a weekend away in greyton

GreytonThree years ago on July 31st, we got married in a little town called Greyton. It’s teeny-tiny, about half an hour from Hermanus (which is about an hour or so from Cape Town), and the loveliest little village you ever did see. But, the thing is, with me being only semi-employed over our first anniversary, and in Greece for the day for our second, we never made it back to Greyton, until this past weekend.

Thing is, I can’t for a moment imagine why. You know when life is SO HECTIC that you can barely see past the end of your nose? You know, when your job suddenly doubles the workload, you’re moving house, your sister is away, and your in-laws are in your house all the time (to help with house admin, but you secretly wish they were ANYWHERE but where they are, which is in your living room), and it’s the middle of the longest winter ever – THAT kind of hectic. That kind of hectic is when it’s the perfect time to breakaway.

So, my dear husband took charge, and while we are in the midst of packing up our home and dealing with all the house admin known to man, took us away for the weekend. Nothing fancy, nothing luxury. Just a weekend for us to unwind, spend some time together, and get our heads back in the game.

What is there to do in Greyton, you ask? Bugger all. Perfectly nothing, but wander around, drink wine in the pub of The Post House (where we got married), eat oxtail and lamb shank at The Abbey Rose, eat lemon curd pancakes and buy cheese and pesto at the Saturday morning market, drink Napier beer at Vanilla Cafe, buy chocolates from Von Geusau, and wander around some more. We left the car parked at the place we were staying (Jolly J’s Cabin – we called it the love shack), and walked the whole weekend. Yes, it was freezing, freezing cold (there was loads of snow on the mountains nearby), but that just meant it was better for snuggling, and drinking and eating and sleeping until we were recharged and back to our usual selves.

So, if you’re in need of a break from life, and would like a place to do nothing for the weekend, I can heartily recommend Greyton. Take all your friends, go alone, or go with your best partner in crime ever, like I did. But go. Go before your head explodes from the rat race, and you’ve forgotten how to smile. Go and remember how it feels to live.

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the big decisions

recentsThe big decisions, I find, are those that hit you like a ton of bricks one quiet Sunday afternoon. There you’ve been, minding your own business, tootling along in the slow lane of life, enjoying the scenery, and within a matter of minutes, there are these huge decisions lurking on the not-so-distant horizon that you have to make, one way or the other.

You can, of course, choose not to.

You can go along with the things you’d planned, and disregard any elements that could knock you off that course. You would be perfectly within your rights to just not look in that direction for a bit, until the unsettling thing had gone away.

But, when you’re me, you look at it. And you turn it over in your mind, trying to see all the possible avenues, repercussions, and ripples of what that element, that spanner might throw into the works. When you’re me, you cannot simply look away. You jump emotionally into the breach, and it’s as though the decision has already been made, and you’re standing there on tenterhooks waiting to see what will happen.

So, now I bet you want to know what I’m talking about, right? Well. It’s a bit complicated. A few months ago, the hubs and I (instigated by me, strangely enough – and contrary to all former statements), started talking about having a baby. Yup. I know what I said. But you remember what I said about change and changing minds? This is one of those things.

You see, I’m comparatively young. Young enough to have made sweeping statements in the past, but also old enough to realise how sweeping and how limiting those statements were. I’m getting a little older and a tiny bit wiser, and I realised that I’m not held accountable to old decisions. I don’t have to go along the path set before me by my own history, any more than I have to go along a path set by someone else. And so, when I started getting stirrings of wanting something I had never wanted before, I realised that yes, change is possible and sometimes even welcome.

And so it was, as we were going around show houses (yes, we’re going to move soon, too), that we stumbled upon a house that changed everything. We’ve been looking for a small place, 2-3 bedrooms, preferably with parking and a little garden. We like light, and ideally, would be not too far from either town (where we hang out) or work (these two things are, we realised like finding a unicorn). We’ve got a smallish budget, and houses that we like are sold before we’ve even fully contemplated how it might be to live there. Then we came across this gorgeous place. Three bedrooms, braai area, pool, garden, lovely kitchen, and – even better – a separate granny flat. It’s light, lovely, spacious, with a combination of old-style charm and modern convenience. It is, in fact, our dream house. In a nice neighbourhood, albeit in the suburbs (close to work, but far from town).

But.

(You knew there would be a but, right?) It would mean continuing our current living situation, where my in-laws visit roughly every month, staying for up to a week at a time. Yeah. Let that sink in.

Because we own our current house with my husband’s parents, we were moving so that they could liquidate their cash, and make some provision for the next stage of their life (they are already retired, but moving towards old-age homes and so on). Individually (in other words as two separate couples), we can afford two small places, plus we want to keep their current house in Onrus – there’s no market for holiday homes, and it means more to us than it would be sold.

——————–

I wrote that about a month ago. So much has happened in the interim, that it deserves a separate post. Suffice for now to say that, we’ve bought the house. Eek.

** Pics courtesy of my Instagram feed, and are really unrelated to anything (I have a new phone!)

the realisation

ProgressI have this quote on my pinboard at work, and a colleague remarked the other day that I never change my mind, and I was a little bit shocked. I’ve always thought of myself as a flexible, adaptable person. Sure, I’m a little stubborn at times, and have certain relatively fixed ideas about things, but I never saw myself as unable to change my mind. For that matter, I’ve never gotten a tattoo because I change my mind so frequently.

And then I was chatting to the hubs last night, and the subject of people came up, and it turns out I judge. I judge people, and I decide whether or not to interact with them in the first couple of minutes from meeting them, and it’s only in extreme situations that I will reverse that judgment, and be able to look past it.

And I’ve realised that the only person I am harming in this situation
is myself.

Whether or not I make friends with someone is relatively minor, but there are large, life-altering decisions that I’ve made that I don’t keep looking at and evaluating, simply because the decision is made now. But life is a series of decisions, often the same ones made over and over again, and every so often, in order to facilitate progress, you need to change your mind and make the decision differently, or you may be cutting yourself off from opportunities and experiences that could enrich you beyond your wildest dreams.

When I was 18 or so, and had seen my parents, and the parents of so many of my friends go through horrible, painful divorces, I told myself that I would never get married. Marriage was for other people, people who were better at relationships, people who could keep their shit together. But I, I came from a family where my parents and my mom’s parents were divorced, and my dad’s parent’s would’ve been, had his dad not died relatively young. So the long-term marital relationship example was mostly missing from my life.

And yet. I was engaged at 23. So, as it turns out, I am capable of changing my mind. Of realising that I am not my parents. I am capable of keeping my shit together, and being married, and putting the work into it that it requires (although that, like so many other things, is consistently a work in progress).

And so, I feel like I need to get back to 23-year-old-me, who could evaluate choices, and make different ones from the ones I thought I had made. From what I eat to whether I work out, and who I speak to and what I do everyday, I need to make sure that the snap decisions I come to are arrived at for the right reasons, and not simply because I am unable to change my mind. And I need to decide to live life every day, to live it deliberately, and to make decisions that will enhance my life, not cut me off from experiences that would enrich.

So, maybe I over-think things. Yes, that could beĀ  true. But I will take over-thinking over not thinking about them any day, because that way, I know that what I am doing is considered, and carefully evaluated. So if I try to make friends with you, and I never have before, be kind, I’m out of my comfort zone. And if I seem like I’m changing my mind a lot, be gentle, I’m not used to this, but I’m trying it out to see what happens.

the conversation

So, last weekend was interesting. First I had a disastrous haircut, right before we’d planned to spend the day at a wine festival. What with one thing and another, I was in a fairly introspective mood (why does hair matter? Why am I so upset? Does it matter? Why does this all not make sense? Why don’t hairdressers listen?). So instead of doing what everyone else was doing, namely drinking and making merry, we drank, and had a serious conversation about the state of our relationship and our suitability as parents.

Yeah. I know.

You thought kids were off the cards for us? Well, it turns out that having the conversation over and over again is what’s on our cards, and as part of the drunken should-we-have-kids debate, we started talking about our relationship, how it’s going and how we feel about each other, as people and as parents, how we define failure, and how we perceive one another’s actions. There were tears and a little bit of shouting, but it was a good conversation. And although it’s hard to have those conversations (we can only have them while slightly liquored up), they are important to have.

According to the Gallup Strengthsfinder, I have the Adaptability strength. I may make my mind up about something (I am opinionated, and choose sides when I have researched the shit out of something), but I am also open to changing paths. The way they equate this is career-wise. People with the Adaptability strength typically don’t choose a set career path. Rather, they make decisions based on current needs, and adapt and change with the flow of things. They welcome change as part of everyday life, and see it as a blessing rather than a curse. So while I said I didn’t want kids a scant few months ago, it’s a decision I feel I cannot help but keep making. It’s not a static thing, it’s a thing I keep having to re-evaluate, re-look at, and re-decide.

And this conversation, as hard as it was to have, highlighted to me yet again the importance of conversation, especially in marriage. So often we get caught in the whirlwind of life, and the decisions we make are not conscious ones, they are a product of the haste with which we speed through life. I really think that the important decisions need to be consciously thought through, talked about, debated, argued about if necessary, but as long as they are thoroughly hashed out, then they can remain the same or change as needed.

So if you’re interested, the “we-aren’t-kids” people stance has changed to “we-aren’t-kids-people-right-now-but-we-might-be-sometime” stance. We haven’t ruled it out totally yet, but have agreed that if we do decide to become parents, we’ll do it in the next two years, before I’m 30. In the meantime, we are going to live the shit out of our lives, and try to decide which way the cookie will crumble.

Have you ever been in the midst of a decision that felt wrong? Had a huge conversation while revelry carries on around you? Or are you the person who shies away from talking about these things for fear of hearing what you don’t want to hear? Leave me a comment, and let’s support ourselves through this year of living deliberately. Oh, and take the Strengthsfinders test (it is R200, depending on the exchange rate, and you can buy a code here), you may be surprised to discover that it gives you the tools to think about and talk about what you do in a much more aware and conscious fashion. Invaluable, really.

Happy days, folks.

the experience

Christmas is a-coming, and the baubles are on the tree. The mercury is also rising, which means we’re in for another southern hemisphere Christmas in the sun. What’s unusual about this year though, is that this is the year I send my little sister off into the big, wide world to live and work on another continent far, far away.

This will be the first time ever that we are in separate countries for more than 3-4 weeks. The first time we haven’t been just a quick phone call away. If I thought moving in with my husband was hard (and it was), this is going to be even harder.

Siblings are a strange thing. They drive you mad almost every day, but no-one else, not even the love of your life, gets you like they do. The shared history, the shared jokes. Particularly for two sisters, it’s also the nights spent talking, the “us against the world” attitude in high school, which morphed into the the “we’ve got each others back” attitude in life after school. Sisters are important, and it’s going to be very hard to see her go.

Experience, though. That’s why she has to do this. Up to now, we’ve both emigrated twice. Lived on two three different continents. Been to several different schools, together and apart, and been to boarding school. We studied for and got our degrees, and then our postgrads. We’ve both worked in bars and restaurants, had loves (and lovers), fights, nights on the town (and days hungover), times when we talked all day and all night, and times when we weren’t talking to each other at all.

But now, now our ways have parted to some extent. I am married, and I have a small (hairy and slightly evil) dog. I have a job that I enjoy (though, it could pay more), and I go on the occasional but amazing holiday with the hubs. She has been studying, getting her heart broken, finishing her articles, and staying in one flat since high school. And now is the time for her to work abroad, travel, make new friends and have amazing adventures.

I suppose that part of this is fear. Fear that she’ll forget about me. Forget about coming home. Our experiences will no longer be shared, and our lives will cease to be intertwined. And the lump in my throat comes from a fear that the world is bigger than our relationship can manage. And the time might come when we’ll only see one another once a year. And that makes me sad. The bigger part, the one that is motivating her and helping her set on her way wants to see her happy. I want to see her have adventures, and meet new and interesting people, and see the world. I want her to experience the wonder that is a new city, a new country, and new people. I want her to go skiing, have hot chocolate in the snow covered mountains. I want her to meet people, maybe fall in love. Experience this amazing world, and everything it has to offer, and (hopefully) come home a fuller, happier, more fulfilled person.

That’s my hope for my sister. In the meantime, I’ll hold down the fort here. I’ll be here when she calls, and welcome her home when she’s done seeing the world. And when she gets home, we’ll have the long conversations which will bring our lives back together again. I’m going to miss my sister. But I hope she has a wonderful time.