I’m still searching for my Tribe…

oscar quote

I dunno about you, but I long for a tribe.

I long to connect with a bunch of people who *get* me.  My kinds of peeps… those who resonate with the things that I feel strongly about.  “Mad” people… abnormal people… people who don’t *fit* into the Norm… into the Status Quo.

  • People want more out of life than just… “survival, getting by, making do”…
  • People who hate being “governed” and “ruled” and told-what-to-do (as much as I do)…
  • People who are Questioners (instead of Knowers)… people who question everything… and especially the Powers-that-Be, The Status Quo and “Authority”…
  • People who question (and who are generally skeptical of) The Institutions that mould and contain us (school… church… banks… state)…
  • People who don’t believe everything they read or watch on TV or on the internet…
  • People who don’t believe everything they’re told by The Teacher, The Pastor, The Media, The President… (notice, I wrote ‘everything’ not ‘anything’).
  • Parents who respectfully and peacefully parent their children…
  • People who enjoy watching TED Talks…
  • People who love travel… and want to see as much of the world as they possibly can before they die!
  • Artists, activists, creative-creatures, out-of-the-box-thinkers, dreamers, DO’ers…
  • People who see potential where others see nothing.  People who can build beautiful things out of junk and nothingness.  Up-cylers, inventors… people with ideas and solutions
  • People who don’t want what everyone else seems to want… (i.e.: “American Dream”… big house filled with lots of *stuff*… fancy cars… branded clothes… status… all the stuff the glossy magazines say is somehow important).
  • Those who don’t give a damn about being “in fashion” or “on trend”.
  • People who don’t take themselves too seriously… and who love to laugh…
  • Those who vomit a little bit in their mouths when faced with racism, sexism, homophobia, fat-phobia, hatred of people who believe differently…. (and all the other awful forms of discrimination that mankind has invented to separate himself from The Other)…
  • Those who don’t view “feminism” as “man-hate”… but rather the continued (and utterly necessary!) efforts to see women and girls treated EQUALLY in our home countries – and around the world (here’s a great article ‘Where are MY rape threats?’ - written by a man – that perfectly sums it up).
  • Those who are revolted by the idea that – in many circles (and certainly, according to the popular media)… a woman’s worth is determined by what she looks like – instead of who she *is*.
  • People who recoil at the very idea of brand-worship… i.e.:  “I am more worthy and more important than you because I drive this brand of car… or carry this expensive designer handbag.  It makes me important and special”.
  • People who have thoroughly questioned all of their religious beliefs… and who are following a certain faith (or not) because they have THOUGHT about it… and scrutinised it… and wrestled with it… and it resonates deeply within them (and NOT simply because it-was-the-beliefs-they-were-raised with…. or because-the-pastor-says-so…. or because-the-Bible-says-so… or because-the-pastor-says-the-Bible-says-so).
  • People who also love this quote by Anne Lamott:  “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do”.
  • People who are bigger than name-calling, ridiculing and insulting.  I thoroughly enjoy the company of people who engage in meaty, respectful debates…  but as soon as people start ridiculing, shaming, insulting… that’s where I excuse myself and leave the room.
  • People who think outside of the box when it comes to “jobs”… people who are initiators, inventors, pioneers… who want to forge a new path – and not just march to the rhythm of the Corporate Drum.
  • People who think big thoughts and dream big dreams… and who make the world a better place (in big or small ways – it doesn’t matter).
  • People who ooze love – and an unreserved acceptance of “The Other”.  People who love and celebrate diversity!
  • People who view the all the people of the world as equal citizens.  People who see past race, age, nationality, religion, class, culture, income-bracket…  people who view themselves as equal with all humanity (whether the Queen of England… or the tramp on the side of the road… addicted, dirty, disease-ridden).  “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” – Francis Fenelon.
  • And speaking of countries…  people who view themselves as citizens of the planet… rather than obsessing about flags, anthems, countries and invisible lines drawn across the earth.  “Nationalism is an infantile disease.  It is the measles of mankind” – Albert Einstein.
  • People who live differently.  Not just for the sake of being different… but rather because the “normal” way just doesn’t make any sense to them.

Of course… the list could go on and on.

I’m certainly not implying that everyone needs to *be* ALL of the above before I deem them worthy enough (I don’t even tick all of my own boxes)…  I’m just trying to paint a general picture of the people I yearn to connect with.  I’m also not trying to insinuate that the above ways-to-view-life… or ways-to-DO-life… are the *Right* ways… (and that everyone else is wrong).

I celebrate and respect diversity… and am very happy for the folk in the world who have found their little tribe (no matter how different those tribes may be to mine).

There are tribes of conservative Christians… there are tribes of Harley-Davidson-loving-bikers… there are tribes of Geek Atheists…  there are tribes of crystal-swinging vegans… there are tribes of wealthy, spa-visiting housewives…. there are tribes of sport-players and sport-watchers… there are tribes of corporate-creatures…. and mall-loving shopoholics.  There are tribes of football fans…. and tribes of Mommy-bloggers… and tribes of gym-bunnies…

… which is all great and fine…

But this post is about *my* tribe…  and I must admit, I have been finding it achingly difficult to connect with Similar-Minded-Folk.

I have a small tribe…  make that a TINY tribe of peeps who *get* me (whom I know in person).  They could probably be counted on only one hand.  They are the people with whom I can be completely… and unreservedly… *ME* without tip-toe’ing, disclaimer-adding, biting my tongue, choosing my words carefully or trying not to offend….

Nick, of course, is my main Tribe’ster.  He is the one person in this world who *gets* me… completely.  I still (even after knowing him for 17 years – and being married to him for almost 10 of those years) I still find him so fascinating and interesting to talk to.  Most nights, after the kids are in bed, the two of us chat for hours on end…. and especially if we’ve just finished watching one of Russell Brand’s Trews episodes… or a meaty TED talk.

But… aside from Nick… and my tiny handful of friends…  I (mostly) feel that I have to tread very carefully in the world out there…  and choose my words very carefully… and add disclaimers to my conversations…. and this – by the way – is also true of this blog!

There are many people who read this blog who…. (although good people)…  are not, necessarily TRIBE people.

Family members read this blog.  Old friends… old acquaintances… people from my Facebook feed… friends-from-school-days… friends-from-church-days… friends-from-band-days…. etc.

Nothing wrong with that, of course.  But not everyone who reads Living Differently are *Tribe* folk.  And this can sometimes create a problem… which looks like THIS:

“Oh shit…  I wrote about how I hate kids’ parties…  and _____, _______ and _________ occasionally read this blog – and they’ve all invited me to their children’s parties in the past.  Will they get offended?  Will they think I’m referring directly to them?  Will they never invite me to another party again?  Are they angry with me??”

or…

“Oh crap!  I wrote a ranty post about my home town!  But ______.  _______.  _______. and ___________  still live there!  And now they’re all uber-pissed with me!  Now what?  Should I forever bite my tongue about how I feel about my home town?  Am I never allowed to be honest about these types of things?  Is this one of those hush-hush topics that I should not discuss in an open forum, like a blog?”

or…

“Oh here we go again.  I wrote a post about the stuff I really dislike about the schooling system.  Except…  _________, ___________, __________ and ____________  all send their kids to the very kinds of schools that I take issue with.  If they read this post, will they be offended?  Will they take it personally?  Will they see it as a direct affront on their decisions?  Will we be able to agree to disagree?  Will they think I’m judging *them* – as in… personally….?”

or…

“Oh Jeez.  I wrote a religious post.  Except…. _________. ___________. _____________ and ___________ are all Christians – and they definitely won’t see eye to eye with me on these issues.  Is this going to cause all kinds of awkwardness?  Should I have bitten my tongue instead?  Should I not talk about these things… just in case it causes… *issues* in my real-world relationships?  Should I just delete this entire blog!!???”

You hear what I’m saying?

I have really been pondering on these issues for many months.  It’s part of the reason why (at least according to me)… this blog is very… meh.   And ho-hum’ish.   It’s meh because I’m always trying soooo hard NOT to offend certain people in my real-life world… (I’m not talking about random troll-strangers… I’m talking about real-life people – whom I know and respect… and I don’t want to create tension and awkwardness between us because of what I write in this blog!!!).

So…  I can’t… *REALLY* be honest on this blog, you know?

There’s a great quote by Oscar Wilde:

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.  Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth”.

I absolutely agree.

But… other than start a whole new blog under a pseudonym (mask)… I’m not sure what to do about it.

I’m so tired of spending my life biting my tongue.  Aren’t you??

The crappy part of living differently

So… we are back in Johannesburg after 7 fabulous months in Cape Town, 2 months of road-tripping around the United States… and 6 weeks of roaming the Karoo, Hoedspruit and the Garden Route.

We’re back in Joburg for work:  namely – Nick’s latest film… which requires him to be here… in this city… for 3 months.  And we are all here with him because… as much as we love Cape Town (and other beautiful places)… we love Nick more… and being away from him (while he commuted on the past film) was difficult for the kids and I.

Here’s a round-up of the good and the bad news of the past 3 weeks:

The Bad News:

  • I’m suffering Cape Town withdrawal symptoms.  Actually no…  I think I’m just suffering from general travel-&-explore withdrawal symptoms.  I really hate having to return to the Sameness of Joburg.  It’s achingly familiar… and I don’t find familiarity and sameness comforting.  I find it limiting, boring and frustrating.  Yes, I could probably do with an attitude adjustment – but right now, I’m finding it tough.
  • I’ve been sick for 3 weeks with a wheezy chest cold that has only just started easing.  I don’t know what brought it on… (perhaps submerging myself into Joburg’s smoggy pollution after enjoying 7 months of fresh sea air!).  I visited the doctor… who prescribed antibiotics and other pills… which did nothing for me – except bring on horrendous depression and (this is a first for me) a full-blown anxiety attack.  I don’t know whether the depression and anxiety was as a result of moving back to the dull routine of Joburg… or whether it was because I was feeling physically sick… or whether it was because of the dodgy meds… or a combination of all of the above.  But nonetheless, I have been feeling VERY unlike myself of late.  And I don’t like this feeling.  At all.
  • I’ve also been feeling like a bit of a hypochondriac (also very unlike me).  I’ve been having all these dark, doom-brooder thoughts about how I’m going to end up dying before I’ve truly LIVED.  And every ache… pain… or bruise on my body… leads me to instantly think things like “Cancer!”… “Heart disease!”… “Fatal affliction!!!”… “Death-coming-soon!!!”…  I mean, WTF???  This is (so!) not like me!!!  What is Joburg doing to my head??
  • All 4 are of are currently squashed in to the tiny garden cottage of our old Joburg home (which is currently rented out to the awesome geeks of Dee-Twenty).  It is not an ideal situation.  I would be able to manage the garden cottage situation if we just *lived* here…  but Nick needs to work here too!  And productivity is impossible when all of us are home…  so I need to make sure that the kids and I leave the cottage every day so that Nick is able to work.  And – of course – it’s not like Joburg has the…. options… that Cape Town has (for curious, energetic kids!).  It’s not like Joburg has beaches… and wine farms… and mountain trails… and a gazillion things to do.
  • We were planning to rent a furnished apartment in Joburg… for the 3 months (and Nick would continue living in the cottage).  But finding a furnished cottage…  (with landlords prepared to sign a 3 month lease – and no more) has been harder than what I anticipated.  Joburg doesn’t have a lot of short-term, furnished accommodation options… and the stuff they do have – called “Executive Apartments” – is outrageously expensive.  Just on principle – I flatly refuse to pay the same amount of money for a small, shitty apartment with shiny floor tiles, fake bullrushes in urns and orange chintz scatter-cushions…  I refuse to pay the same amount (for that) as what we paid for the Misty Cliffs Beach House.  Beautiful… beautiful… Misty Cliffs 3 bedroomed beach house with pool… for the same amount of money for a bling’esque Sandton apartment?  No!  I refuse!  I’d rather stay squashed in our garden cottage.

Here’s some garden-cottage pictures:

Our weeny-weeny kitchen...

Our weeny-weeny kitchen…

Looking through the kitchen serving-hatch onto the lounge / TV room / living room / Nick's studio space...

Looking through the kitchen serving-hatch onto the lounge / TV room / living room / Nick’s studio space…

The bedroom… where all 4 of us are currently sleeping...

The bedroom… where all 4 of us are currently sleeping…

The Good News:

  • The main bit of good news about Joburg (which will always be the thing I love most) – is that it’s close to our family and very dear friends.  I have loved catch-up time.  I’m really not nuts about Joburg itself…  but… the people in Joburg are another matter entirely.
  • More good news is that… in spite of the compressed discomfort of the cottage… what it means is this:  It saves us money!  And where do we plan to invest this saved money?  Why, another road trip, of course!   (December & January… country to be confirmed… but probably in Europe).  The December road trip is currently my light at the end of the tunnel.  Whenever the dark clouds of depression come rolling in, I just keep thinking:  “Keep your eyes on the Road Trip, Heather!  Keep your eyes on the travel!”
  • More good news is that I’ve just scooped a really big illustration job for a big international client.  Best of all – the illustrations themselves are on the subject of things I feel passionate about (i.e.: I’m not rolling turds in glitter).
  • And… more good news… is that I’ve discovered an awesome Learning Centre (a mere 10 minute drive away from our cramped-cottage).  It’s run by a group of people passionate about encouraging children to discover their talents and strengths… and to discover (without forcing or coercion) what they’re genuinely passionate about and interested in.  For a monthly fee, I can drop Morgan and Joah at the Learning Centre… whenever I want – and there’s loads of things for them to do:  art classes, music lessons, book club, maths club, robotics club, soccer club, jewellery-making, swimming, Ec0-Warriors club, drama classes (and so much more)…  plus endless recourses which they can choose to use (or not).  Books, games, art materials, computers & games, outdoor jungle gym… etc.  Oh – and a wide range of children (of all ages and from all backgrounds).  Homeschoolers go… unschoolers go… and children (from local schools) also attend after school for help with homework or for specific tutoring.  It’s a gem of a find for us.  The kids have been attending for 2 weeks now – and they love it.  So – for now – it’s a nice arrangement and change of pace (for the kids) for the next 3 months.

As I type this, I’m sitting in a lovely little coffee shop called Petits Fours.  I’m working on a few illustrations and Nick is back at the cottage, editing.  The kids are at their cousins for the weekend.  Last night was Cousin Danni’s “Disco Party” for her 7th birthday – and the kids stuffed their faces with cupcakes, danced the night away, enjoyed a night-picnic… and sang karaoke.  Happy kidlets.

Nick and I enjoyed a rare date-night last night… just the two of us… and managed to squash in a dinner, a theatre production (starring our friend, James), after-show chat with James… AND… dessert at the Haagen Dazs shop… AND a late night movie (all good news)…  followed by feelings of inexplicable misery (bad news)… and all sorts of out-of-the-blue, completely irrational fears that “Something Bad” was going to happen (more bad news)…

I fell asleep next to Nick… feeling uneasy and offish… and just… very NOT like my (usually optimistic) self.

I hate feeling like that.  I hate not feeling in control of my head!!!

A few posts back – I mentioned my personalities.  Well…  it feels like the Doom Brooder has escaped her cage in the attic…. and taken over my head.

The rest of us are working hard to gain control again.

Okay.  Random, strange post done.  I’m going to order a freshly squeezed carrot, apple & ginger juice.  And draw.

 

 

Why I’ll be surprised if my kids get a job

I come from a family of entrepreneurs.  My great grandfather (on my father’s side) was the Mayor of Morecambe in England… and owned a business that made potted shrimp.  He was even awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by the King of England for his contributions to the local fishing economy.

My Great-Grandad Herbert Willacy - the Mayor of Morecambe (obviously the guy wearing the fancy mayor-necklace)...

My Great-Grandad Herbert Willacy – the Mayor of Morecambe (obviously the guy wearing the fancy mayor-necklace)…

The BBC came to interview my great-grandad about the whole shrimp-business-thing.  Here's a cool photo of some of the fishermen with the BBC guy (and my great-grandad in the background)...

The BBC came to interview my great-grandad about the whole shrimp-business-thing. Here’s a cool photo of some of the fishermen with the BBC guy (and my great-grandad in the background)…

And here's another awesome photo of the BBC guy interviewing the women who worked in the factory.  Great-Grandad still lurking in the background… and in the foreground, to the left, my great grandmother.

And here’s another awesome photo of the BBC guy interviewing the women who worked in the factory. Great-Grandad still lurking in the background… and in the foreground, to the left, my great grandmother.

Great-Grandad Willacy’s daughter (my granny) married a similar-minded entrepreneur who packed up the family (my dad and his 4 brothers) and sailed to South Africa where he immediately set to work… paving his own way and building his own business.  Grandad… (and this seems to be a running theme in my family)… didn’t like being told what to do.  Grandad (like Great-Grandad) wanted to be his own boss.

So… when I was born, my Dad was working for Grandad at the family-run, Cape Town-based business… and, true to form… Dad (who, like his father and grandfather… hates being told what to do)… left the comfort and confines of the Patterson family business (much to Grandad’s chagrin) and moved us all inland to Johannesburg, in order to (drum-roll)… start his own business and be his own boss… because even working for his father still required being told what to do… and Dad… (all together now!)… hates being told what to do!

Dad (white overalls in the centre) with his brothers, Mike and John… at the family business (before Dad left to start a business of his own)...

Dad (white overalls in the centre) with his brothers, Mike and John… at the family business (before Dad left to start a business of his own)…

So, I grew up in a home with a successful, strong-willed (read: stubborn) entrepreneur.  From a young age, the idea that one could forge their own path… and make a plan to generate their own money… was the only way we knew.

In our home, there was never a fear around the topic of money.  Dad firmly believed that everyone was capable of generating it.  He was a visionary who easily recognised gaps in the market (where money might be made).  He was also not afraid of hard work… nor of taking risks.

Even when he lost (a very large sum) of money in a failed business… he simply picked himself up, dusted himself off, started from scratch… and built another business – starting from the garage of his home.

“It’s only money”… he’d say.

Dad's first successful business venture (after leaving Cape Town) was Cosy Gas Log Fires.  He built and sold these fireplaces.  This is the company brochure (I'm the one in the blue nightgown)...

Dad’s first successful business venture (after leaving Cape Town) was Cosy Gas Log Fires. He built and sold these fireplaces. This is the company brochure (I’m the one in the blue nightgown)…

A newspaper article published in the Benoni City Times (after Dad had opened his new factory and showroom).  He later sold Cosy Gas Log Fires to a company called Jetmaster (for a significant sum)… and moved on to other business ventures.

A newspaper article published in the Benoni City Times (after Dad had opened his new factory and showroom). He later sold Cosy Gas Log Fires to a company called Jetmaster (for a significant sum)… and moved on to other business ventures.

Today, Dad runs a successful business that manufactures electrical components.  The business is housed in a newly-built factory complex near his home in the south of Joburg.  He owns the other 5 factories in the complex – and rents them out to tenants.

The point of this post is this:  throughout my childhood,  my family’s risk-taking entrepreneurial modus operandi was the lens through which I viewed the world.  I never thought:  “One day, once I’m properly educated… I will hopefully get a good job that will pay a good salary”.

I never thought in terms of “the job” I would one day ask someone else for…

It never occurred to me to think in terms of “someone else”… like a boss or an employer… being responsible for my financial wellbeing.  I – and I alone – would be responsible for the money I made (or didn’t make).

I always thought in terms of the business I would run… or the freelance work I would do (on my terms)… or the money I would generate by selling something (again:  on my terms).  I always assumed that I would carve my own path in some kind of creative entrepreneurial pursuit… and generate my own income… and live on my own terms (which I have done – for better or for worse) without having to rely on a corporation or a boss to generate it *for* me.

Nobody in our immediate family worked for a boss.  Everyone was their own boss.

My mom… even as a stay-at-home-mom (who didn’t need to generate an income because Dad’s financial provision was more than enough to support us all)… generated her own money nonetheless.  She hosted pottery classes, dressmaking and pattern-making workshops… sweet-making courses (and many – many – countless other things too).

One of my Mom's money-making ideas… she created these different shapes which could easily be fitted together to make unique playhouses for kids (you can see Soo and me enjoying ourselves with this one)...

One of my Mom’s money-making ideas… she created these different shapes which could easily be fitted together to make unique playhouses for kids (I’m the one on the inside)…

Another one of Mom's business ventures:  a Play-Group at our home… and art lessons for kids (I'm on the left)...

Another one of Mom’s business ventures: a Play-Group at our home… and art lessons for kids (I’m on the left)…

(Mom’s grandfather – interestingly – was also a self-made entrepreneur in the beverage industry).

After my parents were divorced (many years ago), Mom continued with her creative entrepreneurial ways – and today she owns and operates Fisherman’s Village (conference centre, coffee shop and Christian ministry of restoration).

My younger sister also went through a stint of owning her own business but decided that the corporate life was just a better fit for her.  Soo enjoys competition, people, minions and corporate perks and, for a number of reasons (which she has mentioned in her blog here)… has chosen to go that route.  Not because she “can’t” make it as a business owner (she can… and she has)… but rather, it didn’t quite suit her unique design.

It suits mine, though.

Much like Dad… and Grandad… and Great-Grandad… I, too, am a stubborn creature who hates being told what to do.  And for the (short) seasons when I did work for a boss… I loathed it deeply and sunk into a miserable depression.

Another interesting dimension of this story: I married Nick (spawned from generations of Greek entrepreneurs).  Greeks seem to be natural-made entrepreneurs (possibly also something to do with that hate-being-told-what-to-do thing??)…

Almost everyone in Nick’s family is a self-made entrepreneur.  Nick’s parents (together with his uncle and aunt) began their South African business ventures (in true Greek style) with a corner café and bakery – which later grew in to a bit of a food empire (the older Greeks have now retired and the company is now run by Nick’s cousins, Helen and Sandra).

Helen’s husband, Vasco, is a structural engineer with his own business.  Their son, Alec, is a professional drummer and music producer.  Their other son, Mike, is a professional freelance photographer (both Mike and Alec are based in Liverpool).  Nick’s brother, Dino, is a sound engineer with his own recording studio.  Nick’s sister, Angela, is an interior decorator with her own consultancy and shop.  Nick’s cousin, Peter, has a business manufacturing jewellery… on and on it goes.

Even more interestingly… (come to think of it)… almost everyone in our closest circle of friends work for themselves.  Rogan is a mastering engineer with his own studio.  Tracey is a professional photographer.  Ray is a professional musician.  James and Anel are professional actors and producers.  Ryley makes documentary films.  Josh is a director and production-studio owner.  Joel is a published author and speaker.  Joe is a popular singer…  (and, of course, all of my travelling family & nomadic friends either work freelance or own a business)… (and most of my homeschooling & unschooling friends too!)…

Come to think of it… very few of our friends work for a boss or within the constraints of an 8-5, rush-hour traffic sort of job.  (I can think of 5 good friends who are required to ask for leave or clock in on time).

I wonder why this is?

It’s not as though we *deliberately* set out to surround ourselves with people who are… similar.

And I definitely don’t scorn those who work full-time jobs for bosses.

It’s a DIFFERENT life to mine… a different choice.  It has nothing to do with right or wrong… or good or bad (I love diversity – and neither want, nor expect, everyone to be the same as me!)…  but that said, the Life-of-the-Entrepreneur is just so familiar to me… so deeply ingrained in my DNA (and in Nick’s)… that I would be genuinely surprised if Morgan or Joah grew up with aspirations to work for a boss at a big corporation.

(Notice:  I didn’t say “disappointed”… I said: “surprised”).

I’m kinda expecting that Morgan and Joah will naturally pattern what has been modelled to them and, like the generations before them, they will either open their own business… or freelance… or make their own films… or write their own books… or open a restaurant… or a guest house… or whatever…

I’m sure they’ll have a season of working for a boss (as I did… as Nick did too) – but ultimately, I kinda imagine that they’ll be entrepreneurs too.

After all, it does seem to run in the family….  :-)

Life-learning in Cape Town…

So… here’s what life learning in Cape Town looked like for our family (lots of photos in this post!)…

Nature Studies & Wildlife

Cape Town is so ridiculously beautiful, that the opportunities to do nature walks abound.  We visited Kirstenbosch Gardens (a number of times)… fed the fish at Silvermine… marvelled at the Kirstenbosch bonsai trees… explored all the different types of fynbos on the Cape peninsula… and fell in love with the gorgeous 300 year old camphor trees and the ancient oaks at Vergelegen Wine Estate.

Inside Africa's oldest oak tree at Vergelegen Wine Estate.

Inside Africa’s oldest oak tree at Vergelegen Wine Estate.

Joah and the hungry guinea fowl at Kirstenbosch Gardens...

Joah and the hungry guinea fowl at Kirstenbosch Gardens…

kirstenbosch stream

We’ve watched the seals at Kalk Bay harbour and Hout Bay harbour.  We’ve visited the Simon’s Town penguins.  We’ve taken the cousins to the Cape Town Aquarium.  We’ve visited the snake park at Imhoff Farm (and petted a very large corn snake).  We’ve explored the natural history museum (at Cape Town’s Company Gardens).  We’ve petted farm animals at Imhoff.  We’ve lived in a baboon-friendly neighbourhood.  We’ve caught tadpoles.  We’ve watched Southern Right whales from our veranda at Misty Cliffs.  And we’ve gone on many rock-trotting expeditions… searching in rock pools for starfish, sea urchins and anemones  (which the kids call “squooshees”)…

Cousins and clown fish at the aquarium...

Cousins and clown fish at the aquarium…

The penguins at Simon's Town...

The penguins at Simon’s Town…

Bunny cuddles at Imhoff Farm...

Bunny cuddles at Imhoff Farm…

Joah loved this little goat...

Joah loved this little goat…

Needless to say – Cape Town has endless opportunities to learn about (and surround oneself with) nature.

Reading & Writing

We found a wonderful online programme called Reading Eggs… which both kids have really taken to.  Reading also happens naturally and organically (we read bedtime stories – mostly Roald Dahl stuff – my favourite children’s author)… and Morgan loves to scrapbook and write little notes to herself.  The kids are learning at their own pace – and we’re happy with their progress.

Morgan busy with Reading Eggs online...

Morgan busy with Reading Eggs online…

Some of our many books...

Some of our many books…

Art

Well… obviously… there’s lots of art.  We draw, paint and create on a regular basis.  That’s just a given in our family.

They collected sea shells… then painted them and glued them together to make interesting shell-art...

They collected sea shells… then painted them and glued them together to make interesting shell-art…

One of Morgan's illustrations...

One of Morgan’s illustrations…

Drawings… lego… and pizza dough!  :-)

Drawings… lego… and pizza dough! :-)

Crafts

Morgan loves to craft.  She seems to have taken after both of her grandmothers (who are both very gifted in making things with their hands).  She has been sewing, beading, weaving… and is also busy with cross-stitch and the creation of felt fashion accessories for herself.  This is something she enjoys naturally… and she has done everything on her own (I can’t sew at all!).

Morgan with the felt accessory she made for her hair… and a necklace she knitted.

Morgan with the felt accessory she made for her hair… and a necklace she knitted.

Experimenting with a big-bum pant-suit… :-)

Experimenting with a big-bum pant-suit… :-)

The happy little crafter...

The happy little crafter…

She loved her knitting so much, that she'd take her knitting with her to Kirstenbosch Gardens...

She loved her knitting so much, that she’d take her knitting with her to Kirstenbosch Gardens…

Baking & Cooking

Both of our kids are interested in what happens in the kitchen.  Morgan, especially, loves to bake.  I’m going to enrol her in a cooking class soon.  :-)

Baking bran muffins

Baking bran muffins

Joah - cooking his own breakfast...

Joah – cooking his own breakfast…

Baking choc chip cookies...

Baking choc chip cookies…

Physical Exercise

Our kids love to run, climb and explore.  They’ve been hiking,  swimming, rock trotting, beach walking, bike riding, ice skating, tree climbing and so much more…

The climbing course at Acrobranch in Hout Bay...

The climbing course at Acrobranch in Hout Bay…

Clearly, my kids don't have an issue with heights...

Clearly, my kids don’t have an issue with heights…

Bike riding in Noordhoek...

Bike riding in Noordhoek…

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Friends

We’ve met a number of people during our 7 months in Cape Town… and all of us have made some new friends.  Morgan and Joah’s new friends are Jonty, Tyler and Anna… (not to mention all the other kids they met at our favourite hang-out’s like Imhoff Farm and Noordhoek Village).  They also loved the visit from their cousins (a very special treat!).

Cousins and ice-cream!

Cousins and ice-cream!

Joah, Morgan, Anna & Jonty… and all the Easter crafts, bags & hats they decided to make...

Joah, Morgan, Anna & Jonty… and all the Easter crafts, bags & hats they decided to make…

Joah, Jonty & Tyler… with lots of lego!  :-)

Joah, Jonty & Tyler… with lots of lego! :-)

Playing "shop-shop" (like true mini Greeks) with acorns and little playground friends...

Playing “shop-shop” (like true mini Greeks) with acorns and little playground friends…

Music

Joah has been showing a keen interest in music… so we bought him his first guitar.  Warms my heart to see him play it.  :-)

Nick and I are both musicians… maybe Joah is following in our footsteps?

Nick and I are both musicians… maybe Joah is following in our footsteps?

History

Cape Town has a number of interesting historical sites… and we’ve visited many of them (including many museums).  We’ve been to the Rhodes Memorial, the Simon’s Town museum, the South African Naval Museum, the Toy Museum, the South African Natural History Museum, the District Six Museum… and we’ve done a boat tour of the V & A Harbour (which also explained some fascinating history of the area).

History used to be one of my most loathed subjects at school… but these days, it fascinates me.  All of us enjoy the history & museum expeditions… so many stories to be told.

The Rhodes Memorial

The Rhodes Memorial

Dino dioramas at the South African Museum...

Dino dioramas at the South African Museum…

Sad stories at the District Six museum.  Morgan (especially) gets very serious in places like this.  She's very disturbed by the idea of apartheid.  She finds it hard to believe that this country used to be so segregated.

Sad stories at the District Six museum. Morgan (especially) gets very serious in places like this. She’s very disturbed by the idea of apartheid. She finds it hard to believe that this country used to be so segregated.

The Toy Museum (in Simon's Town)...

The Toy Museum (in Simon’s Town)…

Simon's Town Naval Museum

Science

We’ve visited the science museum (lots of experiments to try).  We also have various concoctions and science experiments at home.  Just 4 days ago, Morgan built a basic water purifier after hearing our stories about water pollution (the planet and the environment are topics that we regularly discuss in our home).  They also built a big (working) windmill out of fiddlestix – which (again) raised the topic of clean energy and how we can use less dirty resources in our homes and lives.

Joah building at the Cape Town Science Museum...

Joah building at the Cape Town Science Museum…

Building with fiddlestix...

Building with fiddlestix…

Experiments at the Science Museum...

Experiments at the Science Museum…

Nick giving Morgan some chess lessons at the Science Museum...

Nick giving Morgan some chess lessons at the Science Museum…

Fun…

And – of course – there has been loads and loads of fun and games and free-play.  We are BIG believers in free-play and time for kids to just be kids… to invent their own games… do their own thing… and entertain themselves.

Tweedle-Dum & Tweedle-Dee...

Tweedle-Dum & Tweedle-Dee…

Games with old boxes...

Games with old boxes…

Joah and the fluffies...

Joah and the fluffies…

… and last – but certainly not least…. LEGO!

The Lego Movie Set (see videos below)...

The Lego Movie Set (see videos below)…

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We are a Lego family.  We all love lego.  One of our favourite family treats is buying a big box of Lego… and then building it together.  And – because we have now amassed a significant amount of Lego – the kids and Nick decided to make a few Lego Movies.  Here they are:

 

 

 

 

It’s none of my business

I love this Anthony Hopkins quote!  I want to… somehow… imprint it deep in my psyche!

“My philosophy is:  It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me.  I am what I am and I do what I do.  I expect nothing and accept everything.  And it makes life so much easier”.

*sigh*…

Imagine how liberating that must be?  I love that concept… it’s none of my business what other people say or think about me.  I need to remind myself of that.  Again and again.  And again.

It’s exhausting and draining… to live according to the expectations of others.  As Shakespeare said:

“Expectation is the root of all heartache”

I totally agree.

I have spent so much of my life trying to please others… trying to live up to expectations… trying to do the “right” things… trying to live life the “right” way… trying not to piss too many people off… making decisions because I felt I *ought to* make them… or because other people thought I ought to make them…  and on and on it went.  Blah-dee-blah….!

Here’s another quote I resonate with (since I’m in a bit of a quote’y mood tonight)…

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

- José Micard Teixeira

Okay.  Time to sleep.  Zzzz….

More of my odd journal art…

About a week ago, I shared a couple of photos of one of my art journals.  Here’s a few pics of what I’ve scribbled in the smaller journal (I have loads of these journals, by the way).  Yes… these are messy!!  In essence… it’s a mishmash of random stuff in my head (quotes, ideas, thoughts, rants, etc)… that I regurgitate on to paper.  In fact – the mess in my journals pretty accurately represents the inside of my head.  ;-)

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What it’s like to live in Cape Town

So… since February… we’ve been living in Cape Town.

Well – not Cape Town city… but rather, the Cape Peninsula… otherwise known as “The Deep South”… otherwise described as “living behind the lentil curtain”.

Life is very pleasant behind the lentil curtain.

Our first apartment was in Noordhoek on Beach Road… a few hundred metres from the beach.  Noordhoek is a very kid-friendly, dog-friendly, horse-friendly, bike-friendly place.  In fact – if I had to sum up the Peninsula, it would be Kid-Dog-Horse-Bike place.  Seems like everyone in Noordhoek has kids, dogs, bikes and horses.  Lots of fit people too.  Jogging about all fit-like.

This sometimes made me feel guilty (about my sad level of non-existent fitness)… but the feeling quickly passed.

Stuff I loved about Noordhoek, Misty Cliffs, Scarborough and Cape Town in general:

  • The epic beauty of the Cape.  Cape Town can not be beaten for it’s natural beauty.  The mountains, the sea, the vineyards… it is just so, so beautiful.  The natural beauty of Cape Town just does something for me.
  • Living a few steps away from the beach (many afternoon & evening beach-walks and rock-trotting)

rocks in front of our home

long beach

  • Cafe Roux, The Food Barn, Imhoff Farm and all the other places that offer great coffee, good food and wonderful kid-friendly play spaces (Cape Town is very family-friendly).
Cafe Roux in Noordhoek Village (many an hour spent slurping their coffee!)

Cafe Roux in Noordhoek Village (many an hour spent slurping their coffee!)

  • The yummy  Thursday Evening Food Market at Cape Point Vineyards.
The Food Market at Cape Point Vineyards… (all the action is happening in the background)...

The Food Market at Cape Point Vineyards… (all the action is happening in the background)…

The Food Market sits on the edge of a lake… with ridiculous sunset views...

The Food Market sits on the edge of a lake… with ridiculous sunset views…

  • The trees, the green-ness… the big open fields at Noordhoek Common where horses graze and fit people go for jogs.
  • Kirstenbosch Gardens.  We kept going back – it’s that beautiful.
Joah playing dead in Kirstenbosch Gardens...

Joah playing dead in Kirstenbosch Gardens…

  • Bob’s Bagel Cafe in Kalk Bay (and the park opposite).  Lovely, sheltered spot for kids to play and adults to quaff coffee & bagels whilst reading magazines.
  • The penguins in Simon’s Town (just one of those must-do Cape Town experiences)

penguins

  • Vergelegen Wine Estate (for many reasons… the giant trees… the kid’s play area at the restaurant… the museum… the forest…)
  • The chocolate makers at The Spice Route.
  • The interesting creative stuff happening in Woodstock at places like the Old Castle Brewery,  The Old Biscuit Mill (housing the Neighbourgoods Market) and The Woodstock Exchange.
  • The general cleanliness of the city (not to mention the lack of potholes!)
  • The wonderful… breath-of-fresh-air… LACK of advertising and newspaper headlines plastered on every street lamp-post (ala Joburg).
  • Our ridiculously wonderful beach house in Misty Cliffs… (which you can rent out by clicking here)
"The Blue" at Misty Cliffs - where we spent 3 wonderful months...

“The Blue” at Misty Cliffs – where we spent 3 wonderful months…

  • Slankop’s wonderful iron lighthouse… just down the road from us.
Slangkop lighthouse in Kommetjie...

Slangkop lighthouse in Kommetjie…

  • Cape Point (for the magnificent views and beauty… but not for the overpriced food at the overpriced restaurant!)
  • Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Ball still makes the best calamari.  Ever.
  • Chapman’s Peak itself offers views to gulp down greedily.

chapman's peak

  • The hidden “Discovery Room” at the South African Museum of Natural History.
  • Free-Range play-places for kids.  The Peninsula is full of playgrounds that I would have loved as a kid.  You don’t find bulky, plastic “safe” playgrounds (ala McDonalds) on the Peninsula…  instead, there’s tree houses, rope swings, piles of wood, kid-sized nests (and so much more).  The whole place offers a wonderful outdoorsy, lifestyle for kidlets.
Bluewater Cafe at Imhoff Farm has an adventure treehouse with a tarzan-swing.  The kids, of course,  love it.

Bluewater Cafe at Imhoff Farm has an adventure treehouse with a tarzan-swing. The kids, of course, love it.

Rope bridge playground at an indigenous tree nursery that we found (close to Cape Point)...

Rope bridge playground at an indigenous tree nursery that we found (close to Cape Point)…

Acrobranch in Hout Bay

Acrobranch in Hout Bay

  • Proteas, proteas everywhere!  My favourite flower!

proteas

  • Best steak I think we’ve ever tasted at the Hussar Grill in Camps Bay.
  • The new friends I made… specifically Meg & Charise.  Who I am now going to miss horribly.
  • The chilled lifestyle.  I mean… we watched whales frolic while we took a shower!  Living on the Peninsula felt as though we were on a long-term summer holiday.  Nick often mentioned that working there didn’t feel like *work*.
Nick working (reading a script for the next film) on the hammock at the Misty Cliffs beach house...

Nick working (reading a script for the next film) on the hammock at the Misty Cliffs beach house…

Stuff I wasn’t too fond of:

  • Flies.  With lots of horses come lots of flies.  And Noordhoek has more than it’s fair share of flies.
  • Dog poo on Long Beach.  So. Much. Dog. Poo. On. Long. Beach…. because everyone – in this very dog-friendly place – walks their dogs on the beach and, lo! the dogs seem to find the beach an irresistible place to squat and push out the biggest, stinkiest, steaming turds.  And everyone’s like:  “Oh well”… and they just nonchalantly shrug and look away whilst Rover does his business… and on they all stroll, without a care in the world.

anti poo

General Comments about Cape Town:

I will always have a deep nostalgia for Cape Town.  I was born there.  I spent my first years eating the beach sand at Blouberg.  Cape Town will always have a special place in my heart.

Clearly the Cape Town Government is on it’s best behaviour with something to prove (the topic of *who* they want to impress the most is an argument for another day).  I deeply appreciated the general lack of litter… and pot-holes (which Joburg is renowned for)… and (my absolute favourite thing!): the LACK of advertisements and billboards and newspaper headlines stuck to every lamppost.

On the slightly political side of the coin…  the Peninsula (at least) seems to be very *white*.  If you visit the food market at the Cape Point Vineyard, for example, it’s like 98% whities.   Whities just like me.  Middle-to-Higher-Income whities who live in the suburbs with 2 kids, 2 cars, 2 jobs, etc…  Much (although not all) of Cape Town doesn’t seem very racially integrated – especially in comparison to Joburg… a lot of it still smacked of old-time colonialism and that makes me feel uncomfortable.  I miss (and crave) diversity… and a healthy integration of people, belief systems and cultures.

As I mentioned before in this post – I don’t only want to hang around people who are the *same* as us… (whether the same culture / class / religion / political outlook / economic bracket / race / sexual orientation / whatever….).  In fact, as soon as I start having uber-high doses of sameness (in any of the aforementioned contexts) – I start getting antsy and itcy-feet’ish and start searching for newness and diversity to make me feel human again.  I want to meet and connect with people from ALL flavours, colours, cultures and backgrounds.  I don’t *only* want to mingle with people who are sorta like me.

One my most oft’ repeated phrases (and I wonder whether people truly realise how much I *mean* this)….  I LOVE DIVERSITY!!!

So… the one thing that I didn’t really like about the Peninsula – was that there wasn’t a wonderful, healthy mix of diversity.  Not saying that it’s “wrong”… (let me add this disclaimer, because I don’t want anyone to get their knickers in a knot and to think that I’m saying that it’s “wrong” for people to hang with their own-kind.  After all – it’s a very natural, human thing to do).  No – I’m saying that in MY ideal world… and MY ideal life…  I would prefer more mingling, integration and diversity.  I don’t *only* want to be hanging people who are like *ME*.   I want to connect with people who are not like me at all.

For me – it’s what makes life so interesting:  human diversity!

Okay.  Enough about that.

On to new things.  We have now left Cape Town behind us.  I miss it already.  But new adventures are calling….