Tapestry

The beauty of being an immigrant of the 70’s is the opportunity to have two places, thousands of miles apart, that feel like home.
As much as I love buildings, it’s not the physical structures that make it feel familiar. It’s the energy of the place. Glimpses of past memories spent there, shared with the familiar look on aging faces.

I went to a funeral of one of the foundation people from my childhood. A mother, a smile, a patch of the quilted memories that add to my sum total of experiences. As I sat in the back of the all too familiar church, a place where my own vows were taken, I looked at all the familiar heads and sighed with belonging. My tribe, but no blood connections. Strings woven through each of our hearts. This recognition of history without knowing specific detail. Some threads connected looser than others but the common ground literally giving us a bonded meaning.

Grief visited, through hearing the tender words of bereaved friends and family, acknowledging our own personal visits with the feeling, both past and present. A laugh on hearing about dear Patsy’s character. A glimpse into her nuclear family while enabling a brush with my own wider ‘femily’. It helped that Patsy had lived well, that she made the world a happier place with her wide smile. There was cheer in the air, in spite of the tears.

Driving through the once walked streets, flashes of houses triggering long forgotten names, I wondered what it would be like still living here, having never moved away. A ‘dad song’ popped into my mind.. and I sang the lyrics as tears rolled down my cheeks. Not tears of sadness but of gratitude and peace of my own life, well lived.

” It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home
Yes, they’ll all come to meet me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home..”

Rest in Peace dear Patsy

Happy first day of 2019

Although I no longer put all my hope into the magic of one day or one resolution because I now find magic in any ordinary moment, I still love observing the global cheer of being hopeful. I love watching people build themselves up with positivity and expectations and the excitement that goes with that is infectious. But I am no longer compelled to join in. A lesson in setting boundaries which I have enjoyed doing.

The day is just a Tuesday, yet the importance of the collective days get rounded up and judged accordingly. Us humans have a need to assign, to determine and to judge. It helps us understand the craziness of the world. I used to have a sense of panic of not setting proper goals, of not finishing last years, of not being ready to finish dates with a different year. But maybe it’s age, maybe it’s just temporary, I no longer panic. The anxiety has shifted. The compulsion altered. The ‘what if I don’t get it done…’ has changed to ‘I am never going to be done’ and that has given my internal mechanisms a real break.

In saying all that…. 2018 was the year of relationships for me. Most of them completely shifted, because I became easier on myself. I took leaps and the nets did magically appear. I lept into the abyss of the unknown, possibly the biggest leap I have ever taken and I am amazed that the chronic fear has all but disappeared. Realism hasn’t left me though, but I am aware that I am responsible for my life and I have tremendous support yet, even if that were to disappear  ( which was the scariest of fearts- Scots words) I will be ok. I will find my way.

So I wish for myself the contentment of the moment, the fun in dreaming big, the excitement of exploring and the inner peace in the midst of chaos.

Ok, I wish that for you too, but that is up to you to find your way.

Cheers, to all who have loved me, been loved by me and to all future loves…

The Journey

This time of year always gets me thinking about our emigration. The 13th of December 1971 is the ‘official’ landing day for our tribe in South Africa but a thought crossed my mind about the actual journey. 

Today, the 10th of December is the day we left behind the cold, familiar world of Milton in Glasgow. I was five and (almost) a half years young. The world as I knew it was dark, icy and busy with family. I don’t recall leaving our upstairs tenement house, nor any packing of clothes, or selling of furniture. Nor the taxi trip to the station- it must have been a couple of taxis, at least. I do remember being at Glasgow Central Station amidst a frenetic goodbye from cousins, aunts and uncles and boarding a sleeper train. Maybe this is what triggered my love for trains, perhaps. But at this point I can’t recall if I had any idea of where I was going, then again don’t think any of us did. All we knew is that we were going to ‘Sunny South Africa’ where my dad would be guaranteed a 3 ( or 4?) year work contract. In a rapidly shrinking work opportunities-city, it made sense for my folks to take care of there 6 and 3 quarters size brood, in a far away land with sunshine! A bargain! But I digress…

I don’t recall how many sleeper compartments we had, nor who I slept beside but I do remember the clackity clack of the train, the twinkling ‘exit’ sign lights and my first encounter with a chamber pot. Fascinated as a curious 5 year old can be, I don’t recall actually using it but more interested in how it got emptied. 

On arrival in a bustling London station, I remember the vision of a huge pile of suitcases on wheels and a flapping coat trying to control the worldy belongings of our entire family. The blue cover of the record player was at once familiar for me because Cliff Richard sang ‘summer holiday’ on it and this was kind of what this trip felt like. 

Details in between are very sketchy but the next clear phase of my young journey was an indoor swimming pool with coloured lights surrounding a man sitting at the bar. In the pool!! My eyes bulged when I saw this and in some dusty part of my memory I think Hawaiian music was playing. This pool was in a 5 star London hotel which we were to spend the night of the 11th of December due to the maiden Boeing 747 flight to Johannesburg being cancelled. I think we had 3 bedrooms between us but another exciting memory is the huge silver domes that covered our food on tableclothed trolleys that we wheeled to us. The life of luxury…

My mum must’ve had swollen feet and several anxiety attacks being 7 months pregnant and all this adventure showing up. But I remember her smoking away on the airplane which in my, short 5 year legs memory, seemed to be so roomy. We stopped for fuel at Los Palmos ( I think) where it was so hot my nostrils felt blocked and I was fascinated by a huge wooden fan slowly chopping the air on the roof. 

My next memory is not the airport in Johannesburg but the fountain at a white hotel ( the Lido) where I think I paddled in my panties ( or knickers) free from the very heavy and hot kilt that my mum had made for all us girls. It was also the first time I experienced Coca-cola .. in my own glass bottle and I remember being impressed. 

The 13th of December had us sleep over in a one star hotel in my future home town of Ver een ig ing ing. The National hotel was somewhat different from the London luxury and I heard my first ever cricket chirping! The tiny basin in the rooms had my-size Lux soaps and eating in the dining room and being served was an adventure for this young bairn.

The three days of journey were always kind of remembered in separate bits. Today I went on the journey again as a 52 year old accompanying my 5 year old self, who was full of wonder and awe. The destination almost forgotten but what a joy I felt, piecing the sepia bits together and stepping back in time for the journey that got me here. 

Cathie, the brave?

My dear friend was showering me with praise as to my courage for exploration and adventure. She called me brave. I thought about this for a moment. Of all things in life, I never really think of myself as brave. After all, I was scared of fear itself. Yet in that moment of pause, I had a flashback to the young girl.

I was so scared to say no, to speak in public (I would blush profusely), to stop alongside country roads, to  talk to strangers was a big no-no, even to be seen- frightened me.

Petrified!

My anxiety was so subtle, yet ever present. I did somehow manage to function and come across as a fairly intelligent TV sound operator. Yet under the seemingly calm surface, the dark, murky mud of fear threatened to overpower me at any given moment, (plus I am scared of the dark, and dark water- even now!)

So I wondered what happened to make me appear brave now? Somewhere along those 18 years, I made friends with my fear. It is still present but no longer all encompassing nor in charge. It is simply another aspect of me. Along with curiosity, excitement, anticipation and wonder- which I think may have been there all along but just drowned out by the noise of fear.

In many ways the reason why I am so public with my life on social media, may be because a part of me still can’t believe I am doing something. I need evidence, an audience and a future reference for past reflection.

I recently attended a lovely talk by Kate Turkington and I marveled at her attitude towards life. She travels, speaks, lives, loves and all with a sense of magic and wonder. I asked her if she has any sense of fear. She paused and answered ‘no’. I think she trusts life in all it’s unpredictable glory and possible pain and I think I may have started to do the same.

It’s not courage that makes me do things, it’s curiosity.

 

 

And that takes me to places I have never thought possible. If I can help one person step out of their comfortable, safe, fearful space -just once- then it is even more rewarding. But I am not doing life for anyone else- I am simply doing it for me. Because…

 

I can!

Cathie senior

Being the second youngest of a large clan has it’s advantages and being surrounded by the usually absent tribe at a time of vulnerability brings new information to light. Ironically it was in the tender conversations about our ailing dad that the topic of mum came up.

I have very quiet memories of mum, because unlike this Cathie, she was not  the chatty variety. Especially to a busy teenager then working, gap yearing, getting the hell out of the home town, adventuring young lady.  I would call her frequently but I think I would just babble on about my life and her wisdom would hold her silence on the telephone line .

Dad seemed to be the talking one, or more often, the nagging one. He would nag at her as she silently poked holes in her Benson &Hedges cigarette and hid behind her smokescreen.  His nagging would change to drunken playful flirting with her most Saturday nights when he had some time off from his back breaking factory life. Mum remained quiet, except for a loud ‘Alfie’ if he was playing too rough  with us young ones who were enjoying his tickling and antics.

In her absence, her character is growing larger and larger as my older siblings shared her stories and a different mum is being  born for me. Mum controlled the purse strings, that I always knew. Dad’s weekly wages would be put on the mantelpiece mid-Friday afternoon and the envelope would vanish when I next glanced. I never saw mum actually move it, but she seemed to work miracles with the pittance and the tribe of 9.

She started working when I was about 9 or 10 and I remember thinking when had she learned to type. But her skills were highly respected and she quietly kept working away at her job.

Two things I learned this time around? The first was that Dad hated her working out of the house . But she kept at it. The second thing was that she didn’t use her wage towards the household budget. This dumbfounded me in ways that I am still discovering. I vaguely recall the story of mum asking her accountant son what to do with some savings. He wisely told her to pay off the bond which she duly did. I remember being flabbergasted at how expensive the house was at R17500-. I  did not know where or how these savings came about – until now. Pieces of the puzzle-which I didn’t even know where missing- continue to fall in place.

Then she also bought shares in coffee…that is more vague in my memory. I remember her complaining that coffee prices shot up and I kind of moaned that she ‘owned’ some of the land so why doesn’t she get coffee beans for cheap. She was my first introduction to ‘shares ‘ yet I didn’t know it.

My admiration for her has increased a gazillionfold. Not only did she cycle to work on a hellish road in brutal Vaal Triangle winters, but she somehow stuck at it, being nagged at by dad and complained to by us hungry kids late afternoons. Somewhere over her brood of seven ( beautiful-I must add) kids, she had a broader vision. A vision of more than merely survival, she planned and saved and sorted in her quiet unassuming way. She made provision for the long term which she never got  the honour of living but she did it anyway.

This information has changed me, my life, my love for her and my future. I am looking forward to discovering more about this remarkable, beautiful woman that  I share the honour with my six siblings, to call mum.

Cheers mum. Love you x

A loooong stretch of road

Yesterday I started my ninth Comrades marathon. It was to be my fifth medal as I had a few Did Not Finishes  (DNF) before but the goal shifted again when my first half of the tough 90km saw me have a very unusual discomfort in my belly.

My legs and feet were doing great, and my timings were fine but the nausea resulted in making me feel flat and bloaty. All through this yuck feeling, I was weighing up my choices and plans. Do I get in a ‘bailer bus’ and get a lift down for the second half or do I wait and see if it gets any better or do I make myself throw up? There were too many people throwing up so I scratched that option.

In running we have a thing called a ‘bus’ with feet. These runners are pacesetters who choose to devote their race to helping people get to their goal. I had seen a few sub 12  hour buses go past me so my confidence at finishing the race in the allotted 12 hour time was fading. But then a bus came up past me and I realised that I liked her pace, plus she was quiet. I was incredibly noise sensitive yesterday. I trundled along and made the halfway mark with my spirits lifting.

The second half of this race is actually my favourite. Scores of people give up their day to cheer us crazy, weary people on. It is fantastic. Music, applause, words of encouragement, smiles, food, salt, beer and drinks are all on offer and I love interacting with the friendly faces. The smell of braai meat really made me hungry and I thought that some sausage might help settle my stomach. Many people later, I eventually managed to get a small piece and it was delicious. Throughout all this interaction, I saw the bus leave me behind but I was feeling too good to worry. I stopped to buy an ice lollly just before a major long downhill and I greeted puppies and dogs with an ‘aw’ and some love.

On the long downhill the sea becomes visible if I remember to look. I pointed it out to some first time runners but I think they were oblivious to it. I remembered that in the next town there was a cut off point but I wasn’t too perturbed at doing the maths and figuring out my target because I had caught up with the sub 12 buses again. Feeling pleased that perhaps I might just be able to get this elusive fifth medal after all.

But as we entered the highway leaving the cheering festivities behind, my tummy feeling returned. I was doing the walk/run thing talking my options over in my head when a lovely gentleman started chatting with me. This helped me take my mind away from being too negative and the time passed quicker. He too had been having a tummy issue but he showed me his dad’s silver medal from a race in the ’60’s that he was wearing and we chatted a long way. My siblings were doing their first time Comrades support and I almost missed them because I was so engrossed in this conversation. I bade farewell to my new running friend and had a quick chat with the family. I warned them that I might not be in time for a medal but I really wanted to finish in the new-ish Moses Mabhida Stadium.

I ran off looking for my chatting friend but I wasn’t able to catch him. Someone mentioned the last cut off point which was coming up and I glanced at my watch knowing that it was going to be tight. My mind started to go between do I try or would I be okay being forced to get into a (real) bus. Dammit, I thought I need to try. But I forgot about the endless no name uphill that I couldn’t constantly run up. The people cheered me along and one lady said ‘the top is just over there ‘ so I dug in and picked up the pace. At the top I realised that I could see the activity and people were shouting out the time left. By now I could use the downhill and I started to sprint. On 80kay legs I was amazed at my speed and focus. I shouted at a fellow club member ‘come Spencer ‘ and galloped towards the man with the gun. The timing mat was before the cut-off line and the ten second countdown was being shouted out by the crowd. 4 seconds I flew past relieved that I now finally got through. Spencer made it with 1 second and we hugged each other in delight.

Spencer muscled down and continued running in an attempt to get his medal. My sprint shocked legs wobbled into a walk as I realised that the last 9km in less than an hour was almost impossible. I started remembering all sorts of feel good stories of the impossible but the long uphill on the highway slowed me right down and I realised that I was absolutely okay at not getting a medal. My goal was to get in the stadium. Darkness crept in as the clock seemed to speed up but the spectators remained cheering. I went past the old stadium with a good time and lamented the possibility of things being different.  But it was not to be. As I walked towards the glowing stadium about 2 kays away, it started to drizzle. The weather report that I had been watching all week came true. I cursed the clouds thinking that getting into a car wet would be less than ideal. It gently spat for about 20 minutes and near the stadium it stopped. The crowds were moving in droves to their cars, many wearing their tiny medal. I had a slight pang of envy but it passed.

The last few hundred meters seemed to  teasingly drag as runner after runner was being attended to by medics. I couldn’t allow any sympathy and I stomped into the last tunnel with tv lights screaming into my eyes. I knew the cameramen had stopped working but I waved anyway. The stadium opened up and ‘Tears for Fears’ sang a song from my teenage years. I gasped as I looked up at the amazing stadium spotting some stars between the clouds. I heard my tribe shout me as I had my rockstar moment while playing the air guitar. The sound, lights and soft underfelt had made the long slog all worth it.  I had my moment. I made it. 90km officially but my watch had closer to 92km. The furthest I have ever been on foot. And what a glorious place to finish in.

Thanks KZN. Thanks body, thanks friends, thanks fellow runners, thanks strangers on the road, drummers, bands and last but not least the Scottish Pipers.

Qualified….sigh

The word means a lot of things to different people but in the local running world it means that I am now deemed ‘able’ to take part in the 90km Comrades marathon in June.

I have had a fantastic running season so far. I have been fortunate enough to visit new towns, different races, great running weather  and have been healthy enough to do all of them.
The only thing that eluded me was this sub-5 hour marathon or sub-6 hour ultra marathon which would have given me the necessary qualification. I had come close… 5 minutes or 62 seconds but close doesn’t get me the privilege of standing on the Comrades starting line.

This past weekend saw me return to a 50km race last run in 2010. A good race but I somehow refused to do it for all these years. It may have been due to the previous camping experience but I can’t be sure for the reason, so I decided to go and get my ‘qualifier ‘ there. Even though meant more camping but I am getting used to that.

The weather was threatening rain on the forecasts but it behaved and kept the mud to a minimum. What it did do, was keep me cool and comfortable with great thick cloud cover and a pleasant breeze. An ‘out and back ‘ race means we get on a bus around 4am and drive the long dark route with 70 passengers. All of us dressed in our distinctive club colours which helps us identify each other and gives us a hint of individuals’ stories.

A different start location saw us clustered in a now-not-quiet street and wait for the scratchy announcements to set us off before sunrise. The long snake of people started to spread out far in the distance as we were cheered on but some pajamad spectators. The sun stayed behind the clouds but gave us the light of day to see the well maintained roads. A good road means that I can keep my head up and check out the sights and what a view of a beautiful area.

I hit a dull spot around 17km when I saw my watch start going slower but thankfully Marlene caught up with me and helped dull the noise in my head. Around 18km, I took my watch off my wrist and just keep familiar people around me. It was like a switch was flicked. I started to relax with the knowledge that I have this in the bag. A sub 5 hour marathon distance confirmed that I was on track and chatting with Marlene helped keep my spirit high.

On the last bugger of a hill, I found a determination seldom used and just kept moving. I didn’t say anything to Marlene and left her but she knew that I had to qualify. I was now using the road cat’s eyes to measure my run/walk strategy and I got to the top feeling strong with some vuma in my body. I looked up at the now breathtaking view of the dam and I motored the last two kilometres. I ran so fast in the last stretched that Debbie  (sister/coach) didn’t see me finish so she went from glum disappointment to sheer glee when she did eventually see me with my medal round my neck.

Now the relief of qualifying and the huge task of running almost double the distance in a few short weeks time. But at least my head is now in the game and I have done it successfully four times before , I think it is time for my fifth.

The unexpected

What a whirlwind of a few months. But I got through it and have come out the other side with brand new premises and a renewed passion for tapping.

Last year I had been looking at getting full time employment and then I realised that I can’t fit in to the regular style of job. So I started planning new projects involving the city, buildings and history (a newly discovered passion) At the same time I was going for treatment for my stiff back from my magic Bowen therapist. Fast forward to now and here I am, sharing business premises with him.

I knew things were out of my hands when he started describing his new premises and one of my favourite buildings in my area popped into my head. Turns out it is indeed the same  building I had my silent affinity with- complete with tall trees and curvy walls. With a blink of an eye and some hubby help moving my things, I am now ready to receive you and help you make positive shifts.

I now have  a great app that you can make your appointments on ( instead of waiting for me  to call you back after my sessions) and everything has been so smooth that I still have a slight feeling of disbelief. But I am tapping on that 😉

So come along and get a feel for the new office which is in RandparkRidge.

https://bookme.guru/eft-sa/

Running adventures

I am extremely fortunate. I have a sister who loves to explore and plan. I have my health. I live in a country with excellent running races. I live in beautiful sunny South Africa.

I used to work in a job that took me around the country but I don’t ever recall going northwards to Thabazimbi. This past weekend, sister had booked for a race in the Marakela National Park. I was a bit apprehensive because I am not  fond of trail running. She said it would be on the national road in the park. I agreed  to go with and I am so glad I did.

The landscape changed just after we drove through a familiar town of Bela-Bela. The bush got thicker and the mountains crept closer. We reached a dirt road and the deep red soil beckoned. We passed reserves and Debbie spotted all the wildlife lying on the ground while I spotted all the birds of prey perched on the poles. The greeness seened to vibrate with life as we turned into our farm. This area is ‘hunting land’ and I was a little squeamish until after a chat with the owner where it made sense.

Our chalet was up on a plateau on a hill with the most perfect view of the Kransberg in the distance. We had solar lights, and a ‘donkey ‘ to heat the geyser which meant that we had to light a fire. A gas fridge kept our supplies cool and lastly, the gas stove to warm up my prepared meal. ( Yes, I cooked the day before-it was full moon!) We approached the stove to make coffee when we realise we don’t have matches. Relieved, we open a cupboard and a box of ‘lion’ stared  at us. Unfortunately it only contained two matches. We looked nervously at each other and Debbie says ‘pressure is on sis’. I light the stovetop and Debbie turns the gas. Damn, it blows out. Nervously I try light the oven but to no avail. I turn to Debbie with the last mili second of flame hoping she is standing by with a toothpick or something but she can’t see me because her eyes are all squished up from laughing. The flame dies, I have to pick Debbie up from the floor from the rolling and laughing on it. I channeled my Dad she says.

By now we realise our options are a long drive back to town or cold food and no coffee. I propose we go to the still- unoccupied chalet next door. Their stove had a self- igniting flint so we don’t feel bad when we took their matchbox and their candle. We open the box to find one lonely match teasing us. This has to work. It does, candle, oven and stove sorted. Eventually the farmer brought our guest ‘neighbours’ up the hill and we arranged more matches from him. Morning coffee sorted.

That night we had the most perfect full moon rise in between two mountains which didn’t translate well onto camera. We sat in the glow of the moon surrounded by night sounds of the bush, and flapping of bats and breathed in the air of nature.

The run was magnificent. Well organised, gentle weather conditions, mean, steep hills ( although I only did the gentler half marathon). Debbie finished her run with a huge smile on her face secretly glad that I had changed my plans to not run the full marathon – she knows that I would have complained!

What a magical weekend. I could write more but this is already a long one. Much like the visit to the area – it needs a repeat visit.

Have trainers- will travel.