Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Coming full circle

I have found the answer to the question.  The secret.  The meaning of life.  And no, I am not stoned or on any mind altering substances.  It is a little like the revelation I got 8 years ago when I was journaling and trying to figure out where I would send Daniel to high school.  A really simple answer.

But back to the big question, what is the meaning of life?  The meaning of life is to never stop searching.   To question what you know and why you know it.  To seek the truth and wisdom from many sources and people.  We construct our truth based on our perception and on our concept of self.   As organic beings we are continuously changing and growing and we cannot wear this same truth all our lives.  It will no longer fit or be too worn and tattered for new circumstances.  We evolve and change and grow and our truth grows along too.  And when it doesn’t, we stagnate and become hard and arrogant and judge others not stopping to have a peek at what they have learned or know to see if we can take a little piece of their wisdom and mix it with our own.

Nothing is cast in stone so staying flexible means we can absorb the unpredictable.  There is give so we don’t snap when faced with something we did not order, did not anticipate.   18 years ago on this day I landed up in Camps Bay United Church.  I found the love side of God that day, the Jesus bit without the religion and rules and guilt.  And then ironically the very freedom and love I found got smothered by rules and what others thought I should be doing or thinking.   For many, many years until that constant nagging about who I knew God to be, was greater than this intolerance of anything different and lack of acceptance of all people.   I took another few years to figure out I did not need a label to define my faith.

When we take the truths out the bible that resonate with us we are accused of cherry picking.  Why would I not choose the most beautiful sweetest shiny fruit?  Why would I not ask questions or wonder if a story is literal or a parable? In every book I read.   I can’t remember how many authors the bible has but I know not one of them was perfect.  They all had flaws and unique perceptions based on who they were, and what was going on at that time hundreds and thousands of years ago.  It was their interpretation of what they felt God was revealing to them.  They were imperfect men.  Much of it aligns with universal truth and much of it reveals the pure love of God.  Those bits I pick.  Universal truth and cultural relativity.  In other books I find different bits of wisdom and I mesh them all together to make my own book of all that sits well with my soul.   For those who believe every single word that’s ok too, that’s your truth you can live with which fits in with your life and soul.  Just don’t get so hung up on the rules you forget the love bit, the Jesus bit.


So the meaning of life is found in the question and the quest to answer it.  The journey is the destination.  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Hot and stormy

The weather, not what I am doing right now.  I am actually sitting on Gary's side of the bed.  If I face the bed, the LHS is mine.  The RHS is his.  This is anywhere we go and we have been fortunate to travel quite a bit sharing big white soft linen hotel beds around the world.  It was never a conversation or a discussion, we each had our side.  And last night I slept on his side.  I don't know if it has any meaning.  I think too much, you might have noticed.

I went to see my psyche on Tuesday.   Gary and I go once a month for marriage maintenance.  People give me 'that look' when I tell them we go which I find quite odd as going when the shit has hit the fan is too late.  But I digress, I told him I needed to go alone and even though he actually loves her and she loves him, (true story) he was delighted not to be shrunk by our shrink.  In chatting to her I realize that being self-aware and having a theoretical knowledge of one's emotions is quite different to allowing myself to feel them.   Analytical knowledge and feelings just don't line up regardless of how we make them fit.

I am going to write loads while I am here.  I have been craving writing for ages, catching all these thoughts in my head and turning them into words in the hope I make a pattern and I can figure it all out a little.  I love words.  I am a word porn addict.  We are a certain species us word porn people and we find beautifully written pieces or quotes on FB and irritate some by posting them and delight others.  Vomit.  Isn't that a good gross word.  Not beautiful but it SOUNDS like vomit.  Exquisite....you see.  It sounds exquisite.  And no, I am not stoned.  I have always had this irrational fear of going to jail.  Wearing an orange jumpsuit and eating awful food and having a lesbo girlfriend with a shaven head and numerous piercings.  So I am packing for my Zanzibar trip and measuring out my daily meds including my medical cannabis which helps my clenchy jaw and I suddenly remember its not legal everywhere.  Fortunately I checked as even though its 8 little low dose capsules, what if dogs sniffed my bags and they locked me up and I was on the cover of YOU magazine.  So no, not stoned, just waffeling on.  And I can you know because this is my holiday and the weather is so bad I have to hide in my room. 

They gave me a stunning room but I think it might be too loud later as it is opposite the jetty bar.  When they opened the door the storm was so fierce the lamp crashed off the side table and now I have a teeny prick in my foot so I think I stood on a little piece.  Prick, another good word.   So far in my zen time I have eaten, swam quite far in the pouring rain in the sea which I admit was a little scary fighting the current coming back, thought of what I need to think about, almost decided to think of my future job, and then decided to write some crap first before I do some real posts.  I need to write about my studies.  About my work.  About Grief.  Grief sounds like grief.  Like you breathe out the end of the word.  Ffffff. 

OK, I am signing off.  I know I have been a bad zenner so far but I it will take a few days before I can unwind.  Zenner is not a good word.  Shit, day 1 is almost over.  Making yourself relax is like making yourself like a boy when you don't.  Back in the day.   Ah, a cocktail!  That will work. Going to the bar in the storm.  Cheers.

Monday, August 14, 2017

In the absence of Ana

I have always wanted to foster or adopt and have always wanted 4 children.  I really envy mothers who have 4 plus kids.  This was not Gary's wish and marriage is a partnership so I was forced to let that 4th child go.  Being the person I am, I had run with this idea and imagined her entire life.  She was already born, she was a little black girl who was 2 years old at the time and I would be her mom. I was adamant about her gender, I was afraid of a teenage black boy.  Of what a male black child could become.   Yes I know it's totally f*cked up!

My daughter's name was Ana and 7 years ago I had to let the dream of her go.  She would be 9 now and in grade 3 or 4.  I was sad and cross and letting go of a child you never had in the first place is a very difficult process.  When you go through the process of adoption you have to get your heart and mind and soul ready.  My kids were all on board, my mom came with me to the adoption agency and was ready for another little grandchild. I had been praying for her and writing her letters as I did not want her to feel left out that her siblings had a preggie book before they were born and she did not have one.   She even had a bedroom that would be all hers

Gary would have allowed me this daughter but to force a man to adopt a child, a cross cultural adoption, it's just not right.  He just didn't want another child.  So I went against this enormous want, a want that felt so 'God' and I let her go and closed that book and moved on.  Time passed and I was super happy with my 3 kids and decided to study and threw myself into that.  Somewhere in the journey of my studies I got over my fear of black men.  I know its shameful, that fear.  That prejudice.  But it was there and now it is totally gone and my discernment and gut is still honed for danger but from anywhere and anybody who makes the hairs on my arms prickle.  I have always wondered why God placed such a strong, strong urge to adopt a child and then not grant the same desire to my husband?

Today I had to tell the boys at Bright Lights I would be leaving the end of the month.  My internship is up.  I get to work and the day kids and some girls are there too.  I have been involved there for two years, building trust, building relationship and waiting for the damaged ones to come to me, to open up.  I never force a hug or get into someone's space.  Some pulled me in from day one.  Others kept their distance.   I get out the car today and I am Bieber at a tween party.  Big smiles and big hugs from the hardiest of kids.  The little ones clamber up my long legs and squirm until they in my arms. The big ones give me a hug while maintaining their coolness at the same time.

I sat in the sun with them in their play park and we chatted about me going but doing monthly fun outings.  Putt putt and swimming and the beach and horse riding and sports.  This Saturday we are VIPs at a boxing match.  I hate boxing but for them, I will go.  When I drove home one had snuck in my car giving me a frikking heart attack.  I turfed him out the car and felt so very lucky that I had these 2 years with these boys.   Black and coloured naughty teenage boys.  The very kids who I feared who God then placed in my path and gave me His huge unconditional love for.  

I never got to adopt my Ana.  I never had the 4 kids I so badly wanted.  But I have so much more.  I have a whole home of boys who make me laugh and challenge me and stretch me and break my heart.  I am their Tannie Mel and they are my boytjies.  I am so very, very lucky.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rainbow flags, individualism and the cross

I went to church this morning, my 'old' church.  A few years ago that statement would be totally insignificant and simply routine.   I have always been a square peg in a round hole when it comes to church but I loved my church and I loved the people who went there.  As a church family we had been through so much losing people we loved on the journey.  Even when things were incredibly tough and my very close friends left, I stayed.   And today, was awesome.

I stayed in church through all my questioning and debating and continued to be passionate supporter of LGBTQ rights while simultaneously loving Jesus.  In fact it was because of my love for Christ my only response to any people group, HAD to be love otherwise what was the point of my faith??  My studies further changed my mind set and we learned about constructivism where people construct their own truth based on their perception of reality as well as the world as THEY know it.  We do not have one great universal truth, we have what is true for us and find like minded people who share that truth.  To tell anyone else what they believe in, their very faith and core, is actually a lie and they are deceived, is really disrespectful in my eyes and somewhat arrogant even if intentions are pure.  This is all my opinion of course.

A few years ago I sat in church praying and thinking and asking a million questions as always and I felt God say Just Love.  That's all you have to do.  Not decide who is right or wrong or worthy or going to heaven or not.  My only job I had to do as a follower of Christ, was loving people.  Although I try to avoid the excessive use of hashtags, I will often do a #justlove on my posts as this is what it is all about for me.  Ah the freedom that comes with that is amazing.  It is God's greatest commandment and for me, negates all others.   My filter is always the love of Christ.  The bible for me is a book that has some interesting truths and ideas but it is still a book written by men and even the most extreme Christian has to admit no man was perfect except for Christ.  So a book written in a foreign language over two thousand years ago by imperfect men cannot ever replace the truth of love for me and what I believe the spirit of God is telling me.   It has been used for hundreds of years to do terrible harm to many people and to justify hate which is the very opposite of Christ.  It is ironic and sad that people who claim to follow Christ will use the book over the love and kindness and common sense for their fellow human being.  Actually they really do follow Him and believe vehemently they are being obedient but for me, any intolerance or hate cannot co-exist with my faith.  

Apart from the gay issue, I have the death with dignity issue.  I am passionate about that too. Allowing someone to die in a humane way rather than have them suffer yet many churches will use a book to justify someone suffering an awful undignified death so they can be 'right' and 'obedient.' WTF?  How is it ok to let an animal go rather than watch them desperate for mercy but we won't allow people that final choice.  It is NOT ok.

Trump and the church?  Nope, don't get it.  If the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control then how on earth are you seeing this in that man?  Where is this Christian character millions and millions are proclaiming?  The damage this man has done to the church is massive.  He makes people want to vomit.  If he shows the character of Christ then we clearly have different religions.  

Science and creation?  I believe in both.  I do not believe the world is 6000 years old.  I do not believe in a literal wooden boat and a guy who built it and somehow captured 2 of every species which then bred on this boat while everyone else drowned.  No disrespect to those who do believe it and maybe one day when I get to heaven I will need to apologize to poor Noah but I don't think my belief or disbelief in bible stories is a major or particularly relevant in my life and walk with God.  I believe how I live my life, how I treat people and the earth and my body is important.  Gratitude, humility, kindness.  Not being an arsehole.  And when I am, saying sorry and then forgiving myself and trying my best not to be an arsehole again.

Two years ago I got really hurt by someone I trusted implicitly and I left the church.  Everything I thought I knew felt like a lie and I could not stay.  I kept my Jesus and continued my walk but I missed the fellowship.  I missed my friends, my church family.  I kept my bestie Mish and close friends but lost others.  I have stayed away for too long. They accepted my gay loving, opinionated, Halloween celebrating, left wing theology and let me be.  They long gave up trying to change my stubborn questioning mind.  Basically, I have pretty much made up my own unique religion to incorporate all my values and stay true to myself and who I know Jesus to be. I loved being at church this morning, I loved seeing old friends and I loved the message preached with humour and sincerity and humility.  I don't know if I will come every Sunday but I will definitely come again and that feeling of coming home is priceless.  I thought I had to choose, loving Jesus my way and living it 100% or staying in church. Turns out I can do both.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sofia Josephine Novitzkas turns 13!!

A new teenager in the house?  Say it isn’t so!  Happy 13th birthday my Sofes.  It feels like yesterday I gave birth to you and you just gazed around the room peaceful and calm.  You were the most delicious baby.  Mimi said I never gave anyone else a turn and I never put you down for at least a year.  I fell madly, deeply, utterly in love and was enchanted by your happy nature.   I remember having a revelation of God’s immense love for me based on the love I felt for you.   I felt breathless but it was probably because I wanted to inhale you, breath you right in.  Big big love!

You are such a fascinating blend of characteristics with all these complex layers I am privileged to know.   Watching you grow up and being your Mom is one the best parts of my life.  Your sense of humour and sharp wit.  That sassiness that sneaks in till I give you the stink eye and you give me your sheepish dimpled grin.  I love your individuality, your refusal to be pressured by what others think or do.  You are your own woman and you know your worth. 

You are about to embark on a whole new chapter at Rhenish with old friends and new friends.  Stoked for you that Ashleigh got in too!  And how cool to finally be at school with Dani?!   Enjoy the new adventure and new friends, stay kind and thoughtful and be careful of the bitch clique, it is easy to get into the whole exclusion game but always put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think how it would feel for you in the same situation.

Watching you dance is just magical.  Daddy and I look at you on that stage with your huge smile and agile fluid body and we wonder where the heck you got it from??  Listening to you recite poetry and sing solos at Eistedfodds?  Our kid?   Jiu Jitsu with Daddy when you kick his arse!  You have all these amazing gifts and talents God has blessed you with.  Continue to work hard at them but stay grateful and humble.  Next year you get to try soccer and water polo and all these new and exciting opportunities.  Make the most of your high school, it flies past.

We love you our spunky fabulous unique strong teenager.  Enjoy your special day of this big milestone becoming a teen.  My Sofielicious!

All my love,
Mom
xxx


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rebeka Scarlett Novitzkas turns 15

I used to be really good and write you a long birthday letter every year on my blog so you can read them all one day in the future.  I might have skipped the odd year!!  But lets not focus on those random missing years because today is what counts and it is finally your birthday, the WHOLE day!
This morning I gave you 3 times when I was particularly proud of you but then I kept on thinking of more and more.  It is never about grades or trophies or medals for me.  Those are just a bonus.  It is your strength of character, your integrity, your kindness.  It is your willingness to put yourself out there and try things even when you know you won't be that girl of the match or dancer in front.

Becks when you started dancing this year I was beyond proud of you.  You and I are awkward and inflexible and shy when it comes to dancing.  But that is where the commonalities stop because you, are brave.  You danced anyway.  You knew you would get hidden at the back and get a few sniggers but you danced anyway because you loved it.  That takes guts and I promise you while you were not the sassiest or best dancer, you were SO lovely on that stage.  And it wasn't just me who thought so in case you accuse me of bias!   Playing the lead in your school play?!  You used to be so shy so to watch you in that pink dress being on stage, Daddy and I just couldn't believe that was OUR girl.  So many times, so many occasions of being brave and just doing it.

I love how we say things in exactly the same way at the same time.  I love how I stay your mom but our friendship develops.  I know we joke about being besties but its true.  Hanging out with you is one of my favourite things to do.  Chatting and laughing and being happy and sad together.  Knowing each other and picking up a vibe instantly.  Our true selves laid bare because we know its the safest place to be.  I get you, you get me.

I am grateful for many things but one of the biggest is your awesome group of girlfriends.  I know last year was really hard for you and it was my daily prayer, you finding your tribe.  And now you have!  Fun girls who make you happy and share your values.  Don't worry about boys, that will come at the right time.   That is another prayer by the way.  I have him stored away for a decade but that guy who is funny, sporty and loves family and God and kids and animals and is ambitious and will adore you, he is out there and I am trusting he comes into your life at the right time.

Right now you enjoy your awesome school (SO jelly!) and your friends and soccer and life saving and being insanely lazy watching endless episodes of Greys.  And know if you decide you really do want to be a doctor, Daddy and I will help you gain your points to get into med school and support you 100%.  Dr Rebeka Novitzkas....I like it.  Whatever you decide to do I know you will do it with excellence and passion and integrity the way you live your life.

Have a very special birthday my beautiful girl.  I love you. I like you, I admire you, I respect you, I cheer for you and I support you in whatever you choose to do.  I am honoured to be your mom and watch you grow up.  I thank God for His favour and protection on your life and trust it will be part of your existence all the days of your long life.  Happy 15th Birthday Rebeka Scarlett.

Mom x

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Grateful, Mindful, Present

At the start of every year I like to plan, set goals and enter some races and I look for a word for that year.   I do not expect an easy year anymore.  When 2016 started I decided I would simply roll with the punches and take whatever life handed to me.

My word for the year was lightness.  I would try and stay light despite what happened around me.  I have the word up in my study in big bright letters.  My very special granola yogi friend also helped me with re starting a gratitude journal and living in the moment.   So along with light I would be grateful, I would be present, and I would be mindful.  I also had a little say...sometimes it all works out.  It really does you know, much more than it doesn't.

The first traumatic incidence that life threw at me was my dog almost dying.   I even blogged about it: The cellular side of grief and I so seldom write these days.  He was still a puppy at the time and thank God he made it, my naughty beautiful big rottie boy.
The second incidence to break my heart was my 67 year old dad being diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer.  For those who don't know cancer is staged from 1 to 4.  You want a 1A and you do not want 4.  Also, pancreatic cancer has no cure at this stage.  It can be managed and one's life prolonged but it is not like other cancers where one is cured.  Yet!
The news shook my family and we all reacted in different ways.   Because my Pops has this dodgy old patched up heart that has had numerous heart attacks and 2 triple bypasses, we thought when he dies it will be that old ticker that finally calls it quits.  But cancer?   No way.  My mom had cancer. We had our turn with a parent going through chemo but Mom was stage 1C due to early detection and she has been cancer free for 8 years now.

For the first few months the grief was intense and I had to actually google it because why would one feel this gutted when the person is still here?  It's call anticipatory grief by the way.   In the middle of it all I found the other side, the gifts it had brought.  An intense closeness of my family as we pulled together.  A gesture of affection between my parents.  A chance to say the things we don't express, the love we feel.  We live our lives like we are never going to die, like we have all the time in the world.  When someone gets cancer we have to face our demons and work through our shit and issues and we all did that and relationships were restored and healed and our family that has always been close, became even closer.

But back to my mantra...grateful, mindful, present.  With all that happened and working with the boys at Bright Lights I would be acutely aware of what was happening right now and be able to see the sweet spot in everything.  On the hardest days I would write down the simple little things I was grateful for.  Gorgeous sunny weather, rain, a delicious dinner, friends, family etc.  It has become a habit or ritual if you like and although I don't write down every day at the time I think how special something is and make a mental note to jot it down.  I live in that moment taking it all in.

I kept on thinking about the year and how it was the first since my mother's cancer in 2008 that I hadn't been crushed.  I was hurt at times but not crushed.  I didn't even want to voice it in case I jinxed it.  So I am in Beaverlac in the mountains for new years.  No cellphone reception, no electricity and no contact with the outside world.  With very little artificial light there the stars are beyond incredible.  Just before midnight I left the group we were with and Rebeka and I walked back to our camp and lay on the stretcher star gazing.  I saw a shooting star and made a wish.  I chose my word for the year as I could make a star wish : healing.  Midnight came and a new year begun and I kissed my daughter wishing her a very happy new year.  The next morning we had to do the massive packup and I asked Gary if he would excuse me for a while so I could go for a run in the mountains.   The sky was the bluest of blues and the mountains huge and rocky and timeless.  The heat was already sizzling and on the way back I took a side path and swam in my underwear in this deep dark rockpool.  I even found a R2 coin at the bottom which was lucky of course.  As I lay on my back in that pool I felt so damn happy. I thought about how much I love my country, how I am not going anywhere.  I thought about my family and the incredible Christmas we had all had together.  I was so grateful, so mindful and so present.  I also thought fucking yay!!!   I had it, I had a whole year without a crushing shattering event that broke me.  I could say it now.  No chance of jinxing it!!  As soon as I got home I was going to write and plan my 2017, set my goals and resolutions and thoughts.

On the way home we finally had cellphone reception and my sister called.  After allowing me to yak a while she tells me she has some sad news.  "Dad?!!  Is it Dad?"  She tells me no Dad is fine and I feel relieved but steel myself for the news.  And she cries and she says it.  "Natey died on Friday night.  He drowned in the pool."  ??????   What?  No.  What?  No, No, No.  She tells me a little of the story and I go on FB and I just can't believe it.   He is 2, he is beautiful, he has incredible super involved amazing parents and his whole conception and birth is a miracle story.  We look at his pictures every single day.  We watch his video clips.  We have never met him but that's somehow irrelevant, we share his life and that of his family.  And now we share his death and I feel cold and shocked and shattered.   How could I not have known or sensed it?   Being up in the mountains gazing at a million stars feeling so so happy.  (His mom Jane writes about the day, about him, about her journey)

So I never ever did sit and write my plans or dreams or hopes for the year.  His death had me stop and the month has been hard.  But after this month and short time of just 36 days since I have heard I have been 100% grateful, mindful and present.   And my word of healing still stands.  Jane wrote about it being weird when Jewish people wish the relatives long life and I had a few Jewish friends write that on my FB posts too.  Its a long explanation but it means long full days.  One can have a long life but short meaningless days or a shorter life with long full lived out days.  So in honour of Natey who lived the longest and happiest of days delighting in everything, being grateful, being mindful and 100% present I try and live long days.  I especially take his daddy's words to heart about parenting and being available for my kids not so distracted or disconnected.  I think of his parents all the time, I think of him.  He has left a massive impact of so many people.  We are profoundly and permanently changed because of his life and his death.  Part of me wanted to get cynical and bitter saying 2016 was not the best year but I hadn't heard then so it actually was.  I also like to think of that shooting star on the 31st being a Natey star and that word of healing being from him.  Healing from shattered hearts and lives.

So this year I will complete my degree.  I will be happy and I will be sad and pissed off and gracious and appreciative.  I will not be cynical or bitter because that is ugly and while I can't control sad, I can control ugly and I won't hate or discriminate or add any negativity to a world that is really broken right now.  I will try and honour a little boy who was sunshine personified.  A twinkle boy up in the sky who lived long days.  I will try and live a beautiful life for a beautiful, beautiful boy.