Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gratitude day #30

I am grateful for the people in my church cell group. I am grateful to have people with whom I can be authentic and who can be authentic with me. There is nothing like having that space to be real, knowing that you are accepted no matter what, but that you will not just be accepted - you will also be challenged and held accountable. Love it! Love them!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gratitude day #29

About 3 months ago I did a "personality" assessment that actually looks at your strengths, rather than your personality type. It's called 'Strengths Finder" by Gallup. It costs about R100 to do, online, and it gives you a pretty reasonable analysis of your top 5 strengths.

I wasn't too surprised to learn that my top strength is 'Achiever'. An achiever is someone who is really very good at making lists and then completing everything on the list. Achievers frequently have a high work capacity - and I do.

In the past I've felt guilty about being a list maker, and about the satisfaction I get from ticking things off on my list. Having done this assessment, one of the benefits I've experienced is a validation of who I am. Now, I'm proud to be a list maker, and to derive satisfaction from ticking off items.

With that in mind, today I was grateful, yet again, to be a list maker. I was incredibly productive today and I managed to tick off several items that have been sitting on my desk for far too long. I was grateful that I had a list, because otherwise I think I would have wasted a lot of time today, wondering what I should be doing. By having a list I was able to focus my energies, assess the priority of items on the list and the length of time required to finish them, and by so doing I was able to order my day more effectively. I love it when a plan comes together!

Gratitude day #28

During term time, in the mornings, when the kids wake up, they come for a cuddle in bed with me. We start every day with hugs and kisses and snuggles, and I get a chance to smell their heads. Yes, you read that right. To me, there is no better smell in the world than the smell of my kids' heads, particularly the younger one. It's not a baby smell anymore (don't new babies smell incredible?!?!), but it's still delicious.

And I am grateful for these moments of intimacy with my still-sleepy children.

I know that in time to come they will both feel too big to do this, too grown up, too mature. When that time comes, I will grieve a bit. But for now, I am lapping it all up and storing these memories in my heart, to reflect upon once they have flown the nest.

Gratitude day #27

As the new term has got underway, I have become aware, once again, of how blessed I am to have the husband I do. Every morning (get that - EVERY morning) he makes me breakfast in bed.

I mean, how lucky can a girl get?

Of course, this grew out of self-preservation. I am not a morning person. Not in the slightest. Don't talk to me until I've showered and had a cup of tea at least. In fact, don't talk to me till at least 8am, but preferably not before 10am. In his desire to soothe me in the waking process, he made the mistake of offering to bring me breakfast in bed for a few days, and, well, a few years later, he is still bringing me breakfast in bed.

But I am deeply, truly, eternally grateful for his dedication, and just for him in general. I am incredibly blessed to have him in my life!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gratitude day #26

Today we went to support members of our cell group who run an NPO called The Royal Kidz. They run a project that provides school shoes for underprivileged kids. Today's hand over was special though, as they handed over not just school shoes, but also a school uniform.

The 3 schools they blessed today were farm schools in Ceres. These schools are so poor, and small, that they haven't got a uniform. Many of the kids who attend these 3 schools not on,y have no shoes, they have no jerseys, jackets, hats, or scarves, yet they attend school in the snow in winter.

So Dano and Tony got sponsors to be able to make these kids a school uniform -  jersey, track suit, beanie and scarf, as well as providing school shoes.

It was my privilege to support them in this - to help hand over, to help dress the kids in their new uniform, to help serve them lunch. 

And I am grateful for both the opportunity to serve them, and that my kids' schools are as well-provisioned as they are. A little glimpse into the world of these farm children has rekindled my gratitude for all that God has given my family.

Gratitude day #25

I am grateful to have reached the end of the first week. The first week of any term is always frenetic - term 3 more so because not only are we setting things up and in place for the term, but we are still doing reports from the previous term.

So I am grateful it is weekend and I have a chance to rest.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gratitude day #24

Last night we had a corporate worship event at church. All the cell groups got together at church, rather than meeting as small groups, and we worshipped together for about 1.5 hours. I can't remember the last time I spent that amount of time just soaking in worship. I can't remember the last time I almost felt I was touching the hem of heaven. It was ... awesome (in the real sense of the word, not just the trite superlative version).

I am grateful to those who made last night possible - most notably the muso's and the creative team. Thank you for such an incredible evening.

Gratitude day #23

This will probably sound a bit weird, but I am grateful for a small piece of sky. I know, I know. How can I, as an African, be grateful for a small piece of sky? After all, isn't the attraction of Africa supposed to be the massive, wide open sky? But you see, this is not just any small piece of sky. This is the small piece of sky that is bounded by the walls of the quad outside my office.

I haven't taken a photo of it, because I know that no photo could ever convey the emotion it evokes in me. That small piece of sky, free of any horizon, often seems to hold the most incredible cloud formations, or be the most incredible shade of blue. Sometimes it has birds flying across it.

I love that small piece of sky. I love it because it is just so beautiful. The beauty it constrains often takes my breath away.

But I also love it because it is so surprising. I mean, I'm a country girl at heart - wide open vistas of mountains, rivers, oceans, fields are what appeal to me. Yet here I am, in the midst of a busy, noisy city, appreciating a small piece of sky.

I love it because it makes me look up. It often stops me in my tracks with its beauty. Whatever it is that I am so frenetically busy with falls away for a few moments as I gaze up and appreciate the small rectangle of sky. For those few moments I could be anywhere - miles away in the country. For those few moments, whatever was eating away at me stops. I love it because when I look up, I look at freedom. I feel freedom. I live freedom. I breathe freedom.

And often, that is enough to restore my soul and give me strength for the next few hours.

And so I am grateful for that small piece of sky.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gratitude day #22

Last night we had dinner with some leaders from church. It was a good meal, with lots of discussion and I left feeling very encouraged. It struck me that we are very blessed to be part of a church that contains this level of quality leadership. I am really grateful to be surrounded by people who model excellent leadership and who call me to higher and better things in myself and in my own leadership. Leadership, particularly self-leadership is tough, and it is even tougher when you try t do it on your own. Having others along on the journey, against whom you can bounce off ideas and who can spark new things in you, is really such a privilege.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gratitude day #21

Call me stupid, but I gave myself two electric shocks while changing some lights.... I am grateful to be alive. That is all.

Gratitude day #20

Sigh. The end of the holidays is upon us. Tomorrow is back to work (officially - teachers always do school work during the holidays) for me and back to school for the kids. I am already feeling rather overwhelmed and a bit panicky about all the work that is waiting for me.

BUT! I am grateful to have a job, particularly one that is secure and (relatively) untouched by the current financial climate. I am grateful for my work environment, as many teachers have to work with large classes in small venues, with unmotivated colleagues (or students!), in dangerous surrounds where gang warfare and drugs are an everyday event. I am grateful to work with people who appreciate my efforts and don't take all my additional hours for granted.

So tomorrow I will get up with a smile on my face, despite my trepidation about returning to work, and give thanks for all that God has given me.

Gratitude day #19

I have recently been walking the dogs late at night (partly because we've been too busy with other things during the day). I don't know whether you've done any walking at night, but aside from being a potential statistic, there are physical hazards involved. Most notably, this is that there is limited light available for sight. This means that when I walk my eyes are on the ground, looking out for uneven pavements, gutters, dog poo and other hazards that might cause me to trip or slip or twist an ankle. All of this means that I am not looking up. Which is fine. Except for when my neighbours' trees or bushes are overhanging the pavement. And whack me in the eye.

So I am grateful tonight that my eye only has a few burst blood vessels and that it was not more damaged than it was. Nothing like a quick whack to the eye to remind you a) how painful eye injuries are and b) how vital your eyesight is.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gratitude day #18

We had some friends over for dinner last night, one of whom did not know the story of our loss of Zoe, or of te support group we run, Born Sleeping (check us out on Facebook - BornSleepingZA - or our website,, so we were telling him our story. Being a medic type, he was fascinated by my APS, and we were chatting about my symptoms and treatment (or lack thereof). In the re-telling and discussion, I was reminded so clearly of what a miracle it is that both my children are alive; that instead of having all of my children in heaven, I have two of them on earth with me. I am grateful to God for the lives of all my kids, living and dead, but I am all the more grateful to have two living. I am grateful that I am able to experience them, know them, love them, watch them growing and developing, and that I am able to feel their love in return. What a blessing and privilege!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gratitude day #17

This morning, as the storm hit and I heard the rain and the wind outside, I was grateful, yet again, for my home and my bed. Tucked up all nice and warm under my duvet, I was grateful for the solid walls and (mostly) water-proof roof, and my thick duvet. As I snuggled deeper under the duvet I was grateful for being warm, and dry, and cozy. 

Gratitude day #16

In our multi-faith, multicultural environment, I have been grateful that my kids have some friends who are being raised in their faith. Don't get me wrong, I want my kids to have friends of other faiths and cultures, because I believe it is important for them to learn tolerance and acceptance, and because I believe being exposed to diversity is good. However, I still want them to have friends with whom they share their faith. 

This holiday I have been aware of how few friends they each have with whom they do share their faith, and so I am grateful for these few. I treasure these friendships, and my developing friendships with their friends' parents. I know that in years to come, having friends who share their faith, and therefore understand their questions in a particular way, and who can walk their faith journey with them will be invaluable. Having friends who have been around since childhood is also invaluable. 

Gratitude Day #15

I am grateful for history. I know that the only thing we learn from history is that no-one ever learns anything from history (or so I'm told), but I'm grateful for it. Looking back on history affords us the opportunity, if we want it, to not have to repeat mistakes. It also anchors us, gives us something of an identity.

Having been working on the family photo album this holiday (only 2 years' worth of photos to catch up in!) I have been gratified to see how much interest the kids have in their past, and the questions they have asked about things they can't remember. I can see how the photos are reminders to them about important family events, or times with friends, and having been reminded, they feel loved, secure and happy. Seeing themselves as part of something bigger, their own sense of belonging has increased. They have loved retelling the stories of their past -  the 'remember when...' moments. 

Storytelling is such an important skill. It's something that develops imagination, and logical thought, as well as being a social anchor, or glue. Every culture of earth values storytelling, and I love the way photos help my kids to tell their own stories.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gratitude day #14

Life. I am grateful for life. Not just any life, though, or life in general, but a very specific one.

My mother's cousin's wife died yesterday. Yvonne was a wonderful, Godly woman, who was more like a sister to my mom than anything. Piet and his wife were such a help to us when my own gran developed Alzheimer's, and without them, I'm not sure how either my mom or I would have coped. They both have such a special place in our hearts.

Yvonne developed cancer about a year and a half ago, shortly after Piet himself had to be institutionalised because of his Alzheimer's. She died peacefully yesterday, while holding her daughter's hand.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have known Yvonne, to have counted her in my family. I am grateful that this is not goodbye, just a farewell, until we meet again.

Gratitude day #13

It's often the small things in life that make a difference. I am grateful for my bed. Whenever I go away it always takes me a day or so to become accustomed to the bed, often resulting in poor sleep for at least a night. Sometimes I'm fortunate that the bed is similar to my own, and then I sleep like a baby. Coming back from holiday though, I was very grateful for my own bed. It's not that the bed we were sleeping in was uncomfortable, it's just that it was too hard. With my back issues, that meant that by the morning I was in pain.

And if you aren't sleeping well because you're in pain, and you spend the first part of the day in pain, it does not make for a happy camper... #justsaying...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gratitude day #12

Sleep. I am grateful for sleep. Following on with the theme of the last post, until something has been taken from you, you don't really know who wonderful it is.

From time to time I suffer with insomnia. I am a light sleeper at the best of times, and most nights I wake up at least once. Fortunately, most of the time I am also incredibly good at falling asleep.

(I have a secret weapon though... Prayer. Not that prayer puts me to sleep, but rather, God is the one who knocks me out so that I can sleep, for I doubt that without his intervention my insomnia would be 1000x worse.)

The other night I woke up, as usual, but when I wanted to fall asleep again, I couldn't. I got up again, and put some stuff down on paper to try to clear my head, then headed back to bed. I eventually managed to fall asleep again, but I was reminded how precious sleep is.

Sleep deprivation ultimately leads to death, but before then it leads to irritability, disorientation, even hallucinations.

My hubbie regularly suffers with insomnia. The impacts of his sleep deprivation affects not just him, but me, and the kids. I reckon the same must be true when I lack sleep. Sleep, the sweet welcome of sleep. How I do appreciate it!

Gratitude day #11

I am grateful for extended family. I am grateful my children have hoardes of cousins. 

Older cousins act as role models, something to aspire to, other 'adults' they can look up to, emulate, love, and I hope they can also turn to them when they are in trouble. 

Younger or cousins of the same age are friends they can play with - instant friends, who aren't afraid to call them on their behaviour for fear of no longer being friends. 

We had cousins for a sleep-over. These cousins will be moving to JHB soon, and we will miss them terribly. There will be a huge cousin-shaped hole in our lives.

Isn't is funny how you only really appreciate something when it has either already been taken away or is about to be? No, not really, is it? More like tragic.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gratitude day #10

As our holiday away draws to a close I am grateful for something relatively small: that my kids have enjoyed each other's company.

With kids, they often fight and clash. Sometimes it's jus old-fashioned sinking rivalry, sometimes it is the age difference - that what one wants is above or below the abilities of the other, or different age-appropriate interests. If I am honest, when we are home, they often annoy each other (and their oarents as a result!) and the levels of frustration in our house are often high.

Yet, this holiday, there have been no arguments. They have played and played and played, and just enjoyed each other's company. Whether it is the additional space, or the freedom to roam they don't get at home, or being away from screens, or having more relaxed parents, or a combination, I don't know. It has been bliss though! I have been so grateful for the break from the whining, the button-pushing, the  lame-shifting and the physicality born from frustration! Another week at home before the next term starts though, and I pray this break has given the emotional wherewithal to maintain this for this next week.

Gratitude day #9

Part of me has always longed to be a farm girl, live on a farm miles away from a city, or to at least live I a more rural setting. There is something about being closer to nature that calls to me. I relax most when I can look around me and see bush, or mountains, or a beach without seeing urbanisation adjacent to it.

There is something in creation that feeds my soul, that restores me. Yesterday I went for a bike ride along a farm road, and came across the most beautiful vista. Although I coils not linger long -  it was getting on towards supper time - just the few moments spent drinking in that vista did so much for my soul. 

Today, working on our photograph album, I was looking at photos of flowers that both #1 and I have taken in the last 2 years. Even just seeing those photos, and remembering the peace I felt at the time of taking them, being in those environments,  brought me a measure of joy and peace.

Earlier today we went to 'Birds Paradise' on the R60, in Robertson. On the one hand it was soul-destroying to see all these caged birds... I find zoos of any sort distressing.... On the other hand, I was amazed at the variety that existed just in the parrot/parakeet family. Birds from every continent were represented, and though so similar in form, the colour and size variations were astounding. I could not help but be amazed at creation.

I am so grateful for the natural world - for the infinite variety, even of a seemingly static view like a mountainside; for the sense of wonder it inspires; for the joy and peace it gives me. Don't get me wrong - I am a townie and I like my town comforts. Every now and again though  I am grateful for the opportunity to step out of the fast-paced, noisy, technology driven world and stop to appreciate the things that we cannot recreate. 

I am grateful for the mud splashed up my legs and back from my bike ride on a farm road. I am grateful for the river water that is slightly brown from fynbos tannins. I am grateful for the folds in the mountains around us, reminding me of the forces at work beneath my feet, over which no human has control. I am grateful for the mist that shrouds everything in the morning, hiding the world from view, evidence of winter's approach. I am grateful for the frogs croaking in the bog near the house, and their night-time lullaby. I am even, oddly, grateful for the ticks I must daily remove from my dogs, the kids and myself. They remind me of my place in the natural order, and they are a sign that we are miles from civilisation. (I do have a fascination with parasites, I confess, although they are pretty gross.) I am grateful for the heat of the midday sun that bakes, and the opportunity to doze in the sun after lunch. I am grateful for the chill wind that makes having a fire in the evenings so cozy. I am grateful for the foreign bird calls, that remind me we are not in a town.

There is so much in the natural world that I appreciate. I could possibly do a truck load of blog posts on that alone!

Gratitude day #8

If you see my kids you will often see that their clothes are either patched, or have holes. Partly this is because I refuse to pay good money for clothing that will only last them a season -  they are growing at a rate of knots! As a result, many of their clothes have been second hand, hand me downs. Partly, this is because my kids are active - they climb, run, ride, crawl - and their activity takes a physical toll of their clothes.

Just yesterday, #1 came home with new holes next to a previous hole I'd sewn up. I was so frustrated, because part of me wishes the kids would take better care of their clothing. But then I got to thinking about it, and realised that, given the choice, I would rather have holes in their clothes than not. 

Oddly, I am grateful for the holes. The holes show both that my kids are not spending every spare moment in front of a screen - they are having something of the childhood I had - and that (at the end of the day) we are not obsessed about material goods. We do not have to have the latest fashion, or branded clothing.

When I look at the number of fat, or obese children, and the increase in childhood obesity, I am pleased that my kids are learning that being physical is healthy as well as fun. If their clothes suffer, well, clothes can be replaced. Fingers and toes, or eyesight, lost through diabetes are not as easy (or cheap) to replace.

When I look at the image-consciousness of children I teach, or those of more wealthy friends and friends, I worry about my kids. I don't want them to be the object of name-calling, teasing or bullying because of their clothes, but at the same time, I don't want my kids to become like those kids. At the moment it is easy for my kids to be oblivious. I know the time will come when they will become aware of their clothes, and then we will need to have that discussion. In the meantime, I don't want them to have to refrain from being kids because I am overly-concerned they will damage clothing that cost the earth to purchase. I want them to know that clothes are just something to cover the body.

I am grateful for these physical reminders that our kids are growing up learning appropriate values - to enjoy physical play and being active; and that clothing does not have to be a status symbol.

Gratitude Day #7

For the next week or so we will be away on holiday. I am grateful that we can have time away together, as a family - a time of fewer responsibilities, of more fun together as a family. Although holidays with kids is never a complete rest or holiday, it is a lovely break from the normal day-to-day routine.

I am particularly grateful to family who have opened their holiday home up to us, so that we can go away. Without this, I doubt that we could have afforded to go away this holiday.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Gratitude Day #6

I had to go out in the rain yesterday afternoon, to a meeting. Driving there, the rain was coming down in buckets. (The canal flooded, after only 2 hours of rain, so you must know how much rain came down in those 2 hours!) Driving along, with the windscreen wipers and aircon on, I was toasty warm, and beautifully dry, and I thought of those who live in squatter camps, or informal settlements as they are now called in PC speak.

Driving home again, I observed several streets in my area flooded, and the canal overflowing. I observed (and participated in) people stopping to gawp at the water level. It is incredible. No doubt about it. 

But then I thought again of those living in squatter camps. I thought of those who have no decent roof above their heads and probably have to contend with leaks, and the drip-drip-drip all night, or the sound of rain on a tin roof, keeping them awake for most of the night. I thought of those who live in areas where the "roads" are nothing more than severely pot-holed dirt paths filled with rubbish of all sorts, and how going home, or out, requires walking these "roads", and how during this kind of rain these "roads" become a slow-moving mud river, with goodness knows only what hazards hiding in the mud, or the invisible potholes. I thought of those who only have shared, public toilets and no private sanitation/ bathrooms, and who must navigate these "roads" in order to relieve themselves... at night. I thought of those who have no running water who must navigate these "roads" in order to get water to drink, wash and cook with. I thought of those who have no electricity and live in shacks and who will freeze this weekend (hopefully not literally, although I have no doubt that children and the elderly are at risk of just that this weekend) as the rain and the wind chill their little tin shacks, or creeps through the untreated wooden walls.

I thought of all these people, and I am grateful for being warm and dry tonight, and this weekend.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Gratitude day #5

Is it cheating if I repeat a gratitude item? Not just for the sake of repeating it, or because I couldn't think of anything else to say, but because I genuinely find myself giving thanks for it over and over? 

Hmm... Okay, then I'll slant this one slightly, so it's not exactly the same. 

Today I am grateful for the laughter of children. There is something, some quality, in their laughter that lifts the weary soul, puts a smile on your face, that takes years off your life.

My kids played together so beautifully yesterday. They just enjoyed each other. The result was a lot of laughter. Listening to them laugh, even though we were running late, even though I didn't want to get out of bed, even though I didn't want to make them MORE breakfast, etc. etc., I could not help but smile at them, and laugh with them.

Children have such a simplistic view of the world, and it is so refreshing. It restores the soul in many ways. Couple that with laughter and you have a winning formula! I am so grateful to have e laughter of children ringing in my house. I suspect that I will suffer terribly from empty best syndrome when they go, when they grow up, and partly because I need their simplicity and their laughter to remind me that I take myself, and the world, far too seriously at times.

Gratitude day #4

Holidays are usually the time in which I get to catch up with friends I haven't been able to see during the term. Last night we had dinner with friends who were involved in a car accident about 6 weeks ago. They are both lucky to be alive (someone else died in the accident), and are both still in recuperation and booked off work.

Chatting with them about their accident, I was struck yet again how fragile life is. One moment you can be going about your normal, daily life, and the next you could be dead. 

They aren't able to drive yet, so I collected them from their place, and took them home again afterwards. Although they have always worn seat belts, they mentioned how they have developed a deeper appreciation for them.

I am grateful for the person who invented seat belts. When I think of the road deaths in SA every year, mostly caused by drunk drivers, but also by people not wearing their seat belts, particularly parents who don't strap their kids in, it makes me so cross. Such a simple little thing, but it really does save lives. One little click. (Ei only vant tu hear vaan click!)

In reflecting on our evening together, I am especially grateful that these friends are both still alive and able to spend time with us. These are people who I am learning to like more and more as we get to know them, people I think could become life long friends at a deep level, people with whom we share so much in common.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Gratitude day #3

Whenever I used to worry that I was no longer really friends with anyone from school, my mother used to tell me that true friends are rare. Friends tend to be transient, people you connect with in the here and now because of shared circumstances. The friendships may be deep, and meaningful, but when the circumstances of your lives change, your friendship may change along with it. The end result is that you no longer spend time with that friend.

Because loyalty is a trait that is deeply embedded in my personality, I struggle with this concept. I struggle with the idea that someone you love deeply, have shared deeply with, and have shared life with, would be able to just forget you, or walk away. Yet, it has happened to me. I have come to see that my mother was right, in part. Sometimes life gets in the way of remaining active friends - sometimes, with 6000 miles between you, it is really difficult to maintain a friendship.

But I still believe that someone who is a true friend is someone who will stick around despite life changes, and will make the effort to carve out time for you. This is someone who knows you so well because of a long passage of time of shared experiences that she or he can hold you accountable and speak the uncomfortable truths into your life. This is also someone who has shared your deepest and most joyful moments with you, and who has probably shared your most terrifying moments with you as well. I guess this is what many girls are trying to imply when they speak about their BFF's, but I think this term is far too frivilous to be used of a true friend.

Last night I (and my hubbie) had dinner with someone I have known for 23 years. That's a pretty long time. We dated when I was in high school for a very brief period (a few months). We lost touch while I was in the UK, but have wound up at the same church again. Despite everything, I have always had a soft spot for this person, in my heart. (Yes, my hubbie knows.) 

Over dinner we had the first really in-depth conversation we have had in years, and we took the time to fill in the blanks on a lot of stuff that happened - both before and after I moved to the UK. It was so good to connect again. It was so good to connect with someone who has known me for that long. Although there were a lot of blanks to be filled, it was so nice to have a conversation with someone about our shared experiences of 23 years ago and see how those events have played out over the years, until we find ourselves where we currently are.

I am grateful for friendships, but I am particularly grateful for the friends who have been around for a heck of a long time. I am grateful for the history we share (not in a romantic sense, but in a shared experiences sense). I am grateful for the anchoring of relationships that are not part of today's instant culture, that have taken time to build and develop, and that have matured over time. 

Friendships like this are a bit like a good bottle of wine. You can drink a 2012 wine and it will be a very nice. An excellent wine, though, needs time to mature. You can drink an excellent wine now, but if you do, you won't taste it at its best - you will miss out on various notes in the flavour that haven't yet developed, or will have discordant notes that haven't mellowed. In the same way, you can artificially create deep friendships because of shared experiences and intentional honesty/ sharing, but those friendships won't be the best they can be, because some things just can't be rushed. Some things just take time.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Gratitude day #2

My hubbie is sick at the moment. Because of being an asthmatic, any chest infection becomes a major deal. He has now spent one day in bed, and is struggling to breathe. I therefore took him off to the GP this afternoon, before this turns into something much more serious.

Listening to him breathe (or, more correctly, struggle to breathe) this afternoon was quite scary. He couldn't draw breath properly and so was doing this upper respiratory rapid breathing thing in order to get enough oxygen.

When we first got married I was sick continuously for 9 months with respiratory illnesses - 4 'flu's one after the other, bronchitis, pneumonia and finally pleurisy. It wrecked my lungs and caused my childhood asthma to recur. I remember well those nights, sleeping sitting up because if I lay down I started drowning in the fluids present in my lungs. I remember well how exhausting breathing was, and so I empathise with my hubbie.

[I eventually went to see a homeopath who gave me some Chinese herbal thing with a bizarre name (I think it was "Easy Breath" or "Breathe easy"), sent me to bed for 6 weeks (or I could have chosen to go to hospital, in which case my risk of contracting TB or some other nasty would have been sky high), and told me it would take a year to recover fully. (He was right, in the end.) Those were not comfortable years - either the year of illness or the year of recovery.]

I was reminded, this afternoon, of how sick I was back then, and how my scarred lungs have impacted on my life subsequently. Until your ability to breathe is compromised, I don't think you truly appreciate just what a blessing it is. So today I am grateful for my health. I am grateful that when I lie down tonight I will not be exhausted from the effort of trying to draw breath, that I will not have to draw breath through fluids that feel like treacle, and that my asthma is under control again.