Where the Light Lies

Hope if a funny old thing. We manage to find it in the most unique and desperate places.

It isn’t always called Hope. Sometimes we call it Faith. Sometimes it is called Surviving.

Sometimes it doesn’t really have a proper name.

In the darkness – it is simply a facet of your being.

A glimmer deep in your soul that reaches out for life. For love. For peace. For something better.

Sometimes, it is very simply, your soul searching and reaching for where the light lies.

The light of laughter on a cool evening.

The light of joy in a smiling baby.

The light of faith in an everlasting.

The light of healing in the face of illness.

The light of enduring when faced with devastation.

The light of a God, when you know you didn’t get here by yourself.

The hope that the light will find you and love you and accept you anyway. Even when you don’t love yourself.

It is always there. Even when you see only darkness.

It is there in the people around you, the ones that are light.

The ones that are hope.

Because they are there.

And they see the you that, just for a moment, you cannot.

May the light find you.

And may you find where your light lies.

 

The Story of Me

I have a nasty habit. A destructive, cruel and mean streak that flays skin.

That damages the soul.

A habit that finds the weak spaces and places and, like molten lava on bare land, burns chaos into being.

I hold myself up to the blinding light of what I think I should be, must be, have to be, and am meant to be – for others.

Never for myself. Never valuing me. Who I am – above who others think I am.

I guess that the very act of acknowledging the glitch in the process is the first step to healing?

The story you have for me, is not the story I have for me.

And my story of me is what is important.

Moving. Moving on.

I moved again. I packed up my little house of fur and things, and trekked to another place to fill with echoes.

In the moving, I found all these old report cards from when I was a child. 7 or 8 years old. And even then, I was not kind to myself.

Hidden in between all the normal silliness of my nature – Jessie likes to talk, Jessie should entertain, Jessie should pay more attention in class, Jessie tries really hard and is a hard worker – in between all of that…

Jessie lacks self confidence.

Jessie is unsure of herself too often.

Jessie is loud.

How can an 8 year old already be so consumed with doubt, that they start to find ways to hide their nature.

How on earth can an 8 year old already be told that she does not properly fit the mold? To try harder. To fit in.

In the memory of all the things that I hold on to – I can’t remember what made me this way. Was I born like this? Doubting. Consumed with never being enough. Tortured by the power I give to others.

I just know that as I was then – so I am now.

I try really, really hard. But I give my power away too often. Too eagerly. Too quickly.

So I find solace in the solitude.

In fur.

In echoes.

In silence.

 

terry-pratchett-quotes

Things I learnt after joining an MMA type gym:

I have been sick again. No biggie. Except it always is. This time though – I stayed off the cortisone. YAYAYAYAYAYAYA….

Sorry. Got a bit excited there for a minute.

What with the sick and all, and it takes me forever and a day just to have clear lungs again, and the spending allot of time indoors so you don’t breathe cold air and what what…. A very odd thing happened to me.

I missed going to the gym. I missed the challenge. The comradery. The giggling like a spastic tonsil. The sense of getting stuff DONE.

I will probably only be able to go back in a few days because I am gifting myself a few days to get completely better. But to help me get through this odd sensation of missing a thing that actually causes me to walk funny, here are a few things I have learnt after joining an MMA type gym:

  • Stairs were probably invented just so that your trainer can torture you.
  • Every day is leg day
  • Not all stairs are equal.
  • Badly done burpies are still better than no burpies at all.
  • Skipping like a deranged monkey with one leg is better than not skipping at all.
  • It takes 8 gym days for your brain to actually figure out the whole skipping thing. At approximately 06h07 on the morning of the 8th day, you will be skipping like a graceful and rhythmic swan. In my mind anyway. If swans could actually skip that is.
  • Also on the 8th day, you will do your first proper set of assisted (feet hooked into something or someone) sit ups. None of those half crunch things here. No, no, no. Full sit up, gloves touching my mirror partner. Graceful as a dolphin. No grunting, snorting and panting here. No, no, no. Ok I lie. There are huge amounts of grunting and snorting. But you will still do them. Like a boss.
  • I am as agile and flexible as I am fit. Which is to say I move like a blob of butter in cement. But moving is what actually counts.
  • You don’t have to be good at something to love it.
  • The relative sense of accomplishment that accompanies every single ache is profound.
  • Sometimes, the instruction to move going from your brain to your thighs (I’m talking to you left thigh), is completely ignored. More than ignored. It goes to its room and sulks for a few hours. Leaving you hobbling around like a lopsided turtle singing its own theme song. And by theme song I mean curse words muttered at a level only bionic dogs can really hear….
  • Sometimes, just showing up is already a win.
  • Once you have successfully managed to collapse onto the toilet seat, your will to ever stand again leaves you.
  • Not all ow’s are equal.
    • Some ow’s are perseverance.
    • Some ow’s are accomplishment.
    • Some ow’s are strength.
    • Some ow’s are a lesson.
    • Some ow’s are sweet.
    • Some ow’s are worth the breath.
    • Some ow’s are Oorah and Hooah.
    • Some ow’s are worth the standing all skew like a retarded tree for a moment when you stand up, while things settle and other things loosen.
  • It is impossible to balance on a Pilate’s ball when you have the rhythm of a deranged dandelion in front of a fan.
  • It is even more impossible to plank on said Pilates ball when you have been cursed blessed with as much boobs as I have.
  • Lifting with your legs and not your back is all very relative until you have to try lift and push a tractor tyre down the length of training hall.
  • Shin pads don’t mean doodely if the person you are ‘fighting’ is as new to kickboxing as you are and their sense of placement is as crap as yours is. Be prepared for a sore inner leg just next to the shin pad thingy. Please notice I said ‘fighting’…. Fighting without quotes implies some kind of skill. I have only ” skill.
  • Knowing where to place and keep your feet AND boxing with the correct hand first AND thinking about where your kick is supposed to go AND being correctly defensive is FREAKING HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clearly this is multitasking at a whole new level.
  • Kettlebells are from the devil

Yes – I get completely and utterly physically knackered. But in that moment, my mind is silent. My mind is calm. For the first time in a long time. My mind is consumed by what I can do.

Not what I can’t do.

Sometimes going to the gym every day is kinda like the Nac Mac Feegle – all bravo and yelling and disorder and theft of livestock and tattoos but when you get right down to it…

Brave as hell.

And just as crazy.

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I saw Hope today.

Today, I saw Hope.

I have already seen Grace and Faith in Town. Both of them Gifts that could so easily have been missed and overlooked.

Lost in the busy and the noise and the life that we live. Lost in the numbness of humanity.

Today was much like any other day. I got up, fed the things I love, drove the farm roads to work.

Today, I categorically did not feel like going to gym. From the moment I woke, I fought my own head.

“It’s cold.”

“It’s too early for this today.”

“I am so tired.”

“My ankle is sore.”

“My back is sore.”

“I have a sniff, people in the office are sick, I am probably well on my way to another session of cortisone / hospital.”

“I don’t want to.”

Sometimes, the thoughts in my head win. Sometimes, I fall back into bad habits and negative ideas and a uniquely twisted reality that is all mine, finely crafted from years of being way harder than I need to be on myself.

Precision honed to be cutting, demotivating, devastating and soul crushing.

There it is.

“I don’t want to.” Because what is the point? I have been doing this for a month and a half. And I have not lost 1 kilogram. Because everything is weight to me. And weight is everything to me.

“I don’t want to.” Even though I can climb a flight of stairs faster now, than I did a month and a half ago.

Even though I love it and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something.

Even though every step is a journey to better. To healthier. To stronger.

I don’t want to. Because today it was just hard. Hard to be positive. Hard to be kind to myself. Hard to be motivated. Hard to be me.

Every step into the office a fight to convince myself that I am worth it. It is worth it. Get up and get going.

I am not sure why today was so hard. It just was.

Even when I was sitting taking my takkies off at Redemption Fitness Centre, my head was still at war with itself.

“You know you are probably getting sick so why bother?”

“You know you will fail in the long run, like you always do, so why not just give up?”

“You know you look especially large today and all the beautiful people are going to stare at you right?”

You get the idea.

And don’t get me wrong. None of these are formulated thoughts that run through my head. These are all just dark and oppressive snippets of thought, accompanied by the overwhelming weight of sadness and desolation.

I sat in the stillness of my heart and my mind and looked into the darkness that lives so very close to the edge of my soul, and I thought about letting it engulf me again. I thought about failing again.

Instead. I stood and looked out into the lit darkness beyond the windows. I thought about my path and who I am and where I am.

Again – none of it consciously formulated into structure. Just snippets of an idea and a feeling of light. Of potential calm. Of cleansing tears.

A moment in a moment where the dark of my soul fought the light of my soul. And I found a bit of Hope.

Hope for better. Lighter. Love. Laughter. Joy. God. Peace. Family. Strength.

Hope for me. For who I am. Who I have become.

Who I will be.

Hope. Just for me.

Sometimes God lives closer to you than you think.

I saw Faith today.

Once upon a while ago, I am certain I saw Grace.

And today, I saw Faith.

I get into Town really early in the mornings, in part to miss the madness that is rush hour traffic in Cape Town but also so that I can do my daily exercise. I walk various routes around our beautiful city and due to the very nature of the time, I get to see allot of the homeless.

Mostly still asleep. Some just barely awake and perhaps wondering why they bothered. Some, like a rather well-known figure along Adderley Street, having a bath in the fountain.

My city could be any city. Homelessness is not unique to Africa. It is not unique to this city. It is everywhere. And it is heartbreaking.

As is the nature of humanity, we desensitize. After a while, you don’t notice the sadness or loss or pain or fear anymore. You don’t hear the voices. Worst of all, you don’t see the person anymore. They are just one more thing in a landscape of things.

That being said – I love my country. I love this place I live. Not because I have to. But because it is me, and I am it. So I try to keep my heart and my mind and my soul open to the beauty. To the hope. To the joy. But also to the faults. To the corrupt. To the bits that are broken. No one thing is ever perfect. And, as with so very many things, sometimes the bits that matter the most are the bits that can’t be seen.

Today was a good walk. I missioned along a route I don’t usually take. Past the taxi’s and the vendors.

Past the station and the folks slowly making their way to work.

Past the doormen and street sweepers.

To the most amazing sight I have seen in a while. Another one of those moments when time stops a bit. Reality becomes thick and amplified and loud.

Many of the homeless get a meal from one of the many shelters or soup kitchens around town. It is usually a styrofoam bowl of maize and a jam sarmie. I have even on occasion seen them munching happily on a bowl of rice.

Today was a happy walk. Singing under my breath to Katy Perry’s Dark Horse. Happily smiling and appreciating the weather. Greeting the folk that crossed my path.

Only to walk past an obviously homeless man with the most magnificent grey and silver beard.

Saying his Grace before tucking into his breakfast.

We may lose our way. We may lose our family, our joy, our jobs. We may lose ourselves.

Never lose your Faith.

Because where there is Faith, there is Hope. And Hope is where God lives. Hope for something better. Hope for peace. Hope for love. Hope for another meal.

Hope for that silver bearded homeless man who still found space in his Soul for Faith.

He will never know how much he Blessed me. I will most likely never see him again. But he showed more Faith and Hope in one moment than many people have in their entire lives.

Sometimes the bits that matter the most really are the bits that can’t be seen.

It is not what you own in this life.

It is how you conduct yourself in this life.

That man, that homeless soul.

He was Beautiful.

He was Gods perfect creation.

Space to hang yourself

I grew up in the wide open spaces of a farm in the middle of Vereeniging in South Africa. The animals and my imagination were my friends. The wind and dust my companions.

I grew up solitary and alone for the most part.

I learnt to amuse and occupy myself. I used the gifts I was born with and crafted entire worlds around my existence, where I was always the hero. I learnt to be alone.

Which is not an easy thing to one who is a vociferous extrovert. At the time I had no idea what introvert or extrovert meant. I didn’t have enough human contact to be educated in the matter.

I was simply alone – so I learnt to be alone.

That skill has served me well over the years.

Now, older and wiser and way more careful with my heart and affections, I find myself spending allot of time alone.

Tonight, at the  tail end of a traumatic week, I wondered – when does a life becomes too solitary?

When does the silence of no answer start to chafe a bit too vigorously?

In a normal day, I will spend 9 hours in the company of colleagues. Talking all the nonsense and business that makes up a working life.

Coming home – I will spend 9 hours sleeping. I do love my sleep. Or is it rather that I hate the silence more.

6 plus hours, barring the odd outing, I spend in my own company.

The radio is always on. The animals become white noise. My thoughts, which are more often than not at odds with me, my company and my companion.

I think my life has become too solitary. And I do not know how to change it.

 

Time removed from Memory

Sometimes, you just have to write things down in order for them to make sense. For whatever reason, your brain gets too full, too convoluted, too bogged down and the endless circle of thought and rethought is… well, endless. Allot of this blog will be about me trying to make sense of my rethoughts, amongst other things.

I have this slightly weird memory issue. As in I don’t have one. While I remember various parts of my life, some mundane and some not so much, huge gaps of time are lost to me. When I am not missing a particular memory, then I am quite content to believe that this space in my recollection of time is a blessing. However, there are times when I intrinsically know that I am missing huge chunks of a childhood, a life, a relationship, a period in time – and the sense of loss is profound.

I do not think that this loss of time is due to any massive trauma or actual choice that I made. I think it is just a part of me, and oddly, my sister. As much a part of our genetic line as our freckles or particular sense of humour.

What I do remember is difficult to articulate. It is taste and love and isolation and running around in an unseasonal and atypical snowfall, hotdogs in front of the SABC’s big round and ugly test pattern, Macguyver in black and white, the freedom of the ignored, horses, dogs and  fantasy.

I believe that some of what I remember is absolute truth, and some is based on the stories of truth that families tell each other over many years.

I was born in 1975, a very late edition to an already established middle class family consisting of a working dad, a housewife mom, a 12 year old brother and a 9 year old sister.  I don’t know if I was planned or if I was a glipsie – not that it really matters, late is late and the reality of being born late to a family already being torn my division meant that I spent huge amounts of time alone. So to say that I didn’t really fit is putting it mildly.

I have overwhelmingly good memories. All of them in isolation to each other. The smell of a horse. The freedom of a slightly wild child on a farm. A neighbour child and myself being naughty, as only farm children can be. My first fireworks. Fresh milk. Homemade biltong. The smell of my dad. The laughter of the workers. A snake.

However, too often the gaps are telling. Or maybe the missed memory is telling. For example – we moved from the farm to Cape Town when I was 13. But in my memory of the farm I was always young. I am always young. I don’t remember being a ‘tween’ as it were. My memories of the time are confused and jumbled and I think I remember things out of time.

It is a very odd sense of being. To this day, my memory works like that. Not in any obvious way, and I never really realize it until someone sends an offhand comment my way: “Remember when…”

And I really don’t.

I sometimes wonder if it hasn’t left an indelible mark on me somehow. A shadow across my personality if you will. Perhaps in the not remembering, that is why I doubt and second guess myself always.

Then again, perhaps in the not remembering, I am protecting myself?

I chose to believe that in the not remembering, I am making space for awesome.

 

 

 

Malachai

Once upon a time a little girl that was born 9 years too late. She was an oopsie.

She was born into an angry family.

A mother that was so insecure she was jealous of her eldest daughter’s relationship with her father. A father that was not strong enough to stand up to his wife. A physically broken brother. An emotionally shut down sister.

She grew up ignored. Alone. Isolated.

She taught herself to read and by grade 1 was arguing with her teacher about whether Little Women was appropriate reading material or not.

She taught herself to be. To be loved and wanted in a world that only existed for her.

In her mind. In her soul.

A world filled with loyalty and honour and friends and love and hugs and daring bravery.

A world filled with violent blue and black skies and creatures filled with humour and courage.

A world the complete opposite of reality.

Reality was lonely.

Alone.

Filled with fear and timidness and no voice.

No life and no soul.

Reality was blocked out – to this day, she does not remember it. She refuses to remember it. It was not physical. Nor was it sexual. It was just pure neglect. Emotional. And something more. Something there is no name for. It was… non existence.

She played with the animals on the farm. She climbed the trees. She roamed the day and the night and no one saw her.

She grew a bit wild. And her teachers didn’t care. They punished her for being smart. They punished her for being different.

She roamed the wild places, and filled it with safety. The safety of intangible. The safety of what her mind could control.

And one day, she imagined freedom. And it was powerful and dark and scary and life and soul and blue and black and purple and swirling mist and love.

It was Unicorn.

His name was Malachai.

His name is Malachai.

And he is her memory of life.

Her memory of living.

And he took her from the dark places and showed her the light in her soul.

He lived the fear with her. He lived the tears with her. And he was where she kept her sanity.

He is where she keeps her sanity.

She etched him on her body, when she was old enough.

And she keeps his name, his courage, his shadow close.

Because he is life to her.

Freedom.

Power.

Courage.

He is her.

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

They say life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

To me that translates as….

Life is that moment in the morning when you decide to be happy instead of sad. Even when sad is easier.

Life is that moment when you smile at a stranger instead of frowning. Even when they do something to annoy you.

Life is that moment when you stand up and take a step instead of collapsing into a puddle of tears. Even when the entire world is on your shoulders and it is hard, so very hard, to walk.

Life is this moment. This moment of being, of existing, of making small choices.

To smile. To be happy. To be free. To be strong. To face yourself. To face others. To step out of your comfort zone. To choose health. To choose exercise. To choose acceptance of self. To be.

Life is now.

Yet we spend an infinite number of moments making other plans.

One day, when I am thin, I will be happy.

One day, when I am rich, I will be content.

One day, when I am more, I will be loved.

One day, when I am famous, I will be worthy.

One day………

One day will never come.

Because being rich, famous, worthy, thin is not magically going to make you happy.

This moment now – this moment of accepting, of being, of choosing, is the one you exist in.

This moment is the one you have to live with.

This moment is the one that makes you stronger, or weaker, and prepares you for the next moment.

This moment is life.

This moment is choice.

Choose wisely.