I’ve just realised I have been quietly grieving the past 5 days. Self absorbed grief at the loss of a little of my carefreeness. And ironically it’s taken me 5 days to get through the 5 stages of loss and grief identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I am quick like that. Stage 1, Denial. Denial at hearing last Wednesday that I have cancer again. Fuck that. Stage 2, Anger. That was Thursday although B would say that was Thursday through Sunday and all directed at him. Sorry angel, someone had to bear the brunt and you are my person. Mostly anger at having to hear the fear in Kate’s voice and see the fear in Jem’s eyes when I told them. Their world tilted for a moment and I knew I couldn’t say anything to right it. And that pissed me off. Stage 3, Bargaining. Or trying to regain control. Which for me quickly led to Stage 4, Depression, which was Saturday. My private control freak hell. By Sunday, stage 5, Acceptance. It is what it is. There is nothing I did or didn’t do. I am powerful, resilient and loved. And yes still so very grateful. Even if maybe a little less carefree.
So what does this mean? We don’t know yet. I thought I was 8 years cancer free but at a routine ultrasound last week, there it was. Bloody feisty bugger. And we threw everything at it. I even moved countries. Needle biopsy confirmed malignancy and tomorrow I will have a tissue biopsy to get a tighter fix on the severity of what we’re dealing with and meet with the cancer surgeon on thursday. So, now you all know too. And I will keep you posted. This reflecting aloud seems to stem the rage.
My 365 or 366 gratefuls came to an end on 15 January. Clearly I am playing catch up, or avoidance. In my defence being away from any form of reliable connectivity is the real reason. I think. Actually it has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing as it’s given me time to consider what now, and a curse because now I’m behind. And I never miss a deadline. But I’m starting to understand there is no deadline. And imperfection is exquisite. And as a dear friend of mine wrote so very recently, beginning takes courage, but continuing takes commitment and determination. And courage too. At this point I’m doing neither, but loving that in life there truly is no deadline. So, what will be will be, what will emerge will emerge. Right now, I’m relishing sharing my last days of chronicled gratitude and the change I feel within me. As subtle as it may be.
Mummy bloggers. Fuck I hate that phrase. It’s so condescending, sexist and all kind of wrong. Not the words but the dismissive way in which the label is always used. But it’s only a label, and you all know me, I think labels suck. You are what you are who cares what they choose to call you or label you. Labels are words and you are not words you are how you behave. I have also started living more and more by my oft repeated mantra, the cease your relentless participation thing. I often do choose now not to participate. Because I can. I chose not to last night when they had a thing on Media Watch on ‘mummy bloggers’. Because I’m not one. Not really. Although I am a mummy. And I sort of blog. And because I knew it was going to irritate me on behalf of those who are and who I spend more time with now. Irritate me because of how generally dismissive mainstream media are of bloggers. Well ‘mummy bloggers’. Even when they’re pretending not to be. By bloggers I’m meaning those who it seems have a long term goal of sorts. Whether simply to measure their success by increasing their followers, their page views, or sharing their experience to benefit others. Or those with a commercial goal. Even if just to fund their ongoing blogging. So I chose not to watch for many reasons … one my pissed offness, two my feeling of maybe I should be taking this more seriously and mostly three, it would force me to think about what this is. But then I watched it via Woogsworlds blog, I do love the irony, and I thought about it. What this is. I’m not really a blogger. Really. This is just me for a year focussing on all the things I’m grateful for. And mostly the gift of life itself. It’s for me. It’s out there (a little) because that forces me to continue. I have to complete my year. I do not want to comment on other’s blogs just to increase my page views. I want to comment on other blogs because I like what they say and I want to share what I think. I want to remain authentic. It bothers me enough when I see if I put fuck in a title I get more page views, because suddenly it seems thats why I do it, but I do it because thats how I speak. I don’t want to read someone’s blog and suddenly feel let down by her inauthencity when she oh so subtly recommends I buy this or this because she swears by it but its clear she’s paid to say that. It’s disingenuous. No matter how many times she says she doesn’t take on brands she doesn’t relate to. I think I spent too many years in advertising, I am a tad jaded. Sadly, everyone has a price. The choice is ours to read or not. But I understand why its done. I just don’t want to. And there are ways to do it (ads on blogs are preferable to sponsored posts in my view) and those ‘mummy bloggers’ (damn I struggled to find the right descriptor for these fabulous women some journalists some not some career women some not with children who write and share online) who keep their authenticity will get all my page views. So blogging as a business is not for me but I love the big up yours these talented inspiring women are giving to the mainstream media. I love what they share. I love their truth. Just not when it gets smudged a bit.
I am humbled, and often surprised to be honest, by who is reading me. And very grateful that my musings, and often my rants strike a chord with some of you in some way. Mostly because whether it’s crap about cancer, relationships, teenagers, children, moving home, moving country, surviving in a new one etc etc, most of you it seems can relate in some way to my venting. Even if it’s not always particularly attractive. And sometimes a tad uncomfortable. And maybe sometimes a little too much. So for you, and for me I’ll continue. But mostly because I have to finish my 365 gratefuls. Which brings me to my next point. It seems some and I have to admit mostly men (sorry) and in fairness those new to me, can’t understand why some of my posts are numbered. And some not. Oy vey. Ok … so, the numbered posts started at one and are currently at one hundred and forty six and are stored under category grateful posts 365. This was the starting point of all of this. For 365 days (aka one year)I need to formalise via this blog one thing I am grateful for. To help me focus on what I have, not what I don’t have. To acknowledge in the down days how much I have to be grateful for, the unexpected, the mundane, the expected. Gratitude is everything. This led to some questions from you about what where and how I am today, so the musings, sharings and ventings started, categorised mostly under stuff, but some also under why, which is where you’ll find this one. The three categories are on the right hand side of the home page (why, stuff, grateful posts 365) but you can also highlight any of the blue tags to see blogs on a particular subject, be it love, friends, wine, breast cancer whatever, whatever. Hope this makes a little sense. I have to say I know this is weird for some of you, confronting for others, helpful to others. But those who get it, who get me and the need for this, I thank you. Because it really is helping me.
We went to a wonderful fresh food, trendy, vintage clothing market cum foody space in Braamfontein today. Wonderful to be there, to see it and to feel the air of acceptance, living togetherness and simply getting on with it air I have felt this visit. But what really made me pause was when a complete stranger asked us what we thought of the skirt she was trying on as her mom hated it, and when another stranger told Kate how gorgeous she looked in the top she was trying on and continued to chat to her about her life for a good five minutes. Kate afterwards said how lovely she was, but wasn’t that a bit odd. That lady chatting to her like that. To me it wasn’t. But to Kate it was, because she isn’t used to it anymore. The funny thing is it’s not odd here. South African women are open and we generally do share, a lot and to anyone. Suddenly it all made a bit more sense, my being ok with my sharing. Because it’s what I’m used to. And why some of my friends find it odd. Because it’s not what they’re used to. Then again, maybe I do overdo it a bit. Just a teeny little bit.
I’ve been accused of not focusing on the big picture. A few times now. And that’s the point actually. Of my musings. Of my grateful posts. That often because we are so concerned about the big picture we don’t see what’s right in front of us. The little picture. Right now. The beauty. And the reality. Yes, in the galah, in the trees, in my kids doing their homework, in me laughing at myself over my reaction to Ikg, in my relationship with B. It is all about the little picture. The big picture is made up of little things. Little picture things that we can deal with. In that way we cope with the big picture. Because often the big picture is just too much to deal with. I felt a little affronted at being judged in that way. Just for a moment. And that’s okay, because then I let it go. Because I know the issue was not mine. And I do feel empathy. And I know this is my story, my musings, my experience. When I was faced with the reality of my own mortality, I realise I did start to focus on the little picture. Equally when I knew we had to come to Australia. Because the big picture was just too confronting. It’s the little things that helped me cope. The little things that really mattered. The stroke of my bald head. Doing homework with my girls. The reassuring smile of a stranger. My doctor’s voice. My children’s smiles. A song. A walk in the park. A cup of coffee with B and yes the 1kg that I could do something about. So, I will continue every single day to find the little picture things that I am so grateful for. I will continue to look at and share the little picture, because I believe, little picture by little picture, that is the big picture.
Another friend, a very supportive friend, commented on how difficult it was for her to share. And how uncomfortable her family would be it if she spoke about them the way I do mine. I respect that. I respect her. She always makes me think.To be honest, Jem has an issue with my posts. Her issue is that I always post about Kate. Actually Kate has an issue too. Hers is that one of her friends saw my drama post and said gee, your mum swears. A lot. And you all do know of course despite my potty mouth, neither of my kids swear. Or probably because of it. So uncool mom. I think I have always been able to share. But I also know I used to censor myself. I used to only share the bits that would paint a pretty picture. And that’s where I’m not alone. But life isn’t very pretty all the time. But it is a journey. And for me it’s been a journey of finding my self respect. Of earning my self respect. Respect is everything to me. I respect you, and that’s why I am happy to share. To be honest. About everything. I know it bothers some of you and I know some of you just aren’t interested. And that’s all good. If only one of you gets some comfort, some courage in my daily (or not ) sharing about my issues, issues we are all confronted with, and some that I pray none of you will be, then I am happy. And I’m especially happy when that one is me.
I am finding this all quite interesting. People’s genuine curiousity, amazement, wierded outness, desire to share and even the complete silence. Actually the complete silence from some is particularly interesting. It takes some doing to put yourself out there. And I don’t mean by blogging. I mean by being honest. And the question on some people’s minds it seems, is why would you. Which has to make me consider. Why am I doing this? Honestly, I was, am, a spoilt brat. With so much to be grateful for, but not honestly seeing it. Why, why not, why me, why not me, why here, why him, why them, why now. A favourite quote of mine ‘be still. cease your relentless partcipation’ comes to mind. I know I do that. Especially before. Kept myself ever so busy doing ever so important things with ever so important people so I wouldn’t have to spend too much time with me. Now I am in this wonderful place with this wonderful opportunity to simply celebrate what is. And still I so often think about what I haven’t got, not what I have. What is with that. I am a spoilt brat. So, the grateful stuff is my being still for a moment. The other stuff is me experimenting and not being anonymous anymore. Honesty is good. Sharing is therapeutic. Not trying to be clever is essential.
I told a friend about my blog today. I saw her think about it a bit. Then she asked, isn’t it odd to have your life exposed for others to see. I responded with it’s me who’s doing the exposing. It’s my choice to share. I suppose it is a bit confronting for some, but for some reason I’ve always been comfortable exposing myself. And any comments about advertising agency parties as a reply to this post will be ignored. By exposing I mean being generous in my response to questions. Definitely over generous. I’m not really sure why. Maybe I’m just self absorbed. I’m hoping it’s because I have nothing to hide.
Honestly, that’s what Kate did when she read my first post. Not a derisive snort, but one that precedes giggles and outright laughter. My newly formalised fragile sense of self took one huge knock. It got worse. Cute. She says. You are so serious, it’s cute. Then she checked out my ‘about’ and then post ‘one’. Ohhhhh, you’re posting about what you’re grateful for. Boring was implied tonally. I thought I had made that clear in my ramblings. Obviously not. So now you know. Then she moved on, leaving her mother in tatters. Just for a moment. Stuff it. I decided to tell her how much I love her instead. I am grateful for my beautiful daughter. I am grateful for the fact that she loves me. I stalked her tumblr and found this. And she doesn’t realise it yet, but she’s cute and serious too. www.precious-bliss.tumblr.com