Future Perfect…

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Admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. After a prolonged period of down-time (see my post ‘The List‘ ) I’ve been spending the last few months doing some serious job-hunting and hopping across the channel to visit the Belgian. He’s fabulous. Has own hair and teeth. Tick. Cooks. Tick. Gardens. Tick. Gardens in my garden. And no, that is not a euphemism, he really did spend last Saturday digging up weeds in the coastal reaches…High IQ. Big tick. Romantic life is better than good.  Business life…erm, not so much. Faced with a looming tax bill and zero prospects of employment despite winning an award for my work, I’ve found myself in some sort of weird limbo. Being myself, and yet…not quite being myself. What gives?

The work I do means I should expect between 3-5 months between assignments, and under normal circumstances (i.e. sans tax bill) I’d be perfectly chilled.  Well, as chilled as a ‘control-freak Virgo’ ever gets, but you know what I mean.  If you aren’t worried about your finances, you can exist in a pink cloud. Curiously, I’ve found myself suffering all manner of insecurity around my professional capability of late. Which, if you really analyse it, is stupid. Completely dumb, especially as I’m a smart cookie. I’ve spent seven years building my business. I’m established. I have clients who rate my work and would recommend me in a heartbeat. What gives?

It’s got me thinking… If the consequences of today are determined by the actions of the past, how does one create a perfect future. Second guessing your decisions doesn’t work, believe me. And neither does second guessing yourself. Begone self-doubt!  Life is too short to peel a grape or knit a toilet roll cover, but it’s also too short to dwell on what might have been or what could be.  Nevertheless, we need to have some sort of vision for tomorrow, in order to make the most of today. And pipe dreams (mine is to sip cocktails in BoraBora) are an important part of helping us humans move beyond our perceived limitations to achieve great things.

I can, and I am!

The List…

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So, I’m officially on holiday for the summer. This was something I’d promised myself about 2.5 years ago when I was in serious need of some significant R&R. Something promised, but only just realised.  In my mind’s eye I envisaged sipping champagne on the beach, soaking up the sun on the coastal reaches and generally living la vida loca.

Ha, bloody ha…

In fact, the last 2.5 weeks have been a frenzy of builders (yes, they are still back doing snagging) , sorting out the boxes in the cellar (thank you universe for spiders, …not!) and doing heavy labour in the garden (mega slugs, you are not my friend and will die).  And of course, I haven’t mentioned the five page ‘to-do’ list that is the inevitable result of working away from home for months at a time.   In fact, it was while I was focusing on the ‘to-do’ that I found ‘The List’…

Now I should state that ‘The List’ is not a specification for a decent man. I found him already and yes, he does have his own hair and teeth, so if you want to know more, read my blog A is for attraction. Anyway, I digress…

Aforementioned ‘The List’ captures my ambitions, hopes and dreams. It’s called ‘47 things I’d like to do before I turn 50! ‘  It’s 47 for a reason. Why be conventional and pick 50!  I’m still adding to it, but what struck me is that instead of chasing the extraordinary, we put our dreams on hold to pursue the everyday.  Life is short, so make it good. Make a list. Follow through.

Personally, I’m determined to tick some of the following:

List Item#1: Learn to shoot clay pigeons.  Now, I admit this isn’t what you’d imagine as a first choice. It’s just a way for me to deal with unexpressed anger. Yep, try explaining that to the man who gives out gun licences!

ListItem#2: Travel on the Japanese Bullet Train. In my imagination, Japan is the land of BladeRunner. The explorer in me wants to go somewhere so culturally different that I might as well be on another planet. The sci-fi geek wants to do hi-tech in Tokyo!

ListItem#3:Fall madly in love, at least one more time.  Ticked that one!

ListItem#11: Trace my family genome. OK, I like weird science and I want to know if I’m related to the Vikings.

ListItem#15: Drink cocktails in BoraBora.  Well, that is definitely one for the big 5-Oh!

In the meanwhile…I’ll give the slugs some beer and sip champagne on the sundeck.

Home…

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If home is where your heart is, what happens if your heart has been stolen by someone in another country?  As some of my regular readers will know, I made my home in the coastal reaches several years ago.  In the small seaside town where I live, life has proceeded in fairly uninterrupted fashion.  That is, until The Girl in Row B met the man of her dreams halfway across the Channel.

I’m a firm believer in the power of the universe to grant wishes.  I’d asked for someone intelligent solvent, own hair and teeth, etc. I’m a Virgo (a.k.a. fussy), so as you can imagine, the product spec was quite lengthy...

In previously universal requests, I’d also mentioned I might like someone who didn’t live in the same place as me.  Now don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t wishing for someone on the other side of the planet, just someone who didn’t live in the same place as me. Not too near, not too far.

The lesson here is to be extremely careful what – or who – you wish for. Because I now find myself in the curious position of contemplating life on the continent, having just completed the renovations on my new house – which isn’t.  And this got me thinking…

A house is just bricks and mortar. It’s the memories you make with the people you love that create a home.  Wherever that might be.

The Girl in Row B…

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As a singleton, one of my fantasies always involved meeting Mr. Right on a plane. And no, this does not involve becoming a member of the mile-high club, so you can stop reading right away if that’s where you think this blog is going!  

Anyway… in this particular airborne dream, Mr. Unique would be sitting next to me – sharp suited and smelling of expensive aftershave.  I’d be channelling trans-atlantic chic. He’d be ruggedly handsome and interesting. I’d be interested. We’d talk and find we had so much in common…

Uh...well, I don’t know about you, but… the gods that rule the check in system seem to take particular delight in putting me next to smelly old men and sociopaths!  If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume this was some sort of cosmic prank.  On my last plane I sat next to a guy wearing socks, sandals and a comb-over!   And I haven’t even begun to tell you about the annoying parents who spent an entire long-haul flight back to SA, bickering with their three year old in between bickering with each other. There is a lot to recommend business class, and I’m not just talking real cutlery here!

Still, you do sometimes meet interesting people. Snoggable…? Erm…no.  Fascinating…most def!  On a flight back from the US, I met a guy who had invented robotic fish with hidden cameras, which were used for conservation purposes. In Finland, I met a super cute four-year old, who spent the entire flight introducing me to ‘Katten’ – her favourite cuddly toy…My Finnish is rubbish, but just as well I can speak ‘kid’.  I’ve also met a man who insured space ships for a living…sadly, there is no ‘alien abduction clause’…I checked!

For readers of this blog who think my rich imaginative life has been the balm that soothes the melancholy heart of a solo traveller?  Well, what I didn’t tell you was that the girl sitting in Row B also happened to be sitting next to the man of her dreams when she flew to Spain last weekend. We met mid-air, but not on a plane. He is…ruggedly handsome and interesting. He does not wear socks or sandals, and he smells good. Really good!  I am…of course, smitten. But that is the subject of another blog…

 

 

 

Windsong…

Windsong

Today is definitely a day for kite-surfers, judging by the gales buffeting the coastal reaches.  As I walked back from town, and – quite literally  – got blown around  in a circle by a rambunctious squall, I got to thinking…

I grew up in the Western Cape where the ‘Cape Doctor’ – a particularly fierce South Easter – would regularly be the bane of my life.  This wind blows for weeks at a time. It is relentless!   Believe me, when you have flyaway hair like mine, you really want to live somewhere wind-free!

But since there is no such thing as bad weather(only the wrong clothes and no hat) – I learnt to love the wind when I began messing around on boats.  A steady breeze is as good for the soul as it is for the sail.  I’ve been out on the water in light airs that stroke your cheek, and gale force winds that rip across your face like sandpaper.  Somehow pitting yourself against nature makes you feel more alive than fearful.  Besides, the wind always blows something good your way.

 

Loud like love…

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Since I work for myself, I am periodically required to do paperwork.  Yep, nothing so certain as death and taxes… 

I love my accountant, but I’m less keen on the rafts of invoices and receipts I need to submit each quarter. The only way I get through this is to pour a glass of wine – only one mind, clearly I can’t be doing with drunken submissions to the VAT man – and… to crank up the music. Placebo and Sugarcult usually do the trick.  There’s something about the nihilism of a good rock tune that makes my self-imposed bureaucracy more bearable. The louder, the better!

So today, as I find my feet tapping along with my fingers while I fill in yet another Excel spreadsheet… I’ve been thinking about the other things in life that are less certain than a P60.  Love, for instance…

It often arrives unannounced, unexpectedly and usually at the most inconvenient time. Boo yah!  If you aren’t factoring it into your life plan, it can be a bit terrifying. Sometimes it’s loud. Really, really loud. Accompanied by the bass beats of a hungry heart. Fireworks, even. Sometimes it sneaks up on you like a deadly assassin with a crossbow. You are bleeding terminally before you realise you’ve been eviscerated by cupid. Unlike death and taxes, if it’s real, it’s probably the one thing you can’t – and shouldn’t  – live without.  It’s also the one thing you can’t control, which for a control freak like me, is a bit like having those dreams where you are at school wearing pyjamas instead of a uniform…more on that in another blog! 

This post was inspired by the music of Placebo.

Sign your name across my heart…

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Here in the coastal reaches, modern pirates are alive and well judging by the proliferation of ink and wooden ear-plugs which seems to grace the limbs and lobes of 70 per cent of the population. Honestly, you’d think we were living with some sort of remote rainforest tribe. And I’m not talking feral youth here…body art is the new black it seems, as friends who are approaching landmark birthdays, or dealing with traumatic life events resort to the needle. Personally, it’s not my thing, but I’m endlessly fascinated by the images and the motivation of people who will willingly endure something excruciating to create something everlasting.

My friend David and I are probably the only people in town who don’t have some sort of tattoo, which makes us the minority. Still, with the help of my smartphone, I’ve managed to turn this to my advantage in the flirting stakes.  Anyone scrutinising my photos would be forgiven for thinking I’d turned into some sort of fetishist  – well, I am…but only for vintage champagne!  At last count I had about 20 pictures of naked male torsos & arms – each and every one a masterpiece of sorts. My secret to getting young men to strip down to their knitting and bare all…Oh, that’s easy.  I just say I’m doing a ‘photo-essay’ on signs. Which is partially true, but I’m photographing funny roadside signs, not funny boys. The best bit – apart from keeping me gainfully amused in our local pub – is that it works every time. So far, no one has said no…which makes me wonder if I’m actually living in a colony of exhibitionists, instead of pirates.  Now where did I put that camera…

The Field of Possibility…

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Coming home to the coastal reaches is almost always a driving epiphany. I work away for a living so time at home-base is treasured. After fighting recalcitrant traffic on the motorway, and making my way down winding country roads, I pass ‘The Field’.

To untrained eyes, it is simply a farmer’s field.  To me, it is so much more. This is the patch of land I affectionately call ‘The Field of Possibility’ – because it reminds me that even when things seem barren, there is always something more just waiting to burst into bloom.

In Winter it’s fallow, in Spring it’s buzzing with new life. The landowner rotates his crops, so over the last four years it’s been a wheat, cabbage and canola field. The world is full of change. Change brings possibilities…you just have to be able to see them.

Tadpole…

Tadpoles

Sometimes it takes a very big shake to wake you from a very deep sleep.  About five years ago, almost everything in my life went pear.  And I’m talking major disaster of the heart-ripping, long-sobs-in-the-car-while-you-contemplate-suicide type fruit here.  While my life was going into meltdown and I was taking a cosmic kicking, something really extraordinary happened. After all, the universe never takes away without giving something back…

My sister fell pregnant unexpectedly, and when the tadpole – a.k.a. my nephew  – was born, she asked me if I would be his godmother.  That probably doesn’t seem extraordinary to people who have kids, but to me it was huge.  The first moment I held him in my arms, I knew my life would never ever be the same again.  As Nancy Mitford so elegantly described it in The Pursuit of Love:

‘She was filled with a strange, wild, unfamiliar happiness, and knew that this was love’

At that point, I decided that I could either be a warning or an example. I chose the latter. I’m so glad I did. Four years on, and the tadpole has brought love and lightness to my life. He is a hilarious character and the nearest I will ever get to having my own children.  This blog is for him, and for godmothers everywhere.

Where there’s a spark…

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So, you’d either have to be a Tibetan Monk or severely media deprived if Tinder means nothing to you.  Smartphones have revolutionised my life, and Tinder – along with Shazam and RingGo is rapidly becoming one of my most fave apps. Ever!

Now, I’m one of those women who has assiduously avoided Internet dating. I’m busy and don’t have time for a 2nd full-time job!  I’d like to use my weekends doing things in the real world, and if I happen to meet Mr.Unique, then fab. But on a whim, I signed up for Tinder on a night when I was once again travelling for work. Yep. Time alone in a hotel room, and no alcohol can drive even a sane woman to desperate measures. So I thought…how bad could it really be?

Bad…Apart from providing a ready supply of laughs – yes chaps, some of those pics are truly cringeworthy – Tinder has had an unexpected side effect. It’s providing real insight into the male psyche and I am definitely having a T.M.I. moment!  Depending on where you are in the country, single men are either called Darren or Paul. Most men over 40 don’t have their own hair and teeth and have clearly lied about their age! And a large majority think that posting pictures of their car and house is going to make up for their shortcomings in the looks department. As if women are shallow enough to be impressed by that Lamborghini. Looks yes, fast cars…not so much. And I haven’t even got onto the freaks and weirdo’s yet. So, Mark. 44. Married. – somehow I don’t think it’s a penpal you’re after!

And surprisingly…Good. Tinder takes all the malarkey out of mating. You like, you don’t like. It’s a bit like an Internet pub. You fancy someone, they fancy you. Ba-da-bing! And after a long time of feeling like I’d become invisible, suddenly I’m making matches with all sorts of interesting people. It’s truly a boost to female self-esteem and quite liberating. Maybe Mr. Unique isn’t so far away after all!