Monday, 28 October 2013

Speeching - 'Lessons from Dad'

For the evening Prizegiving, I decided to share a bit more of myself with the audience. Dad has been on my mind a lot over these last few weeks, so I decided to draw on things he had taught me. It wasn't easy to stand behind that lectern and talk about something so 'painful' and so near to my heart, but I got through. Without tears or breaking down, so I'm rather proud of myself. Afterwards I had colleagues and parents coming to me to say how much what I said had meant to them, and that made me feel like I had achieved something. I just hope that the Grade 6 s and 7s (12 and 13year olds) took something away with them as well.
Here is the speech. I have called it 


"As a parent, I watch Jessica and Nathan and I realise how much of me and my husband are in them. The way they smile, the things they say… their attitude to life. And I have so much more respect for my parents. My mom who was always there for me, my dad who worked hard, my parents who did everything they could to make sure I could achieve my dreams.

So much of who I am comes from my Dad. This year is 10 years since he passed away and I still carry the lessons he taught me with me every day. We didn’t get on very well, we argued and had many disagreements, especially when I hit my teens. My mom always had a theory that it was because we were too alike. And I’m sure many of your parents are nodding their heads because they can identify with that statement.

What I want to share with you tonight is a few things I have learnt from my father… and a few lessons of my own learnt along the way.
My Dad was always working in the garage… whether it was building things out of wood or fixing things that broke. We actually used to call him Mr Fixit. I actually spent more time out there with him, than I did in the kitchen with my mom.  And a few things I learnt out there, spending time with him were:
1. Always do whatever you start PROPERLY.
If it’s a job worth doing, do it right the first time, because then you won’t have to do it again. Whatever my Dad did, he did well. There was no ‘rush job’. If something turned out wrong, he started it again. If a toy he made didn’t work, he worked at it until it did. I actually remember one time he was fixing a radio, and though he had no electrical training, he took each wire and touched it to each point until something worked and then he moved on to the next one. We still have that radio today. In your work and in your life, always start something you are going to finish in the way you want to finish it. What I mean is, don’t leave things to the last minute and then rush through them just to get them done. Spend time. Your work reflects on YOU and on your family. And the picture you want to paint of yourself shouldn’t be one of not caring what you hand in. Assignments aren’t given to torture you, I promise. Do whatever your teachers or parents ask you and give of yourself into every one. You will reap the benefits in the future.

2. Give your BEST.
Many of you know my class motto: Good Better Best, Never let it rest, till your good is better and your better is best. Well, that was my dad’s motto. He taught it to me, and I teach it to my classes, because I believe in it. Why would anyone want to go to a doctor who just gives enough? Who would want to eat a meal that was OK. Would you want to wear clothes that were thrown together because the designer or the seamstress just wanted to get it done? Wouldn’t you want the people around you to give their best? Well then YOU have to. In everything you do. Even if your classmates or friends don’t. No teacher will moan at you if you give your best. They moan because they KNOW you can do better! They see the potential in you and are sad to see it going to waste when you don’t take care in your work or assignments. Coasting through is not acceptable. Give all you can in all you do and you can DO anything, and BE anything you set your mind to.

3. Be yourself, no matter what people think.
My Dad never apologised for who or what he was. He was a factory manager at Jack and Jill shoes for most of his life. And he was proud. Proud of what he was doing for his family. Proud of the difference he was making in his area of influence. He didn’t change who he was, or what he did for anyone, not even me. And yes, there were times where he embarrassed me with his opinions or his expectations or things he said… but he was who he was. 
Me? I am a bit of a nerd. I like to craft and scrapbook. I like to watch series like Castle and The Mentalist. I get the jokes on Big Bang Theory. I read. I play board games. I’m not fond of going out and partying, I’d rather be at home, surfing the net for new ideas for my classroom. And it’s taken me this long in my life to realise that being a nerd is OK! 
So let me help you out now, before you’re my age and only realising this: If you are someone who prefers reading to going out? You are YOU! If you are someone who would rather play games than have a party? You are YOU. If you are a person who has no interest in fashion or music, but would sit for hours and draw. Be YOU. Friends are fleeting, they will pass in and out of your life, but you are yours forever. Be proud of who you are and what you do. Love what you do, love who you are and people who matter? They will love YOU.
4. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
This lesson was a hard one for me to learn. My dad used to embarrass me so much when he would argue with shopkeepers about the quality they gave him. He was a bit of a perfectionist (and I guess I get that from him too) and because he worked with shoes would carefully inspect every single shoe he was thinking of buying for flaws. In fact the shoes I’m wearing at the moment would not have passed his test, because the soles are just glued on. I remember once we went to eat out and he ordered fish. He sent it back 3 times because it wasn’t prepared correctly. He would ask for discounts. At retailers! “If I pay cash will you give me a discount? If I use my credit card you’ll have to pay the fee” That’s where I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. 

But you know what? He was right. Why should you settle for less than you deserve? You are no less than those around you. You have equal rights to be treated well. And if someone doesn’t treat you the way you deserve, then maybe they aren’t someone you need to be around? 
A famous quote doing the rounds on the internet says: Why make someone a priority in your life when you are only an option in theirs?And it is SO true!
Keep people around you who make you feel worth it. Who make you feel like you can take on the world. And if there are people (or friends) who break you down and treat you badly? Cut them loose. Life is too short to settle for anything less than what is good for you.

5. Life is short.
This was the final lesson my dad taught me. He was taken away far too soon. There were still lessons for him to teach me. There were still stories for him to tell me and Jessica and Nathan, and still questions I had that needed answers. But it’s too late now. I can’t go back and change the past, but I can tell you something that is truth: 
Appreciate your parents while you have them. 
Appreciate your grandparents while they are here. 
Sit at their feet, LISTEN to them, record them, ask them questions about what they have been through and learnt. I know that at this stage you see your life stretching ahead of you and you think ‘there’s LOADS of time’. But before you know it, you will be old like me (hehe) and will be looking back and thinking “I wish I had listened to dad more” or “I wish I had spent more time with Ouma”. 
Respect family. 
Even when you feel like they don’t know what you are going through (and they DO) or when they are making you do things you don’t want to do, or saying no when you really want them to say yes. RESPECT them. Like I said before, friends come and go. Your family will be the support, the wealth of knowledge and the foundation for you to build your dreams on. Build on what they have taught you. Like I am trying to.

There may be a few things within yourself that you aren’t aware of yet, or aren’t sure how to use. Give it time, and you’ll realise that you are equipped to be the best YOU, you can be. 

Thank you"

Speeching - 'Lucky'

Last week I had the incredible honour of being the guest speaker at my previous school's Foundation Phase, Intermediate and Senior Prizegiving. And I had to write 2 speeches. No problem. Or so I thought. I wracked my brain as to what I should talk about because it had to be inspiring and something for the kids (and maybe some adults) to take a lesson from... I had nightmares for about a week before I eventually buckled down and wrote them, drawing from my life and things I had learnt. And the writing turned out to be the easy part! On the night I realised that nerves are very different when speaking to a class of children, than they are when speaking to a hall full of adults and ex-colleagues! But I battled through, and the feedback was positive. So I thought I'd post my speeches, just to show I HAVE been writing.

This is the speech for the Intermediate Phase (10 - 11 year olds), with a few adjustments for reading as opposed to hearing. I call it


"Look around. Look at the people sitting next to you, in front of you and behind you. These are your classmates, your friends. And they are all hardworking people. I know your teachers and parents are very proud of you, and you should be very proud of yourselves.

It isn’t by chance that you are sitting here, you have worked hard. You have listened in class, studied and tried HARD to achieve. But you know what? The work doesn’t stop there… you have to keep at it. But you have the ability, or the power to do it. We all know that.  And like Peter Parker’s uncle told him: With great power comes great…..…. Responsibility.
You have a responsibility to live up to the potential your parents and teachers know you have. You have the responsibility to keep working and keep trying. You have the responsibility to

LIVE every moment,
Don’t let life pass you by and wonder “what happened?” Time passes way too fast and before you know it you’ll be in high school, or finished with school.
If you do something, do it properly. Don’t think that you’ll do just enough to pass. Always do your very best, every time. Like my class motto: Good better, best, never let it rest, till your good is better and your better is best. You are not average. You are not ordinary. You have the potential to do great things. So do them every day, in everything you do.

USE your strengths daily
Everyone has their own strengths. You might be great at Maths. Someone else may be amazing at creative writing. But those aren’t the only strengths we have. You may have compassion. Or be a great listener. Or be a great thinker. Or be a good communicator, enthusiastic, imaginative. You know what you are good at. We are all different. God made us that way on purpose. And the more we use the strengths He gave us, the more they develop and grow, and you discover more strengths you didn’t know you had. Together we make up a diverse culture and world. Like a big puzzle, and without you, and your abilities and strengths, the puzzle would be incomplete.

Do you know the definition for insanity? It is doing the same thing every day and expecting different results.
What that means is that if you want things to change… your marks, your environment, the way you are treated by your friends… then you need to make a change. Change your attitude towards work. Work harder, see it as a stepping stone to greater things, not as something that wastes your time. Change the way you look at the world. See the rubbish lying on the ground and pick it up instead of thinking someone else will do it. BE that SOMEONE. Sometimes the change we have to make is a big one in ourselves. Sometimes we need to look deep down inside and realise that our teachers, our parents and our friends treat us a specific way because of the way WE treat THEM. You need to respect your parents. Listen to them, they have a wealth of knowledge that they want to share with you. You need to listen to your teachers. They are only trying to help you. And your friends, the good ones, are there to support you. Treat them well, and you will have an amazing support system and foundation to build a new you on. If you aren’t treating them the way they deserve to be treated, if you aren’t respecting your elders, then maybe that is where the change needs to happen.  Don’t expect things in your life to change if you are not willing to change yourself.  

KNOW yourself and your goals.
An arrow needs a target. A basketball needs a hoop. A soccer ball needs a goalpost. Without those things, they are not achieving their purpose, what they were made for. You need a goal in order to know where you are going. Start small. Make a goal for the end of next week. “By the end of next week I want to have gotten full marks for one test”. Then go bigger. “By the end of the year I want to finish top of my class” And even bigger. “By the end of Grade 6 I want to be nominated as a prefect”… the goals don’t have to be school-based. Maybe your ultimate goal is to be a successful doctor. Make the goal and aim for it. Cut out pictures of what you want out of life and stick them up on the wall in your room where you can see them every day. And be realistic. If you know you can’t kick a soccer ball, don’t make one of your goals to play soccer for South Africa. You know yourself, your strengths and what you can do. Use those to make your goals.

This is the most important point I want to share with you. You are incredible. You are special. In the Bible it says you are wonderfully made. You are amazing just the way you are. So why would you want to change who you are or how you dress, or what music you listen to just to make someone else happy? Don’t change yourself for another person.  Don’t let people tell you “I’ll like you if…” If you aren’t good enough just the way you are, then maybe they aren’t people you want to surround yourself with. Keep people around you who make you feel good about yourself. Be confident in your abilities, don’t try to please people. Stay YOU. With the things you like to do. With the things you like to wear. Your style is what makes you YOU. Love the things you love, if it’s reading? READ. If it’s drawing, DRAW. Don’t hide what you love just because other people make you think that it’s stupid because they don’t like it. Don’t ever apologise for being you.

If you do all these things and listen to what those older and wiser than you tell you, and surround yourself with people who are good for you, and keep working hard at your dreams… then you can be successful. And one day, you can say you made your own luck and that you are LUCKY to be where you are."

Friday, 18 October 2013

5 minute Friday... Laundry...


Laundry... The ever present reminder of being a grown-up, a mom... And a very present reminder of how things change.
It started out with 'big' clothes... Many socks, work shirts, pants and skirts. One load a week. And just 2 of us.
And then it changed. It became big clothes, and some teeny ones. Premature baby grows, tiny socks, little teeny t-shirts, and it was fun to hang all those little 'doll's clothes' on the line and look at them and revel in the fact that now we were three.
Then those, too, began to evolve, and change, and become pants and skirts and bigger socks, and I watched them flapping on the breeze thinking "how did time fly so fast? Two to three loads a week of our changing, growing family.
Now when I do the laundry, I see little girl panties, dresses, and a lot of "pink, Mommy!", but again, next to the beautiful little Princess clothes, new ones hang... Little boy socks and tiny baby grows and small jeans and t-shirts. And I am overwhelmed with love for our family which are now 4...

Yes, the big socks and work pants and shirts and skirts are still there (and many of them still the same ones that were hung when there were only 2 of us) but they are now a testimony to what love can do...


Thursday, 17 October 2013

a day

Sometimes you just need a day. 
A day where you stop  and take the time to just be.

Be with yourself. 

Be with the little person you grew inside you and breathe in the smell of him, hold him, cuddle with him and talk baby talk before that stage in his life, too, passes. 

Be with your creative side and make something out of nothing before the busyness of life takes over and you don't get to see that side of you for a long while. 

Be at home: With the laundry that needs doing, the table full of dirty dishes and the beds that need making, and enjoy the quietness of a house without bustle or noise.

Just be in the moment and take it all in. 

Take in the fact that you have that little body to hug.

Take in the fact that you are able to create, and have the time... and the talent 

Take in the fact that you are blessed to still live in the home you grew up in.

Today I took my day, and these are the lessons I was taught, subtly. Though I woke up feeling sad and with a churning stomach, this day has calmed me and given me perspective and taught me gratitude. 

I am grateful for the little arms that wrap around my neck and the little voice that whispers 'Love you, Mommy'... for the strong arms I can turn to when I can't be strong anymore and for the bigger voice that whispers "It's going to be ok"... for the home I have, with all it's imperfections, and the walls that, could they speak, would say "we're here, sheltering you, as always"... for the peace I feel when I take a moment to survey that which God has given me...and for the Father who has never given up on me, who has stood by me and spoken to me in so many ways and through so many different whispers, even though at times I forget to listen.

My day is nearly over now, and more lie ahead, but with this day and all its quiet lessons behind me I am ready once again to face whatever life throws at me.
Until I need a day again.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


It's not easy, the not knowing. Not knowing what it would be like to have you here, not knowing how different things would be, had things not irrevocably changed on that day in July, 10 years ago.

The sadness never really leaves. Because with the not knowing comes the knowing. 
Knowing how proud you would be of the man I chose, and how well he has looked after me. 
Knowing how much you would enjoy playing with your granddaugther, and now your grandson. Because I know how much it hurt you that your other children were so far away and how much you missed in the lives of your other grandbabies.
Knowing that you aren't here to hug me and tell me that things would be ok. Every girl needs her daddy to do that now and then, even when she has a husband who does the same.
Knowing that I can't just pick up the phone to talk to you, even though we didn't always agree. Guess I can finally admit that we were just a little too similar to ever agree to disagree. 

But you know what? I know I carry you with me everywhere I go, for exactly that reason. 
When I stubbornly refuse to give in in an argument, you are there. 
When I am shocked at the service I receive, I hear echoes of you in me. 
When I buy a new pair of shoes and carefully inspect them for flaws, the Jack & Jill perfectionist can be heard in my past telling me to be careful paying so much for shoes that 'aren't made the way they used to be'. 
When I teach my class our motto "Good, Better, Best, never let it rest, till your good is better and your better is best" the one who instilled pride in my work and who encouraged me to always give my very best in my work is there, in my mind and in my words.

And when I watch Dylan playing with Jess, I am reminded of the endless Sundays you and I spent at the beach, or the times we played games together. 
When I see him tuck her into bed, I remember the nights you sat at my side until I fell asleep. 

You were a wonderful Daddy. My Daddy. And I miss you. But I want you to know that for all these reasons and a million more, you will never, NEVER be forgotten. I will make sure that my children know who their Papa was. And hopefully? Hopefully I will pass on a few of those traits you passed on to me, and you will live on in the lives of those you have not yet met. 

Till we meet again, your Pally Blue loves you.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

To blog or not to blog?

I have never been someone who can follow through with a 'diary'. 

I kept one all through high school, but it fizzled and that was the end of my recording of happenings and feelings. I still have it somewhere, and read it recently. My goodness how interesting to see what consumed my mind during those 5 years! 
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I decided to write to her in a journal. With all the complications of that pregnancy, I have to say it was cathartic to talk to her and explain things to her and let her know (in my heart at least) that she was already loved, though she was not yet here. And since she arrived, happy and healthy, I have only written to her on important days, like her birthday. 
I fully intended to keep a journal for my son too. Even started it. But with a busy toddler, changing schools and all the other changes we went through during my pregnancy (which seemed to FLY by), that, too, never became a reality. 

But lately I have been intrigued by other ladies' blogs... where they encourage others and speak to the hearts of women and moms. More than once I have been moved to tears by the caring words and honest truth encased in the words of women I have never met. 
So yesterday I decided to go for it. I took part in Lisa-Jo's 5 minute Friday. And it was FUN! It was fun to sit and write my little heart out about a random topic. It was FUN to get feedback and have others read what I had written. It was FUN to hear from others about how what I had written had entertained them. And it was a release. I am a creative person. I enjoy scrapbooking, painting and creating from nothing. Writing for me would be another way to show my creative side, which is all that saves me from going insane some days! haha.
So today? Today I made a blog. If others read it or not, it will be fun to write my thoughts down in a place where I can access them altogether and see the growth in my writing and in my introspection, and maybe in me? I can't promise to be a regular contributor... but I will definitely attempt to keep writing for 5 minute Friday at least. 
So here goes... let's get this adventure started!