The Emancipation of Pepper

Of course everyone knows that a parent’s job is to prepare their children to go out into the big bad world and fend for themselves. I have come to terms with the fact that I am not that parent ….. so a bad parent then? Probably

So now due to COVID, Pepper had been locked down by his Grumpy Mummy for the first five months of the plague’s appearance. Thereafter, and when said Mummy allowed him to, Pepper ventured out and interacted socially. However, it was never enough for the one they call Pepper (and always too much for the one they call Grumpy Mummy)! So what with studying remotely last year, and working remotely this year, Pepper had had literally had enough of myself, Salt and the four walls of our house.

Poor Pepper, someone who relies so heavily on social interaction, had been virtually house bound for one and a half years.

So finally, and granted, it took a lot longer than I thought, Pepper decided as he so eloquently mentioned, he was ”outta here”. Of course, I did not totally take him seriously, as, among other things, he was not on leave, and had never taken such a bold leap. However, one day I walked in from work, and there he was, on his laptop booking himself a getaway. He had decided he needed to be working in another environment for 10 days…..”away from everything” ….aka Grumpy Mummy and Salt.

Needless to say, I refrained from asking the gazillion questions that entered my turmoiled head within the first three seconds. Pepper really needed this for his sanity, and perhaps he would love his family again on his return.

Now something that you need to understand about my children Salt and Pepper, is that they have done very little traveling in their lifetime. They have done even less flying, and they have NEVER travelled on their own! ”Why”, you may ask? Well, when in my right mind would I have allowed my children to venture forth without another adult….child….emotional support dog (for their mother) in tow?? NO unaccompanied travelling was going to take place on my watch….until now that is.

So naturally, I immediately go into complete anxiety mode, feel sick to my stomach, have in the first five minutes imagined absolutely everything that could possibly (and impossibly) go wrong….. on the way to the airport….. at the airport…..on the plane at the airport on the other side….getting to his new improved work space…..but through gritted teeth I tell him that it will be good for him and I hope that he enjoys himself.

So for the next couple of days, I pretended not to give a rat’ a** about his decision. But, being human….well, being me….I obviously CANNOT refrain from mentioning that I had hoped that both him and his belongings would be safe. To be fair, you need to understand how many times my Pepper loses his belongings………IN THE HOUSE!! So surely I cannot be blamed for having this miniscule concern??

Of Course there was the obligatory rooooollllllling of the eyeballs all the way back into his brain cavity, and the obligatory ”Oh Mommmmmmmmm”, followed by the new and improved ”can you see why I gotta get outta here so bad?”

Once I had picked my shattered feelings off the floor, I told him that I would not be worrying about him, would not be phoning him on a daily basis, and just wanted him to check in here and there so I know he was safe.

”Thank you,” he snarkily replied.

It was at that stage that I wanted to send him an Invoice for his board, lodging, education and emotional damages (self imposed admittedly) that I had endured over the previous 24 years!!

Anyway….I managed to behave as best I could, and said not another thing!!

A few days before he was departing, he asked if it was okay that I needed to have him at the airport by 4h45.

”Am I dropping you?” I asked, just assuming that now he had become all adult and independent, the trip to the airport would be handled by adult him.

”Well can you?” he icily retorted, with a tone that suggested I was a shocking excuse of a mother.

”Ummmmm, I suppose”, I replied, not entirely ecstatic about the fact that I would have to get up at sparrow’s fart to drop the soon to be emancipated Pepper at the airport.

Now the operative word here is ”drop”. Yes, I was intending to be dropping him off at the Drop Off Zone, as I was not about to be parking, getting out of the car on a faaaareeeezing Sunday morning at 4h45, seeing him to the check in counter, and getting my parking ticket at 4h55 in the amount of R 850 000. No…you want to be emancipated…I hereby release you!!

Again, a gazillion scenarios played basketball in my head about his lack of knowledge of the infrastructure of our airport. So I meekly mentioned that once he enters the airport, there are information kiosks that are there if he needs to know where he should be going. Reason being that on the very few occasions I have needed to be at an airport to pick someone up or drop them off, I get totally bamboozled every time. One might argue it is because I do not frequent the airport regularly, but if I drop someone off, and need to collect a week later…….still get lost. Not to the airport mind you. I know exactly how to get there. It is only once I am there, that I get horribly confused and lost. So yes….transferring my own angst onto my child……alright……got it…….nope cannot for the life of me imagine why my spices are anxious condiments.

So for the next Few days, I did not sleep very well. Knowing that I would have to get Pepper up and at it on time, which is virtually impossible, as he gets up, but not so much ”at it”….. drive him to the airport at sparrow’s fart, hopefully not get lost………leave him on his own, and then start worrying about him getting lost, and literally every scenario that could take place thereafter.

In the meantime I had. Sheepishly recruited Salt to come with me. Salt… know…….the only one with any sense of direction. In fact he could never have been somewhere, and he would find it a whole lot better than myself or Pepper.

So the night before, Pepper confidently informs me that he is going to get up half an hour before we need to leave for the airport. Mad child!! Generally it takes him half an hour to decide to go and shower.

Salt is different….he gets in and out..…you know..…like a normal person. So strategies were beginning to take place in my head……virtual worksheets were being drawn up!! Most importantly, Pepper needed to shower FIRST, so that we could be assured he was ready on time!

The night before I had instructed him to have his bags packed and READY, boarding pass, Identity Document and wallet needed to be all in one place, and with his bags. Other than us searching high and low for the boarding pass (NOT left with everything else as instructed), he for the most part did the rest.

Anyhoo we actually got into the car timeously, Salt was in a relatively good mood due to the fact that he’s done us this MASSIVE favour, which would normally involve a reminder from him every 5 minutes for, well…..ever, and off we went.

Approaching the airport I was so grateful that we had Salt with us, as too much information coupled with anxiety causes my brain to become complete porridge. I literally would have driven through the airport and got back on the freeway, if Salt was not there to restore calm and common sense.

After parking at the International Departures (as this is the first parking one comes across, and I always park there, so that I know I have parked, and there would be no further opportunity for me to get lost or confused), we walked a day and a half to the Domestic Departures. Once there, Salt told Pepper to go ask someone at the Information Kiosk where we needed to go.

“I think I know where to go from here,” I said proudly.

”No mom, let Pepper go and ask, he needs to learn,” said Salt authoritatively.

So, to my surprise, off trotted Pepper to go ask at the Kiosk. Never mind that he left his suitcase and WORK laptop bag lying unattended. Luckily Salt and I realised this, and went to stand guard! On his merry and more informed return, he pointed at his baggage and laptop, and with the facial expression one would have when pointing to dog poop, said ”what do I do with that??”

Now I am still not sure if that was his way of saying that he had carried the bag for long enough, and it was now someone else’s turn, or he genuinely was inquiring about checking the bag in. Be that as it may….Pepper cannot but look like he is disgusted with any ”menial” task he is ever required to do.

On my way home, while reflecting about the unnecessary anxiety I had placed on myself the previous few days, and contemplating the unnecessary anxiety I would surely be placing on myself for the following ten days, I was wondering how this child can be so confused when he becomes anxious or does something he is unfamiliar with. While reflecting, I missed the turn for home, and had to make a detour to get back on track.

Anyway, back to the question as to why Pepper is like that…… is a total mystery I tell you….a total bloody mystery.

Economic Disparity and Contentment

There is economic disparity everywhere in the world, but in some places more than others. South Africa is most certainly one of the places with a bigger gap between those that have and those that don’t have.

Of course the larger the separation, the larger the lack of respect for those that have less. We all know how those with more look down upon those with less. Some might display outward empathy, compassion or tolerance, but truth be told, those with more do believe that they are superior to those with less. Those with less are treated with less respect and less dignity, even disdain. I personally have heard people discuss those with less, automatically assuming they are criminals, untrustworthy and unhygienic. Why? Because they have less? Because they live differently from you? 

However, at the risk of me sounding devoid of any empathy or compassion for the socio economic conditions that many are faced with, I got to wondering recently, are there those that just don’t desire more?

We often see on social media (and I myself am guilty of it), people posting memes about running away from the madness they call life, and living on a hilltop all off the grid, isolated and quiet like. Many of us have those thoughts regularly. Of course, whether we would actually be happy and content like that, we do not know. We have tasted the life of luxuries, excess and convenience. Perhaps this isolated off the grid type of life would not be as great as we imagine. But what of the people that have never had more? 

As mentioned in my previous blogs, I am very selfishly selective of whom I allow to destroy my soul with feelings of empathy and compassion. So, the 16 year old standing at the robot looking for free hand outs to buy the next tube of glue to sniff, while in all probability, his mother sits at home feeling distraught and totally helpless in being able to assist her child, does not qualify as someone who I allow to take residence in the destruction of my soul.

I am fully cognisant of the fact that he would probably have grown up without the privileges and opportunities that so many (including myself) had. I would not even pretend to understand what his life was like growing up. But there is a huge possibility that his mother and/or father worked their fingers to the bone, in order to try and create more opportunities for him. But he preferred to live a stress free life. Not a great life. Not a comfortable life. A STRESS FREE LIFE. 

Now the people who I do allow to take residence in the destruction of my soul, are the people who do want more, but who never had the opportunity to get more, who constantly try to improve their lives, despite the fact that they are faced with immense obstacles on a daily basis. These are the people who have the responsibilities, even if on a smaller scale compared to the middle and upper class. They have the home loans, the school fees, the utility accounts, the children and themselves to feed and clothe. These are the people, who to be honest, in their entire lifetime, will never have anything more than the bare minimum. They go out there every day, and do what needs to be done, just to live in the life that has become our norm. These are the people who never had the opportunities so many more had. These are the people who would have had more, had they been gifted with more opportunities. These are the people that I would love to save. These are the people who WANT to be saved. These are also the people that want the respect, that deserve the respect, but don’t receive the respect.

But then, I was wondering about another class of people. These are the people who might actually not want to be saved. Rather than seek employment, they live their lives on the streets. There are so many of them. It is like a whole community. They socialize, share their stories of the day, discuss the weather and so on.

What got me thinking about this was when I moved out of my White privileged environment one Sunday morning, to accompany my son Salt, who is coaching Little League soccer, to one of his matches. I am not going to delve into why (helicopter mom) I chose to accompany him (helicopter mom), as that is not relevant (helicopter mom) to this blog….HELICOPTER MOM!! Be that as it may, we drove through areas that we do not regularly get to see, especially at 7am on a freezing winter morning. We drove past many people, more particularly groups of people, who were huddled around fires they had lit for warmth. Some were eating, some were drinking…..pretty much having started their Sunday morning like everyone else….just on the streets. They had blankets wrapped around them, and seemed quite content with their lives. They had a lot less to worry about at the start of their day, than I had to worry about.

I was anxious to get back in time to attend to the one of three jobs that I hold down. Of course one has to work 3 jobs to pay for the nice house. Naturally, what comes with the nice house, is insurance to protect the house, security so no one takes your nice things out of the nice house, sky high utility bills, petrol costs to get to and back from the 3 jobs for the nice house, nice food for the fully stocked fridge in the nice house and everything else that goes with having a nice house!  

What I saw that Sunday morning, were people who had a huge sense of community, as opposed to us privileged lot, who honestly just stand on the shoulders of others to get where we need to get. Who are so stressed in maintaining a certain lifestyle that, not only do we not ”love thy neighbour”, we don’t even know thy neighbour! 

With people such as these, there is no such thing as eating alone. Whatever they have they share. Honestly, they have nothing, so there is nothing that the next person envies, nothing that the next person can take from them. Their only concern (which is a major concern, granted), is where they will get their next meal.

Now I might sound devoid of any compassion, but on that drive, I just saw a different picture! These people do very little to contribute to society, or the upliftment of a country’s poor socioeconomic conditions. However, I truly do suspect that given the opportunity to improve their situation, by working or being proactive in finding employment, having responsibilities and bills to pay….. they would decline. These are not the criminals. These are not the people coveting the possessions and lifestyles of the privileged. No, these are the people who are actually content with their lives.

So perhaps before judging and labelling all people that have no roof over their heads, think about the fact that maybe we have it all wrong. In all probability, many are judging us!! 

Only a Few People Care……The Rest are Just Curious.

Now the reason for writing this gloomy, bleak and cynical Blog (so unlike me), is to try save you some time in realising who people really are….a Public Service Announcement if you will. Yes, there are better and worse, nicer and nastier and many different types of people, but the common thread running through many people in your life, is that they don’t really want what’s best for you, and they don’t truly ‘have your back”. Sorry, but if it looks like a cat and meows like a cat…..well…..”here kitty kitty”.

So, on realising this, the key is to sift through all your people, and realise who actually does want what’s best for you. Either discard those that don’t, or if that is not possible, just be aware of who you are dealing with, and behave accordingly. Alternatively, you can be all kumbaya, and believe that everyone just wants the best for you…….said me so wishing I was all kumbaya!!

I must say I really did, for most of my naive little existence, truly believe that if someone was making a concerted or regular effort to inquire about my life, they were doing so because they had wanted to hear that my life was rainbows and sparkles. I kind of reasoned (understandably), if they didn’t care they wouldn’t ask….. period. 

I get that everyone has their own lives, and their own issues, and very rarely actually give a rat’s a** about what is happening in other peoples’ lives. That is fine. To be brutally honest, that is human. That is how I operate at least. I just need to know that my people are generally fine, and that nothing earth shattering has happened, or is going to happen to them. I do not need to know the finer details, and do not need to be kept in the loop about the normal day to day ups ‘n downs. If I am not told, I certainly will not ask, and I am certainly not going to be waiting in the wings to feed off bad news that has occurred to some or other person, or more disturbingly a friend of mine. That would just make me vermin, surely?

I also get that, if we are really honest with ourselves, we are all a little verminesque. When we hear that someone else’s life is less than perfect on some or other front, do we not all appreciate our lives and ourselves that much more? Obviously we can then pat ourselves on our backs, congratulate ourselves for getting this thing called life right, and move on with our imperfect lives.

But surely no one spends their days waiting to hear the bad news about other peoples’ lives…..or do they??? Well, the short answer is ”yes”, but that would not a Blog make. So here is the slightly lengthier answer…….

I have come to realise, and it becomes more apparent to me as life goes on, that there are very few people who genuinely have your back, want what’s best for you and are happy for you when your life is going swimmingly.

I have seen this so clearly in my situation, where being a single mother, people have waited in anticipation for over 15 years to see the fruits of my failure. Oh, in the beginning, I was awe struck by peoples” concern and interest. But after a while, I realised that for the most part, that ”interested” and ”concerned” behaviour, was in fact condescending, and that they were actually on their tip toes, with binoculars, looking ahead into my future to see where and when it was all going to fall apart. 

I would probably have had the same attitude if I had not been a single mother, as on my worst days I sometimes question if my pear-shaped moments would have ended differently, had I not been a single mother.

But I digress, the fact remains that there are hungry people lurking in the cracks ready to spring up as soon as they hear bad news. It’s almost as if they feed off it….. thrive off it……you know…..all vermin like!!

Realising this quite late in life, a lot of things that had happened in my past started falling into place. What initially opened my eyes to this a few years ago, was when a ”good” friend of mine…..always the first one on the phone if there had been mutterings that things might not be going splendidly…..became very scarce when things appeared to be running smoothly. Please do not interpret this as me feeling all lonely and rejected because someone has not been phoning me…..hell no….that is my definition of bliss. However, I ”tolerated” her private calls, as I believed that her concern was genuine, and that perhaps she had felt that I had needed her shoulder to cry on, or to have a sounding board. Oh bless…how special is she, I would always think, hoping the next call would not be too soon in the future.

Sure, you are probably thinking about what a prize b**** I am for believing otherwise. But know this, I have the genuine people in my life…….. those are the quiet people, the people who make a call or text me just to say ”hiya”, as they know or suspect that I am going through something, the people who do not need to know what, why or when…. they need no finer details (that they can rush off and discuss with others, or use to make themselves feel better about themselves). No, these are the people who just quietly let me know that they have my back. Me, I am those people too!

So things cooled down between myself and this ”friend” a while ago, initiated by me I admit, as it just takes one ”see” for me never to be able to ”unsee”. However, once ”seen” I do sometimes think maybe I had been wrong, but whatttaya know….the gut never lies.

I never heard from her privately for a few years. We were still in regular contact, as we are part of the same group of friends, but that was just surface and inauthentic (my pet hate). However, whenever the pear shaped police alerted her, I would get “the call”. To make it even more irritating, the tone was one of sympathy and concern. Thank all cute puppies and kittens, the pear shaped Police were mostly misinformed, but still….

Now the obvious question to me was what the f*** is this woman phoning me for when we haven’t had a private conversation for yonks? And then, unfortunately, the only fraction of naivety that was left in my bones quickly slipped away.

Then of course I became an absolute master at judging whether people were being sincere about expressing concern or interest, or whether they were not… And moved on with my little jaded existence.

Recently such behaviour happened in such a cluster, that it was almost comical. A friend of mine, who is not active on Facebook, decided to clean out her kitchen cupboards. She asked if I would mind trying to sell these items for her on Facebook. So there I went, listing a gazillion little pieces of cutlery and crockery in an attempt to assist her.

Within the hour, ”ping”……I received a What’s App message from a ”friend” who had relocated 3 years ago, and who I had only been in contact with twice since then…..and only because both times she had reason to believe that my sky might have been falling. Just a ”hi, this has happened in my life in the last three years….blah blah……and how about yours?” I was so pleased to hear from her, and told her about the non eventful previous three years in my life….and then….crickets. 
To be honest, I did not connect the dots at that stage, and had still doubted my scepticism about the two previous times she had contacted me.

Shortly thereafter…. ”ping”…….I received a private message on Facebook from another friend from the distant past. You know, one of those people that you even forgot you had as a friend on Facebook. There she was, private messaging me to ask me if everything was okay. She thought I was selling all my belongings because I was in some kind of trouble, or was leaving the country.

Only when I heard the third ”ping”, and it was ”my person” sending me a message in jest about my posts, that I put two and two together.

So to the vermin I say….worry less about what is going wrong in my life, and more about why you need to to know what is going wrong in my life!!

If I was prepared to risk making my children all bitter and twisted like me, I would probably tell them to trust no-one, rely on no-one and seek comfort from no-one. I would tell them, they are on their own in the world, and whatever comes after that is a bonus.

But becoming bitter and twisted like me doesn’t just happen overnight!! Nope….it is all a lengthy process which they will unfortunately have to learn for themselves. Cos ain’t no sprogs of mine going to be any kind of kumbaya in life!!

How To Lose Weight Without Even Trying.

Ha ha….clickbait much???

So, over the years I have gone through bouts of severe weight loss due to stress. On encountering….well….umm…….people, the conversation generally goes like this:-

‘’Oh my gosh you have lost so much weight, what did you do?”

To which I reply, ‘’nothing, it’s from stress.’’

To which they reply, ‘Oh….. I always put ON weight when I am stressed, no, really, what DID you do?”

The fact that these people think I have discovered some miracle method of losing weight, which I have decided to keep CLASSIFIED, under lock and key in a vault, until I am ready to impart my newfound discovery, is very annoying. Although the fact that they do not believe me is preferable to the other response, which is, ”what are you stressed about?”

Firstly, to these blithering bozos, I say everyone has stress. Secondly, everyone stresses about different things, and in different degrees. But at the end of the day, a Type A personality will find a gazillion things to stress about, including, why there is not currently anything to stress about!!

Just by way of an example, because I am so self aware and sensitive……. those are my “good” traits by the way…. I am constantly doing post-mortems on my social encounters, which drives me and the twelve demons living in my head absolutely looney!!

Generally in my head the post-mortem of any given conversation takes ten times longer than the actual conversation itself took. Maybe I should not have said that…..maybe I should have laughed when saying that….maybe I should NOT have laughed when saying that….hope nobody was offended (mmmmm…… right). Then when I have tried to stay silent to be safe……maybe I should have said something. That then is just the stressful situations I put myself under on a minute by minute basis on a daily basis.

Naturally with this ”stress free” environment we are currently living in, anyone who is not experiencing stress, needs to be bottled and distributed to all stressors….no FDA approval delays necessary. Just distribute, distribute….distribute!!!

I mean….with all this sanitizing going on, my OCD (CDO to be alphabetically correct) has OCD!!

So back to me for a change (she said…tongue in cheek), and the issue of my weight loss since COVID reared its ugly mug. Mind you, if I could talk to people using parentheses after each sentence, in order for my tone to be better understood by the victim I am conversing with, that might solve a lot of my problems. But I can’t, so there is that.

Again….back to me……Firstly, what people don’t see, is that by that time I have lost that type of weight, I am generally underweight. Somewhere along my bloodline line, (I think from my mom), myself and my one brother have very skeletal tops. Our shoulder blades, arms and rib cages can tend to look somewhat emaciated when we are too thin. But with me, I was also ”gifted” with a very solid pair of legs……especially calves!!

Just as a side note…..never one for letting an opportunity to mock his mom go to waste, my son Salt mentioned the other day, that maybe he should try squeeze me like a toothpaste tube… know…roll me up from feet, and perhaps get some of the meat from the bottom to the top, so that I would be evenly distributed. After being slightly offended, I actually thought about how wonderful that would actually be!!

So with my ”solid” lower half, and my oversized clothing covering my skeletal top half, I look like a fairly normal slim somebody. And yet…by that stage, I have generally lost any trace of minerals or vitamins in my unevenly proportioned body, hair, teeth and all my hopes and desires of ageing gracefully…..that ship has so sailed!!

So now that you have a vivid (and dare I say disturbing) description of my appearance post excessive weight loss, you might be wondering why I am choosing to over share as I have. Well, it got me thinking the other day, that actually, it is not stress, but fear and panic which actually leads to this type of weight loss. I stress ALL the time. If it was the stress that caused this type of weight loss, I would look like a carcass permanently.

Generally, when you find yourself in this predicament, the weight literally ”falls off”. It does that within the first few days rapidly, and then continues to do so at a steady pace thereafter. You are not eating less or differently. On the contrary….you are actually eating more, but your ‘’nervous energy’’ is making quick work of the digestion process, and Bob’s your uncle….you have been graced with a fast metabolism. Before you know it, you have dropped a few sizes. I cannot lie….your clothes fit better, you actually feel healthier and stronger.

But to those who now feel like hunting me down as I am sounding like one of those annoying creatures who “forgets to eat’’ or ‘’ just cannot put on weight’’ no matter how much they eat…know this…. this type of weight loss always comes to bite you in your bony butt!!

Eventually things start falling apart, and that is when you realise that your new found weight loss was as a result of something other than some inexplicable gratuity.

I remembered the times I had this happen to me in the past, and each and every time it was not stress, but anxiety, fear and panic. It was when I felt I had no control over something life changing. When the future was uncertain. Yes, of course all our futures are uncertain. But, I am quite capable of misleading myself into believing that I do indeed have control of my future. What’s more, I have mastered this skill like no other. But when something happens that makes me feel like I have no control over what is coming, I panic like no other.

That is when one always has to start putting oneself back together. It normally involves a gazillion vitamins and minerals, visits to the dentist, untold hours of Googling as to what can be done about hair loss……NOTHING…… and an attempted reconstruction of whatever else was lost in the process. Unfortunately, each time this happens, there is a certain amount of irreparable damage done to your body and psyche.

So how does one avoid this? Well…… can’t………unless one resorts to medication, which drains you of feeling anything emotionally….so this ‘’one’’ will not even consider going down that road.

Any personality Type B to Z, as well as those fortunate enough to have not been faced with a scary situation (if anyone like that even exists), might never even have experienced this feeling of fear and terror. But sista, if you be a Type A AND you have suffered some kind of shock……you are buggered.

You see, we do this to ourselves. I mean every living being suffers from some type of shock at least once in a lifetime. However they manage to deal with it differently. You don’t see every part of their Temple falling apart and crumbling into little anxiety ridden pieces, do you?? No…nope…those freaks of nature just deal with what life throws them by using all their sense and sensibilities that they were given. Hate those people!!!

So, next time someone asks me how I lost so much weight, I will just tell them I forget to eat!!

Selective Information Processing – Trying To Stay Sane Amongst The Lunacy!!!

Me Staying In Lala Land

Now, for anyone who knows me well enough, they know two of my many…..uumm…quirks are, firstly, I have OCD issues, and secondly, I tend to overcomplicate things at times. So, by way of an example, I am so organized, that my spreadsheets tend to have spreadsheets, which then just leads me to be more confused than if I had no spreadsheets at all!! And then what ultimately ensues is death by spreadsheets!!

This lunacy extends to any technology that I use. So my email messages are read…promptly, and either deleted, or get put into a relevant folder. My deleted folder is cleared on the daily!! Same principle with my text messages, recycle bins and so on.

Of course, this gives rise fairly often, to me suddenly needing to revert back to a previous email or text…..but wait….DELETED. You would think that if this happens often enough, old numb nut over here would not delete things so hastily. But nooooooo……cannot have things clogging up our folders can we???

So to get to the topic at hand, my WhatsApp messages on my phone. Now I ask you to try keep up, as just the thought of what I am about to write, gets me thinking that I am going to confuse the hell out of you. But I may be wrong. So, previously (until yesterday actually), you had your ‘’Message Folder’’, in which all your messages appeared. Then you (or more particularly I), could read, not read, delete (and then permanently delete), let well alone or archive the message. Obviously I am the person, of which it seems has become a rare breed, who ALWAYS opens my messages… I see them…..immediately. It is plain rude not to. It is probably ruder to open the message and not reply, but I so seldom do that anyway. I just do not reply when I realize that replying would be more savage to the person that would read my reply, than just not replying at all.

Taking it one step further, I clean up my technology on the daily. So anyone who would not fall under a daily chat, was archived. It was always an internal struggle not to just delete the periodic chats, but I just found it more user friendly (well, if I am the user), to keep them archived.

I am currently living in a part of the world going through a third wave of COVID, which is way scarier, more frightening and closer to home than either the first or the second wave. Everyone knows someone that knows someone who has either been, or is currently infected with this plague! Some are riding the storm, others are in hospital and there are those that have passed away.

So this of course is a total fodder for my panic disorder.

Apparently, the processing of information involves three stages: Firstly, collecting the information. Secondly, storing the information, and thirdly, retrieving the information. I have got better at identifying whether I want to store and/or retrieve information in the collection stage!! When I detect that it is going to negatively affect my emotional well being, I just stick to stage1.

Probably not the first time that I have mentioned that I have a friends message group. This group has been going for over fifteen years and comprises of ten members.

Now, this group used to be my happy place. It had its own message tone (heaven forbid I missed out on ANY message on this group), and on hearing the tone, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING), came to an abrupt halt. This so I could get a bit of happy energy to carry on with the rest of my day. I laughed out loud….often…. at the crazy messages. We behaved like a bunch of mad bats on the daily. Unfortunately, especially since the start of COVID, this group has become my anxious place. These girls absolutely feed off drama and morbid news. Because I let things affect me so deeply, I do not need (or even want) to know about some person’s auntie twice removed who is in hospital or has passed away. The people you hear about that are known to you, or close to you, is more than enough for my fragile emotions to handle. At the moment, ten members, third wave….you do the math.

Ironically enough, they are all fighting to share their morbid tales, yet they are also able to totally disconnect and carry on with a some lighthearted and feel good conversation in seconds. It is almost like listening to a newscast, where the presenters impart news of the world, and then move on to the feel good story of the day. Perhaps others can remain level-headed and unaffected by all the toxic and morbid chat being spewed out incessantly, but I am incapable of doing so.

So I have chosen to mute my friends group, a group that was previously my happy place. No longer!! MUTED!! And just for extra measure….ARCHIVED!!

Now, until yesterday, archiving the group did not solve the problem in its entirety, as if any message was posted on the group, it automatically reappeared in your normal folder. So, when you click on to read other messages, there it is…in all its glory…. and then you see 20 or 30 unread messages, which means that at least one person has definitely mentioned that they know someone who has COVID, or how terrible our government is, or what a mess our country is in, or how overloaded our hospitals are etc, etc, and every member then jumps in to partake in the barrage of scary, morbid and depressing messages…or with their own new bit of news, which in turn leads to another 20 or 30 messages, and before you know it, there can literally be 50+ unread messages. In the space of ten minutes.

The problem was, that somewhere in the tightest corner of my smallest brain cell, I would think maybe something important about one of my friends has been mentioned, and that there I was, oblivious to it. So what I did was then open the group, scan through the messages, just to make sure that the ten members and their nearest and dearest were fine, and then feel totally depressed and gutted and wanna kick myself sideways and upside down for doing so, swearing I would not make that same mistake again!!

So the solution for me, was to send one of my friends a private message just asking them to give me a heads up, if there was anything that I would need to know.

A while back, I had not been on my phone for a few hours, and when I went into my messages, there were unread messages from about 6 people. So, in opening and reading the messages, I ERRONEOUSLY opened this Grim Reaper Group (‘’GRG’’). I only realized I had done so after I had read a couple of messages, which naturally were messages that had me wanting to slit my wrists. At first I thought, another group to mute?? But then realized I was on the GRG, at which point, like a two year old child, I shut my eyes tight and got out of that group faster than you could say ‘’get out’’…. Mature innit??

However, from yesterday, the algorithms, Siri, cyber monsters….whoever is in charge of us guinea pigs….changed my messages so that archived chats REMAIN in Archives. Brilliant, exactly what I have been asking for (in my head), for months. But, you know how they say ‘’be careful what you wish for’’? Well…yes, now my problem is, because of all my archived chats, if someone who is archived sends a message, their chat STAYS IN ARCHIVES!! No tone, no fart, no nothing to give me notice that the message has come through. So I do not see the message UNLESS I CHECK MY ARCHIVES FOLDER!!

I immediately started sending all my archived chats (excluding the GRG chat) to my normal folder, and then realized that this would just not do! It PAINS me to open my chats and see 16 names staring at me in the face. So, there I was, sending all my previously archived chats back to archives.

This led me to thinking…..would it just not be easier to read the f*&îng GRG chats?? Well, probably easier, but way too depressing.

And you thought it was easy being me!!!

My Brother Max…May You Live Forever!

I prefer not to directly refer to specific or living people in my Blogs….well other than me, myself and I….OBVIOUSLY….oh, and then there are my children…Salt and Pepper….but they don’t count. I have done enough for them in their lives for the Bill of Rights not to apply under my roof!! I try keep the content vague, as I feel it is inappropriate to refer to people directly…..almost an invasion of privacy if you will. So, instead, I sometimes write something offensive about a person, or a group of people, but discreetly…. without being specific….. and if they identify themselves in my blogs……well…….

Now when it comes to my youngest of 3 older brothers, it does make it slightly easier, as the nutter does not go by his birth name. No…..nope, he has (for as long as I can remember), gone by the name ”Max”. Where that originated from, I know has a long and undoubtedly hilarious story attached to it. I also know that I have been told this story, but I am the safest person to tell your deepest darkest secrets to, as I just forget everything anyway. But with my brother Max, I should be excused, as there are tons of hilarious stories about his colourful past, and I could surely not be expected to remember them all!!

Now, because I know my brother so well, I know that he would be extremely touched by the fact that I am even calling him Max. I am the only person I know, who has flat out never called him Max….as that is not his name….and I don’t roll like that….for no good reason whatsoever!! And I also know, that his love for me is so unconditional, that despite my stubborn behaviour, he has totally excused this, or more importantly, accepted this.

This is but only one of many times that he has excused my unacceptable behaviour. You see Max and I are….well….chalk and cheese (already secured the copyright for Salt and Pepper….but same idea!!) Actually I do not like that analogy……let’s say you want a scoop of ice cream. If you got me, you would get a scoop of Vanilla. If you got Max, you would get Rocky Road, Rum and Raisin, Mint Crisp, Fudge Popsicle and the yet to be discovered Beetroot, Oregano and Curry, all rolled into one scoop and topped with sprinkles……and cumin!! But by the same token, there is a surprisingly miniscule amount of my flavour in Max’s scoop, and vice versa. So, what I am trying to say is, Max has always been tolerant of my traits that are poles apart from his. He has not only been tolerant, but patient, forgiving and accepting. Are you starting to see where Max and I could not be more different if we tried??

Now as different as Max and I are from one another, each one of us 4 siblings are different. But where Max and I bear many similarities, is in our belief systems. We both want to save the world. We both want peace and love for all. We both believe the socio economic systems in the world are unfair and unjust. We are both very passionate about equality and human rights. But the integral difference comes in where Max selflessly does everything he can do to make a difference to all of these situations. He always has. I, on the other hand, just destroy my soul thinking about these things, but selfishly do what , when and if I can.

Until a few years ago, this behaviour of Max’s used to upset and frustrate me. I felt he acted irresponsibly, was lazy and wanted to live in a world that just was not attainable. I was frustrated with him, impatient, probably condescending, but most of all intolerant of him. I just believed that as much as his intentions were good, they were irresponsible. I could not understand how he could always work just enough to get paid what he needed to survive, so that he had time to save the world. He was blessed with oodles of smarts, talents and creativity, and that made it even harder for me to accept.

He really did try to explain himself to his judgemental family many years ago, and what his plans were for his future. Of course, with a family full of Vanillas, we thought he was up a pole, and did not entertain his ”lunacy”. In retrospect I believe, that he was trying so hard to make us see what he saw, that he tried to structure his presentation (yes…there was a presentation once) to conform to our Vanilla mentality. But he is not Vanilla, and hence it really did come across as sheer lunacy. Had he just spoken his truth, we MIGHT have been more understanding….but probably not.

Please do not think for a moment that he is too good to be true. Far from it. We also bear similarities in our sarcastic, snarky and intolerant natures. He is very stubborn and has a temper, which surfaces here and there. We are both self deprecating, have moments where we fantasise about beating the sense into somebody…….or the crap out of them. But with all those “inherited from my dad” traits, Max is, LITERALLY, the funniest and most sharp- witted person I have ever encountered. We have over the years had endless get togethers where my body literally hurts from laughing.

I think that over the years, most people who had known him began to accept him for who he was….even if they did not appreciate him for who he was. I am ashamed to say, that it took me longer than most. I just spent all those years trying to save him….change him……make him ”normal”. In retrospect, why would I possibly have wanted to do that?? He did not want or need me to save him. I was just so fearful that he would one day wake up (too late) with regrets, and realise he should have done things differently in order to have lived an easier and happier existence.

It was only a few years back, that I realised he WAS happy. The fact that I did not think I would have been happy with the life he had made for himself, was none of my concern. He was happy….I was not….go figure. Not only was he happy, he was making others happy…….growled at others. Sure there have been (and still are) many who think he is batsh&%* crazy or annoying . But he doesn’t care. To those people he just becomes more batsh&%* crazy or annoying, and then sits back and enjoys their rage.

He has never asked for anything. If it is offered, he will take it, but invariably pay it forward anyway. He has spread sparkles and fairy dust wherever he has gone (sometimes literally), and still only wants one thing… save the world.

Unlike me, who wants to save the world, but realises I cannot, and am not sure if I have the time or resources to do it, questions the attainability and sacrifices of it all, he chooses to go ahead anyway! And although he might not be able to save the world (or any part of it), he has certainly touched the lives of so many in giving it his best shot!!

The reason I am choosing to write about this now, is because tomorrow is promised for no one. But with Max, it is promised a little less. He has been battling with emphysema for many years now, and unfortunately it is a degenerative disease which just continues to deteriorate.

In true Max style, he recently held a sibling conference call (code for family meeting post COVID), where he has assured us that he is okay, happy and loving life. He has no regrets, and is ready to leave us whenever it is his time. He continues to spread his love and light, even if more remotely, and continues to be a better person than most.

Over the years, as with most families, we have not seen each other as much as we could have. But he has always shown up when necessary (even if I did not think it was necessary at the time), would drop everything when it was necessary, and given me much love, laughter and light…..and of course his tolerance!

So to my brother Max….I say to you…. forgive me for all those wasted and intolerant years of mine, where I failed to see your light. Although, I really need not ask for your forgiveness, as I know you understood it at the time anyway.

Luv you bruv….may you live forever.

Out of the Mouth of an Anti Vaxxer Who Has Received Her First Vaccine.

So here I am, writing about the most talked about topic in the world currently….the *&^%# COVID vaccine. In February I posted a blog entitled “To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? This Is the Question!!” I was (and still am) very skeptical of the vaccine. When writing that blog in February, the possibility of having to make a decision seemed so far in the distant future…..and yet… we are.

I had no idea back then, that there would be such a huge dissension between the pros and the antis. I had no idea that there would be so many antis either.

At that stage, I really assumed that I was going to be one of the very few antis. Historically, my viewpoints are not those of the throng. I am sure many assume that I am just trying to be ”different” or ‘difficult’’. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Life would be so much easier if I did indeed just follow that throng! My question is….why am I different or difficult if I don’t follow the throng? I question things. I do not take things at face value. I do not see that as ”different”. I see that as NORMAL, in fact essential!!!

By the time the decision needed to be made, my mindset was still very much the same. I was literally more petrified of getting the vaccine than of getting COVID. Before you go to ”ha ha magnetic chip etc”, let me just say….no….don’t go there. Stop using those conspiracy theorists as a blanket to ridicule the anti vaxxers!! That rebuttal is just getting old and tired.

In any social interaction leading up to ”V Day”, I felt I had needed to justify my decision to all and sundry. People made me feel like I alone would be the reason that we would be stuck with COVID for an eternity. It came to a point where I debated lying to people and just telling them I was going to get the vaccine. But you know me……just speak my truth……… life would be so much easier if I could prevent myself from doing that too!!

There were mutterings in the corridors at work that they were going to make it compulsory. I was paranoid. So of course I spent the next few weeks obsessing on how I was going to argue my case to my employers.

In the meantime these groups of pros and antis were getting larger and larger and moving further apart.

The logical argument, to ALL the judgey pros, would have been first and foremost, to bring to their attention that the vaccine does not PREVENT you from getting COVID. To be honest, at that early stage, not everyone knew that. If the vaccine prevented you from getting COVID, I could still give these angry pros’ thought processes the benefit of the doubt. I would then understand why employers were considering making it compulsory, or why some thought it was acceptable to tell others what to do with their bodies and lives.

So there I was trying to explain to all the nudges and prodders that they needed to stop ridiculing and criticizing people that were anti, as these people are not objecting because they want to irritate anyone, be different, liberal or cause harm to others. They were objecting because they were terrified of the long term effects of the vaccine.

Furthermore, it should not affect them in anyway if some choose not to get vaccinated. The fact that the person next to you has not been vaccinated is no different to the person next to you who has been vaccinated. THEY COULD BOTH HAVE COVID!!! In fact are the imprudent vaccinated people (and there will be tons of those), that feel ‘’safe’’ because they have been vaccinated, and do not feel the need to socially distance, wear a mask or sanitize, NOT MORE OF A RISK TO YOU?????

Apparently you can still contract the virus but you will not die from it. So, if you have so much faith in this vaccine, why are you trying to bully people into having it? It will make absolutely no difference if Joe Shmo has been vaccinated or not. You are vaccinated…you are the chosen ones…you will be fine….will you not??

But unfortunately the anger and bitterness towards these antis just keeps growing and gets uglier.

So after realizing that this would not be the best approach to take with my employers, and assuming that their only possible reason for making it compulsory, was that they were trying to protect themselves from having their staff body on sick leave a lot, (which they still would have, even if the staff was all vaccinated), I decided to approach my employers and explain to them that if I needed to take any leave due to COVID it could be unpaid.

Now the talk amongst my friends was a resounding YES to getting the vaccine. Except for my person, who was going to sit with me in the back of the queue, until the last surviving human had received the vaccine, so that we could have time to assess the short and long term repercussions of the insufficiently tried and tested poison being injected into our temples.

Once our age group opened up, all my friends (including my person….traitor) were like lambs to a slaughter….so excited to go and get vaccinated…… could not get there fast enough. You would have thought they were off on their annual holiday. Photos being posted on social media, What’s App messages….they felt they had done their bit to eradicate this dreaded plague!!

I continued with my inner demons debating back and forth 24/7, and was being lectured and reprimanded by some, and gently nudged by others.

Anyway, after a close friend of mine’s sister passed away from COVID, who was a few years younger than me and had no pre-existing conditions, I suddenly thought that if this is going to be just killing people willy-nilly like this, then damned if you do and damned if you don’t. This on the same day coupled with my brother from Canada gently nudging me to have the vaccine, as well as a friend expressing shock and horror that I was not going to get the vaccine.

So my demons declared a truce, and I decided to go ahead with the vaccine. In some way it was a huge sense of relief that I was at peace with it.

Everything seemed to indicate that I had made the right decision, as the next day I went into work and asked the lady in HR what the procedure was in order to register. She said that everyone who was over the age of 50 had already been registered by the Company. Clearly then, they were intending on making it compulsory, and I was even more relieved that I had already made the decision myself.

I did not even have time to ponder as the next day I arrived at work, and one of my colleagues said we were booked for 9h30. So off we went, and there we were met by this no nonsense, sassy talking nurse, who was having none of my questions or concerns, and pretty much was exactly what I needed to get this job done. In fact I even thanked her afterwards about her brilliant she was, and how I needed that firm attitude

So of course I got this sore arm that I had heard so much about which didn’t bother me at all. That night I started feeling slightly nauseous, and then when I was having my bath, felt so nauseous that I struggled to get out of the bath, but did not connect this to the vaccine, as I had not heard that nausea was any kind of a symptom. But that was the last of the extreme nausea.

The only reason I connected the nausea to the vaccine at a later stage, was because one of my very pro friends was ridiculing me about my initial skepticism. She said, ‘’you see, you are fine. I was absolutely fine, my arm was barely sore, and I experienced none of the nausea that I was warned about by the nurse.’’ Ummmm…..okaaaaay…..but I decided that if it was just the sore arm and the one and only encounter with such extreme nausea I could deal with that. Of course this opened the floodgates for everyone to throw jabs (excuse the pun) at me by saying things like ”did your cell phone stick to you yet?” or ”so you had it, and you are still alive”, etc, etc.

Their complete lack of understanding of my fear made me realize that the pros were just not going to even TRY and understand the legitimate fear of the antis.

At some point after I was vaccinated I developed a rash, which only became apparent to me when I got into a bath and it was stinging….. a lot. At no point did I even think about a connection to the vaccine. But on Facebook one day someone asked if anyone knows anyone who had developed shingles after having the first or second vaccination. There were hundreds of comments from people that had, to the point that for my own sanity, I exited the link and tried to unsee it. Whether it was a mild dose of shingles or not, this rash appeared only after my vaccination…so you do the math.

So yes I have started to become a bit more concerned about the second vaccine. I have heard that people had felt quite ill after the second shot, even though they had not after the first, but again I just decided ……I had come this far….

So last week when I was taking my walk, I noticed that my knees were hurting me for the first few laps. I had never experienced this before and just started put it down to the start of arthritis or other age-related curse.

A few days later, one of my friends who had received her second vaccine a few weeks prior, (a complete pro vaxxer), mentioned that since she had her second vaccination, her knees were so painful, that she could just be sitting and experience the pain. She said that they were not like that before she had been vaccinated. Thankfully my pain was not as severe, but I immediately made the connection to my vaccination.

Now, of course my demons have returned!

Although I probably will have the second (and third…only heard about that after my first), and unless something shows me to the contrary, I will never be a pro, and will forever understand and respect the antis.

Let’s all try give them that, at the very least……let’s just all stay in our lanes!!!!


How to Apply Eye Wings for over 50’s!

When I started re-blogging, I still had the mindset of my earlier days…those days when I blogged, but it was not called blogging…….just writing! It was around 20 years ago…….I was a young mother with young children, and had decided that I was going to educate the world about how difficult and life changing having a baby was. I was going to burst every misinformed bubble that the media and other parents had blown. I, single handily, was going to bring down the cases of post natal depression……..aka ”I am a bad mother whose child hates me, and who doesn’t know what I am doing like all those other mothers loving life and navigating motherhood so seamlessly”!!

So, perhaps if I had realised, on starting to write again, that 20 years had passed, I might have gone more with the theme of getting older and telling the world honestly about how bloody awful THAT is!!

Reading that back it seems there is a common thread running through my writings……it’s awful….whatever it is. Oh how fortunate are all those souls who have had me touch their lives…….

Aaaaaaanyway, now, 20 years later, my version of being a mother to young children in this day and age is pretty much obsolete!! I mean, yes……it is surely still an unpleasant experience, this new, first time mother thing is, but there is so much more honesty out there. You are no longer regarded as a repulsive and shameful human being by society, if you are not loving every minute of motherhood! Young mothers are more prepared for the fact that it is not going to be only rainbows and unicorns when they become mothers! They hear of other mothers going through struggles, and pooping and farting (the mothers, not the babies) about their lives. This is good!! This is honest!!

To be honest, if I was to be blogging about the truth of raising children in this era, what with all the social media demons and technological advances, I would surely be sent directly to Blog Prison!! Eeeeek…..I shudder to think!! Tis true, there would be an endless stream of content for blogging…but nope…not worth it!!

So although I have raised children, who are now adults….kinda, sorta….okay, jury still deliberating….. I am not qualified to give any opinions or suggestions on how to bring up children in this day and age. Sisters….you are on your own. Go forth and conquer, and may the force be with you!!

So back to the actual topic at hand…..big digresser I am….

There I was this morning, applying my make-up (a new project of mine)….. in order to make myself look 20 years (or even 5 would be good) younger, and I suddenly realised my blogs really should not be about bringing up children anymore, as my children have been brought up…kinda, sorta….and whatever the end result is, is what it is…period!! I should rather be making myself useful, and be preparing people for their ”mature years”!!

So, back to makeup (for the mature woman). When I was younger, I was never one for makeup…..some eyeliner at the most. You know, when you are all young and fresh faced, and you walk past a mirror and think, oh come on just be daring, and splash an eensy weensy something on your face for good measure? I was also never one of those girls who was looking for a wolf whistle or any attention when walking past a whole group of boys. In fact, if anything that would have had me crawling into the nearest hole. Although at my age, a wolf whistle here and there would not completely ruin my day……..oh how times have changed!!

Mind you, my generation of girls were not really make up mad. Unfortunately the young girls of today, for the most part, pack on that make up so thick, that they all land up looking like clones of one another….with different hair colours. Pretty much like the girls in their 30’s and 40’s, who Botox, lift, tuck and all look like they have been cast from the same mold……with different hair colour.

However, when you are but a teen, this is when you least need make up. You look so gorgeous fresh-faced and natural. But no matter whether you are pro or anti excessive use of make up, one thing is for sure….. when that makeup GLIDES on youthful skin, oh my goodness it is smooth like butter!!

Now, applying make up after 50, having had no botox or nips and tucks, is a whole other scenario. Firstly, one has to apply it as if one was applying paint to a roughly plastered wall… know, second coat required, to get into the crevices and craters. Secondly, all those POTHOLES that you are attempting to cover up, are then HIGHLIGHTED by the makeup that you have applied. So, essentially, you look like……..….well…………a fifty something year old, who is trying to look younger, but actually looks like an old haggard and washed up she-pirate!!

Then we have the ”wings” technique with eye makeup. This is to create the illusion of bigger eyes…you know, something NO youthful eyes actually need, but ALL old and haggardy eyes do!! So, again, another cruel joke, this technique is so simple to apply on youthful eyes..…..glides I tell you….like butter!! It is applied, and there it shall remain….intact….until removed by the wearer. But over 50….ha….ha ha….cruel, cruel joke!! What essentially takes place with the ”more mature” (old haggard she-pirate), is a series of steps which have to be undertaken.


Due to the fact that her eyesight is declining, if she is a contact lens user, she cannot have them inserted. If she does, she then needs reading spectacles IN ADDITION TO the contact lenses, to see something that is a nose length away from her old haggard face. Obviously, she cannot be wearing the spectacles while applying make up to her eyes!! If she is not a prescription lens or spectacle user, she would definitely need the assistance of reading specs to see anything too close. Again, at this point, she cannot wear spectacles while applying make up to her eyes….again….obviously!!

So, the first step involves holding a hand mirror in the one hand, slowly drawing it into her face, and once the mirror lightly touches the nose, she will know the distance is correct. Thereafter, she has to use her ONE remaining hand to reach for whatever object she is using to apply the wings, generally liquid liner, sometimes an eyeliner pencil. Liquid liner is preferable, but as you can imagine, creates a whole new set of problems, what with having to remove the liner brush from the bottle ALL WITH ONE HAND!!


Once the remaining hand is holding the object required, she has to then use a finger from……well..…one of her both occupied hands..…to gently lift the drooping skin around the ageing eyes, in order to begin applying the wing where it should ordinarily be applied on droop free youthful eyes. This step is the final step where, believe it or not, a brief glance in the mirror actually produces fairly pleasing results. It is at this time, that the she-pirate thinks that there is indeed some fraction of hope that she can look young and gorgeous again.


During this step, the mirror needs to be placed down, freeing the one hand, so that there is an available hand to replace the lid or brush of the liner. It is at this time, that the remaining finger, which was so strategically placed to elongate the ageing eye, gets removed……and all hell breaks loose. The eye tumbles forth to its original position, and the wing then looks like a dotted line of zig zag horrors.

And don’t even get me started on 50-somethings and exercise………………

Accepting Compliments!

So you know when you are growing up, the tiniest words of encouragement or approval that may come your way could prove to be life altering. Naturally, the opposite applies as well, but unfortunately, as parents we only realise how fundamentally our words can impact our children when little swines are old enough to have the audacity to tell us!!

I remember only one teacher pointing out to me that I was a lot smarter than I thought. Possibly because I spent so much time trying to be invisible, that the others had no idea that I was even their student. I just assumed that, as he was Lebanese, and I was dating my future husband, who was also Lebanese, it was just his way of saying ‘’howzit cuzzie.’’ So that was of course totally lost on me, and did not make any impact whatsoever. Well, other than the fact that I was shocked that he even knew I was his student!!

I remember my father on a daily basis telling me how wonderful I was…. brilliant….. beautiful…awesome…..he once even heard my friend and I singing in the car, and mentioned I had such an amazing voice, perhaps I would grow up to be a famous singer. Now people….believe you me…no….…I don’t. So, that too was lost on me, as I just assumed that he overdid the compliments to compensate for all my short comings. I actually used to get annoyed by all his praise and adoration. For that I am so sorry, and this is one of my big regrets when it comes to my dad, as I know that he knew his praise and adoration was not appreciated by me.

So, essentially, anyone who did compliment me, was argued away in my mind, instead of me using it to boost my confidence and self-esteem.

Honestly, the first time I believed any kind of compliment, was when I was needing to get a letter of recommendation from my ex- headmaster, in order to be admitted to the bar as an Attorney. It was six years after I had matriculated, and after requesting the letter, I assumed, without a shred of doubt, that it was going to be some generic letter, and that the headmaster literally would have had no cooking clue who he was writing about.

But on reading the letter, I was so pleasantly surprised. Each and everything in that letter was so specific to me, and it was so uplifting, that I had wished that he had told me at the time. Although….probably would have explained that away too!

So now we come to my condiments, Salt and Pepper, or more specifically Pepper… yes….again!! He really does hold the gold medal in providing content for a Blog!!

I have had huge, gushy and proud moments when it comes to my children, where I want to shout out from the rooftops about how proud I am of them…how much they have achieved….how I could not have asked for better children. Sometimes I have done exactly that, and I sensed that they felt the same way as I did, when my dad used to shower me with compliments. So, over the last few years, I have totally backed off. However, during the Covid chapter, more time spent as a family and more poignant conversations taking place, I have realised that my children have not necessarily been able to read my mind (idiots), and were not totally aware of how proud of them I actually was. The fact that I am snarky, sarcastic and condescending as a rule, might have aided this doubt in their minds. But come now?? You guys have lived with me for long enough to know me…to understand me….to read my mind??????

Anyway, I have actually moved off the actual topic, which was going to be what this here Blog was going to be written about. So let me remind you…..Pepper. Yes, my Pepper was his mother at school. Dissolved into cracks so that no one would even know he existed, and EVENTUALLY towards the end of his school career, got up to mischief that sometimes got him called into the Head’s office. We will call said Head ”Mr Shame”, for the purposes of this Blog. Now, Mr Shame was feared by the students, and not totally loved by all the parents either…..the ones whose hunny bunnies were never the culprits. I on the other hand, was the parent whose hunny bunnies were ALWAYS the culprits, unless they could provide me with a solid alibi, 4 eye witnesses and photographic evidence, to prove to the contrary!! Having said that, honestly, Salt was never in trouble at school. He just never worked very hard…..…or at all. Pepper was getting up to mischief regularly from about Grade 11.

But Mr Shame understood each child, no matter how different they were. Perhaps because they lost their dad so young, he felt he needed to assume a nurturing role in their lives. They of course were not even aware of it the time. He was so quietly watching out for them, that neither was I initially. They of course were not fans of his, as he was ‘’Mr Shame’’…he was feared and revered.

I never got a call from Mr Shame regarding Salt until Pepper left school. Either Pepper kept him too busy, or he was just trying not to over burden me with complaints. But the Salt calls were calls of concern. He was very fond of my Salty, but felt that he wasn’t reaching his amazing potential…you don’t say???? So he would find tasks for him to shine in, and shine he did….until the task was over, then Mr Shame would find yet another one.

But Pepper………..those calls (always on my way to fetch them from school), went something like this….

“Ummmmm…..Mrs Mummy….it is Mr Shame here….it is about Pepper. Shame, nothing serious…nothing to worry about….but….shame, you know Pepper always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time….”, he would say in a fairly timid voice, which I suspect was not the voice that the students knew or feared!!

What endeared Pepper to Mr Shame though, was his accountability and most of all his integrity. He NEVER revealed the names of his accomplices, never denied responsibility, and took his punishment like a man. This, for Mr Shame, was admirable, and the things Pepper had done were always according to him, ‘’boys being boys’’. And they really were…no one ever got harmed in the process, and he created a whole lot of memories to discuss with his children and grandchildren!

But overall, Mr Shame knew exactly how to treat each of my spices, and managed to see them through some pre and post pubescent crap (a lot of which I am sure I did not even know about), and I feel he needs to take more than a little credit for both my spices’ self esteem and confidence being boosted.

After my children left school, Mr Shame has every so often sent me a message to ask how my boys are, and to tell me what a good job I did in raising them. Now, the new me embraces compliments….sometimes. But every time I receive a message, I am amazed at how he continues supporting from the side lines.

When Pepper started his Articles, he joined Linkedin. He then said that he had received an email from someone at the firm (who had also attended the same school as Pepper years prior), to say that Mr Shame had told her that Pepper would be an asset to the firm, and that he holds my Pepper in high esteem. She then said she wants to arrange a meeting with Pepper, just so that they could have an introductory chat.

“OMG Pepper….isn’t that amazing…..isn’t this man a gem???’’ I gushed

“Well I kind of feel huge pressure on me now mom,’’ Pepper irritatingly mentioned. Although I did detect a bit of pride under the snarky comment.

Anyway, cut to Pepper getting his results for his first of two Board exams he has to write to qualify as an auditor. Yes, he passed….….was dying to shout from the rooftops, but remained mum, as did not think my Pepper wanted me to behave in such an undignified manner. Next morning I woke up to the most special message from Mr Shame, congratulating Pepper on passing the Boards, and telling me how my boys have grown into amazing young men, who he is extremely proud of. Well…….with tears in my eyes, I immediately forwarded this beautiful message on to my spices. Crickets…..….that is what I got….….crickets!! I summonsed Pepper, and asked him if he read the message, which he had.

‘’How special is that Pepper? I love this man! He just continues to be amazing!!’’ I said, expecting at the very least, a grunt from Pepper.

Crickets….I got crickets….

‘’Pepper??? How amazing is this man?” I prodded for SOME type of reaction.

‘’I am just a bit confused….how does he know I passed?’’

Wow……Pepper….just wow!!!!

Although, again  I did detect a bit of pride under the snarky comment.

How To Comfort A Person Who Is Grieving

In case you thought this would be an informative blog, you know, one which would assist you should you find yourself being called upon to comfort a loved one……. nope……..sorry. There is no ‘’right’’ or ‘’wrong’’ thing to do, say or even be.

In one of my recent blogs, I mentioned how, after losing my husband, different people displayed such different behaviour. There were those who were very ‘’hands on’’, but many were just there for the ride. Sounds bizarre, I know, and when it was pointed out to me early on by a good friend, I was actually annoyed that she had implied that. But, to be honest, since then, I have seen how those very same people are the ones who rush off to find the next person going through the grieving process. For some, it makes them feel good about themselves, for others, it is so they can be seen to be doing the ‘’correct’’ thing, and for the rest, believe it or not, it is so that they can report back to everyone who might need to get the lowdown. Kind of ‘’hear it here first’’ vibe.

Then there were those who you had expected to be totally there, and from whom you craved comfort, but did not give you what you needed. In retrospect, perhaps it was just too painful or awkward for them.

Then there were those that would say something causing you to fantasize about handing out one swift slaps across the face, coupled with a facial expression of bewilderment as to the empty-headed, half-witted and mindless words they had just uttered.

Then there were those that did absolutely nothing, but were the most comforting. These are the people we all hope to be when supporting a person going through loss.

I hope that this is not coming across as me in any way being ungrateful for the love that was showered upon me during that time. No matter who does what, or how they do it, you just lap up any and every bit of love and comfort that you are blessed with. And once you look back, you are totally aware of the fact that they all meant well, and did the best they knew how.

So, having been the “griever” at one point, one would imagine that I would know exactly how to behave when I became a ”grievee”. One would assume that I would know exactly what words would be comforting, what words would be annoying or whether there should even be words!!

Why I had thought that is beyond me, as I have always believed that every person’s loss is different. In fact, every person’s different loss is different.

Since my husband passed away, I have also lost my mom and my dad. Each loss was totally different, and I had (and continue to have) totally different grieving processes. The grieving process never ends. It gets easier perhaps, it rears its head less over time, but once you have suffered a loss, it becomes part of your life.

So it would have been totally unrealistic for me to have assumed that, for me particularly (a person who does not even know when and what to say during the normal course of events), I would have had any idea how to comfort a ‘’griever’’.

However, if you feel you know the person well enough, one would imagine that you should have the upper hand, would you not? Would you not know what would help and what would infuriate (yes…some people say the most infuriating things) the person? It is always an awkward situation for the grievee, but some people are just really good at it, and know exactly what and when (and even if) to say something. They are naturals at it, and just slip into the role comfortably. They do no over thinking, they just do them. These people are probably in the minority though.

Even those that infuriate, mean well. One just becomes very selfish at certain points in the grieving process, and people can say the most inappropriate things, which on a normal day, might not have had you wanting to sucker punch them.

Just as an example, when someone innocently says “‘bye enjoy your weekend.”

Those simple and usually inoffensive words, have you thinking, enjoy my weekend??? What???? How do you expect me to ever enjoy my weekend again you blithering mongrel???????

I too have undoubtedly said some of those things too, in the last month or so.

The Blog I made reference to earlier, referred to a dear friend of mine who felt she needed to apologize for not being more supportive, after I had lost my husband. When I was explaining to her how there was no need for her to feel bad, as I had always felt that she was comforting me and continuously embracing me with warm hugs, I had no idea that she was about to suffer the loss of a loved one too.

When this happened, I was at a loss on how I was going to be able to comfort her. Firstly, she lives across the ocean, and secondly, she, like me, tends to internalize things a lot. So naturally, I stepped back, so as not to suffocate her. However, I then started to think about the fact that she felt guilty for having stepped back when I was grieving, so would that mean that she would expect and need more from me in her current situation? And then the over-thinking and feelings of guilt almost start to take over what is actually important. Just being there for your friend, even in your thoughts, as she was for me. Stop over thinking, stop feeling guilty, just send her love, light and strength….be it only in your thoughts and prayers, and she will be sure to receive it.

Shortly thereafter, a friend who I have reconnected with recently (thank you COVID), experienced a double and tragic loss of two direct family members (f*** you COVID). This friend also stood on the sidelines when I was grieving, but in her own way, was uber supportive. I think there are those that can be ”supportive”, to the extent that they catch you before you fall, and then there are those that can be ”comforting” once you fall. Then there are those that are both. Truly, either works, but some find it harder than others to be either.

This friend was the friend who stood by quietly waiting to catch me before I fell. Her and her special family (who did not know me at all before my loss), were so there for my children and I. She is very much like me too, as she just likes to be left alone to process things, before being bombarded with grievees. So, again, there I was, not knowing what to do, how to do it or when to do it. The over thinking and the guilt was even more intense, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, she is a neighbour who I see regularly, and secondly, the two people that she lost were so comforting to me years earlier.

It is just so difficult, as no matter whether you have suffered loss, or been fortunate enough not to have suffered a loss, one just never knows how to behave. Is it enough? Is it too much? Who knows?

At the end of the day, we do the best that we can, and whether there is a ”right” way or a ”wrong” way of helping a person through their grief, we will never really know. The extent to which we contributed to ease their grieving process, they themselves might only realise years later….if ever.

So of course, I made all the standard mistakes…. feeling helpless, useless and guilty …..being suffocating….being absent….saying the wrong things. But hopefully, for both my dear friends, somewhere in that equation, I have also been helpful and been useful….been there enough, but not too much and said some ‘’right’’ things.