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Preparing for Shabbat in Jerusalem is very different to Johannesburg. Friends here have kept emphasising which supermarkets to go to. I didn’t understand why. Now I do. There’s no one stop shop that sells everything you need. At least I haven’t found it, yet.

I thought Machane Yehuda Shuk would be my one stop shop. To buy the freshest fish in Jerusalem, the best vegetables and fruit and ready made salads. Optimist that I am I leave an hour to go to the Shuk, and do a quick, whirlwind run through. I buy my hummus, eggplant salads, chilli and even Hilbah – a fenugreek salad. I learn from Moshe, the man at the deli stall that you can taste the olives, grape vine rolls and apricots before you buy them.

Pity I didn’t know this before I bought all my fresh produce. You can’t shop as if you were plucking plastic packaged vegetables and fruit from Woolworths refrigerated shelves. Here it’s hit and miss; the mangoes were tasteless, the apples floury, the coriander went off the next day. I’m realising that this is a land you leap into but slowly get to know the important things, like where to buy the sweetest watermelon (if you know where, please tell me.)

I bumbled along, buying the wrong fish for my Shabbat lunch. I needed a firmer white fish for cooking my fish rice. What is the Hebrew equivalent of Rock cod and Hake? Further the fillets I asked for came un-skinned. That evening, standing and skinning my fillets one by one, I paid for my oversight. Nonetheless the fish rice was made. At least there was lunch.

In Jerusalem the chaotic heat of preparation disappears as the afternoon sun dims and the cool Jerusalem evening winds begin to blow. The shops shut, which feels peaceful and right. This is from a person who gets depressed on Christmas and public holidays when the whirring noise of daily life stops. But Shabbat in Jerusalem feels right. Quiet. The streets empty out and you feel the hush that Shabbat is coming. Connect the urn, put on the hot tray. There is no more you can do, but light the Shabbat candles and be ready to welcome the Shabbat angels.

We had guests this past Shabbat. Old friends and new friends whom we had just met. They all had boys for ours to play with. It ended up being a soccer playing lunch. It was a happy, social balagan in our small home over the miraculous fish rice, Moshe’s deli salads and contributed salads (in Israel everyone contributes to meals). South African friends of our kids, on holiday, popped in to join us for iced coffee and cake. Then our neighbour from upstairs who had moved in a week before, introduced himself with his five year old son. Playing Jewish geography we discover that we know his Uncle in Law, as his wife’s father is from South Africa. It was a happy party of Jews from all over the world – Sydney, London, New York, Johannesburg and of course Jerusalem.

The kids were happy, we were happy and felt tremendously blessed to have a Jerusalem Shabbat.

There is no way to describe being here for the last two weeks. I keep having to shake my head, waking myself up to the fact that I am not on holiday, that I am in Jerusalem forever. Jerusalem is now my home.

The highlight so far has been meeting a part of the anglo community. Our good friends organised a seudah shlishit, third Shabbat meal at a park, where immigrants like us from England, Australia, America and of course South Africa congregated over fresh watermelon, macaroni and cheese, and lots of salads on picnic mats (that are very popular here especially around Yom Haatzmaut I’m told). There were too many faces and names to remember properly, but everyone was really lovely and welcoming. It’s a wonderful community here (who bring meals and cakes upon cakes to complete strangers)  which means alot, being new and knowing practically nobody here.

I woke up this morning understanding why the Torah repeats over 36 times the importance of welcoming the stranger in our midst. There is nothing as alienating as coming to a new place, without the language and context. It’s like walking around without shoes on ice. Nobody knows who you are, nobody necessarily cares about who you are either. Nobody is waiting for you. And the less expectations you have from those around you the better.

Of course I knew all this before I came. Two weeks in it’s sunk in, not only am I a stranger, but my children are too, and they also have to deal with the trauma of being the ‘new’ kid on the block. As an adult you have the skills to create your own life. As a kid you’re still developing those skills. So my heart bleeds tears as one of my children is side lined by one of his ‘new’ friends randomly.

It’s falling down to earth hard with socially scraped knees. We’ve come with good intentions and yet there are hard days. Hard moments, where I need to swallow and say ‘C’est La Vie’, life inevitably has its ups and downs. The moment where my Hebrew is so bad, the woman at the restaurant says, ‘Just speak English, okay.’ Of shouting at the children not to step on the freshly laundered pile of clothes. Of going to bed with my feet aching from walking, washing up, cleaning, general wear and tear of a day spent with four busy boys on holiday until they start camp.

Then there’s the surreal good moments, of simply walking and freely breathing in the purple bougainvillaea that grows wild on the streets of Katamon. Spontaneously going to Tel Aviv and staying over night to join in the White Night festival, where there are bands and orchestras playing throughout the city streets. Sitting with the children and close friends in Old Jaffa, under the soft lantern light listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody dancing off the sandstone walls of the ancient Biblical port. Walking through streets that don’t sleep, cafes that don’t close, life that doesn’t end, but clings tenaciously to every moment in search of, if not a great song on the streets of Tel Aviv, then a wonderful story on the streets of Jerusalem.

I only have my story here so far, of trying to find my feet, my street, my song. I’ll start with going to yoga tomorrow at the railway station at 7am.


Long luggage line at the airport.

Long luggage line at the airport.

The making of Aliyah takes months to plan. Where to live, which school to send the children to, what to take, how to take it, packing up a house, a life, saying goodbye. But when it actually comes to the day before going, I was still in denial about the fact I was going. It’s not really happening, I’m not really leaving, until I’m at the airport with a train of suitcases (and my African checked bags) which takes up a whole aisle at the Elal check in section.

‘I can’t believe we are doing this,’ is what goes through my mind. ‘I can’t believe we are doing this,’ I keep repeating to my husband. The last day in Johannesburg as I drive through the streets of tenacious trees that are shedding their last orange, red autumn leaves, glowing in the dancing light of the warm winter sun, it feels surreal. I can’t believe I’m leaving it all.

But we are, and we do. We arrive at Oliver Tambo airport in a borrowed truck and two cars. We pay porters to help transport our mountain load of luggage. We are hassled at the Elal counter over the weight as I bend every rule in the weight book. (‘Is 23.9kg, 23 or 24 kilos,’ the check in guy asks. ‘I only pay attention to the first two numbers,’ I reply.) The Elal manager, whom we eventually have to call, kindly waves us through, with all our luggage.

Our flight is a midnight flight. The airport at ten o’clock is eerily quiet. All the shops are closed. There’s something haunting about an empty, silent airport. It focuses me. There are no last minute jobs I planned to do anymore. Cape Union Mart is closed. Our flight is also mercifully empty, and we are at the back, which means we can grab a row for each of us, so that the children can sleep. We need all the sleep we can get. I hadn’t slept a full nights sleep for a week because of all the packing and nerves.

The people on our flight, who had witnessed our truckload of luggage, were incredibly kind. The Johannesburg Jewish community is a lovely, warm community and they were that to the very end on our flight.

We landed in Israel, after an easy Elal flight. (I love Elal flight attendants, they’re kind, kind, kind. Which is so important especially when you fly with small children.) We were greeted by a Telfed representative, Avraham, who was very calm, practical and of course welcoming. He lead us to get our Israeli identity papers organised, and medical aid. The process was smooth, the children play after being refreshed with juice and cookies, and we fill out the forms and documents, all of which are relatively simple. After an hour we collect our luggage, with the help of an Israeli porter. (One African bag opened up. For some reason it didn’t have the Elal plastic around it. Luckily I had packed everything in plastic boxes so our stuff was secure.) Telfed takes care of the taxi (who was a bit flustered, but nonetheless understanding about the amount of luggage), and Avraham sees us through to the very end.

We load our sim cards onto our phones, that we had organised on our last trip to Israel. (We chose Golan, because they have amazing rates for international calls.) Before we were able to phone my friends they began to phone us. I didn’t expect the incredibly warm welcome that we received.

Beginning with my brother, who brought my father’s cousin to greet us, and moreover helped us unload our never ending luggage. The garden apartment we are renting was furnished by our friends, the beds were made up with linen I had sent with a friend earlier. Another friend arrived with a hot lunch – hummus, mince meat and pita bread, my kids favourite, and hot chocolate cake for lunch. Another very good family friend came with beautiful, colourful flowers (that I didn’t think you could get in Jerusalem) in a glass vase, drinks, cookies. The love and kindness overflowed around us. We were welcomed with a generosity and kindness that felt so blessed. We left wonderful family and friends to come to wonderful family and friends.

So our first day, even though it was back breaking and beyond tiring as we unpacked, and dealt with very little sleep, was a complete blessing. We ended it off with a delicious family dinner at Caffit on Emek Refaim. (Our friend recommended their family meal, of fish and chips, pizza, pasta and a salad, all of your choice. Note it down for next time you visit Jerusalem.)

We walked home in the cooled summer night, after the children had their Aldo ice creams, still not quite believing that we had arrived. We were here in Jerusalem. Officially we had done it and made Aliyah. To which the locals here respond, Mazal Tov.

The last couple of weeks have been predictably heart wrenching. And yet my heart wasn’t over wrought until the last couple of days because I was too busy packing our eighteen suitcases, and when I wasn’t packing I was thinking, dreaming, planning the packing. When you plan to live out of eighteen suitcases as a family of six for a year, what you pack becomes all important. It was a great distraction from saying goodbye

I believe there are no goodbyes. Only the Australian ‘see you later’ or the Hebrew, ‘Lehitraot’, which roughly means the same thing. One thing I’ve realised as a wandering Jew is that you carry your relationships in your heart. Even if you’re not with a person you love physically, you are with them in every other way. My grandmother, even though she passed away a couple of years ago and even though I’ve lived away from her for the last thirteen years, still speaks to me, guides me and is very much part of my life. ‘Dress beautifully’, she’d say in my mind as I get dressed in the morning. ‘Just a little bit of garlic, fry it this way,’ she’d whisper as I’m cooking. It makes me believe that relationships, and love is forever.

Leaving Johannesburg we have taken our loving family and friends with us. These last few months, since we said the impossible, ‘We are moving to Jerusalem’, the love and support we’ve been surrounded by has been tremendous. Enough to convince us not to go. To change our minds, to say, ‘Why in the world are we moving away from our wonderful family and community of friends?’

Except I don’t believe in goodbyes. Only hellos, only in friendships and loves that I carry over all the seas, in the nineteenth suitcase, as my husband’s aunt calls it. The invisible suitcase in our hearts with all the people we love in it.

One and a half weeks to go. I can’t lie. I can’t say I’m not unravelling. I can’t say I’m completely unravelling either. Because the show must go on. The house has to be packed up. But we are only sending our lift next year, which takes a bit of pressure off. Nevertheless, eighteen 23 kg bags need to be packed and here is where I need to stop and have a laugh. You can join me in a hysterical, belly laugh as you imagine the coffee spluttering sight of two adults, four red bull energy boys and eighteen suitcases.

We don’t even want to own eighteen suitcases. So I’ve bought these massive checked African bags for 30 rand each. We are going to leave South Africa in true African style. Giggle, nervous giggle.

The children are enjoying the packing process. Choosing what they want to take. My three year old has already packed his fire truck school bag, grabbed his Winnie-the-Pooh wheelie bag and plonked himself in the car. I found him there half an hour later and asked him, ‘Where are you going?’ ‘To Israel,’ he replied with a huge grin. Sweet one if only it was that easy.

The packing is not too bad because I’ve majorly decluttered my house. It’s so much easier to open a half empty cupboard and pack it. Decluttering has been a God sent cleansing process. I shouldn’t have waited thirteen years to do it. These A type personalities who keep everything spick and span and have spotless shelves (even behind closed cupboards) have got it right. Where there is physical space there is room to think.

Although room to think feels like a luxury at the moment, I have to remind myself to KEEP CALM and PACK. Keep going to yoga to ground me. Keep my feet planted firmly on the floor so I don’t float away with the tremendous physical and emotional stress, which I can’t allow myself to show. Because I have four boys, because they take their cue from their Mum. So tick, tick, tick. The never ending list is being completed. Tick, tick, tick. The clock stops for no one.

‘Who is Eshkol Nevo?’ most South African’s and Australians would ask. He’s an award winning Israeli author who was in South Africa last week, participating as an international author at the Franschoek book festival. If only I could have gone. However I was lucky enough to hear him speak about his latest book Neuland at the Cyril Harris Community Centre in Johannesburg with a friend. We both left his talk feeling intellectually stimulated to the point that we would have loved to step onto a street of vibrant coffee shops where people chat over cups of coffee, glasses of wine and mugs of beer. Discussing life, hopes, dreams, politics and words.

Eshkol is softly spoken and yet strong and passionate about his work. Going to Eshkol’s talk reminded me what a clever society Israel is. A place, as my New Yorker friend described to me in amazement, that has a public library van on the surfie Tel Aviv beach front. A country where books are not only read but valued. Where their authors are national treasures. As Eshkol Nevo is.

Reading Eshkol’s books such as Neuland (which I’m still in the middle of. I’ve read his World Cup Wishes eons ago as well) is a great way to learn about Israeli society. Every day Israelis, such as his main character Dori who treks through South America in search of his missing father, are described in skilful literary, realistic detail. So that we have access to a collective memory and experience that we don’t know much about as Diaspora Jews. Yet we can also relate to and see ourselves in them, as our shared Jewish memory is explored and hinted to through Dori’s journey.

Meanwhile I would have thought that such a well known author would be politely unreachable. I tried my luck anyhow and chatted with him whilst he signed my freshly bought Neuland book (which is translated from his original Hebrew version). ‘I’m making Aliyah in June and I’m a writer,’ I said. ‘Really,’ he said. And he gave me his email address and said he would help me, to my delight and surprise.

‘You’re making Aliyah? Welcome’, is the overwhelming response we have received from Israelis. That is, after the ‘Why? Why are you making Aliyah?’

This exuberant welcome is both humbling and exciting. It’s like realising that we’re part of a special club. The entrance into it requires a pair of wings of faith. Staying and thriving requires serious, first class elbow grease. But there are the coffee shops, open late at night. Where people drink milky coffee and glasses of giddy wine, and mugs of bubbling beer, and that is my romantic ideal where I hope to go and sit and write and speak about words. After I’ve finished washing all the dinner dishes of course.

I always struggle with my romantic dream that everything will work out in life with the least amount of effort. Coming back from Israel is hitting reality hard. There’s a LOT to do in order to move countries. Life becomes condensed into a list; call embassy, get passport photos, fill out dog forms, declutter house… It’s a bottomless list. Of course I have to remember to look at it.
These days I find myself becoming quite overwhelmed so I end up taking myself out for coffee or making myself a quiet cup at home. This is when I need to remind myself of the ‘doing’ rule. Just choose three things for the day and do it. It’s not about perfection, it’s about ticking the item off the list. The novel of paperwork isn’t so insurmountable as long as I pick up the pen and begin. Getting all our birth certificates apostilled isn’t impossible, even though it requires a Fedex courier to Sydney for certification in my case; it’s just a visit to the post office. That is as long as you have ALL the birth certificates. We lost one and had to reapply for a new unabridged birth certificate.

Lesson learnt – make sure all documents are up to date and in order.

Of course writing this all out is fun. I get to leave out the lengthy phone calls, the dramatic, frustrated tears. The beads of sweaty worry at entrusting the most important documents of my life to Fedex. No one needs to know about it do they now.

Of course there is help along the way. A lot of help. The Aliyah department has a wonderful, dynamic team who are very welcoming. They outline everything that’s needed to make Aliyah, they break it down, and help make it doable. They have a mine of contacts and information to aid every issue that seems like a mountain. What’s also lovely is that it’s a mini Israel where everyone speaks Hebrew to each other. We picked up some Hebrew slang, just listening into a heated conversation. It’s worth visiting the Aliyah department as soon as you’re thinking about making Aliyah.

My friends in Jerusalem who have made Aliyah warned me, ‘You have to be organised.’ This made me shake in my Camper boots. Organised. I know I can be organised, but it’s not quite my thing. I remember once telling a psychologist friend that I struggle to keep an organised house. She replied, ‘Writers aren’t known to be the best homemakers.’ I guess when I die I’d rather be a writer than a Vogue home maker. But this doesn’t help us make Aliyah. So I’ve had to roll up my sleeves and hyper focus on getting all birth certificates in order, fill out the bountiful forms, and when I just can’t anymore, make myself a cappuccino.

Things change. Time marches on and decisions are made as the seasons change. I’ve been silent on my blog for a LONG time now. We’ve decided to make Aliyah – Go up and live in Israel. It’s been a lot to digest, a lot to organise as things are moving at a rapid pace. And as I move right along and change with the times, this blog will also change in name and nature.
We are moving from Johannesburg with our four Princes and our black Labrador dog, Blitz. To say it’s daunting, exciting, confusing, and a lot of hard work is to say the least. Sad is also a good adjective. It’s a big responsibility for parents to uproot their happy children who love their schools, friends and most of all their family. But we’re doing it with a deeper vision for them, a higher purpose for all of us, and an echoing call from the past of Biblical magnitude.

Aliyah may sound romantic and wonderful, which in many idealistic, dreamy ways it is. Really; it’s very practical. We’ve just been to Israel to find a rental apartment, visit schools and see banks. All the essentials. There’s a lot to whine about. Rental agents who waste time not taking us to places that meet our spec. (We saw exorbitant rentals, places which don’t allow dogs and lovely, perfect apartments that were in the wrong area.) Staying on top of it all requires constant thought, planning and action. So we keep going, doing and ticking off items from our Aliyah list.

On the upside I can share wonderful, must go to places in Jerusalem. The first place to add to my list of best eats in Jerusalem is CHABA – חבה. It’s a welcoming, fresh, industrial cool, clean trattoria in the midst of the shouting chaos of the Machane Yehuda Shuk. We walked past it when we were looking for a fun place to have supper at the shuk, and my darling husband gave in to my wish to go in after seeing the like in Paris pastry selection. It was almost too clean and beautiful to produce food to surprise the palate. I was pleasantly mistaken. Chaba is not only ultra chic, but the food was beyond good, it was special. My darling husband had the good taste to order the fish kebab, which sounds very average, but was very different. So different I wasn’t sure how they made it. I said to him, ‘You’d better enjoy it because I can’t copy it.’ It’s a must try. I ordered a beetroot salad, which was delicious, although I wouldn’t advise it as a main because it was too full of beetroot (the waitress did warn me). We also ordered a medium size plate of antipasti. The mushrooms were meaty and delicious and the kohlrabi was an interesting new taste to try. My only warning is that this was all too much. Israeli portions, especially salads, are massive.

This didn’t stop us ending off our memorable meal with cappuccinos and dessert. What to have? Chaba has a wide pastry selection (which attracted me into the store in the first place.) It was very difficult to decide. We ended up having a decadent multilayered chocolate slice, which fulfilled every chocolate craving possible. We left too full, and went to the bar next door to meet a friend. Which is what you do in Jerusalem. Meet old friends and have a good huck over a beer.


Chaba – 119 Jaffa st, Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem

The words chilling out and holiday are synonymous, unless you have four princes. Going away on a sea side holiday with the Princes this week has been full of melting, double scoop, mint and vanilla ice creams, car fights (why can’t they sit and keep their hands and feet to themselves?), sitting on a hot, sandy beach watching anxiously so that a life saver doesn’t have to repeat his Iron Man run and swim to save Prince No. 3 from being swept away by a rip current (why doesn’t he listen when I tell him ‘Don’t go too deep’?).

On such holidays I used to get ratty and cross. I just wanted to read, write and in general be left alone so I wouldn’t get sand in my hair, and every crevice of my body that no amount of showering would remove. This attitude obviously worked for no one. So I changed. I (consciously) relaxed and found some solutions that helped me cope better with the fact that family holidays don’t necessarily mean relaxing.

Morning Me Time
I have an arrangement with my husband where each of us take turns to take time out early in the morning for ourselves and do what we want to do, whilst the other holds the fort. On my morning I wake up early and do yoga or go for a run, or (when I’m just plain lazy) go for a coffee. It’s enough to refresh me for the kiddie day ahead, so that I join in and have fun, without feeling that I don’t have my own time.

Be A Kid
A part of me has had to accept that holidays with the Princes, is a family holiday, a time to relax in a kid way, doing fun activities that take me back to my childhood. I know this seems obvious, but it took me a while to reach the stage of acknowledging my inner child and bringing her out to play with the Princes. This week I’ve done a lot of that. We’ve been rock climbing at the beach rock pools looking for fish with our nets. We’ve been for a million ice creams on our bikes. We went strawberry picking and horse riding for the first time (I was terrified). Challenging myself to do new things with them has expanded all our horizons. And in the evenings when I’m back to my grumpy, grownup self at least we all know that we’ve had a fabulous fun filled day.

Quiet Time
Sometimes I tell the Princes that it’s quiet time (a good friend once gave me this holiday idea). It’s a time for reading, building lego, anything quiet. It doesn’t always work, especially with the younger ones. But the concept is important on holiday. We don’t always have to be busy, busy, busy. It’s okay to be quiet and just relax. And the ultimate cheat is to put a DVD on. That’s at least one hour of guaranteed peace and quiet.

Get a Babysitter
Where ever I travel in the world I hire local babysitters. My nights are a sacred opportunity to hit the town with my husband, or even on my own. (Not that we do anything more exciting than go to a coffee shop or restaurant – sorry to disappoint.) This is so important for our marriage and it gives us our own adult time to connect. Leaving us rejuvenated to be happy loving parents.

Forgive and Move On
There will always be blow ups and bang ups on holiday. We spend an unusually long time together as a family on holiday and the cracks in relationships appear. I see my family dynamics clearer on holiday. Sometimes we get into tremendous fights over stupid things like what DVD to rent. Forgiving myself for the silly arguments and my mistakes helps me move on. These arguments highlight what I need to build in my relationships with the Princes. Our relationship deficits are often lost in ‘the next thing to do of our weekly, rigid school schedule. With our free holiday time I resolve to play more monopoly, spend time looking at their village empires on Clash of Clans, and summoning the energy for that one more bike ride to the shops for Salt and Vinegar chips.

Holidays are a family investment. They’re the golden years when our children are young and not at camp and still want to be with us. I’m trying to remember this. To hold on to the moments and enjoy the connecting time. I’ve finally learnt that that’s what family holidays are for. So I now embrace school holidays and just relax into it (most of the time).

The Best Wheat Free Almond & Orange Cake

This is the most moist, delicious, orangey cake recipe that I found in a magazine. I’ve made it to great acclaim, and the biggest secret is to serve it with fresh cream! (Without the cream it’s dairy free which is also great.)

2 Oranges
6 Eggs Seperated
250g Sugar
250g Ground Almonds
5ml Baking Powder
Orange Zest to garnish
Icing Sugar, to garnish
Whipped Cream or Mascarpone to garnish

Cook the oranges in boiling water for about 1 hour and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 190 C and prepare a springform pan with baking paper.
Remove the pips from the oranges, place in a food processor and liquidise the oranges, skins and all. Set aside. (I forgot to take the pips out and it still worked. Although I wouldn’t do it again.)
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the almonds, baking powder and liquidised oranges and mix well.
Beat the egg whites to form soft peaks and then fold into the batter. Pour, then spread evenly into the prepared tin.
Bake for about 20 minutes on the top shelf then remove to a lower shelf if the cake starts to brown on top (I sometimes cover with foil if I feel the cake may burn). The baking time will be about 40 minutes to 1 hour in total.
Sprinkle the baked cake with orange zest and icing sugar and serve with chilled whipped cream or Mascarpone on the side.

It’s that manic time of year, at least in the Southern hemisphere. School is over for the year (finally). There are new books to be ordered, teachers presents, staff gifts, cookies to be bought for gift hampers, scheduling parties for the Princes to go to (I’ve already dropped one Prince at the wrong party venue). All the mindless jobs that remind me why I’m not a PA or secretary (I would be fired on the first day). The unpacking of school bags, wiping down the grimy cheese and tomato sandwiches that have made friends with fluffy green mold. At this time of year my organisational skills are stretched to their finest, hysterical ends. Before I collapse into a heap of overwhelmed, dramatic tears, I have to stop, get away from my never ending to do list that grows longer every time I look at my cell phone, and have a cappuccino.

Mulling dreamily about my year over a flat white (it’s not as frothy as a cappuccino, and I’ve found my perfect one at Naked Coffee in Melrose Arch) is much more my vibe. What have I done this year? It’s flown by faster than the loom band craze. I’ve run from grocery shops to the kitchen, to bits of writing, to lots of coffee shops all year. Despite all this ‘busyness’ it’s hard for me to pin point what I’ve actually done. I haven’t had a nine to five job where I’ve achieved anything. Hence the mind talk whirrs into being like a top class Nespresso machine. The truth is out – I’ve done nothing, besides a lot of school lifts and a lot of nappy changes (bless my little Prince’s fast metabolism).

Then I think to myself, even with a nine to five job, there’s no guarantee that I’d have something tangible to show for it. Maybe a few deals, a good monthly pay check, but what more? These thoughts remind me that life is about process. Whilst our society often values product and achievement, the real joy and beauty in life is in the process. When I forget this I’m undermining my very life as a mother, a human being, a soul as a spiritual being having a physical experience. Of course producing tangible results is brilliant, but just like raising a child is in the every day loving acts and detailed care, so is our own lives. At the end of the day when we die it’s the small every day joys, those that build our relationships and inner peace that we are proud of. They are our legacy.

So now that I’ve thought that through I’m feeling much better. And I can go through my simple, favourite things this year, which have brought me much joy and have made me so grateful for my year.

Cappuccinos – As superficial as this sounds, there’s a deeper meaning to sitting for a cappuccino. A lovely hot cup means I STOP and relax for five minutes. With a friend the cappuccino experience is perfected. There is no greater joy than having a delightful cappuccino and connecting to a good friend. Tea of course works just as well. Coffee shops are also the best place to work. You don’t have to worry about never ending house jobs that surround you at home (like no electricity – thank you Eskom), and someone serves you for a change.

Yoga – There’s nothing like a powerful yoga class to shift my mind and get me into my body and feeling vibrantly alive. My favourite yoga studio is Nadine Hurwitz’s Yoga Lova in Illovo. Her classes are intense and nurturing at the same time. (Just what every woman needs.) There’s nothing as joyful as being able to lift up into a handstand. It should be on every one’s bucket list.

Writing – Everyone needs a vocation, a hobby, something that makes their heart sing and time stand still. For me it’s writing. I feel so grateful for every article I’ve written and blog post I’ve published.

Cooking – This year has been a big gastronomic year of dinner parties, casual weekend get togethers with friends. The best meals being when I’ve been bored of my normal repertoire and have taken out a new recipe and made it, despite my mother in law saying, ‘Never make new dishes when you have guests.’ We all bore with the zany sometimes gross, politely interesting results and we gutzed on the couple of sensational recipes that I conjured up. (Ottolenghi’s garlic tart is one such dish. You can google the recipe. It’s well worth making.) Meanwhile for all my cuisine talk I’m toying with the theory that it’s not the food you have but the friends you have gathered around you that matter. I’m still working up the courage to try my theory with tuna on crackers as the main course. Next year’s resolution! Can you imagine how much more often we’d all get together if it all it required was olives and cheese. (Unless of course you’re my cousin who has people for gourmet meals all the time producing them as effortlessly as a glass of lemon water.)

Last but not leastFamily
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Ending the year in loving relationship is the biggest achievement of all. A year with your loved ones has its ups and downs. The investment of reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my Princes, sitting and playing Battleship or cards with them (when I really don’t feel like it), making pancakes for a Sunday morning treat, asking them the highs and lows of their day, or just fetching them from school with a loving smile, is all very special. I take it for granted, but it’s what makes up my year. I’m not going to speak about the heart wrenching squabbles, the tearful breakdowns, or the Princes running amok in a mud battle. When I look back at my year I somehow see the good things only – just like on Facebook.

I guess focusing on joy builds joy. Scheduling in the good times in our crazy busy schedules; like date nights, family pizza games nights (which I need to do more often), family picnics, all build relationship and makes up our year. Looking back I want to do more of that in the coming year. These glorious summer days are a good place to start.

The older I get the more I realise that the simple things are what matter and bring us happiness. They’re easy and don’t cost much. Life in a coffee cup is beautiful, and shared with others it’s very worth while.


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