7/52 You are the weakest link, goodbye!

Ride or die is an interesting concept. Far as I know, it was coined by one of the greatest movies of all time, Bad Boys. Alas, life may be many things but a Bad Boys movie it is not. If you search the tag, you’ll see quite a lot of references to friends and lovers. As with social media, these pictures tend to be a moment that in all likelihood is enhanced by filters. But behind the filters, it gets real and life happens. I’ve recently been grappling with ride or dies and loyalty between friends. When all is said and done, there is the one defining moment I revert to when trying to decide how to deal with faux friends and traitorous bitches…

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I have a friend named Gugu. We met at varsity, but late into varsity when original friendships had been stress tested with most failing to meet the mark. So when I met her, I was just a little more mature and had significantly less drama (read fewer friends). In any case, I looked up to her. She was so grounded, so confident and self-assured and frankly, she was just a boss babe. Total girl crush material. The one thing that constantly had me puzzled was how quickly she went through friends. I mean, yes there were a few that had been around for a while but with the size of Grahamstown, it was fairly easy to notice how many former friends she had.

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But this isn’t about Gugu. It’s what I’m grateful I learnt from her. Probably the single most important criteria by which I define my friendships. I asked her about the high turnover one day (because I was worried I might be next, and I really like Gugu so I wanted to stick around). She said something to the effect of “Rue, I need loyal people around me. This stuff we’re dealing with is small and insignificant; ‘I kissed someone who wasn’t my boyfriend’, ‘I might be pregnant’. But we’re growing up. Soon it will be ‘I’m not sure my husband is my child’s father’ or ‘ I embezzled from my employer’, ‘I’m HIV positive'”.

“I won’t have people I can’t trust around me“.

 

This conversation is a reality check for me, even to this day. I often look at myself using that criterion to understand if I’m actually being a friend or I’m just using up time and energy in their surrounds. Similarly, I expect my friends to operate with a level of awareness of treachery. We’re grown now, and this isn’t mickey mouse clubhouse. My boundaries and expectations are very clear. If you step out of formation or betray my trust in any way, my immediate reaction is to cut my losses and run. I don’t expect blood oaths, but what I know for sure is that I do not want people whose intentions I don’t trust around me. It’s simple enough.

 

And then I saw this on Facebook. People like to test us, huh?

What would you do?

 

This is one part of a 52-week post a week challenge on gratitude. You might also enjoy reading other parts of this series. Click here to see more.

Judas, that you?

Act like you know!

6/52 Getting into Formation

On woman’s day, we did a family photo shoot. Aside from it being piles of fun, it was also a unique bonding experience with the family. The last time we did one, it was in the studio with the standard sterile blue background, the choir-like poses and no room for creativity. But this time we went off to Zita Park, around the corner from home and we acted like kids. The results are amazing! I would not only recommend this to everyone, but I would do it again as soon as possible.

We stood in formation….


dabbed…


bolted…


and lounged on trees


Given how much fun this was, I reckon I’ll  be spending more time outdoors with the family this spring and summer. Pretoria is a wonderfully warm place (temperature wise), and we are just around the corner from the Jacaranda showers of October. I’ve lived here for 21 odd years, but there are a few places that I keep coming back to, especially now that I don’t want to spend too much energy on dressing up to go out, or I have Bunny in tow. I have a few recommendations for those of you with wanderlust because apparently coming to Pretoria constitutes long distance travel for Joburg residents.

 

Capital Craft

Over 200 craft beers, and the best smoked ribs I have ever tasted. Capital craft is the place to be if you are looking for a chilled place to hang out on a Saturday until closing time at midnight. It’s usually packed in summer but people don’t mind sharing benches with waiting strangers, in fact, I think it lends to the vibe. There is usually sports on a screen somewhere, and time just disappears as you try out beer after beer. Also look out for their tasting options if you want to try out 6 ‘bite’ sized beers at a time. P.s. wi-fi is free.

http://www.capitalcraft.co.za

Hazelwood Food Market

This Saturday food market is about 400 meters away from capital craft, and served all sorts of delicious delicacies. I’m particularly fond of the Rib Shack’s cherry cola ribs, as well as Zaksaties lamb sosaties. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning if food markets are your thing. There is also a small entertainment area for children with (free) jungle gyms and some arts and crafts.

http://wp.hazelfoodmarket.co.za/

Apparently all I do is drink at this market. Evidence to the contrary does not exist.

Cowhouse Market

Another great food market situated in an actual cowhouse. It’s incredibly quaint and well contained. There is live entertainment and a well catered for children’s play area. My favorite places to eat are the barking dog, and the place that serves vetkoek burgers (unfortunately, I was too occupied stuffing my face to note their name). There is a very nice selection of alcohol on sale here which made me incredibly happy. If you are a seating snob, you can bring your picnic blanket or camp master deluxe chair.

http://www.cowhousemarket.co.za/

the barking dog (banting)

Moo Moo

This is by far my favorite place to hang out and people watch in the summer. Great ambiance, great service, delicious custom steaks, drinks that never fail and most importantly not too hard on the wallet.

Fun fact: weekdays between 4pm and 6pm wine per glass is on a 2 for 1 special.

http://www.moo-moo.co.za/

Pretoria zoo

Q: Have you ever seen an okapi?

A: No?

Q: Do you need another reason to go?

A: No

I thought as much.

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Source: Wikipedia

 

If this hasn’t enticed you, other places to consider are Freedom park, Harrie’s pancakes near the union buildings, Groenkloof nature reserve, Irene Farm and Willowfeather farm. This is where I’ll be this summer, so why don’t you come across the Jukskei and discover Pretoria yourself! I promise you will not be disappointed.

 

This is one part of a 52-week post a week challenge on gratitude. You might also enjoy reading other parts of this series. Click here to see more.

Blogging for Beginners: Lessons from the 1st year

I thought I’d give the post a week challenge on gratitude a brief hiatus to share some of the things that I’ve learnt on my blogging journey. I can’t believe it’s been 1 year already!

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I’ve made my fair share of rookie mistakes along the way and have had to use google to fix most of them. With the internet full of free advice from well-meaning people, I thought I would add my 2 cents worth.

 

Why are we here?

Answer that! Are you trying to make money, get famous, or simply sharing a personal journey? By being clear on the purpose of the blog, you will be able to name and ‘market’ it appropriately. You are also likely to retain readers because people know what kind of content they are plugging into, therefore what to expect. On the topic of marketing, almost everyone has a blog, but not everyone is comfortable sharing publicly. If you want to write just to keep an online diary, make sure your blog settings are private. Also, the ‘about’ page should always have something in it. Nothing puts off potential subscribers than encountering the default. That’s a rookie mistake. Don’t make it.

 

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Source: WordPress

 

Names matter.

I’ve mentioned before that I started blogging on a whim, so one of the biggest brain blocks for me was settling on an adequate name for the blog. I was quite stuck because there are so many cool names, but they are ever so specific to motherhood, lifestyle, fitness etc. I then had to really apply my mind to the things I wanted to blog about. I was very sure that it was not a motherhood blog, nor was it one about my career or ‘lifestyle’. I ended up on a site that suggested the first word be a verb or feeling, then the second something that defined you. I settled for delightedivorcee, partially because I made a mistake when registering delighted divorcee and had to permanently delete it from the WordPress domain.

Add that to lessons learnt: pay attention when registering the domain / blog name. In any case, I quite liked the ring of the single ‘d’ version of the name and it was quite relevant to the topics I intended to cover.

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Consistency is key

If you want the people to keep coming, you need to give them something to constantly come back to. Enough said.

 

Know your zone

Like anything else you put online, potential backlash and ramifications can be far-reaching. Think twice about what you are sharing because you could become famous for all the wrong reasons. And because it’s on the internet, faux amis are a reality. Remember this:

  • Haters will look for things to hate
  • Not everyone will be happy for you (no matter what you write)
  • You are allowed to speak your truth

Noting the above, limit the things you post to those that you are comfortable with people knowing.

 

Hammer Grammar

Nothing is quite as off-putting as badly written pieces. I think we all inadvertently turn into grammar police at the first sight of bad English. I’ve had one or three grammar snafus, so I check in triplicate before posting anything. I have grammarly installed both on Word and in chrome. I spell check, and before I post, I paste the entire article onto google translate and listen to the audio. That’s my winning tri-factor – yet to fail me.

 

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Source: funnyand.com

 

Shift happens

We grow and we change. That’s ok. If you blog about it, be sure to update the look and feel of your blog, the “about” section, and consider a name change. A year ago, I was a delightedivorcee, now I’m Rue on Adulting. If my life was the written word, you would have noticed a visible shift from bold and capital letters to soft italics. I’ve grown and I’ve changed. For the better.

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Thank you for walking this journey with me over the past year. I look forward to continuing adulting with you all!

 

5/52 The Gift

So many gifts, which one to choose from…this one was an odd one to write about without bragging excessively. But I tried.

I’ve come to realise that I’m one of those fortunate people who are sometimes on the receiving end of giving. I know that I am fortunate because so many people seldom receive gifts. I’ve concluded that good gift giving in itself is a gift. Some people are naturally just really awesome gifters, whilst others never seem to get it right, thereby coining the term “it’s the thought that counts“.


You remember those shirts, the ones with a map that say “I’d be lost without it”? We got those in the early 90’s when we were touring London. I thought they were the coolest things ever; subway maps on your shirts! And in truth, we were never lost. This is what this particular gift has become for me. One evening in late January when Mzezman and I were doing our usual late night chat, I mentioned that I was thinking of getting myself and apple watch. We chatted about it for a few minutes, then moved onto another topic of conversation. I put it out of my mind and figured I would eventually get one for myself since it wasn’t a crisis. Afterall, I had three Fossil watches that I quite liked.

He remembered a small dream, and made it come true.

One Friday, Mze tells me to expect a delivery. I thought nothing of it and wasn’t the least bit perturbed when I got home to find nothing waiting for me. The next day, he followed up with the courier in between running errands and told me to expect delivery at 5pm. At precisely 5pm, the courier came with a pretty big box. I remember being quite curious as to what was in there, shaking it and trying out my non-existent x-ray vision.

It was an apple watch! I was so ecstatic, surprised and taken aback at his incredible generosity. I’m immersed in the apple kool-aid, so anything Mac is acceptable. But this, the awesomeness of it completely floored me. It wasn’t just the watch, although that was pretty amazing. It was the fact that some months after the fact, he remembered a random conversation whispered in the dark of night.

I’m an apple addict through and through but that night when I looked down at my shiny new apple gadget, I wondered; what does it do, other than tell the time? I make jokes, but it’s actually one of my favorite gadgets. Before, I missed so much because I constantly misplaced my phone. Now, it’s literally attached to my wrist.

 

Are you an awesome gift giver? What are some of the coolest gifts you’ve given or received?

This is one part of a 52-week post a week challenge on gratitude. You might also enjoy reading other parts of this series. Click here to see more.

4/52 OMG! I’m becoming my mom

A few weeks ago, I reflected about turning 32. Item number 15 on my list of 32 things I’ve learned in my 32 years was a reference to how it’s ok to turn into your mom. I stand by that. In fact, I reckon I am more like her than I thought I was. Unlike when I was younger, that thought no longer fills me with horror because over the last 5 years I’ve grown incredibly close to my mom. I’ve come to better understand some of the decisions that she has made. I may not always agree with them, but I can appreciate that she has and continues to do the best that she can with what she has.

 

To get to where I am today in our relationship, I have had to retell the narrative that I used to tell myself about her. That narrative stemmed from some of my most distinct childhood memories which involved a lot of entertaining of big groups, which was not unusual for late 80’s and early 90’s Zimbabwe. She was the perfect hostess and took significant pleasure in catering to guests and in my eyes, playing the role of a Stepford wife. I recall being incredibly critical and sometimes resentful, wondering why we had to pretend to be perfect whilst she flitted around as a social butterfly offering food and beverage to people who would soon get into their vehicles and drive away. I hated having special cutlery and crockery that only guests could eat out of. I hated the weird unsaid expectations, the ones that earned me a look of disapproval when it was business as usual for me. I clearly never got the memo that there was something different required in my behaviour when guests were around.

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That narrative evolved further when I because a teenager. I was not rebellious, but we had our fair share of embarrassing trial and error. When I was 12, I remember being teased at school for having underarm hair. I told my mom and despite believing that teenagers should just grow into their puberty, she was on top of it, getting me all sorts of hair removal products so that I would not be teased. We shan’t go into the conversations about readiness for bras! Then I went to boarding school, and with the independence that came with not living at home permanently also came the need for our relationship to change. For that, I am thankful. When I was 14 I wrote a letter to mom stating all the reasons why I thought I was ready for a boyfriend, asking her if I could date. She waited until I got home from boarding school on holiday to explain why she thought I should wait (…awkward). I went ahead and did what I wanted to anyway. 4 years later, I sat in the kitchen asking her if we could transition into an adult relationship because whilst I still needed my mom, I also needed a friend and a confidant. I was 18 and struggling with dating and dodgy friends, so the last thing I wanted was my mom mothering me when all I wanted was to be free to make bad decisions on my own.

 

Today, I am privileged enough to see her in full bloom as a mother, a friend, grandmother, confidant and Doctor. As my frame of reference has changed over time, I can now fully appreciate my mom in all her seasons and for all her quirks. I know how hard she worked for her family and all the visible sacrifices she made, from making career concessions to raise us, to giving up the food off her plate, to staying longer in untenable situations just so that we could have a chance to break free. I suppose part of the anger and resentment I felt relating to my childhood was because I saw the pain and hurt that she suffered when she could no longer serve her family in the same way that she used to. Because I saw her joy being snatched away, I used to tell myself that if I did the opposite, then no one could touch me deeply or hurt me in the same way.

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But somewhere along the line as we evolved, I blinked and missed it. I missed the moment when my subconscious mind found peace and acceptance, and I became my mom. Whilst I still do not believe in special crockery, I catch myself giving Bunny side eyes for acting out of character during the people. I’ve become my mother and I am thrilled about the ever-changing nature of our own relationship and the parallels in our journeys. Of all the qualities that she has, I am so thankful I have her tenacity, her German precision planning and her ability to reinvent herself when the odds were stacked against her with nothing more than sheer grit. My mom’s face was my first definition of beauty, and she is my everyday definition of love. If I can raise Bunny half as well as she has raised me, then the generations to come are in good hands.
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Let’s chat! What have you picked up from your mom?

This is one part of a 52-week post a week challenge on gratitude. You might also enjoy reading other parts of this series. Click here to see more.

 

3/52 Knights of the Vale

There is a certain innocence of youth that I see with Bunny. It’s the type that one has when they trust something to just be. Sort of like how you don’t think that the sun may not rise tomorrow, because you have no reason think that. The sun has risen every day of your life, and so it’s not something you consciously think about. Same goes for me and my family. Thinking back on it, family was one of those things that always just was. I was born privileged to have both parents around, and to have siblings. We were a tight-knit unit who migrated from country to country, only really splitting up when we the kids went off to university. I’m probably one of many who took my family dynamic for granted. Or at least I did until as an adult, I not only needed them but understood that having people show up for me is a blessing. One that should not be taken for granted. There are some moments that really stand out for me, where just like Jon Snow and the knights of the Vale in the GoT episode Battle of the Bastards, people I had not known needed showed up for me. Like, really showed up. I’ll share 3 of those white horse moments with you …

  

That time I got married…

We were young and had other priorities for our money which meant that a wedding was going to take place, but with a lot of DYI. True to my nature, I took on all of it and furiously made checklists upon checklists to make sure not a beat was missed. In spite of all of my lists, I still ran out of time because in there I forgot to add “be a bride”. I am so thankful for my aunts and cousins for taking over the prep work and running the day, my uncles for making sure we were restocked with alcohol when we ran out, friends for hosting showers and sisters for keeping me sane and showing up ready to do the thriller like they said they would. I was a bride in every sense of the word on that day because of the common sense and overwhelming love of the people around me.That time I had an emergency C-section…

After a textbook perfect pregnancy, I had it in my mind that I would have an 8 am -4 pm labour. I had not opted for drugs and had saved up a JR Ward book to start reading at the beginning of my labour, just to keep my mind off things. But what actually happened is that I went into labour on a Friday, but very slow labour. So slow that I was in no pain and had only dilated 1 cm further all weekend. As scheduled, I went in for the gynea check-up on Monday 9am. I had the good sense to have a full breakfast (rice and a quarter leg of chicken) before I drove off with my maternity bag in the boot. I guess I just knew. Once we had confirmed how far dilated I was and had come up with a plan of action to ensure delivery before 4 pm, I was sent to the maternity ward. There, I was strapped to the usual machines for heartbeat etc. when all hell broke loose. An hour later, I was lying in the theatre getting a spinal tap done for an emergency C-section. I was all alone. Then just as the gynea was about to get started I saw a familiar bag on the floor in the corner next to the door, and my aunt come up to me. Turns out she had heard I was in labour and had come to the ward to see me only to be redirected to the theatre. I was a teary mess. I had thought I would have to go through all that by myself, but it turns out I didn’t have to be an island. My people pulled through.

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That time I pulled a Dear John stunt…

Once again, I was surprised by the people who rallied around me when I walked away from my abusive marriage. It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do for myself, but the support I had was humbling. I remember breaking the news to friends over breakfast the day before I left. We were sitting at Tashas in Athol having an incident free breakfast when I said: “I’m leaving him”. This was the first time I had spoken about any of this, and the responding love and support were so unexpected. I was offered help packing, empty boxes, storage space, a place to sleep, and lawyers details. And it did not stop there. In the 3 years it took to finalise the divorce, I had people I could talk to and bounce ideas off. People who rendered legal advice and got me in touch with lawyers. I had people help me pay the crippling legal fees despite having their own households to run on a limited income, and others cheering me on from the side-lines, encouraging me to live a full life in spite of the harrowing experience I was going through. When I made the decision to walk away from my marriage, I had braced myself for the barrage of criticism and an onslaught of doubt mongers. Instead, I had champions around me fighting with me for my life.

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I look at Bunny and I remember my youthful ignorance. I remember not having to think twice about my actions or having to actively build relationships within my own family because in my world family was always just there. Now, not for a moment do I take for granted the help that I have with school runs, babysitting, advice in general or school fees. My family is not picture perfect but rather a mishmash of colourful characters drawn together by our love for each other. Whilst some are through blood and others through conscious association, what remains constant is that they always go to bat for me. I am theirs just like they are mine, and I love each one of them dearly for the colour they add to the tapestry that is my life.

This is one part of a 52-week post a week challenge on gratitude. You might also enjoy reading other parts of this series. Click here to see more.