Sunday, 12 August 2012

Olympic Fever

Olympic Fever has gripped the world. Or so Twitter and Facebook would have us believe. Everyone has suddenly become  an expert on all sporting activities - even the not-so-common ones, like kayaking and triple jump long jump. And suddenly everyone is on first name basis with our gold medalists ("Chad? I went to the same primary school as him 100 years ago! He was always destined to be an Olympic Gold Medalist"!!!) I might sound cynical, but I have to admit that I too have been glued to the screen watching the women's weight lifting finals, and offering my clearly expert opinion on each contestant (you would be lying if you said you never watched and pointed out how svelte those 200kg ladies looked when they tightened their kidney belts!)

No matter how much we train for the 100m sprint (read: jog three times a week), or the 100m butterfly (read: bobbing up and down in the heated indoor pool at the gym), there CAN only be one Caster, one Chad, one Cameron (yes, I am on first name basis ;)). Should the Olympic categories diversify, however, I strongly believe that we would have quite a few Gold Medalists right under our noses.

Olympic Status Updates. This includes, but is not restricted to BlackBerry Messenger Status, Face Book, Whats App, and Twitter. The competition for the Gold in this category would be fierce. (For the record, Ash, I am not talking about you ;)) I have friends who update their status's up to 15 times a day! And what's even more fun is when they link their updates to all platforms!! So every meal, mood, thought that they have is delivered to those on the receiving end no fewer than 3 times at once. Its hard to keep up! You have just processed the news that their french toast was slightly burnt this morning, when they hit you with the earth shattering news that they are stuck in a traffic jam (oddly enough, the same one they were stuck in, at the same time every other morning since they learned how to update and share!!). Before I get accused of "Pottle" (Gareth Cliff - Pot calling the Kettle Black) I admit to once being one of those frequent updaters. I have, however, lost my place on the podium, lagging far behind the leaders!

Having the Last Word Olympic Style. As a self-confessed control freak, I have trained long and hard for this Gold. My kids, however, seem to have inherited this trait from me, and have the persistence of a 'flu bug in winter (well, in my house anyway)! Every comment, request, order, directive, appeal, is met with serious negotiation. When agreement is finally reached, that parting shot delivered just as they turn the corner is as predictable as the fact that whatever I have just reached agreement with them on, will be forgotten in three seconds!! On this same point, however, I believe that I am a strong contender in The Olympic Nagging category. Its not something I enjoy doing, but am forced to do by those who will just not listen to me the first time! My sparing partners in this field include, but are not limited to, my two children, my husband, and my border collie Sasha. And they have afforded me lots of practice! Unfortunately, unless I suddenly find that elusive magic wand, I fear I will remain untouchable in this category.

The Support at School Events Category. Hands down, there would be a unanimous tie for gold in this category by most parents. And yes, I believe it should be something we as parents be rewarded for. Sitting through the whole school play (and often more than once), just to see your little one come on at the end and do her two minute number; freezing (literally) our asses off on the side of the sports field for hours (literally!), watching all those eventful relays, and sack races, and more relays, just to see your little one do his 25m sprint; manning the coloured hair spray booth at the school's Founders Day, in the wind, with every child (read: headstrong I-want-a-red-star-and-blue-and-green-striped-pattern-in-my-hair under 12 year old), being precious about what they want; forking out hundreds of rands (literally!) to support the candy floss, jumping castle, cheap-plastic-cr@p-stall at the same school event. And every year, back we go, to repeat the process, loving our kids so much that those two minute moments in the limelight make it all worth while. Without a doubt, we South African parents would hold the world record in this category!

And last but not least Olympic Procrastination. Without a doubt, categorically, unequivocally, absolutely - I would take that Gold in this event. Packing boxes to move - suddenly I have to reorganize my photo albums, bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, take the dog for a long walk, watch Good Luck Charlie (even though I have seen this particular episode a dozen times!), with my kids, write my blog.

We are so proud of all of our traditional Olympic Medalists. And as a nation we have all banded together to couch-support (read: coach and judge!), and cheer these sporting hero's on.  We own their victories as though we ourselves had physically earned them. But lets not short change ourselves. Back in the real world, in the Olympics of Life, we should own our own victories, no matter how trite, and pat ourselves on the back. I'm Just Saying...

Friday, 3 August 2012

Iceberg Moments

I have had a lot of time these past few days, while decluttering my "stuff", and starting the Great Pack in preparation for our move at the end of the month, to contemplate life. (For the record, I kept exponentially more than I threw away! I lost hours reading through every bit of paper, every card, every note, each school diary, and hundreds (actually probably more like thousands) of photographs, and memorabilia. I found birthday cards from when I was nine or ten from school friends, notes from the same and every other era, through to primary and later high school, University and from the start of my life with Warren, through to today.)

When I finally closed, sealed and labelled that box I was smiling. I had an epiphany - I have had, and DO have an amazing life. This might sound trite, how could I have only just realised this? But what it highlighted for me was that we, I, spend so much time focusing on the negative. The problems. The half-full moments. The uphills, the battles, the trials and tribulations. Stepping back for a minute and looking at my world from a whole, an almost clinical point of view, I realised that despite all the downs, the ups made for a pretty fantastic life. This was my Iceberg Moment. Focusing on the top, which in reality is minor, compared with the monumental bottom - which in reality is the greater part of the whole, and realising its Titanic importance.

From way back when, I have always had a solid foundation of the most special, most amazing, lifelong friends. I have, however, focused so much on the the fact that most of my oldest and dearest friends live so far away, spread all over the world, "Scatterlings of Africa", (in fact, with close friends living nearby, our busy lives make this sentiment true for them too), and pining for them, instead of embracing the fact that technology has made it possible to stay in touch, to stay a part of each others lives, making the real time visits so special. Our shared childhood, shared history, shared experiences, growing up and growing old together, will always keep our friendships strong.  And that is the greater part of the iceberg!

I never traveled on my own before getting married. This niggles me sometimes, that tiny tip of ice poking up. What would it have been like? Could I even do it? But beneath this tiny tip, lies an infinite icy rock. I met, fell in love with, and married my first love, my soul mate. And together we have weathered more ups and downs than I can remember. We fight, we bicker, we disagree, the urge to walk away has been felt on both sides many times, but at the end of the day, we find ourselves back where we belong. Together. And stronger. We have the most awesome life. And have done it together, starting off with nothing but University Degrees and a huge enthusiasm (and naivety) for life! And together we have grown, and built a life with two beautiful children, ticking off our dreams one by one. Reading through first Valentine cards, first Christmas cards, birthday cards, (there have been 17 in total!), and looking at the picture that is US, I am happy. Deeply fulfilled and happy.

My body has been through hell, health wise. And to be honest, the top of that iceberg does seem top heavy in comparison with down below. I battled to fall pregnant, and it took IVF and GIFT for this to be possible. It was beyond hard. Heart wrenching, physically and emotionally traumatic. But we did it. And at the end - twins. My beautiful Kirsten and Dylan. Years later I had to have a hysterectomy due to other medial issues. Again, the top seemed to over shadow anything else that may be lurking down below. Stepping back and critically looking at these events in my life, however,  I know this is not the case. Below the massive top which before seemed so overpowering, is an even bigger, more impressively influential, bottom. Every crisis brings my family, Warren and I, my amazing friends, closer together. And every crisis highlights two major blessings - my children.

When I moan about packing up my house, or about the 6th school run I have done in one day, or about the unrealistic expectations of some of my clients, or about Warren working late again, I will stop and remember my Icebergs. What is below the surface is way more important than the annoying chunks of ice on top. I'm sure Jack and Rose (or rather Kate and Leonardo!) would agree. I'm Just Saying...