Monday, January 28, 2008

The next chapter

Interesting times... that's what these are.

After a very successful counselling session, I've realised just how much progress I've made in grieving over the past few months. I still don't have answers - I still don't understand why a loving and good God would allow Zoe to die, especially after all the prayers that had been offered up for her. I still don't see how to reconcile those two facts. But I'm getting to the point where I can accept that it is a mystery I will probably never solve. As a result, I have a lot more energy to spend on other matters.

Last night, for example, we had the energy to watch a DVD made for us at our leaving party in June 2007. In it, friends who attended the party recorded little messages of blessing and farewell for us. Until now, we haven't had the emotional energy to watch. Needless to say, we cried in watching it, but it was so incredible to 'see' all our friends again, and to hear them. It made me realise afresh what an amazing community we were part of in London, and how much I treasure the people still there - despite the distance and lack of communication. But it didn't make me want to jump on a plane and head back. That's what I found so surprising. I miss them terribly, and I want to be with them, but actually, this is my life now, and I'm ok with that.

We've started planning our anniversary party - this year it will be 10 years! I can't believe it. I can remember when my eldest brother reached this milestone. I remember being shocked by how OLD he was. Now I'm there. Does that make ME old now as well? In many respects I feel old, very old. If you haven't received either an email or a Facebook invite to our party, then please do email me, or message me on FB, or text/ sms me! It's hard to keep track of everyone we've invited as the invites span the globe (USA, UK, NZ, Australia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and SA too).

As many of you are aware, I'm desparate to fall pregnant again. However, doing so at the moment would be the wrong thing for many reasons, not least of which is financial. Before I do fall pregnant again though I have to be in tip top form physically, to give the baby every possible chance of survival. I need to lose a bunch of weight (I'm hoping to lose 10 kgs/ 22 pounds at least). So, I've started cycling to work (it's only a 3 minute cycle, so it's not a big thing, but every little helps) and reducing my portion sizes (I haven't yet got the motivation to restrict my diet in any other way). I've also got my rollerblades out of the cupboard! I'm very proud of myself, that I'm actually DOING something about it, instead of just talking about needing to do it. Now for the stickability factor....!

All round it seems like I'm starting a new chapter. My grief is receding. My energy levels are up. I have a focus and purpose. We even went back to church for the first time on Sunday! (OK, so that was because I was on creche duty, but at least we were back in the building!) Yup, definitely feels like a new year and a new chapter.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Busy busy busy

I am so tired. I can't believe how tired I am. I've been working flat out at school, and tonight I have hit the wall. I had this great post all worked out in my head, and now I can't remember it. Last week I hardly slept (most nights I went to bed some time after midnight and woke up when Nellie stirred at 4.30am-ish, then didn't really get back to sleep). This week I've at least slept a bit better (as has Nellie, which helps!), but I guess the hard work is catching up with me.

So - the new school... is FAB! I'm totally blown away by it. I can't even begin to say how wonderful it is. Not because the kids are perfect - far from it. Not because the work is easy - far from it. Not because it has great resources - far from it. I can't really say what it is that makes the school so amazing, but I bet it has something to do with the incredible leadership. The principal is one-of-a-kind. He has this easy balance between being laid-back and setting incredibly high standards for staff and pupils alike. The dress code is casual (which is a blessing in hot Africa!) but not beachwear, but don't let that fool you into thinking that the atmosphere is anything other than focused. And the school has a fantastic balance (I think) between being an academic institution and turning out well-rounded individuals. Sport, art and music are BIG at the school (it's well known throughout the city for its yearly drama productions), but that doesn't mean that academics are not focused upon. As an example - I am the least qualified person in my department. The others all have their Masters degrees, or are currently working on their PhD's!

I think that's what has me in awe - it's this balance across all spheres of life at the school. I've never come across that before. Either schools are too focused on sport/ music/ art/ culture, or too focused on academics. And the staff is incredible. I love my department, and I'm really getting to like the rest of the staff. I don't think I could be happier at work!

My workload is massive at the moment, but that's because the planning for this year wasn't properly thought through and because there are very few systems in place in the department. But I've just finished the bulk of a massive project to get those systems in place... I only have one task left to complete - which is to create a few spreadsheets with a few macros on them. All the field trips are taking place this term as well - which is another massive task, and we're also doing the first run through of the new matric (A-level) course. So there are big things afoot, but already I'm starting to feel the pressure ease, and I can see trees again.

So after this weekend (which I'm taking off - I think I deserve it, and I think my family deserves it!!) I can start thinking about the business again. Which I really need to do since I've now got only 5 months before the show! EEEK! I finally got my material back from the manufacturers this week, so now I can finalise the patterns and start looking for a seamstress or five.

And, in an effort to restore balance to my own life, I've started cycling to work (it's really not far - takes me 3 minutes!) and I've even got my rollerblades out of the cupboard again and I've started teaching myself to use them again! I'm determined to increase my activity levels and lose some weight.

But right now I'm going to veg in front of the TV with my darling hubbie and eat icecream! I'm whacked! Have a good weekend, wherever you are.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bush Radio interview

The radio interview I did today went fairly well, I thought, apart from the fact that the landline I had to use did not have a working handset. As a result, I had to bend over with my face right up against the speakerphone speaker... frustrating!

I was suprised at how calm I managed to remain throughout, although there were moments when tears threatened. I was buzzing with adrenaline afterwards though - my face was flushed like a teenager caught in a compromising situation with her boyfriend by her father and my hands were shaking, and I'm sure my voice went up by a few notes as well as in volume.

But it went well. I just hope that it has the desired effect! Thanks for those who tried to listen in. Apparently there was really bad reception in several places around the peninsula, so I have contacted Bush radio to find out whether they recorded it at all. Watch this space!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hi ho, Hi ho, it's off to work I go...

"What have I done to myself?" I must have asked that question a million times of myself today. What was I thinking when I booked the show in July, and a study course starting in July, and a new job... with management responsibilities. Ag well, some of us are just suckers for punishment I guess. (Actually, some of us just refuse to accept our limitations!)

So today, my first official day at work, was terrifying in one respect only - the amount of work I am going to need to do. I know it's only for the first few weeks, until I get properly settled, but never the less, it is daunting. But I think I'm up for the challenge... nothing like a good challenge to take your mind off grief!

I will need to be super organised, and that in itself is going to be a challenge to my fuzzy, on-holiday, have-had-children (post-pregnancy) brain. But, I have the necessary tools, methinks - one pencil plus one A4 (page-a-day) diary, plus one VERY ancient computer... hmm...

Anyway, overall I am feeling very positive about this year, although I am very daunted and rather intimidated by tasks that need to be completed. I'm really pleased to be feeling this way, and I think this is going to be a very supportive environment to be working in, which can only be a good thing.

Oh yes, and I'm going to be on the radio on Monday at 1pm! Bush Radio, 89.5fm, is a local Cape radio. They will be interviewing me about 'Born Sleeping', which is the miscarriage, stillbirth, and neo-natal death support group that Graeme and I are trying to start. Very exciting all round.

But now it's back to the boring grindstone... sigh! Work and supper call. No Friday night movie for me. No, I get to compare draft and final versions of curricula, organise timetable stuff, and other equally stimulating tasks. Yay.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

2008 wishes

Well, 2008 has arrived. We saw it in with a small group of Graeme's family and friends in Sedgefield, with sparklers and mosquitoes. Nellie, having gone to bed, proceeded to wake up at midnight, and then not go back to sleep till some ungodly hour. I have to smile, but at the time, the irony was lost on me!

We had 10 days away, which was lovely, despite the mosquitoes. The mozzies were horrendous. All that flood water has left plenty of breeding grounds for them. Nellie had fun swimming in the lake, and quickly developed tremendous confidence in jumping from the raft into the water (with her ring). Most days were spent lazing around, reading or swimming, the odd bit of shopping, and with a bit of clearing up after the floods thrown in for good measure. Nellie was in her element, being doted upon by one or other of the dozen of us there. It meant she was never short of a playmate, and had constant stimulation. (I fear the return to home will seem boring for her by comparison!)

Zoe was never far from my mind though - the first times without a loved one are always tough, I'm told.

Before going away, Nellie had 4 days of very high fever, which turned out to be baby measles (Rosella, not actually measles). Needless to say, we were very worried about her until the rash appeared and we realised she was ok! Several times on days 3 and 4 we had to give her a cool bath, which she absolutely hated. I'm just glad our tenant was away on holiday, because if he'd heard her I'm sure he would have thought we were killing her.

While on holiday, Nellie had three mishaps, which also made me feel rather ill at the time. The first was that she fell down a flight of stairs (bounced off the first three, then rolled down the rest). She had two lovely shiners to show for it. The second was that she dived off the raft into a canoe (instead of stepping down into the canoe) and whacked her head a serious blow. The third was that she walked off the edge of my brother's pool, not realising it was the edge, and sank. Thank God I was right next to the pool to yank her out! We are definitely into the toddler phase where accidents are common, it would seem. Fortunately, no broken bones. Let's just hope that no-one looks at her bruises and concludes we are abusing her! (No, really, Officer, she fell down the stairs!)

Now we're home again, and trying to sort out a few things before school starts on Friday. (I get to start early because I'm new staff. Joy.) It feels good to be getting stuff done after the Christmas lull when businesses were closed, but I'm also a bit anxious that I'm not going to get it all done in time. Why are there never enough hours in the day? (or rather, why is there always more to do than I have time to do? is it just a by-product of life in a modern society, or have I, as usual, taken on more than I should?)

I really hope and pray that this year will be better than 2006 and 2007: it would be nice to have a year without a family death, or any other tragedy - just to have a 'normal' year. I'm looking forward to my first baby show in July (EEEEEEK!) but also terrified by it. I'm looking forward to my new job, but also terrified by it. I'm looking forward to doing a business course from July, but also mildly intimidated by the thought of it. I'm looking forward to Graeme getting a job. I'm looking forward to buying our new home. Mostly, I'm looking forward to settling down and making friends and having a normal life.

God bless you all, and may 2008 be filled with more joy than pain, more laughter than tears, and more blessings than you can count!

Remembering Zoe

We've begun thinking about a memorial for Zoe. We decided to plant a tree in her memory at the Broster holiday home, as there is already a collection of other trees planted in memory of friends and family who have died. We wanted to go with something that was indigenous, as well as pretty. We settled on a "shrub" called River Indigo, or Indigofera. It grows to about 3m in height, by 2m across, and is a member of the pea family. It gets beautiful sprays of pink flowers and attracts butterflies and other insects.
The specimen we got is still small - about 1m in height - so you can't really see it that well against the background of the other trees, but here it is.

Now we have to think about what to do as a proper memorial for her. I'm partial to buying another one and planting it with her ashes in a pot (so we can take it with us when we move - it apparently grows quite well in containers). But we'll see.