Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Saturday, 3 June 2017

INNOVATION CLUB - June 2017 - Jean De Villiers

Thursday night 1 June, was Innovator's Club time again. The last one I attended was Andrea Bohmert's Venture Capital talk in February. This time it was hosted at the slick new Citadel Investments building in Claremont (I think it's not THAT new, I have just not seen it or been there before).
 
And the guest speaker was Jean De Villiers. Yes, he of Springbok rugby fame. It turns out he is Citadel's 'Head of Philanthopy'.

What does Jean De Villiers have to do with innovation, you may ask? I was also wondering... in fact that was a big part of why I went along this time, to get the answer to that exact question.

So it seems that's a pretty obvious first question and one Jean addressed immediately as he got his talk started. He said that if we were there for tips on tech innovation, he had none, and we were in the wrong place. He went on to say that if however we were there for tips on the Springbok's rugby game play and how they can get back on top... he has none of those either, and again we were in the wrong place. And if that was the case, we'd better leave.

No one left and so he had to go on to tell his story. And what he did was give us a brief run-through of his development into and then extensive and lengthy career in the game of rugby, starting at the age of 5. I have admittedly not really followed the rugby scene closely for the last *cough* 10 *cough* years since the 2007 world cup win, but I do at least know who he is.

Jean has a candid, open, engaging and slightly self-deprecating and humourous style, which is quite endearing. This coupled with his story about his rise to fame in the rugby world, which was marred constantly by many and varied injuries at critical points, made for an interesting and engaging tale of repeated cycles of success and set-backs at every turn.

For me personally, and due to my own life experience, I related strongly and quite emotionally, to his message about how in those moments of set-back and failure you face your biggest choices. The choice to give up or try again. How you can either accept defeat and stop trying. Or you pick yourself up, learn and grow and try once again. And how each time you have to make that choice to keep going it actually gets easier. Not necessarily easier to do, but easier to make the decision to do so. Because you build grit, tenacity and resilience along the way. In my experience giving up also feels bad. Keeping going and trying to be and do better and to build on the failure to hopefully achieve possitivity feels much better.


He also brought in the sentiment of how you can't really claim to be innovative unless you have failed. This is a pretty widely held belief...




Jean then also spoke briefly about his philanthropy work much of which seems to focus on Early Childhood Development in underprivileged communities.

It was great to see speakers from many of the other Innovation Clubs I have attended there too, Sihle Tshabalala, Marlon Parker, Mark Forrester, and Andrea Bohmert and as usual getting a chance to network, chat and interact with interesting, dynamic and successful innovators and entrepreneurs is always inspirational.

I have been lucky enough to get a chance to speak to Sihle at several of these events now and each time he appears to be even more confident, successful and driven. He certainly seems to be doing things right and I was very impressed to hear that he is not only running his not-for-profit ventures which seem to be thriving but has now also running a for-profit set-up too which is doing really well - evidenced by his slick suit and the MacBook and iPhone he was toting. I just love his story and what he is doing. What an inspiration!

I'd probably break down and cry

Both Andrew and I watched Captain Fantastic  recently and independently of each other while on planes. Both of us found it to be a profoundly provocative and emotive movie and both of us were so so struck and moved by the scene at the end where this song is played. It made us both cry big round and wet tears of love, sadness and longing.

It's written by Guns & Roses, but I know it best from the version Sheryl Crow did....

She's got a smile it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I'd stare too long
I'd probably break down and cry
Oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o' mine
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine
She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain
Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder
And the rain
To quietly pass me by
Oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o' mine
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine
Where do we go?
Where do we go now?
Where do we go?
Oh, oh

Where do we go now?
No, no, no, no, no, no
Sweet child,
Sweet child of mine

Friday, 2 June 2017

How long will I love you?

This song played on my iPod while I was running yesterday... it made me cry.

How long will I love you
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I can
How long will I need you
As long as the seasons need to
Follow their plan
How long will I be with you
As long as the sea is bound to
Wash up on the sand
How long will I want you
As long as you want me to
And longer by far
How long will I hold you
As long as your father told you
As long as you can
How long will I give to you
As long as I live through you
However long you say
How long will I love you
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I may
We're all travelling through time together
Every day of our lives
All we can do is do our best
To relish this remarkable ride

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Grief is tidal

I read this posted by someone on Facebook today....

Grief is tidal.
Lost in the depths of despair. 
Plunged under by relentless crashing waves of sadness, gasping, drowning, floundering. 
He is gone, I cannot be left. 
Just when all is lost to the deep, I am washed into a pool of calm. 
Coping. 
Salt sanitised by tears. 
Only to be caught and sucked out by the strong relentless current of memories.
Fingers of feelings pulling me down.
Back into the depths.
And so it goes, circular. 
Until I learn to swim, swimming makes me stronger, to become one with the water. 
The memories of you. 
Moving with the squalls. 
Until one day I know I will reach my depth. 
Stand on the shore and watch our love vanish over the horizon to the next place - leaving only your salt stain in my story. 
Gone too soon. 
Like so many broken shells make the sand on which I stand.
Goodbye my dearest.
I am yet learning to swim.

Image result for dark sea shore

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Running: The Cape Town 12 One Run

I ran the first Cape Town One Run 2 years ago. It was a great event, and I was keen to give it another go. Last time I finished at just a few seconds over 1 hour, so this year when my amazing friend Dave (who is doing an INCREDIBLY inspirational life and health turn-around) said he wanted to enter this year as his first race I was IN. For some reason despite entering about 6 weeks ago, I was not seeded and was placed in Batch F right at the back. Meh. So I arrived this morning on my own, lonely, and feeling pretty glum. But I had my #DoingItForNatey sign on my back and knew I had to just do it. Before the race I walked towards the lagoon on the edge of tears... and then a huge crow flew over me and then off towards the sea. It was so big majestic and beautiful. I remember thinking 'Haha, I actually couldn't make this up!' That gave me a big smile and so I headed to the start determined to go do it. They started us a good 10-15 mins after the first batch started. So by the time I crossed the start line at least 10 000 of the 14 000 participants were ahead of me... ARGH! I started trying to fight through the mass of people. I came so so close to thinking 'fuck-it' and just giving up and walking as it was almost impossible to move. In stead I ducked, dived, jumped, and scampered, in and out and around one after another of all those people. And any gap I got I ran as fast as I could. It took at least 7kms before I was able to get any kind of clear path. The whole was was a fight through hordes of other runners. (I am not used to this I normally start as close tot he front as I can!). But I ran and ran and wouldn't allow myself to slow down or walk at all. By the time we got the the 'Usain Bolt 100m sprint' I ran my heart out... almost literally. I actually thought I might go into cardiac arrest, I was pushing so hard. With 1.5kms to go I kept going. As I got to the last 500m I realised my time was not terrible and my goal of a sub-60 - which I had abandoned before even starting - seemed possible. But by that stage I was so tired I actually couldn't sprint any faster. So it was all I could do to carry on plodding down to the end and to finish in 1:00:24. Still that's an average of 12kms/hr or 5min/km over the race, which is not too shabby! And although results are still being finalised it seems I came 60th female and 9th in my age category. That was hard work though, next time I want my bloody seeding! Despite the seeding grumbles it was an amazing event and wonderful day out, and the absolute cherry on top was watching Dave Luis finish his first ever race and longest ever run.... like a boss! #SoProud #DoingItForNatey

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Twinkle boy in the stars with his crows

Natey was our Little Prince....

At his memorial his Aunt Edie read from 'The Little Prince'

"You—You alone will have stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so, it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! 

And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me… You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure… It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

It was a beautiful and poignant reading. I had never actually read The Little Prince at that point. But I got myself a copy and read it cover to cover one Saturday afternoon in January while tears streamed down my face. It is a lovely and evocative book which really struck a cord with me.

The symbolism of Natey as the Little Prince and also his 'Twinkle Stars' association was set.

Within the first few weeks of January I knew I wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate Natey. I spent a few months mulling over ideas and elements I wanted to include. I had too many ideas. But stars, crows and the Little Prince kept coming up and stayed pretty constant. The other elements came and went and never felt completely right.

I had several different ideas.. and then suddenly it became clear and I knew exactly what I wanted. Just like that.

It started with this picture I found of a tattoo someone else had which actually pretty much encapsulated what I wanted to do...

I love the circle, the stars and the way the little prince was portrayed. But his hair needed to be like Natey's and he had to have his crows (Odin/Thor's Crows Huginn & Muninn 'Thought & Memory')



Elements were inspired by these...



And in the end I had a vision conceptualized. I mulled it for a few weeks or so, and then just after my birthday the time suddenly seemed right. And I acted - fast. I decided on the Friday that I was going to do it and 2 hours later I had an appointment for 12:00 the next day.

I contacted Cape Electric Tattoo. And when I went in Waldo worked with me to turn my conceptualization into a final design and he got it.

Next thing I was on the table and under the needle... for 1.5 hours. Waldo was great. It could have been extremely emotional and overwhelming. But he is a lovely guy, hee was so kind, caring and respectful and he did a great job of distracting me (so I didn't focus too much on the pain and physical trauma) while still allowing me to be present and feeling what I needed to feel at the time.

I LOVE what he produced, and I now have a permanent physical connection to Natey and his memory.

It is nowhere near as good as having that precious beautiful boy here. But I have to accept that this is all I have now... his twinkle stars laughing in the sky and his crows that I see every day. Pretty much without fail.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Four months of eternity

Darling Natey. It is 4 months now. 121 days and nights without you keeping us busy, entertained, happy. Without our purpose, our joy or our 'sun'. It is my birthday today. But I don't care about that. It's not a celebration for me this year. It's just another sad reminder of what happened.

I have done the work. Although I guess one is never 'done' with this kind of work..? But I am doing it, facing it, going into it. Not avoiding it. I think. I feel. I cry. I move. I plan. I focus. I colour-in. I connect. I feel gratitude. I do yoga. I listen to music. I read.  I travel. I smile. I make jokes. I take photos. I work. I work-out. Sometimes I even force myself to socialise (this is the very hardest for me still). But afterwards I always settle back to an empty, hollow nothingness. My meaning somehow went with you my boy. I know that's not fair to you. But it is true. And now I need to find something else, and to release you from that burden. Because it's not feeling any better.

My heart still aches with missing you... and seeing your dad miss you. Some days hiding away from it all feels like it will be easier, but I know it won't help. So all I can do is keep going. One step and one breath at a time. Without you. Because of you. For you.


The crows still visit me daily. Sometimes more than one and more than once. They are all around me, and they still comfort me. But you, you are fading. I can't feel or hear or picture you on my own anymore. It breaks my heart.

Someone shared a story of another mommy in the states whose darling 19-month old Rory drowned in Feb, she recently wrote this and it captures exactly how I feel.

"... and it feels like a hundred years and mere seconds in the same instant.  I can’t believe he’s gone, and I sometimes struggle to believe he was real.

Sometimes, I feel like that sweet, beautiful baby boy was really just an incredible dream that we all were lucky enough to dream together for a while – and then we woke up.

So where am I standing now?

Alive.  Feeling like maybe I shouldn’t be.  Struggling with positive emotions and negative ones.  Knowing Rory wouldn’t want us to be sad, and yet reeling with the guilt of joy.  Breathing, and breathing deeply.

Working at walking forward.  Always forward.  Even when it’s hard"

Natey, I miss your precious face. Your angelic voice. Your cheeky smile. Your button nose. Your gorgeous eyelashes. Your crimson luscious lips. Your chubby hands. Your cute little bum. Your special scar on your chest. And the red curls. oh those curls. I miss you Natey and I am so sorry.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

When Great Trees Fall

A dear and caring friend posted this to me on Facebook today...
  ❤❤❤

When Great Trees Fall
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
Maya Angelou

3 months today

Dearest Natey.

It is now only/already 90 days, or 3 months, since you left us.

It is not getting any easier. In fact, if anything, it is getting harder and harder. As the enormity and magnitude of it all really sinks in. And also as the small little details come into bright focus and make themselves starkly evident. Little things I hadn't even thought of can become big huge gut-punch things in nano-seconds as the realisation hits me.

The other night a friend posted one of those cute Bored Panda FaceBook posts of 'Childhood Photos Recreated'. You know the ones. Original photos of 3 toddler in the bath, recreated with 3 tall gangling adults squished into the same pose. Or girl with baby brother on her lap, now grown-up with huge twice-her-size brother trying to balance on her lap. They are sweet and sentimental... and as I was looking at them and smiling it hit me. Right in the pit of my stomach. I gasped, barely able to breathe or contain myself, wishing I could un-think the thought I had just had. But I couldn't, and I couldn't look at any more of the photos in the series because there was no funny, sentimental or lightheartedness about them anymore. Because we'd never get to do those with Natey, and my now 10-year running tradition of our annual Christmas hat photos of the boys is suddenly gone forever... paused in time at 2016, and never ever to be the same again. :(

All the photos of you dear Natey and all the videos. People wonder if they are hard for me to look at, but the truth is they are not. I love them and I like to immerse myself in them. Because in them is you, and in them is all the happy, present, light, carefree, spontaneous and fun memories of you. Every photos and memory brings a smile. So I don't avoid them, I seek them out. Because that's where I find comfort.

Everywhere else where you aren't, or won't ever be, holds pain, sadness, emptiness, desolation and sorrow. That's the part I find difficult to deal with. The 'what now?'ness off it.

#DoingItForNatey keeps me focused on moving forward, and keeping going. But when I stop I di sometimes wonder, 'What the hell for?' 'Why bother?'

Natey after 90 days I miss you more than ever, and I am struggling to find new meaning and purpose without your smiles and laughs. I wish you would come to me when I dream at least, so I could see you sometimes. For now all I get are my crows. Every day they are there. And I love them, and they are the one thing I hold on to. When I see them I even say out loud 'I see you there' and I smile.

I bumped into an old neighbour last week at the gym. He'd heard the news and offered his condolences when he saw me. I was at a loss for words and feeling so defeated at the time. Not even knowing how to respond, I eventually just said 'I don't even know how it happened....'. Because I really don't. He looked at me and simply said, 'If you knew how it happened, it wouldn't have happened'. It's as simple and complicated, as mundane and profound as that.

I really really wish I knew, because then I would have prevented it.
Natey I wish I knew.

I love you my boy.
I will never forget you.

Monday, 27 March 2017

To an Angel

I met the beautiful and funky Shannon McLaughlin at the 2015 Midwifery & Birth Conference. She made an impression on me at the time as such a beautiful, grounded and free-spirited and seeming natural woman. 

I have attended 2 of these wonderful events. One when Natey was in-utero, and the last when he was a rambunctious 14-month old refusing to be tamed - while I told my story of 'Tragedy to Triumph'  culminating in the healing circle-of-life journey of his incredible birth. I had no idea my talk had much of an impact on anyone there, but it was important for me to tell it, and to express my gratitude at having had the opportunity he gave me. The wonderful people behind the Midwifery & Birth Conference were very much part of my journey and have held me then and still now. They kindly dedicated this, last, conference to Nathaniel's memory. 



I very sadly missed this phenomenal gathering of birthing people, which just happened last week-end - I wish I went, but I felt too vulnerable to trust myself to hold it together, and it wouldn't have been fair to the happy expectant pregnant ladies that would have been there. 

Anyway, Shannon attended again and heard about Natey's fate there... She wrote this beautiful piece after hearing about him. 

Thank-you Shannon. 


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

75 days...

Natey Boy, it's been 75 days since you left us.



That's 2 and a half months.
It feels too long. It feels like you were just here, and you could come back at any moment...
But you don't.

You are everywhere and nowhere.
I see photos of you all day. On my phone, in the house, on my laptop wallpaper, on Facebook.
We have a nook in the bedroom with all your 'stuff'. Rocks, stones, feathers, well loved cars, baby bear, your art from school, your favourite books (Remember how you used to giggle when I used to Read you the 'Bunny Pie' book?), the black feather I found.
I still say the things you'd say: 'Are you kidding me!?' 'Holy Cow!' 'A little more milkie please?' 'My school!' 'Dat boy whadup?' All these things make me smile and laugh.

I see your crows everyday. Not a day goes by that I don't see at least one, usually more. They bring me great comfort and make me smile each time I see one. They very often fly right over me.

But they are not you. Your photos are not you, you memories are not you.

And every now and again the enormity of the hole you have left in our house, in our lives, in our hearts really hits and feels so big. Too big to bear even. So big I can't let myself feel it completely yet. I can;t bear to think of all the potential and possibilities you had, and how much more you could have and should have got to be, get and give here.

I miss you baby boy. Life is just not the same without you in it. It's hard to find joy, and fun again my boy. We try to keep going to live #LongDays and to keep #DoingItForNatey, but it's hard.

I love you.
I am sorry
Please forgive me
Thank-you

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Natey's Red Cross Memorial Plaque

We were invited to visit the Red Cross Children's hospital and to tour the facilities and especially the cardiac unit. 

An in-memorium plaque was placed in the memorial garden at the Red Cross Children's hospital in honour of Natey and in thanks for the fund received in his name which will be used towards helping other children with Childhood Heart Disease. 

About R60 000 was donated in his name. We sincerely thank each and every one who donated and who helped save or better the life of another child.

 Natey's plaque was placed next to Doc Ollie's plaque. 


Us with Pauline, the Children's Trust donations coordinator.

Natey's Plaque

Doc Ollie and Natey's in-memorium plaques placed along-side each other


The hospital memorial garden


Cake (with stars!) & Sunflowers for the hospital staff.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

#DoingItForNatey

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart. 



#DoingItForNatey is about remembering to be present, grateful, spontaneous, to live long days, to push yourself beyond your fears or self-imposed boundaries and limitations. Be who you are and who you want to be without inhibition or apology. 


I will be riding the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and hopefully also doing the Platteklip Challenge again this year both in support of SAEP and also #DoingItForNatey

For every breath that feels tough during the training and the actual ride, I will be grateful that I can breathe and I will push on, because he can't. And if I can raise some awareness and money for the Children's Hospital *at the same time that will be an extra bonus. I am already riding in the charity group in aid of SAEP (South African Education and Environment Project). But will add this to my reason to keep going...

But despite fund raising this is a cause to seize the day and make the most of your life. Do it for you and keep #DoingItForNatey.


* In honour of dearest Natey there is a donation drive to collect money in his name (Nathaniel Leonidas Thor Canter) for the Children's Hospital Trust, in order to help other little ones with Childhood Heart Disease to get the life saving treatment they need.

Grateful for generous nourishment

Someone who works for Andrew set up a meal train  to provide meals for us for when we went back to work and all the guests and visitors we'd had stopped.

This is an online system to coordinate a meal provision service for someone. "When a friend is in need, everyone asks "What can I do to help?" The answer is always to make a meal. When many friends make and deliver a meal, this is a meal train."

At first we were embarrassed and a little resistant to accept it. I mean it's not like we were ill or disabled. We were back at work, walking around and 'functioning' throughout the day, and acting 'fine' for goodness sakes.

But both Andrew and I soon realised that we were 'at work' more than actually working. And that we were not that productive or functional at all. Attention spans were (still are) short, our focus is scattered and unpredictable. Our memory and recall is unreliable. We are forgetful. We zone out. We are easily distracted. We get easily overwhelmed and we are more often than not day-dreaming or a bit emotional. Between this we are trying to juggle our actual real jobs and the responsibilities we have to our clients, companies and teams. So while everyone is being kind and patient and giving us lee-way, stuff does need to get done. By the end of the day of frankly 'keeping our shit together' in public at work, we are pretty exhausted physically and emotionally.

I found that I had no time, energy or inclination to cook by the end of all that, and more so I was almost incapable of going to the shops to do grocery shopping etc for a good month or more. Noisy hustle-bustle public spaces - like shops - actually made me frightened. The sensory overload actually made me fearful and feel like retreating and hiding away (fright or flight mode). I couldn't easily face it. I am only just now not panicked at the thought of having to go do some shopping, but I still take it really slow.

Then for over a month I had almost no appetite. I didn't feel like eating, and nothing tasted good to me either. I ate to keep my strength more than for any enjoyment.

All of this was contradicted with a feeling of duty and responsibility - and also wanting - to make sure the boys and Andrew are looked after, properly fed and nurtured. To make them feel valued and to support them through their grieving process. It was a bit of a conflict in me; I didn't care about eating myself, but felt I had to look after everyone, but I also didn't really have the energy to bother. It was a weird and unpleasant tug-o-war inside me.

So when Andrew found me sitting at home literally having eaten an old discarded crust of bread for dinner one Friday night (ah Fridays those weekly reminders of what happened)... he decided the Meal Train would not only be welcome, but actually probably practically necessary for us at the time. And so he graciously and gratefully accepted.

It is such a marvelously practical way to coordinate and help people in need - whether due to a new baby, illness, injury, a death or any reason why someone would need help with meals. For the past month or so we have been blessed with kindness, care, generosity and nurturing nourishment in the form of a hearty home cooked meal each week-night. We have had curries, lasagnas, pasta bakes, picnics, quiches, pies, chicken, paella etc. All lovingly made and delivered by friends and colleagues.

I am so grateful for the wonderful people who have helped us so much during this terribly hard time.


It has given us room to breathe. Space to be still and to think and feel. Time to talk. And very real actual nourishment to give us the strength and energy to get up each day and put one foot in front of the other and to keep #DoingItForNatey.

I'll be forever grateful.
I hope to be able to pay this act of kind service back one day. When in a situation where you want to say 'How can I help?' chances are providing a meal is a really good way to do just that. Remember this.

Sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed.