written down:

  • What I want for myself out of my relationship with her (ie. I don’t want one with her, other than a kid-centric one. I want to be co-parents with her, not her buddy. I want respect for my role in her children’s lives.)
  • What I want for myself out of my relationship with the kids (ie. I do not want to be their Mom. I want to be a loved and respected, influential adult (maybe like a favored aunt) in their lives who can bring my own individual life’s experience to them – formal education, global cultures.)
  • What I want for my family (ie. B and the kids. That I want one. Which cannot happen if she interferes every few hours. She has been really good at this over the last 2 months and I’ve hardly heard a peep from her. I like it like this.)
  • What I want for the kids (ie. safety, stability, security – but most of all LOVE. And to make her understand that sometimes I will fight for it. Even if it means against her.)

I also want to say:

  • That I know and understand what she has given up – full time mothering. And that I know how hard it must be for her to watch another woman care for and love her children. And that I appreciate her life choices, which whilst I do not support them, have allowed me the opportunity to mother and that I realize what a gift that is.

I’m sure there is A LOT more I need to figure out before sitting down with her, but this is a good start.

Here’s the real question in all of this, how do I do this all? Without loosing ground? When I don’t trust her and most likely never will?

Like Attracts Like

Today from my Daily Kabbalah Tune Up email:

If you were to never buy a book on Kabbalah, or take a class online, or attend one of our live events or holidays, if you were only reading this one email and I had just this one chance to share with you a secret that would change your life, it would be this:

Like attracts like.

God, from a kabbalist’s perspective, is not a bearded man on a mountain top or a judgmental omnipotent being, but it’s a force of sharing and concern and love. When you quiet down your thoughts and step away from your feelings – and just radiate concern for others – you attain affinity with God.

And the moment you create this connection, you are tapping into this force. This is where fulfillment comes from.

That’s why love thy neighbor was the revelation of a technology, not a moral ideal!

Today, be God. Be thoughtful of what others are going through. Be happy for others’ happiness. Be kind to people for no good reason. Be the creative force you can be. Everything else will take care of itself.

I like it…”a force of sharing and concern and love”. That appeals much more to me that a bearded man on a mountain top, which unfortunately is the vision of God I came away with from my childhood days. And what a truly AWESOME concept. Like attracts like – technically, not morally. It fits in very well with karma, Hermetic Philosophy and The Secret.

I would add only one more other thing to this. Be kind to YOURSELF. It’s no good going round doing good for others whilst simultaneously having low self-esteem and self-hatred. Because that too will attract like. And your life will be in choas and you won’t understand why because “you’re doing all this good stuff and nothing good is happening”…ummmmm.

So today be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. And meditatively tap into the force.

Africa Weeps

Sue’s Arty Farty Musings is a blog I follow on my RSS reader and although I don’t always have time to delve into it, I found I had some time this peaceful Sunday morning.

Her latest work, ‘Africa Weeping‘ is AWESOME!  Check it out.  I want me some 🙂  If I could afford it, that is.

These paintings so totally speak to my soul…tugging at my African Heritage heartstrings.

I don’t know if I’ve blogged about this before, but I feel guilty for leaving South Africa (I’ve been away for nearly 10 years now – wow!).  I feel that I profited growing up white in an apartheid South Africa, had privileges my fellow countryman did not, and all because my skin was white and not black.  And when it became tough to live in SA, when it became a struggle of life and death, I left.  Make no mistake, I still think it was the smartest move for me and my family.  Yet I feel guilty.  Like I should be giving back, putting back into the country I freely fed upon growing up, joining the struggle to make it a growing, prospering country again.  Sometimes I think about going back and my blood runs cold and fear for my life stops me.  Is that smart or selfish?  I oscillate between the two and haven’t yet found the happy medium.

This is what makes my current job the sweetest of ironies…I work for a historically black university here on the Eastern US seaboard.  This was purely unintentional of course, it just happened to be the job which fitted in my current lifestyle the best.  So now I find myself working back my karma, on US soil, in relatve safety, for a people who were historially disadvantaged not only here in the US but who were also violently and butally uprooted from their African homeland.  And I find that my guilt is slowing dissolving and the wounds healing.

Aint life strange sometimes.  And of course, even though it may appear otherwise, nothing is ‘just co-incidence’ 😉

No matter how many years I spend away from South Africa, I will always be African at heart and the African lanscape will always call to me.  I hope I’ll be able to have some of that landscape, so poignantly captured, in my home, bringing it just a tiny bit closer.

Huh? You’re saying? What’s going on? This is not a new blog ? But it certainly looks new-ish, doesn’t it?!

That’s because I changed the name of the blog and the header image. But same blog, same person, different look.

Sorry that I’ve been away for a while. I do that every now and again…disappear from the blog-o-sphere. It’s good for the soul, to lead an offline life once in a while 🙂 I guess one would normally tell their readers that though, first, before they disappear. Oops!

So what’s with the new name and header image, you ask. I decided ‘Meandering Ramblings’ no longer fitted. It aptly described where I was in my life when I first started this blog, but no longer. I am far more focused now. No more dreamily floating around, seeing where life would take me. Now I have a goal. And that goal is THE LIGHT. Well, actually, it’s been that for a few years now, I’ve just not ever overtly stated it. I am now overtly stating it – and going for it.

My life is a journey, with the sole purpose of reaching THE LIGHT or Enlightenment. Everything I do, consciously or unconsciously is directed towards that goal.

Saying that though, not all of what you will read here will be high-falutin spiritual speak. Much of it will be about my day-to-day living, the triumphs and tribulations thereof. But then again, it is my belief that the lessons and growth we (I) seek are around us all the time, we just have to notice them and then learn them. So of course my greatest growth with come from my every day living!

It would be lovely to have you along for the ride 🙂

Free Fonts

I found an awesome website today for web designers looking for free fonts!


Check it out!

50% Step-Mom

Yesterday I stumbled across a step-mommy blog (how refreshing, amongst all the many mommy blogs!) – The Ommy Diaries – and Rhonda there asked me how I like my own situation, specifically the 50/50 custody arrangement. I started replying there, then my comment turned into a mini-novel, so I thought I’d post it here instead.

How do I like the 50/50 custody arrangement?

Simply….? I don’t.

I thought I would….I thought I would have the best of best worlds, you know. Be a full-time mommy for a week and then a carefree spirit for the next. But it doesn’t work like that, does it.

I will never be the kids mom…they have one of those already. It took me a few months to really understand what that meant. So the week we have them, I feel like a detested babysitter at worst and a favored aunt at best. The emotional turmoil of wanting to be a mommy, and not being able to, tears me apart. Then I pull away from them, but that tears me apart too. I want to love. I need to love.

My hubby and his ex both have “rights of first refusal”, so if he’s at work and one of the kids are sick or off school for vacation or whatever, she can come whenever she likes and just take them. Even though my hubby and I made very specific life decisions to enable us always to be able to take care of the kids when they were here with us. I even arranged a telecommuting job so that I can be there for them after school and on vacation time. I hate this “right of first refusal” – it tears our little family apart. Yet I totally recognise her rights as a mother.

Then the kids leave for a week and both my husband and I mope forlornly around the house, like something’s missing. We close their bedroom doors, so we don’t have to see them when they’re not there (make sense?). It just hurts too much to see their empty bedrooms.

The kids don’t like it either. They hate having 2 homes and cannot understand why their mom, them and us cannot all live happily in the house together. They miss their mom terribly. She used to be a full-time stay-at-home mome. So not only are they having to get used to me, but they are having to adjust to their mom not being there as much as she once was. And even when they’re supposed to be with her, on her weeks, she works such odd days and times, that she is forever handing them off to sitters. This missing of her, aggravates their time with us too. I think they miss her so terribly when they are with us, because she doesn’t spend much time with them when she is supposed to. This angers me, because I resent her issues causing issues in our home.

My husband could enact his own right of first refusal in these cases, but he refuses to because we don’t agree with the concept in principle. He sees what it does to me when she does it and he refuses to support it.

In addition, our weeks with them are so geared up to them, that the weeks without them we catch up on work hours and chores etc, so there is not much free time anyway.

Furthermore, as was custom in their marriage, my hubby’s ex sees his role as primarly a provider and “back up” parent and sees nothing wrong with dumping the kids on him, when it’s convinient for her. Which it frequently was (and is). So his parenting seemed to be contigent upon her deciding when it was fit to happen. Now he is learning to parent on his terms, not her’s.

It is our belief that structure and routine are what the kids need more than anything else (after love and affection – which they get plenty of). So we are trying to provide that for them during the weeks we have them. However, she doesn’t share that belief and cannot understand why we do not take the kids during her week, when she is otherwise engaged. She doesn’t see how that messes up routines and schedules.

It’s a mess, to be honest.

So why don’t we change it?

Give her full custody? No, my hubby does not want to do this, because he doesn’t trust her parenting ability. She has made some really poor decsions and has some really wacky views on the world. He wants to try and minimize the long term effect that might have on the kids. On my bad days, I wish he would just do this. Suck up the massive child support payments and give her the kids. We’ll see them every other weekend and my heart will be protected from the “mommy bug”. But then I see reason and realize this would give the kids the worst possbile start in life and would mean my hubby would not get to be the dad he wants to be.

Him go for full custody? He has thought long and hard about this…even spoken to his attorney about it. But he decided against it. Apparantly she is not a bad enough mother for the courts to award him custody. The courts are still favoring mothers and unless they are terrible, father’s stand very little chance. Perhaps she has to murder someone first…

So for now, we make the best of a bad situation, which is probably the best situation, all things considered.

Website Redesign

The website I develop and maintain is going through a resign, primarily the look and feel and the navigation.

A bit of background and for those who don’t know me, I work for a land-grant university on the east coast of the US.  I am the webmaster and sole web developer for their main website (which has around 30K pages to it).  I am relatively new to the web field, although I have been in the IT industry for over 10 years.

Back to the redesign….we are working with a design agency for this little exercise and they are charging us a lot of money for the priviledge.  A week or so ago, they presented their first “concepts” to us.

Seriously….I was S-H-O-C-K-E-D!

For the amount of people on their team and the amount of money we are paying them, I am shocked with what they presented to us.  So we told them to go away and make some adjustments.  Yesterday they presented version two of the concepts.

Again, I am S-H-O-C-K-E-D!

I am not a graphic artist, hell, I wouldn’t even call myself a web designer yet.  But even I can see what they are sending is trash.  Yes, it’s a strong word.  But that’s how I feel.

It is so not worthy of consideration I think all we can do is trash what they’ve done and ask them to start again, or find another design agency.

So anyway, of course I am now starting a design hunt.  What looks good…what is our competition doing…what is new and hip and hot.  So I will probably be posting any resources I come across that I think are noteworthy.

I found one such resource today – webdesignfromscratch.com.  Excellent for current web design trends!  Simple, detailed explanations.  According to this website, current trends are:
* Simple layout
* Centered orientation
* Design the content, not the page
* 3D effects, used sparingly
* Soft, neutral background colors
* Strong color, used sparingly
* Cute icons, used sparingly
* Plenty of whitespace
* Nice big text

Well, right now Design Agency X (let’s call them that, shall we) is in contravention of 5 out of 9 of these trends!

Will keep you posted.

You know where I am RIGHT NOW? As I’m writing and posting this?

At my neighborhood cafe…eating a scrumptious meal, logged into their very fast internet connection, listening to Corey Hart’s Never Surrender (gosh, that brings back memories…Viki and high school), and before writing this post…working.

I feel so, so decadent!

Know why I’m here? Because I have cleaners in my house, cleaning (obviously), and I wanted to get away whilst they’re there.

And I’m thinking to myself, who do exactly do I think I am? Seriously. How many people (regular people) have someone clean their house whilst they lounge in the lap of luxury? I was SO born to be royalty! This comes so naturally to me. And I love it 🙂 . I say this with a complete lack of shame too. Isn’t that awful? No it’s not, I’m just saying that because I feel I should. I am actually LOVING this! This is the way life should be. Earning one’s living in the way that brings happiness, so that one can pay for the other parts of your life you don’t like doing so much (like cleaning a house).

Anyway, back to why I started this post in the first place…

This cafe is so, so lovely! The murals on the wall are awesome. So realistic. It looks like the courtyard of a street in a Tuscany village…little wrought iron chairs and tables…awesome service…really good, imaginative, wholesome food…with decadent desserts. And this in an area where there are very few unique eating places, with most of them being commercial chains. What a breath of fresh air!

Open Door CafeI nicked a photo from their website to show you, since I didn’t want to be snapping pictures in this lovely setting.

Isn’t it lovely?

Oh well…time to publish this post, get the check and return back to mundania. Thanks for taking a walk down fantasy lane with me…

Been an age….

Ok, it’s simply been an age since I posted.  Like seriously.  A really long age.  I feel guilty.  Like I’d abandoned a friend.

But, you know, life happened and then I didn’t know where to start and then guilt kept me away and then it just spiraled and spiraled until … nothing … just blank pages.

Well, I’m here to apologize to you all (if there is even a “you all” anymore) and see if we can still be friends …?

Hope so … 😦

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about religion and spiritually again. It’s a topic I find fascinating and it’s never very far from my mind. This time, my musings were triggered by this post about Deepak Chopra’s new book by David W. Boles’ Urban Semiotic. And it’s just been continued by me starting an 8 week course about a book called The Kybalion – A Study of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece. I have lots to say on the topic of religion and spirituality, so I might be writing a few posts about it in the future.

To start with, I will just mention two concepts I came across today, whilst researching the Blue Star Wiccan tradition and following the resulting link trails.

Concept 1 – Personal Responsibility
From this article talking about Halloween and Paganism:

Though paganism is often confused with religions that worship the devil or perform satanic rituals, most pagans do not recognize Satan at all…”There’s no evil spirit that makes people do bad things,” … “We’re responsible for ourselves, whatever we choose.”…”Those who describe themselves as a pagan or Wiccan … may hold beliefs that not everyone may hold, but the same can be said for people of all different religions.”

Yes! Yes! Yes! I cannot say YES! strongly enough!
Paganism does not recognize Satan is the Christian sense. Paganism does not recognize God in the Christian sense. There is not the concept of good and evil beings who decide our fate. It is ALL about personal responsibility. For someone like me, who comes from a Christian background, that is simultaneously terrifying and liberating. No devil or hell to worry about? Hell yeah! No god to “forgive my sins”? Oh no! You mean I, and I alone, am responsible for me? On this huge planet? In this huge universe? Holy moley! Excuse the intended pun.

I like it. It sits very well with me. Especially considering one of my other beliefs…that we create our own reality.

Please note that article I linked to is not very well written. It seems to portray Paganism as a region. It’s not. But Wicca is. Wicca is part of paganism. But paganism is not a religion. It is more of an umbrella term, used to describe a plethora of earth-based, often polytheist religions. The article also says that pagans and Wiccans do not practice magic. That is wholly incorrect. Wicca almost always incorporate magical practices (witchcraft) into their religion. Pagans may also practice magic. For a fuller description of Paganism, visit the Wikipedia page.

Concept 2 – Religious Freedom
From a Blue Star Wiccan webpage:

Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy-of-life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be “the only way” and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways or religious practice and belief.

Again, yes! Yes! Yes!
One of the reasons why I am drawn to paganism, and wicca to a lesser degree, is exactly this point. These people freely accept anyone in their circles. There is no judgment. No one path is the correct path. This is not only recognized, but considered a strength and incorporated into practices. I cannot stand, let me say that again, I CANNOT STAND! intolerance of any kind. The sheer arrogance of it, simply blows my mind. And I will never, ever align myself with a group which claims to have “the one true path” and negates thousands of other people.

Last year I attended a conference entitled “Between the Worlds“, which was a convergence of many different esoteric religions. Most were of pagan origins. But there was also an esoteric Christian group there. My heart was warmed to see such co-operation between traditionally opposing groups. We all have something to learn from each other.

My hubby has a website called www.aPath.org which provides inspiration and resources for the pagan community. He has a disclaimer there, which illustrates this concept brilliantly:

Nothing here is “the real truth” or “the one true path”. Each person has their “own true path” to walk in life, and what rings true for one person may not be right for someone else. I simply present what rings true for me in the hopes that it may help others to find their own paths from the landmarks I’ve found along my own. I can’t make this much more clear than the name of this site: “A Path”. Not “The Path”. Just “A Path.”

Another illustration of a heart-warming exchange of ideas between supposedly opposing religions was provided in Sabrinamari’s LiveJournal. Sabrina is a friend and Wiccan priestess who was blogging about pagans and money. And a devoutly religious Christian commented on her post. Which then inspired a further post by Sabrina on cross-religion monetary thoughts.

Well folks…that’s my 2 concepts for the day.



I am likely to use the word “Namaste” as a greeting in my spiritual or health related posts. So I wanted to provide a definition for those who may not know it’s meaning.

Taken from Wikipedia:

Namasté is a Nepali and Indian greeting, as well as a gesture. It expresses deep respect.

It is commonly used in Nepal and India by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, as well as outside the Indian subcontinent. In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. However, the same hands folded gesture is made wordlessly upon departure.

Taken literally, it means “I bow to you”. The word is derived from Sanskrit (namas): “to bow”, obeisance, reverential salutation, and (te): “to you”.

When spoken to another person, it is commonly accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. The gesture can also be performed wordlessly and carry the same meaning.

Symbolism in Hinduism
One hand represents the higher, spiritual nature, while the other represents the worldly self. By combining the two, the person making the gesture is attempting to rise above his differences with others, and connect himself with the person to whom he bows. The bow is symbolic of love and respect.

Symbolism in Global Culture
Namaste is one of the few Sanskrit words commonly recognized by Non-Hindi speakers. The term has come to be associated with yoga and spiritual meditation all over the world. In this context, it has been viewed in terms of a multitude of very complicated and poetic meanings which tie in with the spiritual origins of the word. Some examples:

  • “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me.”
  • “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace, When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.”
  • “I salute the God within you.”
  • “I recognize that we are all equal.”
  • “The entire universe resides within you.”
  • “The divine peace in me greets the divine peace in you.”
  • “Your spirit and my spirit are ONE.”
  • “That which is of the Divine in me greets that which is of the Divine in you.”
  • “The Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you”.

Namaste, my friends!

Teeheee…..I cannot stop giggling!

I have been stressing about my 3 year arm mortgage coming up to the variable rate option.  You hear so many horror stories of people’s mortgage payment shooting up at the end of the arm period, I was just expecting the worst.

Well, today I get a letter from my mortgage company.  And my rate is dropping by 0.25%, from 5,25% to 5%!!!!  Not going up at all.

How very cool is that!

Oh, and my house which has been on the market for around 4 or 5 months, has finally had an offer today.  A very low offer mind you, but an offer, nonetheless.  From a Realtor.  I think he thinks I’m desperate.  Which I’m not.  So we’ll have to see what comes of that.

Things are looking up.

I guess I do have more to say today that’s not down and dreary.

I mentioned before that I was seeing a Holistic MD, but I haven’t blogged about it much. As predicted she spoke about diet and exercise. But more importantly, she understood and spoke about ENERGY! Not energy as you are most likely thinking. But energy as in Reiki and other energy modalities and practices. Like grounding, centering, meditation et al. Yay! Yay! Someone who understands!

On Thursday last week, I had a follow up consultation with her and a Energy Healing session. I was a bad, bad girl and didn’t do much of what she suggested in her first consultation – organic whole foods, unprocessed and unrefined products, regular exercise, counselling, blood work etc. I SO have a thing about authority and was feeling so ashamed when I arrived and even though I think it’s a waste of my energy to feel that way, I was. Not wanting to even mention it at all (as that would be putting energy towards it), I mentioned it in passing – softly, casually – hoping she wouldn’t hear it. Well, she did. And she was so cool about it all! All she said was “That’s just information”. Yay! No scolding! And then she said “There’s obviously something preventing your tremendous will from asserting itself”. Yay! That’s EXACTLY the way I feel! My will is STRONG. And has pulled me through many a weight loss program before, university, crappy jobs, moving to 2 new countries etc. It’s just deserted me now. Something’s up. Mentally. Yay! Yay! Yay! Oh! What it is to be finally understood!

Anyway the thing I wanted to blog about specifically, is something she said about feelings.

It is her belief that we spend vast amounts of energy avoiding our feelings. Pushing them down, and away. With food. With addictions. With busy-ness. With fat. She says that we need time and space to actually feel, experience and process our feelings. Something our western lives doesn’t give us much of. Without this time and space we cannot heal.

I asked her why we do this. She believes that it’s because our society doesn’t know what to do with real emotion. We are embarrassed by it, threatened by it. And so we are taught to not only bury and suppress it, but to not have it at all.

This is certainly true for the male population. But I think it’s even true for us females. Yes, it’s definitely more acceptable for us to express. But only to a very small, limited degree. A few discreet tears, for a few uncomfortable moments. And then that’s enough. “Pull yourself together now”, we’re told. Ever had a full-out crying, sobbing, body-wracking, ranting session? In front of a loved one? For like a whole hour or so? How comfortable were they with it? This brings to mind a verse from my favorite poem – The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I think my Lady-Doctor friend is totally correct. I know it’s correct for me. I hardly remember crying when I was younger (maybe my family remembers differently, not sure). I do remember trying to cry though, many times, anything to relieve the burning pain inside. And just getting a pounding headache instead.

Contrast that to now. And the last few of years, where I will cry at the drop of a hat. And feel WONDERFUL afterwards. Truly, a releasing experience. It’s a difference made possible by a change in beliefs. I now believe it is my god-given right to express. I never used to. It’s relatively new to me. I don’t think my family quite knows what to make of it all 🙂 . I think in some ways I might seem more unhappy, but in truth it is just me, expressing more. And I am actually happier for it.

Anyway, back to the Lady-Doc….She maintains that this feeling avoidance may be even more marked in folk who are energy-sensitive and empathic. I think the more comfortable you become with feelings, the more you actually feel. Except for those of us (like me) for whom feelings may still be slightly threatening, you may not actually want to feel more. It’s tricky. It is my personal goal to know myself inside and out and so I HAVE to face my feelings. Yet, there is obviously a part of me who is terrified by this process, probably Lil’ Nat. Hence internal conflict results.

Lady-Doc also maintains that excess weight is a wonderful mechanism to not actually feel your body and dull your feelings. Again, I think she’s correct. There are entire days where I don’t actually feel my body (from the inside-like). And then I’ll touch my body in some way or another and realize, “oh, that’s me”. Very strange. Almost like I am not in my body. I’ve heard people talk about that before, “being out of their bodies”, not like having an OBE (out of body experience…astral travelling), but just not being there. And I’ve never really understood that before. I think I’m beginning to really get it now. Looking back, I think I began to gain a serious amount of weight…pounds, by the minutes…when I actively and purposefully started working on opening up my awareness and consciousness. So, I think she may just be onto something here.

Lady-Doc says that her requirements of diet and exercise are not goals per se (although the effects are desirable from a health perspective), but are processes designed to allow me to experience my earthly existence, to ground myself, to center myself. To balance myself.

Her “diagnosis”, if you like, is that I have had a large shift in consciousness (agreed), but have not yet done the cleanup of old feelings and beliefs. It is these which are dragging me down, adding on weight and causing the fatigue. Again I think she’s onto something here.

One of her recommendations, from my first consultation was therapy with a EMDR Specialist. I haven’t yet done that, but after all these realizations about my weight, I think I just might give it a try.

I love that I have a MD who can speak in terms of spirituality and energy, as well as pathological medical terms!

Fascinating stuff.

Chocolate Good Deed

Today I really have a lot to say, but it will pretty much all come out as moaning which just seems so boring to me today.

So instead of moaning, I will tell you about my good deed for the day. Yes, it is only midday and I have already done a good deed.

Wawa!I am the official Easter Chocolate Sampleress. The ways it works is, a few months before Easter, like maybe 11 months, I have to start sampling chocolate, to ensure that only the scrummiest of Easter goodies get to the consumer. It’s a really important job here in the US, because the chocolate here is so darn awful. It’s a tough job, but ya know, someones gotta do it 😉 .

So anyway today…my good deed…by me, the self-appointed chocolate sampler…sample 2 pre-Easter goodies from the local Wawa (isn’t that an awesome name? Wawa! A most wonderful US eastern board institution!)

The Dove Smooth Milk Chocolate Truffle Egg
Typically, Dove is one of the only decent chocolate you can get in the US, over-the-counter style. Hersheys is crap (in my opinion – only). Sorry for the profanity. But truly, there is no other word for it. It’s crap. There are others which range from ‘not bad’ to ‘scrummy’ but they are typically only found in specialist chocolate shops. I want to start with something readily available. You know, for the man who forgets the next day is Easter and rushes last minute into a Wawa. So Dove it is. In a form I have not seen before. A first.

Notice is the packaging. Think, study foil, colored a subdued brown, with some kind of muted shade flowers. It hardly even looks Easter-ish. But it’s definitely classy looking. The type I’d feel fine giving to my parents or parents-in-law.

Taste verdict: Very scrummy indeed! And rich enough for this sugerholic’s taste. Even I couldn’t have more than one or two. This get’s a 4 out of 5. (I never give 1’s or 5’s…strange girl that I am). Not half bad for a Wawa special!

Sorry – I couldn’t find a picture of this scrummy egg 😦 .

Cadbury’s Creme EggThe Cadbury’s Creme Egg
Next is trusty ‘ol Cadbury’s Creme Egg. I have been consuming these for many many years. Each time, it is like ecstasy in the mouth. No, not the drug, the experience of religious ecstasy. Truly. Even when I consume too many and want to throw up, it is still a religious experience. Like dying a sweet death. Anyway… moving on.

I tried a first for me, Dove. Now I’m trying a trusted favourite. Got to make sure nothing has changed since I last sampled one…ummmm…a month ago.

Taste verdict: You know, even a trusted Cadbury’s Creme Egg doesn’t taste the same in the US as it does in the UK or in SA. How crazy is that? It’s still scrummy, but not quite to the same degree. Definitely still a good Easter treat though. I give it a 4.5 out of 5. If it was a UK or SA Cadbury’s Creme Egg, it would have got the esteemed and elusive 5 out of 5.

Edited to add: Huh! I just found out that Hersehy’s have the US licence for Cadbury’s! Perhaps that accounts for the taste difference.

Anyway folks, that’s it for today. I hope this helps you with your Easter Egg hunting,wink, wink, nudge, nudge 😉 .
I hope to be posting lots more reviews in the coming days.

The Cell Phone

I have a situation on the home front I’m not sure how to handle.

The kids have a cell phone.  Yes!  A freaking cell phone!  Remember, they are only 6 and 8.

In my opinion, they are too young to handle the responsibility of a cell phone.  It makes me really uncomfortable that they have it.  It worries me what we are teaching them.  It makes me feel like I am not in control of them when they are in my care (like I should be).

The 6 year old thinks it’s a toy, even though she has been told it’s not and is only for calling specific family members when they are missing them.  So far today, she has called:-

  • me – even though I was in the same house as her
  • her dad – whilst he was at work, to ask him a question that her brother had for homework
  • her mom – just to chat
  • her mom’s girlfriend – who knows for what
  • her mom’s ex-girlfriend – again, who knows for what

Oh yes, I didn’t mention that the approved list now includes some people who definitely do not classify as “family”, as evidenced by the girlfriend calls above.  Also, all the calls occurred in privacy because she only wants to talk in private.  She could be calling anyone for all I know.  Or anyone could be calling her.

Their mom got the phone for them, to apparently “give them more control over their lives”.  That seems really odd to me.  What 6 and 8 year old kid has control over their lives?  Or should need to have that control?  To me control and responsibilty go hand in hand.  And 6 and 8 are definitely too young for responsibilty.  Surely what they need more is stability and security?  Not control?

It’s tricky.

Online Security

Following on from my previous post, my friend Mr David W. Boles has given me lots to think about again in terms of internet security and anonymity.  This is a fascinating – and scary article – he wrote about parents unwittingly exposing their kids to online predators.  A few of the commenters disagree with Mr Boles, but I have to say that when it comes to kids, I’d rather be safe than sorry

So yes, while you can be found on the net, I guess there’s no good reason to make it really easy for anyone either.  Especially in light of the fact that there are children involved here.

So I have taken out the bio-facts from my About Me page and any real names.  And am thinking about what to do about any photographs I do publish.

‘Tis snow, snow, snowing again!
Light soft snowflakes.

Airing Dirty Laundry

I’ve been thinking alot again about blogging and the anonymity of it or rather non-anonymity of it all.

It started with a conversation with my step-mom about why I am blogging and “airing my dirty laundry” in public. It seems that some family members don’t understand why I would want to do this 🙂 . And could I be sued by any parties that might be written about in my work.

All good questions.

It’s hard to explain why I am airing my “dirty laundry”. It goes against all I was taught by my parents as a child, and by society as a whole. So why do it?

It started off with a desire to share with family and friends and a blog format seemed easier to follow and keep track of than emails.

I could have made it a password protected blog, but that kind of seems pointless, because I doubt family and friends would want to actually log into a blog. I tried to make it as simple as I could.

I could also have tried the anonymity route, but really that’s pointless as well, as I already covered in this post. If anyone wants to find me, they will. It really is not hard at all. Please read….and you will see. Blog hopping, I found another example of why being who you really are actually provides a surprising level of protection.

So hear I am, blogging openly.

But you know….there is more…the illusive part.

I think it’s to do with the actual writing. I want to write. I want to express. I have developed enough skill at writing, that I think I’m ok at it. It does the job of expression pretty effectively. Some people talk, some people scream, some people dance, some people draw, some people paint….I write. I feel lighter and clearer once I’ve written. Once I’ve put words to almost nameless fleeting innermost feelings, it suddenly all makes sense. I get answers through the process.

So ok. I want to express. And writing is an effective medium for that. But why public? What is it about creativity that makes us want to show it? What is the reward? Why do we have galleries. Why do other people buy other people’s creativity?

Is it recognition? Yes, of course, it is. But again, it feels like more. I know I get tremendous satisfaction if and when my writing inspires someone else or better yet, helps someone else.

Is this it? The illusive key? The sense of satisfaction that I made a small difference?

This is a fantastic article about blogging and “keeping it real”. I guess I do that then 🙂 .

What do you think? Let me know if you blog about this topic and I will include your post in mine with a link.

Kiddie Love

This week is our week with the kids. And it’s started off wonderfully!

Yesterday at 5pm S dropped the kids off. Polite conversation ensued between her and myself about the kid’s schooling needs for the week…kids have bathed today, haven’t eaten dinner yet, N needs to finish the book he is reading for his school report. N then tries to drag his mom into the house to come and look at something or another. She extracts himself from his grip and makes an excuse why she has to leave. I say we are going out right now anyway. She goes and the kids jump right into “Nat this and Nat that”…all chatty and cheerful. Yay! No tears, no drama! Yay! They actually seem pleased to see me. Yay!

We always try to do something special with them for when they first come to us. Just a little something to mark the transition, to catch up and reconnect. So as B was working a bit later last night, I do it myself anyway and take the kids to Boston Market for some scrummy chicken dinner. And they’re typical mischievous kids playing tricks on each other with terrible table manners. But they’re happy and playful. Yay! And they don’t protest when I try to take them for hair cuts (ended up leaving because the wait was too long) and then love it when we browse through the toy store. Even my request that they don’t ask me for anything because I’m not buying tonight, is generally heeded.

Later in the evening M is getting ready for bed and she calls me into the bathroom, with a cheeky glint in her eye. She climbs up on the loo seat (toilet seat for the non-UK folk) and says “You know you want it, you know you do” and proceeds to launch herself into my arms. Wow! She has never, ever done that before. She then proceeds to plant little 6 year old kisses all over my face! Oh god, my heart is just melting all over the place!

And then this morning, N brings me breakfast in bed, an omelet that his Dad made for me. All shy and sweet…awwww.

I asked myself a rhetorical question in an earlier post…”Why exactly am I doing this?”. Why am I trying so hard to be a step-mom when it just seems like it’s not wanted or needed?

Well, I guess that weeks like this are why I am doing it. Yay!

Like Brian says, I need to remember these times, when we have other more challenging times. I need to hold onto the good times.

Sometimes, I Cry

Sometimes, I Cry

Great big heart wrenching cries,
shuddering sobs,
rivers of tears.

So great,
it would break a mom’s heart
and a dad want to viciously hunt down the cause.

But there is something you need to know.
Shuuuuuuuush, it is a secret!
Something the average Joe does not know.

My tears are healing! Not harmful!

They release the toxins
which have poisoned and sneakily mutated beauty,
for so many years.
Allowing a new breathe to enter that space,
and a sparkly new growth to build lush ground.

They are not a weakness overcoming me!

It is the core of great inner strength,
which allows me to be so vulnerable
to show my wounds to the cleansing air,
to allow the poison to be washed away.

They are a gift…to be seeked out and celebrated.

Thank you,
to you,
the person who allows me to cry and to heal and to grow.

© Natalie S Gallagher 2008