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?

The Potential for Extraordinary Never Dies: Not Really a Valentine’s Post

Every morning I check the “On This Day” feature on Facebook. Perhaps that’s a little narcissistic. I don’t know. What I do know is that it helps with my capacity for nostalgia.

You see, I sometimes worry that I am incapable of nostalgia. You know how most people say that childhood is the best time of your life? Or how people get really bittersweet when they hear a song from their past? Or when old friends get to chatting about “the good ol’ days” and then they get a bit morose about it?

That doesn’t happen to me.

Songs that I used to listen to in high school irritate me. They feel more like a jab of holy-crap-how-did-we-listen-to-this-rubbish. I don’t look back on too much of my life with longing. I don’t miss things very much. Sometimes I miss my grandfather, though even then I have to admit I am probably more “too much” for him these days than I was when he was alive. Would we even get along now?

Anyway, I check my On This Day feature every morning, and I delete all the things that have no nostalgic value. Sometimes I smile at what is left over.

This morning I flicked through my nostalgia timeline and it was filled with Instagram images from my trip to India (I’m sort of sorry about that by the way – in the moment I didn’t realise I was posting so many!) and I couldn’t help but smile at the memories, even though they barely feel like memories so much as just things that happened the other day. We spent Valentine’s Day at the Taj Mahal last year. It felt nice to be able to say that, I must admit. But I also admit it was quite nice to scroll down further and get to the year where the husband and I spent all day posting Doctor Who valentines on each other’s Facebook walls. That made me smile too. Maybe that means my nostalgia isn’t broken?

I sort of thought to myself: won’t it be nice in about ten years time when every day my On This Day timeline is filled with at least one magical thing that happened in the past? And wouldn’t that be such a lovely reminder that good things kind of do happen all the time?

Yes. Of course we fill our timelines with dreadful things too (they’re totally delete-able online though!) but those good things can be so powerful. From silly things like mentioning that you baked a great batch of cupcakes to that time your kids did something really sweet.

Social media is seen as such a skewed picture of life, and perhaps it is, but I cannot help but be grateful for the reminders of celebrated little things, because they remind me that little things are always around the corner. I tend to get so stuck in the now. Caught up in an extra bad instance of anxiety, or being overwhelmed by the trials of a loved one. Those sorts of things take dominance so often.

And yet my cat is cute as hell when she sleeps. And my husband sometimes brings me a choccie from the shops. And sometimes I take a hundred pictures during a walk in the park.

So today I am thinking about the potential for extraordinary. It is always there. Overshadowed sometimes by my own potential for dread. But it is there. And for that I choose to be grateful.

A Geeky Valentine

So Valentine’s Day is just about upon us. I’m pretty sure my opinion of this day changes from year to year, depending, most likely, on how lovey dovey I am feeling when it arrives.

Last year I was at the Taj Mahal for Valentines Day but I can’t for the life of me remember what we did after we were done there. Did we just go back to our hotel and nap? What food did we eat?

Anyway, this year I’m just embracing the whole love-dorky package that is the celebration of St. Valentine. I imagine this will likely displease my grandmother considering how not-so-impressed she was by my lack of love for Christmas, but what can you do?

I reckon that adage of “promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate” applies. I love love. So I’m going to just go ahead and love loving it.

Yeah?

Yeah.

Gosh that’s cheesy.

Luckily for us Port Elizabethans, this year, Geek World exists. Which kind of means that us Geeky Girls and Boys have somewhere fun to shop for Valentine’s trinkets and huggable plush toys that don’t necessarily have hearts on them.

And I do find myself quite charmed with this idea. Like, why does love have to be a bouquet of roses? Why does it have to be red or pink? Can’t love be a Ravenclaw scarf? Or a Doctor Who charm bracelet? Or a Star Wars figurine?

I reckon it should be.

And it should be all year long. But, you know, if you’re feeling the Valentine’s pressure to do some celebrating on February the 14th, I reckon a Yoda plush toy, a bottle of champers, and a cuddle on the couch with a Star Wars marathon will suit some of us far better than roses and chocolates.

Oh, who am I kidding? Get the roses and chocolates too.

(PS: I’m still a Doctor Who girl, the Star Wars references were just for the Star Wars folks)