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:


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.

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


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


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

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


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.


Willie & Hazel