Scrambling For Words

Today is SCRABBLE DAY!

A day I simply had to post about because of the fond memories I have associated with this board game!

Today was chosen as the day to celebrate the game, because it is also the day that the game creator was born! His name was Alfred Mosher Butts and he invented this board game during The Great Depression in the 1930’s.

At the time that he created the game, many were out of work, starving for food, depressed. Including Alfred himself. He was an Architect – an out of work Architect.

I’d like to think that it wasn’t just boredom that caused him to create it. But that’s me and my positive spin on life, I guess 😛 I’d like to think that as he looked around him, and saw people struggling, that he wanted to provide them with something that would not only stimulate their brains, but possibly also distract them from the misery of their circumstances.

The game was originally called LEXICO, later changed to Criss Cross Words, and of course it is now Scrabble, as we know it.

Alfred teaches us a lesson in tenacity – in the reward that comes with never giving up. Because initially his game was rejected by most board game manufacturers. He eventually encountered a man by the name of James Brunot, who purchased the rights to the game, made a few minor adjustments and renamed it…. making Scrabble (and Alfred) a household name.

The fond memories I mentioned? I can still see my Granny and Grampie now, huddled over their Scrabble board, trying to outdo each other and achieve maximum points so as to ultimately be declared the winner. It makes me smile. They played every night – early evening, straight after supper. And I looked forward to sleepovers at their house, so that I could be a part of the action!

As soon as I was able to begin spelling, there was always a ‘pre-game’ game – Grampie would take me on, and Granny was allowed to help me, but only a little bit. For a few years, I found myself scrambling for words! And then I started to get better at it, and Granny no longer needed to assist. I never did beat Grampie though – he remains ‘our champion’, in more ways than one ❤

I found this image on Pinterest, and it made me smile even more, as it is a picture of the original game, and the box looks identical to my grandparents box – well used 😉

It was amusing to see my brother (the middle child in our family – nine years my senior) proudly unpack his very own Scrabble game when he was eighteen, and right up until the moment he moved out (when he was about 24, I think it was) I would regularly find him playing against himself, either on his bed, or next to the swimming pool while he was ‘tanning’.

No one in my family has ever participated in any formal Scrabble championships (that I know of) – playing against each other was apparently challenging enough! 😛 The only time I have ever won a game, was when I played against myself 😛 But that has never caused me to turn down the opportunity to play – I have definitely always played for the enjoyment of it 😉

Interestingly enough, even worldwide Scrabble championships have scandals attached to them! What next?!?! Ha ha ha!

Happy Scrabble Day, everyone! Please go and have some fun with words today 😉

random acts of kindness

”Actions speak louder than words.”

I understand that this age old proverb is wise and valuable. But we need to be careful when and where and how we choose to apply it. To be honest, it is actually a proverb that I don’t like. Not at all. Partially because it has been ‘thrown at me’ way too many times, and in situations that actually made it meaningless. I’ll give you an example – but not from my own life. I saw someone share this proverb as an image on Facebook this morning, and while it brought back so many bad memories for me, it also made me think of an old friend of mine – probably because she shared my sentiment about the proverb itself! So here is a piece of her story, we’ll call her Jess.

Jess was bright and talented. She was a girl who was going places. She was outgoing and lively, and one of those types of people who had a very clear path mapped out for what her life was going to look like.
Towards the end of her final year at high school, at 18 years of age, Jess fell pregnant. She was not married, and not in a relationship either. She completed her high school education, and gave birth a few months later. Her baby boy was put up for adoption.
And the people who ‘knew her’… knew her personality and her plan for her life? Well, they judged accordingly.
“Being that outgoing and lively, and I guess flirtatious? Well, I am not surprised she ended up pregnant! And as for giving the baby away? Well, he didn’t exactly fall into her mapped out plan for her life, did he?”
And in some ways, their words and judgements seemed to fit.
I met Jess three years later. I heard the background from the mutual friend who first introduced us. He added, ”I don’t know how much of it is true as such, but she’s never disputed any of it, so I guess it must be.”
A few years later Jess told me ‘the story’ – her story. And it made me cry for her.
Jess had been very involved in rowing when she was in her final years of high school. There was a huge regatta, with teams from all over the country. Afterwards, there was a social function. Jess had said her goodbyes, and made her way to her car. It was dark, and the light she thought she had parked under happened to have a blown bulb. One of the guys from a visiting team, who had had too much to drink, had followed her. He raped her. And she fell pregnant.
Her parents were sickly, and poor. They left the decision up to her, but told her that they could not help with the baby. She soul searched and got counselling for months, and decided that it was best to give him up. She never had anymore children, and to be honest, I don’t think she ever quite got over giving her little one away.
After she told me her story, I asked her why she had never defended herself when the rumours began.
Her words were, ”People will believe what they want to – even when you tell them the truth. It’s their choice. And let’s face it, my actions – who I was – seemed to match up pretty well with their version. I also didn’t want everyone to know that I had been raped. Or how poor we really were. I was ashamed. So I just left it alone. But Meggy, the lesson in there for me was this : never judge another because you really don’t know the things they had to choose from. There is ALWAYS a story. There is always a reason. And unless you know it in it’s entirety, don’t listen to others, don’t judge, don’t assume.
And I can say with absolute certainty that she truly lived that lesson in her life!

Today is ”Random Acts of Kindness Day”

The story above may seem extreme, and I am sure you are wondering how it ties in to ‘the day’ we are supposed to be celebrating….

Well….

When it comes to ‘random acts of kindness’, there is often reference to ‘paying for a stranger’s coffee’, or ‘smiling at and complimenting someone you don’t know’, or ‘baking cookies for an old age home’ etc.
And these are all very valid and very beautiful things to do.

But what if, inwardly, instead of judging or being irritated by the tramp, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the prostitute, we stop for a moment and actually see them? What if we do ourselves a kindness by opening that box in our hearts that contains compassion and understanding? What if, instead of only seeing the action, we choose to see that perhaps something truly terrible may have happened to them in their youth, or at whatever stage in their lives, that has actually caused the action we are seeing now?

Some people may never actually tell their story. But most times, there will be something in their actions/behaviour that will confirm that there is definitely a story to be told, and that it isn’t pretty.

Not judging others, even in small ways, is difficult to do. It is something I have wrestled with many times. Especially when their actions are hurtful to me personally. As I have got older though, I have carried the words Jess said to me in my heart, and find myself more easily able to refer to them and practice them. Especially now that so many parts of my own story tie in with it.

On this day (and every day, really) I will not only find ways to be kind to others….
I will also be kind to myself…
By acknowledging how unfair and hurtful it is when others judge my actions or behaviour and shun me, without knowing my story, or even caring to ask my why…
And not doing the same to the people I encounter in my life.

Mean Girl Moment

Yesterday, I had to put my inner mean girl on time out.

I have a teenage daughter, and so a couple of years ago we watched the movie ‘Mean Girls’ together – no judgement, please 😛
There was much discussion before, during, and after the movie – and now sometimes we’ll refer to a particular behaviour or situation by saying, ‘Nope, don’t be a mean girl’!

Now, I’d like to say that I do not have a mean bone in my body – that I am ALWAYS kind and never cruel. I’d like to say it… but it wouldn’t be true.

But I really am not an unkind and cruel person.

Except to myself, sometimes.

And I know I am not alone. And that it’s not just a girl thing.
Each and every one of us are hard on ourselves at some stage or another, for a variety of reasons. It may be due to the past and limiting beliefs or words spoken over you; it may be due to your present situation and someone who perhaps said something; it may be due to ‘thoughts of the future’ that have overwhelmed you and suddenly make you feel ‘useless’. (I have also had to learn to correctly identify the moments where I should be hard on myself – because there are times when that is applicable too!)

But whatever the reason, we’ll turn that ‘mean girl’ behaviour on ourselves.

As we grow in grace (being merciful and charitable and kind), and focus on learning a ‘better way’ to deal with certain things, and start to be able to apply all these things more often, the ‘mean girl/boy’ moments become less frequent.

Because we need to learn how to show ourselves a little grace, even in a world where we are told that we are not good enough for whatever reason – the same way we would towards someone we love dearly and don’t want to see them tormenting themselves.
And it isn’t easy.

Yesterday, I overwhelmed myself – by myself. I was digging a hole with my thoughts, pondering all the wrong things – and instead of using the sand I was digging to create a new pile to get me out of the hole, I was sidestepping and spreading that sand everywhere…. and so my hole just kept getting deeper.

My response to it all was natural – I got even more frustrated, angry, and despondent. With myself. Sigh! 

The good news is this : there is always hope. Even when me is being mean to me 😛

Some days, reigning in our thought processes and changing them requires us to take action – and not just in our minds.
I looked in the mirror, and said out loud, ‘Mean girl, you need to go find something else to do.’
And then I sat down at my desk and grabbed a pen and paper.

I started to make a list of the little things – the GOOD things, the small achievements, the small victories. And then I started to dig a little deeper, and I looked back at my past – but only to see how far I have come. Here I was able to list ‘bigger things’. And you know where I ended up? Stuck in gratitude. And making a new list of those little, and big things (to me, the way I perceive them) of all that there is to be saying thank you for.

It sounds like such a silly thing – but you know what? It made me feel heaps better! And I climbed out of my hole 😉

These ‘silly things’ make great (and healthy) coping mechanisms in life.

So if your mean girl/boy is telling you something today, and it’s making you feel downright rotten, then please take a moment and start making a little list of your own! Every little bit counts ❤

Worth… again

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I just can’t stress this enough!

The last 24 hours have made me even more aware of this – not in my own personal life, but as I have interacted with others.

You may say, ”But you don’t understand.”

Hear me when I say this : I DO! If I shared some of the words that had been spoken over me, you would be horrified – and in total agreement if I told you that I felt unworthy.
There is validation in your feeling that way if it comes from an abusive past….

There is not validation in staying in that place though.

It’s not an easy road. Going back, identifying and dealing with that false belief system, and breaking through into a changed perspective on the essence of you is HARD! 

But it is worth it. Because no matter your circumstances, or what you have been told, YOU are worth it!

I shared a post back in February, which I feel strongly in my heart needs to be revisited by us all, especially in these troubling times, where we’re all feeling rather lost in one way or another. There is a lot right now that we cannot control, and unfortunately there are a lot of circumstances that are making us question our value as individuals (like the man who has lost his job because of Covid, and now cannot provide for his family – does this make him unworthy? NO! But it can make him feel that way!).

I also want to throw something in here real quick as well….

Your worth is not based on the opinions of others. But it’s also not based on the actions of others. Before we work on relationships ‘out there’, we need to work on the most important relationship that we have – the one we have with ourselves.

I spoke with someone yesterday who told me, ”It’s just another failed relationship. I guess I am not worthy of love.”
When I told them they were still loved, they referred back to the ‘romantic relationship’.
So then I asked, ”How do you see yourself from the perspective of being a friend? Are you a good friend?”
The answer was, ”I think so. My friends know they can rely on me, and that I have their backs – and they have mine.”
So I asked, ”Is that not love?”
”Yeah, I guess. But if you can’t have a partner to share your life with, then you’re pretty worthless when it comes to loving, aren’t you?”

The conversation continued, but I want to leave you with this :

Your worth is not based on what other people say and do.
Your worth is not based on whether or not you’re single, or a good partner in a romantic relationship.
Your worth is not based on how much, or how little you have.
Your worth is not based on the circumstances you are facing – not now, not in the future, and certainly not from your past.

YOU ARE WORTHY – so worthy, in fact, that you deserve to embrace every opportunity that you have to learn and grow and accept it! (And we have many opportunities, especially with the internet and the resources out there – we just sometimes avoid it because it seems easier not to address the issues.)

And I’ll say it again : it’s hard! It’s painful. You may still have moments where you find yourself questioning your worth – I know I do – but for me personally I have found it to be a good thing, because it makes me stop, and really think… and I remember… I HAVE got worth, despite ‘whatever’.

As per the post I referred to above : Jump that fence! You’re worth it! ❤

Jail Bail?

Every now and then, I take a break from my usual blog posts and post something lighter and less inspiring, more unusual. This normally contains word definitions or idiom explanations – things of that nature. Today isn’t all that interesting, but I did find it kind of funny 😉
Today was inspired by none other than my 14 year old daughter.

We all know what teens are like. They have their very own language – in fact each generation seems to 😛

Each country too, as a matter of fact. It’s no surprise then that words and expressions used in different countries are, well, different. So I can’t claim what I am about to share next as a guide to ‘teen speak’.
(Interestingly enough, my son’s teen speak was similar to what I grew up with, carrying the same definitions. My, how times have changed in the last seven years!!! Enter my daughter. 😛 )

We got out the car at a local store, and she exclaimed, ”Oh my word, Mom! I need to bail!”

Entering the store, I asked, “Who you hiding from?”

I turned around and was greeted with a blank stare.

A little further into the store, I asked, “Why did you need to bail from the car so fast?”

The total look of confusion on her face told me we weren’t talking about the same thing!

In ‘my days’, bail was pretty much defined as I need to go; bounce; take off. 
My usual go to place when it comes to trying to find the more trendy meanings of words is the Urban Dictionary (although I find the language inappropriate a lot of the time). After checking it now, I see it wouldn’t have helped me this time though anyway since it seems to be in line with my definition. Therefore not cool. Not trendy. “Way back when you were a teen, Mom….”
(It really wasn’t that long ago 😛 )

Seeing her confusion, I naturally asked, “Okay. What does bail mean to you kids then?”

She shushed me, blushed (the cute guy nearby had turned to look our way) and pulled me to a quieter corner of the store. There she stammered out,
“Well…uh… it means to…um….you know? When your undies get…um…..and you need to…um….”

From that completely unhelpful explanation, I somehow got the drift of what she was saying. So I whispered back, “You mean when you get a wedgie and you need to pull your panties back where they belong?” She nodded, shrugged her shoulders, and replied with,

“Yeah, you know, bail.”

I think I am going to have a tough time understanding this new teen speak of our local kids! 😛 😉

Spring Cleaning

I’ve been missing in action. For me, it’s been a difficult time – but as usual, there is always some amusement to be had from difficult periods in our lives. My last blog post was very significant to my absence thereafter – which is rather funny (both funny ha ha, and funny weird) because I didn’t plan it that way at all.
Another thing that I found rather amusing is the fact that I have been ‘M.I.A’ for the entire season of Winter here where I live.
So perhaps this was made for me…….
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The only problem is that I haven’t been asleep the entire time…..although then again, maybe I have. Sleep is more than just eyes closed and snoring….it sometimes applies to a dormant soul and a closed heart – just some food for thought.

Continue reading

Wonderful Words

In my last post I addressed some interesting South African foods. The one before we looked at the differences in the words we use here in South Africa, as opposed to words that are used in America.

There are just so many of these wonderful words, and silly differences, that I could probably write posts for a month and still not have them all covered. But I will make small efforts, and today’s post is one of those.

Takkies  – pronounced ‘tacky-s’
I sometimes forget myself when chatting with my friend in Kansas, and every now and then I revert to South African words. I sent her an email, saying I was taking the children shopping before the schools started up again, because they needed school shoes (they wear uniforms here) and takkies, for sport. Thankfully, the use of the word ‘sport’ helped her to identify what I meant. Takkies is the South African word for sneakers/trainers.

Sucker
If we’re talking slang, then this is most definitely the word for a gullible human being – but I don’t think our country is alone in that line of thinking.
When I offer my daughter a sucker for consumption, I am not offering her the opportunity to eat a gullible human being (yes, cannibalism is illegal here too), but instead I am offering her a lollipop.

Shebeen – pronounced ‘sha-been’
This is the name given to an illegal drinking establishment. If the bottle store (we call it that, you call it a liquor store) is closed, and you’re feeling mighty brave, then you can always find alcohol at a shebeen – although it’s almost double the price of what you’ll pay at the store. It is, after all, what has to be considered a ‘convenience outlet’. The brave part comes in because these are normally located in rural locations, in the middle of an informal settlement, and ‘the party’ is always more than a little rough.

Packet
When you go to the store and are paying for your purchases, they will ask if you’d like a packet. If you have too many items to carry out, this may be a good idea, because what they are offering you is a disposable plastic shopping bag to place said items in. We have to pay for our packets (it’s not a lot, but still), and so it’s always a good idea to store them up at home, and take a few with you the next time you visit the store. I also happen to think it’s better for the environment if we’re re-using as much as possible as opposed to purchasing them each time, just to throw them out. And while I’d like to say that I do this all the time, I am afraid that being human tends to show up in my life sometimes, and I forget!
You can purchase a rather costly canvas shopping bag at the store though, which will last a lot longer than the plastic packets do.

Now now
This is more of a South African expression than a ‘word’. When we say, ‘I’ll do it for you now now’, we mean, ‘I’ll do it for you soon’. We’ll be doing it sooner than ‘just now’ (see the end of this post for that expression’s explanation), but won’t be doing it immediately.
As mentioned before, us South Africans are a strange bunch when it comes to time.

Donga – pronounced ‘don-guh’
When I was still in junior school, we paid a visit to a local game park, and stayed the night. That night, armed with torches, we left the campsite for a night walk, to enable us to hear ‘the sounds of the bush after dark’. Halfway down the dirt road, we were all told to please keep to the right, as there was a huge donga on the left. The strange thing about this word is that it is a Zulu word (one of the African languages of our country) and it means ‘wall’; but when using the word ‘donga’ you are actually referring to a huge ditch / gully type hole. So if I ever blog about a huge donga in the road, or in my yard, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Lekker –  a slang word which has Afrikaans origin, pronounced ‘lack-er’
This has nothing to do with being in lack of anything, so if someone tells you your shirt is lekker, please don’t be offended. The English translation of the word is ‘sweet’, but when we use it in a sentence, or as an exclamation, we’re pretty much saying it’s ‘very nice’. When I was in high school, I used this word a lot – it was cool; I was young; slang was in. Thinking about it now, I am actually surprised at how little I have used it in the past decade. This does not mean I am no longer young and cool. 😛 A lot of South Africans still use it though, so you need to be made aware that it’s not insult, should you ever visit 😉

Stoep – I’m not quite sure about explaining how to pronounce this one, so you can listen to it here. The Afrikaans language is a lot like Dutch, and so the two are often ‘together’ when it comes to sounds and translations – but if you scroll down and listen to it in Afrikaans, you’ll hear that the ‘oe’ sound is a bit shorter.
The direct translation refers to a ‘sidewalk’, but in South Africa we actually use it to describe a front or back ‘porch’. So if someone invites you to come and have coffee with them on the stoep, they don’t mean you’ll be sitting on the sidewalk sipping coffee. They’re referring to their porch – although if they’re trying to be posh (or just prefer being purely English) they may invite you for ‘coffee on the patio/verandah’.

I think I’ll finish today with this:

You’ll hear a lot of Afrikaans being spoken in a lot of parts of South Africa. And there’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot, because us South Africans can be quite polite when we want to be.
It’s the Afrikaans way of saying ‘thank you’ – ‘baie dankie‘. It’s pronounced ‘buy-a dunkie’, but when said quickly to ears that are not accustomed to the words, it can often times sound something like ‘buy a donkey’. My step mother is British, and she says that when she first came to this country, she was confused as to why everyone always told everyone else to buy a donkey, when a simple thank you would have sufficed. Eventually a friend explained it to her, and her confusion disappeared, and has laughed about it ever since.

So I am explaining it to you, so that if you come and visit, you do not feel the need to seek out a farmer to purchase an animal 😉

Can you speak American?

A year ago, almost to this day, my daughter was watching yet another American movie that had some dancing in it. She again announced her hearts deepest desire: to attend a school like Juilliard and become a dancer. She currently has lessons in three styles of dance, and is very good. But I could never afford a school like that, or the costs involved with getting us there for her to try either. So all I can tell her is to keep practicing, keep dancing, and be dedicated – and maybe one day she will have her dream. She’s ten, and there’s time.

She has added a few other dance schools to her list, and our discussion prompted the retrieval of that list, and a request to google some of them. I didn’t have anything that needed my immediate attention, and my daughter usually trumps all anyway, so I agreed. We spent the next hour googling, reading and watching. And then the question came that horrified me, “But mom, do you think I could speak American?”

In that instant, my heart stopped and I wondered if I was so useless at being an educator to my children that my own daughter didn’t know that English was the language spoken in America, a country I love. Now, in my house, when my children ask questions that I don’t fully understand, I always say three little words.
“Please explain yourself.”
This time though, seeing the horrified expression on my face was enough, and she quickly added, “I know they speak English, mom. Most of them anyway. What I mean is, some words are different. Do you think I would be okay there?”
And then it made sense to me.

I’ve already explained the difference in spelling here, and in that post we also discussed that when you’re in South Africa, a ‘barbeque’ becomes a ‘braai’. We’ve watched enough American movies, and I’ve learnt so much from my American friends – knowledge which I take every opportunity to impart on my children – that I could, in confidence, reassure her that we would be okay. In fact, I often find myself ‘speaking American’ in small ways – but most especially when I speak to an American 😉 So here are some small differences, which you may or may not already know:

Petrol / Gas : I touched on this here, but will repeat – when we refer to gas, we’re talking about the stomach kind. We put petrol in our cars. And we go to the garage, or petrol station, in order to do this – not the gas station or filling station.

Robot / Traffic Light : I have the pleasure of knowing an American who lives around here. She finds this particular one very amusing. She says that when she first arrived, she kept looking around for Rosie the Maid – the robot from the cartoon ‘The Jetsons’ – on our street corners. She actually missed seeing a landmark upon her arrival, because on the drive in someone told her, ‘If you look to the right at the robot, you will see….’, and she spent all her time looking for ‘the robot’. So when we say robot, we actually mean traffic light!

Sweets / Candy : Around here, we all know that candy refers to things like M&M’s and jelly beans and all those sweet things. We also know the saying, “Like taking candy from a baby”, and of course we’ve heard of ‘Halloween candy’. But we still call it ‘sweets’, not candy. When we go to the shop (store) I’ll ask my daughter if she wants some sweets – and she’ll pick out jelly babies or something like that. To ask if she wants candy will take her a while to figure out what it is I am actually offering her.
By the same token, the word dessert is not used very often around here – although a restaurant will offer you a ‘dessert menu’. We refer to it as pudding – and by definition pudding can be either savory or sweet. But where I live, we are always referring to the sweet variety, and whether it be cooked, baked, chilled, served hot or cold, with or without ice cream or cream – it’s pudding 😉
A chocolate/candy ‘bar’ is simply a ‘chocolate’.

Tomato Sauce / Ketchup : The first time I heard the word Ketchup, I was about fourteen. I don’t remember what the exact scenario was, or who exactly said it, but someone at school used it in an oral speech for marks in our classroom, and it threw me. He said, ‘It wasn’t ketchup on his shirt, it was blood.’ It sounded like he said, ‘catch up’, and because I was so unfamiliar with the word it made absolutely no sense why his shirt would be trying to catch up, and have blood on it. This particular guy lost marks for using that word which made him rather angry, because as it turns out his wealthy family had just returned from a holiday in America, and he was very proud of his new word. I was a bit embarrassed to be approaching this ‘cool kid’ and asking what it meant, but I had to. When he explained to me, as if I was the least intelligent being in school, stating that it was the American word for tomato sauce, I was not only fascinated, but relieved that his little speech now made more sense. It helped me greatly when I watched an American movie a few months later, and didn’t need to be concerned about the hamburger and it’s need to have to ‘catch up’.

Costume / Bathing Suit : One morning, I phoned (called) my ‘local’ American friend and asked if she wanted to go to the beach. She did, so I told her to grab her costume too. There was silence on the other end of the phone, and then a big sigh. She told me, ‘I don’t have any fancy dress clothes yet, I have just arrived.’ I laughed and made the adjustment, ‘I meant your bathing suit’, to which she laughed and we hung up – and never did get to swim anyway because the water was too cold that day. We’re certainly weird, because we also use ‘costume’ when we’re talking about dressing up for a fancy dress, or the outfit worn for a part in a production of a show/theater. I guess you have to think about the situation to know which costume we’re referring to.

Washing Powder / Laundry Detergent : I do not do laundry. I do, however, do copious loads of washing. I also spend time hanging washing on the line, and taking it off again, because tumble dryers are not very popular around here. We had one growing up, but I have never had one in my home as an adult. The one we had when I was a child in my mothers house was seldom used, due to its large consumption of electricity and our ridiculous rates thereof – which are worse now. It goes without saying then that I purchase washing powder, not detergent.

Chips / French Fries : Again, we’re weird. If I tell you I ate a packet of chips, I am usually referring to eating a bag of potato crisps. However, I may also tell you that I made chips to go with the meat we had at supper time, and I am referring to something entirely different. In this case, I would be meaning French Fries. If you go to a take-away place around here, and ask for chips with your burger, you’ll get french fries. But if you ask at the local store where they keep their chips, they’ll lead you to the display of countless bags of crisps. Unless you say frozen chips…then you may just wind up in the frozen section where you can buy french fries to purchase for home and cook yourself.

Scones / Biscuits : My new friend was telling me the other day that he needed to eat something, but wasn’t sure he wanted to wait the twenty minutes or so it would take to bake the frozen biscuits he had. Wait, what? Frozen biscuits? Of course, Google is my best friend in cases like this. A quick search revealed to me that he was talking about something we call ‘scones’. Although we don’t buy them with a frozen option, I don’t think. If you go out to tea around here, and you ask for a biscuit, you will get a cookie. Because that is what we call cookies here. It’s a biscuit. Even an Oreo cookie – it’s referred to as either simply Oreo’s, or you may be asked if you’d like an Oreo biscuit with your coffee. So a cookie is a biscuit, and a biscuit is a scone 😉 Tea or coffee with fresh and warm scones, served with jam (jelly, see further down, please) and cream, or cheese, is usually a delightful option when out and about.

Cooldrink / Soda : When we ask if you’d like some cooldrink, we’re not referring to a drink that looks ‘cool’ (although you will be offered ice) and may be sporting an umbrella in a colorful sugar rimmed glass. We just mean soda. Plain and simple. I have to also mention here that if we ask if you would like some lemonade? You’re getting soda, and it’s usually Sprite. I have never tasted ‘proper lemonade’ of the lemonade stand variety – pink or yellow. I really should try and make some one day, just to be able to taste. I think I shall add that to my list of things to do this week.

Serviette / Napkin : There’s a South African comedian who does a very funny example of this – but he can be rather offensive, and so I am not going to link him in here. But I’ll do a brief explanation of the difference in these words, to us. Over here, a napkin is shortened to the word ‘nappy’, and this is what we call a baby’s ‘diaper’. You change a baby’s nappy, but wipe your mouth with a serviette. So you can imagine how this can become strange for us if we buy takeaway food and get offered a napkin to go with it. How bad is your food?

How’s it (Howzit) / Hello : This is a funny one, because many South African’s use it. Although we say it fast and it sounds like ‘howzit’, and it’s usually meant purely as a greeting, as opposed to being a question actually asking ‘how is it’.
We also have a tendency to use ‘is it’ a lot – but not as a question. It usually take the place of ‘really’, or ‘uh huh’, and comes out sounding like ‘izit’.

Jam / Jelly : Around here, jelly is what Americans would probably call ‘jello’, so you can imagine how confused I was the first time I heard about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Google once again came to the rescue, and since I happen to really like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, I was happy with its definition.

Just now / Later : I often confuse my American friends when I use this term. I’ll say it without thinking and mention that I am going to fetch my daughter from school just now. This does not mean now, or immediately. It actually means soon, or later, or in a short while. But never immediately. Yes, us South Africans are a confusing bunch.

There are many more little differences that you may (or may not) find interesting, and I am sure I will come back to addressing some of them in a future blog post. For now though, I am going to give you a break from all the reading, and hope that you didn’t find it too boring. I need to think about going to the ‘shop’ ‘just now’. 😉

Meandering Along in the Journey of Mediocrity

I’m not very good. But I’m not very bad either. If you compare me to many others, I will come across as average, bordering on inferior. According to most, I’m mediocre. I guess that’s the problem with comparisons – particularly when we’re comparing people. If you compare me with someone like Mother Teresa, for example, then every act of kindness I have ever done will suddenly seem so insignificant – and yet, in that moment of time, it was greatly significant to its benefactor, and it made me more than just mediocre.

Did you know that when we trace back the history of words, we can sometimes gain a whole new perspective on the particular word we are tracing?

In a society where everyone seems to be competing and comparing, and realising my inadequacy when I tend to do this to myself, I had a look at the word mediocre.

I found the word history at yourdictionary.com rather interesting : it stated a conclusion something like this :

“Something that is mediocre is only midway up a mountain or rises up to only half a mountain’s height, as it were—the thing goes just halfway to the highest point of excellence.”

I’ve seen, and met, people who seem to be at the highest point of excellence – but true to the old adage, things are not always as they seem. If we were to take their lives apart, bit by bit, we’d find little moments when they were not excellent, and where they still struggle to strive for excellence.

Could I have done more with MY life? Of course. Could I have behaved differently, acted differently, made different decisions and choices? Heck, yes! Do I dream of perhaps still doing more / being more? Absolutely!

But let’s take a look at that ‘word history’ again.

Highest point of excellence? Would this not mean we have achieved perfection? To those who compare and feel they are superior : nobody in this less than perfect world is perfect; therefore, although you may be superior to me in certain instances when comparing our lives, you’re not perfect. In fact, you’re kind of mediocre.

This is not necessarily a bad thing – it all depends on what you do with it. If you stay in the attitude of mediocrity, satisfied to always be just average, then you need to try and change that mindset. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, or listen when you’re being compared – or you may never be anything BUT mediocre. Strive for excellence to the best of your ability – but never forget where you came from, lest you become one who compares.

Let’s look at that ‘word history’ once more.

Midway up a mountain / rising up to only half the mountain’s height? But did you SEE what was in that first half of the mountain? Do you have any idea what I had to go through to get to this halfway mark?

I climbed over boulders of bad situations and circumstances; I swam through rivers of anger and pain; I battled creatures in dark forests who carried weapons of despair, depression and hate. Looking back on that first half of the mountain, there have also been those moments where I feasted on berries of love and laughter; was comforted by the foliage of friends; and able to follow the pathways of hope and courage.

I may only be midway up the mountain – and who knows what else is in store? I may be mediocre for now, still stuck at that halfway mark. But my life is not yet over, and I hope for more days to fill. So I will pack up the tent I have pitched, and kill the embers of the fire of mediocrity in my life. Here’s to stretching my legs, and continuing the climb.

I may always be mediocre to some – but to those who don’t compare, my life will always be a ‘journey to excellence’.