An unforgettable Lockdown dinner

As I look back now on what was a difficult journey of being banded together with extended family during Lockdown in Durban, South Africa, I can only feel a slight sense of relief that we’ve come through some of the most difficult days.

I can’t exactly remember the moment, or the time but my husband and daughter were out doing a monthly grocery shop to prepare for our hibernation during Lockdown. To put this into perspective… We live in a two bedroom apartment on the 10th floor with extremely noisy neighbors, No! I mean really… Especially the one family at the end of the passage. They have a large family of young, energetic boys and the mom, Well! I think she’s overwhelmed by it all. I won’t go into detail about what life is like living in the same space but let’s just say, as a chronically ill person, it can become quite overwhelming and overbearing. Oh! The joys of apartment living.

Durban – the warmest place to be

Don’t get me wrong! I love where I live. It’s close by the promenade where I take short, leisurely strolls watching the waves roll up on the sandy shores, surfers barreling waves and the local fisherman throwing their rods over the pier in the hope of ‘the catch of the day’. I can watch the sunrise over the ocean on a warm, Summer’s Day as I sit on my tiny balcony. I smell the ocean and hear the roar of the waves…

Warm, sandy sunkist beaches

It’s calming, serene and beautiful – It’s magic! But this beauty will not suffice under a strict, level 5 lockdown Covid-19, Corona Virus pandemic, with noisy neighbour’s. So, on the night of 26 April, my family and I made the no brainer decision to live with family in a suburban neighborhood with a large garden, two dogs and freedom to have a backyard, lockdown dinner.

The time spent with extended family was fun- filled, cheerful at times, complicated and busy.

We spent days talking, playing board games, baking and cooking exotic dishes, watching movies and catching up on the evening presidential address of the state of the nation during Lockdown.

As a chronically ill person who suffers with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and leaky gut syndrome this was a challenge for me. I’m so used to living a life of isolation, eating a restricted diet, little engagement, paced activity and chores. Needless to say, the move sounded great at the time but was proving to be  another challenge.

It all became overwhelming for me as I spent most of my days in a dark room, with headphones to drown out the noise levels. After some activity, my body was wracked with pain. So, I frequently had to lay down with heat bags and rest a lot.

Not everything was doom and gloom… I recount this beautiful day vividly and with fond memories, where my daughter decided upon having  an extra special, extravagant lockdown dinner in the backyard. It wasn’t a particularly good day for me health wise but I really needed something to lift my spirits.

I smile, as I think about the evening. 

It was warm and beautiful, and memorable.

Celebrate life in the midst of the chaos.

We spent the whole afternoon carrying high backed chairs, setting the table exquisitely, with a crisp, white tablecloth and a gold – colored runner draped over the glass table. The grass woven mats set in their place, shiny silver cutlery with pearly white crockery, crystal glasses neatly arranged alongside stemmed wine goblets placed on the table. The table was looking gorgeous and elegant, a table fit for royalty, I think. It just needed a little something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Oh, yes! some plants. I look in the nearby shrubs and there… I find it! It’s a little vine creeper… Perfect! I string the creeper through, in and around the table settings … Voila! It’s all come together. My daughter, Rachel, strings the fairy lights across some nearby poles and my brother-in-law, Floyd, gets the fire going in the wheelbarrow, while hubby, Garth and my sister- in-law, Chantel, get the dinner going.

Family is everything!

I’m so excited, everything’s coming together as planned. But wait! I hear a rumbling in the distance, the sky turns grey and dark, fluffy, dense clouds gather. Garth checks the weather report, all seems clear for now. So we continue to set up and wait with baited breath.

Everyone is excited, we’re all dressed up in our Sunday best. I borrow a beautiful peach, chiffon dress with gold trimming, from Chantel and slip on my comfy leather sandals . I slap on some makeup and quickly put on silver hoop earrings. I smile! We’re all ready for the much awaited evening dinner, it’s like an event of the year. It’s a time to celebrate, an opportunity to give thanks for all that God has done for us. Chantel shouting across the hallway: “Everyone get ready and meet me in the backyard so we can take some photos to remember this night!”. I laugh, we all laugh, she’s the official family photographer. Nothing happens without a snap, or two thousand when she’s around.

Oh, look it’s the photographer

As we sit at the table, posing on a  warm, Autumn evening- the golden sunsetting and a rustling in the trees- I hear a thunder clap! the tiny rain flecks spitting on my cheeks and a couple more, and then a few heavy drops. Everyone sighs! We try to convince each other that it’s just a passing shower and everything will be fine. So! we carry on in the hope that we can enjoy our evening in the backyard but it was not to be. 

Oh my heart! I think a little tear trickled down my face mingling with the raindrops now heavily smacking down on my skin. Everyone scurries around, dashing and grabbing things like war is about to happen. We place everything neatly under the carport, while the rain beats loudly on its roof. Shoo! I wiped my sweaty brow… I’m grateful we had somewhere to place everything and continue to celebrate our dinner. The fire is stirring, the flames lapping and flickering, lighting up the night sky- It’s awesome!

Candlelight in the dark of night ~ Shine bright!

Our bodies warming up as we set our meal down and fill our glasses to drink up the beautifully crafted and red grape, non alcohol wine- It’s thick and rich, smooth and syrupy to the palate.  The dinner table is set with samosas and spring rolls as starters. We have a scrumptious and delish array of savory rice, a bright and colorful bowl of nourishing salad with yummy, butter chicken curry and a special assortment of treats with coffee for dessert. Everything smells so divine, I can’t wait to get stuck in! We snap a few more pics as requested by ‘you know who’ and in the background a Playlist of soul-stirring and soothing music is played on the tiny jukebox.  We raise our glasses, give thanks and salut!

Cheers to twenty20

All is well… We laugh and chatter way into the night…We take turns dancing nearby the wheelbarrow fire.

It’s been a great family night, an enjoyable experience, one I will never forget and the lockdown woes suddenly pale into the distance.

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Enough is Enough!!!

I will no longer be covered by the blanket of white supremacy and the privilege it carries . Too much time has passed by to be silent on this matter. You cannot smother me any longer!
I will breathe freedom in implicitly and exhale love deeply.

I’m choosing to walk away in my big girl boots, with my brown, colored skin and stamp out such behavior and intolerance.

I’m coming out of the soil of the earth that bore me, I’m rising out of the darkness- Out of the shadows and I’m becoming –
I’m blooming!

I’m flourishing!
I’m growing!

It’s my time!

I will survive!

I will love myself!
I will educate myself and others!
And I will win!

Make no mistake about it!

It’s encumbent on each one to educate ourselves and help others to do the same.
It’s not enough to say I didn’t know!
It’s not enough to say I’m sorry!
It’s not enough to say Black lives Matter!
It’s not enough to post a black square and then be done with it because when you know better, you will do better.

Right now I am standing up and advocating for change.
I’m learning and having the difficult conversations with the oppressed and the oppressor, and the ones standing on the sidelines.
I’m leaning into the discomfort that it might better change minds and inturn change the world.

This is not about black against white…
It’s about white supremacy and privilege! 
It’s about injustices! It’s about unfairness!
It’s about brutality and lauding over me because of the color of my skin!
It’s about villifying me, calling me hurtful and derogatory names!
It’s about the way you see me and the way you treat me!
And it’s about time you stopped –
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Love always 🖤

Nola

A Vulnerable Choice …

When I began sharing my life vulnerably with the world, I never knew how many people it would encourage, inspire and reach.

When I started out, I did it afraid and anxious about what people would think, or say about me but then I also thought about the few, or many, who would need some help along their journey of healing, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally, they’re all the same to me.

The thing about vulnerability is that it doesn’t just help others, it helps you heal too. Vulnerability empowers you to connect with the most vulnerable in a real and authentic way.
Wow! What a way to live your life!

The more you share of yourself, the more you grow in confidence that this is your journey, it’s your path and no one can take that away from you, except yourself. You’re as brave as you think you are!

My journey of digging deep and sharing struggles, has not entirely healed me of my chronic illnesses but it’s helped me find courage in moments of doubt and darkness, it’s held me accountable on many occasions to the ones that I am reaching out to and that is healing in itself.

I’m grateful for the whispers of God inspiring and motivating me to begin the journey of vulnerability. It’s been a helluva ride but an amazing one at that. I’ve gotten to make friends near and far with some of the nicest people I know.

For what it’s worth, don’t let anyone stand in the way of you sharing your life the way you decide to. Some might ostracize, ridicule and even attempt to abuse you but never give them the high ground of vulnerability – It’s yours – Own it!

One of my favorite quotes is written by Brene Brown, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding”.

Keep being vulnerable!
Even at times if you feel like it’s not worth it – Someday, somewhere, someone might here your story and their life will be  changed forever – just as yours has.

Love always ❤️
Nola

Calm before the Storm!

When you look at this picture it looks so peaceful and serene, and it was…

I had an amazing lunch with my daughter at a quaint, little coffee shop in my city BUT what you don’t know and see is that on this night I had a major panic attack. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced 
I’ve always heard of people having them but never really knew what it felt like.

On this day of having a lovely, scrumptious lunch I got home feeling a little more fatigued than usual and went to lay down to rest as I always do when I have been out for a while. I got up feeling not too hungry, so I didn’t eat but took my meds anyway. It wasn’t too long after that I started feeling dizzy and confused… My head was swimming! My heart rate began to escalate and it felt as if I was about to lose my mind. I tried to calm myself down and breathe. I prayed! I took deep breathes and prayed all the more! At this point my chest started closing up, my hands and feet were numb, my legs lame- I felt like I was having a heart attack- I was so afraid!
What brought it on??? I honestly don’t know, I can’t say! with a chronic illness you can never tell… I had such a good day, I felt great and that’s why I went out.

In the middle of the night instead of waiting it out, I gently squeezed hubby’s hand and whispered, something is not right – I don’t feel well at all!
What I didn’t realize at the time is that this was a panic attack.
I could barely speak, fear took over me! I had no control at the present time. My mouth started going skew, my throat dry and closing up…. All I can say is that this was the most frightening experience of my life. At this point my daughter was gently praying and encouraging me to calm down, hubby was on the phone to the paramedics. I wasn’t sure, they weren’t sure what was going on. In that moment I felt like, God! I don’t want to die now… I have so much more I want to do and say and experience… My life is not yet done! I prayed and surrendered my fears to Him.
It wasn’t long before the paramedics arrived. They checked all my vitals and stayed until my pressure and heart rate normalized. Thank God for such loving, caring paramedics… They were great and very understanding. They were truly angels sent by God.

Why am I sharing this with you!
I’m writing all this to say that there are truly loving, caring, beautiful, kind, ambitious and wonderful people all over the world who experience this. It’s helped me see people and mental health in a different light. I’m writing this to say that I see you… I now understand you!
You have my love and my support.

When you’ve never experienced something before it’s easy to judge and berate people until you have been through it yourself. So next time you and I meet someone going through something we may not understand, let’s be kind and patient!

I’m pleased to say that with the doctors advice and some meds I am feeling so much better. I still have to retrain my brain to remind myself that I am not in trouble and that I’m safe and secure.
My faith, family and caring friends have kept me and I’m on the road to recovery and healing.

If you have experience with this, or know of anyone I would love to hear from you 

Love always ❤️
Nola

It’s been a Year!

It’s time for an open door!

The last time I wrote a truly honest blog has been since, July 2019. It’s not that I have not been writing but I’ve just not had the motivation to do so on a regular basis.
There’s been so much going on in my life that at times I just wanted to quit…Writing has and will always be my first love of creative things… so I pushed through although it was in fits and starts.

Time to create!

As a HSP (highly sensitive person) I feel and sense things deeply, so when challenged by life it can be pretty overwhelming to say the least, yet I know that I am stronger for it, also because God is always by my side- I couldn’t walk this journey without Him.

As I look back on the year 2019, a year filled with many trials and tribulations but one also filled with miracles great and small- It’s been a year! A memorable year.
A year where I’ve learnt more about myself than I ever did, a year of pressing on, a year of believing and trusting when darkness was overwhelming, a year of praying in the Spirit, a year of fear and doubt, a year a growth and slow progress, a year of anger, frustration, pain and tears and yet a year I wouldn’t have any other way because I’m learning that this is life – True, authentic, real life. Don’t let anyone tell you any other way is living, it’s a lie!

Look up for your redemption is near!

A life filled with complexity, confusion and celebration is a life truly lived. We are human, we are not perfect!
We live, we love, we laugh, we cry, we feel, we hate, we betray, we get angry, we withdraw, we reach out- In this physical life we have no other way of connection on a spiritual level except through our feelings and emotions. This is what it means to be human!

I’m human because I am made of all of these things!
It’s what differentiates us from robots and inanimate objects.
It’s what connects us to a higher power, whom I call God and Father. It’s what connects me to my Saviour, Jesus Christ- I’m made in His image, yet with flaws that only he can redeem.

Life has been admittedly tough and challenging most days but I am where I am by the grace of a living and loving God. He is my Keeper!

As the New Year, 2020, has begun I step into a season of newness filled with hope, dreams and also trepidation because that’s what it means to be human. I step into a year with God by my side trusting him to fulfill every good promise and because He is faithful, I know He will bring everything to pass.

Every dream, every hope, every prayer and every promise will be realized through the love of God that holds me.

Last year was a year of embracing love and this year will be the year of fulfillment- Every dream, every hope, every prayer and every promise will be realized through the love of God that holds me.
I’m excited about the future because my faith tells me that it’s good and blessed, and prosperous.

Love lives here!

I’m leaving the Holy scripture, Jeremiah 29:11, as a word of encouragement to you and I.

‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord , ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’. AMP

The Lord’s plans will prevail!