Friday, March 16, 2012

Nature or Nurture?

I've often pondered the Nature vs Nurture debate - are we a product of our genes or our up-bringing?  Having raised two daughters my conclusion is that it's a bit of both, but overall I'd say that the bulk of who we become comes down to our genes. 

I mean seriously, if it were only a matter of up-bringing, how did a woman like me raise a girl like Rox?  Huh?  I wouldn't begin to know how to raise someone so laid-back, confident and bubbly!  And clearly she got most of Grant's easy-going genes, with a sprinkling of my feisty grand-mother and my loopy mother thrown into the mix too, but it's blindingly obvious that not a lot of my genetic material turned up in Rox at all!

Now Paula on the other hand..... I see a lot of myself in Paula and Grant would be the first to agree.  A couple of nights ago Paula and I had a really serious fight.  It was ugly.  Very ugly.  Shortly afterwards Grant was sitting, staring into the middle-distance, looking for all the world like a returned soldier, who had witnessed too much horror in some war-torn land.  I asked him what was wrong and with his gaze still fixed, as though on something horrendous, he said, "You two are so alike it's frightening" (I got the feeling that this was not meant as a compliment, giggle)

Apart from the arbitary stuff, like the fact that we have the exact same sense of humour, we love to read and like the same books, we are both bunny-huggers of note and hate racism and homophobia;  Paula has inherited much of my personality including the more prickly and let's be honest difficult, sides to it.  She has my stubborn streak (stubborn doesn't even come close to describing it though, what we have is an incredibly concentrated form of stubborness), she shares my determination, except she has bucket-loads more of it, she is even more argumentative than I am and she can be just as scathing (Paula and I know how to do scathing really well!) and we are both very decisive and single-minded.  Most of these character traits are not as negative as they may seem, provided they are channeled in the right direction (personally I think this girl would make a cracker of a lawyer!) 

Unfortunately Paula has also inherited the rogue negative streak that I have going and that's the thing that has us clashing a bit lately.  Negativity on it's own is controllable - negativity combined with fierce determination and donkey-like stubborness, now that's a whole different beast altogether!  I am determined to equip Paula with the means to kick negativity in the BUTT, because if I had to single out a single thing that has held me back from reaching my full potential it's that self-same negativity that I see reflected in Paulz.  So I have declared war on Paula's negativity, which is causing something of a war between Paula and me at the moment and poor Grant is the innocent victim caught in the cross-fire, so when you see him stumbling around looking rather shell-shocked, take pity on the poor dude okay!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My bucket list

A while back, a couple of years ago in fact, I made a list of 1001 things to do in 101 days, on this site.  I was so excited about the project that I created a blog for it.  Unfortunately, once my initial exuberance had worn off, I grew tired of it and slowly stopped working on my list.  Then one day in a fit of "the clean-ups", I deleted the blog.  Man I could kick myself!  I'd love to go back and see how many of the things I've managed to accomplish.   Of course what is even more frustrating is the fact that my list is still up on the site somewhere, but do you think I can remember my log-in details..... of course not!  I've tried every user name and password combination I can think of, but no luck!  How irritating!

One of the things on the list that I have managed to do was to see Van Gogh's Sunflowers in the National Gallery in London.  I've always had a bit of a thing for Van Gogh, I'm a sucker for a tortured personality and that he certainly was.    His Sunflowers are beautiful and I'm really glad I made the effort to go and see them.  It was definitely a "Bucket List" item that I can now scratch off.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise that most of my Bucket List is travel related.  I have the travel bug SO badly!  Here's a peek at what is still on my list:

*Hire a villa in Tuscany and spend at least a year there, immersing myself in the beauty, culture, language and food of the area.  Remember this post?  Well I still carry the dream in my heart!  I've read all of Frances Mayes books and would love to have a second home in Tuscany like she has.

*Visit Croatia.  I defy you to read the brilliant blogger Corey's blog posts which you can find here and here and not come away with a burning desire to visit Croatia!

*See the Northern lights

*Spend a holiday exploring the lavender fields of Provence:





*Write a book.  I know that's very cliched, but really, since I was a very little girl, I have wanted to write a book.

The lovely Jeanne of Cooksister fame is responsible for a further two travel-related items on my bucket list:

*Hire a villa in Corfu for a couple of weeks.  How could you not fall in love with Corfu when you have read this blog post?

*Go to the Oktoberfest in Munich.  Jeanne has written a couple of blog posts on the Oktoberfest, here's one of them: Oktoberfest, essential info.  The plan is that Ralph and Michelle will join Grant and I at the Oktoberfest in 2017 to celebrate Ralph, Grant and my 50th birthdays :-)

So what's on your bucket list?


Briefly...

  • I've had this silly sniffely bug hanging around for 2 full weeks and it has finally broken... I am coughing my lungs out and feel pretty rotten, but at least now I should start getting better
  • I am LOVING the cooler weather we're having, can't wait for Autumn to really set in.
  • I have so enjoyed cooking this week.  I HATE cooking in the heat and will avoid it at all costs.  This week we've eaten some good food, thanks to the cooler temps.
  • We have a full weekend planned:  Dinner out with the Boltons tonight, watching the Sharks game on TV with the Clarks tomorrow and my aunt for dinner on Sunday.  Looking forward to it! Provided I don't start feeling any more rotten....  please no!
  • I've been teaching Paula to drive this week and have to confess that teaching a perfectionist to drive is no easy feat!  She is doing really well, but is so incredibly hard on herself.  NOW I see what her teachers mean when they say she needs to lighten up.
  • Had a day for missing my little brother yesterday.  Funny how it will strike out of the blue for no apparent reason, I think I may have dreamt about him, the night before last, because I woke with him on my mind and there he remained all day.  I wonder where he would be now, if he was still alive?
  • We went and saw "Midnight in Paris" on Sunday.  I LOVED it.  I read Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" last year and it made the film so much more meaningful.  To see all my favourite places in Paris on the big screen was just lovely.  I really LOVE Paris.  Would love to live there for a while. Dreams....
  • I have this horrible job I have to do at work and I have been putting it off and putting it off and now I can put it off no longer, Monday I will tackle it and hopefully finish it on Tuesday.  Fortunately I don't have many jobs that create this degree of angst in me!
  • Some swine stole all Impi's money out of his savings account this week.  I am furious the poor kid works such long hours for a pathetic wage and then some idiot has the gall to take what little money he has...  Really, it's just not on!
  • In 2 week's time we are going to Sun City (for our last timeshare holiday there - sob, sob).  I can't wait!

Don't think it's over

I've been thinking about marriage - not about whether TO get married, seeing as I'm already living in matrimonial bliss... duh, but rather about how to BE married.  If you ask me, GETTING married is the easy part, BEING married, now that's a whole different kettle of fish and STAYING married, well that's where it gets complicated.

If you'd asked me ten years ago about my views on divorce I would probably have given you a very different answer to the one I'd give you now.  Having grown-up in and around a whole bunch of divorces I can tell you that, much as we would like to believe otherwise, kids DO suffer no matter how congenial the divorce (is there such a thing really?)  It sucks living in a home where a divorce is going on and it sucks even more living in the aftermath.  Truth.  BUT I think what sucks even more than that is living in a home where there is marital discord in the air, no matter how silently it's happening.  You might think you are pulling the wool over young Johnny's, or Gilly's eyes, but trust me, you're not.  So yes, if the marriage cannot be saved, I'd say, for the sake of your children, end it.  This bullsh*t about staying married for the sake of the children is just that: bullsh*t. 

Those have been my views since I was a kid, nothing new there.  What I have come to realise in more recent years though, and it's been a revelation to me, is that if both parties are willing to put some serious work into it, most marriages that end in divorce could be saved - unless there is abuse happening (sexual, emotional, physical, makes no difference, if abuse is happening I believe you should always get out of there and make it quick!)  My view is that way too many people get divorced way too quickly.  I speak from personal experience here, Grant and I have been on the very brink of getting divorced twice and look at us now, we're happy!  Genuinely happy.

Our poor marriage has had more poop flung at it than most I have to tell you.  Apart from the general friction you will encounter when you have two completely opposite people insisting on co-habitating, we have dealt with bereavement, financial crises, family drama on a scale normally reserved for soap operas, infertility, infidelity (bet you didn't see that one coming, frankly neither did we!) retrenchment, living on different continents (for more than two years!), moving house countless times, the dreaded "I love you, but I'm not in-love with you" conversation......and it goes on and on.....

So how have we seen our way through it all?  Sheer bullish determination.  I think the key factor is that when we have really been in a crisis, before taking that final step and ending it all, we have taken time to think about it and have, thankfully, decided that our marriage, our family, is something worth fighting for.  I am not going to pretend it's been easy.  Truthfully, this marriage has asked more from us than I ever would have thought we'd be willing to give. 

I think the worst day in our marriage, well for me anyway, was weirdly a particular Valentine's Day, Grant and I both had to make sacrifices that day that cost us deeply on a personal level, I mean really deeply.  Horrible!  I was literally brought, sobbing, to my knees.  It took us more than a year to claw our way back to anything remotely resembling what a marriage should be, but we did it and looking back I am so grateful we did.  How did we do it?  Speaking for myself, the only way I could do it was by pretending.  I based this approach on the theory that "if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, eventually it will BE a duck".  So I pretended I was happily married, acted like I was happily married, treated my husband as if I was happily married (well most times!) and, so help me, next thing I knew I WAS happily married.  Not an approach I would necessarily recommend, but it worked for me!

So having been through all of this, do I think our marriage will last "till death us do part"?  I so wish I could say "Yes, absolutely", but, honestly, I don't know.  I am enough of a realist to accept that the next blow might be the fatal one.   BUT, trust me on this, I will never watch my marriage fall apart without putting up one HELL of a fight!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mesothelioma Survivor Blog

Those of you who have me on facebook will know that one of my favourite bloggers, Susan (aka Whymommy) from Toddler Planet passed away recently after a long and courageous battle with Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  I blogged about it here, shortly after her diagnosis.  Susan was, and always will be, an inspiration to me. I was so very, very sad that she lost her battle; but having gotten to know Susan through her blog, I know that she would not have wanted her bloggy followers to be sad or down, she'd have wanted us to get out there, make people more aware and above all, be positive, just like she was, right to the end. 

What better way to be positive than to blog about a woman who has fought a deadly form of cancer and emerged victorious?!  Heather Von St James emailed me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would do a post on my blog about her fight against Mesothelioma. 


Heather Von St James

This is Heather's story in a nutshell:

I myself am a mother to a quirky little 6 year old, Lily. She is my only child, and my whole world. The very beginning of Lily’s life was a little more turbulent than I would have hoped for. When Lily was just 3 ½ months old, I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma; a type of cancer that kills 90-95% of those who have it.  As I’m sure you can imagine, the first thing that came to mind when I was diagnosed was my baby girl and how I wasn’t going to be able to watch her grow up.

After all that, I’m still here 6  years later and cancer free! I'd like to turn my pain into purpose and become someone that other parents can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like my own.

There is SO much more to Heather's story.  Do yourself a favour and read this post!  What an incredibly inspiring woman!

To follow her journey from diagnosis, click on these links:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Heather Von St. James - Mesothelioma Survivor        Blog

If you know of anyone newly diagnosed, or someone who would benefit from reading Heather's story, please direct them to her blog (click on the button above).  The more of us who are educated about this disease, the better equipped we are to fight it!

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