Today’s Day

It would be remiss of me to not write a blog post about what day it is today. For it happens to be…

STAR WARS DAY

I was reminded of this by the above picture in a Facebook post that a friend of mine shared.

Star Wars was not a part of my childhood, Star Trek was – when I was able to sneakily watch episodes with my dad. (And oddly enough, as a little girl, I wanted to marry Captain Pickard and not Riker. ๐Ÿ˜› )

My father remarried the year I turned eighteen. I gained a British Mum, and four step siblings. I also gained Star Wars.

My stepbrother was in his teens – the only boy of the four – and I somehow doubt he was very amused by yet another female in the house when I went to visit. His amusement turned to horror when he discovered that his stepsister had never watched Star Wars.
”How did you get to be eighteen and you don’t know anything about it?”

He remedied that. Over and over. And over again.

In the month that I was with them, he and I had five (if I remember correctly) Star Wars movie marathons, because of course he had the VHS box set. And I loved every minute. This time, I chose Yoda (the little dude pictured above) as my husband ๐Ÿ˜›

Star Wars, for me, is not just about the movies. It’s about cherished moments spent with a ‘new sibling’ which gave us a common ground. (Our mutual love for Mr. Bean helped too!)

Now, if you haven’t watched Star Wars (and you’re HOW old?? ๐Ÿ˜› ) then you may not be familiar with one of the famous lines : May the Force be with you – now you see why ‘May the Fourth’ works so well ๐Ÿ˜‰

Interestingly enough though, โ€œMay the Fourth be with youโ€ was first used by Margaret Thatcherโ€™s political party to congratulate her on her election on May 4th, 1979.

This morning, I think this was me….

I sure hope my coffee kicks in soon! ๐Ÿ˜›

If you want to read some great Star Wars quotes, you can take a gander here.
I’ll end with this quote : โ€œMaster Yoda says I should be mindful of the futureโ€ฆ but not at the expense of the moment.โ€
Qui Gon Jinn

May you all see the good in the moments of TODAY… and may the fourth be with you ๐Ÿ˜‰

What Day Is It?

This seems to be the question on many people’s lips these days, with our lock down here still being somewhat ridiculous and the vast majority still being unable to work. The days just sort of melt into each other, and there are times where, unless I check the calendar, I am unsure where we’re at.
But that’s not the reason for the question today ๐Ÿ˜‰

Today is another of my ‘What Day of the Year‘ is it posts….

I got a little bit too excited when I found it that it’s Dracula Day ๐Ÿ˜›

Growing up, I was never allowed to watch anything monster like – and so of course, vampires were a criminal offense in our house. And my mother held true to this right into my late teens. It was NOT allowed.
(In fact, nothing was – rolling my eyes. Even a romantic comedy with an age restriction of 13 was vetoed – and I was 16 at the time. Yeah, strict control was the order of the day.)

I smiled broadly this morning when I chose Dracula Day

Because it took me back to my sneaky self. ๐Ÿ˜‰

When my parents were still together, our home had a large lounge and dining area, that was separated by large french doors. At age 6, my brothers were already 15 and 17, and so they would sit with my dad in the lounge and watch things like the A-Team, Airwolf and MacGyver. Naturally this wasย not allowed for the little girl in the house, under any circumstances. But sometimes my mother was out at a church meeting – or busy in the kitchen.
I’d check to see if the french doors were open, and if they were I would run to my room and fetch my dolls. I’d position myself with my babies in the armchair in the far corner of the lounge (my excuse being that my babies and I were visiting my friend for tea if anyone asked ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), giving me full view of the TV screen. And sometimes I’d even make it through an entire episode without getting caught ๐Ÿ˜‰

By my early teens, my folks were long divorced, my oldest brother had left the house. But the younger of the two was still around, and he had a TV and video machine in his room ๐Ÿ˜‰ The bedrooms in the house were on the opposite side to my mothers study/office, and when my brother was out (which was most of the time) and my mother was busy, I’d sneak in there, close the door, and watch his TV, or one of his videos. Thankfully, my mother very seldom caught me… and my brother had a car that had a distinctive sound when he drove in. Plus, in those days, I was young, and fast. ๐Ÿ˜‰ He only ever caught me once ๐Ÿ˜›
If it wasn’t for his TV I would have had NO friends in high school, ha ha ha – at least I could keep up with them in conversation about Wings, and The Hogan Family. I’ll admit that I even tried to keep up with Beverley Hills 90210… but sometimes understood why I had no business watching that ๐Ÿ˜›
(My mother ONLY watched the Christian television network – she had a special aerial and the main television in our house was not tuned in to any other channel.)

And yes, this all led to complete rebellion… some of it harmful… when it came to what I watched behind my mothers back. (Which is why, even though I censor a lot of what my daughter watches now, I also give her a lot more freedom… she never watches anything now without asking first, not even sneakily. And I am always open to discuss my reasons and hear her out when she asks to watch something. Sometimes I am not entirely happy about giving in… but I’ve heard her out, and we’ve discussed it enough that I know she has heard me out regarding my reasons. And so far, so good.)
Side note : Yes, it is my duty and responsibility to protect her – but there are ways and means, and so long as she is as open and honest with me as she is now, and so long as we have good communication, I think I am doing okay. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But back to Dracula, because that’s where the excitement of this day lies ๐Ÿ˜‰

My introduction to the vampire world had nothing to do with the Count himself. It was during my sneaky sessions in my brothers room (although sometimes he was home, and I had to miss an episode because he was in a bad mood – every now and then, he’d let me watch with him, but only if I gave him any chocolate/sweet stash that I had as payment ๐Ÿ˜› )… I got to watch the series Third Watch. In there was a few episodes about a group that decided they were vampires. I’ll admit, it scared me a little. And removed any desire I felt to watch Dracula – even though my brother actually offered.

At age 19, I think it was, I finally watched Interview with a Vampire – I mean, come on… Brad Pitt AND Tom Cruise in one movie???? A heavenly delight for me at that age ๐Ÿ˜› How could I not watch?
And I survived it, without fear. (Maybe they helped ๐Ÿ˜› )
Thing is that as I got older, I think I became desensitised to a large degree. I can watch almost anything now – although I am not a fan of the occult type movies at all – no interest in watching 95% of them – they just disturb my spirit too much.

I decided to tackle Dracula differently to everyone else that I knew though – I read the book first after eventually getting my hands on it. Because I am a reader for the most part, and so that’s what I do. ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰
Then I watched the movie… so I got the full Count experience ๐Ÿ˜‰

And… I’ll admit it… I’ve read the entire Twilight collection (twice – shaking my head here, ha ha ha!), after which I have watched the movie collection more than ten times. ๐Ÿ˜› My daughter tried it out – reading first as per her mother ๐Ÿ˜› – when she was 13… and every now and then we still have a Twilight movie marathon together ๐Ÿ˜‰

So that’s my contribution to Dracula Day. If you want to read more about the actual day, as opposed to my nonsense ๐Ÿ˜› you can go here.

Stay safe everyone. And don’t forget to smile ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mattress Mail

You’ve Got Mail. Definitely a movie that is near the top of my list of favourites.

It’s an old movie from 1998, and it’s a romantic comedy. Which is an unusual genre for me to find a movie in that I could be so crazy about. But I am. The brief synopsis is this : ”Two business rivals who despise each other in real life unwittingly fall in love over the Internet.”

What it fails to tell you about is the sheer delight contained in the quaint little bookstore that Meg Ryan’s character owns in the movie. I still carry the desire in my heart to one day have a little shop like hers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m a huge Meg Ryan fan…. and Tom Hanks is a firm favourite too. I had watched them co-star in Sleepless in Seattle and kind of just ‘fell for them’. So when ‘You’ve Got Mail’ premiered, it was top of my watch list. And I fell in love with them all over again ๐Ÿ˜‰

All of the above is somewhat strange, because I am generally not a fan of romance – which is even stranger because I am a romantic at heart. Yes, I know, there’s just no sense to any of it ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰

There is a place in the movie where Meg’s character needs advice. And without knowing anything about her business, Tom’s character gives her some…
”Go to the mattresses.”
This particular scene is where I completely fell in love with Tom’s character – in fisherman’s terms : he had me hook, line and sinker ๐Ÿ˜‰ My heart still skips a beat when I watch this scene ๐Ÿ˜‰ See, I have a crazy side too ๐Ÿ˜‰
(You can click here for the YouTube cut of it ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

The phrase, if you don’t already know, means the following :

Toย enterย intoย orย prepareย forย aย lengthyย war,ย battle,ย orย conflict;ย toย adoptย aย combativeย orย 
warlikeย position.ย Whileย theย trueย originย isย uncertain,ย theย phraseย wasย popularizedย inย 
Englishย byย Theย Godfatherย novelย andย films,ย whereย itย referredย toย warringย mafiaย familiesย 
housingย theirย soldiersย inย small,ย secureย apartmentsย toย awaitย orders.

And no, I am not inciting any form of global war with this blog post, so please don’t misunderstand. This IS personal – unlike the situation in the movie.

I have been reminded, yet again, that there is always a conflict within ourselves – the wolves that we feed. That there is always a war in our minds – and preparation for battle is the only way we can get victory.
When we allow ourselves to become complacent and stop feeding our minds with the things we need to in order to equip ourselves to become stronger and better versions of ‘us’, we make ourselves vulnerable to the voices from the past that want to take us to places we no longer deserve to be.

The struggle is real.

I am being kind to myself in that I am constantly reminding the big brown eyes that stare back at me in the mirror that their light is still shining. That I’m not a failure, and that I am allowed to be feeling the way I do. No matter what anyone else says or thinks.ย 

But the greatest kindness of all is to remind myself that I didn’t get this far by neglecting to prepare. I have been so diligent in the past about devoting time to ‘equipment for my mind’.
With all that has happened and is happening with our lock down, I got distracted. And perhaps some of you have too?

So I’m sharing the above in case it helps : when it comes to my mind, I need to remember to keep ‘going to the mattresses’.
And I’m loving the benefits of doing so the last couple of days ๐Ÿ˜‰

risky business and travel

I was reading this blog post and there was a suggestion regarding blog content. The suggestion was to sometimes take a risk, be creative and fun, and present a blog post that is a little different to what you would normally post about. It was posed to me (the reader) that without the risk there can be no reward. So today I am going to be a little risky.

And when I think of today’s post, there just isn’t any way for me to shorten it. I promise to try and keep it entertaining, so as not to lose you – but I honestly will not be offended with the many parts you’ll choose to skip over…
I mean, how am I gonna know, right?!?! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰
BUT IF YOU’RE AMERICAN, you may want to read it all ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰

Picture it. (No, not Sicily 1922 Golden Girls style) It’s 1983, actually – the place I am taking you to. We’d had television in our home since its introduction in South Africa in 1976. By 1983 I was five (and yes, now you know how old I am) and thanks to my lovely grandfolks I was constantly singing about hills being alive and the trouble with Maria. This would be because my grandfolks had a video machine, and had recorded The Sound of Music from one of the few channels our TV industry sported back then. It quickly became a firm favourite and was enjoyed a multitude of times. Naturally, I passed that down to my children ๐Ÿ˜‰

But there were others that they recorded too. Mostly for the older grandsons – things my mother would not allow me to watch at home. But so long as I played a good game of scrabble with the grandfolks, there was always the opportunity of glancing at the screen in their house ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Yes, I could read and write from an early age – but of course they always beat me. It’s how I learnt the bigger words!)

I was eight years old when I convinced my brothers to give me the pull out posters of my favourite actors – they were going to throw those parts of their silly teen magazines away anyway. (I did have Katherine Kelly Lang adorning my wall too though, even though I didn’t know who she was at the time. I had decided that when I grew up I was going to look like her. Boy, am I disappointed! ๐Ÿ˜› )

My little girl love was spread out evenly for these guys :
David Hasselhoff – Knight Rider
Richard Dean Anderson – MacGyver
Tom Selleck – Magnum PI

And naturally my enquiring mind wanted to know all there was to know about them, within reason, because I was still a kid ๐Ÿ˜‰

By age 10 my love for American TV shows and movies had grown. And actor obsessions changed from ”just the looks” to something a little more meaningful – I wanted to meet all these stars!

But more importantly, another obsession had begun to grow within me.

THE USA!

I ate up all I could find regarding the US in those days, and dreamed of being there – many hours locked in my head in a daydream of the US, many a morning waking with a smile because I had been there in my dreams. I didn’t know anyone there, and neither did I know of anyone who was travelling there. But the USA was still a part of me, I felt.

The internet created a whole new hunk of love. It was like I was there, and the information at my fingertips was a lot broader than what I’d had in the past. It was both wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time. Wonderful that I could ‘go there’ at any time, heartbreaking because I wanted it to be physical.

Shortly after my daughters birth, and a two year stint in another town, we moved back to my hometown. A broken computer became the biggest blessing of all! Enter the computer guy – and another whole new world, way better than anything Aladdin promised ๐Ÿ˜›ย  The day that he came to fix my computer was a day that changed a very large portion of my life, and my heart.

He introduced me to the world of blogging. He even went so far as to set up a blog for me on a platform he was using – Xanga. He didn’t charge me for the extra two hours it took to teach me the basics, and show me where I could develop my skills. Personally, I felt he just enjoyed the fact that while I was not completely technologically challenged, I was slightly stupid in some of the ways of the blogging world. ๐Ÿ˜› He later told me that it was actually my excitement of being able to ‘be in touch’ with actual US citizens that amused him the most ๐Ÿ˜›

(There’s a standing joke that I am an American in my heart ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

That was 13 years ago. And within a year I had American FRIENDS. Our contact had gone beyond simple blogging – we were emailing each other too. The bizarre thing about all those connections was that those ‘strangers’ knew me better than the people who had my physical presence. (I think it helped that we were all very honest about ourselves and our circumstances – instead of creating a false online persona we were very real with each other.) And when I just couldn’t put any more heart into blogging due to circumstances, we took another connective step and added each other on Facebook.ย 

Facebook is, and always has been, my private place. When I look at my profile pictures collection, I often laugh and say, ‘the many faces of Meg’. BUT, my appearance is the only thing that really seems to change. Some people keep ‘a place’ on social media completely private, because that is where they are ‘real’. That’s not my reason. I am not hiding parts of my character that I don’t want anyone to know about. What you see here is pretty much what you’ll see there – but in a LOT LESS words ๐Ÿ˜›
The difference between here and there is that there I share more pictures – including ones of my kids. And there I have family watching – yeah, it’s complicated. I’ve successfully managed (I think) to keep my blogging world separate from the haters ๐Ÿ˜›
ANYWAY…. I am not one of those people who accept random friend requests….and I also take my time to really know someone before I am prepared to take that sort of plunge, so this was a big step for me.

Soon our communications were Facebook, regular emails, and even telephone calls.

Of those fourteen new friends, who I have never met in person, I have lost two in the past four years – not due to termination of friendship,ย  but sadly due to their deaths. And I cried a lot, and felt real pain at losing them – as if they’d been right here, interacting with me in physical presence, daily. But in a way they were. They were with me, thanks to the internet, in my home for 9 years +. And they’ll forever be in my heart.

One of those 14 is my sister, L. No, not biological. (Her mom was one of my friends too – sadly, she now keeps an eye on us from up above instead) L and I used to tease her mom and say that she’s lucky we weren’t biological because she never would have coped with both of us ๐Ÿ˜›

L and I found our common ground in the fact that we had children almost the same age. Her oldest is a year older than my son, her youngest is a year older than my daughter. Once we’d established that, we discovered a whole lot of other common ground in our lives. And for 13 years, we have journeyed through our lives together. We have watched each others children grow, and shared in the moments of elation and devastation that that sometimes brings. We’ve shared the triumphs and disappointments of life and the circumstances we’ve found ourselves in. We’ve both had moments where we’ve lost our way, and we’ve kind of disappeared on each other – only to pick up a few months later as if no time has passed at all – and share the learning experiences with one another.

She is me, but different. I have my strengths, but she’s stronger. She’s the fit one (she runs), I’m the fat one ๐Ÿ˜› (I don’t know if I could even run if something was chasing me these days!) She’s successful in all the ways that count, I still have moments where I’m waiting at the airport for my ship to come in ๐Ÿ˜› She’s braver than me, and more assertive. I admire her so much, and often look to her for advice and opinions.ย  For Grey’s Anatomy fans – she is my person.

The bond that has formed is so strong that even my children ‘know her’. And they mention her often, just as if she really was their aunt.ย  I know it all sounds so crazy and unrealistic. But it’s true.
(And yes, I asked her permission to share all this.)

My American friendships have made me love the country even more. My passion for the USA has gone from being a glowing ember to a full blown fire. It’s no longer just the places and famous people though that fuel that fire. It’s the REAL people! While it would still be great to meet one or two of my now many favourite actors and actresses, and while there are still places I’d like to see; my heart yearns to meet my American friends, who are scattered all over the US.

And I cry every time I entertain the thought of the day I will get to hug my sister and tell her in person that I think she rocks, and I love her dearly!

This blog post is actually based on a blogging question I found :

IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT, NAME ONE PLACE YOU WOULD TRAVEL TO?

I think I made my answer clear ๐Ÿ˜‰

Of course, there are many beautiful places in this world and I have a list of destinations I’d like to visit, and things I’d like to explore.

But my heart lies with my faithful American friends who have been a big part of my life for a long time. So the USA would have to take precedence ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  With money not being an object, I guess I could go everywhere. But first and foremost (even to the point of moving there) the USA would be my choice, time and time again.

And with all the different places within the US we’d have to go, I think we’d do them proud with tourism ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yes, my kids have caught this passion of mine to a large degree – my daughter a little more so than my son, but I think it’s LA that calls to her most ๐Ÿ˜›
Kansas, Oregon, New York, Texas, West Virginia, South Dakota, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and more!

Oh, how my heart longs for it, and I think I’d find a deep, booming voice inside me yelling out loud for all to hear if I could say :

I’M COMING TO AMERICA!

But. Sigh. Money IS an object.

I have not lost hope though – I still believe it will happen one day. And of course, when that day comes, EVERYONE will know about it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Getting busy living

I woke to screaming, and sat up in a daze. Then there’s a blank.
It was difficult to open my eyes – the vision in my right seemed blurred. The sky was above me, grey, and I am sure there was a light drizzle (but that may be because before all this happened it had been raining). My friend was next to me, saying “Hold on, Meg. The ambulance is coming. Please be okay.”
I remember that my chest hurt – it was really sore to breathe. I tried to take in my surroundings, but it was just too much effort.
I remember gasping out, in stammered breaths, “It hurts to breathe. I think I’m going to go to sleep.”
The next 24 hours were a haze – very brief moments of memory that can be recalled when I talk about it. The rest? Things that those who were there have told me.
I was wearing all my favourite clothing items that day – they cut them all of me.

I had been asleep, on the journey home after a weekend away with my friends, in the back of a truck (under the canopy). It was four days after my 18th birthday. The truck lost control on the icy road – I was later told that it was due to driver negligence – and hit rolled a few times, landing on the edge of a cliff. For whatever reason, even after the canopy had been flung off, I had remained in the truck bed and was only thrown out just before it came to a stop. (Thinking back now, if I had been thrown out earlier, maybe I would have been crushed and dead, instead of very much alive, as I am today?)
My body was broken, my face cut up, and I was bruised all over – and yet the mirror in my bag was in tact. It hadn’t even cracked!?!?

I was in hospital for 15 days, and brought home in an ambulance because I still couldn’t walk. I’ve healed well, other than the scar tissue and pain that comes with cold and rainy days – and yet I LOVE those type of days ๐Ÿ˜‰
I had a long list of injuries, but the ones that matter for the purposes of what I am actually wanting to share on my blog today, were the injuries to my ‘arms’. I broke my right collarbone in two places, and my left wrist. This means that on top of everything else, I couldn’t use my arms.
Still bedridden and healing up, I became incredibly bored. My pile of unread booksย  were calling me, but I wasn’t able to hold them or turn pages. So my brother provided me with a bunch of movies, the next best thing. Much to my mothers horror, in this collection was the movie Shawshank Redemption. And I watched it at least twenty times.

Itโ€™s a difficult movie to watch โ€“ so much sadness and a bit of violence, and scenes that leave you feeling a little ill to your stomach. But buried in that movie are so many little inspirational things that it makes it very much worth watching, if you can tolerate and get through the rest.

Let me set the scene for those of you who havenโ€™t watched the movie โ€“ and refresh the memory of those of you who have.

Andy (played byย Tim Robbins) has been convicted of killing his wife and her lover. Surprisingly, heโ€™s probably the only man who winds up in that prison who is actually innocent. Itโ€™s not easy, and he definitely suffers. One day, out in the yard, heโ€™s having a conversation with a new โ€˜friendโ€™ he has made, named Red โ€“ played by Morgan Freeman. They start talking about what they would do if they got out, and for a man who has been institutionalized for a very long time, it is no surprise that Red fears that he may not survive on the outside.

Itโ€™s Andyโ€™s part of the conversation that made an impact on me though.
He describes how he may as well have pulled the trigger โ€“ that he had loved his wife so much and yet pushed her away, and that had ultimately caused her to be in a place that had caused her death. He talks about being caught in the path of a tornado, and how he didnโ€™t expect the storm be lasting as long as it is.
And then he begins to talk about his dream : one day, when he gets out, heโ€™s going to go down to Mexico and open a small hotel on the beach โ€“ the Mexicans say the Pacific has no memory. And thatโ€™s how he wants to live out the rest of his days โ€“ in a warm place with no memory.

Bearing in mind that Red is pretty much his only friend in those dark, dismal walls; youโ€™d expect his response to be supportive. But sometimes our reality is just so dark that we canโ€™t see any light โ€“ and when we do see a light in a tunnel itโ€™s usually another train coming.

So Red tells him he has a silly pipe dream, and that Mexico is out there, and Andy is in here, and he should forget about it.

Andyโ€™s response is :
”Yeah, right. Thatโ€™s the way it is. Itโ€™s down there and Iโ€™m in here. I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

And that’s the truth. We can either truly live life, or just wait to die.

Sometimes life is hard, and it can feel like we’re imprisoned by its harshness, circumstances and negativity. My country, my town, my immediate surroundings are in crisis at the moment. It scares and saddens me, because I have a passion for people and I see past how things are directly impacting ‘me and my kids’. I carry a weight for those around us too. It’s not a burden that debilitates, but it definitely causes crying in my heart and soul, and pushes a button inside me to ‘act’. I don’t quite know how to explain it, so I may take some heat for the way I’ve said it.

I often joke that I am a ‘Prisoner of Hope’. I still have dreams despite the reality. And something inside of me constantly lives in hope. I don’t know what the future holds, and I have no desire TO know.

I DO know that every morning that my children and I can wake up and face a new day, things are good. Every moment that we get to spend, breathing and living and laughing, things are great. And every opportunity that we are given to help others in whatever way possible to us at the time means that things are fantastic.

For me? That is getting busy living. It’s living my best life.
Pursuing my dreams, living in hope despite our realities, and making a positive difference and contribution in and to other people’s lives.ย  ย 
And enjoying the simple things – laughter, a good book, cheesecake, coffee and rainy afternoons ๐Ÿ˜‰

How do you ‘get busy living’?