Monday, December 28, 2009

RECAP #5 ...

Growing up in South Africa there was no celebration like the Sweet 16 in the USA. Looking back however, I indeed had such a birthday. My BFF at the time and my boyfriend pulled off the perfect surprise party and it was fantastic. I had no clue about it and I have always remembered it and how wonderful it felt to be made to feel that special. I think birthday celebrations are important and I always make them a treat for my family.

This year we had plans with friends to go out for lunch for my birthday. I am not the world’s most punctual person by any stretch of the imagination so DDTF had started working on me a good few days ahead of my birthday telling me we had to be on time. This did not raise any suspicion at all as he gets extremely irritated when we are late.

I made a special effort as I didn’t want there to be any pressure and I didn’t want to keep anyone waiting. I got on my chair to go downstairs and the minute the chair stopped at the bottom of the first stair case, the front door burst open and in walked my brother in law carrying a large tray of food. One-by-one everyone I was expecting to meet at the restaurant filed in behind him and made their way up the stairs.

Within moments the dining room table was laid with a most lavish lunch and before I could wrap my head around what was happening, a complete surprise birthday party luncheon was taking place.

I was overwhelmed. So much thought and effort and planning had gone into this. I sat around the table with this wonderful group of people and their sheer joy and pleasure in having made this happen was clearly evident. I often tell Ross that not everything in life is instant coffee. Things sometimes need time to reach their full potential and not everything has to happen instantaneously.

That day however, it was like instant coffee and it tasted good. It was as if the instructions read:

TAKE A ROOM FULL OF YOUR PEEPS.
ADD A TABLE CLOTH AND MATCHING KNIVES/FORKS/PLATES IN YOUR FAVORITE COLOR.
MIX IN PLATTERS OF DELICIOUS FOOD.
GATHER AROUND THE TABLE AND SPRINKLE WITH A GENEROUS SERVING OF LAUGHTER AND KINDNESS IN WORDS AND GESTURES.
ENJOY DELICIOUS MEMORIES … FOR EVER!

I will remember the joy of my 49th birthday with much gratitude.










For details and more pics, click here.


Friday, December 25, 2009

RECAP #4 ...

While looking for an old document this evening, I came across this pic. Now that I've been taught me how to take you to an older post by saying, "click here" - I thought it would be a great opportunity to put a face to this story as at the time of writing it, I couldn't find this pic.
Thanks, Natacha! You now get an idea of how long it has been that I have wanted to be able to do this.
While this is not a recap moment from 2009, it is a favorite memory.
CLICK HERE - yay!





Wednesday, December 23, 2009

RECAP #3 ...

I spend a lot of time reading blogs. There is so much creativity out there it is mind boggling. So often I find myself reading something, listening to something, watching something and I wish I could be that creative.

I have a deep respect for artists of any discipline. I think it is both courageous and generous to put something you have created on display. I can’t imagine what it might feel like to hold an exhibition and not sell a piece of your work. I can’t imagine what it might feel like to be in a production and look out across empty seats or not get a standing ovation.

Not only do I find myself wishing I was as creative as what sometimes feels like every other blogger out there besides myself, I also often feel so intimidated that I am reluctant to even call myself a blogger.

One of my goals for 2009 was to be more creative in an arts and crafts kind of way. I wanted to make things and take the risk of putting something out there that someone might not like. I wanted to know I could do this and not be left feeling inadequate or like a failure. If the intention is to produce something, then I will have achieved that and if nobody else liked it as much as I might want them to, that’s all that will have happened. Nothing more, nothing less.

My first attempt was at scrapbooking. It is something I have always wanted to do as I believe in recording things and creating tangible memories to look back on. My friend Natacha came over with all her scrapbooking materials and at the end of the afternoon I had produced my first scrapbook page, and I loved it.


Natacha hosted a Valentine's Day dinner party which was attended by DDTF & me, Rick & Audrey and a couple I had not met before, Bill & Doug. It was appropriate to have met them on Valentine’s Day as I instantly fell in love with them. A couple of days ahead of the party, I decided I wanted to make gifts for everyone. I emailed everyone and asked them to assist me with a project I was working on. The fact that Bill and Doug responded so openly to a stranger speaks volumes about what fun they are. I asked them to:

PLEASE LIST, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, TEN HOPES / WISHES / GOALS / DREAMS THAT YOU CARRY IN YOUR HEART. The only requirement is that 5 should be primarily concerning yourself, and 5 should extend to your partner/family.

I went to the craft store and for $1 found cute boxes. Each couple was allocated a box. I bought card and a rubber stamp. I then made up a card for each wish and created a gift for everyone which I described as their own personal wish box. I explained it was intended to serve as a reminder for them of their dreams and aspirations and that from time-to-time, they should pull a card and feel inspired to make their dreams and wishes come true.





One of the wishes expressed was, “For my children and grandchildren to always appreciate life's priceless treasures.” The card I made from this read:



It was such fun making these boxes and it felt good giving something I had made myself. I understood the importance of coloring outside of the lines.


I gladly share the credit for this creation, it is without doubt my best yet:

One of my regular blog reads is Jen Gray. I love her photography and how she expresses herself. This video sums up everything I am saying absolutely perfectly.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

RECAP #2 ...

The first job I had in London was based in the home of the woman I worked for. She spent most of her work day out of the office so I spent my working day alone in her living room which was set up as our work space.

I remember sitting on the couch in May 1994 watching the inauguration of Nelson Mandela. I felt so homesick and recall with absolute clarity how I thought to myself I will remember this day always for its place in history and because I sat there all alone!

When Ross approached me and asked if he could stay home to watch the inauguration of President Obama earlier this year, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. This was another important event in history and I liked the idea of him being able to say one day in the future that he remembers clearly how he stayed home from school and watched the inauguration of President Obama with his mom.

My friend Audrey came to watch with us and this was the cherry on top. Audrey is a true proud American. She loves her country and I felt flattered that she would choose to watch this memorable event with us. As soon as Audrey arrived, Ross went into the kitchen and prepared us the most delicious meal of scrambled eggs. He has this down to a fine art. He makes the most delicious scrambled eggs ever and he was proud to impress Audrey with them. He has been known to describe her cooking as, “phenomenal” and there is nothing Audrey prepares that Ross wont at least try, if not consume in its entirety. So, needless to say, he was very chuffed with himself that Audrey was seriously impressed with his culinary skills.
On her way over, Audrey stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) to get coffee for us. Before we settled in to watch the ceremony, I got Ross to take a pic of us with the coffee cups. I told Audrey that when I posted this story to my blog, she would understand why I had wanted the coffee cups to feature in the pic. Between then and now, she has not missed an appropriate opportunity to remind me that she is STILL waiting for the ‘Obama Day’ post; so Auds, here it is, finally!

Now that my friend Natacha is blogging, I will soon learn how to reference previous posts by saying, “click here” because Natacha is going to teach me how to do that. Until then I will have to reference them by title and date. In FRIENDSHIP 6/17/08 and SMOOTH 6/30/08 I spoke about the joy of DD visits I shared with my friend (A)Denise. When Audrey called me on her way to my house to ask if I wanted her to pick up coffees, my thoughts immediately went to (A)Denise. I knew how much she would have enjoyed being here with us and I also knew how excited she would have been about the outcome of the election. I missed her that morning with extra energy and I really wished she could have been with us. As Audrey and I posed with the coffee, I thought to myself that this one was again for her.

So there, Auds – you might not have known it at the time, but the day was special and meaningful to me for many different reasons.


P.S. Ross, I'm sorry I didn't think of taking a pic of us together. :( My bad!



Monday, December 21, 2009

RECAP ...

I sometimes wonder if there’s anyone besides me who gets down at this time of the year. I don’t know if it’s the realization that time gone is just that, never to be regained but I honestly find myself feeling quite miserable at times as the end of the year approaches.

In just over three months I am going to be turning fifty years old. This number does not freak me out, but it does have me shaking my head and thinking that I have no clue about how quickly this happened. It is a birthday that has got me thinking. Most importantly, I want to be sure that I use my time wisely. This in itself is a topic I could write volumes about, but I will elaborate on that over the next few blog posts.

One of the things that leave me feeling less than happy is the small number of blog posts I have done this year. My blog was started as way of keeping in touch with the many friends and family I have around the world. Over the years I have acquired new friends through my blog, not in any great numbers, but in great value. This makes it worth keeping my blog going. The other good reason to keep my blog going is because it gives me pleasure. I feel a great sense of achievement every time I post something. I love getting positive feedback and every comment I receive I value a lot. I have touched on this before but again I say that I purposely do not respond to comments on my blog. I never wanted to turn the comments section into a discussion platform. My blog is my space and the comments section is yours. I have had people shift from the comments section to email and those I am happy to exchange. So again, to every person who comes back more than once thank you for still being here and thank you for the messages you leave me.

Those people who have been through this last year and even 2008 with me via my blog would agree that it has been quite miserable at times. Yes, it’s a reflection of the ups and downs of my life and it clearly shows that there has been an underlying thread of loss and sadness present over the past two years. I have lost family members and friends whom I love like family. Earlier today I was looking for a pic to share with someone by email, and as I scrolled through pics from both 2008 and 2009, I realized that there have been some amazingly upbeat and wonderful times. I also realized that I love sharing these things with everyone via my blog.

As I was having a conversation with myself in my head, I reminded myself that I never make new year’s resolutions as I believe that’s setting myself up for disappointment. I do however believe in goals, and with that in mind, I set myself this goal. I am going to post a RECAP story every day starting with this one, leading up to January 1st, 2010. Thereafter, I set a goal to post something every single day, Monday to Friday, through the whole of 2010. I will admit that after watching Julie & Julia recently, I wished I had thought of that first, written the blog, then the book and then the movie, but I didn’t! It did however inspire me to see if I could set my own blogging goal and achieve it.

So, with that in mind, I will be back tomorrow with RECAP #2.





Wednesday, December 16, 2009

SNIFF ...

From: Natacha
To: Dawn
Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2009 8:32 PM
Subject: Pingy



I know you when you look at this photo you will shed a tear or two, but I couldn't resist giving this to you as a memory of the way you should remember Pingy....and because you are special to me...xxx



Tuesday, December 01, 2009

PACT - PART 2

With reference to my post of August 17th ...

As it turned out, circumstances beyond my control prevented me from going into NYC with Lauren.

What I didn’t mention in the first PACT post was that even with the distance between us, Lauren and I were of great comfort to each other when we each went through the painful experience of losing our older siblings.

Lauren’s pain is still very much just under the surface of her life. While I miss my late brother every single day, and not a day goes by without thinking of him, the sadness has found a place for itself within the flow of my day-to-day life. I know Lauren will get there too. I think we all get there with our losses because we are meant to continue with our lives. I also believe that living out being the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be is how we honor the memory of those we love and miss.

I had planned to do something with Lauren at Strawberry Fields and as her departure day started drawing nearer, I decided it would be a good idea to still do what I had wanted to do but instead of at Strawberry Fields, it would be at home. As sad as saying goodbye can be, having spent such a wonderful time together I wanted it to rather be uplifting, meaningful and memorable.

I had arranged with Ross that as soon as Craig and the kids were in the car, he was to bring out the balloons that were in my office. We had bought these with Lauren two days before and I had told her she would just have to wait and see what they were for.

Just as Lauren and I were about to say goodbye, I explained to her that I had wanted to do this at Strawberry Fields. I handed her a balloon, and together with gratitude for their love, and with our hearts filled with the love of their memory, we released the balloons – one for Willie, one for Hazel.
We watched them float away and they truly looked like they were dancing together in the sky.
It was a perfect day. It was a perfect way to say goodbye, in more ways than one.





THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO THE LIVING MEMORIES OF:

Willie & Hazel

Friday, September 04, 2009

ANNIVERSARY ...

On September 5th, 1993 we were married in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It has indeed been a sweet sixteen!




Monday, August 17, 2009

PACT ...

While we were still living in London, my friend Paula asked me if she could give a friend of hers my email address. She spoke about a family of three who had also arrived in the UK from South Africa. Paula wanted DDTF to look at the husband’s resume to see if he could introduce him to people who could assist with finding work.

I received the resume and responded to the wife explaining to her that I was about to leave for a week’s vacation in South Africa and immediately on my return I was going in for knee surgery. I told her that once I was back on my feet, I would get in contact as we should meet. She replied to me saying that she was in fact also going “home” to South Africa as she too was undergoing knee surgery. Hers was more complicated than mine and as they were so new to the UK, it would be easier for her to recuperate in South Africa where her family could assist with taking care of her baby son. We went on to exchange one or two more emails but never got around to meeting.

Some months later I was invited to a mutual friend of mine and Paula’s for tea one Saturday afternoon. I have mentioned before that Paula was like my publicist in London. All the friends I made there I met through her. While standing in the kitchen chatting to some of the other women there, I got speaking to Lauren. After a short while, I realized that this was the person I had exchanged emails with those many months ago. Once we established who each of us were, discussed our knee surgery experiences and sat down to tea, the connection was instant. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to speak to each other soon.

The Monday following the tea party I called her and in the good humor that we share, I told her that I know it sounded insane, but I was so excited about having met her, that I felt like I wanted to date her! She agreed. We laughed and spoke, and the rest as they say, is history.

It was just about a year later that we left the UK for the States. By the time we departed, Lauren and I had gone on to secure a wonderful friendship even though it had only been for a year. We went back to London after a year in the States for a short visit, and that was the last time we saw each other. In spite of the time and distance, our friendship has continued to grow. Our contact has gone in phases. Sometimes weeks can go by and we don’t speak to each other or exchange an email. It doesn’t matter. Whenever we do speak or email, we carry on where we left off as if no time has passed.

When we left London, Lauren and I made a pact. I do not recall how this came to be or why other than out of our mutual love for the Beatles, particularly John Lennon. The pact we made was that I would not visit Strawberry Fields without her.

The news of her visit came as a complete surprise about three months ago. Unbeknown to me, she had been texting with DDTF to try and plan the arrival as a complete surprise to me. They decided it would be easier if I knew about it. This did not detract from the surprise. I was overjoyed to learn that Lauren her husband, Craig and the now three kids, would all be visiting in August.

I mentioned this to another friend of mine here when visiting for dinner one night. When we got to my friend Merle’s house, I noticed a photograph her daughter had taken of a friend of hers. She had taken this picture of her friend on the beach and was now giving it to her as a gift. It was a great shot of her friend jumping in the air and she timed it so that she captured the moment with both her friend’s feet off the ground. It was in a particularly pretty frame which I admired, too.

A couple of weeks later Merle came over to my house for dinner. She handed me some photos and a frame. Some of the photos were from her son’s recent Bar Mitzvah celebration. She explained to me that I should read the message on the back of the one photo as her daughter had specifically sent this for me, with a frame like the one I had admired along with the pic of her friend.

I read the message on the back of the photo before actually looking at the shot.
“Hope you like this photo I took in NYC –
heard you’re a fan of peace as well. :) xoxo Lara B.”
I turned the pic over and when I realized what it was, I got cold shivers and tears in my eyes. Merle told me she had reacted in a similar way because she had not ever told her daughter about the pact I had with Lauren. I had shared this with Merle because I said to her that it had always been difficult for me to turn down many invitations and opportunities to go to Central Park for the nearly eight years we have been living here.

I have not ever been to Central Park because I knew that if I did go, I would not be able to restrain myself from going to Strawberry Fields. The most difficult time was when the Gates exhibition was in the park as I had really wanted to see it.

Getting the photo from Lara B. without her knowledge of this story in my life, so soon after learning that Lauren was coming to visit was remarkable. It was a prelude to what I expect is going to be a wonderful reunion that is scheduled to stat in about four hours from now.

On August 31st, our family celebrates its 8th year of living in the USA. I expect we might crack a bottle of Champagne and eat some strawberries in Central Park a few days ahead of the 31st as Lauren leaves before that.

There is something very rewarding about giving someone your word and then keeping it. It takes a moment and turns it into something you will remember for ever. I can’t think of a better way of honoring my friend than of having kept our pact.


Thanks, Lara B!



Monday, May 25, 2009

MEMORIAL ...

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S.A.
As I watch my mother weave her way through the days that pass bringing her closer to her transition from this world, I often fear what it will be like to weave my way through the world once that all empowering silver cord, my connection to the universe, has been cut.

When my grandmother passed away, my mom observed some Jewish mourning observances. One was to not go to movies for a year. She did however continue to listen to the radio. I know that she would not want anyone to stop the music as an observance of her passing.

After having spent the day with my mom today, I was sent this video clip in an email and it made me think that as scary as things get at times, it’s all cool. Life is colorful, and bright and to be celebrated, and somehow I know it is all going to be ok.

visit www.playingforchange.com
Those viewing from South Africa, be sure to watch through to the very end.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

FIXED ...

One of the hardest roles in my life has been that of step mother. My relationship with my step son, David tried and tested every single layer of who I am and the things I believe in. It is no secret to those who know us personally, and those who have come to have an awareness of our family through my blog, that there were many very unhappy years that at times had me in a very dark place.

As my 49th birthday approaches later this month, I decided to share this story now as I have wanted to since my last birthday on March 28th, 2008.

David had moved out of the house about a year prior. DDTF, Ross and I were going away on our vacation in May and I was relieved that when we returned, I would have a shot at enjoying a more peaceful situation within the confines of my home.

Within a few months of David moving out, there was a noticeable shift in our relationship. When he visited the house, which he did frequently, he would actually greet me and spend substantial time talking with me. We would engage in meaningful conversations and I realized I often felt uplifted after he had stopped by.

As much as things were looking good, I still felt the need to proceed with caution. My thoughts and feelings as time went on and the relationship grew bordered on feeling like it was too good to be true. I had to consciously prevent myself from putting out those kinds of thoughts because I wanted this to be good. I needed to support the change, and be the change as we moved in the direction of everything I had always wished for.
On my birthday last year, David stopped by and handed me an envelope. He was rushing out but explained he had wanted to come by to wish me happy birthday so it wasn’t inappropriate for me to have set the envelope aside because he was soon out the door. Much later that evening I went to get the envelope. I was surprised by this gesture before even reading the card. There had been many birthdays of mine that he had totally ignored. This had never offended me because I respected him for his honesty. Based on the quality of our relationship over those years, what was he to do? Go out and get a card that would say how much he disliked me and how unpleasant it was to be growing up with me and that either way he really didn’t give a shit that it was my birthday. As young as he was, he stood his ground and I never held that against him. I felt it showed strength of character to stand in his truth so boldly.

With a sense of nervous anticipation I opened the card. I read it very slowly to be sure I took in every word. The beautiful message in the card was one that any mother would have been thrilled to receive. It brought tears to my eyes and I felt deeply and intensely touched by this display of emotion from David.

Knowing that he was out I sent him a text message thanking him and telling him how long I had waited for something like this, and that it had been well worth the wait. Two days later he came over for dinner.

While at the table I opened up to him and told him about a conversation that had taken place between me and his sister Alexandra, during a family therapy session a few months earlier. In that session I told her that I had reached a point where I no longer needed her or her brother’s agreement to validate my feelings about the kind of step parent I had been. I told her that while there are probably many things I could have done differently, I know that I had always done my best by them. I had always done the best I knew how to do.
I explained that my wishes for Ross were exactly the same as my wishes for her and for David. I had never and would never want more out of life for Ross than for them. I told Alex that I hoped that one day she and David would reach a point where they would feel in their hearts that they could have done a lot worse in the step mother they got. I made it very clear that this wish of mine was not for my own satisfaction, because I do know they could have done a lot worse. I felt that if they reached a point where they could acknowledge this – I would be happy for THEM because this would reflect a shift in their lives. It would reflect that they had worked through stuff that would allow them to discard the baggage they carry about me – and that would make me very happy for them. I wanted them to get to that place in their lives for their own peace and contentment and not as an ego stroke for me.

By the time I got to this point in the conversation with David, I was crying because it was such a relief to be able to speak openly and show my vulnerabilities to him. For many years it felt like I had to have strength to protect myself and to stay committed in a relationship that I had so often just wanted to walk away from.

I went on to ask him if he had personally chosen that card or if his girlfriend had perhaps picked it up for him. My only reason for asking this was because if I knew he had chosen it, I would have been totally assured that he had reached that place within himself that I had wished for him to find.

He was not offended by the question and said that he had chosen the card and when he saw it he felt it was a very accurate expression of how he felt.

I thanked him again and told him how much I appreciated it and how much it meant to me.
An interesting thought comes to mind as I write this. There were many times when I would vent to my own mother on the phone about how I was struggling. I also used to vent by means of chat to my cousin on line in South Africa. They were always great listeners because they never offered advice, they just listened. The only thing my Mom would always say was, “Be patient. I promise you, one day you and Daniel will have a lot of pleasure from this boy.” My cousin simply said, “One day, one day he will hear your voice.”

I feel heard. I feel a sense of pride for what he has achieved.
It feels good. I feel like David and I are the poster people for step parent/child relationships.
They can be healed.



more pics here

Monday, February 09, 2009

BRITS ...

There’s just something about them that I find irresistible. I clearly have a passion for English boys.

Both these clips lift my spirit and make me feel H-A-P-P-Y!


VIVA LA MICK!

click here


VIVA LA COLDPLAY!

click here


VIVA LA BOTH BORN IN LONDON!




Thursday, January 29, 2009

DDTF ...

On Saturday DDTF will celebrate his 47th birthday. As we do every year, we will celebrate with friends and family at our Super Bowl party.

Last year DDTF and I agreed that we would exchange low-key birthday gifts and save the big one for each of our 50th birthdays. Mine comes up next year. I can’t imagine what DDTF will come up with because at Chanukah he set the bar so high, he really outdid himself. I wasn’t expecting a gift as we usually only give our children gifts at this time of the year. Needless to say, when I walked into my office and found this beauty perched on my chair, I was speechless.


When I could finally articulate, I have to admit it was less than ladylike, but that’s just how it happened. “_ _ _ K ME!” is what I exclaimed and then I burst into tears. I was so deeply touched that he had gone to the trouble of finding this. There was so much kindness in the way he told me how much I deserved it based on the difficult months I had come through at that time. The fact that he had wanted to do something extra special for me and carried it through made me feel extremely special.

Although the lyrics speak of not being able to get any satisfaction, the irony is that every time I look up at this picture, I experience the exact opposite. I am reminded of just how satisfaction I get from being in this relationship and what a great time I have being married to DDTF.

Click here to see what was at our back door during the course of today - the prettier side of a snow storm.
reminder: to silence the celine soundtrack, scroll down to the slide show and click on the sound icon in the top, left corner to mute it.

 
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