Wednesday, 8 February 2017

to tell you about that time I nearly died

I did a personality assessment that said I tend to exaggerate. Moi?? Never! That's preposterous. I cannot fathom that I would ever exaggerate for the sake of, say, storytelling. You can rest at ease now, knowing that I didn't in fact die and probably wasn't close to death but I have to hook you somehow.

We were in South Africa, on our honeymoon. It was a dream come true. I have always wanted to go to Africa, and then when I got a Saffy friend I was convinced that one day I would visit her lovely country (that nearly killed her family, oh Apartheid and civil unrest, such fun). We were there for just shy of 4 weeks. And if you are engaged or thinking about getting engaged, here is my favourite piece of advice from one who knows, spend it ALL on the honeymoon. Have a nice wedding, invite who you want, but really put as much as you can into it to go as far as you can for as long as you can. It is the best investment you'll make in your marriage. *End PSA*

PSA = Public Service Announcement 

Being from the prairies, we hadn't experienced much of what coastal life was like. It smells kind of gross, and the wind, let's just say that the Cape Doctor (their name for a very strong wind that is perfect for growing, cleaning, healing, and ripening the vineyards) puts prairie wind to shame. With that wind, the ocean can get a little tumultuous at times. Add to that, that Cape Point is where two oceans meet and it gets down-right dangerous. It's like a whirling jacuzzi filled with jagged rocks and animals that would gladly bite you for sport. 

Naturally, the hubster wanted to go shark diving. You will laugh at this later, I promise. 

I was over-joyed to find out that while we were there (February) the Great Whites are not as abundant as they are swimming north for warmer waters. there weren't any shark diving adventures available at the time. February is fall and as the weather starts to change so does the ocean. 

One Sunday we took Scoots (our name for our faithful little 2 cylinder scooter) over to Hout Bay. I had bought our morning tickets in advance because the "afternoon excursions are often cancelled due to harsh conditions". Red flag number 1. Hout Bay is the largest gathering of Seals, there are some 60 000 at any given moment. This is often the place that shark diving occurs because it's fish in a barrel (rather, seals in a bath tub) for the sharks. We lined up at the dock, and some people looked a little green disembarking. Red flag number 2. I overheard a man with sea legs saying to people to stay near the middle or back of the boat if you have a tendency for sea-sickness. Red flag number 3. 

We boarded the boat and the hubster started running for the front. I grabbed his arm and said, we will stay here. He apparently didn't hear the gentleman on the land telling us to stick to the calmer portions of the boat, we sat on the port side with access to many rails. The harbour was calm and surrounded by large mountains, truly picturesque. We trolled along, and for a brief moment I thought, hm, no waivers, we are definitely in Africa. The radio squawked something about life jackets being inside under some benches and to hold on to a railing at all times. Red flag number 4, 5, 6... I'll stop with this now. 

We hit the open water slowly and felt the boat rock a little. We turned and passed another sight-seeing boat and a man was holding his arm out and moving his hand in a "so-so" fashion. I thought, rats it's a dismal showing of seals today. 

Then our boat hit it, I could hear the engine chugging hard and it felt like we were racing. The radio cracked on and told people at the front to hold on and secure their belongings or move to the back of the boat. Suddenly, the engine cut, and all I could feel were the waves hitting the other side of the boat. We were pitching and yawing. Prairie translation: one second we were looking at the sky, the next moment the sea. It felt like we were on a fair ride that turned you upside down. I of course went into shock. With a reflex response, the hubster's arm stretched across me to keep from falling off the side of the boat. I gripped onto the pole that ran alongside me for dear life. The rocking settled, the engine roared and we went about 20 feet, then the engine was cut again, the sky-sea-sky-sea sights flashed. The man's hand suddenly made sense, it wasn't a so-so experience, he was mimicking the rocking of the boat.

We continued this pattern for the next 20 minutes. These are not stock photos, these are my own, and the perspective does not do it justice. The waves were easily a couple of meters high. 

When we pulled up to the seal rock, the speaker crackled to life with some barely intelligible words coming out. My head was full of cotton, my hands shook as we walked through the boat to snap a few shaky pictures of the seals playing in the frothy, roaring sea. 

That's when I noticed the hubster was trembling. His face and hands were white. His eyes were huge. We were both realizing that the trip home would be the same journey. It was as though a flip switched, I immediately became courageous and was reassuring him that these were seasoned seamen who had fished and boated in these waters and that this was any given Sunday for them. I told him that I would like to ride inside the boat on the way home because I didn't think I could handle it outside any more. The relief washed over him. We barely looked at the seals. We just went inside and comforted each other. He found the life jackets, and I found a pole. I held on to it as the engines roared to life and we made the turn toward the harbour. 

We laughed and let the ship rock, aghast at the insane tourists that stayed near the front of the boat. We arrived back at the dock to toothless men dressed in red, white, and gold with drums and tambourines singing "When the saints go marching in" spinning an umbrella. I wondered if they have to do that to sugar coat the entire terrifying experience. I laughed in the face of death and danced with the men singing about our triumphal return, who knows if they sing lost at sea ballads as well. Trembling, we had to shop at the booths that were setting up shop to get our land legs back before we could hop on Scoots and vow to never do that again. But we did, on our second anniversary, and that is a story for another day.  

I like land. 

That's all. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

a new new year's resolution

I'm a bit late to this party, I realize that January is almost over, my apologies. I like time to think on things because I take my resolutions seriously. It makes it less of a fad thing and requires some actual direction pointing. I can appreciate people who decide that this will be their healthiest year yet, a well-traveled year, a hydrated year, good for you! Keep reaching for those goals.

Mine is a little different this year. I have shared my resolutions in the past and am glad for sharing them. When you tell people your intentions you become accountable for what you've said. Here's mine: to say no.

The hubster and I dream one day of tiny-home living. I can't wrap my head around it just yet but he has a recording of me saying that I will one day do it. As part of this future endeavour we have done a *Spark Joy* #KonMari cleanse. Well, I did, he didn't make it through all of his stuff. I'm not sure he fully grasps tiny home living because he talks of us keeping our home so we have a garage to store things in. We do have 11 foot paddle boards that would prove tricky to store in a tiny home and I say yes to those lovelies every summer.

I promise this has a point...

Living in a tiny home requires you to also live pretty minimally. Which has us both intrigued and challenged. We downsized our wardrobe by about 2/3 in one afternoon and I'm sure I could do it again and not notice much missing. We watch the doc The Minimalists on Netflix (highly recommend it if you have any interest in this area) and the guy with long hair said, it's not about just saying no for the sake of saying no, it's saying NO to somethings to enable you to say YES to the things that bring you joy and that excite you.

So the first thing that I did this year was to quit two opportunities that were in front of me. I could have done those two roles, and done well in them, but that little voice inside said "no", so I tried listening to it. Being a millennial means that I feel like my life's work has to bring me all of the fulfillment I need. But I'm working hard to be a Gen X right now - work to live a life that I enjoy. I'm turning it around. I am back to substitute teaching because it doesn't take up a lot of space in my head. I show up, fill the gap and work hard for about 6 hours, then I go home and cook a great meal (when I have a "real job" I am too spent to have any creativity left for the kitchen), I get to hang out with my dog and take way too many pictures of her (she has an instagram account - I'm still a millennial, c'mon), give my best to my hubster, and have the energy and the capacity to write.

I am excited to say NO so that I can say YES to the things that I feel called to do. Under this over-arching resolution are still several smaller goals. Don't be fooled, I am not lazy, I am insanely driven, but sometimes in the past I have driven toward things that weren't for me, which is exhausting in a very detrimental way. Now, after saying no to a few things, I can say yes and point this locomotive toward the things that challenge me and bring me joy and exhaust me in the most fulfilling way.

It's not too late to set a resolution. If we aren't purposeful about the things in front of us we can become bombarded and filled with things we have no interest or intent toward and poof a year is gone.


That's all.

Friday, 30 December 2016

there will be time

Oh, 2016. I'm not sure how you felt about this year but I'm glad that it was a blur. I am thankful that when I turn and look back on it, it was a mere blink.

It was one of those years. You know those years, we've all had them. The ones where the lessons were long and so apparent that they might as well have had flashing signs above them. YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A LESSON SEASON (and you may not get out of it for what feels like a very, very long time).

And guess which lesson I got to relearn for the gazillionth time? Patience.

I wonder if you could feel my eyes roll as I read that out loud to you in your head. Or, if like me, you've had to learn and relearn, and learn again that lovely little life skill of patience. I know I've written this before, a friend would admonish me, "Patience is a virtue" and I would reply, "that I don't have time for". Well, I guess I do because I'm going around the patience mountain yet again. Why is it that the go-getters of the world have to learn patience, why can't we learn that when we push really hard we get our way? (Because life isn't like that).

I really felt like I had to just figure it out. Just take some time and figure it out. I felt like it was a year of solitary confinement of just figuring things out. And man, does this brain like to figure. And it figures things one way, then the other way, and back to the next. And I'm a verbal processor, so figuring things out alone doesn't really work, yet I had to figure. Spinning the good old wheels for fun, for a full turn around the sun. Figuring out how to get out of this lesson, figuring out how to speed up the process, figuring out how to get the check mark and the A+ and move on... it doesn't work like that, surprisingly.

The hubster and I were driving home from a weekend away in November. I asked him what kind of music he'd like to hear. He always says Mumford and Sons. I think it's because it's one of those "meet in the middle" bands. He likes country and I like indie-pop so Mumford and Sons is a good compromise. They have such great driving music. The kind that you can sing along to, keep you awake and have fun all at the same time.

I found their latest album I think it came out in June or July, which is surprising that I missed that quiet release. Or I was so busy figuring that I didn't have my finger on the pulse of indie-pop releases. Whichever it was, I was happy to find a new EP.

The song There Will Be Time came on. And with it, the tears. This year I worked so hard to figure it all out. To find the next step. To find the solution. To find the thing. To learn the lesson so I could add it to my list of accomplishments and be done with it. And it didn't come.

I listened to the words of the Sons of Mumford:
And in the cold light I live to love and adore you
It's all that I am, it's all that I have
In the cold light I live, I'll only live for you
It's all that I am, it's all that I have
Why do I keep falling?
Why do I keep falling?

And a week later put it together. The tears, the frustration, the hurt came from losing my perspective. No matter what kind of figuring I do, no matter what kind of tinkering I do, it all comes down to learning patience in the process. I don't have to do or be anything to get it. I have to learn to wait my turn, or never have a turn and be ok with both. *grits teeth*

There is the subtle line in the song, where Mumford is explaining his issues and he almost speaks it, and indeed there will be time. It's as though he is reminding himself that there will be time, there isn't really much he can do at this point but be patient. I've forgotten that there will be time. I have worked so hard planning every little thing, including my response to every little thing, figuring it all out instead of just taking a deep breath and knowing that there will be time.

There is a time, a time to love
A time to sing, a time to shine
A time to leave, a time to stay
There is a time, a time to cry
A time to love, a time to live
There is a time, a time to sing

Happy New Year. You can hear the song on spotify or youtube if you haven't yet.

There will be time.

That's all.