Thursday, 14 March 2013

Thankful Thursday #20

Today I'm thankful for The Train Show people. I've recently started travelling more frequently by train. My journey is never less than an hour and sometimes late at night that hour can seem like the longest 60 minutes of my life. Unless I am lucky enough to share a carriage with some folk from The Train Show. These people seem like ordinary enough folk when they first alight the train but then the show starts.  I used to think these were people with real drama in their lives but I've now encountered too many of them, on my journey from Cleveland to the CBD and back, that it has led me to draw on the conclusion that they must be part of a show very kindly put on by Queensland Rail to entertain the bored commuter. Forget your TV Soap Opera my friends, take a trip on the train and watch The Train Show.

Let me introduce to some of my favourite Train Show people:

Monday, mid-morning, a middle aged man, I'll call him Hank, is sitting, seemingly patiently waiting for the train to depart Cleveland Station. He nods and smiles as I walk by. I take a seat a few rows behind him. He is neatly dressed and looks bound for work in an office somewhere. Next to him is one of those shopping trolleys you often see old ladies pulling along, laden with their groceries. A bag on wheels. A bit of an odd prop for a business man. As the whistle blows, and we hear the announcement "Doors Closing. Please stand clear", Hank stands up while loudly clearing his throat. The train starts to chug on its journey to Ormiston. Hank begins to unbutton his shirt. Oohhh Train Show time! He soon stands shirtless before us and it wasn't pretty. He clears his throat again as he bends down, unzips his trolley bag and brings out a new shirt on a hanger. He shakes it out. Then with much ceremony (I half expected him to start singing some opera) he puts on his new shirt. He puts the old one on the hanger, pops it in the bag, zips it up, clears his throat and sits down. Picks up the paper next to him and that's it! Show is over. Thank-you Hank! I silently applaud your talent.

Monday, afternoon, 20 something girl I'll call Rachel with more issues than a Jerry Springer guest is my Train Show person of the day. In the space of forty minutes she yelled at 2 ex-boyfriends, 1 case worker and 2 assistants to the case worker. Cried to her mother, best friend and the previously yelled at case worker. Poor Rachel has one hell of a messy life. I will spare you the details.

Wednesday, late afternoon, I was entertained by soul sister B. She wore some of those funky headphones and was singing for the carriage. We got everything from Beyonce to Adele but I'm sad to say she did not do them justice. No Grammy nomination from me.

Wednesday Evening. Late. Two men, Mick and Bob, in their 50s -who have partaken in a lot of grog and giggle weed- entertain the carriage with a very loud conversation while constantly telling each other to keep it on the down low and not to f*$king swear in front of the ladies on the train.
Sometimes it is best not to make eye contact.

That is my snapshot of just some of The Train Show people. I thank them for making a dull journey less so -  all the world is indeed a stage! Thanks for playing in my world.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Thankful Thursday #19

On this Thankful Thursday I'm feeling most especially grateful to all the Carers in this world. I refer to the broad sense of the word - not just to the professionals who wear this job title.
In the last week I've had 2 family members in hospital. One is very old and the other very young. They live in different countries to me and to one another. Both were taken care of very nicely. By Doctors, Nurses, their Mom and Dad, and daughters. I am grateful to these people.

I wouldn't want to imagine a world without people of a caring nature. I must say to choose that kind of a profession, one where you look after people who can't look after themselves any more, well, it takes a mighty special kind of person to selflessly care for another human being. In this world we live in we seem to be confronted everyday by news stories, or even our own witnessing, of people who do the unthinkable (well to me anyway) to other  people.

I love it when I hear the good stories of people taking care of each other. People looking out for each other.
So thank-you caring people! Thank-you for the love you give, the time you take, the smiles you bring, the comfort you bestow. May you always be richly blessed!

Take care of one another! And remember- to use the words of Bill and Ted - to 'be excellent to one another!'

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Thankful Thursday #18

Today I am thankful for Peanut Butter. The natural kind, of course. I feel genuinely sorry for all the people in the world, and there seem to be so many of them nowadays, who are allergic to nuts.

Peanut butter reminds me of my childhood. Peanut butter and apricot jam sandwiches - you couldn't go wrong. In our family by the end of the month all the more luxurious treats had been heartily scoffed but there was always a big jar of Black Cat Peanut butter in the cupboard.

These days I don't have the bread or the jam (very often anyway) but I will eat it with an apple, with celery or carrots. When I'm in need of that quick hit of energy before gym or just to avoid bad snacking when, you know, you just feel like 'something' - a teaspoon, maybe two, does the trick and feels like a treat.  Best of all - it is one of the good fats and a good source of protein. In moderation, of course.

The Americans got it right - Peanut Butter and Chocolate! Genius!  The Ice-cream masters - Ben and Jerry- have various Peanut Butter flavours in American but here we only get Clusterfluff. It'll do nicely! Thank-you boys!

So yes, today I am thankful for Peanut Butter.  I couldn't imagine a world without it.

Do you have a favourite treat food you couldn't do without?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Thankful Thursday #17

Happy Valentine's Day! I think you may guess what I am going to be thankful for today. Why, Valentine's Day of course! I hear many of you groan, grumble and mutter under your breath 'commercial scheme preying on the pockets of the lovelorn'; 'just a day to make single people feel depressed'; 'I don't need a day singled out for me to tell my loved one I love them'. I hear you!  I surely do but dog gone it quit your belly aching and show some more loving -sorry I watched Django Unchained on the weekend and have fallen in love with the Southern way of speaking. The hell you say is my favourite, as yet, untried phrase. I've not yet found someone to use it on. It will surely make my day when I do. Yes sirree Bob it surely will.

I took time today to sit back, enjoy a coffee and watch people scurrying to be some place this morning in the Brisbane CBD. After just a few minutes I couldn't hold back my smile. Normally, most people look like a smile would crack their stonewalled faces but today it was not so. Smiles, laughter, sweet gestures of love in all directions. Spots of red dotted the grey city landscape. Red Flowers, Balloons, shoes, Tops, Dress, Bags, Sunglasses, covered chocolates.  It just brightened up my day.

I'm not saying you need to buy into the commercial side of today. You don't need to spend money to show love - if you want to, please, by all the means you have in your possession go right ahead and do so. You don't even need a Lover - you just need to love someone. You can brighten someone else's day just by saying 'Hey, I love it that I have a person like you in my life!' You can tell your mother, your father, your brother or sister - 'I didn't choose you for myself but glad to have you as part of my family. I love you guys!'
I'm saying just forget the stuff you don't like about this day, the stuff that makes you grumble or feel bad about yourself and just spread some love. I know some people are very, very afraid of using that word. Afraid because sometimes it leads to rejection, sometimes it leads to greater expectations in a relationship but if you feel it I say use it! Better to be rejected than to wonder 'what if?'. Better to create expectation than disappointment. I agree only say it if you mean it but don't not say it out of fear. And when you feel it, and you mean it when  you say it, say it often to the person you got that loving feeling for. No-one gets tired of hearing that they are loved.

Now I myself am poor but in love. I have no gift or card to give my Valentine. A card is just words though and I can give those to him without paying for them and a gift, well, he does have me for his wife - how much more does one lucky guy need right?
To my Valentine- I love waking up to you every day. I love that I will get to do just that every day until I die. This is our 13th Valentine's Day but every day with you makes me feel special, loved and so very, very happy. Love you millions! XX

Happy Valentine's Day people!

P.S Grammar police - I just have to say I know that today causes you much frustration with all the neglect and misuse of your beloved Apostrophe but try not to let it ruin your day.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hey Mister Postman!

I sometimes think I was born in the wrong era. I'm by no means a technophobe or opposed in anyway to the advancements the world has made thanks to technology but sometimes just sometimes I wish I lived in a less technical time. A more old fashioned era.

I watch my grey-bearded-yellow-visibility-uniformed-scooter-riding-Postie deliver post to us today. I'm still one of those folk who get excited when mail is delivered. Actually, even when I hear the familiar PING on my phone to announce I have a new email. Yet, all I seem to find in my postbox these days is bills, flyers for services I don't need, adverts for food I don't eat and more bills. It makes me feel nostalgic for times gone by where a trip to the Postbox would sometimes be a joyous occasion - a letter from family, a friend or lover; or even better a parcel.
I'm grateful for the snippets of news and photos I see posted by friends and family on Facebook. It makes me feel connected to them, especially those back in South Africa, and I'm happy I get to see the parts of their lives they choose to share on Facebook. I miss the details though. Details that only a personal letter would provide.

My dear departed Ouma, was a great letter writer and probably the last person I've received a hand written letter from. She always wrote on that fancy white writing paper. You know the kind I mean. It crackles. One of my best friends, Debbie - and the one person out of everyone I know who has seen more of the world than any other person I know - was a great writer of postcards! I loved postcards! Even though most of the time they arrived weeks after you'd already arrived back from your holiday - I suppose they were an old fashioned version of Instagram. A picture of a place you were that you wanted to show a friend with a short message.  Debbie once sent me a postcard of a cow and all the message said was it had reminded her of me. That's just the kind of friends we are.

For all my travelling friends I think you will agree that the best kind of parcel you can receive is a care parcel from home - filled with all the things you miss from home. It is strange what you miss when you are away from your homeland. Luckily, I suppose, nowadays I can find the South African groceries I miss like Nutticrusts and Cream Soda at my local IGA. Still I miss it. A surprise parcel - like the kind my friend in Melbourne sent me - can really brighten your day.

So friends and family if you haven't realised by now this post if basically one giant hint that I want mail! Write to me in whatever form you choose. I want to see my mailbox full! I want to hear PING, PING, PING all day long. I promise in return to write back.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Thankful Thursday #16

Books - that's what I am thankful for today. I can't remember the first book I read. Pretty sure it was Kathy and Mark though. Growing up I read anything that was given to me. I devoured Enid Blyton books - Amelia Jane my first favourite character, then I moved onto The Magic Faraway tree, The Wishing Chair, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven and, of course, The Mistletoe farm books. Detective stories were my favourite. I may have been a little obsessed with Nancy Drew. I thought I was a pretty good detective actually. My imaginary friend, Jody, and I solved heaps of crimes together. We did it in secret though.
I remember my Dad bought a series of books home once after he'd been away on a business trip. The novelty of these books was that you got to choose which direction the plot would take. The main character would be faced with some sort of obstacle or choice and you, as the reader, choose for them. Option 1: go to page 16. Option 2: go to page 32. Loved them. Of course, I always read them enough times to go through all the options.

I developed this compulsion to read from cover to cover any book I ever start. My reason for this is a simple one. It takes a lot of work, dedication and courage to write a novel so I feel the least I can do is read every word. So even if I am still bored and not being sucked in by the characters I will read till the end. It is also means that I sometimes read more than one book at a time. The first time I did this I was 11. I started reading The Lord of the Rings. It had been staring at me from my Dad's bookshelf for a while. Too soon I think. How many 11 year old children do you know who could read a book where the author takes about 4 pages to describe a tree? Clearly I didn't fully appreciate the mastery of Tolkien back then but I got through it. Took me about 6 months. I started reading other books in between. I have read it again since then and it was much more enjoyable the next few times.

I'm not really fussy about the genre I read either. I'll really read anything. I went through my Sweet Valley High stage, read some Mills and Boon (am I not supposed to admit that?), Danielle Steele and I even read Catherine Cookson whenever we went to stay with my Granny as she was her favourite author back then.
Still read anything that is given to me. I have my favourite classic authors: Austen, Alcott, Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Dickens and the list goes on. More modern authors like Jodi Piccoult, Stephen King and probably my very favourite of all is Bryce Courtenay. The Power of One is still one of the best reads I've ever had. He made me want to be able to write a good story not just read them. This man had such a great gift for telling a story, on paper and in person. I met him actually. A few years ago I attended a writing workshop he facilitated in South Africa. One of my life altering experiences. I've just finished reading his latest novel Jack of Diamonds. Another epic story. An example of what made him such a great writer - at one point he is describing a rather violent scene and the main character (um Jack) is possibly about to be hurt. The scene he created in my imagination was so vivid that I closed my eyes because I didn't want to watch what was about to happen. I'm going to miss those moments. You never quite get them in a reread.

So I am thankful to books. Thankful that I have them to escape into. Thankful for the hours of entertainment they have given me. Thankful that as long as I have eyes to see I will have books to keep me company on those long trips, warm baths, hot days lying on the beach, waiting and just when I feel like them. When my eyesight goes I now have audio books to look forward to. The fun of books will never end.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Thankful Thursday #15

So my first blog for the year and it seems fitting to start with a Thankful Thursday. Last day of January too. Already. Time, she sure does fly fast.

In only my second post on this blog, and the beginnings of my Thankful Thursday posts, I expressed my thanks in the direction of my PT Kane. Today this Thankful Thursday post and my first post for 2013 is dedicated to him.

I'm blessed to have so many supportive, inspiring, positive, loving people in my life. So many people who lift me up, make me laugh and who are just ever present- even when I can't see them. I'm thankful to so many. While they all enrich my life and make my world a sun shiny place there are only a handful who I would credit with changing my life (for the better always). I'll not mention the others now - they know who they are I hope - but Kane is one of those people.

When I first met Kane, getting close to 2 years ago now, I looked like this:

Now I look like this:

I know Kane will say 'You did the work Jay!' and yes, yes, OMG, yes I did the work but Kane made all the difference. I've had PTs before and they would do their job and train me hard in the gym but that's pretty much where it ended for them. Not with Kane - his PT package come with that extra personal touch. The  phone calls, text messages, pep talks, high fives, hugs, checking of my food diary but most importantly it's his consistently positive energy. It vibrates off him and infects everyone around him. He is one of the voices in my head that pushes me when I'm training on my own, that stops me having that slice of bread, that chocolate or when I need to run to the top of a steep hill and I've been running for kilometres already. I've many voices in my head, belonging to many supportive people - all are needed at different times.

Two years after meeting Kane I am not just thinner or fitter, I am transformed. He changed my life by helping me getting fitter, thinner, healthier and happier. I really feel like Super Jay now. I'm very thankful to Kane. Always will be.

Kane is setting off to travel for 6 months. Off to infect America, Europe and Africa. I'm going to miss him.  I've been infected enough times by his positivity that I think the Kane virus will run forever through my veins! Happy Travelling Dawg! See you in 6 months.