Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Eve blah-blah

"Do you have any plans for New Year's Eve?" Dreaded question? Yes.

Especially if you're going to say that you'll be at home and in bed before 12. While YOU may not have a problem with this, having to put up with "You're so boring." enough to make it a dreaded question.

This will be my first New Year spent in Cape Town. To be very honest, I don't remember going to a NYE "bash" before. I've welcomed the new year in with family (in East London), or an intimate gathering of friends (in Korea) ...and once, alone in a hotel room in Bangkok. It wasn't all that bad, actually.

Where I will be tomorrow this time, I don't know. But by just agreeing to 'go with the flow', it already alleviates pressure and expectations that one should go way out on December 31.

Anyway...just some random thoughts before I turn in on New Year's Eve eve ;)

Good night x

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's a Choice

I could so easily freak out now. Although I'll admit I did cry a little bit, I simply don't have the energy to cry anymore.

Spending the past few days with my family was good. With my parents, being in the home I grew up in, allows me to just "be". Even if it means having a temporary regime of eat - sleep - eat - read.

I don't do well at all with too much free time and at the beginning, my mind was far too idle.

Slowly, I learned to switch off and trained myself to be IN the moment with my family. I spent a lot of time reading. I'm halfway through Nelson Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom".

But another book which is like my refuel is Robin Sharma's "The Leader Who Had No Title". Listening to Sharma in his training video's makes me feel rejuvenated and alive.

I read all the way on the flight back this morning, but lo and behold...I felt a nasty pang of hollowness shortly after I arrived at my apartment.

It has been the most trying couple of months and if I may say so, I've shed more tears than I ever remember. I have so many unanswered questions, my heart is filled with confusion and anxiety. Yet all I'm told is to have patience.

So I had to take matters into my own hands and decided that I needed to make a choice. Am I going to whimper like a victim? No. I always bounce back. And before hitting rock bottom (again) I was ready to bounce.

Ultimately, we cannot choose what happens to us, but we CAN choose how we react to these events.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Less Stress Over Holidays (Demartini)

Along with Robin Sharma, someone else I truly admire and who I credit a lot of personal and professional change in my life, is Dr John Demartini. Just finished reading something that has been sitting "Unread" in my Inbox for a few weeks. In fact, my reading it now is a bit overdue, but better late than never, I say:

He speaks about how during the holiday season, many of us have elevated expectations to the point of being unrealistic. We expect a lot more from others (and ourselves) much of which can't really be fulfilled. When this happens, enter the ABCDs of negativity:

Anger & Aggression
Blame & Betrayal
Criticism & Change
Despair & Depression
...and then also

Demartini speaks a lot about values and as we know, when we project our own values onto others, or vice versa, this is a recipe for an emotional crash-boom-bang!

The holiday season comes with facing a lot of family dynamics. In all families, we will notice an equilibrium of complementary opposites. So, what is important for me (reading, learning, self-development) may not be important to another. "Wisdom is to learn to appreciate ourselves and others as we are."

If you find that you are being criticized or rejected, the way to counter this is to ask where someone else is actually praising and accepting you. He or she needn't be in the same location as you are. But it is vital to remember that there is ALWAYS balance. It takes time and patience to dig deep to find these balances, but when you do, trust me - they are so rewarding! "We need both sides to center us."

I find this quite comforting, "You won't be confronted with a crisis you can't handle." If you find yourself in the midst of a crisis, the key is to stop and ask yourself, "What is the hidden blessing?" There is ALWAYS a blessing that comes from stressing. It's the law of the universe. It's all about balance, as I've said.

Speaking of transforming yours stressings to blessings, Demartini encourages that you reflect on the months gone by. Think of each individual, each experience and event which served you the most. Write each person a thank you letter. Write from the heart. Express yourself and acknowledge the person/experience/event. Just like magic, what seemed like chaos at the time, may actually be your biggest lesson of the year!

Waking up early (Sharma)

I've just watched another excellent video by my favourite, Robin Sharma on "How to Wake Up Early" and where he makes a lot of mention of the "5am Club". Here are some points I took from the session:

  • Get over "the battle of the bed" / "mind over mattress"
  • He who sweats more in training, bleeds less at war
  • Waking up early allows you to train, practice & prepare
  • Prepare your heart, your character and your spirit
  • 5-8am is "prime time" when you have the most willpower, mental focus, energy
  • Take full advantage of these 3 golden hours
  • Waking up early while the rest of the world sleeps is already a psychological win.
  • You'll feel less like a victim and more like a leader!
  • Change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle, but gorgeous in the end!
  • Use the 20/20/20 Rule for your Morning Ritual
    20 mins for exercise
    20 mins for reviewing your plan / daily schedule / goals > gives you focus
    20 mins for learning
  • Education is inoculation against disruption
  • The world belongs to learners
  • As you know more, you achieve more
  • Watch inspirational / training videos
  • When you write things down, you deepen your commitment (re: a schedule)
  • Writing creates precision of thought
  • The things that schedule lead to thing that get done
  • To wake up early, get a deeper nights sleep 
  • Re: sleep, quality is more important that quantity (no. of hours)
  • Remember not to use a computer in bed before you go to sleep
  • Put your alarm clock away from the bed / other side of the room / a different room
  • Jump out of bed as soon as you get up!
I'm used to being ridiculed for my early morning rituals. I actually wake up between 04:00 and 04:15, which gives me enough time to get to the gym. I gym till about 05:30 and then make a point to spend about an hour or so reading and journaling (usually in my Gratitude Journal). By 06:00, I'm in the shower and ready to leave home by 07:00.

Early morning has always been my best time of the day. I feel like I can take on the world. That's why when I bounce into work with energy, I get quite a few side glances! Doesn't phase me much. Because when most people are still waking up, I've already done quite a bit in my day. Cheers to the 5am Club...or in my case, the 4am Club ;)

Be a Quick Learner with the Location Method

I absolutely love one of the memory techniques that Kwik shares which links association with location.

First of all, here's a list of the top 10 musts to be a "quick learner":

  1. Good diet
  2. Killing ANTS (automatic negative thoughts)
  3. Physical exercise
  4. Brain Nutrients
  5. Positive Peers
  6. Clean Environment
  7. Sleep
  8. Brain Protection
  9. New Learning
  10. Stress Management
Are you able to memorize a list like this at first glance? Yes? Sure you can! The trick is to associate each point with a different location. I'll use the example Kwik shares of his office. He asks that you close your eyes as he walks you through his office. This way, you have little to no distractions and you're able to conjure up your own image of the office. 

So you arrive at the office. Your first point will be the parking lot and as you move from the first point to the office, number each point/location like this:
  1. Parking lot
  2. Bridge
  3. Elevator
  4. Hallway
  5. Closet
  6. Receptionist
  7. Fish Tank
  8. Door
  9. Whiteboard
  10. Bonsai Trees
Now all you have to do is associate each point from the first list to a location / point from the second list. Like this:
  1. Arrive in the parking lot and imagine a delicious buffet spread out there
    (Good diet)
  2. Walk over the bridge that leads to the main building and imagine tramping on and killing ants
    (Kill Ants - automatic negative thoughts)
  3. Step into the elevator and imagine doing exercise in there. Stretches / yoga / Pilates
    (Physical exercise)
  4. Step out of the elevator into the hallway and imagine huge bottles of some kind of liquid
    (Brain nutrients)
  5. To the left, there's a closet...and in there you will find your friends/colleagues
    (Positive Peers)
  6. You then come across the receptionist and imagine she's cleaning her desk with detergents
    (Clean environment)
  7. Behind the receptionist is a fish tank, but imagine that all the fish are asleep!
  8. Now you arrive at a closed door which you need to open (maybe with a headbutt) so you may need a helmet (Brain Protection)
  9. When the door has opened, you see a whiteboard with a teacher standing there, ready to teach!
    (New Learning)
  10. Lined on the side of the room are bonsai trees. Imagine these relieve stress!
    (Stress management)
Remember: Being a quick learner will lead you to being a faster earner. When we read slowly, we lose time. When we lose time, we lose opportunities, and possibly our careers and yes, even our health.

I'm really excited to try this Location Method with my students. 

Let's learn FAST!

ONE of the main benefits of being on holiday is that I have been catching up. I know... I should be switching off completely instead of merely changing gears, but at last, I have have the time to catch up on e-mails and some online training videos that I have been putting off.

One video that I watched this morning is by the awesome Jim Kwik of Kwik Learning. I was introduced to Kwik's tips by my uncle just over a year ago.

So this morning I learned about how we can learn faster.

We live in a world where information is spewed out within seconds - right at our fingertips. What's interesting is that while the speed of information has increased, the speed in which many of us take in this info has remained the same. So, as Jim says, this gap needs to be bridged. I'm quite excited to get back to work on Monday and incorporate this technique in a workshop with my students.

Let's explore the whole notion of learning FAST - which we can actually use as an acronym.

F : Forget - Set aside everything else that you're thinking about.
A : Active - After being used to passive learning, we need to speed up!
S : State - All learning is state dependent. Control the way you sit & breathe when learning/reading.
T : Take Notes - Everything is a learning curve, so make notes!

I liked Jim's idea of taking notes eg:

(Take notes)
(Make notes)

In the first column, you jot down what you hear / observe while on the other side, you make notes of questions you'd like to ask or simply, notes to yourself.

If Knowledge is power, then Learning is the Ultimate SUPER POWER!
Knowledge is Profit!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Hoo-Haa

This morning my dad forwarded an article for me to read. It was written by a young lady who spoke about Christmas holidays and all the (some) obligatory meetings one has to endure during this time of the year. Parties, visits, bumping into people in crowded shopping malls...things like that. With such meetings comes the inevitable questions surrounding ones career, love life or current location of dwelling.

Truth be told, I have been mulling over this topic for the past few days as I wanted to write about this very topic as well.

Most people who know me fairly well will vouch that I enjoy going out and socializing. I love meeting friends over a good meal or sitting in a quaint coffee shop chattering away.

However, when I arrive in my hometown for the holidays, I turn into somewhat of a recluse. My family knows this. Malls? No thank you. Eat out? No thank you. I don't use the word, "friend" loosely so I am comfortable to say that I have very few friends in my hometown who I arrange to meet and catch up with.

I consider my trips "home" a success if, when I am about to leave, I've seen very few people. I know this sounds harsh, but hear me out.

Comments and questions I try to avoid at all costs come from people who I know genuinely mean no harm. But little do they know that their 'innocent' questions could pierce very sore spots that I am otherwise trying to either avoid or heal.

So...asking for the umpteenth time what I do, and then give a look as if to say, " that a real job?" to asking me if I know So-and-So who also recently relocated to Cape Town, to something which stabs me of late, "Please tell me you have a man now!"

The last time I went back after a short trip home, I remember telling someone, "East London isn't the same as I know it before." to which I was replied, "The city is the same, Nothing changed. Only you changed!"

The more I come back here, the more I realize how true this really is. The city is the same. The stores are the same. The roads (with all those potholes) are the same. The people...are the same. Yet it is me who has become so busy, that I can't organize a dinner date with a friend without my phone to see if my planner can tell me if I'm free or not. I'm the one who has to make decisions on my own, who falls ill on my own.

I change everyday and I know for a fact that I am not the same person I was last year this time.

Situations and circumstances of 2013 have molded me to become the sensitive, sometimes insensitive, caring, sometimes selfish, calm, sometimes control maniac that I am.

So I guess what I'm actually trying to say is, for some of us - the holiday period is not AS joyous as it is for others. No offence to anyone, please...but, I'm quite happy hibernating at home with my nose in a book :)

The International Food Shortage

...came across this recently. It's quite tongue-in-cheek!

Recently, a worldwide survey was conducted and the only question asked was: 
"Would you please give your honest opinion about the solution to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"
The survey was, not surprisingly, a huge failure. Because:
In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.
In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.
In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.
In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.
In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.
In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.
And, in the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

New Look!

I'm on a few days holiday at my folks place in East London with far too much time on my hands and an internet connection that I'm trying to sap up before I head back to Cape Town (hahaha!)

It dawned on me that this, my blog / my companion / my confidant / my online journal - has been in existence since 2005. With smartphones, tablets and internet access more available that before, I actually have very little excuse as to why I'm publishing less. No excuse, except - I lack one of two or both things: time + inspiration.

I was playing around with my template this afternoon and this one that I currently have seemed to fit perfectly.'s to more frequent blogging ;)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Borders are for people...

For the past few days, I have been mesmerized by the opening lyrics of a song from the Bollywood film, Refugee (2000) directed by JP Dutta, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor. With music by Anu Malik and lyrics by Javed Akhtar, the song Panchhi Nadiyan Pawan Ke was sung by Sonu Nigam & Alka Yagnik.

Panchhi nadiyan pawan ke jhoken

Birds, rivers, gusts of wind

Koi sarhad naa inhe roke

No border inhibits them

Sarhaden insaano ke liye hain

Borders are for people

Socho, tumne aur maine

Think about it, what have you and I

Kya paaya insaan hoke

Obtained by being born as humans?

Many of us are taking emotional stock take of our lives as 2013 draws to a close. This song speaks about what it means to be born as a human and how birds, rivers and gusts of wind have no borders which inhibits them. I don't know about you, but it's almost as if I envy birds, rivers, mountains, flowers, trees. Compared to these natural beauties, we are on this earth for far less than they will be. As humans, we continue to be arrogant, we hate more than we love and we worship material goods more than necessary.

What does it mean to live a simple life?

For me, it means having few or no material items. Think about about - the less we have, the less we have to worry about it. How often do we go away on holiday and go into complete relaxation mode? More often than not, we're worried about our home that is merely locked up and guarded by a security alarm. A house filled with valuables. Valuables? Electronics? Computers, laptops, TVs, DVD players, DVDs. The list could go on.

Imagine what life would be like as an animal - either wild or domesticated. What about life as a plant? As a through harsh weather conditions, yet still remaining strong and majestic.

Think of a dog. I'm thinking of our Jack Russell, Zelda. She doesn't hold grudges and loves unconditionally. She eats when she feels like it, yet still manages to run like the wind. She doesn't have to worry about her monthly visitor (ie - period!) and doesn't have the issue of unwanted guests on her cute face (ie - zits!) I've never seen her on a bad hair day, and she prances up and down our street with no make up or ...clothes, for that matter!

Simply put, we live in a harsh world. Deadly diseases and crime rob us of our loved ones on a daily basis. We gossip about others to feel better about ourselves and kill our soul with that six letter word called "STRESS".

If you're reading this, no doubt you're a fully functional person. We can't suddenly transform into a sunflower, rose or a little mountain. However, while we're here on earth, let's try to love "things" less and people more. 

This brings me to another quote I read recently:
People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved...and people are being used.
The more I think about it, the more I would love to be reincarnated as a part of nature - a bird who soars freely through the open skies, a mountain - standing tall and proud, or a rippling brook...drifting into a river and the ocean. Never-ending. Without any borders. Borders are for people.

Who will cry when you die? - Reflections post-Mandela funeral

Last Sunday, 15 December 2013, I joined (possibly?) millions around the world and sat glued to my TV screen from about 06:30. I surprised myself by how drawn in I was to this mammoth event.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as Nelson Mandela's casket was brought into the huge tent which was erected in a place that was unknown to many. Overnight, it became a hot spot the world over. Qunu. The world descended on Qunu in the Eastern Cape. Just a stones throw away from my hometown, East London.

Having listened to speeches, tributes and watched documentaries about this giant of a human being, it really made me think that it's not all about WHO Mandela was (the first democratically-elected president of South Africa), but more about WHAT he stood for.

After the funeral broadcast on TV, I thought long and hard about life. But then again,when am I NOT contemplating about life? Trying to find my little niche in this crazy rat race?

I came to the conclusion that all that really matters is how we live our life. We should live it in a way that when we arrive at our final destination, we can look over our shoulder with pride.

It's all about being kind, patient, tolerant and loving to your neighbour. There are days which are much easier than others. All in all, it depends if we lived a life filled with integrity and strong morals and values.

Reminds me of the title of one of Robin Sharma's books, "Who will cry when you die?" Something to think about...quite a lot to take in, but worthy to keep in mind before we speak or act.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

TEACHING IDEA: Interview warmer

In pairs, interview each other and say 3 interesting things about the person.

Good for first day activity

*Not created by me.

TEACHING IDEA: Express(o) Yourself

On A4 paper, Ss draw coffee cup with steam. On steam, write what they learned in lesson. Swap papers with others

*Not created by me

TEACHING IDEA: Me - the Movie

Individually, Ss list 3 movies everyone must see. Why?

Tell them a famous director wants to make a movie about their life. Ss must choose:
-Write 4 scenes which will be included

*Not created by me


Ss must list 3 things they love
Rank it: Most - least precious
Write a love letter to the item

*Not created by me.

TEACHING IDEA: I'm OK (good + -ing)

Pair ss (A & B)
List things they think they're good at.
"I'm good at playing tennis."
"I'm good at cooking."

A's must tell B's list (B's listen)
B's repeat back.

*Not created by me

TEACHING IDEA: Letters to the Editor

Ask ss if they ever wrote to an editor. If not, why not? What prompted them to write? Was their letter published?

Hand out letters to ss and ask:
-Why did they write? Complain? Share? Vent?
-General mood?
-Who or what made them angry?
-Who or what made them happy?

Pair ss & compare answers

Pick a letter & write a concise report

*Not created by me

TEACHING IDEA: Tabloid Titles

To introduce passive voie, ss must write about their class in tabloid titles.
Tabloid = news that isn't news, but entertainment.

eg: Class is contacted by aliens!
> Reading, writing, speaking and vocab development

*This wasn't created by me


Ss work in pairs
-10mins to invent new language
-greeting, farewell, thank you, please, sorry, why, because, if

*This wasn't created by me

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Ss work in pairs
-10mins to invent new language
-greeting, farewell, thank you, please, sorry, why, because, if

*This wasn't created by me

TEACHING IDEA: The Best 15 Mins

Ss must think about the best 15 mins of their day so far
-Who they were with
-What time of day
-Voices around them
-Did something unique happen?

*This was not created by me

Oxymoron: Holiday Stress!

I just read (rather, scanned) an article about the stress that December - or better know as "The Holidays" - brings with it. And it dawned on me that I am one of of those people who DO stress out during this period.

It's the time for the annual "life stock" to take place. You think about all those goals you hoped to achieve way back in January. After realizing that you achieved 2 out of 5 goals, instead of celebrating your success, you prefer to dwell on those that have gone past their due date. Once that's out the way, the ever looming issue of holiday season descends upon us.

For those fortunate enough to have family, this time of year is often regarded as sacred family time. For me, Christmas Day involves waking up early in the morning, making our way to the lounge, handing out gifts, opening gifts and then proceeding to breakfast - which always includes Christmas mince pies (love 'em!)

This year, I have very little holiday. In fact, I'm back to work on the 30th. We have only January 1 off and then back to work on the 2nd. While most people detest this, the only word I can think of is "relief". I don't have to worry about the anxiety of New Year's eve. Why is there so much pressure on this one night on the calendar anyway? Is it about where you'll be when the clock strikes 12? OR (perhaps more importantly) who will you be with?

For the past few years, I remember New Years as this: Our family's Jack Russell will start to tremble from the fireworks. Mum will be awake watching TV with me. Countdown begins. We wish each other Happy New Year. And then go to bed.

Gone are the days of sending messages to every single contact on my phone. And gone are the days when my phone would start beeping from 6pm with texts from people I haven't heard from in eons. This year, I want NYE to come and go. Quick and painless.

I do, however, feel like I'm over the whole hype of "Where you gonna be for NYE?" So what? Oh, I have a sneaky suspicion that 'age' is a big factor in this.

I'd have been at work on the 30th and 31st, so what if I decide to go to bed at 21:30?! Will I be labeled as a loser for sleeping while thousands of others usher in the new year? Actually, I could care less.

I've always been a fan of "new" - new books with crispy pages, Mondays (!) a chance to restart, a new month etc... A new year brings with it many great opportunities and hope. Hope that it will be better than the previous year. Faith that everything will work out JUST the way it's meant to. The only task we need to fulfill is to be grateful for the blessings we have up to now. One thing I know for sure is, I have an abundance of blessings and these overflow in my heart!

So...what are YOUR plans for the "silly season"?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What is 'play'?

Early morning reading from Psychologies January 2012.

New Word: Unlightened

Early morning reading & just came across: "Unlightened". This is a feeling one gets after a particularly mundane conversation where you feel as though you've wasted precious time talking nonsense. I like it! (...the word, not the concept!)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sleepless Night

Last night I could barely keep my eyes open while replying to an email. When I eventually turned the lights out, I found myself awake. Wide awake! The combination of being the dark...with many hours ahead of a recipe for disaster! 

Then I remembered this quote (pictured above). This morning I thought, "Imagine if such things were, in fact, true?!" Who was dreaming of me?! Well, it's a nice consolation (albeit not true) for a night of tossing and turning!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Power of Belief

"Gratitude is the single, fastest way to get out of fear/worry & into joy/authentic power. We see the world not as it is, but who we are."

The power of belief is incredible!
Get up. Dress up. Show up.
...never Give up.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Pencil

I found this that I'd saved a while ago.
I don't know who the author is, but it was not written by me. Enjoy!
The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting it into the box.

"There are 5 things you need to know" he told the pencil, "Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be."

"One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone's hand."

"Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil."

"Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make."

"Four: The most important part of you will always be what's inside."

"And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write."

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.

Now, replace the pencil with you...............................  Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be.

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God's hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.

Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you'll need it to become a stronger person.

Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.

Four: The most important part of you will always be what's on the inside.

And Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties.

Allow this parable on the pencil to encourage you to know that you are a special person and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish.

Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Malta: The Meeting

The week long meeting turned out to be a super success. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet others, swap ideas and standardize much of what we already do.

I have no doubt that despite timezones, we will all continue to be each others primary resource and support system.

Really grateful for the opportunity!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Malta: The Arrival & Excitement

I passed the time quite easily with movies on board. After the two (yes, two) Bollywood movies I watch, I felt like they really pulled on my heartstrings like no other. <I watched Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara & Yeh Jawani Hai Dewani>

When Nuncio (the driver) picked me up, I was giddy with excitement. As we drove from Malta International to my hotel, I felt like I was in the midst of a story book. The only way I can describe it (from what I know) is that it looked like Greece meets Egypt.

Checked in at hotel and couldn't wait to take a long, hot shower. Tiredness began to come over me, but I forced myself to get dressed and go out. Went to an Italian restaurant around the corner, but unfortunately found the people to be quite unfriendly. Came back to the hotel ready for bed. Best to get an early night and wake up fresh in the morning!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Malta: Seven hours in "Do Buy"

Thankfully, I sat next to two fairly pleasant gentleman on the flight from Cape Town to Dubai. We arriving in the UAE in the wee hours of the morning. I forgot to mention that I met a young lady called Geraldine at the boarding gate. She was from Holland and had been traveling for the past few weeks. We planned to have a drink and bite to eat together. We somehow lost each other in the midst of the crowd of passengers flocking all over at the airport - especially around the food court. Anyway - I ended up doing my own thing.

I was adamant that I needed to walk. And walk I did! It was in the final stretch of the transit that I was beginning to lose steam. I was in transit for seven hours. We were going to fly through Cypurs. Stop over to drop off and pick up new passengers for about an hour...

Then the final stretch. What I've been waiting for...

Malta: The journey begins

I had been so busy preparing for my LOA (leave of absence) that I hadn't really given myself time to become excited about my first trip to Malta.

Contrary to many other trips I've been on and had sleepless nights the night before departure, I slept quite easily this time. I woke up in the morning feeling a bit out of sorts...almost emotional.

There's an Academic Year Coordinators Meeting, and since I'M an AYC, it was a great surprise to know that I would be traveling before the end of 2013. I don't hide the fact that I am grateful. SO grateful to have a job. In the past I have been quite expressive about my very dark phase of trying to find work when I came back from South Korea. The only thing that got me out of that funk was gratitude.

I began in December 2011. Five or six months later, I started getting more responsibilities. Seven months after I started, I was offered a promotion. I assumed the position in January 2013 and in July it was announced that I would be the first AYC to travel to Malta for this meeting.

As many would know, living alone comes with many responsibilities - as little as trying to remember to turn off all plugs and the geyser when traveling for a couple of weeks or more. I did all this - with the help of many lists!

At precisely 10:00, I was on my way to CPT International. A million thoughts running through my mind, but mostly my mental checklist hoping that I hadn't forgotten anything. Before long, I was seated and ready to take to the skies.

Next stop: Dubai or rather "Do Buy" ;)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ezan in Ayasofya after 50 years!

Inside Ayasofya in Istanbul, Turkey
Murat, from Turkey, shared this clip with me and I was so intrigued by it. However, it's vital to explain some of the terms first.

Adhan / Edhan / Azan / Ezan is the Muslim call to prayer recited by the muezzin at specified times of the day. For more info on Adhan, click here.

Hagia Sofia (Turkish name: Ayasofya) is one of the main tourist attractions in Istanbul. I was lucky enough to visit it during my whirlwind day tour a couple of years ago. My blog post on it can be found here.

Hagia Sofia was once a church, then a mosque in 1453. The mosque was turned into a museum in 1964. No adhan had been recited in this structure until 2012! This historical moment was captured and this is it:Adhan in Ayasofya after 50 years! It's quite lovely to listen to. Thank you, Murat, for sharing this with me :)


How many of us worry about what "could" happen tomorrow or the next day? Truth is, we have no idea -or control- over the future. Often, what we end up stressing over what may not even happen!

As I wrap up this day, I just read this, which is so apt:

"Don't take tomorrow to bed with you."

Iyi geceler xx

Monday, October 14, 2013

The story of Thomas & Heiko

This story is exactly two months overdue.

Heiko, Thomas & me...

August 12 2012.
It was a Monday – my first day back at work after my two-week leave. I was on a high! It was great seeing all my students again, meeting new students and catching up with my colleagues. I was pleasantly surprised when one of my students came to give me a beautiful "welcome back" bouquet of flowers.

Later that day, on my way from the elevator to my apartment door, I passed an elderly gentleman walking steadily and slowly with his walking stick. He was an Asian man who I've seen around. I always assumed he was visiting children/grandchildren in the building. I greeted him as I walked past. He didn't greet back, but said, “Those are very nice,” – referring to the bouquet I was carrying. I soon realized why he didn't reciprocate my greeting when I saw his hearing aide.

I stopped next to him and we exchanged random banter about the flowers. In no less than two minutes, a lady joined our company. I’d seen her around the building as well. She was petite, had grey/white hair around her face and wore a cautious, nervous-looking smile. They two were husband and wife.

In a space of three minutes I learned that they moved from Hong Kong to Cape Town ten years ago. The gentleman, Thomas, was an English teacher at a public school and his wife, Heiko, was a housewife. As soon as I learned that this elderly couple were staying on my floor, alone – I immediately knew I had to get to know them better.

Let’s have tea together some day?” I suggested.
Our apartment is very messy right now, so we wouldn't want to invite you in,” spluttered Thomas. The words came out slowly and he seemed to run out of breath easily.

My experience about making plans with people which never materialize happens too frequently. It was now or never.

Are you free right now?” I asked.

And off the three of us went to the Woolies Café downstairs. Something told me that these two people had an interesting story. Especially after learning that he was Chinese and she was Japanese. They made Hong Kong their home, before deciding to move to South Africa.

Their story...

After settling at a table, we placed our order. Heiko ordered tea for herself, hot chocolate for Thomas and I had my regular Mocha.

I was so curious to know what brought this couple to South Africa. Thomas explained while Heiko sat smiling – looking back and forth from Thomas to me. I explained to them that I was an English teacher and had the pleasure of meeting people from all walks of life. I had to remind myself to speak slowly and clearly. Thomas was deaf in one ear.

When our drinks arrived, I noticed that Heiko was confused – who did she order the tea for? For Thomas or for herself? My guess was right when she asked me, “You live alone in Cape Town?” – something I told her just a couple of minutes before. She repeated the same question several minutes later. 

The more these two people spoke, the more my mind went into turbo-mode …wondering what I could do for them. I never grew up with grandparents and I had a tendency of 'adopting' elders.

What do they do all day?

At OUR age, it’s very easy to fall asleep,” said Thomas.  
Do they watch TV? I wondered. No – they don’t own a TV. Then how do they know what’s happening in the world, if they don’t buy newspapers – would it even be relevant or interesting to them if they never left their apartment?

Heiko told me that she enjoys reading. Lovely! A hobby we share. However, I was blown away to know that she is reading and re-reading stacks of newspapers from Japan, given to her by someone she knew at the Japanese embassy. The newspapers are two years old.

Just the two of us…

But where are Thomas’ and Heiko’s family? 
The two never had children.
Would they ever go back to China or Japan?

I have no family left,” said Thomas with no expression.
I looked over to Heiko and asked about her. “I can’t leave him alone,” she said – referring to her husband.

Trying my best to swallow the lump that had formed in my throat, I asked Heiko what they planned on having for dinner. I can’t exactly remember what she said, but I do remember suddenly losing my appetite. My heart sank when she told me that some days, she walks all the way to the end of the Main Road to buy sushi for her husband from Spar. 

Heiko…please be careful when you walk and when you cross the street. It’s very busy and the taxis drive very fast,” I cautioned her. 

At the back of my mind, I worried that one day she may forget where she lives.

My quick shopping run

Could you please wait for me for a few minutes? I need to buy something for school tomorrow,” I told them. First I paid the bill for our drinks and hurried to the food section of the store. I called my mum and quickly relayed the story about the couple I had just met. I told her that I needed to buy food for them. It was a chilly evening and soup would have been ideal. Walking down the aisle of baked goods, while talking to my mum, I found myself looking for bread that was soft. 

I hurried back to Thomas and Heiko who were waiting for me at the café.

Shall we go?” I asked them.
As Thomas stood up, he said that he went to pay the bill, but they told him that I already paid for it.
You shouldn't do that. You’re a young working woman and there are two of US,” he said.

I simply smiled and told him that it was my pleasure and that I had invited them out. Also, this certainly wasn't going to be the last time we meet.

I had to mind my speed. Even though Heiko’s memory is clearly deteriorating, she was able to move faster than her husband, whose mind was sharper but was slowly losing his hearing. He walked very slowly. What would have taken me roughly 3 minutes took us about 10. 

Refusing a gift is bad in my culture

Arriving on our floor, we strolled down the passage. We had to pass their door first and as we said our goodbyes, I handed Heiko my shopping bag. Her sweet smile was quickly replaced by a very deep frown. 

A look of seriousness had also taken over Thomas.

This is for you – please enjoy…it will keep you warm,” I told them.
Are you crazy? What are you doing this for?” asked Thomas.

Neither would take the bag from me and I was so surprised by Thomas’ sudden physical strength as he resisted my handing him my gift.

When I looked over at Heiko, her eyes had welled up with tears.

Do you buy gifts for your students?” Thomas asked me.
Actually, I do,” I replied.
…well, do they give you gifts too?” he continued.
Thomas. The very flowers that sparked OUR conversation was FROM a student.”

He continued looking at me, took the bag from my hand and walked towards my door. He was going to make this very difficult for me.

I walked over to him, looked him in the eye and said, “Thomas, in my culture it’s very bad to refuse a gift.”

He didn't take his eyes off me. Heiko merely stood there, with her arms crossed – looking confused.

At last…

Thomas asked what I had bought.
1 x butternut soup
1 x vegetable soup
1 x white rolls

He said he would only take the vegetable soup. Since he’s diabetic, he's unable to eat the white rolls and butternut soup. I could make peace with that. The three of us said goodnight, but as I entered my door, the lump in my throat grew in size.

What / Who do they have?

I sat on my couch and tried to reflect on what just happened in the past two hours. Hot tears welled up in my eyes. I needed to eat dinner, but had no appetite whatsoever.

I imagined that Thomas and Heiko could very well have been my grandparents.
They could be my parents.
They could be me.
This thought scared me.

Living in a foreign country. No living relatives. No children. Almost no contact with others. Oblivious to world events. 

What do they have? Each other.

The energy and excitement of my first day back at school melted away. I needed to get out of my apartment. I needed to go out. To speak. To laugh. I knew exactly who I wanted to be with.

I made a phone call and within a few minutes I was in the company of special souls. They listened to my story of meeting Thomas and Heiko and empathized as I wept in front of them. At the end of the evening, I felt slightly better, but little did I know the great impact these two people would have on me.

Hesitant to follow up

For days after, on my way to work early in the morning or coming home late at night, I would pass Thomas and Heiko’s door. Sometimes there would be no light peeping through the blinds. How would I know if they’re okay? I was so hesitant to knock on their door or offer them help.

Perhaps it was not in their culture to accept such “gifts”, but I could not accept that I could ignore this elderly couple.

The letters begin

On Friday last week, before going to work, I slipped a note under Thomas and Heiko's door. It was a short note to let them know that I just wanted to know how they're doing. Since I come home quite late and leave rather early in the morning, I don't get to see them.

This evening when I arrived home from work, I found this on my door.

It read:
Dear Sheetal 
Thank you for the "food" the other and and your thoughtful note. 
You are young and kind. But let me at my age teach you something - everything can be carried beyond a reasonable limit, so that it is not longer practical or wise. 
[He went on to tell me about a young and generous Chinese man who has recently been forced to sell his business and is moving back to China]. 
...He was too generous to other people. 
You are not a business woman either.
That said, we are delighted to know a person like you - and a neighbour. We shall get together some weekend
At our age, we have some "problems" with "life" which in all your joyful youth, you will not understand. 
We will go out for coffee!
Sincerely, Thomas
If Thomas and Heiko are uncomfortable accepting gifts from me, and are happy just to accept my friendship, then that is what I will be happy to offer.

Remember, angels come in all shapes, colours and sizes - and these two people, since meeting them, have taught me something quite remarkable. I'll keep you updated as things develop - even if they continue via handwritten letters!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The "joys" of living solo

For me, today, living alone means:

Craving something warm & decadent for dinner, but settling for tea. Not even with a slice of toast - it would've taken too long to make(!!)

My TV hasn't been receiving any signal and frankly, I couldn't really be bothered!

...instead, I was in bed at precisely 19:20 with 3 issues of PSYCHOLOGIES Magazine. Pages of mental stimulation. Oooh the things that excite me! (Seriously?!)

The tea I just had has made me even hungrier, but there's no way I'm getting out of bed now. Unless there are those gorgeous red Lindt balls on my kitchen counter. I'm kidding, ok.

So here I lie in bed, wondering what my life would be like if I came home to a family. Without a doubt I know I'd prepare food for them, if need be. I actually get pleasure in making for others. But for myself? Pssshhttt!

Living alone has its perks, for sure. But I think the benefits of co-living are far better.

I'll also use this time to update my Gratitude Journal. While I have been saying my daily prayers of gratitude, I have neglected actually writing them down.

Best I get to it then...!
Good evening to you!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Just a Thought: Barriers

The only barriers that exist (language, religion etc...) are the ones we self-create.

Tell me something. When we are no more, will we not be the same? Forgotten dirt?

So why build unnecessary barriers when all I want is to be happy. Now. Here. With you.

When I...

“When I got enough confidence, the stage was gone. When I was sure of losing, I won. When I needed people the most, they left me. When I learnt to dry my tears, I found a shoulder to cry on. And when I mastered the art of hating, somebody started loving me.” -Shakespeare

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Gentle Reminder

“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.” (The 4 Agreements)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Flower and the Water's Love Story

Last week a dear friend shared this Turkish folk story with me. It brought tears to my eyes, because it summed up exactly what I seemed to be going through at that moment. I was eventually able to locate it online. Enjoy!

Once upon a time, a flower met water and they became friends. After their friendship had continued for some time, the flower fell in love with the water, but she didn't reveal her feelings to the water. She waited thirstily, patiently. Actually, the water had changed, too. He felt different.

His heart beat excitedly, but he couldn't figure out exactly what this change inside him meant. Now, there was a wise man who stopped by every once in a while. As soon as the water saw the wise man, he told him about the inner turmoil he was experiencing and asked what the cause was. The wiseman smiled at him and said, "YOU'RE IN LOVE."

The water was surprised at first, but he immediately recognized who he was in love with and flowed to the flower.

"I LOVE YOU!" he confessed to the flower.

The flower had long been waiting to hear these words from the one she loved. Deliriously happy, she began from that day onto waft a stronger perfume and shine with more lively color. The inexperienced water didn't know how to deal with the feelings of passion in his heart, and so, didn't do anything else to demonstrate his love, other than say, "I LOVE YOU!" to the flower each day.

Time passed, and the flower fell ill. The water stayed by his beloved's side and told her constantly how much he loved her. But, as each day passed, the flower withered more and her leaves turned even more yellow. The water was despondent; he didn't know what to do. The flower was fading day by day; she was dying. Desperate, the water flowed to the wise man and cried, "MY BELOVED IS VERY ILL. HELP US!"

When the wise man saw the flower, he understood immediately that she was about to die, and he said, "I CAN'T HELP YOU ANYMORE."

The water asked, "BUT, WHY NOT?" I LOVE HER SO MUCH.... WHY NOT?" he cried.


And the water understood that merely saying, "I LOVE YOU!" was not enough. He learned that in order for his beloved and,in fact, for all love, to survive, it was necessary to show his love, to prove his love, and to spend effort on love. But, unfortunately, his flower had passed away.

In a nutshell, "Actions speak louder than words..."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How I became RICH & why I DON’T like my job

As the saying goes, a woman is like the weather – unpredictable! I’m no exception to this rule.  On my way to the movies this evening, I took a detour and ended up sharing dinner with two special people.

I know that by judging by my photo uploads, it may seem as if ALL my students are special. They are. And I pride myself on having unique relationships with each of them. Essentially, my students are clients. Yet, for me – they are first people. Before they’re a student in my class or one who visits my office, I have to remember that they are a son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, father or mother to someone else.

So, back to my story of dinner this evening…

“What is the benefit of your job for you?” one asked me.
“Wow – do you have enough time?!” I replied.

My job has made me super rich. I kid you not! I consider myself rich in knowledge of cultures, religions and lifestyles of people throughout the world. Most importantly I’m rich in love. There are days I can’t fathom the love I receive from the people I work with. I mean genuine caring for me! How can I not feel fulfilled with a job like this?

While teaching, I maintained a strict rule of boundaries with my students. Work + Play = No.

However, since being in my current position of AY Coordinator this year, I have come to know a number of students on a non-academic level. I’ve spoken to people who are terribly homesick and afraid to tell their families, people who are lonely and unwilling to make friends, people who are ill, people who have ended long-term relationships and are here in South Africa trying to “find” themselves.

Whatever the reason may be, there are few with whom I have felt a strong connection with.

This evening while chatting to Yousef, he told me that he will most likely be leaving Cape Town at the end of October. For a reason unbeknown to me, I have come to regard Yousef as a brother. I just stared back at him and that is when I made the realization of why I DON’T like my job.

Goodbyes are unpleasant for anyone. But if I think of the past 3 months at least, I’ve had to say goodbye to people like Serif, Meral and Ho-Yong – who I felt a personal responsibility for. Having lived in Korea for three years, I felt responsible to take care of him here just as I was when I was in his country a few years ago.

This is it. This is the reason why I DON’T like my job. Saying goodbye to these people who have made a lasting impression on me.

Some may argue that I get emotionally attached too quickly. Perhaps. But I refuse to let my heart prune up and become hard.

In conclusion, the reason I have become rich is through the genuine love I have for the people I work for and teach. Everyday feels like a trip around the world and I thank them for allowing me into their space, their homes and their heart.

Yet…the number one reason I DON’T like my job is bidding someone farewell. It's the nature of my job. Students are here for a limited period of time and ultimately - if there is no other reason for them to stay here - they return to their home countries. Back to their own life as they know it!

But this is the cycle of life, not so? There isn’t a single person whom I’ve met who has not taught me something. For this, I thank each and every one of you. And believe me when I say that I have a special place in my heart reserved for every individual! J

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Isidingo & Indian Stereotypes

For the past week I've been keeping my cool about Isidingo's storyline with Prada & his family.

Watching yesterday's episode, the Indian stereotype continued & my skin crawled during this scene.

Prada's mother is talking about "a girl from a NICE family from Verulam who's studying MEDICINE..."

I got the heebie jeebies when she went on to say:

"She's fair, has a nice complexion. Her mother's dark, but...never mind."

This issue of complexion amongst Indians sickens me. Who defines what beauty is?

Black is Bold & Beautiful...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Maxim Coffee Mix

Thrilled that Ho-yong got this for me from the Korean Mart in Observatory.

You can take me out of Korea, but you can't take Korea out of me!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lesson Learn learned from Ragas of the Desert

Last night, the wait was over! At last it was time for Ragas of the Desert...a musical treat of alide guitar, tabla and folk music from Rajasthan.

During the second half of the show, when the musicians from Rajasthan graced the stage, I was instantly drawn to one in particular.

He had the most simple instrument, but he absolutely OWNED the stage with his exhilarating energy and passion for his craft. In my opinion, he stole the show!

Made me think about how we go about our own jobs. It really doesn't matter what you do as a living, or what your title/position is. You need to grab it with both hands using an incredible force... and show the world that you're the best at what you do! That no one can replace you. That people are enthralled in your presence.

Go forth...and shine like never before!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Simple, yet Profound...

Simple, yet profound - "I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to. (J.Hendrix)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Take it or leave it, this is ME!

2013 is a big year for me. In July I will celebrate a milestone birthday…my 30th!

Did I just say that out loud? Wow, I really MUST be growing up :)

I can honestly say that it was when I turned 29 that I felt something of a “click”. I suddenly started seeing things differently. I started having different opinions and my tastes seemed to change drastically.  The biggest thing for me, however, is that I have been sweating the “small stuff” a lot less.

Also, things my mum used to warn me about 10/15 years ago, are actually happening now. My body is changing. It’s the inevitable. One day I feel like a princess and the next, I feel like Shrek’s cousin. One day, my hair will sit perfectly from 7am till I go to sleep that night. The next day, I wish I wore wigs. Some days, I look at clothes in my cupboard and wonder, “What the hell was I thinking buying that?” because nothing seems to a) fit me or b) look good on me.

Well this is the conclusion I have reached:

Whether I am feeling bloated or as light as a cloud, whether my hair is frizzier than yesterday, if I’m nursing an unwelcome breakout, I assume that the people near and dear to me still see me for who I am. And if they DO focus on my physical flaws, then 1) are you seriously telling me that they don’t have any? And 2) they’re not sincere and I should question their existence in my daily life. Agreed?

To put it quite bluntly, I stared death in all its ghastly glory in January this year. With my mum lying in ICU breathing with a ventilator – oblivious of what was happening to her, every single time my dad’s phone rang, I would hold my breath. “Please let it NOT be the hospital. God, you will never do this to us. This isn’t the time.”

Doctors and specialists have labelled my mum’s recovery as “remarkable” and “miraculous”. I have said it before and I will continue saying it. It was our FAMILY LOVE that pulled my mum through. She lay there, helpless, unable to speak with drips and pipes connected to her. Everywhere. It was not a sight to remember and even as I write this, I well up with tears just thinking of it.

As my favourite life coach, Dr Demartini says, “There is a blessing in every crisis,” the blessing in my mum’s knocking on death’s door is that our little family unit of four united like never before. For two weeks we worked on getting my mum well, out of ICU and out of hospital – back home. Which is where she is right now as I write this. She’s doing so much better and thank you to everyone who has asked about her well-being. Calls and messages are so deeply appreciated. Thank you.

I know it sounds SO clichéd, but the experience forced me to question the purpose of life. At any given moment, our time is up. No warning signs, sometimes not even a chance to say goodbye to loved ones…

So…it made me think, if I were to suddenly depart from this mortal world, how would I be remembered? Would I be remembered for my lumps and bulges? For the nasty zit that never left my skin for a week? Or the fact that I took time out to ask someone how they’re feeling. How they’re REALLY feeling. That I was a good listener? That I went out of my way to help where I could? That I was a hard worker?

These are the things that matter. And this is how I want to live my life.  Every single day, we are granted the opportunity to start over.  From the moment I open my eyes, the first thing I say is “thank you” for giving me another shot at being the best I can be.

I’ve also been reading a lot of inspirational and uplifting stuff by Robin Sharma (thanks a ton to my dad for introducing me to his work).

I’m currently reading The Greatness Guide (Book One) and as I turn each page, following a new chapter, I am just so amped to get out there and LIVE. I want to exude light, laughter and love. These are all the things I (we) desire in life. I know that it will all come to me…but I have to put it out there first.

It’s Sunday evening and I’ve been writing this from my apartment – at a window with a perfect view of Lion’s Head. The sun has set and slowly, people in apartment buildings across from mine, are turning their lights out.  It’s the end of another day. Another weekend. I’m already so excited to wake up tomorrow morning and have a FABULOUS Monday.

From my heart, I wish the same to you…

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My mum - An Update

This morning I received a very "excited" text from my mum saying, "Hooraaayyyy!" She went for a checkup / x-rays and told me that the doctor was very impressed with her results. In his words, she "made a remarkable recovery."

We all agree that my mum's recovery is nothing short of a miracle!

THANK YOU to every single person who called, messaged or popped in to offer support to my dad, brother and me. With all our heart and soul, we believe that my mum pulled through this with the grace of God, positive thoughts, prayer and most

My mum - 21 January 2013

The next step was getting my mum out of ICU and into a general ward…one step closer to her coming home.  Three days after my mum went off the ventilator, she was discharged from ICU and went into a general ward.

The next day, she was discharged and we went to pick her up to bring her home – where she belonged.

My mum - 18 January 2013

Friday: On Friday, on our way to the hospital my dad made mention that the ventilator had been increased.  How could that be? Just yesterday they told us that my mum was doing so well.  Dad said that the doctor had no idea what was happening. I seemed to have lost all senses.

Arriving at the hospital, I didn’t walk in with my dad and brother.  Instead I rushed upstairs to my mother. Practically running in, I saw her sitting up in bed. Minus the ventilator. (I have tears in my eyes now, as writing this is forcing me to relive that day.)

My dad walked in behind me – smiling and telling the nurse who was there that he tricked me. 

“What? Mummy’s going to be fine??!?!"

I grabbed my mum’s head and kissed her face as tears streamed down my cheeks.  I walked straight out to my Aunty Aurora and sobbed on her shoulder.  “My mother is going to be ok…!”

And as if by magic, I suddenly felt exhausted – physically and emotionally. For the entire week, all three of us were running on pure adrenaline.

My mum - 16 - 18 January 2013

For the next three days, our lives were centred around hospital visits. I couldn’t reach my mother fast enough. She seemed to be able to comprehend some of what we said to her.  As I write this, I can’t remember half the things I told her.  But I spoke as if everything was normal. I massaged her feet and kissed her wherever I could. I pushed her very hard to fight this and to fight for us… we all loved her so much.

Slowly, my mum started being able to communicate with us.  She would take her index finger and write words on her legs. I realized then that she was able to write, so I put a clipboard with paper under her strapped hand; placed a pen in her hand and she was able to “talk” to us like this.

Taking calls from people was very difficult. I barely understood what was happening to my mum, let alone be able to convey this to others.  We were all extremely grateful for the calls and messages of concern from relatives and friends, but for that week, my dad, brother and I needed to be alone with each other and focus all our energy on our dearest mum.

For the week, I slept in the lounge. Mosquitoes enjoyed gnawing at me and I would wake up at 04:00, counting the minutes till the first visiting hour of the day.

I put the week down to the worst of all of our lives...

My mum - 15 January 2013

Tuesday: I was very emotional as I boarded the flight.  It must have been the longest flight I’ve ever taken.  In between crying on the flight I somehow managed to pass out for a while. 

As we touched down in East London I felt a sense of calm come over me.  I knew I had to compose myself because I couldn’t cry when I saw my dad.

When I met my dad he told me that there was good news.  Mum had a good sleep.  She was sedated and stable.

All these words – ICU, ventilator, sedated, stable… none of them had ever been associated with my mum.  It just wasn’t natural.

We arrived home around 08:30 and as soon as I walked into the house, I started cleaning and tidying up.

I will never forget this moment.
I was making the bed when my dad and brother walked into the room.

Dad wanted to explain exactly what had happened. Post kidney stone op, my mum had contracted septicaemia. I dare not ask what it was. I dared not Google it. But what I did learn was that there wasn’t enough oxygen entering mum’s blood stream.

“…mummy took a bad turn yesterday.  She’s sedated and stable. But it’s up to her now and all we can do is pray.”

I swear, my entire being turned to stone. I became absolutely tight-lipped and nodded. After all, surely he wasn’t talking about MY mum in this condition?

There were still a few hours till the first visiting hour of the day. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself…

Dad came back home from the office around 10:30 to pick my brother and I up. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at the hospital.  It was my first time to enter an ICU.

Walking in, it was as if I had turned into a different person completely. I passed about two or three people before seeing my mum.  I almost didn’t recognize her.  She lay there listless in bed with tubes and drips connected to her. I rushed to her side and said, “Mummy..mummy I’m here!” God only knows where I had the courage and strength to speak to her the way I did.  I reached for her hand and noticed two things.  She was strapped down to the bed and her hands and fingers were double its size.

I couldn’t help, but notice that my mother was the worst looking patient in that ICU.

My mum - 14 January 2013

07:00 Breakfast with our auditor
09:00 Speaking evaluations with new students

I remember speaking to my dad after the morning visit. Mum was fine...and so I carried on with my day.

Then at 4pm – knowing my dad would have just seen my mum – I messaged my dad.  He replied saying he couldn’t see my mum because the doctors were busy with her.  “Where are you now?” dad asked. 

I knew immediately he wanted to call me. 

“How’s mummy?” I asked.
“I’m not happy.  They put mummy on a ventilator.”

I remember being silent for a while and then asked, “Must I come?”
“No. I’ll let you know if you must come.”

After hanging up from my dad I just remember tears falling from my eyes uncontrollably. A work friend who was in the office with me, Nicola, walked out with me.  I started crying and then sobbing. 

I wanted to see my mum.
I needed to see my mum.
And I knew that my mum needed me.

Nicoletta, my manager, came out to see me and said to call my dad and tell him that I want to go home.

Knowing that my dad was aware of our audit week etc, I was quite surprised when he agreed to my coming home.  I knew then that it was serious.  He said that my coming home may motivate mum to get better.

Two hours later, the academic team and auditor were on our way to the waterfront for dinner.

When I arrived at the waterfront I called my dad again.  During the conversation my dad said, “You must be strong.”

My dad never spoke like that.

“Please tell mummy I’m coming,” I said

Dinner was difficult. Sushi and wine sat heavily on my throat. I think I had more wine than sushi. I just wanted to be home. With my mum. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her. 

It was the worst dinner at my favourite restaurant.

I left the waterfront and went home.  Not quite sure how I drove home, but I needed to pack.  And then I was going to spend some time with Nicola.

Was I going to take a big suitcase or an overnight one? What should I pack? What was I going home to?

Every single thing I looked at or touched had my mother’s name on it. 

I sent a message to my dad asking him to please wake me up at 03:00.  The shuttle was going to pick me up at 04:30.

I didn’t sleep at all and the howling wind didn’t help either. I was chatting to my brother for quite a while too. I guess I wasn’t the only one not sleeping.

03:00 finally came and I texted my dad to tell him that I was awake.  When he replied immediately I knew straight away that he didn’t sleep at all.

My mum - 13 January 2013

Sunday: I was in constant contact with my dad and brother about my mum.  I felt a bit relieved when my brother told me that he was downstairs buying a drink for my mum.

I had an audit the following day and half my focus was on that.

I went to bed thinking my mum would be discharged in a day or two.

My mum - 12 January 2013

Saturday: When my mum didn't respond to my text message on Saturday morning, I knew something was wrong. My brother told me that he was taking her to the doctor.  The previous day my mum was complaining about headaches and mentioned that it felt like her asthma was back. 

A few days before that, my mum had kidney stones removed.  We thought the headaches were a result of a strong cocktail of anesthetic.

I didn't quite know what to do with myself on Saturday to pass time.  My friend, Nicoletta invited me to her place and I spent some time with her, her mum and son. 

Later that evening, we all went out for sushi dinner.  After that I spent a couple of hours with another friend. 

I only got home very late that night and didn't sleep well.  I was so used to keeping in contact with my mum. 

My brother told me that my mum was in ICU.  I didn't think too much of it because earlier my dad told me that there was fluid on my mum’s lungs.  In my mind they were just going to isolate this infection and everything would be OK....

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New beginnings

Tomorrow I begin my new position as Academic Year Coordinator at work. This means that I will be heading the Academic Year (AY) Program.

What is the AY Program?
It has been designed for students who have come to study English for six months or longer.

I'm feeling anxious and I guess it's normal. Two weeks of holiday and now I'm back to work tomorrow.

I have a pretty good feeling about 2013. Here's wishing you and yours a fabulous one :)


"In the plainest terms marriage is an unspoken agreement between two people to row the boat together through the storm. Life is hard. You need comfort and support to make it to the end." (Masquerade pg 148, Rayda Jacobs)

Friday, January 4, 2013

First post on new phone in the new year

I have finally cut all ties with BlackBerry and changed over to Samsung! The decision was based on various things which I'll blog about later. I decided to get the Samsung Galaxy S3 - and I'm in love :)

I'm enjoying all the features of it, especially the apps which allow me to stay connected to my friends in Korea.

As always, one of ny new years resolutions is to write more frequently so I hope that now I'll be able to stick to it.

Trust you all had a super time bringing in the new year!