For the better part of the past two years, I have been slowly removing colour from my closet. “Why on earth?” you might ask. I had never really taken the time to identify what colours actually really worked well on me, and what really didn’t suit me. Obviously, I didn’t remove every single item of colour, but those that I felt didn’t really work with my skin tone, my hair colour and my overall vibe. There has been no science behind this, so I can’t give you a formula.
So how did I do this? Literally, I went about it by taking photographs. I took daily photos of myself in my daily outfits. If I felt that the colour did not 100% suit me, for whatever reason, I removed it. It was as simple as that. I didn’t get rid of the item completely though, but tried wearing it again in a different way with other pieces, to see if the mix of tines could possibly work better. This striped tee, for example, looks better with a white bottom that with a pair of jeans. When worn with jeans, the clash of the blues, just didn’t work as well. I ended up really experimenting then with this particular, lighter blue. Sometimes, I used a bluebell colour, and at other times, a periwinkle blue, as in this photograph.
Although I have had this chambray shirt for approximately three years already, I found I wasn’t drawn to wearing it often. It is rather oversized, about two sizes larger than my normal shirt size, so I knew that was why I wasn’t drawn to wearing it as a shirt. I decided to try the look of using it as an extra layer. Where I currently live, the weather is really hot, but due to the fact that we have had a few rainy, therefore cooler days, I tried it over an all white outfit. I must say, I liked the result. I do also think that where we are moving to, will require some light layering at certain times of the year, so for now, I’ve decided to keep this item. It’s a soft, powder blue, and works great with my greying hair, so I’m pleased I have found a way to wear it that gives me more options.
This floral, linen tee, is also an older item in my closet. Honestly, I have wanted to remove it from my closet many times. I always tended to wear it with a pair of jeans or a white pair of trousers. This day, I decided to bring out the black outlines of the flowers on the tee, by adding this pair of thrifted, black culottes (which I absolutely love). This was a real win for me. The contrasting black, make the black in the tee stand out. I could have gone with black sandals too, but I like the white sneakers in this look. There is a balance here that I hadn’t expected. This tee is so cool and lovely to wear. The neckline is perfect on me, so I am pretty pleased with myself that I have found a way to wear it.
Although each of these shirts is old, the newest being in my closet for two years, I am grateful to have found that blue is a colour that really works for me. I do not count navy in this category. For me, navy is a neutral. It’s definitely a neutral I wear, but for this experiment, I’m happy to report that light blue is a colour I will keep in my closet. It works on many levels for me and I love how it brings out the colour of my eyes. I have recently invested in two new tops in this colour, and I know that they will bring me years of wear in the future.
The weather today, depicts my mood. We moved to this beautiful part of our country, Underberg/Himeville, Kwa-Zulu Natal, on the 13th of January this year. It was supposed to be the start of our new lives. We came here with so much hope. Although it has been almost a month since we arrived, we have experienced so much loss on a personal level since then.
My husband and I, both drove a car down on the day of the 13th January. He drove my daughter’s van – a story behind that, but for another time – and I drove his truck. In the back of the truck, I also transported our six pets, three dogs and three cats. There’s a story around them too, but in short, after our children started leaving home, they didn’t take their pets with them, so instead of the load getting lighter, we acquired four extra ‘responsibilities’ as I initially had a cat, and my husband, a dog. Anyway, they are our ‘family’ so they had to come with us. To say the journey was eventful and stressful, is an understatement. Both hubby and I pulled loaded trailers behind us. About an hour before the turn off, to the road that leads to our new home town, one of the trailer tyres blew on the trailer I was towing. I was very surprised at how calmly I navigated that dilemma. I managed to maintain control of both the car and the trailer and I called hubby, who was ahead of me at the time. He managed to take a turn-off and come back via a bit of a detour, to at least be with me, although he couldn’t assist. A very kind gentleman, stopped to help us. He changed the tyre in no time, and we were on our way again.
However, earlier on the journey, my mother-in-law called me to share the sad news that my brother-in-law had passed away after a long battle with Covid-19. She also shared that my sister-in-law, who up until the Monday prior, had been managing her illness at home, was now hospitalised and ventilated due to her extremely low saturation. My mother-in-law had been taking care of both of them, and therefore also needed to be tested. At this time, she told me she had tested that morning, but was still awaiting results. Although she is healthy and strong, she is older and we were concerned for both her and my father-in-law, who has multiple co-morbidities. This was such a shock and all the way in the car, stressing about the pets in the back, worrying about the rain which at times, came down so heavily, and thinking about where and how we were going to stay for the night, I couldn’t tap into the peace we originally felt at coming to this beautiful place.
Arriving at the house, it was beginning to rain. Our movers had also arrived, which was such a blessing. All the worries about where we would stay, disappeared and we went into full work-mode, checking items off the list and working with the movers to at least get all the boxes and furniture into the house. At some point, the rain became incessant and we literally had to stop with the move and patiently wait for some sort of respite. I couldn’t even make a cup of coffee to offer the movers. Everything was packed away. Our lovely estate agent, who had sold our home to us, and sorted out the temporary rental, brought over a meal for us so we could have something to eat. Apparently, all the restaurants and take-away places, closed at 8pm and once the movers had left, it was well after that time. Amidst our grief, we felt a flicker of hope as someone who essentially didn’t even know us, reached out with neighbourly love.
That first week in our new, but temporary abode, was a mix of excitement, joy, peace, contentment, pain, loss and grief. My emotions were all over the place. We had arrived late in the afternoon on Wednesday, and on the subsequent Friday, the 15th January, my husband was awakened with a call from our business partner’s brother, from Mozambique. He had called to let us know that my husband’s business partner, long-time friend and ‘brother’, Lourenco, had also succumbed to Covid-19. This call shook us to the core. We are now so much further from Mozambique, away from the business, filled with concerns for Lourenco’s family and the business, but too far away to be of any real help. It was that day too, that our president decided to announce closure of the borders to neighbouring countries. Even if we were able to go to Mozambique, it was now impossible to do so. It was now out of our hands. This proved to be a blessing in some small way, as we had no idea how this would impact our lives. All we could do was now really put our shoulders to the wheel and get stuff done here. Our plan was to start our project in earnest from the coming Monday, the 18th January.
Still reeling from the news of Lourenco’s death, on Saturday morning, we awoke to a message from my sister-in-law’s daughter, our niece, to say that the doctor was going to try to extubate her later that day. They had tried on Thursday, but she became anxious and her saturation plummeted, so they were going to give it another try. We were all becoming excited and hopeful that Lindi would recover. She would be the one in a thousand, that would be able to make it after being ventilated due to Covid-19. She was the one who had us all rooting for her. She was our miracle.
And then came the news of her passing. All the loss, all the deaths, all the pain came flooding over me. It was as if I’d been thumped in the chest by a massive force. I was finding it difficult to breathe. My mind was racing, grasping at glimmers of light amidst the darkness. How could this be? She was only in her forties. Her daughter is still so young. She had the closest relationship out of all the siblings with my in-laws. They lived next door to each other. How were we, as a family, going to move on from this? I still have pockets of grief in my days. I don’t think it ever fully goes away. Grief is like that. It creeps up on you unexpectedly. It doesn’t come gently, but in rushing waves. My heart is still aching, but I make a conscious choice, when this happens, to remember her laughter, the light she carried with her, her optimism, her joy. She really was always a beacon in our family. She was so accepting, so loving and so inclusive. She and her daughter, Chane, had the most beautiful relationship. At times, I find myself thinking how Chane will cope without her Mom, and then I remember who her Mom was. Lindi was strong, and she passed that strength on to her daughter. She was loving, she was kind, she was gentle, she was forgiving and she was caring. When you have a mother who has these pure qualities, you can’t help it. They will rub off on you. I know Chane will be okay. I know her heart is broken, but she is strong, she is kind and she is loving. I long to hold her in a tight hug, but that isn’t possible now. I long to embrace my mother-in-law, who’s heart is broken in pieces. I long for close contact with them. For now, I need to find contentment with the long-distance calls and messages. But we will embrace. We will be able to hug one day again.
My mother-in-law did indeed test positive for Covid-19. The family was on high alert, and we all sent so much love and prayers her way. She has come though it without passing it on to my father-in-law. They are both now in good health. I am filled with gratitude.
Fast-forward to today. My husband has built up a small team of men who are working with him on the house renovation. They are a dynamic, hard-working group of men. Today, I answered the gate for Sizwe, one of those men. He was in quite a state. One thing about living here, is that the local population don’t necessarily speak English, and if they do, they don’t speak it well, so there’s often broken communication. But today, his words were very clear where he told me his baby had died. I could see his pain written on his face. I could feel his trauma. There was no denying what he was trying to explain to me. He couldn’t explain exactly in a way I could understand, what had happened to her. I also managed to find out from him that his baby was 18 years old. And then it hit me! Death really is too real in our lives currently. We are facing it head-on. There is no escaping how awful this all is. I do not know what she died of. I have no idea of she was ill or if she was in an accident. I don’t know if it was Covid. But I do know he’s in pain. I do know he needed compassion and understanding. He came to the house to apologise for not being at work. Apologise! Because he does not have a phone, and could not make the call to inform us. The gravity of his situation overwhelmed me. How does he cope with this loss? He asked for an advance on his wages to be able to pay for the funeral. The amount was so little. How is he able to bury his daughter with that amount of money? I know my husband will never expect him to pay the money back. It’s not about that. It’s about how little he needs. I am shocked and I am also grateful that it will not cost him too much. But I was struck by the huge discrepancies between our lives.
So today, my heart feels heavy. Heavy with the amount of loss so many of us are dealing with at this time. The world is grieving. We are holding our breath together. We are waiting for change, but we know in South Africa, we are not likely to see change this year. Our herd immunity will not come from the vaccine. It will come from those who have contracted Covid-19 and have survived. We can only trust that it will be enough. The world is not a very safe place to be right now. What can we do? How can we be of assistance? How can we make a difference? It’s difficult to breathe. We need to take collective breaths. We need to breathe in health and grace and peace right now. We need to give compassion. We can all do with more of that.
This past week, was quite weird, weather-wise. It’s usually just plain HOT this time of the year, but we have had a few days of rain, which have played havoc with outfit preparation. Sometimes, the rain can bring a cool aspect and at other times, it’s just humid. Needless to say, I often started the day one way, but didn’t end up keeping those clothes on. I did want to try though, to wear stripes everyday. Not only is it a print I find extremely wearable, besides polka dots, and the odd floral/geometric print, it’s one of the only prints I own quite a bit of. What you see here, is by no means all I have, but I tried to create a variety of different looks for the week. In this post, I’ll break it down day by day, and let you know what I thought of each outfit.
Monday began with a visit to my plastic surgeon. She does my Botox and lip filler. This is only the second time I am having lip filler, so this was me just back from the doctor’s office. My lips were so swollen, I didn’t dare take the mask off for the photo. Real life ladies.
Back to my outfit… This Breton style tee is one of my absolute favourites. The morning started off cool, so worn here with old, high-waisted jeans from Woolworths, an equally old pair of Soviet sneakers, I felt comfortable and cool for the day. This top is great for layering too and if you like, you can actually cuff the sleeves to give it a more polished, casual look.
Tuesday was a relatively warm day. I had not yet bothered to put on self tan, so even though shorts or a dress would have been a better option, I added this lightweight pair of linen joggers from Witchery. My stripes for the day were in the form of this coral, thin striped cotton shirt from Woolworths. Both of these items are approximately two years old, so they definitely work for my wardrobe. My slides are a recent purchase from Woolworths. They are not real leather, but are a wide fit, so quite comfortable on my scars. There’s no pulling.
All in all, this outfit was undoubtedly my favourite for the week. I felt pleasantly cool for the entire day. A great tip for summer is lightweight linen. It’s breathable and light on the skin. Perfect for our hot summers.
Wednesday was a day on the road, traveling to my father who lives 120kms away, and then on to Witbank, another 60kms from there, only to come home again that same evening. I needed to be comfortable and I wasn’t too concerned about being dressed for cool weather as it was overcast. In my own city, this might have been too warm to wear, but the towns I visited, were both about 3-5 degrees cooler. My lightweight, cotton tee is a batwing style, so very cool in many ways. It’s about 5 years old from “Out of the Blue,” a South African brand from Knysna. It has held up pretty well for the amount of wear I’ve gotten from it over the years. It’s a cropped style, so even though it’s old, it feels quite current. A great tip for those with a sustainable wardrobe. Trends always come around again. The trousers are about 4 years old, also a cropped ankle style, from David Jones, purchased at Woolworths. I added my white Adidas sneakers, so my feet were very comfortable for the entire day.
This outfit ended up being the perfect outfit for what I did that day. Even though these trousers look, and are quite structured, they’re so worn in that they’re very wearable. There was a storm in the afternoon before I made the trip home, and because the sleeve length on this tee is long, I just pulled them down and was warm enough. I also like that the stripes run in two directions. That’s another trend for this summer. See what I said about keeping items long enough?
On Thursday, I was at home for the most of the day in my PJ’s. Yes, I do that too sometimes. But my son and I had an early dinner date, so I used the morning to apply some self tan, and chose this really old dress from Poetry, another classic South African brand, to wear. It’s a mix of cotton and elastane. To complete the look, I added another old item, my denim jacket, also from David Jones, Woolworths, a pair of wedge espadrilles purchased in Greece in 2018 and my neutral Steve Madden bag.
Navy and white are such a timeless classic. They work so well in my own personal closet. Although the dress looks like a white, it’s more an off-white or bone colour. Again, I felt put together enough for an early dinner, and although I didn’t keep the jacket on, I do feel it finished off this outfit nicely. How brown do my arms and legs look though. I’ll have to do a post about tanning products someday, but this is not about that, so all in all, a great outfit especially for an early evening out.
Friday marked the first day I wore anything thrifted for the week. I thrifted this striped 100% linen top from “Via Vintage,” a store in “The Grove Mall” in Pretoria. I was so grateful to see they had survived the pandemic, as many small businesses, did not. This top is an old Trenery top, so I knew it was a great find and excellent quality. I added a pair of new khaki joggers. I purchased these to help a friend out who was starting to sell for a specific brand, but was super disappointed with both their service and the quality of these joggers, that I don’t want to mention their name. I added my very trusty and super comfortable Birkenstocks. These are unfortunately made from foam which is Ethylene-vinyl acetate, so can cause your feet to become a bit sweaty in the heat.
Although these pants are comfortable, they are a tad too long for me, but because they cuff at the ankle, they do work. As I mentioned, the Birkenstocks are so comfortable, but in the hotter weather, my feet tend to sweat quite a bit due to the fabrication of this style. The winner of this outfit was the sleeveless tank. Of course the style is in itself, quite cool, but the fabric, being linen, is quite frankly, the best material for summer. I am in love with all my linen items in my closet. So far, they tend to be the most worn in summer – and the most wearable.
So this week, although a little challenge set for myself, I do think that all the stripes I chose, were not only great styles and mostly perfect for this time of year, they are all staying in my wardrobe as they really do work for my personal style and the climate I’m in. Even though the climate will be changing, our country on a whole, is rather warm all summer. None of these items are making an exit – at least for now.
This past week, of all weeks, with soaring summer temperatures, I decided to experiment with wearing something black on my person every day. I am honing what I love and what works best for me and my wardrobe. In this process, I am forcing myself to wear things that might not seem like the correct items for the day, but that really do work for my personal style. In this ‘forcing’, I want to see if I truly am comfortable in certain pieces, or if they only work for me in my head, or for the occasional styling video. I am also trying to be brutal about what I take with me to Underberg when we move in January, and what is best to leave behind, essentially donating or gifting the items I don’t really wear.
Monday started out pretty cool, temperature-wise, so I decided to add this black, Broderie Anglaise blouse to a pair of jeans. I added a pair of black loafers to complete the look.
My findings: I loved this outfit. I found everything about it comfortable. My day began with the billowy sleeves, buttoned at the wrist. By midday, it was considerably warmer than the early morning, and I rolled the sleeves up a tad. Due to the fact the material of the blouse is cotton, this entire look worked well for me. Jeans are my go-to uniform, so I found that although rather warm after lunch, this outfit is definitely one that will always work for my style.
On Tuesday, I was meeting a new friend for the first time. It was already about 28degC when I got dressed that morning, so I chose to wear linen joggers paired with Birkenstocks and a 100% cotton shirt.
My findings: Again, although the pants were black, I found myself extremely comfortable for the entire day. I do think that the fact they are made from 100% linen, helped as we sat outside in the sunshine at midday, and I didn’t break a sweat. The collarless, cotton shirt, although a stiffer fabric with structure, was cool and comfortable too. I did find that my feet were a bit sweaty in the Birkenstocks, but they are made from a man-made fabric. They are most definitely comfortable on my feet and don’t hurt my scars at all, but I think are still suited to a wee bit cooler weather due to the fabrication. All in all, not a bad outfit.
Wednesdays are the day my hubby and I usually try to get out for brunch. We don’t manage to do so every single week, but on this particular day, we did. I chose this dark, floral skirt, which used to be a wrap style dress. It never worked as a dress. I am short and relatively petite, so the large floral print, in my opinion, swamped my frame. Wearing the print as a skirt, makes this print far more wearable on me. I’d paired it with a 100% cotton tee from h&m. I also added a pair of strappy sandals from Woolworths. These are also made from polyurethane, so the fabric does not stretch.
My findings: Even though the seamstress shortened the hem for me when altering this dress onto a skirt, I find it still far too long. Going up the stairs in my home, I stepped on it several times, and eventually made the conscious effort to swoop up the fabric to the side, in order not to trip. The black item in this outfit, was the tee shirt. Although on it’s own, it’s not a warm item, that particular day, was sweltering. I cannot say if it was the colour or the fabric of the shirt, but I was just sweaty. The skirt is made from viscose, and is very flowy, so should not have been hot at all, but it was all in all, not a great outfit for that specific day. The shoes ended up being so uncomfortable too. We did spend a good deal of our time out, on our feet. Had I known that was going to happen, I would have selected another pair of shoes. To be fair, it was approximately 35degC that day. Anything other than a swimsuit next to a pool, or rather, inside the pool, would have been excessive. I am so grateful we are moving to a more moderate climate.
Matilda came to visit on Thursday. I wanted to be comfortable, but stylish in a casual sort of way. I chose this pair of cotton culottes that I thrifted at the beginning of the year. I really love these trousers. They are the perfect fit. I added another 100% cotton tee from h&m and a really old pair of leather slides. They are beginning to show some wear on the base at the toes. They are leather uppers, but the base is polyurethane and rubber.
My findings: If I look back on the week, this was my favourite outfit. The pants, although black and heavy and structured, were really cool. I was never uncomfortable at all. The only bug bear I have with these culottes is that everything sticks to this fabric and even though I lint rolled it before I got dressed, by the time Matilda arrived, I needed to do so again. They are not great for me as I have pets, but the comfort and style factor, outweigh that issue, so they are staying. The tee shirt was cool, but to be fair, we didn’t exert ourselves all day and sat either indoors, or in the shade, the entire day. The shoes are so comfortable. I actually purchased my Birkenstocks to replace this pair, as they are rather worn, but I am still not ready to let them go. All in all, the most comfortable outfit of my week.
On Friday, I was sorting through some items at home. I wasn’t really getting down and dirty, so I decided to try out a dress for this day. It’s a teeshirt style dress from Superbalist, that is 40% cotton and the rest is polyester. I added my thrifted pair of Vans to keep the look casual. I also tried a scarf as a belt, to add some interest and a pop of colour.
My findings: Although it was another sweltering day, my feet weren’t particularly overheating in these sneakers. The dress, although not 100% cotton and despite the fact that the majority of the fabrication is man-made, was relatively cool. I attribute that fact to the style of dress. The scarf around my waist, did however come off almost immediately after taking this pic. That thing did make me most uncomfortable and caused my upper body especially, to break out in perspiration. In theory, it looked great, but practically speaking, it was a no-go for that day. The dress also has a side slit on the right side, which I think helped greatly in keeping my body cooler. This was not a bad outfit, but I do think I will reserve it for cooler weather, and I do love it with an added layer of a denim/leather jacket.
I had a therapy session early Saturday morning otherwise I don’t think I would have bothered to dress up. I wore these gorgeous black, tailored trousers from Trenery which I had adjusted by my seamstress earlier this year so they fit me perfectly. I wore the same loafers I wore on Monday because I’d added gold jewellery and I loved how the gold chain on the shoes, tied the look together. My sheer, patterned blouse is about six years old now, but I do love the tones and it’s such a flattering style on me, that I know it will be around for many more years.
My findings: Although comfort was not the look I was going for, I have to say, this outfit was all that and more. Not only was I comfortable, but I felt polished and stylish. It’s the first time I’m wearing the trousers, and was surprised by the fit, but that’s what happens when you adjust items to fit you perfectly. A classic, black pair of trousers are a must for anyone who loves a more tailored style. They go with everything. The top, although sheer, was easy to wear. I just added a cotton vest underneath. Saturday was a cloudy and cool day, so I didn’t overheat. The shoes are a great style and so comfortable. They are an older pair I’ve had for almost two years now, They have stretched to fit my feet well, and don’t hurt me anywhere. I have to say, I loved the look of this outfit and will most certainly repeat this one.
To summarise, I will 100% wear more black in my summer wardrobe. Out of all of these pieces, the only item I have considered culling from my closet, is the altered skirt. However, I do know that I might get more wear from it once we’ve moved, so I will hold on to it just a little while longer. I think, paired with a chunky black knit, a pair of black boots, this skirt might work much better than a summer piece. The leather slides from my Thursday look are definitely not going to be staying after the summer is over. I do think they’ll work well as ‘work shoes’ whilst we renovate our new home, but due to the wear and tear on the base, I am going to let them go after that project is finished. I have found this exercise extremely useful in showing me that black, most assuredly, is a colour I love and will wear more often.
We are nearing the end of 2020 and what a year it has been. We are also on the cusp of a “New Age”, and new era, and none of us has ever navigated this path before. The ground beneath our feet doesn’t feel solid and steady. Our steps are taken with much trepidation, if we’re moving forward at all. Everything feels foreign. Smiles are hidden, voices are muffled, our hands have never been this clean and there’s an acute awareness not to touch our faces. Hugs are sparse. We don’t want to force anyone to compromise their distance rules, but we long for those embraces. In my deepest, most vulnerable parts, I don’t want to accept this at all as the new norm. My soul intensely rejects this all. I feel like a rebel, but a reluctant one, as I always care what the other person might feel. We need to have profound respect for the other at this time. I personally need to understand that not everyone feels the way I do.
It’s taken me some time to speak, or rather, write about this global change. I myself, have had much to internalise and to work out. And I don’t have it all figured out in my head yet, but my heart firmly comprehends that the ‘new way’ of doing things, will never bode well with me. I have come to this earth, to live life fully, to embrace all that she offers and to not withdraw my presence, my heart and my being from experiencing all I need to do. Before the beginning of time, my soul chose this path, so everything necessary to navigate these shifts and transformations, are present within me. I was born for a time like this, as cliched as that sounds.
The beginning of our year, began with a trip to Underberg with my husband. We did not know then what was awaiting us on this universal scale, but we knew we wanted change. We spent some time looking at properties, searching online for opportunities for business in that area and practicing attracting this life that we both wanted. Admittedly, my husband is not on the same spiritual path as me, but he supports my need for spiritualising my experiences. It’s how I view the world, and on an elemental level, he understands that. He has been a tremendous source of strength for me during this past year. He has stood by me, and brought stability and clarity to my experience. No, we don’t see eye to eye on US politics, but thankfully, we don’t live in the States, so fortunately, those differences don’t affect our everyday lives – although we can have heated arguments about what each of us deems most important for the Free World to remain free!
When I write of my husband’s ability to bring stability to my crazy, internal world, what I mean is he is very linear and logical in his thinking. The nuances of each experience, do not affect him on the level they affect me. I jokingly say, he is blissfully unaware, but he’s not offended by my comment, neither do I mean to offend. His elemental view of the world, certainly helps to bring balance to my perplexed and flummoxed experience. I will always ‘feel’ life on it’s various levels. He will always ‘see’ exactly what is in front of him. For years, this was a bone of contention for me. I used to minimise his perspective, sometimes even undermining him, because I was so deeply spiritual that I could intrinsically know more! How naive of me? I have come to value his steadfastness in his convictions, and have come to fundamentally trust his solid and unwavering viewpoints. Mine have been all over the place this year. I have been a conspiracy theorist expert, a doom prophet, an enlightened clairvoyant – you name it, I’ve been them all. And with each new role I’ve taken on, his views have remained unfaltering. To minimise his importance in my life this past year, would be foolish. He has been my rock, my supporter, my listening ear, my ally and more recently, my defender.
So as the end of the year looms, I am grateful to report that we will be moving to the exact place our heart is most happiest. In an economic time of inclement unpredictability, we have been able to sell our home, and buy our next one, CASH. We are entering a phase in our lives, much like this past year has been, that is unchartered, at least by us. We’ve always been surrounded by our children and our granddaughter, but we will be making our way into this next phase, just the two of us. To say we will miss our family, is the biggest understatement, but to acknowledge that this is exactly what our marriage needs, is wisdom. Our hearts are overcome with emotions. We have experienced a range of them from ecstatic joy to deep sorrow. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t allow this array of sensitivity to what our children are experiencing, and then to what is going on in our own hearts. One thing is certain though. Our hearts, our arms and our doors are always open to each one of our children, their partners and their children; she who already is, and those that will come in the future.
As we embark on our trip to Underberg, a sleepy farming community at the foothills of the Sani Pass that takes you to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, I can’t help but feel certain excitement. You won’t understand what I’m talking about unless I share a bit of our back story.
Just over 11 years now, Johann, my husband of 9 years and I, made the controversial decision to leave our previous marriages behind, and give our love a chance. It sounds sordid, but our love story began a very long time ago. At the tender of age of just 16 years old, we met for the first time. From the very beginning, we were inextricably drawn to each other. But, there was some major issues. We both came from extremely dysfunctional families. We were both the oldest children of four, and we’d both borne the brunt of our parents’ dysfunctional and abusive relationships. That’s not what I want to focus on today, but I’m giving you some of the history in order ofr you to try to understand that finally allowing ourselves to be together 11 years ago, was not a decision taken lightly.
In our teens, up until the day before Johann’s 21st birthday, we had a tumultuous relationship, but we always knew we loved each other. It was just that our versions of love, were far from healthy. At the age of 21, Johann made the decision to break off the relationship for good, and he entered a relationship that would last 20 years.
The betrayal was immense. I felt stuck and hurt and rejected. My life continued in a downward spiral, where I tried to fill the void with other relationships, always looking for that elusive ‘love’ I’d felt with Johann, but never finding it. I had two relationships that were semi-meaningful and from each of those relationships, I had a child, so at the age of 25, I found myself as a single mom with two daughters. There was much trauma and wounding within me, but I didn’t know it. I was surviving – literally – one day at a time.
There were periods in my life where Johann would reappear and my heart would be an ugly mess for a while after, trying to regain some sort of normality again. Every time I saw him, I would struggle to find balance again. Eventually I married, and my first husband knew all about Johann before we got engaged. He knew my heart belonged to another man (my words to describe why I couldn’t feel the same kind of love for him), and he chose to marry me anyway.
We spent years in conflict. Trust was a huge issue in our lives. After 5 years of marriage, we had a son together, but if the marriage was strained before, having another child, added yet another dimension of discomfiture. Looking back, instead of taking away things that added confusion to my life, I ended up adding layer upon layer of murky uncertainty, with every new and major decision I made. In hindsight, I was adding layers of muddled perplexities to my initial, shaky existence and sense of self.
When my son was 3 years old, I crashed. I hit an all-time low. I was suicidal and my children weren’t enough reason to stay alive. Fortunately for me, at that time, a close friend sensed there was something immensely wrong and she managed to get me medical help. After a series of blood tests, we discovered I was suffering from un-diagnosed and completely missed, post-partum depression. After 3 months on anti-depressants and hormone corrective therapy, I seemed to get to a place where there was light again. After further months on anti-depressants, I began to feel like I was finally, maybe for the first time of my life, beginning to sense I could take some control of my own life.
I knew I wasn’t happy in my marriage, but circumstances in the form of church and being in leadership roles there, prevented us from being completely honest about our situation. Actually, I was prepared for the honest road. I realised that my entire life up until then, had been lived in a fog, and I wanted to claw my way out to the light, one muddy leopard crawl at a time. My husband was having none of it. He was used to a wife who didn’t think for herself, who went along with his delusions. They were mine too for so many years – my whole life in fact. Finally, I felt like I was thinking for myself for the first time ever. I wanted change. I asked him if we could consider marriage counseling. He wouldn’t. For him, the stigma of an imperfect marriage was too much to bear. How could we, who in public, appeared to have it all together, be seen in our pastor’s office with problems. I suggested we fin someone who didn’t know us, a qualified therapist. He still didn’t think there was something wrong. For him, we could pray our way out of this mess.
This new awakened self, began to question many things. I started to question every area of my life. I had nursed for 21 years. I knew I no longer wanted to do that. My son was struggling in the education system. I knew I wanted to make a different choice with him. I seriously questioned the church. I am not saying that church is wrong, but it wasn’t serving me. I was broken and no one knew. To be fair, my husband didn’t ‘allow’ me to share but I felt like they had failed me. And I was deeply questioning my marriage.
For years, Johann had come in and out of my life, but it was always just a quick visit as he was passing through the town I lived in. A coffee here, a phone call there. Never anything that would or could threaten either of our marriages. My husband always knew if Johann and I had had a conversation. Because he knew our history, he was wary of these ‘connections’, and rightfully so. Although we never crossed any lines, (we were just two people who’d known each other, catching up), my heart always engaged. I didn’t know it at the time, but once we got back together, Johann shared he’d felt the same.
At the age of 40, I made some decisions that my husband didn’t like. I made decisions as an individual. I left the church. I left nursing 2 years before to open a small business, which I sold at 40 years old. I took my son out of school, after a long disagreement about what’s best for my son with my husband. Only after presenting many case studies and other people’s personal journeys, did he finally concede this might just be the best option for my son. I was changing before his eyes, and he didn’t know what to do with this new person, this thinking woman, this person who’s opinions differed from his, this person who was growing in a different direction to the path we were on. To him, I was unraveling. All of a sudden, we needed to go to couple’s therapy. But for me, it was too late. Something was happening to me. I couldn’t give it a name, but it was freeing. For the first time in my life, I was becoming an autonomous being…
To anyone who has ever been a co-dependent, and who has done the work to move from that place into a place of wholeness, you will understand what I’m saying. I didn’t know that my whole life had been lived in a fog, but I knew it now. I was very aware that I was emerging from a deep sleep and I felt like I was alive. The couple’s counselor could see that my husband and I were on very different wave lengths. He told us in no uncertain terms, that he felt our marriage was over. My husband fought against everything. It was during this time that Johann and I reconnected, after I’d broken off all communication with him just a little over a year before. Although we’d only seen each other a handful of times since I’d married my first husband, because of the way my heart felt after seeing him, I wanted a clean break. We’d by now, not seen each other for 11 years. Yes, there were the odd annual phone call from him at New Year. Yes, there was an email about every 2 years, but no physical contact. But now, it was me who reached out. It was just a message and this was the first time ever, that any contact had been initiated by me.
We planned to meet. Everything in me felt like it was coming alive in anticipation. I had no idea how he felt. All our emails, phone calls and messages over the past 11 years, were uninspiring and bland. We shared niceties, sharing only about our families and the daily goings on of life. We’d never shared anything personal. And so we met… I was sitting in a coffee shop and he walked through the door. He’d aged far more than I’d expected and he looked so much like his dad had so many years before. My heart leapt in my chest, but I managed to stand up and give him an obligatory hug. My skin was on fire. I never in a million years, expected to feel this way. I often speak to my friend’s about my “God voice”, a soft, inner knowing that I literally feel around my heart. That day, I heard, or rather felt the voice saying, “You will grow old with this man.”
And I guess that’s what we are now doing. There’s so much meat in between then and now, but I just want to share this. Because of the way we found each other again, because of the intense hurt we caused our families, because of our ‘affair’, we put ourselves last in this equation. We sacrificed us, to make sure our children were doing well, to make sure our exes were taken care of. Although no one felt like it, we never prioritised us. And our relationship suffered deeply, but we are acutely aware of that now. So a year ago, we made the decision to sell our home and move to a place where both our hearts are happy. We are in the process of doing all of this now. Our home has sold and we are looking for a property in the mountains.
Follow this blog for more about our new adventures and our new life – finally.
It’s Spring time! In South Africa, we don’t usually experience much of the transitional seasons, especially in my part of the world. However, this year has been somewhat different. This year, going into 2021, we are expecting El Nina, which is a high rainfall season. Because of the early rains in the summer, we are experiencing cooler weather, which is wonderful, as we can wear long-sleeved tops and long trousers, without over-heating.
Neutrals are anything but boring, despite what one would think. There is always something very chic and elegant about a full, head-to-toe, neutral look. In this particular look, I’m wearing all old items, which is my jam! I love buying pieces for my closet that will work for years to come. This top, bought last year, is a wrap style body suit. It’s 100% polyester, which is something I no longer buy, if I am purchasing new clothes. It was purchased at https://www.forevernew.co.za It’s a lovely, grey/beige toned snake skin print and works perfectly with these beige, cropped trousers. These are also 100% polyester, but they were thrifted, so my rule doesn’t apply with items that are already in the cycle. Polyester can definitely not be worn in our summers, so also work well in this rare, transitional season. My nude heels are a purchase from Zambia (Kitwe), when I visited my cousin in April 2019. They’re so comfortable, and even with the 7cm heel, don’t hurt my feet at all. These are from https://www.bata.co.za/brands/bata-insolia/
A soft, pink shade, always works for the Springtime. It speaks of blossoms and petals and new life. The softer tones, are perfect. paired with peachy heels. These shades just blend well together. I find that they also work for light and dark skin tones. This shell camisole, was a purchase from a small, independent little store in Underberg. I forget the name of the store but it is also 40% polyester and 60% viscose. I think it would also work in warmer weather because of the blend. I also purchased this top in August 2019. The cardigan is a purchase from when I visited my daughter in Oman (Muscat), in 2017. It has held up well considering it’s a fast fashion find from Matalan; https://www.omanavenuesmall.om/shops/matalan I love these trousers and when I found them in Woolworths; https://www.woolworths.co.za, I ended up buying them in 3 different colours. They’re about 2-3 years old, and made from 100% viscose. A great find for sure. I still have all 3 items in my current closet. The peachy-pink heels are from https://www.forevernew.co.za but also no longer available as I bought these in late 2018. To be fair, they’ve not been worn much as I find they don’t offer much support to the base of my foot under my toes, as I walk. They’re the kind of shoes, that although they look comfortable, only get worn by me, if I’m going out to dinner (or taking fashion photographs).
I do love a cosy knit. This gorgeous one here, is a sweatshirt-style, but a knitted piece from https://desray.co.za/ I have had it for at least 4 years now. I think I have about 4 grey knits so this is my key to a piece lasting a long time. If you find a colour you love, buy a few different styles. That way, you don’t end up having to wash one great knit too many times in a season. It’s a lightweight knit, so great for layering under a hoodie, jacket or blazer in colder months. These cotton trousers and about 2 years old from https://www.woolworths.co.za/dept/Women/ They won’t be available any more, but I do find that every season, Woolworths brings out great styles of pants in different colours and fits and great fabrics too. These moccasins are a very old purchase from https://www.poetrystores.co.za They’re suede and becasue of our dry winters, they have held up so well. They key with suede shoes, is to not wear them in the rain, They will last you forever.
I’m ending this post by sharing a favourite combination of mine. An all white look, is stylish and chic, but especially so, in the Spring/Summer months. This cotton, Broderie Anglaise top was also an old purchase from Greece. We visited Athens in March 2018. It’s also held up so well and I’ve worn it loads. This look would also work with a button down shirt, especially in the cooler weather. The trousers are a thrifted find. I’m not a fan of wide-legged trousers on myself. However, I have found that there is a way I can wear them without my legs looking even shorter. Tailoring! I had the hem of these taken up so they sit at just the right place on my foot. I need to wear them with heels, but that’s another tip for shorter women to look taller, or at least, more in proportion with a wider pants leg. These heels are from early 2019 purchased in Zara; https://www.zara.com/za/ Unfortunately, they won’t be available anymore, but you can find similar styles in almost any high street store. https://www.poetrystores.co.za also have a lovely, similar, white shoe that could work instead of this style.
I do hope you found these Spring outfits inspiring. They sure were fun to create. I would love to hear which one was your favourite.
Ever awoken to the feeling of, “All is well”? I’m talking about a deep and solid knowing that everything is going to work out, regardless of what the current circumstances look like?
Currently, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. I have swung the full gambit of the pendulum, from believing there is a global, governmental conspiracy, to just being at peace with staying home and being on my own with my immediate family. Within this tumultuous, emotional whirlpool, we are still living our everyday lives. Our lives don’t stop because we’re collectively going through something else.
During Covid, I have lost three family members to death. First, my cousin passed away from a cardiac arrest. She is only one month older than me. She lives in a different province, and at the time of her passing, no inter-provincial travel was allowed. Yes, we could get special permission for funerals, but I don’t live in a first world country, with easy access to the powers that be to grant these permissions. It was just too much at the time. Her immediate family, had their own private and quiet affair.
Two months later, her brother, not three years older than her, also passed away. His circumstances were somewhat different. sadly, he was an addict and after many family issues and drama, which is common in the life of an addict, he was ‘disowned’ by his siblings and took to the streets. During the early months of the pandemic, as many homeless people as possible, were housed in shelters. He passed away in such a shelter, under what conditions, I have no idea. He has not been a part of my life since for the past 25+ years, so although I felt a sense of sadness, it didn’t really touch me personally. My sadness was more linked to his life choices and to the fact that his death was solitary and lonely. My sadness was also linked to his surviving half-brother, who experienced deep anguish and pain and guilt, although we all know, given the opportunity to make different choices regarding his drug-addicted brother, he would possibly again choose the same way.
Just yesterday, my aunt who was married to my mother’s oldest brother, lost her second husband to cancer, renal failure and eventual total organ failure. This death reminded me of my mother’s. He was released from hospital, where he’d spent two weeks, of which 10 days, he was ventilated. He was Covid-free. He was released into his wife’s care on Sunday, and passed away peacefully, with her holding his hand and caressing him with love, just yesterday, two short days after arriving back home. One evening, in the beginning of his hospitalisation, she, my aunt, contacted me, distraught with concern that she would never see him again. We’d just received the news that he had developed pneumonia and due to his weakened state of health, was ventilated. She was advised to prepare for the worst. As we all know, no visitors were permitted to see him during his time in hospital. This was her greatest cause for concern. She didn’t want him to die surrounded by strangers who might not be able to take the time to just ‘be’ with him when he passed from this realm to the next. We spoke for an hour and I tried to allay her fears, by reminding her that all of this was out of her control. I counselled her to remain positive and to trust that there would be someone who would have the time to sit with him and hold his hand. I am ever grateful that he was able to be released from hospital and be able to die at home, surrounded by love and people who care.
So this morning, I am surprised that I have woken up feeling lighter in spirit. It is my daughter’s 29th birthday today. My husband woke up early and I’m a light sleeper so 4am it was then. We were able to sing to my daughter and shower her with gifts I know she loved. My heart feels free and at peace. Amidst the uncertainty of 2020, amidst unemployment, amidst not knowing if the buyers for our home will qualify for finance, amidst being concerned for my son, daughter and granddaughter about where they will live and how they will cope next year once we move away… Amidst all this uncertainty, I know that all will turn out well. I just know…
I was chatting via message with Matilda this morning, and sharing my confusion and fears about the state of the world at the moment. She responded by saying she’s minimising how much of the media coverage of our current state of affairs, she’s choosing to take in. I admire that. I wish it was me. I teach others to just ‘be’ and to take a moment at a time, but I truly find it difficult to do for myself. Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast by “The Mustards”, and they were chatting about how to create ‘hygge’ at home, so after chatting with Matilda, I first went for a walk. It was much needed.
So what did I learn about ‘hygge’. It’s a Danish word for all things cosy. The Mustard’s describe it as the prevailing essence of one’s home. It apparently gained notoriety in 2013 or so, as a concept of what most Danish homes ‘feel’ like. Directly translated, it means a hug. It’s associated with all those great aspects of comfort and joy. This got me thinking. I don’t have an ugly home. I love my space. My home is filled with things that bring me peace and comfort, for the most part. The things that does destroy my peace, is an untidy, messy home. So, whilst on my walk, I made a decision to change up how I’ve been maintaining my home since lockdown. Let me explain a bit better.
Prior to lockdown, I had a housekeeper that came in four times a week. Because I knew she would come in often, I really didn’t pay attention to what was needed to actually maintain a desired level of cleanliness and tidiness in my home. My housekeeper hasn’t been in since the 3rd March. This is now the seventh week I’m doing my own housework. My daughter who lives with us, helps me with the tasks, but we usually do it every Monday and Friday. I made a decision whilst out walking, that I am going to break the work up, and do a little bit every day and that way, stay on top of things and don’t let anything get out of control. This way, I can be more relaxed and actually enjoy my space. I also realised that I was allowing myself to become anxious and overwhelmed by the tasks.
So today, after getting back from my walk, I put a load of washing in, swept the floors, changed the bin bags upstairs and gave the floors downstairs, a quick mop. All of this, didn’t take me 45 minutes, yet I felt accomplished, peaceful and able to sit down in peace to have my brunch, without thinking about unfinished tasks.
It also occurred to me that there are areas in my home, that bring me a sense of coziness. My bathroom is such a place. I love going in there, lighting candles and having a bubble bath with lovely scents. I enjoy the quiet in there and especially love the sensation of water on my body, washing away the dirt of the day and swirling around my skin in a way that makes me feel most alive. A deep, warm bath, with zero noise besides the soft splashing of the water, is soothing to my senses.
I discovered that there’s a spot in my sitting room where the rays of sunlight in the morning, are muted and gentle, that is cosy to me. I enjoy sitting there, having my morning tea, pondering the day ahead. It’s not a particularly quiet spot, especially with my three year old granddaughter all over the house, but it’s aesthetically pleasing to me. The soft light, is again soothing.
Another favourite space is my bedroom, especially when my bed is made up. It’s something I always tend to do – when I get out of bed in the morning, I immediately make up my bed. This brings me joy. I’m not the type of person that can sleep in an unmade bed, and if I need to go upstairs during the day and enter my bedroom, the sight of it made up for the evening, brings me a sense of satisfaction. I love the smell of fresh linen, so changing the linen each week, is important to me.
Knowing what brings me joy, what creates an atmosphere of coziness in my home, helps me to shift my focus from the outside world, the world I can’t control and the things that conjure up fear in my heart. I simply lay down on my bed in the evening with a book, or put on the telly to watch a favourite series, switch the soft lamp on next to my bed, and bathe in the awareness of the peace that surrounds me there. As Matilda mentioned this morning, I cannot change what’s happening ‘out there’, so I’m making the conscious choice to deliberately center my life around those things that indeed bring me inner peace and joy. And, as we often discover when we take the time to go inward, it’s the little things – and that for me is the light. To be more precise, soft, flickering, creamy, barely-there, downy light.