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Stuff kids get up to when left to their own devices #3

So…. yesterday, Jonty-from-Next-Door came in and announced that Easter was in 2 sleeps.

Our kids equate Easter with chocolate, eggs and bunnies… and they’ve suspected that Easter was on the way (because whenever we go to buy groceries, there are chocolate and egg displays everywhere!).  As soon as Jonty confirmed that Easter was in 2 sleeps…. and that yes, there would be an egg hunt…  Joah immediately squealed:  “Let’s make Easter Baskets!  For our eggs!”

(I was simply the silent observer as all of this unfolded).

Morgan and Joah immediately headed for the Art Supply cupboard.  Out came the paper, the scissors, the sticky tape, the coloured pencils and kokis…. and they immediately got to work creating paper baskets and bags.  Jonty joined in too.  Shortly afterwards… Anna arrived – and I had 4 kids in my lounge – eagerly creating Easter crafts.

Somewhere, during all of this, they also decided to make “Easter Hats” with bunny ears as well.  And after that, they decided to make their own eggs to put in their bags (the eggs were colourful circles cut out of paper).  Then… they decided to have their own pre-Easter egg hunt… and they hid the eggs around the house and each took turns finding the eggs – and placing them in their homemade bags and baskets.

Today… the Easter-enthusiasm hasn’t waned.  Anna isn’t here today – but Tyler is… and Joah (who has worn his homemade Easter-Ears since yesterday) decided that it was only fair that Tyler get an Easter Hat too.

Suffice to say….  I just LOVE the natural curiosity and creativity of kids!  If you give them freedom to just do things their way (without any control or interferrence) it’s remarkable what they come up with.

Here’s pics:

Joah… doing a hat fitting on Tyler...

Joah… doing a hat fitting on Tyler…

… fitting his own hat...

… fitting his own hat…

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Egg basket with eggs...

Egg basket with eggs…

Afterwards, the 3 boys decided to read a book and play lego… and Morgan decided to go for a nap… and I decided to write this post.  :-)

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9 lessons we (adults) should learn from kids

There’s something about “growing up” that seems to suck the joy and the wonder out of life… and I don’t like it.  I don’t like the idea that in order to be adults, that we need to be dull, watered-down versions of our young selves.

So… I’ve been thinking about kids and their many qualities… and I came up with a few qualities that I think most of us have lost as we’ve grown older.  And… I sorta think we need to work at re-claiming them.

Here goes…

1.  HONESTY

Kids are honest.  They’ll tell you straight.  The younger the child – the more honest he’ll be.  The older we humans get, the less honest we become.

Most grown-up conversations involve large amounts of brain-power as we carefully sift through the honest thoughts inside our heads in order to ensure that they don’t actually come out of our mouths.  We’ve come to understand this as diplomacy… or being “diplomatic”.

Politicians make an art form out of diplomacy.  They tell such beautifully worded lies.  Come to think of it – most adults have the mastered the art of bullshittery.  Whether it’s the lies we tell to keep ourselves out of trouble… or the lies we tell in order to avoid falling out of favour with someone else… or even the lies we tell ourselves.

As per the Billy Joel song:  “Honesty is such a lonely word”…

Unless you’re a kid, of course.

Because kids are still wonderfully honest.  They’ll tell you straight.

“Mommy!  I made such a big poo, it made me cry!”, they’ll say… or… “Why’s that lady’s boobs so big?” (loudly asked in supermarket queue)… or “My penis was so angry this morning!”  or  “I’m upsetted.  You’ve made me upsetted.  Now I’m not going to speak to you”… or “You’re a fat mommy.  But I don’t mind that you’re a fat mommy.  People come in all shapes, hey?”

Ask an adult for an opinion on something  and you’ll get a carefully measured, politically correct, diplomatic response.

Ask a kid for their opinion – and you will know exactly where they stand.

2.  PLAY

play

Kids play.  It’s what kids *do*.  Somehow, as adults, we seem to have lost the ability to play.

Which – I think – is such a pity.

I remember this dawning on me a couple of years ago.  Morgan was wearing a pair of new, white shorts that her grandparents had given her and we were at a park in Johannesburg.  The park had steep, grassy embankments – and Morgan had found a piece of cardboard and had decided that she wanted to slide down the embankments on her bum.

She had a wonderful time, sliding on the cardboard… sliding off the cardboard and rolling down the hill on her own… and, of course, ending up precariously close to a small mud pool nearby.

As she slid (for about the second or third time) – I found myself calling out to her:  “Okay, enough now, Morgan!”

She stopped, turned and looked at me quizzically and asked:  “But why, Mommy?”

“Because you’re getting your new shorts very dirty!” I auto-barked…

“But, why can’t I get the shorts dirty?” she asked.

There was something about the way she asked the question that stumped me.  She wasn’t being precocious – she genuinely wanted to know what was wrong with getting the shorts dirty.

And, you know what – I couldn’t answer her question.

Dirty shorts?  Big deal!  That’s why we have a washing machine at home!  Is a bit of dirt and mud really the end of the world?

I immediately realised that I was responding automatically… and creating the same, meaningless, stupid rules – as an adult – that I had heard as a kid.  It was all so… robot like.   As though this is what adults do:  adults tell kids to shut up and not make a mess. As a kid, I had been told to shut up and not to make a mess… and now, as the grown-up, it was my turn to do the same.

Immediately, I thought:  “What am I doing??” – and then I said to Morgan:  “You are right.  There is nothing wrong with getting your shorts dirty.  They can always be washed.  Don’t worry… you can carry on sliding”.

And she did.

A few months ago, while we were staying with our Kelsey friends… we decided to push the trampoline right next to the swimming pool so that kids could bounce themselves directly in to the pool.  They were having so much fun… squealing, laughing… and eventually, it became too much for me.  I had to do it too!

And so I climbed on the trampoline (fully clothed)… bounced myself as high as I could, and dove into the pool.

And I thought to myself:  “Why don’t I do this more regularly?”

Usually – the parents watch from a polite distance while the kids play… but, I think we’re missing out.   I think we need to join in occasionally… whether it’s jump on the jumping castle… slide down the bubble-slide… climb some trees… fly some kites… or build some sandcastles.

I think we should play more.  :-)

3.  GET DIRTY!

dirt

And speaking of play… and getting dirty whilst playing…

I don’t know what it is about us (grown-ups) that we’ve become so ridiculously stupid about dirt and getting dirty.  Somewhere, we learned that it was very, very important to be clean.  Clean and scrubbed at all times.  Clothes should not get dirty… WE should not get dirty.

And I think that a lot of this anti-dirt mentality causes us to miss out on a lot of fun.

When it’s soooo important to *look* a certain way – we miss out on adventures!  Like women who don’t want to get their hair wet… or break a nail… or, god-forbid, to leave the house without make-up…

My cousin, Clare, is the one adult I know… who simply ignores these rules.

Clare owns a restaurant… and she lives in a wildlife reserve.   She scoops up ice-cream-and-snot-covered kids for big hugs… she rescues dogs… she feeds people lots of delicious food…. at the end of the day, you’ll always find her with smears of SOMETHING on her clothing.  Dog slobber… child vomit… pasta sauce… but – *gasp!* – guess what she does?  She goes for a shower and chucks the dirty clothes in the laundry.

I mean, really – is it that hard?

4.  DREAMS

Kids are dreamers and they aren’t afraid or embarrassed to dream BIG.  They have a positive outlook on life and are ready and willing to tackle whatever comes their way.

Morgan has already told me (in fine detail) about her plans for the big hotel she wants to own (and all the kid-friendly activities she’ll have on offer).

Joah has decided that he wants to make films with Nick.  And build a spaceship.

Kids aren’t afraid of big dreams.  They’ll talk about being astronauts or space travellers… or how they’ll feed all the hungry children… or rescue all the abandoned animals.  They talk about how they’re going to FIX the world…  how they’re going to make sure that everything changes… that everything gets better.

Then, of course, they grow up…. and become “realists”… and leave their big, beautiful dreams behind.  :-(

5.  LAUGHTER

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Nick and I have travelled to some pretty dismal areas in some poverty-stricken parts of the world.  We’ve been to places where the living conditions are so shocking that it’s difficult to comprehend how anyone manages to survive at all.  And still…  playing amongst the filth… the open sewers… the pigs… the shacks… are children.  And they’re laughing… teasing… joking… playing… with their friends.

Children have a way of finding the silver lining to every cloud.

I really think that we, as adults, have much to learn in that regard.  We seem to have become so cynical… so jaded… so negative.  And I think that’s such a pity.

When I was a kid, I used to laugh so hard that I’d pee in my pants.  I’d do this regularly – and especially when Cousin Clare was around.  There was so much about the world that was fun and funny.

I don’t laugh anywhere near as much any more… and I haven’t pee’d my pants for many years either.  Maybe it’s time to visit Clare again.

6.  CURIOSITY and an OPENNESS to LEARN NEW THINGS

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  • “Why are the Chinese people’s eyes so squinty?  Can they see properly?”
  • “Why is the sea salty?”
  • “How did the trees grow when the dinosaurs lived?”
  • “Why is poo brown?”

I love how kids aren’t scared of asking questions.  They’re not embarrassed – they have a natural desire to learn and understand.  And they’re open.  They don’t have to be *right* about something.  They’re open to learn… to understand… to change their minds.

Many adults, however, feel as though they have life figured out.  They have the *answers*… they know *the truth*.  I know many grown-ups who hold very stubborn, closed-minded views on everything.

You don’t find that kind of closed-minded stubbornness amongst children… and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about the company of kids.

7.  TAKING RISKS

risk

As I write this blog, Joah is climbing on top of some monkey bars.  The monkey bars are designed for children to swing underneath them… but no, Joah wants to crawl on the top.  He wants to see if he can make it from one end of the track to the other… without any help.

The monkey bars are high off the ground, and if he falls – he could hurt himself.  But – it’s a risk he’s prepared to take.

Kids aren’t afraid yet.  They aren’t full of fears… and gloomy predictions… and what-if’s.

While I think that caution has it’s place – I can’t help but wonder how much we shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to living the kind of life we really WANT to live… because we’re scared of “The Risks”.

The greatest rewards… and the great endeavours… and the great journeys – all REQUIRE a level of risk.

Kids understand this.

Adults?…. not so much.

8.  NOT CARING about what OTHER PEOPLE say about them… or what OTHER PEOPLE think about them…

experimenting

Sadly… this is mostly true for young children.  As soon as kids start attending school and start being exposed to bullying and cliques and the *cool crowd* and the *in* crowd… they start to the learn the Art of Judgement – and the social implications for not “fitting in”.

Slowly, it becomes important to fit in and to be like everyone else.  Slowly, it becomes important to look a certain way… dress a certain way… wear your hair in a certain style…and… slowly but surely, those who are different… those who don’t fit in… those who look different… find themselves ousted from the in-crowd.

BUT… on the bright side, I love how free children are (before they start attending school).  I love how they are completely uninhibited by their bodies… they’ll run around completely starkers (given half the chance)… they don’t care about what anyone thinks about them.

They’ll dance made-up dances… and dress up in crazy outfits… and blow snot bubbles out their nose… and offer their loud opinions… and sing enthusiastically… and just *BE* themselves… without it ever occurring to them that they should worry about what other people might say or think about them.

What a pity that so many of us have lost the art of just being ourselves… that we hide our uniqueness and our quirks and our oddities and our flaws… because we worry (for whatever reason) about what other people might say about us… or what other people might think about us.

If I think about it too much, it makes me rather sad. :-(

9.  THEY DON’T SEE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN US

acceptance

Kids… (and especially the younger ones) are remarkably accepting of others.  They don’t care what you look like… they’re not worried about your age / race / gender / religion / culture / background… whatever!  If you’re friendly to them – they’re friendly back.  They see people as equal.  Everyone is the same.  Nobody gets special treatment.

It’s only as they grow older, that they slowly learn how to judge others.  We (the adults) teach them who is “acceptable”… and who is not acceptable.  Our racism rubs off on them.  Our judgemental ways rub off on them.  We teach them to value others based on what they look like… or what they have… instead of just valuing for who they are (a person – just like everyone else).

A kid couldn’t care less if the Queen of England… or the world’s most famous… or wealthiest person was in the room.  They’d grin… or cry… or play regardless.  They don’t see the differences between us.  People are just… people in their eyes.

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So there you have it.  9 sounds like an awkward number though.  Can you think of any more lessons that we – as grown-ups – could learn from the kidlets?  :-)

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The things we’ve given up… the things we’ve gained…

This is a good season.  Long-term, indefinite, slow-travel is really suiting our design as a family.  But… as with everything in life… there are sacrifices that we’ve needed to make.  It’s not all *perfect* (if there is such a thing)… and there are some things that I really miss about being settled in one house – and in one city.

Here’s an idea of stuff we’ve given up… and stuff we’ve gained…

STUFF WE’VE GIVEN UP:

  • Well – for a start, we’ve given up stuff.  Most of the time, this suits me just fine.  I like having less things to clean and organise.  I like having a small amount of belongings.  But, sometimes I get a bit tired of wearing the same clothes… and sometimes, I miss having a studio space – with my library of books and a cupboard full of art supplies.  And sometimes, I really wish I had more kitchen plastics… (and more dish cloths!)… and – right now – more spare blankets!
  • One of the things I miss most (if not *the* most) is the company of our closest family and friends.  I miss coffees with my sister and my mom.  I miss Saturday braais with our friends.  I miss Kelsey-conversations.  I miss the folk at Imagine.  I miss the familiar people… the people who *get* me… the people who know me and who love me, just the way I am.  The great irony is – of course – that we’re always missing somebody.  Our friends and family are scattered around the world… so there’s always someone who is missed… but, back in Joburg, there are less people to miss all at once.
  • I miss music.  Omigosh – I am pining for my keyboard.  Right now, it is being looked after by our very dear friends… but I have desperately been wanting to compose and to play.  Problem is – it’s not a small musical instrument.  It’s big, it’s heavy… and it’s certainly NOT conducive to travel.
  • I miss Me-Time.  For this season (and especially during this odd season of Nick commuting and working really hard)…  I have had little to no Me-Time.  I’m with the kids 24/7.  On the one hand, I chose this.  And I absolutely adore my kids – and their company, and I have never regretted our decision to live like this.  But I miss having the means to leave them with grandparents… or our trusted sitter, Adelaide…  or our friends, the Kelseys… while I get a day of uninterrupted Me-Time.  Here in Cape Town, I don’t have the same family back-up as I do in Jozi.  Here in Cape Town (and especially when Nick is not here) – Morgan and Joah have to come with me everywhere I go.  In Jozi, I had a day-a-week that was completely dedicated to spending time on my own (usually at one of my favourite coffee shops).  I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed the luxury of a full Me-Day.
  • I miss my favourite Jozi hang-outs and haunts… (but I’ve now found a whole bunch of lovely places here in Cape Town, which I’m pretty sure I’ll miss too… when the time comes for us to move on!)

STUFF WE’VE GAINED:

  • Freedom.  I love the feeling of being un-anchored.  I love that we can move wherever the wind blows us… (and if we don’t like it, we can leave).  I love that we’re not tied down with houses, pets, school terms or work offices.  I love that we can live and work from… well… pretty-much anywhere.
  • I love that there’s such an abundance of things to see, do and explore – wherever we are.  One of the things that frustrated me the most about living in Jozi (or – in any one place, for that matter)… was the limitations.  There’s only so many times you can visit the zoo or the science museum or the park.   There’s a limit to what you can see and experience if you remain in one place.  Travel removes those limits.  Travel has afforded us endless opportunities to see, touch, explore and learn.  Here in Cape Town, we’ve clocked up quite a number of new and refreshing activities – and I still have a long list of exciting outings and experiences that we’ve yet to take advantage of.
  • I love that travel offers endless opportunities for our kids to learn, grow and discover.  From visiting another country for the first time, to experiencing new cultures, touching dino bones, exploring amazing museums, experiencing snow for the first time (and the many… MANY… other things they’ve done over the past couple of months)…  I love how travel enlarges their perspectives and their view of the world.
  • I love that our days are never the same.  Yes – there’s certain things (eating, bedtimes, chores, teeth-brushing… etc) that will always require routine and repetition.  But the rest is up to us.  Sometimes, we’ll mulch around the house and play games and watch movies.  Other days, we’ll explore a new “secret pathway” in the Kirstenbosch Gardens… or find a new rock pool… or draw pictures… or make scrapbooks … or write letters… or visit a new wine farm… or meet a new group of friends.  Just a few days ago, we joined a large group of Cape homeschoolers at the local ice-rink (another first for the kids) – and next week, I’m enrolling the kids in a rock-climbing course.
  • I love learning… growing… journeying… understanding… and long-term, slow travel offers me all of these things.

The other day, Nick and I had taken the kids to visit Kirstenbosch Gardens.  We had discovered a little path which led to a bubbling stream.  Nick and I relaxed on a bench under a huge tree… and talked about all kinds of interesting things while the kids paddled and explored (and decided to build a little dam like the beavers they had seen in the Adirondacks).

Nick and I were talking about how much we love those kinds of special moments – and how our lifestyle (although not perfect and with it’s own challenges) suits us so well, as a family.

I’m sure the seasons will eventually change, and one day, we’ll move back into a house and sorta-settle in one neighbourhood (wherever that may be).  But for now…  we’re loving the freedom that this lifestyle affords us.

We should be here in Cape Town for another month – maybe two.  After that, we’re hitting the road again.

And it makes me happy.

 

morgan on long beach

Beaches and beauty… and wanting MORE out of life!

I need a new challenge.

No, seriously, I do.  And not a mild sort of challenge, either…

Not a predictable, normal, everyone-does-this-for-a-season kind of challenge (like a juice fast or a slight change of direction career-wise).

No… I want a huge, scary, poo-in-the-pants, leap into the deep-end kind of challenge.   Because I am waaaaaay too comfortable right now.  And for me…*comfortable* is a disastrous place to be.

  • I start getting miserable when things are too comfortable.
  • I start engaging in self-destructive behaviours like hair-pulling and bingeing.
  • I start getting very self-critical.
  • I start over-thinking… everything… and my emotions start tarzan’ing between gleeful-glee… and gloomy depression.

I am the person who loves a challenge… and, for a good portion of my life, I’ve managed to keep myself significantly busy with various challenges.

I’ve written about just a few of those challenges (and other scary things) here.

And then, after my bathtub moment, I launched Beautiful Life Project… which was (partly) about self-esteem and self-discovery workshops for women and girls.  I ended up giving a number of talks and hosting interactive workshops at schools, conferences and camps.

It was fun, it was challenging… and I felt alive.

Here’s a photo of the girls at one of the camps:

girl achiever bootcamp

Beautiful Life Project kept me busy and (very) challenged for 2007 and 2008.

Then, in 2009, I launched Tapestry of Dreams with a friend.  It was a short-term project that lasted for almost a year – and to this day, I can tell you that it was possibly the most stressful… challenging… terrifying… frustrating… period of personal growth.  I still can’t actually believe that we did what we did… with zero budget (I cried many tears during that project.  Many, many tears… for many, many reasons).

Here’s a photo… (these fabulous 10 ladies were “Role Models” from the rural communities of Kwa-Zulu Natal – you’ll have to watch the little doccie for the full story)…

TOD models

And here they are – all dressed up in the outfits that were created for them by local and international designers:

tod

Here’s the documentary video …

Once Tapestry of Dreams was over… (and after I had spent about 3 months recovering)… I launched myself off into all kinds of mini-projects and ideas… which finally culminated in VENT! – another (HUGE!!!) project… (except this time I had a decent budget and could thus afford to pay a team!!!).  What a challenge VENT! was… (but that’s what made it exhilarating and it expanded my understanding in more ways that I can count).

Here’s a photo of the VENT! participants… their mentors… and me…

VENT!

Here’s the documentary video of VENT!:

And straight after VENT!… I threw myself into launching a non-profit called WOODO (Women who DO!).  In 2 months from launch, we had secured a factory – bursting with donations, clothes and a gazillion other things.

A small view of the WOODO warehouse…

A small view of the WOODO warehouse…

I burned out badly on WOODO…

Badly.

As in deep-depression-and-complete-loss-of-interest-in-anything-for-6-months kind of bad-burnout.

As in:  “I-am-a-complete-loser-and-I-may-as-well-dig-myself-a-small-hole-and-live-there-forever” kind of burnout.

But… eventually, I picked myself up… redirected my focus… and was ready for the next challenge.

(the recurring theme of my life)…

And the NEW challenge started in Easter 2012 when Nick and I decided that we wanted to completely change the trajectory of our lives.

So we…

  • ditched the TV and cancelled our cable subscription
  • slowly got rid of our debt…
  • brought our monthly expenses down to the bare minimum…
  • purged about 80% of our “stuff”…
  • rented out our home…
  • took the kids out of school…
  • and launched ourselves into a nomadic lifestyle (beginning with a 2-month road-trip around the USA)…

And, just before we launched, I challenged myself again – by performing solo with two Mad Hatster’s Coffee Cabarets (and cutting my hair short and dyeing it pink – just for good measure!)…

hat

But now – those challenges have been fulfilled.  I can tick those boxes.

And now, we’re living the life we’ve chosen… and are happily ensconced in a lovely rented, furnished apartment…. a few metres from the sea… in Noordhoek, Cape Town – after returning from a 2 month road-trip around the USA.  Future plans for the year could take us as close as the Karoo… and as far as Guatemala.

Life is pretty idyllic and we enjoy not being anchored down to one place.

We wake up to waves crashing on the shore.  We have art lessons under the oak trees at Cafe Roux with fresh carrot cake and great coffee.   Our kids are happy.  We are happy.   It’s so nice.  It’s all so lovely.

But… I’m feeling antsy.  And frustrated.  

I need a challenge.  A big, fat, crazy, scary challenge.  The kind of challenge that makes people doubt my sanity (I really thrive on those, tee-hee!)… something that will completely stress me out – but will grow me and challenge me and mature me and teach me… and hoof me right OUT of this blasted comfort zone (read:  personal stagnation).

I need a big, fat, ridiculously crazy-and-scary CHALLENGE.

Because this comfy-comfort-zone thing is going to result in me being carted off to the padded room by the men in white coats.

Some of you may be thinking about how ungrateful I am.  I mean, sheesh, when is it going to be “enough”…?  Will I ever be satisfied with my lot in life?  Grateful for what I have?

But trust me, I’m not ungrateful.  I am filled with gratitude.  Every single day, I wake up and give thanks for my family… for my marriage… for my life… my talents… the opportunities we have…. and the beautiful sea views that greet me every morning.  Every single day I give thanks.  I do NOT take what I have for granted.

But – it is precisely for that reason – that I don’t take life for granted – that I want to live it to it’s fullest!

Because life is short… and precious… and my time is running out.

I want to… no, I need to do MORE than just take happy beach walks with my family.  I want be more than… Heather-the-Mom and/or Heather-the-Wife.  Obviously – those are both enormous chunks of who I am… and they will always remain my top priority in life…  but…  there is *more*.

Apart from the quality time that I spend with my family (which I deeply cherish and jealously guard)…  there are other things I want to do… and accomplish.  Other things that make me come alive.  Other things that make me feel as though I have *more* to offer this world… to contribute.

I want to contribute.  I NEED to contribute.

I want to do more than “be”…  I want to “do”.

Some of my deepest, most enriching moments came during seasons of my life when I was *doing*… when I was *contributing*…

woodo1

Right now – I’m stagnating.

Not in a stinky swamp, obviously.  But, in a pretty jacuzzi with nice-smelling bubbles and rose petals and a lovely view.

But I’m still stagnating.  And my body and mind are turning soft and raisin-like.  And it’s time to move on.  It’s time to DO.

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PS:  I think I now understand WHY the likes of Richard Branson (and other super-wealthy people who have gazillions of dollars in the bank) don’t just spend their remaining days chilling on their private islands.  They could certainly afford to just… relax… and do nothing but sip cocktails, read novels and waterski for the rest of their lives.  But there is *more* that drives them.   The new challenge is always there – calling their names.

And it calls me too.

The scariest things I’ve done (and what I’ve learned in the process)

The title speaks for itself, so here goes:

1.  HAVING THE COURAGE TO LEAVE MY HORRIBLE JOB 

working at benoni city times

There was a time when I worked as a sales secretary at a small courier company.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated it.  But, I was married (to first husband)… and there was debt… and bills… and I just couldn’t afford to quit.  The sales secretary job paid well – but I didn’t want to be a sales secretary.  I wanted to do something creative.  I wanted to actually… *gasp!*enjoy my job.  So… through a series of events… I left my horrible job and completely changed the direction of my career.

It was scary decision to make because I was young… and everyone was telling me how stupid and irresponsible I was being.  After all – who walks away from a “good and secure salary” to start from scratch earning next to nothing in the creative industry?

Additionally, I had quit school early… and I didn’t have the right “qualifications”.  People told me that I wouldn’t be able to make it without that special piece of paper from a learning institution that supposedly “qualified” me.  As it turns out, they were wrong.

2.  HAVING THE COURAGE TO QUIT WORKING FOR OTHER PEOPLE AND TO START WORKING FOR MYSELF

Here's a picture of me in my studio - about a year after I quit my job and started working for myself.

Here’s a picture of me in my studio – about a year after I quit my job and started working for myself.

I’ve worked for myself for over 20 years now.  Over the years, my work-from-home situation has ebbed, flowed and evolved.  I started out as a freelance graphic designer… and also a freelance musician and vocal arranger. Later, I launched a business called COPS Creative Corporation and employed a number of people… and then shut the whole lot down after my epic bathtub moment.  Over the years, I’ve been a public speaker, a musician & singer, a creative social entrepreneur and designer & initiator of huge projects (which I’ll talk about later).

Leaving my stable job in the creative industry was a brave move.  Mostly because I was still soooo inexperienced and only one client (thanks, Dad!).  But I have always loved a challenge and I’m great at learning-on-the-hoof… and looming deadlines have always been the best antibiotic for my natural tendencies to procrastinate.

Without a doubt – deciding to quit the job and to become a freelancer was one of the scariest decisions I’ve made.  And one of the most rewarding.

3.  HAVING THE COURAGE TO WALK AWAY FROM MY MARRIAGE

The 19 year old bride...

The 19 year old bride…

My first marriage was very, very tough.  I was young and naive and I got married at the age of 19 to a man 10 years my senior, believing that he was my handsome Prince Charming and that we’d live happily ever after and everything would be wonderful.

I hold no grudge against my ex… so I’m not going to go into any gory details about what happened in our marriage or what went wrong.  But I will say this:  it was scary to walk away.  Marriage offered all kinds of familiarity… comfort-zones… (and this included a newly renovated home where my studio was based… and my two cats… and a shared circle of friends… and a familiar routine – not to mention all of the financial implications).

All of this changed when I moved out… and I slept on a couch in the tiny spare room at my mother’s house until I could get back on my feet.

It was scary!  And humiliating.

But it taught me a thing or two.  I wasn’t a doormat.  I wasn’t weak.  I wasn’t dependent on my ex.  I could manage on my own.  I could pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again… and I did.

4.  HAVING THE COURAGE TO AUDITION FOR A BAND

Our little band...

Our little band…

Another defining moment.  When my marriage fell apart at age 24, I felt decades older than what I really was.  My self confidence was at rock bottom and I spent a great deal of effort trying to… hide… from the world.

I wore long, baggy, dreary clothes… I tried not to make eye contact with strangers… and I avoided public spaces.

So… when news came that a local band needed a new keyboardist – my heart leapt with excitement (at the possibilities)… but also with fear and dread… and a gazillion “What if’s?”…

  • “What if they hate my voice?”
  • “What if I’m not good enough?”
  • “What if they laugh at me?”
  • “What if my dreary old-lady image puts them off?”
  • “Who the hell do I think I am, anyway?”

It took every ounce of courage to rock up at that audition with my keyboard and to sing a song that I had composed.

(And thank goodness I did!!!  Because that’s where I met Nick!  He was the bass guitarist in the band…  although we didn’t start dating until about 8 years later…)

5.  HAVING THE COURAGE TO SING SOLO

Just me and the keys...

Just me and the keys…

I enjoyed playing in a band – and I soon found that it offered it’s own security… it’s own comfort zone.

My favourite part about being in a band was the process of creative collaboration.  I loved sitting in a room with 4 other musicians… each of us with different talents… and composing and creating something new.  I loved the music-part of the band… but the *performance* part came with a whole set of fears and insecurities.  At gigs, I would (as my mother used to say) “hide behind the pot plant”… and allow others to take centre stage.

I was way too scared to sing “out front”.  I didn’t want to sing out front.  I wanted the band leader to hold that position… and I could just harmonise from my comfortable place… somewhere near the back of the stage (hopefully where I wouldn’t be too noticed).

This arrangement suited me just fine.

Until I ended up at a music conference & competition in Port Elizabeth.

The plan was to enter the competition by handing in a song that our band had recorded on CD.  But only once we arrived, did we realise that CD entries weren’t eligible.  Bands needed to be present and to perform live.

Since 3 of our band members had day jobs and couldn’t be at the conference… I was left with a decision.  I could either pull out of the competition completely (which is what I wanted to do)… OR… I could – for the first time – perform as a soloist and sing one of the band’s songs whilst accompanying myself on the keyboard.

Nick and his brother, Dino, persuaded me to go it alone.

I was SO scared!  My knees were shaking and my fingers could barely play the chords.  But I did it… and then I won.

A Nashville producer (one of the judges) offered to produce and record my song – and that’s how I ended up recording in Nashville (the following year).

Making that (very!) scary move… of standing on the stage alone… and presenting only *me* to the world… was one of the scariest (and yet most defining) moments of my life.

6.  TRAVELLING ALONE

solo england trip

The following year, I visited the States with Nick (we were still very platonic friends at the time).

I recorded the song in Nashville – as the producer had promised… and I was introduced to the whole music scene.  I was very insecure about my abilities but that trip stretched and challenged me, because I was invited to perform – solo – at a number of venues and, as much as it terrified me, I knew it was a great learning curve.

After 2 months of travelling, learning and performing (with Nick as my travelling companion) I was back in South Africa… with a gazillion unanswered questions about my life and what I wanted to do with it.

I made a decision.  I wanted to go on a journey of discovery.  I wanted to forcefully hoof myself out of my comfort zone – and deliberately put myself in a challenging position where I would be forced to grow.

By that stage, I was happily ensconced in another comfort zone.  I had a lovely little townhouse, situated just down the road from all my family and friends in Benoni – furnished perfectly to my taste – with my studio (where I freelanced)… and a nice little paid off car.

It was a *nice* life… but I felt as though something was missing and I needed to find out for myself whether this “music thing” was for me.

So I recorded a demo album with 3 songs… sold my car, sold all my furniture, rented out my home – and set off on a solo trip to England and the USA .

I remember how scared I was.  There was a constant knot in my stomach – and, at times, I would feel panic rise… and I’d ask myself (repeatedly):  “Heather, what have you done??!

Elaborating on those 4 months of solo travel (and learning) would take up too much of this blog post.  I still remember the rawness of it… and the loneliness.  The tough… tough… lesson of learning to rely on myself – instead of leaning so heavily on family and friends for support, encouragement and upliftment.

I used to be a very needy person.  A very needy and clingy friend (especially after my divorce).  I used to be try to drag compliments out of my friends (because I was so insecure) – and I was a draining person to be around (ask Nick!).

My solo travel expeditions cured me.  Seriously.  Travel grew me up.  Travel opened my eyes.  Travel showed me the Bigger Picture… and it expanded my confidence and understanding in ways that I’ll never be able to fully articulate.  It’s the one thing that I would whole-heartedly recommend to anyone:  travel, travel, travel.

7.  HAVING THE COURAGE TO MOVE TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY

ohio

Once I was back in South Africa after those very challenging, stretching, lonely 4 months – I felt such relief.  I was back in the familiar places… back with family and friends.  Back with people who *got* me.

But I hadn’t been home for a month when I was contacted by a pastor in a church in Ohio – who invited me to move to the United States and work at his church as Worship Leader / Music Minister.

(I used to be a very dogmatic Christian, by the way.  But that’s another story entirely).

Again… remembering the loneliness and the ache of the previous 4-month trip (to the States)… it was a terrifying thought to contemplate:  moving away from my nearest and dearest… this time, for a much longer period of time…

But… the adventurer inside of me… the explorer… just couldn’t resist the opportunity to immerse myself in an entirely new life.

And so, in January 2000, off to Ohio I went.

It was a scary decision – but, again – one of life’s defining moments… and one I have never regretted.

I lived in Ohio for almost a year… and also had the opportunity to travel around the States and visit Kiev, Ukraine as part of a church trip (where I discovered a love for public speaking).  I also made many friends… friends who remain precious to this day (and who we visited recently, during our 2-month American Road-Trip).

I returned from my solo travels… and from living overseas… as a different person.  And, I was finally healed up from the hurts of my marriage and my divorce… and was ready for a new relationship (although, at the time, I had NO idea it would eventually end up being Nick!)…

————————————-

Okay….  I now realise that this blog post is going to be SUPER-LONG…  so I’ll probably need to do a Part 2!  Watch this space!  :-)

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My cocked up & curious creative process

So…  it starts like this:

“I know what!  I should write and illustrate a poem!  A fun, interesting poem… inspired by the likes of Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss.  I have always wanted to do this… and so now that I have the time and the means, I think I shall do it!  Yay!”

So, I write the poem.

And, on the first day, I’m pretty chuffed with the result.

But… by the evening of the first day, I hate the poem so much that I’m mortified with embarrassment and I vow to never ever share the poem with anyone.  Ever.

The next day, however… after a good sleep and a cup of coffee… I feel a bit better about the poem.

I read it to Nick.  Nick loves the poem and encourages me to carry on.  I brighten.  Maybe, it’s not such a shitty poem after all.  Maybe, with some tweaking, it will actually be rather good.

So… I decide to start on the illustrations.

And I start playing around with concepts and ideas… about how the “Hat” character in my poem might look…

And I pin a couple-thousand Pinterest pics for inspiration.

And I draw a couple of pencil sketches and doodles and ideas.

Like this…

got

And this…

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And this…

IMG_2507

And I think:  “Hey… that looks quite cute”…

But, by the evening I loathe my sketches.  And not only do I loathe the illustrations, I tell myself:  

“Jeez, Heather!  Who are you kidding?  Your drawing is so amateur and lifeless!  Enough already!  Do something else!  Quit with the silly illustration idea… the poem is boring too!”

The next morning, however, after a rest and a cup of coffee (notice a pattern here?)… I think:  

“Actually, that one is quite sweet.  I think I’ll carry on and draw her properly”…

And so I draw this:

IMG_2593

And by the evening… I’m pacing and swearing and ranting about how god-awful my illustrations are.  And I go to bed in a foul stinking mood, conjuring up my next Grand Plan… (which doesn’t involve anything illustrated)….  and I curse my Copic pens and I have a strong desire to snap every single watercolour pencil in half… and flush them down the loo.

And Nick becomes the recipient of my potty-mouthed tirade.

And then I go to bed… and I wake up…. and after a cup of coffee, I think:

“Hey, the illustrations are actually quite cute… let me draw another one today….”

And so I draw this….

IMG_2595

And this…

IMG_2631

And this…

IMG_2635

And of course, by the end of the day…  I hate everything about them and… (well you get the picture).

On and on and on it goes.

This cycle of “creating”… this almighty swing of emotions from delight to disgust… back to delight… back to disgust.  Feelings of confidence followed immediately by feelings of utter uselessness… followed by feelings of frustration… followed by feelings of optimism…

Wanting to share my art with the world…. and then, an hour later, wanting to lock up everything I’ve ever drawn in an iron vault and bury it deep under the ground where nobody will ever clap eyes on it… ever!

Today – I read a nice and positive article about “18 things that highly creative people do differently”.  Reading it brought a wry smile to my face.  It was such an accurate description of how I do things.

But as pleasant a picture as the article paints about us creative creatures…  there is always a dark side too.

There’s the agonising…. the self-criticism… the love-hate relationship with one’s art… the love-hate relationship with one’s talent… the constant, niggling feeling that I’m barking mad… the impulsiveness… the gazillion ideas keeping me awake at night… the getting-distracted-thing… the easily-bored thing… the disorganised and scatter-brained-thing….  (not implying, of course, that all creatives function in this stereotypical way – but I certainly do!).

In summary:  if I actually manage to finish this #$%@!*!! illustrated book…  I will deserve a  &$@$! medal for surviving the emotional turmoil that I put myself through… for every weeny illustration… for every over-thinking, re-thinking, over-drawing, re-drawing (and subsequent hand-wringing, hair-pulling and tarzan’ing manically between bliss and torment).

Every evening, I ask myself:

“WHY am I doing this?  Why am I putting myself through this hell?  Everything I draw sucks!  I’m a useless artist!  I don’t know why I ever thought I could do this!”

And every morning, when I’m all bouncy-bouncy… I say:

“Awww…. but it’s sweet, and it’s lovely… and it will make people smile… and I’m proud!  

I think I’ll draw another one…”

tomboy6

101 random facts about me…

So… I haven’t done one of these kinds of posts in a while (and I always enjoy reading them when I see them on other blogs)… and since I’ve had quite a few new blog-followers of late, I thought I’d share some random facts about my story & life…

Here goes…

  1. My surname… Costaras is a Greek name.  I’m married to a Greek.  My maiden name is Patterson.
  2. I always liked the sound of “Heather Patterson” more than “Heather Costaras”.  But then I googled both.  There are hundreds of Heather Patterson’s out there.  But only ONE Heather Costaras (that’s because Greeks usually don’t marry non-Greeks).
  3. I was born in Cape Town… and we moved inland when I was 6 years old (my dad wanted to start up his own business… away from his family).  I consider Benoni my “home-town”.
  4. My wedding photos are here (I love looking at other people’s wedding photos).
  5. I grew up on a smallholding as a mud-encrusted, scabby-knee’d, adventure-loving, rule-breaking tomboy.  I am still that person.
  6. I think that wet window putty smells amazing.
  7. My husband, Nick, is the love of my life and my closest friend.
  8. I never thought I could have kids… nor was I particularly broody.  But now that I’m mom to Morgan and Joah, I can’t imagine life without them.  They have enriched my life in ways I could never describe.
  9. I am messy.  I have tried to *fix* this part of me for many years.  Now I’ve just made peace with it.
  10. I am scatterbrained.  I have always been scatterbrained… and I get bored and distracted very easily.  I have spent years guilt-tripping myself about these characteristics.  I think I’m finally making peace with them too.
  11. I’m not a panicker.
  12. I’m a qualified NAUI Openwater II scuba diver… but I haven’t dived for years (unless you count a camera shoot in a pool)… which is a pity.
  13. My father is  workaholic who manufactures electrical components (and renovates and sells property).  I get the risk-taking part of my personality, my great sense of direction… and my deep love of the sea… from him.
  14. My mom is a pastor who has a restoration ministry called Fisherman’s Village.  I get my creativity… scatter-brained… gazillion-ideas-at-once traits from her.
  15. My parents are divorced.  Dad re-married a woman of a different race.  I now have 3 sisters… including my step-sister and my half-sister.  My 3 sisters are 3 different colours.  As a huge fan of diversity… I love this!
  16. I abhor racism, sexism, classism, homophobia… and all other forms of nasty discrimination.
  17. I really… really… really… hated school (especially high school).  To this day, I feel resentful towards the schooling I received as a child – and the system that enforced it.
  18. I once secretly pee’d in someone’s shoe (whilst in the back seat of a car).  The owner of the shoe was driving… and I was too embarrassed to tell him to stop for a bathroom break.  I was 15 at the time.
  19. I can speak English and Afrikaans.  I wish I could also speak Zulu, French and Spanish… but I’m pretty useless at picking up new languages.  :-(
  20. I can speak 2 different kinds of gibberish, though!  :-)
  21. I have a small scar beneath my bottom lip from when my face connected with a windsurfer board.
  22. As a kid, I listened to Dolly Parton, Roger Whittaker, Bee Gees and Boney M.  I still listen to the Bee Gees.
  23. I am a full-on, all-out Creative Creature and can do all number of creative things… BUT… my creativity mysteriously vanishes when it comes to cooking.  I am the world’s most BORING cook.  I can make a great lasagne… and that’s about it.
  24. If I’m staying somewhere that has access to DSTV, I watch the food channel for inspiration.  And I pin healthy, interesting recipes on Pinterest.  And I read recipes when I pick up a magazine… however, as soon as I visit a grocery store… all that information inexplicably vanishes from my brain – and all I think is:  “Bread!  Cheese!  Milk!  Spaghetti!”… and that’s what I end up buying.  Bread.  Cheese.  Milk.  Spaghetti.  And maybe some yoghurt.
  25. I would prefer NOT to cook.  Ever again.  I would much prefer a personal chef.  That would be soooo wonderful!
  26. One of the few things I envy about wealthy people… is having the means to employ helpers who help them with stuff that they suck at (or are too busy to do).  If I had the financial means, I would employ a personal chef (who would also need to do the grocery shopping) and an administrative-genius-person.
  27. I prefer swimming underneath the water (rather than swimming on top).  As a child, I used to wish I was a mermaid.
  28. Oceans 11, Little Miss Sunshine, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Shawshank Redemption, Inception and Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Downey Jnr) rank as some of my favourite movies.
  29. I am also rapidly becoming a huge fan of Wes Anderson.  He doesn’t make films.  He makes creative masterpieces.
  30. I have a *thing* for old graveyards, ruins, old bell towers (with old bells) and wishing wells.
  31. I’m a cat person.  But Nick, unfortunately, has cat allergies.
  32. I’m uncomfortable with zoos.  I prefer to visit animals in their natural habitat.
  33. I can sing all of the songs from The Sound of Music.  And most of the songs from My Fair Lady, Oliver Twist, Annie, Mary Poppins and Camelot (my mother raised my sister and I on musicals).
  34. I performed in a number of amateur theatre productions when I was a kid… and LOVED it!
  35. I can’t read a note of sheet music.  I play music by ear.  I went to guitar lessons when I was 16 and learned how to play chords.  I would go home, sit in front of my piano with the guitar on my lap and teach myself how to play those same chords on the piano.  The passion for music was always there… and everything I’m able to play was self-taught.
  36. I can’t act – but I think I’d make a great director.  In fact, one of my big dreams is to write and direct a film.
  37. My very first job was “waitress”.  I was 16.  I was fired.  I was fired from my second job too (working in “Operations” at a big courier company).
  38. I don’t like being told what to do.
  39. I have worked for myself and been my own boss for over 20 years.  I can’t remember what a “day job” is.
  40. One of the (many) reasons why I hated school:  a bunch of people telling me what to do… all the time.
  41. In primary school, I was awarded with a trophy for being one of the Top 5 students of the year and a certificate for “Exceptionally High Standard of Work”.  In high school, I was bunking classes, forging sick notes and spending many hours in detention.
  42. I lived in Norwalk, Ohio for almost-a-year (in 2000).  I worked for a church as “Minister of Music” or “Worship Leader”.
  43. I called myself a Christian for many years.  These days… I have a different perspective.
  44. I love exploring new ideas and places… and meeting new people… and going on adventures… and trying new things… and learning, discovering, evolving and growing.  Let’s just say that I’m not a big fan of sameness, systems, predictability or routine.
  45. I once bit a Rotweiller’s ear (out of sheer desperation, mind.  I was trying to get her to release the Border Collie she was viciously attacking).  It worked.
  46. I think Bobby Mc Ferrin is a musical genius.
  47. I don’t send my kids to school.
  48. I don’t want my kids to “fit in” with the status quo or to be “normal”.  I want them to be confident, self-directed initiators.  And I want them to be happy.
  49. I’ve never been good at sports and I don’t *get* what’s so exciting about watching sport on TV.  Especially things like golf or tennis.  However, I DO enjoy watching the Olympics – and especially the gymnastics and the figure skating.
  50. We don’t have a TV.  We ditched our TV a number of years ago (I hate advertisers telling me what to do… among other things).
  51. Although I’m South African by birth, I prefer to call myself a World Citizen.  I’m human first and foremost.  My humanity comes before my race… before my religious beliefs… before my nationality.  There’s a quote by Francis Fenelon that I love:  “All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers.  Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born”.  Albert Einstein called nationalism an “infantile disease”… and I concur.
  52. I hate guns.  But I won’t fight people on the right to own guns.  I don’t think making things illegal solves anything.  If people want to own guns – they’ll own guns.  If people want to take drugs – they’ll take drugs.  Making things illegal just drives the issues further underground.  Prostitution is another case in point.  I would rather encourage education… and questioning… and discussion… rather than reams of additional rules and laws.
  53. I’m a pacifist and peacemaker.  I don’t think violence solves anything.  War sickens me.
  54. Whenever I burp, I say the word “burp!”.  It drives Nick mad.
  55. I’ve become a bit of a potty-mouth.  But not as bad as Nick.
  56. I grew up around boats.  As a child, every holiday involved boats.  We would take the boat out to the sea, lagoons, rivers or dams.  As a result, I’m very comfortable driving boats… and I love waterskiing and knee-skiing.
  57. I like the IDEA of becoming a vegetarian.  But I can’t resist a nice, crispy chop off the braai.
  58. I hate it when my feet get hot.  Because of this, I seldom wear closed shoes.  In summer, I live in slip slops.
  59. I have a really big head.  No, seriously!  Hats don’t fit me (which is such a pity, because I love hats!).  I had to commission my mom to sew me a big, floppy sun hat – because I couldn’t find a single sun hat that would fit my enormous noggin!
  60. I consider myself a feminist – in that I believe firmly in equal rights for women.  I think many people have the wrong idea of what it means to be a feminist.  I certainly don’t hate men… and I don’t think women are *better* than men.  I just think we’re equal.  Different… but equal.
  61. In fact – I’m just big on equality in all areas.  I don’t believe that race, wealth, nationality, age, status, gender makes anyone “better”… or “less than” other people.  Ever.
  62. I don’t *get* why so many people are obsessed with name brands.
  63. I also don’t *get* why so many people worship and idolise celebrities.  They’re just PEOPLE!
  64. I don’t *get* why South Africans are salivating with sadistic, morbid obsession over the Oscar Pistorius trial.  What’s with the national love-affair with misery and violence?
  65. My step-sister is gay.  My cousin is gay.  A number of my friends are gay.  People who continually campaign against the rights of homosexuals to love or marry whom they choose…  had best keep their distance from me.
  66. I’m impatient.
  67. I’m impulsive.
  68. I have noticed… for a long time… (and Nick has noticed too) – a very odd phenomenon that random street lights go out when we drive past them at night (always different lights).  Nick and I now joke about this… because, seriously, we notice it almost every single time we drive at night.  This has been going on for over 3 years.  We don’t mention it to others because it sounds rather silly.
  69. I love old, historic buildings (which is why Europe is such a treat!).
  70. Charlize Theron attended the same school as me.  I’d like to direct her in a film one day.  :-)
  71. I have strong opinions… on many things… but have no desire to fight with others – or to try to convince others that they are “wrong” and I am “right”.  I am open to thoughtful discussions (and I’m very open to changing my mind or viewpoint) – but, as soon as somebody tries to steamroll me… or bully me… or *tell* me how wrong I am,  or raise their voice at me… I shut down and distance myself from them.
  72. I think snakes are beautiful.  I love how they feel and how they move.  I wouldn’t want to keep one as a pet, though.
  73. I’m not scared of spiders.  In fact, I rather like them.  I can sleep peacefully with a large rain spider on the ceiling above my head.
  74. I still have my tonsils and appendix… but I don’t have my wisdom teeth or gall bladder.
  75. I have struggled with an eating disorder for as long as I can remember.  But I don’t play the shame-game any more.
  76. As a lover of diversity, I’m very accepting of people who are different to me (unless they’re rude or arrogant).  I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with rude and arrogant people.
  77. The Briggs Meyers personality test says I’m an INFP… an “Idealist”.
  78. I avoid fights and arguments – and I don’t yell at or hurl insults at other people.  This is probably because I am so super-sensitive to words and I get really hurt if someone insults or ridicules me… (so I don’t dish out the same treatment to others).
  79. I don’t eat seafood.  Only fried calamari or, on the rare occasion, battered Hake.
  80. I also don’t like hard-boiled eggs, grapefruit, olives, celery and things like liver, kidney, tongue or giblets.  Ew!
  81. Nick and I met when we both played in a Christian band called Desert Rain.  He was the bass guitarist and I was the keyboardist.
  82. I still enjoy composing music and singing songs… and occasionally, I’ll host a little show called “The Mad Hatster’s Coffee Cabaret”…
  83. I think my husband is soooo sexy when he plays the bass.
  84. I have jumped off a very high bridge – only to be caught by a rope and whipped underneath another very high bridge (this is called a bridge swing).  I didn’t like the feeling of falling (50m free-fall before the rope caught me).  Because I now know that I don’t like the falling feeling, I’m not going to be signing up for bungee jumping or sky-diving any time soon.
  85. I have also jumped off a train bridge into a lagoon.  Next time, I will clench my bum cheeks to avoid the unwelcome enema.
  86. I love the African bush… and don’t visit enough.
  87. On one of my first qualifying dives, I swam with a whale shark.  It was one of life’s most memorable moments.
  88. I was married before.  I got married when I was 19… and divorced when I was 24.  Thankfully, we didn’t have any kids.  Many… many… lessons learned from that experience.
  89. One day, when the seasons change and we decide to sorta-settle somewhere… I would like to own a grand piano.  But that can wait.  There’s lots of adventure and exploring that needs to happen before then.
  90. I once sold all my stuff and spent 4 months solo-travelling England and the States.  It was probably one of the most challenging – yet character-building – times of my life.
  91. My top two love languages:  Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.
  92. I can rap “Ice, Ice Baby” (in an accent of your choice).  It’s my stupid party-trick.
  93. When we lived on the smallholding, I had a horse called Billy.  He was such a naughty and stubborn horse (who hated being told what to do).  Reminded me a bit of myself.  I miss horse riding.
  94. I’m not a girly-girl… but still enjoy feeling pretty.
  95. I don’t give a continental crap about being “in fashion” or “on trend”.  I will never spend huge amounts of money on things like handbags, watches or shoes.  Those things just don’t matter to me.
  96. My favourite spa treatments:  foot massage, hand massage and head massage.  If I could work out a way to get the hands, feet and head massaged simultaneously, I think I’d be in heaven.
  97. I don’t enjoy shopping… or shopping malls.  At all.
  98. I much prefer rain and overcast weather to blazing heat.
  99. My great-grandfather (on my dad’s side) was the mayor of Morecambe (England) and was awarded an MBE by the King.  As a sentimental creature, I’d love to do a family history tour on that side of the world… and I’d love to get my hands on that long-lost medal.  Nobody in the family knows what happened to it.
  100. I draw.  A lot.  Some of my illustrations are here.
  101. Dreams for the future:  to publish an illustrated book… and to write and direct a film (which Nick will shoot and edit).

So, there you go.  I know this was rather long-winded and I hope you weren’t bored!

If you have some random-facts-about-YOU… I’d love to read those too!  I really am very genuinely interested and fascinated in the diversity of people and stories!

Later…

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