Happiness, Inspiration, Life, Mental Health, Mom, Personal Development, Uncategorized

Don’t let your age define you – Remove “too old” from your vocabulary

Florence

I had eagerly awaited meeting Florence, she is an angelic, elegant, absolutely captivating mom, granny and great granny. She will be turning a phenomenal 102 years old this October. Florence has an extraordinary presence, who touches the hearts of those lucky enough to meet her. She was described to me by a close friend who passed away in April as a very sharp, intelligent, classy and particularly articulate woman with a pleasant nature who leaves everyone she meets feeling lucky to have met her and spent time in her presence.

After much anticipation, the time finally came when I would meet the woman who had only been a legend up until that moment. I walked through the kitchen door past the dining room into the living room where she sat on a one-seater couch.

The dining room table is a modern rectangular table with 8 chairs. A number of timeless retro silver pieces stood on the table, similar to the tea set, a family heirloom, passed down through two generations and stands in my mother’s living room on a light, varnished oak sideboard. The living room has a warm, quaint vintage feel to it. Behind where Florence sat, stood a classic display cabinet with a collection of porcelain dolls in it. The room was filled with a number of antique ornaments, taking me back to my grandmother’s house in Merrivale, which a tiny town near Howick Natal, where we often visited when I was a little girl.

As I enthusiastically approached where she was sitting my attention was quickly drawn to a loud shriek, followed by some chirping, coming from one of two African Grey parrots. In the corner of the room stood two large bird cages with two African Grey parrots. The birds immediately noticed me, and they caused a racket as if to impress the new comer.

I quickly turned around and introduced myself to Florence and her face lit up as she told me that it is wonderful to meet me. Her voice is soft-spoken and her English, perfectly eloquent. She sat upright in the chair with perfect posture, her walking cane stood next to her, leaning up against the couch. Her light grey hair was perfectly done, not a hair out-of-place. Her face completely content, her eye lids slightly drooped, forehead creased, cheeks wrinkled. Her skin is light in complexion and absolutely perfectly made up, pinkish blush on her cheeks, eye brows neat and light pink lipstick on her lips, framed by lip liner. She was a picture of pure elegance and classic beauty.

I gazed at her, completely in awe at her magnetic beauty and marvelous presence, to me she seemed larger than life. I certainly felt very blessed to meet this enchanted woman. If I had not known her age, I would have guessed her at around 78 at most. I was instantly captured by her elegance, I remember both of my Grandmothers having the same sort of timeless elegance. We chatted for some time about the walk that she had been on earlier that day and the porcelain dolls, among other things.

Her articulate use of the English language struck me and impressed me as soon as she began to speak. I appreciate and respect for the English language and I am often left annoyed when someone abuses the language. I accept that the language has evolved(not for the better in my opinion) but I gave up correcting people years ago when I realised that I was only aggravating myself by obsessing over it and pointing the mistakes people make out because it fell on deaf ears and I realised that it is generally accepted these days to misuse English. I learnt to ignore bad pronouncing, misspelling and misuse of words in the same way I learnt to ignore bad driving by the South African minibus taxi drivers. Shouting and screaming and getting upset at taxi drivers was only driving my blood pressure up and affecting my mood and was completely ignored by them. Eventually I decided that accepting the way in which taxis drive and not getting riled up was the best option for my mental state and health. I still cringe when people use the incorrect to, too or two but smile and scroll past.

Florence left me with a unique warm feeling inside and a wide magical smile on my face that remained for the rest of the afternoon.

I so often hear people saying, “I am getting old” or “I am really feeling the age” or “I am too old to do this”. I am talking about people in their 30’s who constantly bring up their age in a negative way. Come on people, here is a woman at 101, who walks every day and still enjoys the small things in life. She spent the Soccer World cup watching each match and supporting her favourite teams throughout the tournament. I had hoped that Croatia would win the world cup, I often favour the underdog. Florence however was supporting France and celebrated their win. I laughed when she was watching and said, “Oh dear, that gentleman’s pants have torn”. She also said that she had seen his behind. I smile every time I think about that.

She loves sharing stories of her childhood as well as of her children growing up and has also shared stories of naughty things that her grandchildren got up to as children. She assures me that she brought her children up to be well manned. I giggled when she told me about the only time her and her sister ever got a hiding as children. She said that her dad had bought them new rain coats and they put one of the rain coats over both of them and stretched it by trying to fit it around both of them. The girls had wanted to see if they could both fit into one raincoat for the fun of it. They got themselves into a lot of trouble over the rain coats and she told the story in great detail, using the sweetest facial expressions. I found the story cute and entertaining. If only I could say something as small as that was the only thing my children had got up to through the years to hit my nerves.

She walks every single day as well as reading the newspaper every day. She enjoys the small things and delights in the company of her family and caregivers who have become family. She has an incredible support structure and she is surrounded by people who love her. She keeps her mind active and feeds it daily. She has many a pearl of wisdom to share such as “love isn’t always fun, it takes hard work too” among many others. I look forward to spending hours with her and hearing many more of her wonderful stories.

A couple of weeks back the girls and I headed out for a ladies night. We had the pleasure of bumping into a 74-year-old man who was dancing up a storm and really loving life. We chatted to him and asked how old he was. When he answered, we were shocked because we had thought that he was probably around 65 at the most. 74 years old, dancing in a local spot in Fourways, filled with mostly youngsters and thriving on every moment. He was living life and enjoying every minute of it.

Forget that the word “old” exists and stop referring to yourself as old. I have certainly never heard Florence call herself old. Get exercise every day, eat right and most importantly, FEED YOUR MIND DAILY.

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Children, Family, Inspiration, Kids, Life, Mom, Parenting, Relationships, Uncategorized

From baby girl to lady, Happy 18th Birthday Jaymee – Birthday celebrations

For Jaymee, finally her birthday arrived!  What more can an 18-year-old ask for, than having your 18th birthday on a Friday.  Jaymee had been waiting with much anticipation and counting the days, and I had been dragging my feet with so much apprehension, I was in fact pretending that this was not really happening.  Maybe if I ignore it and pretend it isn’t there then it won’t happen right…?  WRONG! This is the real-world Lulu and you can’t stop this.  As much as I have to be super-mom, stopping time is way beyond my super-hero skills.

Leading up to her birthday from Monday, I was drowning in work and completely captivated with my professional life and putting off discussing plans for her birthday.  Just when I was living in wonderland and hiding from the big “becoming a lady” birthday thing, my gorgeous friend, Natasha, asked me what the plans are as she would be driving 50 minutes from her house to mine to spend Jaymee’s birthday with us.

How excited I suddenly felt, my friend would be driving so far out of her way, just to spend the evening with us.  I discussed what Jaymee wanted to do and she wanted us to take her out.  My friend asked if she didn’t mind the old ladies taking her out.  “Of course not, we are cool old ladies”, I laughed.  Jaymee really appreciates us taking her out and enjoys our company.  Jaymee had one request, that her brother could join us.  I enjoy taking both my foster children out, so I was excited that I would be taking both of them out.

On Thursday afternoon, Keegan (my son, 14) asked me to take him shopping for ingredients so that he could bake her a cake for her birthday.  Off we went to the shop and got everything that he required for her special birthday cake and he got home and got straight into baking.

The children went off to school on Friday morning – they walk, it is close to home and the Whats App statuses started with lovely pics and memories from all of her friends wishing her happy birthday.  My phone started ringing from around 7:30am and messages were pouring in on all platforms, wishing her well for her birthday.  I felt incredibly proud.  Everyone really loves all of my children and has accepted my foster children from day one.

While running around on site, I got a message from Jaymee asking if I could fetch her or send an uber because she would be unable to go out of the bottom school gate because she had so many balloons, from her friends.  I finished on site around 10 minutes later and called her to tell her that I would be on my way shortly to fetch her and her balloons and the boys from school.  When I got to the school, I saw her by the huge bunch of colourful balloons in her hands and I hoped that they would all fit into the car.  The children squashed them into the boot and got into the car.

Jaymee decided she wanted KFC for birthday lunch so we stopped off at KFC on the way home.  I have to say not my first choice, or even one of my first ten choices, but her birthday so her choice.  We left KFC and discussed our plans and what time we would be going out.

Having to wait for Natasha to come after work, we were not exactly sure of how things would play out.  Jaymee’s foster dad/step-brother came to wish her a happy birthday and we decided that we would go up to a nice vibey restaurant close to pass the time and wait for Natasha to come through.  We called for uber and were off.  Once Natasha arrived, she joined us and other friends who were there and then we decided on a total change of plans.  We would be going to dance at a place nearby instead of heading to Fourways, which was a lot more convenient and made sense.  We danced and danced, burning up the dance floor and did 15,000 steps according to my step tracker. The best thing about being at one of the local places is we ran into friends of hers and Trystan’s as well.  Trystan made new friends and fun was had by all as we painted the town red.

We had a great time celebrating, dancing and meeting people.  When the time came to go home, I had to be quite strict (particularly with my friend – the children are quite good at listening, her not so much!) and we went home. We walked to McDonalds at the other side of the parking for pad-kos (a quick take-away).  The thing about McDonalds is it is right there and who doesn’t need food after a long night of dancing?  I am pretty sure that that particular McDonalds makes most of its turn over after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.  I have actually asked the question if it is socially acceptable to ask your uber driver to go through the drive thru at McDonalds a few times and the general consensus is “Yes”.  This time however, we walked over and called an uber afterwards.

As the uber driver stopped at the house, Natasha was scrambling to pick up all the chips off of the seat that had been dropped, I have to say that I am a bit skeptical that all the chips were actually ours.  She apologised and made sure to pick up every last chip.  We thanked him and got out and went in.

Saturday was Rugby at the high-school, so we braced ourselves for the cold to go to the school and support the Rugby team.  Natasha and her daughter experienced the school rugby tunnel that we do for the first time.  I love the tunnel, it is the best way to see the school spirit and experience the vibe of high-school rugby.  We were completely exhausted after the rugby and as Natasha and her daughter left, we all went to have a nap.

My feet, legs and butt were hurting, and I was exhausted.  Thinking a nap would be fantastic and I would be up in a few hours to go to an engagement was very hopeful.  I decided my warm bed was the better option and I stayed home.  Trystan and Jaymee were both exhausted as well and they both went into hibernation until Sunday noon.  I offered Jaymee to go to the restaurant up the road for the last of her birthday celebrations, where we would meet my long-time friend, Tarin.  We had a wonderful afternoon, laughing and Jaymee insisting on selfies and that was the end of her birthday weekend.

As her birthday weekend came to an end, I could breathe and the world was a pleasant place.  Suddenly the weight was lifted and her being an adult didn’t feel daunting at all.  I had managed to over dramatize the whole idea of her becoming an adult completely in my mind and freak out.  Suddenly, I realised that she is responsible and already a beautiful young woman and how utterly ridiculous I had been.  Letting her become the best woman she can be by making her own mistakes and tripping a few times on the way isn’t as scary as I thought it was.  I will always be there to pick her up and I know that if she needs me that she will come to me.

Today, I am proud of my exuberant, beautiful and compassionate daughter and honoured to be her mom and be by her side as she becomes a young woman.

Children, Family, Kids, Life, Mom, Parenting, Technologies, Uncategorized

Social Media – the wonderful, dangerous double-edged sword

We all love checking our Facebook and Instagram, having a look at what people are up to and how everyone is doing, although who is to say that people are showing the reality in their lives when they post something online. The problem is that people seem to run to Facebook or another social media platform as soon as something happens, be it good or bad. The concerning thing is that the bad things and negativity spread like wild fire. People get all revved up and it breeds hate, racism and even depression or anxiety.

I love being able to have constant contact with friends and family abroad and seeing their updates. Seeing pictures of my niece in Canada is my absolute favourite. I love sharing my photos and I love the “feel good” things that we share amongst our social media friends, or within our social media circles. I think in a way we have lost the human part of interaction to some degree, which is saddening.

Lately the dangers of social media have become top of mind for me. Sadly, more negativity seems to be doing the rounds on social media than ever before. Fake News is being spread at an alarming rate and when I look at the pages spreading Fake News there are hundreds of thousands of followers or likes. One I looked at last week, had over 350,000 likes. All spreading the Fake News and negativity, fueling people’s anxiety and fear mongering. People seem to blindly share without even checking if the story comes from a reliable source and the sharing is definitely not of a positive nature. The world of social Media is breeding hate, fear and worse.

Everyone seems to think that they can share anything and have all sorts of opinions behind a computer, people don’t even realise the danger of what they are sharing or how it may affect lives. Someone has an opinion about something that occurred and shares their opinion online in a group or on a page, this fuels responses and eventually people’s lives are being changed without the faceless social media mob even knowing or understanding the actual story. Even more scary is that people don’t even realise the damage they are doing.

We are all aware of cyber bullying and how badly it can end, however, do people actually think before posting an opinion or sharing something that they feel to be right when in fact it is far from it. Do people think before they post? Do they think about the damage they may cause? In the dangerous times of social media everyone seems to be a crime fighter even if they don’t know what they are talking about, everyone is a Doctor, and everyone is a Lawyer, everyone is an expert. Sitting with a phone in hand or behind a computer, it is easy to say what you want to… However, the reality is what you say could ruin someone’s day, week, month, year or life.

I once saw a post on a community WhatsApp group about a suspicious vehicle…. mine!! I had parked outside a house where my daughter had been visiting to fetch her. Due to the large amount of drama within the family that lived in the house, I decided to sit outside the house and message my daughter that I was outside. The funny thing about teenagers is their phones are permanently attached to their hand until a parent needs to get hold of them. When she didn’t answer or read my message I phoned instead, then sat waiting for her to come out (teenage girls can take their time!). Suddenly I was a suspicious vehicle. I don’t feel like I look very suspicious at all to be honest. And I certainly was not doing anything suspicious. I sent a message to the community group complaining that some people on the group were creating unnecessary fear-mongering. The community was on the lookout for a suspicious vehicle with a mom and daughter in…well played! I feel like the world has gone slightly crazy. Everyone has something to say about everything and everyone.

As users of social media, we should use it responsibly and also think about the consequences before we post or share. Can sharing something cause pain to someone or cause a negative reaction. Can something we share cause racism or worse. And most of all, actually checking that the “so called” news you are sharing is true before sharing it. Please insure that your children are well informed and educated when it comes to social media. Make sure that they are not posting anything that could get them into trouble or talking to people that they do not know and could pose a danger to them.

Social Media is an amazing and wonderful yet dangerous thing, it should come with instructions and a long list of rules! Laws worldwide are being put into place and you could land up in a spot of legal trouble for saying(or should I say typing) the wrong thing. Social media is public domain, we don’t just attack random people in public (or most of us don’t) so get a grip and remember if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, then don’t post it on social media. Think about what your sharing of negativity does, how it affects everyone who sees it. Spread positivity instead, make people smile instead of making them angry.

Be a light in the darkness, because no light can be hidden in the dark of night.

Media Online article

Children, Family, Kids, Life, Love, Mom, Parenting, Relationships, Uncategorized

Shove the drink, just give me the bottle! My baby girl is almost 18!

Before Trystan and Jaymee joined the nest, I was a single mom to Keegan, my then little boy. I had planned on no more children, I found being a single mom really difficult and I thought I would save it for the perfect moms out there and give having any more children a miss. If I had been told that I would foster two teenagers I would have never ever believed it. I was quite content with my life as it was. When I suddenly had two abused foster teenagers, things were suddenly very difficult, but I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination. Having the foster children has been challenging at the best of times but incredibly rewarding. I would never change a thing, I love them dearly and they are my family. My life is complete with them in it.

I remember giving my dad grey hair as a teenager. Girls are a completely different kettle of fish, my poor dad had two of us. Girls are challenging to say the least and after giving my dad so much grief there was no way I was having a girl. But as it happened I was going to be given a twelve-year-old little blond Jaymee.

Boys are really simple, they have small problems and they are sorted out very easily. There is never drama around boys, they have little hurdles that are easy to get over. I have to say that my boys can shock me at the best of times. As a girl, boys do some really weird things. I grew up very close to my brother, Aidan – nicknamed Beans by me as a little boy because of his incessant need to repeat the “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart” …we all know the rest of the rhyme! Beans and I were very close since we were little, but he constantly shocked me with the completely random and often off-putting things he did. Boys are strange in that way. Having said that to this day, I absolutely adore my brother, he is such an amazing guy and I am so lucky to have him as my brother and he makes me very proud. By the time Keegan came along I had seen it all with Beans, and I had time to adjust, growing up takes time and gives mom a chance to find my way and adapt.

Trystan and Jaymee joined the nest over 6 years ago now. Back then Jaymee was my beautiful princess. She was as sweet as maple syrup, then she became a teenager overnight. This ladies and gents was a scary time! I had a psychologist on call and oh boy, did I call her…all the time. Needless to say, she snapped out of the worst of it pretty quickly. She has grown up into a lovely young lady and I am very proud of her.

Jaymee is a blond haired, blue eyed girl, she is strong willed and knows what she wants and she doesn’t take nonsense from boys. I have taught her well, even if I have to say so myself. I can see the wild streak bubbling under the blond hair. I generally take her out and she spends the night with me. I love taking her out and she loves coming out with me. I can make sure that she is safe, and she can have fun, it is a win-win for both of us.

When I say I have a beautiful daughter, I don’t mean to brag and I am not being bias but she is stunning. She also looks a lot older than she is. All of this making it very scary! I know how well I have taught her and I know I can trust her, but I don’t trust men! I mean drinks get spiked at an alarming rate these days and horror stories go around weekly about young girls being abducted and the list of missing people just grows. Kidnappings are a massive problem and we are constantly warning about child trafficking. These are scary times to have children.

In these scary times we are living in how I even imagine that my daughter will be 18 soon and I will have to let her spread her wings a bit. After all she will be an adult. It actually feels completely unreal, Jaymee, an adult, seriously, where has all the time gone and how did she grow up so quickly? Feels like just the other day she was still little and playing with teddy bears and watching horrible Disney shows.

How scary it is to think that I am going to have to allow her to be an adult, give her the chance to make her own mistakes and hope that she doesn’t get hurt. Trusting her to make the right choices, allowing her to fall and giving her room to spread her wings and not expect her to have my baby sitting her all the way. I have a feeling that this is harder on me, just like Keegan’s first day of Grade 1. Taking him to school on his first day, bawling my eyes out to watch him run off to class in excitement at his first day of big school. I feel the same way now, I feel like I did on that day. Walking into the massive school gates and feeling that the school is far too big for my little boy! How was he even going to find his way around this massive school? Keegan loved school and just fitted right in. He found his way and didn’t even think about the size of the school. In the same way I know that Jaymee will find her way and be just fine. So, this is it, I must allow her some freedom and give her room to find herself (while chugging on a bottle of wine or maybe something even stronger).

Go out there my girl and remember everything I’ve taught you, and most of all have fun but be careful.