Tag Archives: Family

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.

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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.


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.


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.


Blood is thicker than Water

We recently had a family funeral.  It had been 15 years or more since I had seen some of those cousins but there was that immediate kinship.  It needed no words.  It is a bond without explanation.  A blood-tie.

I love my cousins and I love the idea of cousins.  I have almost 30.  We make a point of getting together once or twice a year, just to catch up and to have fun.

Cousins are nice for many reasons.  You are not that close to them that they judge, but not so far apart that they do not understand.  They accept you as you are, they don’t backstab or bite.  They have no need to.  They are your blood.   They knew you as a child and they know the circumstances that shaped you.  They identify with you.  They were a source of strength through each family tragedy.  They walked together with you, in your family shoes.

Aunts and uncles will always see you as a child.  They frown easier, like parents do, because they feel that they have a vested interest in you.  They have watched you from birth and wish the best for you.

Sad though are aunts and uncles that become grumpy with age.  Life is difficult, sure, but if you going to sit at a family barbecue with a sour face, why come?  Stay at home and you won’t be irritated or annoyed, nor will the people around you be inconvenienced by your disapproving face and under-handed grumbles.  And hell, if you have become a vegetarian and do not eat bacon, bring your own food.  Don’t sit there and complain about what is on offer when you have contributed zip.

I had to laugh at the funeral though.  An older ducky approached one of my aunts and said:

“Mary, is that you?”

“Yes”, said Mary, “And who may you be?”

“It is me, Sarah, don’t you remember?”

“Of course I do Sarah!”

Sarah stood still for a moment and looked Mary over, from top to toe before exclaiming:  “My Mary, but you have gotten old!”

Mary visibly froze, then slowly shook out her feathers:  “Well Sarah, you don’t look to young yourself”.

“But Mary, you look ancient!”

By this time I was rolling on the floor laughing but neither of them noticed.

“Now listen Sarah, I am seventy-three years old, what do you expect?”

Sarah tapped her foot:  “But you look seventy-three!”

Mary was turning red:  “How old are you Sarah?”

“I am fifty-six”.

With a satisfied grin Mary looked Sarah straight in the eye and said:  “Well, you also look seventy-three”.

And that was the end of that.

Comical as it was, it made me realise that these two had not seen one another for thirty or forty years, and that they have long since passed the age of niceties.  They say it like it is.  And the appearance of the other was indeed a great shock, a realisation of time gone by.

I was sad that I had lost a cousin whom I had not seen enough of.  I was more sad for my aunt and uncle and remaining cousins for the loss they will have for as long as they live.  But I was grateful to find that the bonds with my family were still intact and that it will always be.

Because in the end, blood is very much thicker than water.


I wish I had my Grandparents with me for longer

I adored my paternal Grandparents.  They were wise and loving people who gave their best to their six children, and grandchildren to come.

My father was 29 when he died of thrombosis, and it almost killed them.  He was their favourite.  My grandparents lived about an hour’s drive away but not long after, when I was about 7, they were posted from the Transvaal to the Cape.  From then on until they died, I saw them only once a year.

When they moved they wanted my mom and brother and I to go with them.  But my mom decided that it would be best for her to try making it on her own.  The only thing she accepted from him was money for a gravestone, which we visited once.

When I was a child, and reasoned as a child, I deeply loved them.  Initially, we would drive the 14 hours to visit them but when we got older, we went by train.  My grandmother would read Dr. Suess’ books to us.  She acted it out till we held our stomachs laughing.  The only time I ever saw her angry was when we, with my two cousins, made a game of jumping from a bedroom window into her daisy bushes.  Her garden was her pride and joy.

When I was a teenager, and knew everything, I loved them still.  But I did not have much time to spend with them then.  I had parties to go to, friends to hang out with and boys to meet.

They never reproached me, or asked me why.  They quietly accepted it with all the love they had for my dad.  Their love was not the gushy, kissy kind.  It was a love that brought me my favourite breakfast in bed every morning.  It was a love that wrote to me often, exhorting and teaching me.  It was a love
that wore out its knees for me in prayer.

When I became an adult, and thought like an adult, I wanted to spend time with them because I loved them deeply.  I caused them joy when I chose my God, or rather, when He chose me.  I was 23 when he died.

I had my grandmother for another 14 years before she too left me.

Ouma, I want to be like you.  I want the kindness, patience, forbearance, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, laughter and love
that made you so beautiful.  I want to be able to give of myself as unsparingly as you did.  Thank you for your letters and books.  For the phone  conversations, I wish there were more.  Thank you for your faith.

Oupa, thank you for the arm of protection you folded around us when we were a little family adrift, you owed us naught.  Thank you for providing for me so that I had a good start in life.  Thank you for your wisdom in allowing me to make mistakes.

I so look forward to the day that I shall be with you once more.