Sunday, August 24, 2014


While I have heard many non-Muslims state the opinion that ISIS are not Muslims, it is good to hear a Muslim say it. It is incredibly helpful to have a Muslim state chapter and verse of where these terrorist actions are violating the Muslim tenets of faith.

I know several Muslims who are moderate, yet religious and upstanding members of my community. When I compare them to ISIS, it is obvious to me that ISIS are just another group of extremists who have taken a holy text and chosen to only observe one small portion of it, instead of reading the entire document as a whole and seeing those verses that tell them to kill the Infidel in the proper context.

ISIS are not, in my opinion, Muslims. They are terrorists and fanatics. Terrorists and fanatics take many shapes and forms, but these are by far the worst because they dare to use religion to give themselves credence. They are as evil as those who waged the Crusades, or the Inquisition.

Any religion has its nuts, but the nuts do not, by any means, define the religion. All they define is the depths of the depravity the human soul is capable of, and by so doing, they merely highlight the incredible need we have of God, and the unfathomable grace of God! Even those as evil as these have the opportunity to repent and turn from their life of evil and violence, and find complete forgiveness. That is the scandal of grace.

So it is good to hear a Muslim state that ISIS are religious nuts and not true Muslims. However, saying so doesn't really change anything. ISIS are still waging their religious war against the Infidels, and many are suffering as a result - Iraqis and Saudis as well as foreigners. The world is a global village now, and as long as we stand by and continue to say nothing, do nothing, we will continue to be complicit in their war.

God forgive us for allowing this atrocity to take place on our watch, and for the part we have played in creating the environment in which ISIS can flourish. After all, all it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A well-deserved weekend off

This week was the Cape Town Expo. This is the regional stage of the national science fair for kids from Grade 6-12. I am part of the (volunteer) organizing committee. This week has been in the making since the start of the year, and for everyone involved it is a very stressful week.

This year, I am amazed at how much it has taken out of me, particularly as this year ran much more smoothly than previous years. Maybe I'm just more run down in general, but even after a nap yesterday afternoon, a lie in this morning, and another nap this afternoon, I still feel totally wiped out.

Expo is such a great cause though! The aim is to support teaching and learning of [all types of] science. It is so wonderful to wander around and see nearly 400 projects, which (in theory, at any rate) represent the best our schools have to offer in the greater Cape a Town area.

I took 20 projects this year, and of those, 14 received a medal and 3 received special awards. This is a fabulous result for the school, and for my team of teachers back at school. For those kids who sweated blood and tears (especially for those who were involved in the school play, or the musical Gala  evening, or the High School Jam competition, or a combination of these, all of which took olace the week before or this weekend after!) it was worth it. Their medal is true recognition of their hard work and dedication! I am truly proud to be associated with these extraordinary kids and their hard-working teachers.

I am already looking forward to next year, even as my body feels like it has been wrung out and run over. 

But I'm thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to just lie in bed and not think about school, marking, settling papers or planning lessons.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I am a statistic

I've had a day and a half today.

This morning my son woke up sick. Cue the frantic run around to make a plan for child care.

Then my 8 yr old daughter had a sulk, followed by a crying fit, followed by yelling at me to get out of her room because she '[DOESN'T] WANT TO TALK TO [ME]'. What, you may wonder, sparked this? The fact that her baby brother got to stay at home, in my bed, and watch TV, because he was sick.

Then, on the way to work, I stopped off at my son's pre-primary school to drop off the fees notification letter for next year (which was due back yesterday...). I was out of my car for all of 5 minutes, in which time someone broke into my car and stole my:

  • wallet with all my cards
  • ID book
  • cell phone
  • iPad
THEN, my insurance told me they won't cover the theft of these items because I did not tick the 'and contents' box on my comprehensive insurance contract. WTF?? Doesn't comprehensive MEAN it includes theft OUT of a motor vehicle?!?!

So now I'm at least R8000 out of pocket, before you add in the cost for a new ID, petrol and time on the phone/ in queues to replace all my cards. (And, of course, I can't get my new bank cards until I get my ID....)

The loss of my iPad is a pain and a half, because it's like trying to teach without my right arm. Once a person makes the switch to using technology to teach, going back is like trying to breathe water.

Then, because I had no easy access to my diary (it's on my iPad!) I nearly stood up a parent with whom I had scheduled a meeting.

Then I DID miss a lesson... I got my times wrong - of course, I know why the kids didn't bother to come looking for me in my office - they quite appreciated a free lesson!

But then I came home, and as I walked in, my daughter rushed up, gave me a hug, told me how sorry she was that my stuff had been stolen, and offered me a cup of tea to make it all better.... I have the best kid in the world! That was the best moment of my day today by a million miles!

I should point out that, while I am a statistic now, there are several things for which I am grateful:
  • I wasn't in the car at the time.
  • I wasn't personally threatened.
  • Almost all my data was backed up in the cloud, so I can access most of it via the web. It's a pain, but at least I haven't lost all that data as well!
  • A sim swap is relatively painless to set up, and I have an old phone I can use in the interim to at least be contactable. (That should all be set up by tomorrow.)
Most of me hopes the thief or thieves get their come uppance, not necessarily that they get caught, but that justice is served. I want them to suffer for a) violating my personal space, b) taking my stuff and c) causing such havoc and inconvenience in my life. (I mean, do I REALLY have the time to go and stand in a queue at Home Affairs to get a new ID book?!?!)

However, the other (small) part of me recognises that if he/ she/ they experience 'an eye for an eye' justice, all it does is cause the cycle of violence and crime to continue. I know that restorative justice is better. Yet, what are the chances of him/ her/ them getting caught so that I can try to implement that? Next to zero. So where does that leave me? I'm mad as hell, not ready to forgive yet, even as I recognise that, really, as long as I fail to forgive the only person in this who suffers will continue to be me.

But FLIP I'm annoyed, peeved, hacked off, MAD.

I also have a horrible headache. Anger, tears and too much comfort-sugar will do that to one.

I'm praying for a miracle. I want my stuff back and nothing is too big for God. Yet, part of me has serious doubts that God will answer this one in the affirmative, because I've prayed for bigger things before (like my 2nd daughter's life) and he chose to refuse me then. If he refused that, why would he answer this MUCH lesser request in the affirmative? No, I think I'm better off accepting that my stuff is gone and not hoping for anything.

What I find myself hitting my head against continually is the lack of power, the lack of control. This whole thing has reminded me how powerless I really am - against crime, against sin, against the pigs swill of others' worst intentions. And I hate that. I hate that someone I don't even know has this power over me, power to completely disrupt my day, my work. I hate that I don't have the strength of character to CHOOSE to behave differently - because while I can't control circumstances, I should be able to control my reaction to them.

Have I mentioned how deeply annoyed I am by all this? I mean, I have to phone a gazillion companies to replace all my loyalty cards. I have to go into the library to replace mine, as well as the kids' that were also in my wallet. I have to stand in a queue at Home Affairs.... I think I may have mentioned that.

And then, tonight I heard that someone I love deeply, who was in remission, no longer is. I've been told not to panic yet, because the cancer is an unusual one, and they don't know enough yet to give a proper prognosis, or treatment options. I'm trying, but it's impossible not to fear the worst, to imagine my life without him. Still, it does put the theft this morning into better perspective.

I'm heading to bed though, because I'm just so over today. I've had enough of all the heartache from today. Tomorrow holds the promise of better things, and maybe after sleep things will not just seem better, but will actually be better.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pain, pain, go away

Know how sometimes you have a little niggle -  a twinge of pain somewhere that you think will go away in a bit, so you don't do anything about it, or you forget about, or you simply don't have time to do something about? Yeah, I had one of those. This, dear friends, is a cautionary tale about getting older.

So everyone knows that I am I serious need of a body upgrade. In case you missed it, let me give you the low down. I have:
~ a skew sacrum (fractured falling off a horse in full gallop; it was never picked up until after it had healed) which gives me incredible back-pain and periodic sciatica
~ damaged cervical vertebrae (same horse, same fall)
~ hyper-mobility syndrome (all my joints bend more than they should) giving rise to multiple twisted ankles and sore knees
~ torn ligaments in one ankle (that hyper-mobility thing in overdrive) with chipped bone fragments that had to be surgically removed and so now I have reduced mobility in that ankle (& can't wear high heels for more than a day in a stretch)
~ fractured knee-caps in both knees
~ RSI in both wrists (that's thanks to practicing octave scales for my Gd 8 piano exam...)
~ APS (blood clotting disorder which results in my blood not pumping very well, so my heart works overtime all the time, yet, oddly, my blood pressure is naturally low)
~ poor circulation (thanks to my APS issues) causing me to suffer terribly in cold weather, when my hands are white, my lips are blue and I can't stop shivering
~ one side of my body shorter than the other (so my clothes always fall off my right shoulder...): running with one slightly shorter leg is a lot of fun, not.
~ virus, mould spores and hayfever-induced asthma
~ I get migraines every month (both period related and APS related)
... Have I forgotten anything?

I pretty much live with some sort of daily pain. I can't remember the last time I had a totally pain-free day. Some days the pain is mild - just an ache. Some days I don't want to move out of bed cause it all just hurts too much.

Of course, I am my own worst enemy, because if I was dedicated in doing my exercises, my back wouldn't get so bad. But, you know how it is. Life gets in the way of taking proper care of yourself.

Earlier this year, like back in the first term, my shoulders and neck got all messed up, again. I was getting headaches, and eventually things were so bad I was struggling to turn my head to see my blind spot. After 3 months I figured it wasn't getting better, so I went for a deep tissue massage, and came out with a shoulder injury... And still not able to see my blind spot. 

I thought it was 'just' a ligament injury, and would heal in a few months. Hah! Turns out it was a whole lot more. Turns out that my pain is chronic, and that my spinal column is a mess. Yes, I though I knew that already, but it's actually much worse than I thought it was. Because of not doing anything about my pain for such a long time, I have made things 100x worse. Now I have two serious spinal issues that need to be corrected if I want to have any quality of life when I am 60. (And 60 is suddenly looking a lot closer to me now than 40 did when I was 20!)

And, of course, that 'whole lot more' is costing me a pretty packet to get my Physio to fix.

That's the problem with chronic pain and injury. The longer you leave it, the worse it is to fix. My brain is still so messed up over all this, that when you press on my shoulder, I feel the pain in my butt, or in my toes, or in my fingers. As I said, chronic pain -  it messes with everything. (Fortunately, my body is responding well, and quickly, to treatment!)

But the worst of all is that if I had sorted myself out properly when I was younger, none of this would be necessary now. Of course, when I was younger, I didn't think it was that serious. I didn't think it was that necessary. Getting on with enjoying my life was a lot more fun! When I was younger I was foolish, oh so foolish! (plus, I didn't really have the money to fix myself...)

So, young people, take a lesson from me. When you get injured, take the time to get professional help and get yourself properly healed. Don't just press on, or do things half-cocked. It will come back to haunt you when you get older, and it will cost you a great deal more!

And I give everyone permission, when you see me, to ask how good I am being about my treatment -  my exercises, my stretches, my posture! I don't ever want to get back to where I was a few weeks ago. I want to live a life in which living pain-free (most of the time) and having pain-free movement is normal.