Sting and The Police…

If you could tell a stranger anything you wanted, what would you say?

This was the opportunity presented to us after our Sunrise Special this morning as we each sat with a piece of paper while sipping our coffee… I challenged The Friend and The Sister to write down a few lessons they would want to teach their kids one day…

This is what we came up with…

The Friend: “Remember… Stop to take a moment and appreciate what you have/who you have and where you are… Keep your chin up and your eyes fixed on God, you can make it through anything – things will get better… Chocolate is good at any time of the day or night.”

The Sister: “You are never too far away to go home. It’s ok to admit that you were wrong and to start again. Life is about choices.   God loves you and will pursue you all your life.  Embrace Him.  It will be the best decision you will ever make.  Learn to laugh, live, love.  You don’t get too old to dance in the rain.  Wear sunscreen.”

And mine: “In my almost 30 years, I have learnt the following.  1.  A pretty face doesn’t make you beautiful.  People look at the outside but God sees your heart.  2.  Don’t waste time, don’t procrastinate… Time is a gift, not a guarantee.  3. Love loudly… Don’t let people ever be unsure as to whether or not you love them.  4. Life is too short to drink bad coffee.”

Great advice by all accounts. So we popped the messages and our email address into our bottle and headed off to the Sea Point Promenade… Finding a spot where there were fewer rocks and no sand for it wash up on immediately took a while…

Found a spot…

Looked around to make sure no one was watching (this was the moment I realised that i was in fact littering)…

Pulled back…

And there it goes…

Found it bobbing up and down in the foamy waters where it will probably hang out until the tide comes in and carries it out a bit…

So there it went, pearls of wisdom floating on the waters. Who knows where it’ll end up?

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It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time…

“Oh OHHHHHH! We’re halfway there! Oh OHHHHHH! Living on a prayer! Liiiiving on a praaaaayer!” Nothing like a mix tape to get you rocking out on a roadtrip…

We gathered at the respectable hour of 10am to begin a day of much craziness, many laughs and loads of fun. The only real rule with roadtrips, in my opinion at least, is that you may not play “cool” music… Roadtrips are strictly for cheesy choons… I’m talking Spice Girls, Roxette, Billy Ray Cyrus, Cyndi Lauper and the like. Songs that everyone knows, can all sing along to and feel really good belting it out, even if it’s off key.

So we set off, in the general direction indicated by my navigator/co-pilot (in whose navigational skills I had very little faith – I wisely kept my mouth shut and followed instructions… who cares if we don’t end up where were going, that’s part of the fun, right?). The trusty, suitably girly mixtape in the CD player, doughnuts for breakfast and big smiles on our dials… We started tripping… Roadtripping!

The Sister was set to come with us but had to pull out due to other commitments, in her stead, she sent fourteen slips of paper. Weird, I know. Occupational Therapists these days. Each of these slips had a task that was to be completed during the course of the day.

These tasks ranged from the ridiculous to the hilarious and included:

  • Discuss at length in Austen or King James English how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if it could chuck wood
  • Using only small change, nothing bigger than one rand coins, buy something along the way
  • Play sweet and sour with the other cars, stop when you have four sweet and one sour

One of my favourites was to each decide our superhero names and update Facebook with them

Another slip commanded us to use a word to replace the words cool and lekker… This took some discussing…

Crispy?

Nah.

Slammin’?

Already been done…

Ziggy?

Hmmm, ziggy…

I like it!

So ziggy is the new cool. Not sure what I mean? Let me put in a sentence or two for you:

“Whoa! Check that stuffed lion cub wearing a sailor hat! That’s so not ziggy!” or you could say, “Wow, Dancing Diva! Your navigational skills are totally ziggy!” We are currently looking at copyrighting it… Now that’d be super ziggy! I must confess though that it may have been inspired by none other than Posh, Sporty and the girls, The Spice Girls… C’mon… You know you want to… “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends…” There may be a Ziggy Zig Ah! In the lyrics but I still say it was all us!

I am ashamed to say that even though we drove through flower country in spring, we did not stop to smell the flowers along the way, not ziggy I know… Next time though.

Our drive was a slow meander through the countryside on a journey to Paternoster. Where is Paternoster? No idea? What’s in Paternoster? Not much. But on Saturday, we were. Hallelujah it’s raining men… Actually, even a light drizzle would do.

We stopped at farm stalls with excess airfreshners, garages that allowed no swimming or other activities in the water and random signs… Really, the best name you could come up with for your B and B is “Juffroushoogte”?

We took loads of pictures, of ourselves naturally…

So we pulled up in the ‘Noster… Not Ziggy? Yeah, I didn’t think so either… Our first stop was graffiti central where we added our names to the millions of others…

And we discovered Paternoster rocks… no seriously, rocks from Paternoster…

After trying on flotsam and jetsam as fashion accessories we hit the beach. White sand, shells a plenty, gently rolling waves… paradise! Or pretty close at least. A slow amble down the beach and back again we went shopping with R5,10 in small change and then had fish and chips on the rocks…

The return trip was started with, “Look at that sign! Do you think my car will fit through there?” And of course we had to try! A quick four by fouring experience later in my trusty little Tata we drove right into a ditch, stopped for some pics (that’s what girls do) and then worked at getting the car out!

As the miles went by, the car got quieter but for the light snoring of The Courageous napping in the back. Being a superhero is exhausting apparently! The trip takes me one step closer to thirty and a whole lot closer to incredible friends… Let’s do it again sometime!

No Pain, No Gain…

It’s always been a no-brainer for me… as soon as you can, you do. Donate blood that is. We aren’t all called to be doctors, nurses, paramedics or superheroes (yes I do consider them to be in the same category!) but provided you’re over 16 years old, weigh more than 50kgs (no problems here) and are in relatively good health you have the opportunity to share a precious resource that is used to save lives.

I firmly believe that only Jesus saves, but sometimes He uses blood transfusions in the process. Like the time He saved my mother’s life almost 30 years ago when internal bleeding nearly took her from us, and when He rescued my brother in the accident that took my Father’s life.

Each time I donate blood I try to imagine the recipient’s family… Is it a newborn like I was, a little boy praying his big brother will make it through, a husband trusting that the mother of his children will be restored to good health… It’s for them that I spend 20 minutes at the WP Blood Transfusion Service every couple months giving back.

Just like the rest of the population, I’m not a big fan of needles but if I didn’t do things that scare me sometimes life would get pretty boring. I gave my first pint of blood at 16 and do so every opportunity I get. My dad was a regular donor and a few days after my 16th birthday he took me along to donate.

The whole process is not as bad as people think it is…

For me the toughest part is the questionnaire… I live in constant fear of saying yes to the wrong question… Why yes I am pregnant (I’m not) or yes I am a nurse who has had contact with blood (I’m a teacher, not much blood involved most days), or yes I do operate heavy machinery (I drive the smallest car any tall person ever owned) or yes I do have malaria (I spray more mosquito repellent than deodorant!)…

The next stage, the prick on the finger where they test your iron levels hurts more than the actual needle! I feel like a big baby when they squeeze that tiny drop of blood onto the slide for the machine that tests it (that would be the professional medical term yes, blood testing machine thingy). Sometimes my iron levels are lower than they should be and on those days they won’t let me donate but I never let that stop me from trying again…

Once my iron levels have passed the test I choose a seat… Little secret, I always donate at the permanent clinic in N1 City Mall… No, not so I can do a bit of shopping after, although that helps… It’s because they have the most comfortable chairs ever! Like big lazy boy recliners, awesome. Last year I went to donate in the middle of my exam marking and actually feel asleep while donating! The nurses rushed over to check on me, I opened one eye and said, “I haven’t fainted. I’m a teacher and need sleep.” They laughed and let me enjoy my brief snooze.

The whole process from questionnaire to biccies and juice after takes about 20 minutes. It sometimes takes me longer than that to find a parking at Canal Walk! This is 20 minutes well spent, I reckon. 20 minutes spent in the service of others, strangers that you will more than likely never meet!

I did not venture there alone. My family, aka The Meyer Ladies, were my cheerleaders.

The little sister is ten years too young to donate…

The other sister had recently had bronchitis and was not allowed to donate…

But the Mother was a legend!

First time donating in over 12 years, she was a trooper! Despite feeling nervous and scared, she did it with a smile on her face!

So after about 900 ml of Meyer blood had been collected we were rewarded with juice, bottled water and biscuits. And in 56 days time, we get to do it all over again!

Stretch or Starve…

“The family that eats together… Eats together?” Or something like that.

So maybe I’m not great at finding suitable quotes for every occasion but when it comes to eating together as a family, I haven’t found the perfect quote because nothing can really adequately describe the Life that there is at our table when it’s meal time… elbows on the table, knives and forks on the wrong side, spaghetti slurped inelegantly (or heaven forbid, all cut into tiny pieces), The Little Sister talking with her mouth full and being told not to, The Other Sister messing on her shirt (without fail, seriously), days discussed, jokes made up (usually bad jokes), laughs shared, salt passed, stretching across the table, talking over each other… Wow! It makes us sound like barbarians, we’re not, I promise, but meal times in This Family are full of life. There is a strong connection between family and food in my memory… I remember there always being more than enough to go around, even when unexpected guests arrived. Back to this weekend though…

We got a rare opportunity to get away for the weekend… After weeks of not seeing The Sister as she has been lovebombing Cape Town (you can read more about that here) it was just what The Family needed. Time away, together. Bonus, it was a 4 day long weekend. Bigger bonus, it was The Mother’s birthday.

We packed the cars (a much better attempt than when we went camping) and headed out to Fish Hoek. We took a lot less than last time and did not need to fight off any deranged baboons as we were comfortably ensconced (big word for a Tuesday) in a house made of brick and mortar.

Friday night was the not-so-perfect storm. The heavens opened and a deluge of water fell to the earth in a night long flood. The occasional lightning (timed perfectly for when you were just about to fall back to sleep) lit up the house like the fourth of July (only less colourful).

The Lovebombing Sister slept through it all while the rest of The Family alternated between awake, moderately awake, sort of awake, not really awake but I am walking around, and what-the-heck-was-that awake.

Saturday morning’s arrival was heralded by Emile Sande singing, “Next To Me,” as my alarm told me to get my butt outta bed at 6:20am. You have to get up really early to beat The Mother. It was The Mother’s birthday.

Hustling The Sisters out of bed, Travel Size Sis wrote her super-beautiful message in the card while I put the kettle on. The mother was woken up with a truly awful rendition of Happy Birthday (the Von Trap family we are not!). We enjoyed birthday coffee, hot chocolate, gift unwrapping, card reading and Tim Tams in bed… Family Meal of the day number 1.

Not in any great hurry, we slowly got layered up to head out into the cold for breakfast. Fish Hoek Spur was ready and waiting for us and our awesome waitron, Florence lead us to a table with a great view of the play area much to The Rugrat’s delight. Lattes and juices were ordered followed by the bacon and egg fry up that Spur is famous for!

The Mother was treated by the staff and patrons to a sing-along of, “I don’t know but I’ve been told, Superlady’s getting old,” complete with sparklers and green tinted ice-cream (for the record, it was supposed to be green).

Around the same time, The Lovebombing Sister was carefully colouring a picture of Shrek, an accomplishment she was proud of! So ends Family Meal of the day number 2.

When the weekend stretches out before you and there’s nowhere you have to be, what do you do? In This Family, we drive. Anywhere. So we set off on a drive around the coast, at each point deciding to go just a little bit further… Delighting in glorious views of a stormy sea, mischievous baboons (not so delightful) and a visit to the spot where The Brother and The Sister in Law said, “I do,” Scarborough beach.

Eventually the slow meander took us back to our starting point where we found a hole in the wall that produced incredible fish and chips… piping hot, we stowed our bounty and rushed “home” where lupper (somewhere between lunch and supper) was devoured around the kitchen counter amidst much chatter and laughter. Hello Family Meal of the day number three…

A quick trip to Pick n Pay, a couple of cracked eggs, sliced lemons and condensed milk tins later, a lemon meringue (correctly pronounced ma-rin-goo) was baking in the oven. This was later set ablaze (flaming lemon meringue anyone?) with candles as we sang one final, awful chorus of Happy Birthday to The Amazing Mother that we have been blessed with. Candles were extinguished, meringue was cut and large slices of it were washed down with big mugs of rooibos… Cue Family Meal of the day number 4…

And just like that, the list decreased but The Family bond increased. What are meal times like in your family?

Sixty Minutes…

Make-single-people-like-myself-feel-awkward Day (aka Valentine’s Day) has never been my favourite holiday. So a couple years ago when my sister asked me to go with her to a film course that started on V day I thought, “Why not?”

I was surprised by the large group in attendance that night and I was rather sceptical when the guy in charge appeared bare foot and in the smallest pair of red shorts I’ve ever seen. Oi. The course was run by the media team at a local multi-site church, Joshua Generation, and was set to run over a month of Monday evenings and Saturday mornings. I must say that within ten minutes, Mr Red Shorts had me inspired to make films just by sharing his passion and creativity and desire to inspire people through media. The next few weeks saw us experience each area of the filmmaking process as we wrote scripts, used cameras and learned about sound, production and direction. We even had a guest appearance from Regardt van den Bergh, the talented director of Faith like Potatoes and Hansie.

The course culminated in us making five minute films in small groups. The films were shown at the Joscars (the Josh Gen Oscars) and the judges chose our short film on domestic violence as the winning film and we were awarded Chocolate Easter Bunny Oscars. We were convinced that Hollywood would be calling us the next day!

That was the end of my journey into filmmaking; my sister however, was hooked. She found herself captivated by the world of media and was invited to join the Film Kru Team. A second more advanced course ensued with four more (and much better) short films being made. Another Joscars event, this one a black tie affair, had about 700 supporters in attendance and we were blown away by the movies. My sister was the Producer of a truly Capetonian comedy.

One of the other movies, Bound, took a real look at human trafficking and has since been used in schools to alert children to the dangers our young people are exposed to… Read more about that film’s journey here.

Continually upping their game, the Film Kru has spent the last few months working on some (longer) short films called the Love Bombs. Each of the three Love Bomb Films focuses on a different aspect of life choices and changes.

The Prodigal: “The Prodigal is an edgy and honest short film that takes a brave look at sexuality, grace and God. The story follows two years in the life of Mark, a sensitive and easily influenced high school boy. Set against the experimental backdrop of the ocean, Mark ventures deeper and deeper into the waters, until he finally discovers what he had always been looking for.” Quote taken from The Love Bombs Films Youtube Channel

Second Day: “This original short film takes a unique look at an age-old fact, and presents it in the wrapping of post-apocalyptic madness. It was filmed entirely on one location over 2 days in Cape Town, South Africa, and made completely by volunteers. It’s a hard hitting story that will impact lives, and we’re proud to be showing it around cities in this country.” Quote taken from The Love Bombs Films Youtube Channel

iBalaclava: “Shot entirely on location in Dunoon – South Africa’s most densely populated township – iBalaclava is a moving short film about the lives of two brothers, and the sacrifices they have to make. It’s a story of failure, grace, and second chances – and we’re proud to have it screening in townships across Cape Town, impacting peoples’ lives for the better.” Quote taken from The Love Bombs Films Youtube Channel

On Youth Day, the Film Kru took iBalaclava to the Du Noon township on the N7 in Cape Town. They called for a group of volunteers to help out and over one hundred of us responded. The Sunday before that we joined the Josh Gen congregation in Du Noon to plan and pray together and commit the project to God.

Our group of volunteers spent Saturday the 16th June serving the Du Noon community. Arriving early, the set up crew carried chairs, set up tents, moved boards and made sure everything was ready to go. The clean-up crew blitzed through the venue armed with gloves and black bags and scrubbed toilets, picked up litter and mopped floors (they worked throughout the day). The jumping castle team supervised all the little ones, making sure each got a turn to jump. The tireless face painters turned the waiting children into Batman, Spiderman, butterflies, flowers and the like.

The Soccer tournament was a fierce competition as teams battled it out on the field to see who would win the new team uniforms while on the Netball courts the teams of women played hard to be the winning team. That was where I spent my day, courtside, as the official scorekeeper of the day.

The event ended with a showing of iBalaclava to a crowd of about 700 local residents. The crowd loved it as they recognised locals acting in the movie and the locations were from their own area.

The day was incredible, each person doing their part to show Jesus to the community. From the face painters to the cleaners, ushers to referees, jumping castle supervisors to set up crew, each pitched in and helped out where they could. I ended up volunteering for way more than the hour that I had put on my list but I got so much out of being there for the day, chatting to the locals and enjoying the time together.

It was such a success, you can read the article run by a local paper here.

So what about the other Love Bombs? Well, they’ll be hitting Cape Town soon in various events. But first, there’s a Love Bomb Film Festival next month.

For more info and to buy tickets see http://www.lovebombs.co.za/

What about you? Have you volunteered somewhere before? Want to volunteer but don’t know where to start? Have you got any plans for Mandela Day? How will you spend 67 minutes that day in service of others?

Guess Who…

A couple of weeks ago, around 18:05 on a Wednesday, the house was spotless, the dog was fed, the table was set for five, the Arrows were playing in the background and I was making a salad in the kitchen…

This was not the scene about two hours earlier with frantic vacuuming, dusting, tidying and the like. That moment in cleaning when you realise you don’t have enough time to clean the entire house and you rate each room on a scale of one to ten… One being “I’m sure they won’t come in here so I can leave it as is and just pull the door shut” and ten being “There’s no way I can keep them out of here and better clean up.”

At the same time as I almost had everything done, four people in the area received text messages with only an address. My address. All four headed out the door and on their way to me.

This exciting cloak and dagger type stuff (that included no daggers) was the order of the evening for my community. We had a Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner evening. A few weeks before that we had each filled in a form stating whether we were willing to host a dinner or would like to be hosted for dinner. I figured hosting a dinner party is on the list so why not! CA coordinated the whole thing in such a way that if you were hosting you were told only how many guests to expect and if there were any food allergies. And those being hosted were told only what to take along and then an hour before dinner, were sent a text message with the address of their dinner hosts. Great idea and great fun!

The lasagne was baking in the oven and I had just pulled the salad bowl out the cupboard when the first guest arrived…

The walk from the kitchen to the front door was filled with thoughts like, “What if no one likes each other?” and “What if no one talks to each other?”

I swung open the door and there stood K. I know K. Relief. We don’t know each other very well but well enough to feel at ease. And she brought dessert… An amazing Malva pudding! Yum!

As we were chatting in the kitchen the doorbell rang a second time. It was the Paramedic. Fairly new to the community but I knew her well enough. She joined us in the kitchen.

The third ding-dong of the doorbell announced the Pharmacist’s arrival. Another one I was happy to get to know better. The salad was done and so we moved our party of four to the living room and chatted as we awaited our fifth and final dinner guest. A couple of minutes later the doorbell rang and in walked C, with a plate of incredible canapés…

Conversation started flowing as we curled up on the chairs and couches in the cozy living room and munched on canapés… Some shoes were even kicked off I recall!

The party of five moved to the dining table as the lasagne and salad appeared from the kitchen.

The paramedic broke a week-long fast with that lasagne! As we all dug in (in a restrained and delicate fashion of course!) the conversation carried on, exploring topics from work, to family, to hobbies and the like. There were many laughs over stories that highlight my paralysing fear of birds, spiders and monkeys (and most other animals) and over the Paramedic’s family member’s obsession with dehydrating foods such as cucumbers.

The warm dessert and custard was washed down with mugs of tea. A long time and a photo op later, the ladies started making their way home.

As I packed the dishwasher I reflected on the evening, God had definitely knit us closer together that night which was the goal of the evening. I would never have thought of mixing K, the Paramedic, the Pharmacist and C at a dinner in the natural just because we’re all so different, but because we’re all family in Christ, it worked. Really well!

So crossing this one off the list drew me closer to four amazing women and was loads of fun! Have you ever had some surprise guests for dinner? How did that turn out?

God Bless Canada

I have a newfound respect for Canada.

Seriously. God has blessed Canada… Home of maple syrup, Mounties, Celine Dion, Scott Speedman, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves and *sigh* Ryan Reynolds. We can even forgive them the whole Pamela Anderson contribution because they have given the world… wait for it… Michael Buble.

After Wednesday night I even considered sending Canada a bunch of flowers or a fruit basket to say “Thank you.”

I had already booked my ticket to Michael Buble’s concert when I started The List… so on Wednesday I managed to tick yet another item off of my list in spectacular fashion.

TJ and I were two broke but excited girls as we headed to Grandwest on Wednesday night. Two bathroom trips and three handbag checks later we found our seats. It took less than three minutes to plan how we were going to run down to the stage to meet the man himself. TJ would run down the stairs to the left and me the stairs to the right. We figured that if we split up, security would probably only manage to stop one of us. You see, we knew that the only reason he wasn’t with one of us was because he just hadn’t met us yet!

After many corny jokes, some people watching and a few word games we turned our attention to the incredible opening act. Calling themselves Naturally 7, the guys on stage blew me away. Traditionally known as acapella, they do what they call vocal play, becoming the actual instruments. They had the whole crowd go on an exciting musical journey with them.

Shocker of note, the slightest of all the band members, Armand, aka “Hops” sporting skinny jeans and hi top sneakers opened his mouth and Barry White jumped out… Seriously… Half of the women in the crowd fainted, the rest were fanning themselves amidst murmurs. The sighing lasted all through their fantastic “Wall of Sound”. The music was amazing but you decide for yourself!

They had the crowd up on their feet, jumping and posing… It was so much fun! There is a rumour of a possible return in October… I hope so!

Their reluctant exit signalled Michael Buble’s entrance and what an entrance it was! Smoke, lights, drama. Cry me a river was the perfect opening number finished off with a flourish of fireworks. We were only slightly more elegant than 12 year old Justin Bieber groupies in our screaming…

It took only two songs for TJ and I to realise that if it meant marrying Mr Buble we would happily be sister wives together.

Not just a singer, Michael (we’re on a first name basis), kept us entertained with jokes, anecdotes and personal stories all night. He was less than thrilled with the boos he got as he told the crowd about his recent marriage. He did admit though that he understood that most were from disappointed women. His sense of humour extended to his additional musical selections which included brief excerpts of Journey’s, “Don’t Stop Believing” and also the theme song from Aladdin “A Whole New World”

The elderly couple sitting next to me came prepared. The husband kept telling his wife that, “This lighty (young boy) Michael Buble has a big band sound… A lot like Sinatra and the other old timers.” To which she just smiled and nodded. It was really cute when they pulled out their binoculars so they could see better.

When Michael sang “Georgia” I was immediately taken back to my teen years. I was once again on the couch in our small house in Eshowe watching Ally MacBeal with my Father. Ally was listening to the song on repeat to get herself to realise that her childhood sweetheart was now in love with someone else, Georgia.

It was a great memory of time spent with my Dad.

Later Michael paid tribute to another Michael… Jackson this time. He asked the crowd for requests as to which MJ number he should do… there was a woman seated in the next block screaming, “Billy Jean! Billy Jean! BILLY JEAN!” There was a moment when we thought she might have an aneurism and the crowd around her gave her a hand and called out with her. Michael helped avert a medical emergency by fulfilling her request.

It was by far the best concert I’ve ever been to (sorry U2 and REM). The music, the band, the performance, the opening act, the company, the crowd, the venue… Ay-may-zing!

What a fantastic evening! From singing along like lunatics to the socially inappropriate “Me and Mrs Jones”, to tearfully whispering the lyrics of “Home” (and giggling when he forgot the words) we had a blast.

The best, however, was the reward we got for staying for the encore.

Michael sang a few extra songs and finished off with Donny Hathaway’s, “A Song for you.” Then, towards the end of the song, all went dark and quiet… the curtain fell and a single spotlight shone on stage where Michael was standing. He held his finger to his lips to shush the crowd and finished the last verse unplugged… I had shivers up and down my spine… After that no one could question the man’s talent. What a gifted singer he is! Unfortunately, my camera and cellphone batteries were flat by then so I can’t share it with you but take my word for it, it was breathtaking!

Mr Buble’s spectacular performance was the fifth experience I get to cross off of my 30 before 30 list… Five down, twenty five to go! Try and keep up as things start getting hectic!