I wasn’t Planning on Writing Anything Newyeary

My Weekly  Musings #1/2017

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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.

Be blessed.

(Blog entry/ies vaguely related to this topic: https://fieliesdekock.com/2014/01/08/my-favourite-days/)

 

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

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In Favour of the Roads Well Travelled

 

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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 as in travelling advertisements, because what self-respecting, do-things-differently, adventure seeking person these days would find the London Tower or the Eiffel or the Wailing Wall exotic enough to read about and dream about to visit. Travel articles nowadays 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  orientate your guests on a map to 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 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 truffle 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 truffle!” Except, if you are a foodie and all your friends are foodies too, it will sound outrageous!

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 social media. 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.

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Our family at one of those ‘boring’ well-travelled places – The beautiful island of Mykonos in Greece.

 

© 2016  – I, Fielies (also Riëtte) De Kock is trying hard to be an awesomest wife and greatest lover, finest mom and to write something all at the same time. I share my current living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s two cats and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to function normally.

Things I Learned from Waiting and being ‘Homeless’

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A little more than a year ago, an opportunity to work and live abroad for a few years, came our way. We embraced it and since then we have been on a journey of waiting. I know. A journey needs motion, you would argue. Well, life’s journeys sometimes take place a very, very, very, very, very slow pace. Probably because some of us learn so very, very, very slowly. Or maybe God just have other plans. Anyway, we waited to hear if the opportunity was real. We waited for my husband’s appointment to be signed. And now we wait for an accreditation process to come through so that we can leave.

It doesn’t sound very daunting, but between the above mentioned activities demanded – and is still demanding –  a l-o-t of patience from our side. There was the wait to hear if, then the wait to hear where, then the wait to hear if again and now the wait to hear when. Again.

I always knew that I was a little bit impatient, but I never, never, never, ever thought that I needed such an intensive course in Patience. I think we (read ‘I’) made it through 101 and 102 and 103 and even the honours degree, but I’m telling you that the Master’s is another story.

It is January now again and the thumb suck date to leave was at the end of November. We prayed and we planned and we worked and we planned and prayed more. It is very difficult to plan ‘in the air’ – without having a target date. One of our colleagues were eventually sent out middle December and two more are in the process. So, it seems that there is movement.

We did what we could, working with the end of November/December scenario. Our house was sold miraculously (really, but that’s another story for another day) quick and we moved out at the end of November, but there was still no determined leaving date. So, we took an unplanned, but well deserved holiday to see our family in the Cape and enjoy the sea. It was marvellous, although the uncertainty hovered in the back of our minds the whole time. It was more than okay though, because we were on holiday and met with wonderful friends we haven’t seen in years, and we were not pressed for time or by something else.

We knew that when we return, we didn’t have a home to come back to, so we would have to rely on the goodness and mercy of friends and family for a while. We just hoped that the accreditation letter will arrive soon, so that we could have a date, say our good-byes and don’t have to rely on friends’ and family’s kindness much longer.

Our journey celebrated its first birthday a week ago and we are still here. Without a leaving date. Without accreditation. Without a house. We’re just waiting.

This is not the easiest life journey I had been on, but it definitely isn’t the worst either. As a matter of fact, when it starts one day, it promises to be quite an adventure which our little family of three were/are very excited about.  The long wait had dampened our excitement a bit. But in spite of feeling unsure and uncertain of the future and in spite of the waiting and the wondering and the thinking and the over-thinking and the what-if’s, I – and we as a family – had learned a lot and enjoyed this time a lot.

We learned that we live with too much clutter around us. We sold a refrigerator. We threw away a lot of stuff. We gave away more. We learned that it’s okay to give or throw away things, but that it’s the hardest thing on earth to say good-bye to loved ones – be they people or pets. We had to say good-bye to our little Labrador family which was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I still can’t think about them, without my heart breaking through the tear walls in my eyes. We still have to give away our little Maltese poodle to family (thankfully), but we’re going to keep him until the end.

We learned that nothing is really certain. Even when we live uneventful, routine-filled lives, things can change in the wink of an eye. We learned that not having any debt is great. We learned that it feels wonderful to not have so many, many responsibilities. But, with everything taking so long, our son had to start school again.

We learned that to live in the moment is something that has to be practiced. It doesn’t come by itself. We are so used to dreaming dreams and living for the future that we often forget to use the only time we have – now. We don’t even always have today. All we really have is now. I am very thankful for this lesson, but I am also very scared that I will unlearn it as soon as this journey is over and we fall back into routine.

We also learned that family and friends are more important than things and that we are very thankful for every night that loving family or friends spared two or three beds for us. We know that it isn’t always easy to have house guests, what to say ‘homeless’ guests!

On the road we learned a lot of practical stuff too, like:

  • We miss our own beds!!! (We had some good ones to sleep on though.)
  • I can’t believe I say that, but I miss a washing machine and have come to appreciate every opportunity to wash clothes! And laundromats are wonderful places.
  • I also appreciate a tumble drier so that we don’t have to go for the out-of-the-laundry bag look all the time.
  • I always loved and appreciated being alone with my husband and son, but now it’s even more special.
  • I love reading a book on our tablet. I love reading a real paper book.
  • A cupboard to put your clothes in is a wonderful luxury!
  • To be able to retreat and lie down whenever you want to is a great privilege.
  • You need a residential address to do anything and everything in this country!
  • To have somewhere to pack out your toiletries means you have a home.
  • An easy reachable place for a toilet paper holder isn’t always the first thing on an architect’s mind when planning a bathroom/toilet.

And so the waiting continues. Maybe I need to learn still more before God can let me loose in this world…

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© 2014 Riëtte de Kock

I am trying hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellent wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful entrepreneur and freelance writer all at the same time! I share a living space in Pretoria, South Africa with my husband, son, mother, four dogs and sometimes the neighbours’ cats – and my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters.

Visit my website at www.thewritingclub.co.za and buy my children’s ebook, Yeovangya, on Amazon Kindle athttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Yeovangya-ebook/dp/B008CP2RQ0

My Afrikaans blog is available on my website – or just click on this link: http://www.thewritingclub.co.za/writingclub/index.php?option=com_lyftenbloggie&view=lyftenbloggie&category=bloggies&Itemid=66