Full Circle – A Year’s Adventure in Blogging and Other Things

Full Circle - A Year's Adventure in Blogging and Other ThingsOver the past few months, I’ve come to appreciate that nagging feeling – otherwise known as gut feel or intuition – and subtle reminders that life seems to send my way. Today was filled with that same constant nagging feeling, like a toddler pulling at your jeans with sticky fingers after more of the sweet stuff. I had to do something and it wasn’t my overwhelming load of German homework, the mountain of laundry that rivalled Mount Kilimanjaro or the breakfast dishes still in the sink well after lunch time…

It all started with a beautiful butterfly that my little boy discovered outside our front door. To my non-scientific eye, it was clear it was a very special kind of butterfly thanks to its bright, bold and beautiful colour combination. The sad thing was that it was struggling, fluttering its wings which seemed to stick together, but not able to take off in flight. My boy was intent on saving it and I was anticipating having to deal with a lesson about the circle of life. The more he tried to urge it to climb onto a leaf and gently blew behind it, the more I tried to dissuade him, telling him to let it sort itself out (secretly hoping that it would manage to crawl away out of sight and be left to die in peace, and that he could forget about it). We went out for lunch and when we came back my boy went straight to where he had left the butterfly. Surprisingly, the butterfly had made its way onto the top of an old laundry detergent cap that my son had left for it to try to climb onto and was fluttering its wings more confidently. My boy whispered words of encouragement and went inside to hang up his coat. Not long after, my husband came inside and reported that the butterfly was nowhere to be seen and must’ve flown off.

In that moment I experienced an ‘ah-ha’ moment. What seemed like a struggle towards an end, was actually a struggle to begin – to embark on a new journey. The irony that butterflies are often associated with a connection between two states of being, beginnings and endings, did not escape me. So what did I need to begin? What was the message that the universe was putting before me so blatantly?

The restless feeling continued and intensified until I started up my computer (which is a MISSION for me in this age of hand-held tablets that don’t need updates and time-consuming software tweaks before you can log on). After managing to deftly skirt the matter of writing on my blog over the past few months, I was suddenly compelled to open it up and hope that my skittish inspiration would come out of hiding.

I was drawn to scroll down and then it jumped out at me: Today, 2 November, is the one-year anniversary of my first blog post. I’ve come full circle. How could I not write a post? Inspiration presented itself with the beautiful photo my boy took of his ‘rescued’ butterfly.

Seasons move on, Inspiration presents herself in ebbs and flows, but what might be considered as an ending could turn out to be a beginning. What my boy and a butterfly taught me today is not to give up even when it appears as though the odds are stacked against you – and to continue trusting that nagging feeling, with or without the sticky fingers!

Let’s Shake Things up a Bit!

Shake it up!

Shake it up!

It’s the start of the year, but it’s hard to get going, right?  There’s much to be achieved, but you just don’t know where to begin?

Let’s have a bit of fun with this blog – I’m going to let you challenge me: In no more than five words, give me a topic you would like me to write about. Keep it CLEAN (I’d like to keep my family-friendly status), but QUIRKY! I’ll try to rise to the challenge – it might not be in the form of a regular post, but I’ll do my best to keep it fun, or poignant or whatever the writing voice dictates…

Guilty Pleasures… Who’s to Blame?

Pleasures Copyright 2014 Wordycara

Pleasures
Copyright 2014 Wordycara

It’s a Happy New Year and people are making their resolutions, discarding bad habits and hoping to sustain better ones (better habits AND better bad habits). Just so we’re clear on this – I don’t do resolutions and this blog is not going to be about how to ‘start afresh’ and ‘be a better you’. I’m not qualified (through successful experience or otherwise) to lecture you on this general topic. There’s enough reading material out there and you’re welcome to read it.

So, apart from this very obvious New Year’s theme, I’ve been sifting through the debris in my head, left after the excesses of the Festive Season festivities, searching for a gripping topic to kick off my blog for 2014. Let me tell you, writer’s block is no way to start a year and, if I’d had the foresight to know, I would’ve resolved not to have it and would’ve banished it to the land of terrible sitcoms before it could muzzle the voice that does the writing in my head.

With the thoughts in my mind flatlining and desperation increasing exponentially, I grabbed a nice, warm cup of caramel-flavoured coffee (bless that company for removing the ‘limited edition’ status on that flavour and making it freely available – at a fair price – to me all year round) and inhaled inspiration!

“Guilty Pleasures!”. The topic exploded in my mind and the letters of the alphabet did somersaults, “We’re back in business!” and then I sighed. The problem is that that I have a problem with the word “guilty” being right next to the word “pleasures” when it comes to things I like doing, eating, saying or appreciating.

For me “guilty pleasure” is something that happens when a person runs off with another person’s partner. In that case, there’s guilt and, of course, there’s pleasure (maybe even for the partner who’s left behind). Now, when I’m talking about eating French toast and reading a book – yes, yes AT THE SAME TIME – it’s certainly a pleasure and I’m certainly not feeling guilty about it either. I can’t apologise or feel bad about combining two of my favourite things. I’m not hurting anyone else and I don’t intend to stare ahead at the blank dining room wall, trying to allow myself to mindfully absorb and savour the flavours of my food. I’m a great multi-tasker when it comes to eating (not recommended with talking though) and reading (I can read in a car – just not when driving – and sometimes in the dark with a very faint light). It follows, then, that I am able to enjoy every single bite of my food and every word on that page AT THE SAME TIME!

I have so many more pleasures that I don’t feel at all guilty about – going into the city without the children and buying stuff just for myself (they have their turn), reading a juicy, gossipy and laugh-out-loud kind of novel that is termed ‘chick-lit’ (the Irish writers are so good at these)… Actually, I have to interrupt myself just to note that I don’t like the term ‘chick-lit’. It implies a level of silliness associated with giggly teenage girls who are actually over 30 and should be reading solid, classic literature. These novels have grains of genius running through them – witty asides that comedians dream of and accurate portrayal of feelings that only you thought you had and that some psychologists wish they could tap into. Right, now that I’ve made that clear, I’ll continue with some more pleasures… sitting outside and admiring a beautiful view instead of cleaning the house, eating freshly baked, hot bread with butter (not margarine), watching a kids/teens’ movie (with or without children/teenagers present to justify it) and listening to music from the 80s… I could go on.

When we talk about a “guilty pleasure”, but actually mean a fairly benevolent, harmless and delightful pleasure then we’re allowing that voice of our faux conscience to take over. Life is filled with enough challenges and expectations set by ourselves and others, so it really isn’t necessary to add rueful feelings to some of the things that give us unadulterated joy (no pun intended… well, actually… yes – pun intended). Come on, surrender the guilt and let’s put the blame on that person who called it a “guilty” pleasure in the first place! Have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

When the Hemispheres Switched – Part 1

Adventure, beginnings, fear, ignoring the chatterings of a severe risk aversion and a leap of faith are all related to how this blog started. They’re also words I associate with the switching of my hemispheres…

Ah, I see you there rolling your eyes and circling your forefingers around either side of your head and muttering to yourself, “What is she going on about? Loopy, loopy chick!”. Well, perhaps, but actually it really does make sense. I’m talking about when I left my family, friends and home in South Africa for an adventure in Europe. It’s not really as ‘devil-may-care’ as I’d like it to sound. In fact, I have a very vivid memory of me prodding my forefinger in the vicinity of my husband’s face (he’s a tall guy, ok? Think well-fed Chihuahua versus St Bernard) and making him promise that it would be for the shortest time possible and that we’d be back in the blink of an eye. Expat contracts don’t work that way. In fact, they’re rather unpredictable in nature and you learn to go with the flow and make the most of the here-and-now… but he didn’t tell me that because he knew better. You don’t yell a warning at an ostrich while it’s got its head buried in the sand – you’re going to get a nasty kick and a very scrambled egg.

Now how did I get on this tangent? Well, all these lovely memories got hauled up by the arrival of a South African family to my current city this past week. I’m finding I’m putting myself in the new lass’s shoes, trying to give her very worthy advice based on the lessons learnt in my first few weeks here. Call it therapy for me, if you will. Plus, I’ve never really had a chance to relate all my “When the Hemispheres Switched” stories on my visits home because: a) we’re too busy catching up on what has being going on behind our backs; and b) I don’t want to ruin the great vibes when our nearest and dearest are quaffing the best red/white that South Africa has to offer, while I savour every sip of my it-costs-more-to-get-there-than-the-wine cream soda.

The problem, I’m finding, is that there’s a very fine line between giving valuable advice and underestimating the lady’s resilience. Add to that the most bizarre thought that occurred to me: Allow her to experience some of the things herself. Now, could this be supreme genius on my part, allowing the lady to immerse herself in experiences, creating memories that she can share back home, “You won’t believe what happened to me today…” and learning things in her own way and on her terms? The alternative is slightly sinister with overtones of ‘schadenfreude’ and I’d like to think that I reserve that only for my most mean-spirited foes. So, what the heck, let’s go with supreme genius.

Now, giving advice about business and shopping hours (none on Sunday), parking rules (important in a city in which there is slim to no chance of finding any in the vicinity of where you’d like to be and in a space that was demarcated for horses without the cart, testing your proficiency as a professional parallel-parker), etc. all makes sense. It’s the smaller, finer lessons learnt that are the trickiest when deciding to share, overshare or not to share at all.

The one that really bothered me was whether to warn her about the baked goods. Oh, there’s nothing at all wrong with the baked goods here – they’re heavenly, delicious, wickedly crammed with all kinds of fillings – some fruity and some that should have a percentage of alcohol stamped on the side. You see, the problem comes in when you sample a fresh Breze (pretzel) – the crispy, salty golden outer layer with a soft bready dough inside. You like it so much, you go back for more so you can enjoy it the next morning.

Yum, before you know it breakfast arrives and you grab that Brezel out of the packet and, defying common sense and convention, you sink your pearly whites into a weapon of dentists’ dreams. Overnight, it turns into a deadly boomerang – light as a feather and as hard as a brick.

Now then, do I assume that any person new to the city would make the mistake I did, based on delightful ignorance? Hmm, perhaps that’s just one of the things best left to discover…

Wordy Cara Enters the Blogosphere

GravatarI love words. I love the way letters merge together to form the shape of words, the way fonts set the tone – fun and playful informality or rigid seriousness – and the way these letters create a rhythm unique to the language. So, it might be surprising to you when I admit that everyone who knows me will agree that I am, somewhat ashamedly, a terrible letter writer.

This could pose a slight problem since most of my family and many friends reside in the opposite hemisphere, but thanks to social media I have managed to keep them updated, while earning new friends along the way. The trick, though, is to keep things short and concise, not to flood people with posts and not to impose my random thoughts and ideas upon them.

Of course, I battle to restrain myself and after much soul-searching decided that the answer was simple – to create my own blog. This way, people can choose to follow me and I can tap at the keyboard to my heart’s content, when I please, about whatever I please (trying to keep it clean).

I decided that the best way to go about it was the proper way, which really is against my instincts when it comes to these things. I usually prefer to approach technology like a child who learns by doing. The results are often disastrous, no matter how user-friendly the buttons are. Sometimes there is no ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ option before your hard work disappears into a space beyond any safe cloud. So, I thought that research was going to be the first step.

I didn’t like it. To have a good blog, apparently, you need to identify a ‘niche’ target – a group of readers that your writing will appeal to. Well, to begin with, I have a rather delightful motley crew of friends. Male, female, single, married, divorced, ambitious career climbers, laid-back beach devotees, those with or without children, with or without pets, grown-up punks, goths, metal-heads and pop, disco and classical-lovers, those who love wine and those who never touch the stuff… The point is, where would I even begin to choose? Secondly, and probably most importantly, I am doing this for me – to create an outlet for my thoughts, feelings and opinions, and to flex that writing muscle, taking a leap of faith into the public domain. I am not a corporation, targeting my brand to any particular group.

I write the things I want to write, expressing my point of view and welcoming comments. If something resonates with just one reader, then I will be content.

Ah, that word ‘content’. Now, the next piece of advice I read was about choosing what ‘type’ of ‘content’ I will be writing about. Will it be about food, health and beauty, motherhood, business, careers, housekeeping (bwahahaha!), music, relationships, travel and adventure or about writing itself? Well, while I don’t dabble much in the world of astrology, it could be rather apt that I fall under the 12th sign of the Zodiac – Pisces – a mixture of everything. So, how could I ever be satisfied writing on one tangent, when I favour so many?

I stopped reading the advice and decided to give the blogging thing a go. Choose a theme, write a page and then see what happens. It’s a subtle warning then that you and I can prepare ourselves for some learning curves along the way. Pages that don’t open, links that don’t work or dealing with the impact of whatever I was supposed to have done, but didn’t. Since hindsight is perfect vision, I reckon that one day I’ll be able to look up at the screen and realise that the masterpiece I always wanted… Well, that’s the other part of me – my rather overactive imagination.

Deal with it, you chose to follow the blog. I’ll do my best and hopefully keep you entertained along the way!