Succinctly

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Thanks to our technology and the media I have been overwhelmed this week to view 2 fantastic performances.  The first being the Golden Globe awards which I always sit glued to being a lover of the all encompassing art of a good movie or show and the talent of the Actor/Actresses transporting us into characters that we would otherwise never have any knowledge of.  What a magnificent feast we have coming our way.  The most poignant moment was or course Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech which went viral overnight.  She left no stones unturned and Twitter went crazy in response.  Her plea to her fellows was to take responsibility as role models in the industry.  Her plea for us all is the act of empathy. We have reached a sad moment that we have to be reminded to be empathetic.   She made reference to various film stars and their humble beginnings, their personal hardships and in closing she quoted her friend Carrie Fisher, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

The other breathtaking performance was that of Barack Obama in his farewell speech.  Such powerful word order.  His opened with, “Yes we can,”  he closed with the words, “yes we did it.”   He slammed fanaticism and intolerance. Memorable moments from his speech, “Change only happens when ordinary people come together,” “believe in your ability to bring about change.”  He gave reference to the fact that not all tasks are pleasant, but hey,”eat our peas, just do the job. ” One of my favourites was “hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourself”

Why did I love these performances?  I love the fact that some of my heroes had humble beginnings.  I am filled with renewed vigour and a need to “turn my broken heart into art” and I love the power of “we”  After all, it is so powerful it drives the wealthiest county in the world.  I want to become more about we and less about me and unhitch the wagon.  I spoke at New Year to my family of the power of our little group sharing feelings of happiness and pain and seemingly insurmountable hurdles.

I remember a prayer from my school days in the late 70’s and 80’s that went, “God Bless Africa”and we need this blessing more now than ever. Although Barack Obama has signed out, the people know they are safe in their constitution. “We the people”

Succinctly – in a brief and clearly expressed manner.

“One word succinctly describes the economy’s performance unbalanced”

Who are you?

Human Dementia Problems

Dementia as we know is a degenerative disease of the brain.  It is not selective of circumstance and can affect any of us.  The frailty of the human mind exposed.

Florian Zeller’s, The Father is currently on at The Fugard and it tore my heart apart last night. The confusion, the fear of the unknown, the voices, the suspicion, grasping onto the edge of sanity, or is everyone else around you crazy?  The repercussions of the dementia on a daughter trying her best, her new relationship taking toll with her sense of obligation to her father, the threat and fear of an institution.  The enormity of a man, once of sound mind, sobbing like a baby in his nurse’s arms.  Heaving chest and raw pain. We filed out of the theatre quietly.  All touched.  Although many of us will never know the anguish of having Dementia, or living with someone with Dementia, the questions that he barked out last night in agony are prevalent.

“Who are you?”

“What are you doing here?”

“My watch has been stolen, I NEED to know the time, it is my constant!”

“Why are you in my flat?”

“Why have you moved my things around?”

“I want to go home!”

“Are you trying to trick me?”

“I’m confused, I don’t understand what I’m doing here!”

“Leave me alone, I’m fine!”

“Where am I?”

“I want my Mom, I need my mom”

Each one of his questions affect those of us of perfect sound mind (all relative of course).  I have found myself feeling so threatened over the last while that even I have looked closely at the people in my world and wondered who they are, why we are where we are, threatened, side swiped by a move, confused at night looking for light switches, losing my car in a new shopping centre car park, pretending I was fine, when cracks were appearing, questioning if I’m in the right place, and the age old need of wanting and needing your mom when all else is unsure.  There is a fine line.

The fear for most ageing people is not the age, it is how bodies and minds are going to cooperate.  The fear is the burden you will place on your family irrespective of your wealth.  A sound mind and body one day, can be a stroke victim or dementia the next.

We live in stressful times.  Our plans of easing up have resulted in longer working hours, more traffic, incessant cell phone messages and attention.  The fun of life quickly takes a back seat when you are hunting for power and the proverbial last buck at the cost of all that is dear.  Decisions that require thought and planning are made off the cuff and the ripple effect is huge. Let us all slow down a tad.  Research decisions. Question the motivation.  Moving  home just changes the scenery.

“Consciously or unconsciously we live not only our own individual life but, whether we like it or not, also the life of our time.” Lourens Van Der Post

The Playing Field of Surgeons

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“I can’t think of a single reason why I should be a surgeon, but I can think of a thousand reasons why I should quit. They make it hard on purpose… there are lives in our hands. There comes a moment when it’s more than just a game, and you either take that step forward or turn around and walk away. I could quit but here’s the thing, I love the playing field.” Meredith Grey

I immersed myself into the playing field this morning as an observer. My main intent was to monitor the interaction between the “players” in theatre. It is no game.

I arrived early to catch the anaesthetist rounds, which were brief and methodical. Chatting to him en route to the theatres I sense that the patients would have been calmed by his gentle approach. Grey, blue and green colours flash past as we make our way along the corridors and up the stairs. Cold, clinical, practical. It is easy to keep grey clean. We enter the theatre block. There is a flurry of activity preparing the various theatres for the day’s slate. Beds are being wheeled past with patients in them, their eyes wide and some a little glassy.

A code is punched in for the ladies change and bathroom. In I go, suddenly a little insecure. Lockers adorn the walls with names on them; some with photos, some pet photos, my gaze takes in the shelves of clothes, small, medium and large. I hesitantly strip and put on my scrubs. Booties are put over your shoes and a cap to keep your hair at bay. I’m ready and into theatre I’m escorted.

I place myself in the corner trying to make myself as small as possible, so that I do not attract attention and heaven forbid, distract or annoy the first surgeon. The theatre sister is bustling around, the bed has been wiped down with alcohol and readied with green sheets, the anaesthetist is fiddling with his monitor and stretches over to raze the height of the bed with a remote. I hear a happy laugh outside and some chitter chatter with the nurses and in strolls the surgeon, huge smile, and big presence, in control of his domain. The patient is wheeled in, with tears plopping out of her eyes. Surgeon moves straight to her side, gentle, holding her hand, reassuring, teasing her and promising that before she knows it she will be back in the ward with her husband. While the consoling is going on the Anaesthetist is unobtrusively lifting her left arm up and preparing her drip. She is laughing now and talking about a cocktail she likes drinking. She is told that she is soon going to get sleepy, she carries on chatting, her mask is slipped on, and she is gone.

The Surgeon begins, a breast biopsy. The scalpel runs a perfect circle around her nipple and steady hands begin working. He glances up at the Anaesthetist as there is a tiny twitch and in one movement the drugs are adjusted. She is vulnerable, her body is beautifully still and pale under the intense lights, and the opened breast is being probed to find the offending lump. It is found, extricated, blue inner stitches are applied; clear exterior stitches close up the nipple. The anaesthetic is switched off. Her time is done. Before she leaves the theatre the Surgeon phones her husband and assures him of the success of the extraction.

I am invited into the Doctors lounge. I feel heady with excitement. It is all I ever imagined. We all sit around with coffee, scrubs on, I sense some Doctors looking me up and down wondering where on earth I come from, but I don’t feel excluded at all.

Next case is up, a hernia repair. Open surgery, the medical aid will not pay for keyhole surgery which would cut down the recovery time by weeks. The Anaesthetist explains that in this instance he has paralysed the patient entirely, whereas the prior had been partial. This patient is physically fit and lean, and apparently a cyclist. Music goes on, this Surgeon likes music to operate too. “Scalpel,” and the incision is made. From where I sit I see a clamp going into the one side of the opening and the assisting surgeon making space and swabbing/cauterising for the operating surgeon. I am gestured over. Skin takes on such a different texture to look at when it is opened up. Three layers of muscle deep, you see the yellow fat, muscles and the surgeon shows me the artery that he has wound up to make space. The hernia is now visible and pulled out to show me before being tucked up back into the lining and stitched. Fascinating work. Mesh is then placed over this and sutured into place again with the blue dissolvable thread before the perfect final sutures. This man will go home ltoday. Once again, as soon as he is sutured, the Surgeon comes across and phones the family telling them of the successful surgery.

Back to the lounge. I really feel part of the team now, I make my own coffee this time and glance at the newspaper, while around me the various surgeons and specialists in their field chat and catch up on fishing weekends, golf and school rugby.

The final case for my viewing is a haemorrhoid operation. I walk back to theatre to find the patient looking more like a strung up turkey, the unwilling participant of Christmas. This surgery has changed dramatically I am told. Once upon a time, these were cut out. Now they are extricated and rather strangulated. As unglamorous as the procedure is, I am so mindful of the respect that these Surgeons have for their patients and more so the pride they have in their workmanship. The third Surgeon also immediately phones the family.

I have been truly humbled by this opportunity. I was expecting a morning of huge personalities and superior attitudes to write about but instead I experienced expertise, respect, empathy and professionalism amongst each other, the nursing staff and the prone patients.

The morning slate may have been a “gentle” one compared to some others, but this band of men chose to have our lives in their hands. They love playing in this field. I loved it too.

Footloose and Fancy Free

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She was restless.  I sensed an underlying desperation in the movements.  Once Annabella arrived in our strange new temporary “home” it seemed better, but that was the beginning.  Our early morning and nightly leisurely walks soon turned to trots,  poor little Annabella would take off at pace and I could sense them both filled with a mad freedom, but sadly Annabella would eventually lag behind.  She did stop, not too graciously, I must add, to accommodate the little dog.  Our routine was adjusted.  Now an alarm would go off, up she’d get, “wee” Annabella, then hit the pavements.  To be fair to her, I did enjoy it just as much as we familiarised ourselves with the suburbs of Newlands, Hidding and Fernwood.  We would screech home at pace, up the elevator, leash on and then Annabella would get a turn before her crazy work day started.  She now hauled me up steps at home and work.  This went on for a few months and although I wasn’t taking too much strain then, there were a few chinks in my armour.

We then started driving three times a week to go to Constantia to run.  She had found a group called “Run Walk For Life.”  Her heart was pounding at that first session, she doubted that she could keep up or run 10 kms and she was paired with an older man who knew a thing or two about running.  The sense of achievement pulsating though her was palpable all the way down to me.  She was alive, there was a spring in her step, I heard her laughing more, the old man became her friend and soon they were running extra days.  I remember one such run up Rhodes Memorial, it was tough, they turned onto the dirt track,  I started to take strain and on the way back let her know, she ignored me.  I seem to remember her rubbing me with Arnica Ice, but that was that.  She changed shoes and I tried to behave.  Her work pressure became too intense and she was no longer able to run with this group of   “later in the mornings group.”  I felt her pain as she left this happy mob she had just met, but her resolve is huge and we now found a group that could run earlier.  They go by the name, Illuminati. Once again, she hit the road anxious that she wouldn’t keep up, but of course she did, she would never not.  Three times a week became six times a week.  10km per session became 10-12kms and weekends she expected 2 – 3 hours of me on Saturdays and Sundays.  As much as I wanted to scream and hurt her, I sensed that this relentless need to run was hiding the sadness.

Well in the next few months besides 21km races, she entered a 56km race.  All the time I was niggling her, but she ignored me.  We hit the road soon after the 56km race.  I know she was often sore, she limped when no one was watching.  One particular Saturday, just outside Fishhoek I decided I had had enough for one outing.  I reacted strongly and she eventually stopped in her tracks.  She allowed me to walk, but I was behaving so badly that this was excruciating too. The next thing  I knew I was having cortisone injections and these can really sting.  I felt I was failing her as she hobbled around, but she had now also entered a 89km race.  We interspersed the odd weekday runs with rest to prepare for this next event.  Well I couldn’t cooperate from the Durban City Hall, which was basically the start of the run.  She relentlessly pushed me though the entire distance,  my pain and hers jangled as the shock waves traveled from me, up her calve and through to her knee.  She ran on me for 59kms and she forced me to walk/hobble 30kms.  You would think my story ends?  No, she rested, I did have some recovery time and we started the early morning gallops again.  I made it difficult for her, stopping her in her tracks at times as I pinched back at her.  As the year was ending,  I snapped, I threw my toys properly, she could barely walk.  She took pain killers before her final run with her good friends, my dislocated toes and swelling killing her.

7 hours in the icy theatre,  bone shortening, metatarsal plate repairing, pins, plates.  I was bound in plaster of Paris for 6 weeks.  She cried silently in pain.  She returned to work on day 3.  Up and down 2 flights of stairs, falling with the crutches, humiliated, angry, guilty for impeding those around her.  The stitches cleaned with solution went septic, Christmas Eve was so sore, she didn’t know where to put me.  The house was full and she tried to be jolly.  The new year began and she was transferred.  Taxi’s became our mode of transport.  Her heart was crushed.  Eventually the six weeks were over, and I was unveiled.  She hated me.  She hated looking at me, and she couldn’t touch me, other than bathing me.  I was covered in a Moon Boot for another 6 weeks.  Her mood lifted, she was able to get around independently and soon we were going at pace.  She soon flung me off when she wanted to drive somewhere and swore like a trooper when I had to have the boot back on.

It is nearly a year.  She looks at me now.  She will even put cream on me. She has got used to me.  I frustrate her so much, she sometimes cries.  She screamed at the sea the other morning when no one was there.  My bones are all mended, but my muscles are stiff and tight and holding her back.  She is trying to get me to run and I badly want to oblige.  My muscles let her know in no uncertain terms that they are to be stretched and nurtured. Her new Guru has calmed her, he is instructing a path that we can meet each other half way.  She now has me strapped to an indoor cycle 3 times a week.  She sweats up a storm, I’m dizzy as all hell, but we are working together at last.

Crazy lady, but I will match her every step.

All Trumped Up

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We are part of the digital world.  It seemed to hit us in a wave, and the wave has grown to tsunami  proportions and continues to do so.  Why?  Well it works.  You can be reunited with long lost friends, lovers, business acquaintances, you can make new connections by scrolling through other’s friend lists.  We are constantly reminded how fabulous the fabulous people are, because they post stunning pictures up and let you know exactly where in the world they may be visiting or holidaying all the time.  WhatsApp, similarly gives you instant messaging with photos, videos, as does iMessaging and I am sure many other platforms. Group chats are massive with multiple opinions being bandied around for hours and unless you remove yourself from the group, these messages keep buzzing late into all of our lives.  Start up companies have great success in marketing their ideas instantly and spreading them like wildfire though all these mediums.  I use them myself.  They work.

Picture the hilarity of this.  Precious is on a “Directors Chat,” an “Optometrist Chat,” a “Branch Chat” and somehow, I think a general “Staff Chat”.  The phone buzzes and flashes late into the night and sometimes is buzzing before sunrise every day.  Weekends are not necessarily exceptions.  Not being particularly adept with the signature swipe to the right and a quick text, it is most often a very ponderous swipe and a slow, one figured response that seems to take forever to get through a simple, “Fine see you there at 9am”.  For most parts, he did put his phone on silent as the onslaught was a tad hectic after hours, these are not brain surgeons after all and no one is going to die overnight.

So one night we were post supper and chatting.   He had forgotten to turn his phone onto silent so it had been pinging very loudly for a while.  When the last ping came through, he finally couldn’t resist it anymore so he pounced on the phone, large swipe to the right and before he knew it he had pressed play on the “Directors Chat” and the silent lounge suddenly became filled with the loud noise of steamy sex.  “Mmmmm,” “Oh my god, Mmmmmmmm,” “Yes,” “Yes,””Yes”, “Mmmmmmmm”.  His face had turned scarlet and the more he tried to silence the deluge of sex, the longer it seemed to go on.

Stunned silence.

“I suppose you’re cross now”

“Um no, I’m just really shattered that this is what you send on your work WhatsApps.”

“Don’t be silly.  Boys will be boys.  This is what we do”

Donald Trump managed to make his name jam the next day.  Oh, and by the way…..she did eventually orgasm all by herself.

 

 

Supplication

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It had been a long day of building water towers in the heat that is Northern Natal.  The sun was baking down on him and his khaki shirt was stuck to the middle of his back.  He put the finishing touches to his task at hand, stretched his back out and slowly walked up a big mound of rocky outcrop.  The sun was setting and the world beneath him was filled with an  orange glow.  He looked down on the plains stretching out ahead of him, his jaw set, his eyes burning with passion, and slowly raised his arms.  He shouted out, “Yes, I accept, yes, please teach me all I need to know, yes, please take me as one of yours and let me serve you.”  Tears of joy seeped from the corners of his eyes and his heart was pounding as he made is way down the outcrop, his breath raspy with exertion.

The son of a builder he had arrived in the greater Mfolozi Park, with  building ability learned from his father and a need to work in the outdoors.  He had a willingness to learn and the greatest teacher of all time, Dr Ian Player.  It became clear that Ian Player embraced all that he did, most notably the earth was a part of this man with a huge social conscience and the importance of being.  Ian Player embraced Carl Jung and went on to be a founding member of the Jungian Analysis Centre in South Africa.  His philosophies and teachings would have great bearing on this young man with a fiery spirit and a complete supplication to the earth and where his life had led him.

I listen to this tale told to me on my park bench in Lever Road.  I have made firm friends with the now elderly Gordon who became the Chief Ranger of Mfolozi Game Reserve after Ian Player and a Senior staff member of the Natal Parks Board that sadly was.  I am continually fascinated with his many stories, he is filled with gratitude for a life well lived, a wife chosen well, who has stood fiercely at his side through thick and thin, and it is now with this further insight into the depth of the man, that I realise that when he took ownership of his life, supplicating himself to the earth and vowed to be a custodian of it, it was precisely at that moment that the universe would have kept him safely ensconced in her arms.

I am loving this opportunity to listen.  To listen to the people who have been successful with their personal happiness.  Happiness and success starts with you, not with your relationships, work, money, just you.  My own introspection has coincided with my friend Kathryn Wiseman’s launch of her beautiful book, “Hiding in the Shade.”  It is available on Amazon.  Discovering and leading a fulfilling life needs you to say, “Yes,”  “I want that.”  “Yes, I can do that”.

In closing,  from Carl Jung himself, “Who looks outside, dreams; Who looks inside, awaits”

Dream big things

 

 

 

T

Enough

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I couldn’t get to sleep the other night and started scrolling through the various channels on offer.  I found Sex In The City in Abu Dhabi.  Having been a dedicated Sex in The City viewer and fan in the 1990’s I was delighted. The flowing outfits and backdrops were spectacular and Kim Cattrall’s sexual antics as amusing as ever, but the discussion where I entered the movie made my mind spin.  Mr Big….is suggesting to Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) that he get an apartment for 2 days a week, so that he totally dedicates 5 days a week to her, but for 2 days, both of them have carté blanche to do their own thing, whether it be nothing, catching up with friends, sport, tv, shopping……and her instant reaction is such hurt, “Am I not enough for you?”and she is particularly worried about what her girlfriends would say about their altered or different lifestyle.  She tries to pitch this idea to them while they are away, and the idea is not received well, in fact, they try to ignore any more reference to it and you can see that she is perturbed.  Quite a thought to chew on when you are a newly wed as she is at the time.

Transport me to my patio, with the warm afternoon sun on my face, a glass of champagne in hand and two gorgeous girlfriends around my table.  We have and are discovering that we have evolved, we are comfortable in our skins, we are no longer afraid to say “no,” we don’t need to be people pleasers, time is now paramount and we want to make it worthwhile.  We are done with the insecurities of youth, the hard times of young children, the competitive edge of being in your late 20’s and 30’s.  It seems that as women age they  become more  independent, more sure of our convictions, a little intolerant of fools, not prepared to spend time with people that we are not comfortable with for ANY reason, our counterparts, however are now at the retiring stage and become  vulnerable and more needy for affirmation. They suddenly find themselves in unchartered territory.  They are no longer at the helm of companies or offices, and the delight of younger female contemporaries or staff and they are at odds with the space at home, which clearly is not their domain if they have never taken an active part in it.

Contrary to common belief, we do not spend female time discussing our male partners, we often usually think we are alone in whatever dilemma is currently affecting us.  How glorious to have an open and frank discussion and realise that all relationships change with age and where we are at in our lives.  They ebb and flow, compatibility becomes paramount, as does equality of mind so that there is a constant learning and sharing of ideas and philosophies.  A damn good sense of humour helps, and a mindfulness that we are truly different.  We are Venus and Mars after all.

So to all of us who have gone through marriage, childbirth, no sleep, careers, attempting to perfect our bodies with hours of gym and exercise, teenagers, young adults and for some of us, grandchildren.  We are all grown up. If ever faced with the dilemma of a young Carrie, we would sail through it.  We are most certainly enough, we are more than enough.

Take ownership, do not settle for mediocrity.

moshiach

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Having deposited my youngest at the airport on Tuesday, I had a rather dull drive back to my now very empty home and was at odds with what was to come next.  I was greeted warmly by my furry children and decided to amble to the park, from my window it looked empty and my dearest Molly wouldn’t be anxious.

I positioned myself on a bench, under a tree, with a touch of sea view but more importantly, the warmth of the sun on my face which was holding the liquid at the corners of my eyes at bay.  I noticed an older man at the other end of the park with his dog, but relaxed into the wood of my seat.  He edged closer to me, and announced that if he was closer, the dogs may communicate.  Harold then told me of some of his past life at the Umfolozi Game Reserve before we were joined by Peter, the baker, who as he ambled up said, “I thought I recognised that voice”, a glance at me and then “Harold chats a lot”.  Well suddenly Molly also arrived, (not my Molly, Harold’s wife).  Beautiful people, all three.  I was drawn into their discussion about how we are all connected, trees, plants, humans and I found myself nodding in agreement.  Harold and Molly have spent their lives bettering the flora, fauna and children of Africa and spent time at Findhorn in Scotland.  Molly was continually drawn to this trip, her subconscious continually nudging, she made it happen eventually. (www.findhorn.org.)  She was also the Director of TREE, a non profit organisation with the vision “to ensure that young children develop to their full potential”. (tree.ecd.co.za) The hours raced with conversations of talking to your plants, engaging and reaching out to the unknown and to touch someones life, but most importantly as I have found, let stuff go.  Give it to the universe, it will come back to you and you will find meaning.  Push yourself into uncomfortable situations, you grow.

The Tree of Life has many symbols of connection including the old “as above, so below” idea.  This may represent the symbolic nature of what happens on a small scale will ripple out affecting life on a larger scale as well. I was filled with such purpose.  I was meant to be in the park right then.  It created a new awareness of other important things for me.  Peter shared the cathartic pleasure of baking bread, the history and reverence of the act dating back in time.

A night later I was honoured to share in a toast of the life of a beautiful soul, taken far too early for us to comprehend and at the same time received a message from an equally beautiful person confirming that she had started ovulating.  Go figure.  Our souls are all on a beautiful intermingling path.

“When the world was made”, the sages say, “the moshiach was the wind hovering over all that would be. Within each thing, infinite beauty awaits us to tap upon its shell.”

I look forward to my next meeting at the Lever Road Park – I want to learn more.  I want to connect.

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

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Many of you know that feeling when you are so determined you won’t cry,  you talk yourself into being strong, and then you have that question accompanied by sensitive caring eyes,  “how does that make you feel?” and all resistance crumbles and your face melts into a soggy mass of mascara and blotchiness.

I know that moving home is traumatic.  It is the very industry I have been involved in most of my working life.  The triggers for most moves are divorce, death, departure and debt, so the incidence where moving is for fun are extremely rare.  Even in the most exciting of circumstances there is always a period of settling required.  I know all this, but you see I have always somehow coped and carried on like nothing has changed.  I have always been unflappable because I didn’t want my family feeling insecure.  The challenge this time, is that I seem to be totally unhinged.  I can usually move on without looking back, I embrace change with steely determination, but this time I am almost paralysed with a tiredness that doesn’t seem to want to abate.

The move has given me back the sea that I love so much, the sound of seagulls in the morning, the background noise of children in the park, the smell of coffee from Bob’s Bagels, I am reminded of my children growing up in Pennington when I see young mum’s push their prams and meet others in the park for tea and picnics.  It is all pretty perfect, but I keep wondering when I’m going to be finished with the holiday and go home. When you google the word home, it comes up as, “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” I lit my candles last night and gave thanks for my week and for the support of my precious little family and friends.

As I sit writing this story, I note with satisfaction, that home is starting to take shape.  Most things have found a place.  My dogs are still unsettled, but I have discovered that they love the beach as much as their mother, so this will become their new play park instead of the forest.  They too will adapt.

My guru has allowed me to now run 5km every second day, and I can do it along the beach path to Muizenburg Surfers corner and back.  The thrill of the sound of my footsteps, the sea as my companion and memories of running this path a year ago with my favourite running partner gives me hope, there is light at the end of this tunnel.  I will find my rhythm and the person I was will be back, maybe a better, calmer model. Oi vey, lets hope!