Thanksgiving Thursday

It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

In my country we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. There is, however, an awareness of it – probably most of the credit for that going to the wide variety of American movies we feast our eyes on.
(Up until a few years ago, Halloween wasn’t really acknowledged either – and then suddenly our shops were filled with the decor! There is still no official trick or treating though, because of huge safety concerns.)

But because I have an American spirit 😉 it is a holiday I have always acknowledged in my house. Not fully – because there is no such thing as Thanksgiving decor or meals… but I make an effort and make something of my own. We have never tried pumpkin pie though – mostly because my children refuse, so I’ve never bothered with making it. This year, in celebration of this special day, I shall. And although I will force feed a teaspoon of it to each, I am almost certain that my all my meals today will be pumpkin pie – pretty much the entire thing for only my consumption 😛

What you may find interesting to know is that South Africans have only recently jumped into the Black Friday traditions. I think it was about ten years ago when I first heard of Black Friday – and I’ll admit it, I thought it was to do with racism. 😛 I had no knowledge of what it entailed and so that was my first reaction. After some discussion, I understood more and knew better, and so when it arrived in SA I wasn’t outraged like many others.

Black Friday only became ‘a thing’ here about four years ago. Our deals are nowhere near as good as those overseas though. So far, it’s been relatively successful for retailers, and an absolute nightmare for consumers. In a third world country where most things very seldom ‘work’, overpopulation is a problem and crime rates are exceptionally high, Black Friday is now another day where ‘the bad stuff’ just escalates alarmingly. Add to that the pressure of our failed economy and most people having so little and being after deals for survival, it’s more than the usual reported US chaos. It’s no surprise to me that non perishable foods are apparently at the highest percentage when it comes to sales here.

My children are caught up in the hype and buzz, and both wish we had an abundance of money to spend on all the sales – because, ‘we can save 30%’ if we shop tomorrow, Mom’! To which I usually reply,

“We can save 100% if we just stay at home, and don’t visit any online sales.” 😛

But back to Thanksgiving….

I found this story and I wanted to share it, because it speaks to my heart and as you should know by now is very much in keeping with the way I feel generally :

When Mrs. Klein told her first graders to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful, she thought how little these children, who lived in a deteriorating neighborhood, actually had to be thankful for. She knew that most of the class would draw pictures of turkeys or of bountifully laden Thanksgiving tables. That was what they believed was expected of them.

What took Mrs. Klein aback was Douglas’s picture. Douglas was so forlorn and likely to be found close in her shadow as they went outside for recess. Douglas’s drawing was simply this:

A hand, obviously, but whose hand? The class was captivated by his image. “I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food,” said one student.

“A farmer,” said another, “because they grow the turkeys.”

“It looks more like a policeman, and they protect us.” “I think,” said Lavinia, who was always so serious, “that it is supposed to be all the hands that help us, but Douglas could only draw one of them.”

Mrs. Klein had almost forgotten Douglas in her pleasure at finding the class so responsive. When she had the others at work on another project, she bent over his desk and asked whose hand it was.

Douglas mumbled, “It’s yours, Teacher.”

Then Mrs. Klein recalled that she had taken Douglas by the hand from time to time; she often did that with the children. But that it should have meant so much to Douglas …

Perhaps, she reflected, this was her Thanksgiving, and everybody’s Thanksgiving—not the material things given unto us, but the small ways that we give something to others.

Readers Digest

Here’s wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and plenty of pumpkin pie.

But most importantly, I wish you the opportunities to share and care, to express kindness and love, and to be the recipient of sharing, caring, kindness and love too.

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Photo credit : oprahmag.com

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?!?! 😛 😉
BUT IF YOU’RE AMERICAN, you may want to read it all 😛 😉

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 😉

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 😉 (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! 😛 )

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 😉

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 😛  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. 😛 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 😛

(There’s a standing joke that I am an American in my heart 😉 )

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. 

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 😛
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 😛
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,  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 😛

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 😛 (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 😛 She’s braver than me, and more assertive. I admire her so much, and often look to her for advice and opinions.  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.  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 😉

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 😉  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 😉 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 😛
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 😉

It’s here, at last!

So……it’s taken me a while, because life always happens when I have other plans…….but here it is, at last!

*Drum roll please*

I was nominated for an award. Yip. You read that right.
I’m flabbergasted! Speechless! (And so were my fingers, for a while!)

It’s called the Liebster Award, and is an award given by bloggers, to other bloggers.
The rules for this award are as follows :

  1. Thank the one who nominated you:
  2. Display the Liebster award logo of choice:
  3. Answer the eleven questions posed to you by your nominator:
  4. Nominate eleven (11) fellow bloggers and
  5. Ask them eleven questions to keep the love going:

So without further ado….

THANK YOU to A @ Moylom Enterprises for this distinguished award! Thank you for your faith in my abilities, and for seeing promise in my writing. Your support is very much appreciated!

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And here is my answer to those amazing 11 questions that you put to me…..

1. What is one go-to thing that cheers you up no matter what?

This is such an interesting question, because in ‘my world’ it cannot be limited to just one thing. A baby’s giggle – that tummy chuckle that starts from deep within, and erupts from their throats; a puppy – everything about it, including its puppy breath; a friend that shows up on my doorstep with a gift – any gift : coffee, chocolate, wine, flowers (but always better when it’s something we can share).

Recently, however, I had a frightening experience. My daughter had a bad reaction to an antibiotic, and vomited for two hours straight. I was instructed to take her to the hospital – and twenty minutes after arriving, she collapsed from dehydration. My stomach sank, and it took everything in me not to crumble. As I looked down at her pale and seemingly lifeless body, every breath that I took was a mumbled, ‘Don’t take her. Please don’t take her.”

We were alone in emergency for two hours, the drip in her arm steadily feeding her liquids after the painkiller and anti vomit medication had found its way into her veins. I sat there, holding her limp hand, alone. And then her little eyes opened, somewhat vacant at first. She turned her head and looked at me, and smiled. In that moment, I was cheered up instantly. My ‘baby’s’ smile did the trick – and it was better than any of the things I have mentioned above. Her antics the past two days, and seeing her eat and drink without losing any of it, has been cheerful medicine for me.

2. What’s your favorite form of exercise?

Garfield comes to mind here. I remember a cartoon with him captioned, “Whenever I think about exercise, I lie down till the thought goes away.”
Another saying comes to mind, “I get enough exercise pushing my luck, jumping to conclusions, and flying off the handle”.
None of these apply to me though – well, not really. Although admittedly, I sometimes do push my luck, and fly off the handle.

I am not big on exercise. In younger years I loved aerobics – but after two serious car accidents, and with age taking me almost to the top of the hill already, I have to be careful with all that jolting and jiving.
I love to dance though. I’m one of those who will get on the dance floor when the music starts, and will dance four hours straight, not stopping for anything. (It usually takes me a few days to recover though.) I don’t get out much to dance these days though.

Walking would have to be my next favourite – long walks with beautiful scenery, like the beach, or a forest. But at the moment, where I live, it is no longer safe to go for a walk – so I have to limit my walking to parking on the other side of the parking lot when I need to do my shopping.

3. Who is your favorite person in the Bible and why?

I’m afraid I can’t pinpoint just one – so many, for so many different reasons. I love the way Noah took no notice of society, and went ahead and built that big old Ark – he didn’t bend under the pressure of his peers; David was only human, and was brave enough to admit when he was wrong; I love how Esther managed to keep her faith, and still submit to her husband – great strength of character; and then there’s Paul, who was content no matter what.

If only we could all carry these virtues in our hearts (what a different world we would live in, and how different our lives would be) : to not bend under the pressure of the world as to how we see ourselves, and what we do; to admit when we are wrong, no matter the consequences; to hold onto what we believe and yet still respect others; to be content with what we have, instead of always wanting more and ‘doing whatever it takes’ to get it.

4. If you had to choose a vacation destination and money was no object where would you go and why?

Now you are NOT allowed to laugh. And if you’re American, you’re going to. Especially if you know the town I am going to mention. (There’s a bigger picture here though.)

Firstly, the destination would be AMERICA – good ol’ USA. You did say that money was no object – so there’d be a few destinations there. But our first stop would be a little town called Hutchinson in Kansas (yeah, you’re laughing).

Bigger picture, remember? Eleven years ago, I began blogging in a community – a very warm one – and I made a LOT of American FRIENDS. I call them friends, because when I just couldn’t put any more heart into blogging due to circumstances, we added each other on Facebook. Phone calls, emails, Facebook friends – these people were more active in my life than my close-by friends. I consider them more ‘my family’ – and they probably know me about as much as I know myself.

There is one friend though who is more like a sister. We’ve been through hell together, from both our sides, over the past eleven years. We lose touch for a few months, and pick it up right where we left off. I have ‘watched’ her children grow, as she has watched mine, and we have shared the triumphs and disappointments of motherhood, and life, along the way. (We still do.) We often joke that the only reason we have different mothers is because one mother couldn’t handle both of us. She is me – only a wilder version 😉  Not wild in a bad way. But she’s the tough one. I have my strengths – but she’s stronger. She’s fit, and in comparison, I’m fat. She’s successful in so many ways, I’m still waiting at the airport for that ship to come in 😛 She’s still married, I am twice divorced. We are so opposite, and yet….we’re the same. For Grey’s Anatomy fans – she is my person.

And before I die, I want to sit on the porch swing with her, (while her husband barbeques, and our ‘little’ kids – who are the same age – irritate each other somewhere in the vicinity), and sip wine, and talk – face-to-face. I want to meet my ‘sister’.

I’m sure you’re still getting over the disappointment of Hutchinson, Kansas…..so here’s a more exciting next stop.

My daughter and I are huge fans of American movies – in fact, my ‘sister’ there hasn’t seen half of what we have, let alone heard of them. Ha!

A popular one though that everyone knows, and is one of our favourites, is ‘New Years Eve’. I want to take my daughter to New York – Times Square on NYE. Even if we’re just in a hotel with a view of it all – our hearts desire. Of course, she wants to see Disneyland, and Los Angeles (so many movies associated with this!) – and she wants to dance at one of the large dancing companies (inspired by Another Cinderella Story). We want to see Texas, and see real life cowboys; and experience ranch life (Dr Dolittle 3 and a few others). We want to experience all the rainy days of Seattle (Sleepless in Seattle), and go to the top of the Empire State Building (same movie). On ‘my sister’s recommendation’, we have to check out Arizona too!! Strangely enough, when I mention Hollywood (and all the famous actors/actresses), she just shrugs her shoulders and says, “Ok”.

My son is 17, and is aiming at pursuing his own dream soon – Australia.

Thank goodness ONE of my children shares my love and passions for the US 😉

So if money was no object : Destination USA. And we’d do the country proud with our tourism.

5. What would you consider to be the most important aspect of a person’s character ?

This is a short one – Integrity. Because it leads to so many of the other character traits that are positive to one’s being.

6. What would you consider to be your ultimate purpose in life ?

To live it to the best of my ability. And by live it, I don’t mean, “Party hard. Die young. Have a good-looking corpse”. I mean, “reaching and striving to be the best I can be, sharing and caring and impacting lives in a way that means something positive, even if only just for one person in a day, week, month, or year; helping my children to grow and build their characters and become the best they can be, no matter how long it takes.”

7. What goals would you like to accomplish in the next 5 to 10 years?

This is pretty much self-explanatory, if you refer to number 4 above. It probably doesn’t seem like much of a goal to many of you – but trust me, it would be quite an achievement. If I wasn’t a citizen of my country, I’d even go so far as to set up a crowdfunding account – laugh out loud!

Reality is that this is a goal that I may never achieve. But I remain filled with hope. I call myself a ‘prisoner of hope’, for even in the darkest days when I think nothing will ever work out, that tiny seed of hope in my heart continues to grow.

My other goal would be to become a writer – a writer who could actually make a living off what is produced by my mind. This would certainly bring me a lot closer to the original goal – number 4 above.

Thing is, in my country, many are struggling to survive on what they earn – and those are couples : two incomes. In my house, I am the sole income contributor – I receive no maintenance for my children ( a long and complicated story, and the laws are different here), and so there are moments where it seems we won’t even survive. In those moments though, that seed of hope receives a sprinkle of water, because something always happens – and we’ve never gone hungry. There is no opportunity to save, no opportunity to invest – but there is the opportunity to continue dreaming, and hoping….and so the seed plants roots.

8. What do you enjoy most about blogging/writing?

As I am sure many will agree, blogging/writing is a great outlet for feelings, and the thoughts that gather in your mind but have nowhere to go. For me, however, the real enjoyment comes in the form of someone who expresses appreciation for what I have written – perhaps something I have said has helped another, or has made someone smile. Maybe they just enjoyed ‘wading through my words’.

It gives me a great sense of satisfaction that someone has taken the time to read something I have written, and have found pleasure in it.

9. What are your thoughts on global warming, renewable resources, clean energy, recycling etc?

Global Warming? This quote : “The most important thing about global warming is this.         Whether humans are responsible for the bulk of climate change is going to be left to the        scientists, but it’s all of our responsibility to leave this planet in better shape for the     future generations than we found it.Mike Huckabee

In fact, all of those listed above come down to this : environmental responsibility.

If we don’t take care of our bodies, and continue to live in a way that is harmful for them, then our bodies begin to give in – liver fails, kidneys fail, heart stops…..and our bodies cease to exist. “Despite the high cost of living, it remains popular”, and so we do everything we can to combat failed kidneys, liver, heart. Why would we not do the same for the earth we live on? If it ceases to exist, so do we.

10. What do you like most about where you live right now?

This is a sensitive subject for me at the moment – and I am not going to get into all the reasons why because it might spark a debate that I just don’t have the energy for right now. (And since ‘my kind’ has now been added to the genocide watch list, I am sure you can understand why.)
But after much thought, I will say this : What I like the most about where I live right now is that I have two beautiful children who live with me, a dog who is my constant companion, and I have trees in my backyard.

11. How does it feel to be nominated for this award?

Honestly? Two very strong feelings.
Honoured. That someone would deem me worthy of even attempting this task. And…..

Intimidated. That voice in my head – the one that never keeps quiet (but sometimes gets a root from the seed of hope stuck in its throat) – tells me that I may not be able to do justice to this award, and thus will be a failure. Thankfully, failure is something I am used to….and I am always up for its next challenge.

And that, fellow bloggers, is that. I am working on my set of 11 questions, and will be making nominations soon…..so watch this space! Hope you enjoyed the long read 😉