100 Words: I fail this test again and again. I get an inclination to call someone, but with everyday things interfering, I don’t get around doing it. Two weeks ago, I had the feeling again. Life interfered. I didn’t make contact. Yesterday I got the message that the person I wanted to call – a friend from when we lived abroad – passed on. This morning my heart is heavy. Not just because he is not walking with us anymore, but because I denied myself one last opportunity to talk to him. Rest in peace, our friend. You will forever dance in our hearts.
Under 10-words Takeaway: Make that call. Stay in touch.
Read Fielies’ next 100 Pondering here. Start reading the series from here.
100 Words: I ‘m sometimes pleasantly surprised and sometimes unpleasantly shocked by events and trends that arise or by our Creator’s unpredictable flock. As I’m not an orator as such and I don’t always know what to say about our world that is changing so much, I try to find my way – thinking things through – by pondering about what to do. I am neither politician nor preacher and I don’t pretend to be visionaire or teacher. So, this space will be the place to house my ponderings for you to see – and maybe help you, finding light in a dark world too.
Under 10 words Takeaway: Now read the paragraph as a poem – just for fun.
I normally write blog entries about things that I love and find interesting and almost never rant here. I have decided today though, to speak a bit of my mind, because I am worried about where ‘we’ are going with freedom in this world of ours.
By now every reader had probably heard about certain Dr Seuss books being withdrawn from the market. You can find out about it here.
I don’t know why we always have to be seen as ‘left’ or ‘right’ when we raise an opinion. What happened to be decent, having common sense, choosing the midway? Sometimes things are not just black or white, but actually grey or yellow or purple or blue or orange with green dots. This is after all something liberal thinkers fought for throughout the centuries! Many even died for it!
(Maybe it is because we are mostly exposed to/dependent on American commentary and entertainment and they – the biggest democracy in the world – has only two political choices available – either Democrat or Republican! You guessed it – left or right. The in-between parties are for all practical purposes non-existent. And maybe this – their political choice – had spiralled downwards into every other inch of society. But, that’s just my [in-between] opinion.)
I look at events these days and think that modern liberal thinkers had lost the plot, because one see more and more Nazi-like censorship from liberal (!) sources everywhere. It makes me sad, and frankly, quite scared. Like Hitler’s SS did in the 1930s, we are being told what to believe, what to discard, what is right, what is wrong etc. and this is all done under the flag of political (and social) correctness. And by doing so, they kill those fighters for freedom of speech all over again!
What happened to common sense? What happened to reading literature in context and then have discussions over it instead of just banning authors. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we read? How will our children learn to think critically if they don’t have access to read (even politically incorrect) literature and ask questions about it? Do ‘we’ want to raise little obedient, non-thinking, political-correct robot people? It seems more and more that it is coming to this.
Are ‘we’ back to burning books again? Yes, ‘we’ are. ‘We’ have just burned Dr Seuss books.
What do the Sunday night movie, playing Monopoly on holidays and eating dinner at the table have in common? They are the glue that bonds a family together.
According to https://www.childhelp.org/ family traditions are handed down from generation to generation and add to the rhythm and seasonality of life.
What are Family Traditions?
They are those things we tend to repeat doing when we are together, like the things mentioned above. Family traditions differ from family to family and are normally just simple things we do that we as a family love, like having rowdy conversations around the dinner table as the Italians and Greeks tend to have. Or it is taking that annual holiday to the same place every year. So many of my husband’s childhood memories derive from their seaside family holidays, so much so that we live in the town they had their holidays in! My family didn’t have seaside holidays, but we had a big mass of water nearby where we lived and we went camping there over the Christmas season when I was little. It was also my birthday this time of year and to me it felt as if I had my birthday every day during those holidays, as different family members arrived daily with gifts for me!
Family Traditions look Different and can Literally be Anything!
Times have changed and so have the activities we do. But we still participate in traditions – even though we don’t even think of them as ‘traditions’. Mom and the girls going to the mall on a Saturday morning, Dad playing cricket with the boys in the garden on Sunday afternoons, visiting the grandparents for Saturday braai or watching the rugby together, are all good examples of South African family traditions.
The Advantages of Family Traditions
Other than helping the family to bond, it also builds children’s confidence, because their parents are spending some real time with them. That makes them feel grounded and safe and help them to be more outgoing and courageous. You can read up more on the advantages of family traditions on your own.
Family Traditions in the Time of the Corona Virus
Yep, we are locked in and can’t even take our dogs for a walk in the streets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still do things together. We are after all, cooped up together like never, ever before in our lifetimes! So, this makes it a perfect time to bring back some old family traditions or establish new ones.
If you have stopped or never eaten together at a table as a family, start doing that – even if it is for only one meal a day. Here are a few pointers for this:
Ban cell phones from the table and keep a few conversation starters handy to get your family talking to each other again.
Research a few good conversation topics which are fitting for your family’s age.
Allow difference of opinion, but make sure to establish rules so that it is still done respectfully and things don’t get ugly. If we teach our children to have an opinion and speak their minds at home, educators don’t have to teach them what they want to teach them.
Start debates about different topics. Divide everyone present into two groups and let them debate two sides of a topic. When things get heated, change it around. It is fun to see everyone suddenly out of their comfort zones when having to defend the other side! And it normally ends fights immediately.
Play together, whether it is board games or games in the garden. And don’t stop when the lockdown is over.
Create something together, such as cooking, baking and braaiing, making clothes, building puzzles, building lego or whatever your family is into.
Try to teach your children something regularly during the lockdown, but keep doing it hereafter. Teach them to pray and care for others, braai, plant veggies, snoei trees, play chess, build something out of wood, do DIY chores in the house etc. Doing this on a regular basis will not only teach them skills, but give them confidence and the ability to do things for by themselves and for themselves.
Read together. Read bedtime stories to your children from day one. (Yes, they need to hear stories in their dads’ and moms’ voices from an early age.) When they are older (and now during lockdown) you can lie around reading for a few hours a day.
Start a thanksgiving tradition, either at the breakfast or dinner table or whenever you are all gathered together and bored during the lockdown. Think about those less privileged during this time and start a ‘Thank You’ jar where you can all contribute with things you are thankful written on a piece of paper and put into the jar. Open in up in a year’s time or so and read it aloud around the table while eating.
These are just a few examples. There are lots more. You know what your family love doing. Dust off a few old ones or start new traditions. Search the Internet for more ideas if you need to.
Keeping it Up
Our young adult son is still with us at home. We continue doing things together as a family on a regular basis, such as eating together every meal, even though he lives outside in the cottage. We go for picnics at the beach and going on Sunday exploring rides etc. My sister-in-law’s two adult children are having dinner with them every Sunday evening. Some dads and their adult sons have weekly squash appointments. You get the point.
So, when this lockdown is over or when the children are all grown up, don’t stop with the traditions. Many South African families are split up and live all over the world, but with the technology available these days, we can still be ‘together’. Make a family group call on a week night/morning (depending on time differences) and kuier together on Skype or WhatsApp video calls.
Do whatever it takes to keep your family traditions going, because they create awesome and precious memories for your children which they will carry over to their children.
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂
As we are ready to leave Egypt after almost four and a half years, I knew I had to eventually write the conclusion to our cat chronicles. I put it off for quite a while, because like with all goodbyes, this too is a bit of a sad one – a-circle-of-life kind of finale.
Cat#1 and Cat#2, Camo’s latest (and last so far) black and ginger offspring are still doing well. It was touch and go for a while for Cat#2, the slightly weaker of the two. The little ginger became ill and stopped eating. He was so weak and unwell that we thought he was at his end. But, alas, we fed him (and prayed a little also) and after two weeks we knew that he would make it for now. In the meantime he grew strong and still lives in our garden with his brother. Their mother, Camo, mainly lives downstairs in the parking garage, with her favourite place to relax on our car! I find the dust paw prints on the bonnet quite cute. 🙂
We are leaving soon and we hope that the new tenants will also find it in their hearts to feed them when they are here. They are not dependant on our food for survival as they are fed by people upstairs, the policemen on duty outside the building and the bowabs (doormen). So, they are sorted. And privileged! But. We are going to miss them. These two last ones were cute ones, especially the little ginger. I will miss his little face and his chutzpah when he hammers his head against the glass door in the mornings to get my attention – or to go around the corner to the other window to stare us down when we’re sitting on the couch. And I will miss laughing at him when my husband scares him with our soft toy Ikea dog, Ike!
I wrote in my previous cat chronicles blog about ‘our’ beloved ginger building cat, GemmerGat who came back after an absence of nine months. We were very happy to have her back and quickly realised that she was tired and nearing her sell-by date. So, it came as no surprise when we noted one day that she had become quite weak. We fed her and chatted softly to her and told her to hang in there, but I think we knew that her time had come. So, three days after she became so weak, she wasn’t in our garden anymore. It was the beginning of a really hot period in the summer and we fathomed that she went downstairs to the parking garage to have her last lie down. Maybe she came home to find her rest. This time we are okay with it though. She came to greet and we’ve said our goodbyes.
And that, my friends, is the grand finale of our cat chronicles in Egypt. We will return home now and become dog people again. We can’t wait to have doggy companions again! It had been a long few years without pets. It had been only the second period in my life without pets and I missed having them around a lot. We hoped to see our beloved Maltese, Simmie, again when we went back, but he died on 6 December 2017.
So, this is it for our Egypt cat chronicles. Thank you, Egyptian building cats for entertaining us the way you did. And rest in peace, dear Gemmergat.
As if any of you cats were going to read my blog… 🙂
Last week, our American friends invited us to visit the camel bazaar outside Cairo (on the Giza/Sakkara road). We’ve been living here now for just short of three years and I have never been outside of my comfort zone so much in my life. It is literally a daily thing. It is good for me – especially for spiritual me. Not only does it teach me plenty about the world around me, the people of this country, their strange culture and their fanatic religion, but it also teaches me a lot about myself. Living in a culture where you do not understand the language and isn’t even able to read their alphabet or have the same traditions and customs or worship the same God, things can get quite uncomfortable.
It isn’t necessarily a bad thing being out of your comfort zone. It confronts one’s own beliefs, upbringing, culture, customs, world view and lifestyle when you are thrown into a world where nothing is familiar or make sense to you. Not only do you question the behaviour of the people around you, but you question your own. It is not a once off thing, but an ongoing everyday introspection. And not only do you learn to value what is ‘own’ to you, but you also learn to embrace and appreciate diversity. Very early on in our stay here, I have decided that I don’t understand much (not even a reasonable bit) of this culture, but that I am not even going to try to understand it. It makes life here a little bit easier and less complicated to observe rather than to label.
Back to the camel bazaar. I’m sure that this place wouldn’t even exist in a Western country. It’s a raw experience. Camels, by their hundreds, maybe even more, are brought together on a Friday morning to be sold I was told, mostly for meat. Men and (some very young) boys herd the animals – hopping along on three legs as one of the front legs is tied with rope to keep the animal from running away – towards the various ‘auction stations’ with long bamboo sticks. It isn’t a pretty picture to see. On the surface and in the viewpoint of a foreigner like me, it is a harsh place for a camel to be. And also for the people involved.
Upon arriving there, we were only four females in a sea of males – something that already pushes the discomfortometer into the red. The sticks hitting the camels’ bodies – be it on the humps, legs or head – is another difficulty to deal with. Furthermore, none of the camels looked like they had the potential for dinner I would want to see on my plate.
But I realised that it wasn’t my world. It wasn’t my place to judge. With that I don’t condone the behaviour of the people or the suffering of the animals. Sometimes in life things just are what they are – people making a living, surviving the only way they know how to the way they did for centuries – maybe even millennia. My disliking it, my discomfort and the fact that I might disapprove of their way of doing as a foreigner in their country, is not going to change that. I’m not going to alter a country’s culture, customs and actions which are way older than my own culture. What I should do is learn to appreciate it for what it is.
I realised that I would probably be out of my comfort zone many, many, many more times in the period we have left here in this interesting, phenomenal country. How I handle my discomfort is what is important. If I can’t change people’s behaviour or world view, I can at least work on my own. I can learn to value the diversity of this place and the other countries we are visiting, as well as that of my own country when we go back. Hopefully, when we are back in our own culture – which is just as diverse – I will be able to feel less uncomfortable in the mixture, while still staying true to my own upbringing and beliefs and being more tolerant towards people who are different from me.
In the end, when one sees the bigger picture from a forever-living-worldview, we are reminded that we who confess Him as our Saviour are one body in Messiah (Romans 12:5). One day we will be immersed into His culture and all the discomfort of worldly customs, poverty and illness will be something from the past.
PS: I spelled necessarily correct without using spell check or a dictionary.
We are planning a visit to friends in New Zealand next month and with that, we are trying to obtain travel visas – something that wasn’t necessary for South African citizens only two or three months ago. But thanks to people abusing the system or hypocritical red tape or whatever, the New Zealand government now finds it necessary for us to get that little hated stamp in our passports. (And now the South African government reciprocated by implementing visas for Kiwis to visit SA! It makes no economic sense.) We are currently residing in Egypt and to get a visa, one’s passport has to travel to Dubai for this privilege! As if that is not uncomfortable enough, the costs are enormous! Not only is there the fee for the sought after stamp or little paper glued into your passport, but there are handling fees for the passports to get there and more separate handling fees for them to get back. And apart from the cost, the effort is just silly. After all the documents they’ve required were attached, they requested some more documents after receiving the passports.
There are many reasons governments give for requiring visas. Some might be legitimate, but I sometimes wonder if the visa process doesn’t just keep the good guys out. Because when there is an attack somewhere in the world and everybody is surprised by a person on a terrorist watch list carrying out the attack, l really question the system. Obviously, he loopholed the visa requirements. How can they get into a country so seemingly easy and us good guys have to carry out time consuming efforts and pay the financial penalties? As if travel tickets aren’t expensive enough.
We’ve received our passports back yesterday. There are no visa stamps or stickers in. Instead, they informed us that the visas are electronically issued against our passport numbers. We will get an email to confirm that. An email! All that effort for an email! Where is my visa stamp?! I hope it works, because when we arrive in New Zealand after two flights of four and sixteen hours respectively, and they don’t allow us into their little country, I will leave a piece of my mind there!
Thankfully, after our patience being tested going through the process, I’m reminded of a place where we won’t need visas to go to one day. All we need is to confess the Truth. It is that simple. Or that Complicated. The choice is ours.
“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” (From the Bible – Luke 8 verse 10)
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm
A lot of things happening in the past months and recent years made me think real hard lately. Life had changed in almost every way in the past decade, thanks to technology and other developments – some for the better and some for the worse. Our world had become used to terrorist attacks in the form of shootings, knife attacks, sexual assaults, cars and trucks ramming into people, people getting beheaded etc. This last year we saw laws, policies and governments change – strange changes that are still very difficult to believe or to get used to. I’m starting to think that maybe it is a totally natural thing that is happening. In history we had build-ups like these which led to the tower of Babel, the Flood, the Crusades, the First World War and WW2. Talk is that we might already be in the middle of a Third World War of sorts.
When a bucket gets too full of water, it overflows – naturally. There is a saying: Give a person enough rope and he hangs himself. Bucket overflowing or too much rope? It’s the same thing. Balance always needs to be restored somehow. The Western world is playing with its very, very long rope and so is the anti-Western world. And as individuals, agreeing or not agreeing with current directions, we are all steered into, hanged along and sacrificed in the process as collateral damage.
We live in a world where our words, our Twitter feeds, our Facebook statuses, our email (only normal people, not presidential candidates apparently) could get us fired – not only for big things like threatening state security or threatening people or libelling or acknowledging theft (except if you find yourself in certain positions in certain governments) or something immoral like that, but also for being moral. For having values and principles. For believing in the God of the Bible and the Word of God. And for having the audacity to have opinions about religious or any other fundamentalism, abortion, marriage, parenthood, crime, gender issues, sins and the likes. Defend unborn babies, marriage between a man and a woman and stand up for your rights if you are not a person of colour and whatever you say is branded as ‘hate speech’ – no matter if and how sympathetic you are towards these issues in general.
There is no room in the world anymore for a person to speak freely without being branded or bearing far reaching consequences. We are being told what opinions to have, what to think and what causes to support. Would anyone in the Golden Globe audience have had the courage to disagree with the actress’ speech the other night? Probably not, because she was speaking on behalf of the ‘trend’ right now and no-one with a reputation to uphold can afford to think differently? There was a time when, even if they were wrong, people could speak their minds in the democratic West.
We are navigated into believing that it is our right and even our privilege to live perversely. Consequences for our actions and responsibility for our choices aren’t relevant anymore. Sin had become a non-mentionable word. And where does God fit in? Well, He just doesn’t, does He? Modern man – oops, sorry! – Modern, genderless, colourless, faithless person is its own god now. All that matters are ‘it’, ‘itself’ and ‘its’ inner-god, and happiness is its ultimate goal and religion. Its behaviour, lusts and needs are to be practiced to ultimate satisfaction. Anything goes in our little ‘self-god’ world. And the little gods are not bothered for one moment that they are ignoring their Maker’s Instruction Manual. It is like a person trying to use a refrigerator as a washing machine. The plug will fit into the wall socket and the power will go on, but the water put in will freeze as the clothes stay dirty. Eventually, the person would have to reassess and use the appliances for the purposes they were manufactured for.
Life is like that too. Nature has to go its way and imbalances have to be addressed. If man doesn’t do it, God does. And His way is never the easiest way for man.
Be blessed and stay strong, because we are living prophesy.
The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Proverbs 16:4)
It’s that time of year that everyone who writes, writes about having New Year’s resolutions or about breaking them or about their goals for the new year. This year was no different and those who believe they cannot write or are too lazy to write something themselves, sent their friends funny/silly/nice/beautiful/religious/rude/crude messages and poems written by some funny/silly/nice/beautiful/religious/rude/crude writers to wish them a good/blessed/prosperous/whatever 2017, because apparently 2016 had been the worst year in the history of the world according to social media users or liberal American voters or both. Of course it had been a bad year for some individually, but I was just wondering if every one of the WWI and WWII years for example, might not have been worse in general? Anyway, who am I to differ with the social media experts?
I didn’t want to continue on the topic of this most plastic, man-made phase of the year, but hey, while I’m on it… Today’s date is just a date. Dates maybe rule our work lives, but they don’t define our character. Yes, we do remember the things – good and awful – happening to us by the Gregorian date that we use, but to wish a ‘year would die because it had been the most awful of them all’? Really? Is that what life had become for modern us? A date on a man-made calendar with absolutely no guarantee that the next da(y)te on the almanac bring only prosperity/happiness/blessings.
I’d hope that we can rather thank our Maker for every new day, no matter the ‘date’, because He says that He makes every day new and every day His mercy and loving-kindness is anew (Lamentations 3:22,23). Of course we will remember the awful past (even that terrible, dreadful 2016), but eventually we will also remember the beauty and the joy and the memories it brought us. Bad memories have the tendency to be overshadowed by good ones in due time. I don’t say this lightly, because some of us had real hard times and others had horrific things happening to them in 2016.
Let’s be thankful for another day, whatever the date may be, because how evil 2016 might have been, there had been good times and 2017 hasn’t shown its true colours yet. Let’s be grateful for waking up this morning and being alive for just one more moment, maybe even one whole day. I know it sounds like such a cliché, but in the end all we have is now. Enjoy it to the fullest.
Travel articles and blogs about ‘the road less travelled’ are in abundance. People, I included, love reading about strange, foreign, exotic and off the beaten track paths – places where only the most daring dares to go and where the rest of us probably will never set foot. I reckon that’s why we love it so much – reading about far-off places and dreaming impossible dreams, knowing that we will probably never make it there and instead, we admire those adventurers who do.
Few writers today still bother to write about the roads well-travelled other than in travelling guides or advertisements, because what self-respecting-do-things-differently-adventure-seeking person these days would find the London Tower Bridge or the Eiffel Tower or the Wailing Wall exotic enough to read about and dream about to visit. Travel articles must be all about exploring the unknown, the almost never-visited before, to be attractive enough to publish.
Travelling had become fairly easy in the past three decades. We live in a global enclave, which makes almost every place on earth accessible within a day or at most – two. So why bother with the ‘mundane’ travel destinations if you can be the first Western person to be seen in some remote jungle village of some South American tribe, living without any modern conveniences? Or sail to the most southern uninhabited island on earth or go to a quiet corner of the Antarctic to witness the consequences of global warming first-hand? It’s just more exciting! It’s exhilarating! It sells travel magazines. It generates more traffic to blogs and online mags.
But as someone who had only travelled a little bit and will probably always be limited to visiting only a few of the many, many, many places I dream about, I believe that there are still words left to be written about the roads well-travelled. Because if your opportunities and resources for travelling are limited, one tends to want to see first-hand those most ‘common’ sites you always see in movies and on TV.
Naturally your walk in the Bog Nature Trial in the Soomaa National Park in Estonia would make grand dinner conversation. Of course you would first have to show your guests on a map where Estonia is! Or imagine telling you bird watching friends about you seeing one of the last Great Indian Bustard nests in India? And obviously, you can’t go wrong with showing off your photos taken from Uhuru and Kibo peaks on Mount Kilimanjaro, because even if it had become a bit of fashionable trip to do these days, you can still get away with it under the ‘adventurous’ label. You will after all be only one of about 22 500 people in the world who did it this year – in comparison to the millions who have travelled to London to see old Buckingham Palace! Yawn…
But for the person who will only travel once or a handful of times in his or her lifetime, due to reasons such as limited resources or health restrictions that keep them from hunting great adventures such as walking the swamps of the Amazon, intruding on the habitat of petrifying Anacondas – visiting the Taj Mahal in India or the great pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the Garden Tomb in Israel, will still be more than awesome! It will also be the fulfilment of a lifelong dream – just as the Amazon-thing is to the extreme adventurer.
For us, the travellers with limitations, the mere site of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked, is absolutely breath taking! And to have a photo that you have taken yourself of the Eiffel on your own camera’s memory card, is a dream come true! Because you may have climbed a hill on precisely the right day of the year to harvest one of the world’s rarest truffles in the French countryside, but imagine your friends’ faces when you arrive back home and they ask you about the Eiffel and your answer is “No, I haven’t seen the Eiffel, but I did harvest the world’s most exotic mushroom!” Except if you are a foodie and all your friends are too, it will be an absolutely outrageous answer!
Us normal people of limited resources are satisfied to see the Eiffel and Wailing Wall or the Tower Bridge or the Big Ben or the Colosseum or maybe even the beautiful blue roofs of Mykonos and Santorini (instead of a less visited Greek islands with rarer stones to see). We are quite okay with it if we can only visit one of those magnificent places we see in movies and on TV programs in our lifetime. And when we watch a movie or TV again and we recognise one of those places and know that we had been there and that our feet walked where so many others have walked before – the fortunate and the unfortunate, the famous and the not-famous, the conqueror and the loser, the adventurer and the… us – we will feel thankful and privileged. Just because we were given the opportunity to see it with our own eyes.
There is still much to be said about the roads well-travelled, and very few of us will be able to travel all those roads, so if you get the opportunity – take it! And think of it this way: Even if you will never have the ability to visit any of these well-known or less-known places, you might live in a place on someone’s bucket list.
Explore your own surroundings. Visit that ‘boring’ battle field again that you had to visit on a school field trip. Go to that monument, read up on the beginnings of your town or city, because chances are that you are living near a place that someone else dreams about visiting. Go today. Pay it a visit. Take a picture (or a selfie if you can’t convince anyone to go with you on your ‘adventure’) and put it on your social media feed. And know that your feet have walked where other feet had fought or made history or had new beginnings. Because even though we sometimes don’t realise it: One man’s home can be just another man’s dream destination.
Our family at one of those ‘boring’ well-travelled places – The beautiful island of Mykonos in Greece.
Lou had just lost her job in a little restaurant, which she loved, and apply to become caretaker to a Will, an adventurer, who became a quadriplegic and had lost all interest in life after an accident which led to him living in an apartment at his unhappily married parents’ house. The movie of the book started showing in July 2016.
What I thought about it
It is a fairly good read, especially because it is a yet unexplored theme in fiction. Jojo Moyes writing is not recipe-like and filled with British wit, in spite of handling a difficult subject. (This reminds me a little bit of Cecelia Ahern’s style if you are, like me, a fan of her writing.)
After finishing the book I felt cheated though, because while Lou’s struggle with the enormity of Will’s decision was addressed, his moral/spiritual deeper struggle was not explored at all, therefore I found the book spiritually poor (as in the opposite of rich). Even people with no religious believes at all must have at least a few conflicting emotions and/or doubts with regard to such an important life decision as the one that Will had made.
Although the whole story was told from Lou’s point of view, the writer took the risk and trouble to switch from hers’ to giving the other characters at least a chapter each – a writing style that can cause chaos and would have worked better, had Will gotten his’ turn too. Yet the writer chose to ‘ignore’ his real thoughts and feelings in an almost robot-like manner. I found it more than a bit odd. If she tried to make a point through not doing it, I didn’t get it.
I still recommend the book because not much had been written about the subject in chick lit or any other fiction so far, but I think the writer really missed a great opportunity to give the reader insight into the immense struggle between life and death that must have been going on in Will’s mind. I will still watch the movie if I get the opportunity and I look forward to read ‘After You’ to see what happened to all the characters after this phase in their fictional lives. Lou is a likable character and it will be interesting to see what Moyes decided to do with her.
My rating of this book is a 4/5 because I like the humour and writing style.
Me Before You is available in most book shops as well as on the Internet as an ebook.
Life is speeding so fast that it can overtake us very easily, leaving us clinging onto whatever we can to survive. And when we are in survival mode, we tend to focus on just that – survival. Sometimes we need to get off the runaway train, stay on the ground and just enjoy the moments of experiences added together that is called ‘life’. So many of us live for our “one day” – that day or days near or farther in the future when all our dreams will be realised into the utopian existences we spend all our free time imagining.
But sometimes we need real life to give us a slap through the face or shower us with the proverbial bucket of ice water to slow us down from our busyness or even to bring us to a halt in order for us to stop and be alive within the actual moment we find ourselves in.
It can happen through the shock of sudden death, the scare of illness, being faced with dangerous situations or just recuperating from something less serious – but as disruptive.
Shock or trauma or failure can sometimes be good for us. It can help us clean our systems, re-organise our priorities and re-evaluate the impossible goals we set for ourselves into obtainable ones and making us pause for a while. Very few things in life can be so good to us than coming to a complete standstill. And I really mean to stop doing what you’re doing and to live in the moment, with no looking forward to the tomorrow that may never be born.e always dreamt of living abroad for a period of time. Due to circumstances that dream got lost for a while, but after some time it found its way back into becoming a possibility and our lives were frozen in their tracks. Everything we did or didn’t do, planned or didn’t plan and decided had to be weighed first against the probability of going away for a few years. It changes one’s whole focus, lookout and pretty much everything you do.
We only heard six months later that we were going to live abroad. In Egypt. I cried for a day and then my previous positive-self reappeared and I made a pro’s and con’s list and, surprise-surprise, the pro’s list convinced me – not that it was the longest! (How is it that when your prayers are being answered and you get what you ask for that you get confused?) But the crying subsided and the excitement and frightfulness kicked in. We had a lot to do – easier stuff and more difficult stuff. All the easier stuff had to do with the ‘whats’ in our lives. The more difficult ones had to do with the ‘whos’. My mother lived with us for 17 years and she had to be relocated. And we had to find houses for our four dogs. It wasn’t easy.
…to living in Cairo, Egypt, for two years.
It takes time to settle into a new environment. And it took me one year an nine months to get so used to the new place to fall into a little bit of a rut – in spite of (or maybe because of) busyness.
Precisely one year and nine months after arriving here, I fell into a not-so-slightly ‘down’. (Don’t worry – it was caused by stupid pains, and although they remained, the depression flew out of the window after a few doctor’s visits. ((And I realised that my ‘depressions’ are always health related.)) And it is a fact that everything seems worse if you are far away from ‘home.’)
Now that the background history is told, I will get to the point. Since that day, three years and three months ago when we first heard that we may be moving, I have learnt to live in the moment. Because of the uncertainty of our situation, we stopped buying unnecessary things, didn’t make decisions with long-term consequences and just started taking every day as it came.
Due to the fact that we came to live in a country where the security situation can be volatile, our circumstances can change at any time and our stay can end unplanned and abruptly. So, I decided to keep living here the way we lived back home for those uncertain fifteen months before we left – in the moment. And I already decided to keep doing that when we get back home one day. But, as I am writing this – even that isn’t a certainty, because that is a tomorrow that is still to come. I pray though that it will happen for us all.
But back again (!) to the reason for this writing. During all these experiences the last few years, I have learnt to enjoy the ‘little’ things in life. Don’t get me wrong. With our current, temporary lifestyle come lots of privileges, which we enjoy and appreciate enormously! I mean, without this experience, my dream to see at least something of Europe would probably always have stayed only in the dream phase. We have cruised the Nile and we are scheduled to go again soon. We have snorkelled in the Red Sea (and fell in love with it)! On a French mountain I have played in the snow for the first time in my life! I attended my first (second, third and shortly my fourth) ball! I have stood in a chamber of Tutankamun in The Valley of the Kings outside Luxor containing the petite mummy of king Tut. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera. These are memories I will cherish for as long as my mind allow me.
But as it is in life – privileges don’t come free or cheap. And in between these very wonderful experiences are those that don’t reach Facebook status. And they take up way more time than those very wonderful ones. They are the ones that can make or break us. The in-between times when the heat, dust, cultural differences, strange religion, terrible traffic, the thin, sick, hungry street dogs, the stray cats, the tummy bugs, the illiteracy (mine!), the overwhelming crowdedness, the ‘ununderstandable’ customs, the poverty, the dirtiness, the interestingness, the bland food, the overripe tomatoes and all the things you miss from home, make you wonder how on earth did you make it so far and how on earth will you make the rest of the time?
I remember back home when we had some challenges, we would go for a walk in the afternoons and with my hand in my husband’s and with our son and our dogs tagging along, I felt like the richest person alive! And this, I personally believe, is where the secret of happiness lies: to find blessings and joy and thankfulness in even the littlest things in mundane life.
I have listed just a few of these things that make me happy. Some of them are not so little at all.
Reading Bible and praying whenever I want to, because the Living God of the Bible is always everywhere.
Walking to the shops.
Walking to the shops on my own legs.
Walking to the shops on my own legs in mild weather.
Having good Egyptian people in our lives.
Eating the last piece of biltong someone thoughtfully brought when visiting.
Sitting (in the still mild weather) in our garden, listening to the birds chirping without the competition of the air conditioner sounds (because the weather is still mild and the aircons are still off).
Aircons in summer!!!
Drinking rooibos tea with my husband and son on a Saturday morning outside in the garden (when the weather is mild) or in the TV room or swimming pool (in summer, when the weather is not so mild).
Sleeping through the night without fear of violent house-breaks.
Waking up in the morning. (What a privilege!)
Having an Afrikaans (my native language) speaking buurvrou (neighbour) in the building across ours!
Having even more friends from home nearby and being able to lunch with some of them every week!
Feeding at least two of the many hungry cats in this huge city.
Watching ‘our’ two cats doing all their cat-things in our garden on top of the parking garage.
Taking pictures. Lots and lots and lots of them.
Being thankful for every ‘big’ or ‘little’ thing that works out.
Being safe after there had been uncertainties.
Aircons droning out the muezzin calls.
Power coming back on after cuts. (These days they aren’t as frequent and as long as in during the first year. Something to be thankful for – especially in summer!)
Experiencing everything with my husband and son!
Kissing my husband good night.
Kissing my son good night. (That’s probably not something he would like people to read on the Internet ((but he likes it – I can tell)).)
Seeing my husband happy because he can watch South African rugby and cricket matches on the satellite TV channels.
Paging through the teabags at my Japanese friend’s dinner to find a rooibos tea bag!
Having lots of friends from around the world to hang out with, visit new places with and to learn from.
Being able to buy the medicine I need and don’t get from home.
Being healthy (I hope).
Coming home to a haven of safety and tranquility.
Having a good landlady.
…the list can go on…
These are just a few things and when writing them down, I realise that they are not so little. They are pretty big and important. They are the glue that holds life together. To be in awe when seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time or feeling small against the largest of the Giza pyramids is splendid, but one can survive life without it. Of course travelling enriches our lives and I am a big supporter thereof (even if it is just exploring outside of you immediate comfort zone) and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on these experiences! But it really is the ‘small’ things that we can’t live without, which makes the mundane extraordinary – which is the difference between letting life get away from you and living in the moment. It is the ‘small’ things in life which brings sustainable happiness.
To conceive a dream is so easy. You just think it up and if you are passionate enough about it, you obsess over it. You envision every little detail. You see it in that sacred secret place where dreams are pictured in all its splendid tints and facets and glorious results. In that place that has no space and no limits. The place that no-one else can see. You dress it up, colour it in, expand it limitlessly and enjoy the outcome as if it already happened. You feel the magnificent emotions even before you even started doing anything about it. What a sweet, sweet place that place called imagination is!
Sometimes in life it happens that we lose those beautiful imaginary creations of ours – because of circumstances or because of failure. Sometimes the loss is due to our own limitations, flaws, choices or immature doings. Some of them we lose or have to let go, because they were only meant to teach us and to make us braver.
But, sometimes we get a chance to transform those imaginations into reality. I know that for the millions of go-getters out there, this is the moment they lived for and waited for their whole lives. It is the moment in which they can grab their dream in both hands and force life into it. Now me, I’m not one of those people. The realisation of my dreams scares diedinges out of me. For me the process of realising a dream is a nightmare. Because this is where two worlds meet – that fantastic world of comfort, no responsibilities and no liabilities and the scary, scary world where you have to face the proverbial music and actually do. It’s a world that makes your tummy ache and your head burst and where you want to faint, turn around and push your dream back in the safety of imagination’s womb and forget that you were ever able of conceiving such a frightful creation.
Because realising a dream is not only about day dreaming. It is about hard work, unpleasantness and vulnerability. The process of realising a dream is much like childbirth. For months a new person grows inside you. You nurture it, dream about its features, character, life. You wait in anticipation as the little human grows and grows until one day it can’t stay inside you anymore and needs to get out into the world.
I am not making this analogy easily. I know that losing a dream can never compare to losing a baby, but writing from the heart also means writing from experience. Loss nestles itself very deep in the human soul. All kinds of loss. If it is the loss of a human who had grown inside your body for a time or a dream that has grown inside your being. It feels. That is what makes us human and how we deal with the loss is what makes us individually who we turn out to be.
Some expecting mothers choose to abort the new life just after conception, because it came as an inconvenience, but doing so leaves a void in their souls that can never be filled. Some moms lose that life – not because of own choice, but because of circumstances or because that life wasn’t sustainable. It hurts. So. Much. Even if you know it wasn’t meant to be or that it wasn’t your fault – and somehow in your heart there always remains a memory of love. And sometimes more than just memories linger. Very real nightmares continue to occur of what could have been but was not. The same happens when losing dreams.
If so blessed to walk full term, expecting mothers very often experience a lack of sleep at the end of the pregnancy and angst and nightmares before the birth. They know that there is no way around it. The baby must get out – and no fear, angst or nightmare can stop or even delay the process. The little human’s life depends on being born.
In life, when one loses an unborn baby, the law of survival urges us to try again, until that new conception or the next or the next clings to life and grows and lives long enough to see the light.
To survive not only life, but ourselves, we have to try again when we lose a dream. We need to learn to dream new dreams. Dreams that would stick, go full term and burst into realisation when the time for it has come and the expecting ‘womb’ cannot contain it any longer.
We also need to embrace the birthing process like a fed-up, anxious, scared new mother who knows that the baby must be born – no matter what! It is never easy and many, many things can go wrong. There can be complications with the birth or defects that hadn’t been detected beforehand. In extreme cases even a still-birth is a possibility.
It can be the same with dreams. A dream is made to be born or aborted. To abort it will always leave an emptiness and a lifetime of wondering ‘what if?’ Of course there is the possibility of miscarriage too. We can take the big step, try and not succeed. Or the dream can be ‘still-born’ and be a failure. From experience I have also learned that failing at something is far more liveable with than aborting or not even trying to do something. The margin between failure and success can be so minute sometimes. But the gap between aborting and not trying is absolutely unbridgeable.
So, my son, when the time comes and the pangs make you fear and want you to abort and you feel anxious and inadequate and unqualified – remember the mother, who in her fear and pain and angst, push through, knowing that life depends on it.
So many ‘happy’ quotes – some about real joy and some about fake ‘happiness’? Think before you quote. Test before you believe.
It is absolutely okay to be happy. I know a lot of happy people. I am happy. Not all-the-time- screaming-from-the-rooftop-happy, but happy within myself and especially happy within our little family unit. When things didn’t go so well in life, I found myself still feeling happy most of the time, because I have Someone to believe in and people around who loved me, and therefore I always had/have hope. And when it is going really well, I still have ‘down’ days. But overall – in my heart – I know I am ‘happy’. I think that is pretty average for most people.
Social media pages are filled with quotes on everything under the sun, but the one theme that probably frequents more than others, is ‘happiness’. Happiness – it seems – is more sought after than most other wants or needs.
There is nothing wrong with being happy or wanting to be happy. I think that happiness is a very basic want and something all (I hope) people want to be – for the right reasons. But sometimes I read quotes coming along and I wonder about the driving force behind it. The quotes about success and ambition and happiness are by far the ones making me think more than the ones on love, caring etc. do.
I sometimes read a quote and I can’t help to think that modern man had become its own little god. Some of these quotes are all about ‘me’. “Think positive thoughts and get what you want from life”, “Do what makes you happy”, “Avoid people who makes you unhappy”, “Nice won’t get you anywhere”.
And then there are the advertisements. Being rich, being thin, buying the newest phone, tablet or TV, clothes, toys for your children, going on this or that new diet, taking this or that newly developed supplement etc. etc. etc. will make you… you guessed it – happy!
This way of searching for selfish happiness is all about me, me, me and feeds the little god modern-us created within ourselves.
With all the ‘happiness’ that is preached to us via the happiness ‘evangelists’s’ quotes and ads and movies, I am really surprised that the world is in such a state of unruliness, chaos, poverty, violence and… UNhappiness.
I know a person who is unhappy all the time. I know her for a very long time and this had always been the case. No one she is with or had been with or anything one can do for her could cause her to be in a constant state of happiness or contentment. (Or maybe she is happy, but has an unhappy way of showing it. One must always be optimistic!) Of course she had tragedy in her life, but she also had love and privileges and favour. I think about her well-being – or absence there-of – a lot and wonder if she would ever find something to make her happy. I wonder if she will ever find joy within herself. Sadly, only if some miracle happens very soon, I don’t think she will ever become so happy that she would influence other people’s lives only positively. A few years back I had a conversation with some people close to her and for the first time I really realised how many people get influenced on person’s actions and behaviour – positively or negatively. Although I always suspected that she had quite a damaging influence on their lives, I never thought it to be that destructive. That night, I made a decision again to try to only be a positive influence on the lives of people I have relationships with. This is a daily challenge.
It is impossible for me to ignore this person or cut her out of my life, so those quotes to “Ignore negative people” or to “Surround yourself with people who make you happy”, is not always a practical option. Of course it is better to be around only nice, ‘happy’ and positive people. Of course we sometimes have to make the difficult decision to cut a relationship with a person who really derail our lives or behave improperly towards us, but sometimes we just can’t. Because sometimes, those ‘unhappy’ or negative person is a spouse or a child or a parent or a sibling or a friend who needs a joyful, ‘happy’, positive person (like you and me, of course) in their lives. Or is a spouse or a child or a parent or a sibling or a friend who have a serious psychological illness and needs us to be there for them. To cut my ‘unhappy’ persons out of my life, would be selfish and in the end self-destructive. Because who will be there for me in my unhappy moments if my all-the-time positive, ‘happy’ spouse, child, parent, sibling or friend had also decided to cut me out..?
Just cutting people out, would mean that we care only about ourselves and conforming to the world around us where everything is about me and me alone and what I can get from every relationship and situation I am in. There will be no caring, no reaching out to people who needs us.
“Case Study’ #2
We currently live in Egypt. There is a well-known place close to our suburb in Cairo, called Mokattam. There is a place is called ‘Garbage City’. In there, live people who, for generations, gathers this large city’s garbage, sorts it and recycles it. When driving through there as a Westerner, you see sites that you would never have believed if you didn’t see it with your own eyes. When you dare to open your window, flies swarm into your vehicle and you’re greeted by the very distinct smell of rotten everything. I have seen the thinnest cow there that I’ve ever seen in my life! Yet, I observed something that both surprised and shocked me. I saw men, women and children working in the streets and inside open doored houses, hands halfway into garbage, sorting, working, talking, laughing. I saw children walking home from school, clean and neatly dressed. And I saw something in their eyes that I didn’t expect to see there. ‘Happiness’. What a very uncharacteristic place to find such a thing! But that was exactly what I saw – big, joyful eyes sparkling with light.
At first I thought that I was mistaken, so I didn’t say anything about this observation to anyone. Then as time went on and I have been in conversations about the place, people made the same remarks.
So, how is it possible that you can have two sorts of persons – one who has a relatively easy life and is never happy and the other who has a to-the-eye miserable life and seems ‘happy’? That is one of life’s great mysteries. Maybe it is because happiness isn’t a goal or a destination on its own, but a state of mind that one must find in oneself. Maybe happiness isn’t something to chase after and try to hunt down, to dream about, to ‘find’. Maybe happiness is in all of us, just waiting to be found. Or not.
‘Case Study’ #3
I don’t know Sir Richard Branson in person, but I read some of his books. I admire him for a few reasons. One, is that he is dyslexic and that I have learned to regard persons with dyslexia very highly, because most of the time, they are very clever people. I had quite a few of them in my Writing Clubs in the past and they are sharp and creative and think outside the box. Sir Richard can’t spell and didn’t finish school and yet he had written and published books. My spelling, on the other hand, is above average, I finished school and have a degree and yet I haven’t fulfilled my dream of publishing a book!
Back to the point of being happy. Branson claims in his books that you must just follow your passions in life and “success will follow”. He left school and started a magazine with very little resources. That was the first of his eight billion-dollar businesses (in different sectors). Success indeed followed his passionate efforts.
I haven’t published books yet (okay I have a self-published one on Kindle) and I haven’t made my billions yet. I don’t know if I will ever make billions, and I’m okay with that. But I really, really hope to get my books published. So, somehow, I believe what he says. The Bible teaches us “to do what our hands find to do” and to be “content with what we have”. That doesn’t mean that we can’t work harder and strive for better. But I believe that even though Sir Richard isn’t a Bible believer, he is following this advice.
Take More Pics and Less Selfies
I really believe what “if we do what our hand find to do”, means to use our God-given talents, passions and character traits to fulfil our purpose in this life, and when we do that will find ‘happiness’. And if we use those given passions, talents and character traits to help others, we won’t have to look for happiness, because it will come looking for us.
So, maybe ‘happiness’ isn’t something that we should even worry about or aspire to, but just live our lives to the best of our abilities, do what we can with what we have, reach out to others, give what we can give and don’t be so goal driven to feed our little inner-god.
Perhaps, if we take more pictures of the beautiful creation around us and of other people and less duckface selfies – to use contemporary social media generation language – we may see that we are surrounded by ‘happiness’.
(I always wanted to write something with a long title like this. My favourite movie title is The Englishmen who went up a Hill and came down a Mountain.)
Countries under Discussion
France (a bit of the South and Paris, ten days)
England (only London, four days)
Netherlands (only Amsterdam, three days)
One can hardly be an expert after visiting a country or even only a city for three or four or ten days – and for the first time! But we can make deductions, relate experiences and emotions and share observations after visiting places – even if it is after only such a short time. After all – that is why we do the lovely, beautiful, excruciating thing called travelling. So add if you want to, differ if it entertains you, but please don’t digitally crucify me for my inadequate, subjective views and comments on three great places my feet had the pleasure to touch.
We as a little family visited a few destinations in Europe at the end of last year through the beginning of this one. My husband is a seasoned traveller and had visited many countries beyond our continent’s borders, but for our son and I, it was the first trip beyond Africa and the Middle East. we looked forward to it for a long time and we weren’t disappointed. It must actually be ‘normal’ for South Africans like us to visit Europe at least once in a lifetime, because that is where our origins are. But travelling is a privilege and most of the time we can’t just jump on a plane and go wherever we dream to go. For us, the opportunity came up and we grabbed it with all fours.
After hoping and dreaming, we finally made the trip to visit to a friend of mine, residing in the south of France for the last five years. My friend, Mirella, her husband, Christian, and two sons, Daniël and Xavier lives in Sainte Colome, near Arudi, near Pau, near Toulouse in the south western part of Aquitaine province of the country, very close to the border with Spain. This border is lined with the beautiful Pyrenees Mountains and counts as some of the finest of God’s creation.
Our initial introduction with the French people wasn’t that heartening. Speak English at the train station in Toulouse and you are rudely ignored. Fortunately, angels roam the earth and an English speaking one was waiting for us at the ticket machine to help us obtain three tickets to Pau. Once in the countryside, people showed us the nicer side of being French. We breathed the good, clean Pyrenees air for seven wonderful days, we watched the world around us in awe, threw a snowball for the first time ever (!) and admired people’s skills in the soft, white, cold wonderland.
Paris was everything I hoped it would be and more. We visited all the famous tourist sites, enjoyed the food and watched the Parisians stroll up and down the Champs Elysees dressed as if it is a catwalk. We were there for only three days, but somehow we ended up going to the Eiffel Tower every single day! We left for London on the evening before the Charlie Hebdo incident. I don’t know if we will ever have the opportunity to visit Paris or the French countryside ever again, but I know that there is a smile reserved in my heart for my memories of France. I can’t help to wonder what Paris will be like in the summer though?
Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting France for Ten Days
It is true. The French don’t like hearing English. We tested it. Every time my husband started an enquiry in his friendliest English, he was impolitely disregarded. I then stepped in, beginning in Afrikaans, our native language, and then flowed over into my version of ‘French’ – English camouflaged in a terrible French accent. It is quite easy to ‘bend’ English words so that they sound We were successful in all our missions this way – from asking directions, to exchanging pleasantries to buying cough medicine!
The French seems educated. (They definitely sound educated speaking such a beautiful language!) Everyone They sit on benches and read. They read on the bus, the boat, the train. Men read, women read, children read and grandmothers read to children who can’t read yet. It is just lovely to watch this passionate affair the French people has with books!
It also seems that all people living in France can speak French. (It might sound obvious, but it is not necessarily a given that people naturally speak the language of the country they live in – see my observations about London later on.)
Being South African and coming from a country where the crime rate is unacceptably high, one of my first observations of the French countryside was the absence of fear. In the village where my friend lives, they don’t even lock their doors (as some of those hundred-plus-year-old houses don’t have keys anymore!) There is a sense of safety and also an absence of aggression – something I had recognised and acknowledged within myself for the first time. I am still shocked to appreciate how living in a society with no respect for life changes you and make you angry all the time. And I am deeply saddened by it, because it had become the psyche of ‘my people’ back home. It is something I have to ponder on and to do something about.
I’ve touched the point above already that the French knows how to dress. They really dress elegantly and if you are clothed in the most common South African brand winter clothing, you stand out a little bit. Luckily it didn’t rain much, so we wore our ‘classier’ stuff the two remaining days. But with my weathered hiking boots I still looked very Boer-like in the presence of all those designer heels. Anyway, my feet were happy. And so was I.
In spite of them not liking English, the French are friendlier than one thinks and they are pretty likable people in the end.
All I wanted was a beer in a real pub and sitting on the Underground, being in shops and walking in the streets of London and listening to proper English accents, like our friend Simon’s. Boy, was I disappointed! Only twice in the four days did I hear that. The rest of the time our ears were entertained by almost every language under the sun – Arabic, Italian, Russian, other Eastern European sounding languages, Greek, French etc. In shops, we were served by foreigners. The Underground was packed with people from elsewhere. London is a little world in its own.
In spite of not hearing much proper English, we really enjoyed our time in London. We walked, saw touristy places, we went to see Phantom of the Opera at West End, we went to the movies and checked out James Bond stuff in the British Film Museum. It rained and it didn’t and it rained and it didn’t. And we had that pint in a real pub – the Sherlock Holmes Pub, nogal!
I liked visiting London and won’t cry if I have to visit it again. I do still have a dream to go watch a tennis match at Wimbledon. And I want to still see the English and the Scottish and the Welch and the Irish countryside…
Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting London for Four Days
There is no good coffee.
There is no good coffee.
There is no good coffee.
Did I mention that the coffee there isn’t any good?
London appears very orderly. Properly English. Things work. That’s nice. I liked that. Once upon a time, things worked well in South Africa too. We learned from the Germans and the Dutch and the French and the British. But somehow we’ve lost our orderliness. And a lot of other necessities too.
People flock to England to get an education. Some for real. Some under false pretences and get stopped at the airport – something we witnessed.
On that point, London had become a place of refuge for many people from many different countries. It brings along its own challenges for the authorities, because of socio-economic issues and increasing extremism, but for most people it had become a place where they can go to be safe and to make a new life. It might be a hard life and difficult to get ahead, but nevertheless, it is a place to where they can go to get saved from where they come from.
And also on that point. One gets a feeling of disconnectedness amongst the masses. Most people appear alone and distant and lonesome. Maybe it is because they had to disconnect from their roots and they just didn’t reconnect again. I suppose it is not out of the ordinary. Living in a foreign land does that to a person.
Amsterdam was a breath of fresh air. Okay, with a hint of marijuana near the train station. We spend a whole day walking along the canals with our friend, Rudi, who lives there. We ate biltong at an Aussie restaurant/bar that is nice enough to sell South African delicacies for the homesick Springbok supporters who watch rugby matches there. It was bloody cold.
It must be impossible to know for real, but statistics shows that there are more than 600 000 bicycles in Amsterdam. They have their own parking lots – like those for cars. Everyone is riding a bike – young and old. And sometimes the young with a mom or a dad. It is an overwhelming phenomenon, the bikes of Amsterdam. We visited the places everyone visited, rode on a boat in the canals and we walked and walked and walked. And it was bloody cold.
I loved Amsterdam. It was fun, relaxed and relaxing and we just had a great time. And we would love to see the rest of the Netherlands. Maybe in springtime…
Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting Amsterdam for Three Days
The Hollanders are super friendly. Maybe they are always a little bit high with all the fumes hanging around (wink-wink) or maybe that’s just the way they are.
They are helpful people. Apart from their friendliness, they have this wonderful way in which they serve you. Really caringly serve you.
There also is an absence of fear.
Order and education is a visible priority. It’s Europe.
In Amsterdam everyone speaks Dutch. The population looks a bit like that of London with white, black, Asian, Middle Eastern etc., working everywhere, but the difference here is that every white, black, Middle Eastern or Asian mouth speaks Dutch! It is so weird, but also so wonderful! And we can understand them a little bit. If they speak slowly.
As in the case of London, Amsterdam is also a sanctuary for people from all over the world. Their tolerance throughout history made people flock to the city and it harboured many people in need of shelter in the past and still in the present.
These were just a few comments. I’m still working on my observations about living in Egypt. Maybe I will only write about that at the end of our time here. That is after all a whole different ballgame.
VRYWARING: The Writing Club/Die Skryfklub het geen amptelike verbintenis met die ATKV, óf tree as spreekbuis vir hulle op, óf doen reklame namens die organisasie nie. Die rede hoekom soveel van hulle hulpbronne in hierdie les genoem word, is omdat hulle aktief die Afrikaanse taal bevorder (wat Die Skryfklub ook ondersteun en nastreef) en hulle nou met skole saamwerk in hierdie verband.
Dit grief my dat Graad 1-leerders ‘n toespraak gereed moet hê twee weke nadat hulle vir die eerste keer skool toe is. Hulle kan nog nie eens self lees of skryf nie! So, wie doen hulle werk? Jy, natuurlik!
Ek sal nie dieper in my opinie van die skoolsisteem ingaan nie, maar tot die punt kom en jou ‘n paar idees gee om jou te help om jou kinders se toesprake te skryf. Sodoende, wil ek jou help om so min as moontlik onnodige tyd daaraan te spandeer, maar belangrikste van alles is dat ek jou wil help om jou kinders te leer om hulle eie toesprake te kan navors en skryf (sodra hulle kan lees en skryf… #sarkasties)
Soos uit bestaande voorbeelde van toesprake blyk, is daar ‘n duidelike en eenvoudige struktuur wat gevolg kan word om ‘n praatjie te skryf. Die inhoud, tema en lengte hang van die ouderdomsgroepe af.
Hierdie skrywe is geensins daarop gemik om ‘n in-diepte studie of les oor toespraakskryf te wees nie, maar bloot ‘n hulpmiddel om besige ma’s te help.
Jy is dus baie welkom om hierdie wenke gratis, vry en verniet met jou vriendinne te deel. Moet asseblief net nie jou eie besigheid daarmee begin en dit verkoop nie. 🙂
Stuktuur van ‘n toespraak
Die basiese struktuur van ‘n redenaarstoespraak bestaan uit:
Die ‘kop’ van die toespraak
Hierdie is basies net die ‘groet’ van die voorsitter (wat deesdae net in die manlike aanspreekvorm) is.
In hierdie paragraaf word die tema aangespreek, sodat die voorsitter, gehoor, beoordelaars weet wat beredeneer gaan word.
‘Groet van die gehoor’
Voordat die beredenering begin, erken die spreker eers die gehoor se teenwoordigheid (“Dames en here” of “Seuns en dogters” of (“Dames en here, seuns en dogters” )
Die ‘lyf’ van die toespraak
Hierna volg drie of meer paragrawe na gelang van tema, tyd en ouderdomsgroep, waarin die tema beredeneer word. Elke paragraaf moet die volgende bevat:
‘n Standpunt of opinie oor die onderwerp, met ander woorde, jou (die kind s’n) mening oor die onderwerp. Jy sal eers hiermee moet help. (Lees meer onder Wenke.)
Elke punt wat gemaak word, moet met ‘n rede daarvoor of daarteen ondersteun word.
Ter stawing hiervan moet ‘n aanhaling (persoon, boek, gesegde ens.) en/of ‘n feit (met detail van herkoms – bron, datum, omstandighede ens) ter ondersteuning aangebied word.
Die ‘bene’ van die toespraak
Die een been bestaan uit die afsluitingsparagraaf. Hierin kom al die beredenering tot ‘n punt. Los drade word saamgevat. Die finale argument word versterk, maar geen nuwe feite word hier genoem nie. Die afsluiting moet weereens ondersteun word deur ‘n aanghaling of gesegde deur ‘n bekende/beroemde persoon.
Die ander been is die ‘dankie’-groet. Hier bedank die spreker die voorsitter en gehoor vir hulle aandag. ‘n Eenvoudige, ”Ek dank u, voorsitter”, of iets minder formeels, soos “Baie dankie vir u aandag, voorsitter, dames en here/seuns en dogters” sal doen. Party skole/klasse/groepe kan voorgesê word hoe om te eindig. Nota: Maak seker jou kind vra haar/sy onderwyser.
Hier is ‘n opsomming van die struktuur om naby te hou of dalk op jou kennisgewingbord te sit.
Hier is ook ‘n prentjie om die struktuur vir die kleiner kind te verduidelik, sodat sy beter kan verstaan en haar later te help om haar toesprake self te skryf.
Wanneer jy die toespraak skryf, laat jou kind bysit. Laat hy jou help om die onderwerp te kies.
Wanneer daar op ‘n onderwerp besluit is, vra die kind om te probeer om sy menings oor die onderwerp te gee. Bv. Tema: Moet ons skoolklere dra?
Laat jou kind eerstens sê of hy daarvoor of daarteen
Laat hom om dan drie redes te gee vir sy standpunt.
Help hom dan soek na aanhalings, gesegdes en/of feite om sy standpunt te ondersteun.
(Hierdie is ‘n goeie oefening om deurentyd met jou kinders te doen. Betrek hulle by besluitnemings in die huishouding. Beredeneer dit om die etenstafel. Onthou die reël: vir elke mening MOET daar ‘n rede gegee word. Draai die situasie soms om en laat hulle die teenoorgestelde van hulle mening verdedig. Dit oefen hulle ‘dinkspiere’ en leer hulle ook om empatie met ander se standpunte/omstandighede te hê.)
Daar word van die kinders verwag om hulle toesprake uit hulle koppe te ken (asof die graadeentjies ‘n keuse het…).
Ek het gevind dat die maklikste manier om jou kind daarmee te help, is om die toespraak in jou (mamma) se stem op jou foon op te neem.
Oefen die toespraak ‘n paar keer vir jouself en voeg die verandering in stemtoon, nuanses, beklemtoning in, sodat dit kind dit kan hoor en so memoriseer. Onthou, die kind memoriseer presies soos hy/sy hoor.
(Die ‘voordra’ van hierdie toespraak is presies dit – voordrag, so dis baie vol drama en handgebare en nuanses. Laat jou kind die toespraak stukkie vir stukkie memoriseer en soveel as moontlik vir jou voordra. Jy kan hiermee help tot die beste van jou vermoë. As jou kind deurgaan na ‘n volgende rondte in die skool, sal die onderwysers verder help afrig.)
Skryf in eenvoudige, onopgesmukte taal, sodat dit gepas is vir die kind se ouderdomsgroep. Lees die toespraak ‘n paar keer oor en verbeter wat jy kan. Sny onnodige woorde uit en maak seker dat jy genoeg beredenering in het, asook aanhalings en/of feite by elke rede.
‘Breek’ die toespraak in baie kort lyne op (sien my voorbeelde), druk en knip dit uit en plak dit op kaartjies. Plak net drie lyne per kaartjie op, sodat die kind nie hoef te sukkel om te sien waar sy is nie. Nommer die kaartjies, sodat jou kind dit maklik self in volgorde kan plaas. Jy kan selfs die lyne per kaartjie nommer as jy dink dit sal help. Help haar dan om die toespraak te hou met behulp van die kaartjies. (Elke keer as ‘n kaartjie se inhoud klaar voorgedra is, plaas sy dit onderaan al die ander.)
Doen jou kinders die guns wanneer jy hulle beperk/verbied om sekere dinge te doen of wanneer jy sekere reëls instel deur aan hulle te verduidelik hoekom jy dit doen. Gee hulle een of twee of meer goeie redes en moenie jouself skuldig maak aan ons Afrikaners se “omdat ék so sê”-sindroom nie. Dit suig.
Kinders so klein as twee/drie kan verstaan dat hy een dag winkel toe kan gaan om ‘n swietie of ‘n speelding te koop en ‘n ander dag net mag rondkyk. Ek het dit getoets. As kinders gevolge kan verstaan, kan hulle jou reëls insien. Dit help hulle om nie so maklik rebels te wees nie en om vir hulleself te dink. Ons het denkende jongmense in ons land nodig. Voed asseblief vir ons ‘n paar op!
O, jinne, laat ek ophou voor ek preek.
Nog oefeninge om jou kind te help
Speel speletjies wanneer julle in die kar oppad is of in ‘n wagkamer moet wag.
Vra jou kind om die omgewing of ‘n voorwerp vir jou te beskryf. (Hoe dit lyk, wat jy daarmee doen, ens.)
‘Dwing’ jou kind om buite te speel, waar hy sy verbeelding moet gebruik.
Verbied digitale speletjies (rekenaar, foon, PS, Xbox ens) as die volgende dag ‘n skooldag is en beloon hulle met langer tye van ‘n uur en ‘n half op ‘n slag of so, tydens naweke en vakansies.
Maak ‘dinktyd’. Geen mens kan opinies hê sonder dat hy voorkeure of afkeure het nie. Ek ontmoet baie kinders wat nie weet waarvan hulle hou en waarvan nie. Ja, regtig. Ons kan nie opinies vorm as ons nie onsself ken of weet wat in die wêreld om ons aangaan nie. Die enigste manier om jouself te leer ken, is om gereeld tyd te neem om net te dink.
Maak dagdroomtyd. Met my skryfklubs doen ek ‘n les oor dagdroom. Daar het nog na elke werkwinkel ten minste een kind die volgende week teruggekom en gesê: “Ek weet nie hoe om te dagdroom nie.” Dis hartseer, want dis ‘n kind se enigste rêrige werk. In plaas daarvan om vir jou klein kindertjies ‘n fliek aan te sit om hulle besig te hou, laat hulle eerder hulle eie ‘opmaak’-stories speel. Hulle is baie goed daarmee, maar kinders word deesdae so geentertain, dat hulle nie meer hulle eie verbeelding het en hulleself kan entertain ‘n Goeie manier om kreatiwiteit aan te moedig is om een sinnetjie uit julle gesin se woordeskat te verban. Dit is: “Ek is verveeld..!” Daardie sinnetjie moet net op een manier beantwoord word: “’n Kind mag nie verveeld wees nie. Dink iets uit om te doen.” Hou vol daarmee. Dis ‘n gewoonte wat vinnig afgeleer word as ouers die moeite doen. En dan is dit natuurlik altyd goed om deur voorbeeld te lei…
Kinders en grootmense het ‘aftye’ nodig sodat ons breine kan rus en energie hernu. Maak tyd ten minste eenkeer per week vir die hele familie om niks te doen nie. Al is dit net vir twee ure. Verban selfone, TV en ander elektroniese goed en lê net leeg!
So, mamma, oor ‘n maand is dit tyd vir jou kinders se Engelse toesprake. Jy is nou toegerus om dit self te skryf. Pas net dieselfde beginsels toe. Byt vas, een van die dae leer jy hulle om dit self te doen!
Daar is ook baie Engelse webwerwe wat uitstekende hulp bied, maar dit verskil van hoe Afrikaanse skole dit doen. Persoonlik verkies ek eersgenoemde meer, want kinders word meer aangemoedig om hulle eie werk te doen, interessante onderwerpe te kies en meer vir hulleself te dink.
As jou kind een van daai oulike, bekkige, dramatiese outjies is en as ‘n kampioenredenaar ontluik, gaan jy baaaaaie toesprake in 12 jaar nodig hê. Leer hulle so gou as moontlik om hulle eie ding doen, maar help altyd met die taal, redenasies ens. en as jy vasbrand, is daar hulp op die volgende plekke.
Voorbeelde van toesprake (Hierdie toesprake is spesiaal vir twee kinders geskryf, so moet dit asseblief nie gebruik nie.)
Voorbeeld 1 Met grysheid kom die wysheid
Daar is ‘n spreekwoord wat sê dat grysheid wysheid bring. Is dit so? Dit is soms so. Maar ook soms nié.
Dames en here / Seuns en meisies,
Eerstens is daar ‘n verskil tussen slim en wys. Slim is as ‘n mens baie leer. Jy kan nog baie jonk en baie slim wees. Soos Bill Gates van Microsoft wat dit regkry om die hele wêreld op rekenaars te laat werk. Hy is baie slim, maar ook wys, want hy sê kinders moet baie lees. Ek weet nie of hy dit gesê het toe hy al grys was nie.
Die wetenskaplike, Albert Einstein, was baie slim én baie wys. Hy het moeilike probleme opgelos en ontdek hoe dinge werk. Hy het ook gesê dat verbeelding belangriker as kennis is. Al was hy grys, dink ek nie hy was dan ooit ‘n grootmens nie, want grootmense sê soms anders.
(En), voorsitter, Dan is daar my ouma, Antjie. Sy is grys én slim én wys. Sy is so wys, sy is sommer een van ‘n tweeling. Ouma Antjie kan koek bak en stories vertel en grappies maak en einas regdokter en baie mooi prente verf.
Dames en here / Seuns en meisies,
Daar is altyd uitsonderings. Jesus was die wysste van almal en Hy het hemel toe gegaan vóórdat Hy grys was. En soms as kinders iets ouliks sê, dan sê die oumas:
“Is sy nie te grys nie?!”
So, ek is nie heeltemal seker dat alle wysheid met grysheid kom nie. Maar één ding weet ek! Dit rym!
Baie dankie, voorsitter
Voorbeeld 2 Een vrot appel steek al die ander aan
Kan één ou klein appeltjie nou regtig ‘n hele boks vol appels vrot maak? Volgens die Bybel en baie slim mense, kan dit!
Dames en here, Appels en Pere / Seuns en meisies,
Op die webblad – todayifoundout.com – skryf Daven Hiskey dat ‘n slegte appel gewoonlik ‘n siekte het of dat dit oorryp is. Daardie één appel kan regtig al die ander appels om hom aansteek en vrot maak! Hy weet, want hy is ‘n baie slim man wat met met appels werk.
(Maar), voorsitter, Dié idioom praat nie rêrig van appels nie. Dit gaan eintlik oor slegte mense wat goeie mense leer om slegte dinge te doen. In 1 Korinthiërs 15 vers 33 in die Bybel staan: Slegte geselskap bederf goeie sedes. Die Bybel sal weet. Dis die slimste boek op aarde.
‘n Anonieme aanhaling sê dat ‘n mens se gesin jou eerste vriende is. Ons familie is die mense wat ons die liefste het. Hulle sal ons nie leer om slegte dinge te doen nie. So, as ons eerste vriende ons familielede is, sal ons nie vrot appels word nie!
Dames en here / Seuns en meisies,
Meneer George Washington was ‘n Amerikaanse president en nóg ‘n slim man. Hy het gesê dat dit beter is om alleen te wees as om slegte vriende te hê. Maar ek sê, kies van jongs af goeie vriende en jy hoef nooit alleen pret te hê nie! Is ek nie ook slim nie?
l (and my husband) never had the desire to emigrate from South Africa, but we always had the dream of living and working abroad for a while. Hopefully our only son will one day earn his living mainly in our country too. Through the years so many things in our lives and our country changed and we started to think that the possibility of working and living in another country was lost. But ‘out of the blue’ the opportunity came our way and we took it.
We love travelling and thought that if we lived somewhere ‘in the middle of the world’, travelling would be much easier. (Read less expensive.) We South Africans are mos eager travellers, but it costs an arm and a leg for us to travel.
To live in South Africa have more advantages that most South Africans realise. Ask any South African living abroad or who had lived abroad or who travel abroad regularly. At this point, please let me just state that I do not criticise people who emigrate. l can really, really, really understand it when people leave the country after they had been hijacked for the third time…
l am also of the opinion that migration is a very natural thing and that circumstances ‘moved’ people to emigrate throughout the centuries – in this instance the crime rate in our beloved country became most people’s moving factor. It was this ‘natural’ migrating phenomenon after all which brought our forefathers to South Africa in the first place. l believe the point is now made. So, let’s get on with us living in Cairo now.
It goes without saying that it is much different to holiday in a country than to live in it. We came to Egypt with the intent of staying and not holidaying. I think we got that one right so far. But, in spite of travelling via Cairo elsewhere six times before, and knowing what it looks like, I was still overwhelmed on our first night here. In my head I did the Maths: 4 x 365 days to go. l didn’t feel up to it. But, the next morning I woke and the fatigue from the flight was gone and so were the woes.
Let me put it in perspective for you. l grew up in a small town with a population of only in the thousands – the then black township people included – of whom you rarely saw a few dozen at a time and where, according to statistics only 33.5 people live per square km.
For the past 26 years we had been living in Pretoria, a city with 1.7 million people. The whole metropolis houses plus minus 2.4 million (675.1 people per square km). South Africa has between 48 to 52 million people (according to different websites, none of which claims to be correct). Our new city, Cairo, ‘they say’ has 20 million people! In one city! That’s almost half the population of South Africa! In one city! Will you forgive me if I felt just a tad overwhelmed?
But like in most situations where one feels overwhelmed, it always helps to get your facts straight. According to the CAPMAS, the country’s official statistics body, Egypt has 86 000 000 people – excluding the 8 000 000 living abroad. (Yes, Hany, you were counted too.) It states that Cairo has only 9,12 million souls. ONLY. I feel much better now. 🙂 Although,thinking of sharing a square kilometer with 47 257 other people in the Cairo governate IS daunting. On the other hand – stats here are only manipulated numbers. There may well be living 20 million people in Cairo. The indications are there. Enough of the stats. I’m more of a words than a numbers person.
As it normally goes in life, one can adapt quite quickly. While Cairo seemed like a dull, chaotic, dusty, dirty place on that first day, l wake up every morning since then to be surprised by something new. lt is as if someone comes every night with a box of crayons – not paint yet, but crayons work for me so far – to colour a new piece of the city just for me. And when I come out on the hotel balcony every morning to see what the day looks like, I find that the water in the Nile in front of me suddenly has changed colour. And so does the agricultural patches across the river and the trees on the the other side of the river bank. And even the desert and the pyramids on the horizon. And the cars and shops in the busy streets. And some of the scarfs on the woman’s heads.
When you keep calm and draw a breath and get enough sleep, the world around you seems to become a better place. Because then you have the awareness to be wooed by the views and the sounds and the sights and the people around you. OK, I admit that the sounds are still something to get used to, but the friendliness of the people overrides the bombardment of the forever-present hooting sounds and the forever-present howling sounds from the mosques or the forever-present sounds from the traffic in the streets.
Every South African living here, tells us that they enjoy it here and those that are leaving or had left already, told us that they are/were sad about leaving. l don’t want to think about leaving. We just left South Africa. I don’t have the capacity for more goodbye’s in the near future.
We’ve been ‘living’ in Egypt for two and a half weeks now. So far, so good. Hopefully we will move into a house soon and then the real ‘living’ can start.
I don’t want to bore you, so I will stop here for now. Thanks for being on this journey with us – wherever you are when you read this.
People keep journal for different reasons and therefore there are various kinds of journals, such as spiritual journals, therapeutic journals, ideas journal, memoires, personal memories, research journals, journals keeping track of illnesses, art journals, travel journals, thank you journals, etc.
Why do People keep Journals?
The function of journaling is to keep record of information (or statistics/thoughts/memories etc.) regularly for later use.
A journal is a continued series of writings made by a person in response to their life experiences and events. Diaries contain a description of daily events. A journal may include those descriptions, but it also contains reflections on what took place and expresses emotions and understandings about them. It doesn’t matter what you call your writing, either a diary or journal, as long as you see the distinction between these two ways of writing.
Different journals have different styles. In some journals, like that of a researcher, a therapist, or a traveller, the writer must be meticulous about recording facts accurately to write academic papers, truthful articles or medical reports later on. In other journals used to record memories or spiritual growth feelings, emotions and thoughts play a more important role.
Examples of Journals
One can almost record anything in a journal and although there are more types of journals, we will look at only a few.
Spiritual Journals. Prayer requests (and answers) and notes on one’s personal spiritual growth, conversations with our Father in heaven and life lessons learned, are the basic aspects recorded in these journals.
Therapeutic Journals. Psychologists and patients can both keep record during therapy. Therapists will write entries about their patients’ progress and treatment, while patients will write down their emotions and thoughts and also about their physical wellbeing and/or symptoms.
Ideas Journals. It is a good idea if you are/want to be an artist, inventor or a designer to keep a journal where you can dot down your ideas. Painters or song writers find this extremely helpful. In today’s busy life, we tend to forget easily, but when you use a journal, all those wonderful ideas you have won’t go to waste if it is penned down immediately. These days, digital devices such as cell phones, laptops, iPads and tablets have memo pads, voice notes and apps available which come in handy to quickly type or record a thought for later use.
Memoires. Many people, especially famous ones, want to write their memoires or autobiographies in the future. Keeping a journal helps one to preserve important memories. (Keep in mind that there is a difference between autobiographies and memoires.)
Research Journals. Scientists, archaeologists, journalists, statisticians, mathematicians etc. normally keep journals wherein they record their research and findings for later use.
Progress Journals. Teachers, scientists, project managers etc. use journals when monitoring the progress of projects.
Medical Journals. People who are seriously ill use journals to keep track of symptoms, treatment, reaction to medicine, etc. Doctors do the same when monitoring illnesses or researching new treatments.
Art Journals. Artists use journals to plan paintings, write down ideas for art pieces etc. It helps them to plan projects which they cannot work on right away.
Travel Journals. Journaling helps travel writers (or just for-fun travellers) to write down important notes while travelling, on detail such as routes, costs, contact numbers, addresses, web site addresses, names of people and places etc. They can also use their journal to keep track of pictures taken.
‘Thank You’ Journal. Some people like keeping a journal of the things they are thankful for. It is a wonderful way to learn to write regularly and it also helps a writer to always be on the lookout for something to write about and a good way of learning to be thankful for what you have.
Dream Journal. Some people record their dreams in their journals just after they have woken up. Some dreams have meaning and it helps people to write down their dreams before they forget them.
‘Diary’ Journals. It is a journal containing daily events, thoughts, feelings, dreams and sometimes, even secrets and is normally the first step in journal writing people start at a young age.
Tips on Journal Writing
Makeyourown rules. If you want to write every day, it is up to you. If you only want to write in your journal twice a week or whenever you feel like it, that’s okay too. You can write long, thoughtful pieces at a time or only two sentences. You can write, draw, design, glue pictures in it or do whatever you like. You are a unique person and only you know what you want to preserve in your journal.
Always keep your journal and a pen/pencil/phone/tablet near – in your backpack, schoolbag etc. so that you can write down an idea when it pops into your head. If you don’t write it down, you will probably forget it. Otherwise know how your cell phone’s memo pad and voice recorder works.
Write the date at the beginning (or end) of all your entries. This will help you especially if you need to write factual pieces or even your memoires later on.
Don’t stop if you haven’t written for a few weeks. Just keep on where you left off. Remember, you make your own rules! I have moved from writing in a notebook to keeping a journal on my computer and I don’t write every day, but I keep writing. My current digital journal is almost eight years old and include my thoughts, struggles, experiences, travel log and even world events, because they also influence our lives.
Don’t try to impress anyone in your journal. It is a personal thing and it is about your personal growth. You don’t have to try to perform when writing in your journal. Be honest with yourself and write from your heart. Write about all your fears, emotions and your losses in life, as well as about the things that make you happy and the dreams you have for the future.
If you keep a spiritual journal, provide space where you can later come back and write down answers to prayer, i.e. write on the one side of your journal and keep the other open.
As already mentioned, you can also keep your journal on your PC/laptop/iPad/tablet/smart phone. Just make sure that you make back-ups regularly (preferably in the cloud, rather than on a disc you can lose or that can break) and keep an extra notebook to take with you wherever your computer can’t go with you.
You don’t have to let anyone read your personal journal.
You don’t have to limit yourself by having a separate journal for every different aspect of your life. You can use only one book to record all the different facets of your life. I have two journals – one for my personal thoughts etc. as mentioned above and another that I use as a notebook for writing poems, jotting down story ideas, planning dinners and recording admin. That way I only grab one book when leaving the house and I don’t need a trailer to transport all my journals every time I go somewhere.
I also have a WhatsApp group with myself (with my phone and tablet names) where I write when I have no other way. That way I can transfer my thought electronically to my journal when I get home without having to type it again.
Did you Know?
Journals had been used to record history. Many famous as well as unknown people had kept journals, recording important historical events and so preserved history that otherwise would have been lost.
Some journals had been published as books (like Anne Frank’s).
Secrets in people’s diaries or journals had led to crimes being solved, lives being saved, conspiracies brought to light and it lead people in love to each other after years of being apart…
Famous People who Kept Journals
Louis Tregardt, (yes, that’s how he wrote his surname in his diary) Voortrekker leader. He recorded how the Voortekkers trekked and the battles they fought.
Anne Frank was a girl who lost her life in WWII. She called her diary ‘Kitty’ and had various ones. Only ‘Kitty’ diary was later found and published by her father.
The famous author of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (alias Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) kept quite a few diaries of which some had disappeared.
The English novelist, Virginia Woolf, was another keen keeper of journals.
Most U.S.A. presidents kept journals, including George Washington, John Quincy Adams and Thomas Jefferson. However, one unique diary belonged to Harry S. Truman, who wrote in his diary constantly, recording notes on and even his feelings about every appointment he had during each day!
Even fictional people like the TV character, teen doctor Doogie Howser, wrote two sentences in his diary (on computer) each day. So did the movie characters, Bridget Jones, Mia Thermopolis (The Princess Diaries) and Indiana Jones, who recorded treasure maps and notes about important artefacts in his.
Song writers are keen on journaling. They write down songs that sprung into their heads at strange times of day (or night). One of them is Jessica Simpson.
Who knows, maybe one day, I will add your name in an updated version of this blog…
Creative Writing Exercise
Write a 10-minute journal entry in your current journal or in a note book if you don’t have a journal yet. Write from your heart. You can write about something you did or about something that you feel sad about or something that makes you very happy or something that you are thankful for or all of the above! Or write down your love story, or write about your dreams, places you want to visit etc.
Some Last Notes
Remember to write the date with every entry.
Try to make at least two journal entries per week from now on. Schedule a special appointment with yourself on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon and one week morning/night.