Choosing NaNo Over Novemberitis

So every year I have this huge issue with Novemberitis which I’ve mentioned at some point somewhere but since I haven’t actually properly set up this particular blog yet I actually don’t even know if it exists as a published post anymore….

My God I digressed in the very first sentence. Ok then….

I decided this year that instead of being crippled by Novemberitis (guys, it’s so real….) I’m going to throw myself into NaNoWriMo like a fiend. Of course I haven’t actually started yet. Instead of waking up early I woke up late and now it’s almost 10am but you know most writers aren’t even awake by now (lies) so it’s all good, right?

The thing is, this particular load of nonsense doesn’t actually count towards my wordcount so perhaps I should mosey away from here and just move on over there, right?

I’ve only ever completed NaNo once. And honestly that manuscript is the biggest mess that could exist. I wrote it all out of order and of course by now I’ve actually forgotten the order so…. fek…

This year I’m actually doing a sequel, which is something I kind of thought I’d never do because with the exception of Harry Potter (and weirdly, Karin Slaughter’s books) I’ve never been a massive fan of books that are part of a series. I need closure. When people keep writing more books to go with the other books I just get all floopy like why are you doing this to me. Do you understand how much Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them anxiety I have? No, you don’t. Although come to think of it…it’s nice anxiety… You guys when in the hell is the next movie even coming out because I can’t!

I may have digressed again…

Oh yes. I’m doing NaNo this year. I am Queen_Nayes on the forums because I didn’t realise that I could name myself without using underscores. I’d link you to my profile but honestly I can’t even find it. After many years of failing NaNo I still think my biggest failure is my inability to figure out how the hell the site even works.

You are welcome to drop your NaNo IDs in the comments if you’d like me to follow you though!

Good luck, writers and um…. Yup that’s it.

 

 

I Need You to Love Me when I Hate Myself

I’ve just spotted a Facebook ad for a meditation centre which I then clicked on out of curiosity. In my quest to alleviate some serious struggles with anxiety, which presently feel like the worst they’ve ever been (this may or may not be true – I admit to any bad patch feeling like “the worst it has ever been” – I’m just usually way less open about it) I have come to the conclusion that some or other meditation is necessary. This is because it is brought up quite a bit by folks who have shared similar struggles to mine. Which is obviously why targeted advertising is now showing me meditation adverts. That was a very arse-about-face way of explaining why I clicked on the link…

Anyway, meditation…

I’ve used some YouTube videos which have been helpful with the panic attacks that I have been failing to get under control over the last few months. In times of great heightened stress they have helped me. I have not implemented a general day-to-day mindfulness practice which is what I had in mind while perusing the page.

I scrolled down the page a bit and came to a part where it said “How can anyone love you if you don’t love yourself?”

Now of course I am intelligent enough to know that this is not the general attitude of meditation advocates. This is just something that someone using Facebook put on their business page because they thought it sounded cool.

But I have to ask: Why on earth is this a question that we are still posing to people? Is it because it kind of sounds good? Like it sounds like it’s some sort of profound wisdomous thing that someone ancient once said and now we must all adopt it as a core truth of human existence.

If loving myself is the currency with which I have to pay for the love I receive then you’re going to have to paint me fundamentally unlovable.

You don’t really get to love yourself when you pitch up on this planet and from the time you are capable of placing yourself within the context of others you feel like definitely you were put on the wrong planet by the n00b in the soul placement department. You don’t get to love yourself when the loudest and most repetitive question inside your head is what is wrong with me, a question which never gets answered no matter how many times you ask it of yourself. You don’t get to love yourself when almost every interaction with other people leaves you feeling humiliated and defeated, because even though you’re trying really hard you still keep getting this whole being a person thing wrong and you’re trying to concentrate really hard and remember all the things you’re supposed to do and not do but you just know that you missed the mark so many times and probably everyone is laughing at you. You don’t get to love yourself when it seems like every time you slip up and let your guard down, someone is right there to point fingers and call you on it. You’re too loud. Too enthusiastic. Too serious. Too this. Too that.

Too everything.

So please don’t tell me that my inability to love myself makes me unlovable. While I am quite aware that a certain affection for my own self is necessary to my wellbeing, I most certainly don’t need the pressure of feeling undeserving of love because of failure on my part to establish my own value.

Some of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those who loved us when we hated ourselves. Some of us would have our self-worth irreparably compromised were it not for souls kind enough to allow us to look at ourselves through their loving eyes for a moment. Some of us are kept alive by the love we know that people feel towards us even though we can’t feel it right now. 

So next time you decided to tell someone that they can’t expect anyone else to love them if they don’t love themselves, why don’t you rather shut up and love them just a little bit more? Because I don’t care how well-meaning your intentions are. That is violent language directed at floundering souls.

This ridiculous saying needs to die now.

How do you even decide on baby number two?

When Noah was about 3 months old we were driving to Sedgefield to visit his great-grandparents and I was happily chatting away to my sort-of mother-in-law about having a second baby. At the time I was convinced that the trauma of my pregnancy and prem birth would subside quickly (it didn’t) and that I’d be ready to produce a second child with a reasonable 2 year gap between them. Obviously, we needed to have two kids. Or four. As long as it wasn’t three! (I remained convinced at that time that an even number of family members was ideal)

“I hope we have another boy,” I said to my other mom. “We could call him Isaac. Don’t you think that’s a gorgeous name? Or Violet if it’s a girl.”

My (now) ex turned to me and with more scorn than I knew he was capable of and said “We’re not having another kid and anyway it would be my turn to choose a name.” (more…)

Finding Photographers: An Impromptu Shoot with Kelley Felix

So, I admit that I might be a bit of a complex creature who makes no sense to anyone but herself, but here’s the thing: I don’t do spontaneity. I know that spontaneity is supposed to be the mark of a fun and artistic character, but no. Don’t tell me we are going to do one thing and then off we go and do another thing. Ok? I can’t deal. My brain is prepped for the first thing. Now you wanna go skinny dipping instead but first you said we were going line dancing? Aikona. What am I going to do with these line-dancing shoes? But… I DO like in-the-middle-of-other-things organic spontaneity. There’s totally a difference. I don’t expect you to get it…

Anyway, I went to the Curl Talk Spring Instameet (#curltalkspringmeet) on Saturday which was run by Kelley Felix and Shavon Leander. My family members and I only expected to play photographer while there. The meet was for curly girls! I’m more of a wtf-happened-to-that-lady’s-head girl. So when I was asked to put my camera down and play model, I was of course awkward af and not-at-all mentally prepared, but flattered none-the-less. And to be honest I was a little bit excited to have attention from one of the cool kids.

Kelly Felix, though! There’s something special about feeling like you are in the hands of a collaborative artist. And there is something even more special about feeling like someone sees the same kind of beauty in you that you yourself are constantly identifying in others. Silly girl gave me the warm and fuzzies. An especially welcome feeling at the moment I will admit!

I love the way Kelley works because she is not afraid to get what she wants out of you. Her directions are quite precise which for someone like me is helpful. I don’t really know what to do when you tell me to just be yourself and act natural  so it was kind of nice to have someone telling me exactly what to do and where to put my hands and feet and hair.

She also somehow managed to charm the more-than-grumpy Noah into smiling his head off and looking like his mother is the entire point of his existence so that was an extra bonus. I keep waiting for the switch from I-love-my-mother to I-hate-my-mother to happen so I need all the photographic evidence of adoration that I can get before that actually happens.

Thank you Kelley, for making me feel arty and special. I had so much fun with you! And thank you for teaching me that art can happen with no preparation and still come out beautifully.

PS: Please excuse the tiny low-res images. For some reason WordPress is saving my images at a higher res but putting them into posts at low res because WP has no respect for how you should be able to do things as you’ve always done them and not have it just suddenly change on you. I can’t bigger or smaller these things. But I’m pushing publish anyway because life is too short for blog stress!

Check out Kelley’s Instagram for more of her gorgeous portraits. Otherwise if you’re keen to do a photoshoot with me to inspire me to say nice things about you give me a shout.

Dear Facebook Friend…

I met you years ago through your husband. I don’t know how I met him. It was because of The Poetry Project which I was playing with. Poetry meets photography. Two of my great loves. Two things I consistently feel are better served by other artists. Other writers. Others…

That doesn’t matter.

I don’t know how he found me. There are many Facebook Friends on my timeline who I cannot place. I don’t know how they got there. Some Facebook strangers inspire a shrug of indifference, perhaps a moment of confusion. Yourself and your husband inspire fondness though.

For years you have been a welcome presence on my timeline. Though I did not know you, I learned from you often. Your passions come through in the things you share. I believe that even as a stranger you made me a better person. You played that role. I’m sure you didn’t know that…

In the last month you switched over from stranger to saviour. A certainly more demanding role and one I doubt you asked for. In my darkest spaces you somehow managed to be a stable voice, a source of guidance that one that I might not have heeded had it come from anyone else. I cannot begin to express the magnitude of my relief. How do I say thank you for that?

I still marvel at how quickly and how efficiently you “fixed” me in my weakest moments. How you pulled me out of anxiety-fueled panic. You helped me! When I was desperate for it. And all I can give you in return is a bumbling blog post…

Thank you though. From the bottom of my heart. Because in moments when I was incapable of knowing how to be helped you showed me exactly what I needed. That alone fills me with a continuing calm. There is a small spark of hopefulness that wasn’t there before.

That is everything.

Finding Photographers: One Two Tree Photography

After grumpy-posting last week, I’m quite pleased to have another Finding Photographers instalment to present. I’ve been a little slow on my photo project this year, but thankfully the existence of Bernadette Meistre from One Two Tree Photography inspired me to book a family photoshoot as a present for the parentals this year. Even though the husband and I have a ton of professional photographs of the two of us, it’s been a while since we’ve had any family ones done. And by family I mean the whole damn brood! I couldn’t have chosen anyone better to capture our sense of “family”.

Now, we know that I’m “experimenting” with photographers on here a little bit, so I told Bernadette that she would need to tell us what to do. I wanted the Bernadette-stamp to be as authentic as possible. This “rule” of mine tends to be met with a little bit of hesitation on the photographers’ part, I admit. And I get it. When you’re working with “clients” you like to give them what they want. And here I am telling the photographers that what I want is what they want.

What would you like us to wear? Where would you like us to meet? What would you like us to do?!

So much pressure!

But Bernadette is a little bit like a magical unicorn. First she suggested a Maroon & Blue theme and then she did one of the coolest and cleverest things that has ever made me go “oh duh, what an obviously clever trick that I’ve never even remotely thought of”… She sent me a colour swatch that we could use as inspiration for our matchy-matchy photo shoot. I didn’t even have time to stress about “getting it right”. And to be honest, after she sent the cool colour palette thingy I decided  I didn’t even care how the pics turned out because I was too busy being over the moon impressed with being sent such a pretty colour scheme.  I’m kind of excited at the prospect of using such swatches to inspire myself in the future. Maybe that sounds weird… (more…)

Dear Standard Bank: What on Earth?

I reckon it’s probably a bad idea to blog while the rage is a little on the high side, but skipping the emotion-fuelled writing sessions is pretty much why I’ve been quiet around here for the last while. Woosah and all that. At least rage is “safer” than vulnerability.

But today? Today I have some questions….

Please forgive the long story.

Before I went to Turkey in May I attended our EC Bloggers Meetup and was quite stoked to find a Zando voucher inside my goodie bag. This morning I remembered that voucher and decided to have a little look-see to find something to spoil myself with. At some point the husband and I need to cash in a photo session with Kick Push Photography and Marc Hervé so Momma needs a new dress. You know how it goes. I’m vain.

Anyway…

I find myself a rok and some stockings and off I go to purchase said goodies. I put in the CC details, I put in the voucher code. A pop-up asks me for my phone number for the OTP. I put in the OTP. I press enter and yay I have my new dress on the way!

Oh. Wait. Not yay. No. “There was a problem with your purchase.”

Er? Say what now?

I try to order again, but now my voucher is “only one per customer” so I can no longer have my discount. Discount is everything, folks. You know this.

I email Zando because now I don’t know what to do. (all this goes down in about a minute – I want my damn dress)

And then I get this sms….from my bank. (more…)

The Heartache of Friendship

I’m not a very good friend. It would be wrong to say that friendship baffles me, I suppose, but I certainly seem to get it wrong enough to lead me to wonder if I shouldn’t be questioning myself a little more often. I mentioned in my post about Odette Johaar’s photography that I had in the last year befriended a group of women whom I found quite good for my soul. They continue to be so daily. These lovely ladies tucked away in my phone, always ready to help at the touch of a whatsapp message, even though our real lives seldom collide. I adore them. They make me feel sane. Calm. And honestly? Loved. I am lucky to have them. It worries me, however, that I possibly feel safe in our friendship because our lives are not so intertwined. Perhaps it feels safe to me because we all live our separate lives, and then whatsapp wave to each other on occasion, tell each other how awesome we are, and then carry on with those lives. I can’t hurt you, and you can’t hurt me. Because there isn’t a secret rulebook of expectations that any of us are failing to abide by. The only rule is that we’re nice to each other. And being nice is easy because each member of the group is so easy to like.

My friendship track record in general, however, is something of a minefield of confusion and mistrust.  And then a couple of weeks ago something happened with a very good friend of mine that made me realise something about myself… (more…)

The Sweet Comfort of My Left Foot

It’s been a weird year. I suppose I’m not really ready to talk about it, which is why I’ve been kind of quiet around here. There’s so much to share, and yet there’s a little hesitation on my part. It’s not because I don’t want to share or that I feel it’s inappropriate. I don’t believe in inappropriate topics. It’s just been a weird year.

It’s already May and the only progress I’ve really made is in a direction that I was supposed to move away from. Basically: instead of sticking around South Africa this year and doing a bit of  local travelling, I’ve instead planned a trip to Turkey. None of the other stuff I had planned is getting anywhere. Like how I planned to read more. Or how I planned to blog more. Or actually learn how to use my camera better. Although to be fair I promised myself that from here on out I will not be doing “new year’s resolutions” so much as just all year resolutions. So I shall give myself a break on the things I haven’t gotten to yet.

I did discover something new about myself though. Apparently my left foot is a little kinder to me than I had noticed before. Yes. That’s right. I just said that crazy thing. But I discovered this year that in times of distress, quite out of nowhere, that my left foot likes to tenderly rub itself against my right foot in a sort of soothing manner. When my anxiety is flying high, my left foot likes to tap against my right ankle. My brain likes to abuse me with all sorts of dodgy little anecdotes, and my gut likes to churn for no reason. My heart likes to start racing as if I’m being chased. And then there’s that knot of fear that likes to churn my stomach when I am completely safe.

And so, my  left foot has taken it upon itself to offer up comfort. And, if I do admit myself, it kind of works. I cannot for the life of me figure out when it started. I don’t know why it started now. But as I lay here in my bed the other night, feeling a little wrecked and tender, knowing that no person was capable of offering me comfort in that moment, I couldn’t help but feel grateful to the little rhythmic tapping that once again proved to be both soothing and sedative.

So thank you, Left Foot, for knowing what I needed even though I didn’t. I am grateful to you.

Finding Photographers: Odette Johaar

On the 14th of May 2016, a woman walked up to me at the first EC Bloggers Meetup and kind of changed my life.

It seems so silly. Like it shouldn’t be a big deal. This lady who was a stranger, walked up to me and told me that she liked my blog. She appreciated the things I had to say. She seemed a bit shy about it, this act of approaching a sort-of stranger that she had possibly forced herself to do, but I was so charmed that she had done it. For one it felt nice to be appreciated, and for another, I know that it can be hard to approach people sometimes and I felt really good that she had deemed me worthy of overcoming that “fear” for. I’m not always that brave.

What’s more, since meeting her that day, she has introduced me to a group of girls who have significantly added value to my life. For this I will be forever grateful.

When I mentioned this Finding Photographers project to the blogger group that she had introduced me to, I knew that Odette would join in with both feet, and she did.

As I did with Meggin’s shoot, I insisted that Odette choose where she wanted to shoot and what she would like us to wear. She insisted whatever was comfortable was fine, so I decided on light coloured stuff because it seemed (to me) to fit nicely with the venue she chose.

We met at The Pearson Conservatory inside of St. George’s Park for our shoot. A good thing too since it started to rain so at least we were sheltered. Admittedly my hair looked a bit like it had been rained on by a monsoon before being struck by lightening…but you know…you can’t beg it to co-operate, it doesn’t listen.

I love the way Odette works. She’s quick an efficient, and it so easy being around her. Ever since I met her I have marvelled at the way her presence actually relaxes me (a big deal really since I am so highly strung!) and I was pleased to feel just as relaxed while having to play model for her as I am when simply enjoying her company.

I was also completely tickled by the fact that she brought along a little music box thing (seriously: I should know what these things are called) and she played music for us while we took photographs. I must admit it added to the relaxed atmosphere and her choice is music was great.

What I learned: Odette shoots in black and white because this helps her keep an eye on the contrast in her photos. I actually quite like this idea as it does actually make sense to do so.

Another thing I learned: take a hairbrush with you to photoshoots….

Mad hair aside, I’m totally happy with what we got out of our quick one-hour shoot!

PS: How friggen gorgeous is my husband though?