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Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

“There is no one way to raise our children, but a path that we must find.”  Barbara Coloroso

When we made the decision for my son Kinmond to leave formal schooling halfway through grade 11 and continue through home schooling, we both knew that it would be a tremendous challenge, but I don’t think anything could have prepared us for the discipline, work and dedication it would require.  Kinmond had a tremendous amount of work to catch up, and I continued to run my company. 

Despite the sacrifices, it was an amazing experience.  I got to spend a tremendous amount of time with my son and got to know him as the incredible young man he has become.

All the effort proved worth it when we learned yesterday that he had passed Matric.  He is now registered for a Certificate in Advanced Music Production and plans to follow this with Entertainment Management.

The lessons I have learned over the last year and a half are things that can never be taught.  I’ve come to truly believe that anything is achievable.

I’m looking forward to 2010 and all the new challenges and projects awaiting me, and to watching my son go from strength to strength on the journey he is about to embark upon.

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Dear Kinmond,

Today is your 18th birthday.  It’s such a cliché to say that I can hardly believe it and that time has gone by so quickly, but it’s the truth.

I feel tremendous ambivalence on this day, and it is not just the poignancy of a parent watching the maturation of a child and the accelerating passage of time and disbelieving that it could happen so quickly.  How could you get to be so tall, so independent, so capable, so complex, so funny, so far away?  How could eighteen years have elapsed since that astonishing, magical moment that our eyes locked and I saw all that you had ever been and all that you were to become.  You were disconcertingly serious, unconditionally present and absolutely real, and I have loved you completely ever since.

Like any first child, you were the culmination of such vast trepidations and expectations, the repository of such ineffable hope, the focus of so much concern and love.  What I’m feeling as I anticipate your transition to adulthood (whatever that might mean!) is beyond my ability to express with words.  In thinking about how well or how badly your father and I have prepared you for the world, I find that I am completely unprepared for how much more perilous and awful it feels to send you into the unknown.  There are so many more things I want to teach you, to tell you, to show you.

You are still so young and you’re at a wonderful stage of life, with so many wonderful stages of life still to come, but they are not without their costs and perils.  I want you to know that no matter what situation life may bring you, I will be there to see you through, if not in person, then in your heart.

There are, and will be more, days that you don’t have the right answers, or any answers at all.  You will find cruelty and suffering in your journey through life … but don’t let that close you to new things. Don’t retreat from life, don’t hide or wall yourself off. Be open to new things, new experiences and to new people.  If you close your heart to new people, you’ll avoid pain … but you will also lose out on experiencing some incredible people, who will be there during the toughest times of your life and create some of the best times of your life.

Always take responsibility for your actions, good and bad.  If you can’t change something, change the way you think about it.  You will fail many times but if you allow that to stop you from trying, you will miss out on the amazing feeling of success once you reach new heights with your accomplishments. Failure is a stepping stone to success. You are growing stronger in wisdom with each passing year. Don’t ever use CAN’T as an excuse, ALWAYS TRY.  Remember a mistake is not a failure unless you let it keep you down.

You will meet many people who will try to outdo you.  Remember, life isn’t a competition. It’s a journey. If you spend that journey always trying to impress others, to outdo others, you’re wasting your journey. Instead, learn to enjoy the journey. Make it a journey of happiness, of constant learning, of continual improvement and above all, of love.

Remember to be kind to others even when you feel they might not deserve it.  Let others see the real you from the inside. It’s ok to show your true feeling.  Share your amazing spirit with others.

Most of all, love yourself. While others may criticize you, learn not to be so hard on yourself, to think that you’re anything less than the wonderful, sensitive, funny, strong, loyal, multifaceted, intuitive young man that I am so profoundly proud to call my son.

Finally, know that I love you and always will. You are starting out on a weird, scary, daunting, but ultimately incredibly wonderful journey, and I will be there for you when I can.

With all my love

mom

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The C word…

We had news on Wednesday that my husband’s oldest friend has been diagnosed with testicular cancer.  He had no time to digest the information and was rushed straight into surgery.  He now faces months and months of treatment. More and more people we know are being affected.

I can remember my grandparents having conversations about all their friends beginning to die and thinking, “How morbid, why do they dwell on it?”  I don’t think they were being particularly morbid, it was just that stage of life for them, and now I find myself thinking about my friends and how young they are, all with small children.  Breast cancer has been the most prevalent, even I had a scare in January, but it turned out to be fine.  Fortunately everyone I know has so far managed to beat the odds, but at the risk of sounding morbid myself, it’s just a matter of time.

It brings me to the question of lifestyle again.  We just don’t take good enough care of ourselves.  We live stressed out lives, working too hard, not taking enough time out and not eating or exercising properly.  How many of you go for regular pap smears, mammograms, prostate exams?

This has spurred me on to revisit the resolutions I made in the New Year, not just for myself, but for my family.  And not just in terms of diet and exercise, but in terms of time spent together, listening to one another, not sweating the small stuff.  Why is it so hard to do?  Why do we get so caught up in the struggle?

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As you may or may not have gathered, the last few months have been rather stressful and, unlike my usual flee into the written word, I’ve lived completely in the real world. No-wonder I feel so out of control. No way to bring structure to the chaos if the words stay inside. No linear “sorting” of things confused, into orderly stacks.

It’s been an interesting time. A difficult time. A heartwrenching time, filled with pain and doubt and moral debate. And I’ve had to sort through it all in my head, unable to share on paper, the words unspeakable, absorbing the confusion and anger, the guilt and the anguish of those around me.

No, don’t get me wrong, I’ve spewed out my own anger and guilt and grief, but not very constructively. What I’m trying to do here is say thank you. A really big thank you to those of you who have told me I needn’t apologise for cancelling arrangements, going to bed and leaving a house full of guests to be entertained by my long suffering husband, crying drunken tears of rage and despair, having loud and inappropriate arguments over religion at a very respectable dinner party. So instead of apologising, I want to say thank you, to my husband, to my mother-in-law and to my friends who have been there to listen to me, to hold me and to indulge me in my very public falling apart. I think I’m okay now. Because of you!

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Chance Encounters

A couple of months ago I found myself at the airport in Bloemfontein with a five hour wait ahead of me before my plane to Johannesburg was due to depart. Those South African’s among you who have had the dubious pleasure of spending time at the Bloemfontein airport know that there is absolutely nothing to do there. There is one small food outlet with a few plastic chairs and tables and a public restroom. That’s it! There are no book stores, no souvenir shops, no candy machines. Nothing!

It’s a tiny airport on the outskirts of town, and in anticipation of the 2010 world cup, it is undergoing renovations. I’m not sure if this is meant to make it bigger and more serviceable or not, but it certainly does make for a very noisy experience. Suffice to say that I was not really looking forward to my wait.

I had my laptop with me, but since there is no satellite signal, not to mention plug points, I was unable to get any work done. Dead time indeed!

After checking in, I bought a stale sandwich and a coke and proceeded to find somewhere to sit. All the tables were taken, so I approached a man who was seated alone and asked if I could share his space. He smiled and introduced himself, and the four hours I still had to wait passed in a flash. In fact, so engrossed was I in conversation that I almost missed my flight.

At the risk of sounding mystic, some encounters seem fated and have effects that far outlive the actual experience. This was one of them.

This man turned out to be an amazing person with a wealth of experience in all sorts of diverse areas. His essence was evident from the first moment he spoke. He brought with him a sense of peace and calm and his outlook on life is something I can only aspire to.

Sometimes chance encounters touch us at a “soul” level, and sometimes circumstances facilitate those encounters, providing opportunity to learn. However, we need to be open to receive the gifts these people have to offer.

Have you taken time to talk to a stranger lately? I highly recommend it.

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Life moves along at an outrageous pace. We think about people and never call, relationships fade, not because we want them to, but because “life gets in the way” and it becomes easier to do nothing than to struggle through re-initiating a connection.

The last few weeks have been, in a word, breathless. I have had the most surprising conversations with the most unexpected people. I have re-connected with cousins I have not spoken to in many years and it has been an unexpected joy. I have been startled out of my torpor into action. It’s been a long time coming, and this blog has been a step along the way.

Relationships ebb and flow, propelled by their own energy. Change is part of life and we need to remain open to those changes. Just as we need to redefine who we are at different stages of our lives, we sometimes need to redefine our relationships.

I’ve learned that it is important to surround yourself with people who bring value to you, and by value I mean that the people in your life should make a positive contribution to who you are as a person. Just as I wrote about becoming the change you want to see, we should surround ourselves with people who reflect who we are and who we want to become. Our relationships should nurture, should be a place of mutual love and respect.

Sometimes it is necessary to walk away from a relationship, whether that is a marriage, a friendship or a family relationship. Letting go means choosing to see our relationships for what they are, no matter who they are with.

You will find that learning to let go of negative relationships, those that are destructive, that drain you and tire you and eat at your soul, will open a space for you to grow and align yourself more closely to the person you are meant to be.

It is equally important to nurture those relationships that are important to us so that they grow with us and can support us in our journey through life. We need to make time for these relationships, and understand their dynamic nature, the ebbing and the flowing. This isn’t always easy in the rush that is life, but the internet has made this easier. Make time to send an email, to dial that number.

I am fortunate enough to have some very special people in my life, I am not in constant contact with them, as I said, life happens, but they have and continue to provide joy, reassurance, encouragement and the comfortable silences that are so essential to my turbulent soul.

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