Category Archives: Relationships

The ridiculousness of us all

I get the most bizarre emails and questions every day.  I can either get annoyed, or laugh.  And to be honest, I choose the latter.

For instance, a lady enquired about a course today and I replied by email, giving the details and asking if she wants me to reserve her place.  She replies by telling me:  “No, I will go back home the same day”.

What?  Really?  I have a hotel?

But it has to do with a different frame of reference, a different education and a different culture.  What seems ridiculous to me is a perfectly normal assumption to the other person.  Like when they tell me they are on their way to Hollywood but need to start somewhere.  Or that they are the next big thing on the world’s stage.  Hey!  I hope so too.

I do have days where I get annoyed because it is one ridiculous question or comment after the other.  But luckily most of the time my sense of humour wins the battle and I land up sitting here with tears in my eyes.

 

 

 


Clara Harris – How dare you leave me?

In 2003 Clara Harris was convicted of the murder of her husband David Harris.  That she killed him was never disputed because it was caught on camera.  Clara, either in a fit of rage, or accidentally, ran her husband over in a hotel parking lot where he had met with his mistress, Gail Bridges.

Clara was born in Bogotá and worked hard to fulfil her dream of working in the United States.  A dentist, she met David Harris, an orthodontist and together they ran half a dozen successful dental offices.

Everybody in their workplace was aware of David’s affair with the office assistant, Gail, who had earlier, during her own divorce proceedings, been implicated in an affair with a woman called Julie Knight.

The jury took into account ‘sudden passion’ before sentencing Clara to twenty years in prison.

Clara Harris was a woman who worked hard at success, in life and in marriage.  The news of David’s affair came as a devastating blow to her and she became intensely insecure.  She went so far as to ask David to make a list of comparisons between her and Gail which she set out to correct immediately.  Such as losing weight, colouring her hair and making an appointment with a plastic surgeon.

On the night of the murder, David had told her that he was meeting with Gail at the hotel to put an end to the affair.  When he did not return home, Clara and Lindsey (David’s daughter) went to the hotel to look for him.  Now I can imagine what state she was in.  How her stomach turned in fear of what she would find.  And what she did find was David and Gail walking in the hotel lobby, hand in hand.  They had spent two hours together in a hotel room.

A scene followed in the hotel lobby with Clara apparently attacking Gail.  David then took Gail to the car park and Clara and Lindsey got into her Mercedes.  At some point, as she spotted David and Gail, Clara put her foot down and tried to run them over.  She says all of that time is a blur to her.  Gail was injured slightly but David was seriously hurt.  Onlookers say that Clara then ran over David again and again.  He died shortly after.

Now I don’t condone what she did, murder is not a solution to any problem.  But I can put myself in Clara’s shoes.  Firstly, she was completely unaware of her husband’s affair although everyone around her knew.  Secondly, when she found out, she did everything in her power to get him back, including more sex.

David’s behaviour is not really shocking, I suppose many men do the same.  But to compare her physical attributes to Gail’s is a bit low.

I will not dwell on Gail Bridges.  Suffice it to say that I cannot have sympathy for any woman who puts herself in a position where she could break up a family and destroy children’s lives.

Clara is not a character that invokes sympathy, but I think thousands of women could empathise with her.  The woman scorned.  Not out for revenge, but suddenly confronted with the fact that her husband does not want her anymore.  Lies, sex and rejection.  And a sudden fit of passion in more than one sense of the word that ended in the death of one, and the misery of more.


Love parted

They were sixteen when they fell in love.  They graduated together.

They couldn’t keep their hands off one another and did not go out much.  Preferring to stay home to watch movies and cuddle.  Doing everything together, as young love does.

Someone drew a cartoon of everyone who matriculated that year.  They were the only two depicted as one.

Her dream was to study at a prestigious acting school in Los Angeles.  She was selected, and left.  He remained behind to pursue his studies.

All the parents watched.  And sighed.

Now it is their third year apart and he still has three years of studying ahead of him.

Both mothers’ hearts break for their children.  But they do not interfere.  How do you give advice on something you have no understanding of?  Courting over Skype in spite of an eleven hour time difference.  Touching physically for a little while only twice a year.

While so young and restless.

What everyone does understand is that if this relationship makes it, they would have earned it.  The usual issues that crop up and are dealt with over time has to be sorted out quickly.  Like jealousy and trust.  All of us might have time to fight it, or fight about it.  They don’t.  You cannot distrust the other at night when you are alone in your bed, and make it work.  Trust for them is a decision, not a feeling.

Everyone who knows them, roots for them.  Because they deserve it.

They take it one day at a time, with the optimism of their youth.  Not looking too far into the future.  Not sweating the small stuff.  They simply love, and believe that they are loved.  Trusting that this love will be rewarded.

I know that they will both be richer for having had one another, no matter what.  I also understand that to pass this test, they need character, and strength, and endurance, and faith.  Which the passage of time, and the separation itself provides.

These two stones rub against one another, sanding hard.  The pain released builds character which will be its own reward in time to come.

You are so faithful and brave my little children that my heart aches when I look at you, when my thoughts touch upon you.

I pray God’s favour over you.  May He give you all the desires of your hearts till there is room for no more.   And keep you strong and content, and faithful, and pure.

I have so much I want to ask for you, but rest in asking that His will be done.  Because I don’t know what is best for you, nor do I know what the future holds for you.

And it is not for me to decide.


There is enough time in a day

Here are two facts:

  • The more you do, the more you get done
  • The less you do, the less time you have even for little things

When my drinking was at its worst I hardly functioned.  Everything seemed like an insurmountable mountain, so I just shelved it.  Which meant I had to do the same with every new task after that.  It all just snowballed.  I copied what I had to do today into tomorrow’s calendar, then into the day after and so forth until even re-writing it became too much.  The guilt and worry over all my unfinished business haunted my nights.

Under normal circumstances though, I find that even when I have a lot to do, there is always a bit of time to tackle something else.  Because it is true that each day has enough time for the things of that day.  And you will be rewarded with that wonderful sense of accomplishment when you have completed all you had set out to do.

Your body produces adrenalin when you are busy which propels you forward.  It helps you do and achieve more.

It is so easy to get home tired and be unavailable to those who love you most.  A good rule is to allow yourself and/or your spouse thirty minutes from when you step in the door to unwind.  To do whatever you want.  Afterwards it will be easier to face and listen to your family.  We are not a chatty household.  But we always know what is happening in one another’s lives.  When there is a problem, I set the table and we discuss the issue at dinner.

I am always so pleased when I complete the evening’s cooking because it is the very last thing I have to do.  After that I can officially wipe out the “5th of February 2012”. There is a great sense of relief in retiring to my bedroom.  It is also the time that partners talk and enjoy one another.

Getting through each day without worry or stress requires faith.  It also requires staying in the moment and not running ahead of yourself.  When we were tied up on the floor during our armed robbery, I had the pleasure of realizing the concept of staying in the moment.  There was no point in thinking about what they could do to us.  What use would it have been had I considered that they could gang-rape me?  And that they probably had AIDS?  Or that they could shoot us?  Instead, I stayed focused on what was happening at that instant, so that I could do whatever was best for that moment.  The preservation of our lives outweighed all scary future scenarios.  I was fully anchored in each exact second.  Which created a sense of calm in everybody and ultimately saved our lives.

So, make a list of everything that needs to be done today.  And don’t stress about it.  Tackle them one at a time without worrying about the next one.  And if there is something that you cannot get to, put it under tomorrow.

Because, tomorrow is a brand new day.


Partnerships

The ship that rarely sails.  Or that sets off and glides along for a good while before hitting an iceberg or a rock.  Or where a mutiny on deck causes a power shift and a new commander makes for ports unchartered for.

Why is this?  Because of inherent differences in people, their opinions, visions and goals.  Often times it is due to unscrupulous partners and greed.  The lack of hesitation in using another for personal gain.  Seeing a talent, skill, attitude or attribute in someone else that can be used to one’s own personal advantage.  Knowing full well, that when the usefulness of the partner has been spent, he will be thrown overboard somewhere at sea.  Having brought to the table what the vulture needed, but could not supply himself.

Signing contracts are of no use.  It will eventually cost more to get out of a contract through a lawyer than what it will to just walk away.  And as always, the lawyer will be the only one who makes a profit as he feeds off the lack of knowledge or understanding, differences of opinion and misfortunes of others.

When two people shake hands, it is on the assumption of mutual trust.  No one does this if they imagine that the other has diabolical intentions once out at sea.

There is the ship owner that offers shares in a vessel as well as a captaincy to another.  The latter mans, repairs, cleans and loads the ship and sets of to trade, waving goodbye and bon voyage to the former standing on the quay.  But no sooner has the ship disappeared from view before the original owner sets off in full pursuit, clambers aboard and wrenches back the controls in an act of piracy.

Then there is the partner that offers a partnership and initially works hard, side-by-side.  But as time goes by, he starts missing voyages due to other commitments and eventually completely fails to board.  The other is left with a 100% of the work and only 50% of the profit, yet is expected to be, and act grateful, forever and ever amen.  This while lining the coffers of him no longer there.

True also is that rosy skylines are marred by partners that are always late, and those who never take calls or return messages.  All of which could lead to mutiny.

Even under the best of weathers, with the most trustworthy of partners, and without an ounce of maliciousness on the horizon, the partnership will have more stormy waters and rough seas to contend with than could ever have been envisioned at the outset.  This ship has the potential to ruin even the finest of friend, or family relationships.

So dear seafarers, I wish to encourage you to study carefully the character of another, read again and again through a ship’s logs and papers, suspiciously revise the behaviour of sea routes, calculate costs, conjure up future scenarios ,weigh, weigh and weigh options, both personal and financial, before ever stepping aboard another man’s ship.


Relationships have to be Transparent

Most of my relationships are of the honest kind.  Or rather, my most meaningful bonds are built on complete transparency.  With people who have seen my good, bad and ugly, and still want me as a friend.

These friends do not judge.  They might occasionally express concern, or gently point out an ugly, but they love and appreciate all the time.

They are people who do not care to let their hair down in front of me, and who allow me to do the same.  I never have to feel embarrassed about anything I have done, or about a way in which I behaved, because they take me as I come.  And they like me because I am willing to just be me, on display, in front of them, warts and all.

Friendships like these are hard to find, and so worth keeping.  They put together on an understanding of mutual faults, and on the insight that we all carry our own bag full and that it is not for us to question what another has to bear.

I did not know all this until I was older, though I wanted to be that which I saw in my mind’s eye.  I could not ever really feel it because I did not really act it.  Now I do because I understand that what I am is what I am, and that those who do not care for me, can do without me.  And I don’t mind.

I never feel quite comfourtable with non-transparents.  That ‘something’ is always between us.  And I know what it is, even if they don’t.  I have a built-in radar for real and make-believe.  Life is easier when you are unaware of this though.  Relationships seem more rosy and true.  But you are less aware of the importance of guarding your heart, and so you will be injured.

I don’t get hurt that easily anymore though, because someone taught me in the worst possible way.  I won’t cry again over a relationship, unless it is my fault.  Because if you keep your eyes open, you can see most things coming.  It is the University of Life as far as I am concerned, and thank you to everybody involved.  You cured me of my friendship romanticism.

Today, I prefer my friends roasted.  Tested and true.  Genuinely real so that I can make an informed decision about whether I want you in my life or not.   It can never ever though, be based on grudges and there has to be a comprehension that I can be wrong when I think I am right.

Every person that crosses my path in life is important, whether for a season, or a lifetime.  I shall keep an open mind, I shall give you a second, a third, a fourth up to a whatevereth chance.   But if you show that your true colours are grey, I shall not give you my heart.  I’ll keep my innermost thoughts to myself and give you that which floats to the surface.

Because love conquers all.


When is a house a Home?

For me, home means safety and security.  That is what our armed robbery almost destroyed.

It is also a place of love, comfourt, forgiveness and caring.  We should feel safe inside our homes, protected from the outside world.  But we should also feel secure in one other, and protected by one another.

The people in a home should be transparent with each other, yet have enough love to overlook a host of transgressions.  I am reminded of Liz Murray, in her book Breaking Night:  A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard of which I wrote in a previous blog.  Her parents were both drug addicts and she was out on the streets early on.  I kept wondering why Liz became the success story that she is in spite of her background and circumstances.  The only answer that presented itself to me was love.  Her parents were honest about what they were, and they loved her.  She never doubted that and it was this love that allowed her to rise above what seemed to be her destiny.

Inside a house there might be much or little, neither which make for a loving home.  Parents who admit their mistakes do.  Children who respect their parents though they might not agree, do.  People who accept one another’s faults, do.

Two, or four, or however many people living together have to be able to give one another space.   My Uncle and Aunt had seven sons, one after the other, nine in one house which was by no means spacious.  They had to learn to cohabit their home in a way that made them one unit, yet where each still had enough space to be an individual.

It is not always easy to share your space with others, especially if your personal bubble is big, and you crave a lot of ‘me time’.  But therein lays the secret.  That which hurts, grows.  That which scrapes and scours, builds.  That is what the people in your home do.  They build character in you, they teach you, and they grow you.

Left to yourself, you would never become what you are ultimately, capable of being.


On men, and feminism

Men are funny.  I love the way men just naturally assume that they know better, that they are superior drivers and that in fact, they are more qualified at most things than women.  My men specifically have an inborn confidence, and a belief that they can do anything and succeed.

From a very young age my sons believed that I was a bad driver, and they still do.  So does my husband and my Dad.  And, to be honest, it is true to some extent.  But that is another story.

Another amazing talent they have is the capacity to think themselves thinner than what they really are.  Women imagine themselves bigger, whereas most men think they look pretty good, even if they carry a “little” spare weight.

I have never been a feminist and never will be.  I believe men to be better chefs, mechanics, drivers and everything else.  But PLEASE!  I know there are exceptions to every rule and that there are women who outshine their male counterparts in all areas known to mankind.  I am just a bit biased.

I like a touch of male chauvinism, it suits a man.  Not the rude, overbearing, condescending kind, rather, just that little touch of superiority that makes a man, a man.  The type that affords a real woman a giggle.  Without it, women would snatch up the world’ pants supply and what would become of our society when all men turn into wimps, ruled over by slipper-wielding fiends?

While I understand why men would help with house duties when both partners work full day, I cannot begin to comprehend why men would do it when their wives stay at home.  And believe me; this phenomenon is on the increase.  I don’t only put this down to lazy women, but also to husbands not prepared to take charge.  Even more criminal are men who are forced into nightly baby duties when mommy stays home all day.  In Afrikaans it is called “slapgatgeid”, literally slackness in the posterior region.  But once again, this is just my opinion.

A home where the wife wants to be the boss is a house divided against itself, and a home at war.  Man was born and bred for the position and will fight anyone trying to usurp his authority without even realising why he is doing it.

I am of course referring to normal men, not bullies who beat their wives or lord over their children.

As with everything else in life, there has to be someone with the final say, the leader.  Every organisation on this earth needs one chief and a couple of Indians.  And in the home, the man has to be allowed final authority, even when he makes mistakes.  He too has to learn how to steer his family through life successfully but he will never learn without erring first.  We all stumble when young but as we mature, we gain understanding and knowledge.  Real love conquers all, and forgives all.

The most successful families I know, ones where the children are obedient and respectful and the wives lovely and confident in themselves, are households where the Dad has a firm grip on things.  These are families where everyone understands that Dad’s word is the final say on any matter.

Both genders have their place, neither to ever be above or below the other.  Instead, they stand side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, with the women’s just slightly behind the man’s.  He is, and should be allowed to be, the head of the home.

 

 


I help my kids with their homework

I would write their essays, speeches and poems.  And cover their books.  Because they are boys and I enjoy it and because I don’t really believe it makes much of a difference.  Neither of them are planning on becoming academics, nor will they major in English.

It irritates their girlfriends, and my friends with daughters always shake their heads.  But my friends with boys just smile.  Moms with daughters are less likely to help out with homework because I suppose but daughters are encouraged to just get on with it, while boys are molly coddled by the women, forever and ever, amen.

My kids have full, active lives filled with sport and overwhelming amounts of homework.  Besides, I realised early on that teachers either realise that the child did not write the essay, but choose to say nothing, or they don’t realise at all.  And after fourteen years, I am leaning towards the latter.  Which borders on the criminally inattentive to my mind.

My eldest took art up to his final year.  Because of the sheer workload in grades 9 – 10, I aided and abetted throughout.  He did the practical work and I did the theoretical, both which were vast.  I would sit with him to hammer out concepts, then write the stories to suit.  Or I would spend time in the garage while he was fabricating, make notes of every single little detail before writing the rationale, relation factors, essays and everything else that went with it.  We generally got good marks.  I always ask for my marks.

I read to them from when they were born until they became too grown-up for it.  Yet, neither of them read.  It used to sadden me but I have since realised it is not the end of the world.  But unfortunately it affects their comprehension as well as reading speed.

I am more interested in well-rounded children who participate in sport, do their homework and have active social lives, than I am in distinctions.  I try not to add to the already pressurised lives they live by pushing too hard for A’s.

I think, generally, that Dads push sons and Moms push daughters.  And both are okay.

 


Success Achieved

I saw it happen with three people in the last two weeks, but only figured it out last night.   The moment you achieve a goal you have worked for, you will hit a downer.

Initially you enjoy feelings of elation but immediately afterwards, emotions of self-doubt appear.  You will question whether you deserve your success.   You  will wonder whether you are good enough and ask yourself what will happen when your family and friends realize it?  You will understand that your bubble can burst any second.

Someone that achieves success needs reassurance for a moment because they are vulnerable, almost depressed.  I understand the reason for it to be this – Everything that goes up, must come down.  It is a physical law.  In order to reach equilibrium again after intense feelings of ecstasy, the bottom emotions must also be experienced.

Goals are often achieved through years of hard work and perseverance, where the driving force is the belief in one’s self.  During that time there is no time to doubt, so it sets in only after the goal is achieved.

Luckily though, is just is as it is, and normality will return.