As I explored Pinterest for activity ideas for Sophia, ignoring the dishes and the laundry and the fact that I have a writing assignment due, I came across two talks on TED given by Brené Brown, one about vulnerability and another about shame.

You’re probably wondering what vulnerability and shame have to do with activity ideas for Sophia.  Truth is, not much… but what Ms. Brown said struck me… and I had to record it…

“Shame feels the same for men and women, but it’s organized by gender.

For women, the best example I can give you is Enjoli, the commercial: “I can put the wash on the line, pack the lunches, hand out the kisses and be at work at five to nine. I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never let you forget you’re a man.” For women, shame is do it all, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat. I don’t know how much perfume that commercial sold, but I guarantee you, it moved a lot of antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. (Laughter) Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.”

There’s something in her words that are poignant and it strikes me as odd that I’m so moved by these words.  Please bear with me whilst I wrestle with my psyche and attempt to understand exactly what this is about…


It was a little chilly this morning, you understand.  So, being the mother that I am, I thought it a good idea to cloth my child in a light jersey.  Sophie decided otherwise.  After struggling with her for a moment (mother tries making funny sounds to distract baba whilst attempting to slide jersey over fingers and up arm, and baba puts arms to forehead in a ‘I don’t want that’ gesture.)  But mother knows best, right?  So I persisted a little.  Then she said it, in an adorable baba voice and a cute scrawled face: “Nooo”.

‘No’, she said!  Amazing! My baby girl is

  1. expressing herself verbally and
  2. making up her own mind as to what she does or doesn’t want. 

At an age of a year and a half, I find that incredible. Yay baba!

Jemimah Appleby III

This is Jemimah Appleby III, and Sophia loves her to bits! Seriously. Jemimah is often held tightly to Sophia’s little breast whilst Sophia sighs with happiness.


Sophia loves Jemimah about as much as she loves Blankie. Blankie is Sophia’s ‘going to sleep’ blanket. It’s a beautiful little blanket – made of soft wool and in such lovely colours. Sophia has had it since she was a little sprogling. It was a gift from a dear friend in celebration of Sophia’s arrival. (My mother tells me I had a blue blanket when I was a little person… apparently I, very stubbornly, gave up said blue blanket when I was about five. I wonder if Sophia will do the same… She’s very attached to Blankie, you see.)

Oh! Did I tell you that Sophia is walking? (Actually, it’s more of a wobble.)

It’s a beautiful sight to to see… little Sophia with Blankie clutched in one hand and Jemimah in the other… waddling down the hallway… Sophia smiling from ear to ear. It makes my heart turn to mush, it does.

I recently came across this post by Jeff Bridges (yes, the awesome actor dude), on his website.  I found it so very telling that I decided to reproduce it here.


. . . Something To Think About. . .

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After three minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

four minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

six minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A three year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children.. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

The questions raised:

*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*Do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made – how many other things are we missing?

I found it curious that some people gave money but continued to walk at their normal (hurried) pace… they didn’t stop to listen… to appreciate…  Where is the value exchange in that?

Furthrmore, and perhaps more importantly, I found it intersting (amazing) that it was the children that wanted to stop and listen… but the parents tore them away… It’s a poignant reminder that life isn’t just about schedules… it’s also about being still… and listening… Perhaps the world would be a brighter place if children had louder voices.

I did tell you about Pinterest, didn’t I?  It’s a wonderful, visually stimulating website.  I love it!

I also came across StumbleUpon… and WeHeartIt… and FFFFOUND!

Oh dear… I think I’m in trouble… (in a good way!)

My word for the day is phantasmagorias.

Isn’t that a lovely word?  It’s sounds magical, mysterious… enchanting.

It’s interesting then that it means:


1. a shifting series of phantasms, illusions, or deceptive appearances, as in a dream or as created by the imagination.

2. a changing scene made up of many elements.

3. an optical illusion produced by a magic lantern or the like in which figures increase or diminish in size, pass into each other, dissolve, etc.

Ahhh… dreamy…

If ever I did have the courage to get a tattoo, me thinks this would be lovely:

(Pinterest) Pinned by Hot Strong Coffee onto Tattoo inspiration for all things angel wings and feathers from

 Alright, so enough of the feeling miserable.  Instead, let’s take a tour of the sites and sounds that inspire me, shall we?

Queen of Tarts in Observatory, Cape Town. I love what Tina Bester has created here.  I’ve not had the pleasure of visiting this coffee shop come haven of yummilicious food, but I hear good things.  Besides, who wouldn’t want to live in an apartment just above one’s coffee shop?

Celtis Lodge. Stone labyrinth.  Need I say more?

Zenobias Coffee & Art, on the main road through Rustenburg, as you drive towards the Magaliesburg.  This is a quaint little coffee shop that we pop into for breakfast or lunch on our way to Celtis Lodge.  I love that they have little wooden puzzles on each table… them puzzles can keep you occupied for quite some time… before you know it, the homely food has arrived.

Just Ginns. A lifestyle store, they say. A naughty place to go when I want to spend some time just soaking up the quirkiness of beautiful and unusual things, I say.

 i want that – I discovered this website purely by accident, but my goodness… do they have some beautiful stuff there… 

There’s also Pinterest… naughy, naughty, bad website…

Maya Prass . OMG! Can this woman design beautiful clothing! I adore the way she combines colour and print.  It’s such a pity her store is in Constantia, Cape Town.  Oh well, between Queen of Tarts and Maya Prass, I may just have enough reason to move to Cape Town.  (And let me not forget the Moreton Bay Fig tree in Arderne Gardens, Claremont.)

Jane Griffiths… maybe it has something to do with my parents having been raised growing their own food, but the idea of having a vegetable garden is very appealing. I bought a copy of Jane’s book Jane’s Delicious Garden some time ago, and I have been dreaming ever since.  (Mind you, my little herb garden in coming along quite famously.)

At yet, the most awesome, amazing, fabulous, joyful and inspiring thing in my life is watching, and being apart of Sophia’s journey.  My little baba is growing so beautifully!  I still get a little dizzy when I try to get my head around the fact that my beloved and I created such a beautifully little munchkin… I have love… I mean, how can you not love this:

I think I’m having a midlife crisis… actually, I’ve probably been having a midlife crisis for a good ten years now…

You see, I’m bored. Life is boring… and dull… and jaded… and uneventful (well, yes – there is stuff happening in my life, but very little of it is bright and happy and cheerful… a lot of it is about my brother and sister in law being hijacked (okay, granted, their withdrawing all their pennies in cash before emigrating to France instead of getting traveller’s cheques was probably not the most inspired idea and it probably did prompt said hijacker dudes to rob them blind and bring their whole world crashing down…) or my father’s business not doing too well (he’s in his sixties, for heaven’s sake… he should not have to work like he does… he looks so tired…) or my sister’s ongoing angst since her divorce or my husband’s stress at work… or… well… family stuff… you understand…).

The perplexing thing is that none of this has anything to do with me… in the sense that I can’t change it… and yet I feel caught up in it all… trapped somehow… caught up in other people’s stuff…

I feel like I’m at a crossroads…

You see, I feel like something needs to change, and that change will be prompted by a choice that I need to make…

Do I stay at my current job (it pays the bills, helpful that), or do I start to look for a job that feeds my soul significantly more… or do I start my own thing (I have no clue what the would be, but it would probably involve the making of pretty things)… or do I start studying again… and if I start studying again, should I study something in design (I wanted to be a costume designer when I was a little person…) or do I go into healing (family constellation therapy still fascinates me)… or…

Reading about other people who have made, what seems like, a beautiful life is not working for me anymore… Collecting the Home and Ideas magazines in the hopes of one day creating all of these wonderful things isn’t working for me anymore…

So, I’m stuck… now what?

Perhaps the biggest challenge is coming to a place of peace around what one actually wants out of life… What do I actually want to create? (Notice the blank expression on my face… does this tell you something?)

This blog was meant to be about ‘my wanting to live life fully,  about romance… about feeling nostalgic… about nurturing my child, my family, myself… about expressing creativity… fulfilling long-held dreams… and occasionally getting a little silly too…’

But somehow I don’t feel like that’s happened.  Of course, a blog can only be a reflection of a life, so clearly that means my life isn’t what I’d like it to be.  Now, please understand – it’s not that I’m unhappy as such… I’m just disappointed at how mundane life is…

But there is hope… As I wondered why it is that my life isn’t the exciting, exuberant, spontaneous, creative, joyful and adventurous life that I imagined, the universe sent some messages…

Message one: I came across a blog post by Ben Casnocha about how to draw an owl.  It appealed to my sense of humour.  And yet, there was the message.  He explains “One interpretation of the image and caption is that it reinforces how some folks perceive the progression from novice to expert:

Stage 1: You suck.
Stage 2: You’re an expert.

In fact, mastering a skill involves hundreds of stages of incremental improvement over a very long period of time. I believe a key reason so many people on the road to mastery call it quits is not because drawing a beautiful owl in pencil is superhumanly hard. It’s because they thought it would be easy.”

I’m actually one of the folks who thinks drawing an owl (or doing anything that I’ve never done before) is going to be superhumanly hard… I quite literally terrify myself into not trying at all… for fear I’ll be terrible at it.  My thinking goes something like this: “Seriously, I can’t just be amazingly brilliant at everything… just like that… I really do have to make a start (any start… just start somewhere… anywhere!)… hmmm… I really do have to practise, put some time and effort into it…?  Well… that’s inconvenient!  Here I was hoping I’d get away with being amazing by sheer willpower.”

Turns out being human doesn’t work like that.  Nope… there are no plug-a-play programmes out there… the makers of ‘The Matrix’ lied… One has to learn by doing… It sucks… doesn’t it?  (Yes, yes, I know – learning how to do something is part of the adventure… I know… I get it… I’m just intimidated by making mistakes… and the concepts of endurance and discipline are a little foreign to me…)

There, see… I said it… out loud… (ouch…)

Message two: I read an article in our company newsletter that was based on a blog post by Christine Kane about setting New Year’s resolutions. Ms Kane proposes that the reason most resolutions don’t work is because they address only one level of our lives – the do level.  Most of us follow the dohavebe model (which goes like so: “I will do this thing, (plant herbs) so that I can have this other thing (a tranquil garden) and I can be this thing (nurturing).”  The average resolution doesn’t address the core issue – the be level.  She suggests that life is better lived by following the bedohave model, which goes like so: Be the thing (nurturing) by doing the thing (plant herbs) to have the thing (a tranquil garden).  Starting at the be level creates positive change in one’s life because your inspired thinking guides your action.  When you begin changing on the be level, then the do level and have levels follow.

Okay… I can do that… I think…

Message three: I went to a kinesiology session today.  (No, I’m not going to explain how kinesiology works… let’s just say it’s a therapy that works on an energetic level, and it works for me because my mind doesn’t have the opportunity to talk circles around my psyche. ‘nough said.)  Anyway – we uncovered a little gem during said session.  The gem: I live in a box (no, not a real box – we’re talking figuratively here)… and I’ve only ever peaked out the box… mostly because I was told that it’s a horrible, scary place out there, and I tend to believe people (I mean, why would they lie?).  I was always under the impression that if I left the box, I wouldn’t be able to go back to it… to the sense of safety that it provides.  But, this is not so.  It seems I can choose to leave the box, build ladders, staircases and bridges from it to other places… and it’s okay.  I can always go back to the box, if I want to.  Who knew?

So, if you put that altogether:

– it’s okay to leave our space of safety because we can choose to go back if we want to,

– being creates the energy to sustain the doing and the having,

– the doing happens over time, with consistent effort… it really is okay to make mistakes in order to gain mastery of something… just start, have a little faith in your ability, and the rest takes care of itself…