Monday, June 27, 2016

5 on a Friday... the friendship version

Let's just pretend it's Friday, okay?

I keep thinking about things to post (about friendship) on a Monday or Tuesday and then I completely forget by the Friday, so let's just pretend, shall we?

I really had a great friendship week last week.

1. My new Spanish dance partner and I went for a very early supper before class on Tuesday. We had soup so we didn't feel too heavy to dance, and it was perfect. Chicken Tuscan soup at Europa if you're interested :)

2. Then on Wednesday my pencil bag was misplaced/ stolen. I'm going to write about this on my organising blog once I publish this post. But that night Julia phoned me for 1 hour 45 minutes, and I swear for the first 30 minutes, I moaned about this pencil bag. It's not about a pencil bag though...Anyway, we had a great chat about life, love and everything else.
I met Sam on Thursday, again for soup! It's my favourite thing on the winter menus (aside from pasta). This time butternut soup at Tashas - delish! Also on the menu was great connection with my lovely friend who I hadn't spoken to properly for 3 months.

4. Then I was in a meeting and I got a whatsapp message which was perfect, letting me know that because I was so busy it was also probably a time I needed my friends. LOVE! And yes, too true.

5. And last but not least, lovely Cassie sent us a special food gift (do you all know how I love food?!) which we enjoyed on Sunday night after our last day's packing. It was a good reward for working hard. If I don't see another box for a while, it will be a good thing :-

What about you?
What's been good in friendship land over the last week or two?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Late night thinking

glorious winter sunset
I've been wondering why I'm really not enjoying this space any more, and there are a few reasons.

One of them is this:

I feel like all the stuff I'm talking about here is mostly just froth, not even cream, and certainly not the coffee.

I miss the days when we poured out our hearts in these spaces, and they landed in safe places. And yes, when people let you know that they understood you via a well-placed comment.

I also feel vulnerable talking here - I will write a blog about this as it deserves its own special post.

Thank you for your comments on this post. That's another thing. I'm clearly not communicating well these days - I did specifically mean podcast/ book-type things on this blog. I know there are about 5 people who have tried a thing or two on OrganisingQueen :) But yay, Laura listened to that podcast and is hooked. My work is done.

Many years ago I used to feel bad when my friends and family either weren't interested in the coaching/ organising/ authoring because it was such a big part of my life (it's still a huge part of my identity), but I got over that for my own sanity.

These days I have fewer and fewer blogs in my feedly. Not for a lack of blogs, but for a lack of heartfelt, real blogs.

I can't be the only one thinking these things, can I?

Anyway, any late night thinking you want to share?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

It's show time!

Today's my exam!

Since I started Spanish again in March 2014, this is my 5th exam and also the first one I'm doing completely alone.

We're 4 in our class and I'm apparently the only one who was motivated enough to get this done.

I had a wobble last week when I realised how short the time was and how much I still had to practise, and I briefly considered pulling out. After all, what's an exam fee in the grand scheme of things?

But then i thought of doing this same work for another 6 months and that kicked me into gear :)

I am ready for new work!

So pray hard for me at 5.15 this afternoon that my muscles stay warm, my body stays supple, my muscle memory kicks in and I nail this exam!

What are you up to today?
Have you taken tomorrow off work?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Here's the thing

I'm feeling a little discouraged these days.

Like I'm losing my mojo because I don't know a single person who has taken any of my suggestions/ recommendations for... anything really. Books, podcasts, things to try, etc.

This is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things obviously, and I should just get over it, but inspiring people is one of my God-given things, so if I don't have that, what do I have?

There are a few instances from years ago that I cling to, so there is that, and to be honest, God always sends me a little something to encourage me now and again.

But I'm going to try again in this post. Never let it be said I give up too quickly.

So here's the thing is a podcast with Alec Baldwin. From the website...

Yes, that Alec Baldwin. The one from It's Complicated.

Here’s The Thing is a series of intimate and honest conversations hosted by Alec Baldwin. Alec talks with artists, policy makers and performers – to hear their stories, what inspires their creations, what decisions changed their careers, and what relationships influenced their work.

And... he is fabulous. He has this voice that is just perfect for podcasts and he asks great questions.

I can't stop listening!

I've listened to him interview Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Joel, Carol Burnett and Molly Ringwald.

Okay, I confess - I listened to the Billy Joel one twice. I LOVED it. Some of you know I love Billy Joel a bit more than is entirely healthy. If you like New York, Billy Joel, the creative process (D and I love this kind of thing), the background to songs, listen to it.

Really, you've lost nothing if you listen to 10 minutes of any episode and hate it. But try and tell me what you think.

Otherwise, how was your Monday?

Thursday, June 09, 2016

What makes a good read? part 2

Last time I spoke about what makes a good non-fiction read for me.

Your comments were fascinating! And I'm not sure if you saw I answered your comments on that post too.

I don't think I'm finished thinking/ analysing this subject but let's talk about fiction for a minute or three.

I'm going to do it in the same format as before:

3 books I loved
(I'm cheating and telling you about 3 authors I love)
  1. Joanna Trollope - I don't know anyone else who writes about relationships better than this author. I read something late last year by Tara something or other, and I had that same feeling. You're hooked from the start. And it's because you identify but didn't know you do with all these characters because she's identified things that are so real. AH. Seriously if you've never read a Joanna Trollope, give it a go.
  2. Dorothy Koomson - this author writes beautiful, intelligent women's fiction. They're all based in Brighton (I think) and you will feel something for the characters.
  3. Maeve Binchy - my newest Irish author. I started with her last book before she died and now when I see a book at the library I snap it up. She writes these ensemble cast books that span a good length of time. All the characters are real, normal, flawed people.

(I love many more authors obviously)

1 book I hated
The Royal We

I still don't get ANY of the fuss. All I can think of is that all of you who liked this book are infatuated with the (real) royal celebs. I am not.

I don't even think this book was well-written, and I definitely didn't give two hoots about any of the characters.

So let's pull it all together.

I clearly love reading about relatable stories, relationships, good or bad, and strong character development. I also like good pace, a well-edited book and good structure.

These days I feel like a lot of books need another 2 - 3 rounds of editing. I sound so snobbish but if I can pick up things (characters using the same phrases over and over, grammar, spelling, etc.) while I'm reading fast, it hasn't been edited properly.

What don't I like?
  1. super long books. 500 pages is pushing it. Back in the day I used to read a lot of crime/ legal thrillers and while Scott Turow wrote good books, they took far too long to get to the point :)
  2. books set in the future (sci-fi/ fantasy) or in the past. If I pick up a book and it says, "in 1937 England" I put it down immediately. Current day please - give or take 10 - 20 years.
  3.  anything weird - I'm an ESTJ, we deal firmly in reality. Although sometimes I think something is one way, and I'm swept along by the writing, I may enjoy it but I won't pick something up like it again. E.g. James Patterson - The Lake House
  4.  books where kids are hurt or traumatised, graphic descriptions of murders (I can't read most of my "old authors" now I have kids - fascinating to me!) or gratuitous s*x
 Please tell me what makes a good fiction read for you!

And now, these are my books from May - another excellent reading month with 6 fiction and 3 non-fiction.

Notable non-fiction
When Breath Becomes Air (the book that had me googling brain cancer when I had a headache). It is a beautiful read and so fascinating to me because he was both a doctor and a philosopher. The last chapter is heartwrenching and beautiful, all at the same time. I listened driving down one of my favourite streets in Jhb (5th street between 11th Avenue and Glenhove) during autumn, which is another set of beauty.

Simply Tuesday - probably my favourite of Emily P Freeman's books, which means I highlighted quite a bit. I still only gave it 3, but it was a high 3. Like 3.6. Julia asked me once why I keep buying them when this author doesn't work for me, and I figured it out. Amazon's $1,99 sales. That's how. I bought all her books except the first for $1,99.

Of the fiction, the notable ones were the Maeve Binchy and Nicky Pellegrino's Recipe for Life. The rest were okay and so-so.

What were your notable reads for May?

Friday, June 03, 2016

Five on a Friday

Okay, I'll bite.

I opened up my Google Reader and 3 of my subscribed blogs had posts of the same name.

1. We have a move date. And it's soon! And I'm trying not to freak out because I have to have this house packed up in less than a month. On the bright side, I packed 2 boxes last night and will do another 2 boxes tonight. Then we need more boxes.

Connor and I went back to the house on Tuesday and I love it more. I keep finding more and more bits that I adore. I kept saying to the lady, "oh! I didn't see this part before, but I know exactly what I'm going to do there". She keeps telling me she loves that we bought the house because it seems perfect for our family. To that I say AMEN!

2. This week was seriously way too busy at work. I cannot even. Two functions meant 1.5 days out of the office. Feels like all the clients are fighting with me for nonsense. On the bright side, a big meeting is over and now I can stop dreaming about it (seriously I had a dream last weekend and said to D, apparently I'm worried about such-and-such meeting because I'm dreaming about it :o)

3. After that big meeting, I slept for 10.5 hours that night. No joke. It's exhausting for me thinking about all these emotionally-charged, tense meetings where people are "corporate fighting", all terse and extra-polite. Eeek.

4. It's true - it's much easier to write a blog post every day than only once or twice a week. Since my go-slow, I feel like I have to drag myself here. Don't get me wrong - I have tons to say; it's just hard when I feel like I'm talking and no-one's listening. Kind-of like talking to the nearly 7-year-olds :)

5. Speaking of which, the kids will be 7 really soon. 1 month and 4 days is what that little ticker above this post tells me. And for the first year, I don't care about parties! They elected to go on holiday rather than have a party so we'll do that but I do think we should have 3 - 4 friends over the weekend after we move. We'll see.

So what's going on in your life?
On a scale of 1 - 10, how's life going these days?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I'm having the most fun

reading through my old posts :)

So, one year ago - on kids' restaurants

two years ago - seriously, best muffins ever

three years ago - emotional ups and downs

four years ago - on nail polish

five years ago - what's your thing?

six years ago - satisfaction

seven years ago - I was blissfully unaware of what was about to hit us in about 5 weeks :)

Which was your favourite post? 

What were you doing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 years ago?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

{Friendship Friday} on a Saturday - feeling safe to share

Posting on Monday because my website's been down!


I heard something explained so beautifully on a podcast recently.

Interestingly, I could remember exactly where I was when I heard (top of Oxford Road where it changes into Rivonia) this but not which podcast it was on.

So I googled and I think it was this one - Jess Lively talking to Dana Schultz from Minimalist Baker.

Anyway, this is what they said: there's a difference between connecting with someone and being able to be vulnerable with them. YES!

You may have things in common with someone which provides the connection and spark (chemistry, if you will) and yet you might not feel like you can be vulnerable with them. Trust needs to exist in order for you to be able to be vulnerable.

Isn't that excellent?

I had myself an aha moment right there in my car.

This is why you can many great conversations with people about things you have in common, but not feel able to share because of the trust thing.

There is a person I work with who shares a number of work characteristics with me :)

But over the last year or so, I've seen more and more sides to this person that made me realise I cannot trust them even a little bit.

Well, not with any of my feelings.

I've stopped sharing everything. Not even a tidbit about the kids or house stuff anymore. I can see they've noticed. In fact, this person has asked me if they can ask me a personal question and I suspect it's about this withdrawing.

And then there are other people who you know you can trust immediately, right?

It's fascinating to me. I don't even know how conscious it is that I know the difference (not always! e.g. old job!!!) but I usually do.

For me, the lack of trust is not only about blabbing to others although that is a big part; it's sometimes that I don't feel my feelings will be held safely and not dismissed as unimportant.

I do feel blessed that there are those friends (Julia is one!) that are always such a safe place I could say anything to them and they won't think I'm absolutely crazy :)

Can you think of people you connect with, but don't feel able to be vulnerable with?
Do you have enough "safe place" people in your life?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Who are you, really?

I've mentioned before that it's always very interesting to me to see and hear how people introduce one another.

We are all multi-faceted and incredibly complex human beings, and we therefore define ourselves in many different ways.

I've been introduced as a mother of twins, organised, someone I met on the internet, etc.

All terrible descriptions, at least to me. You can call my house organised anytime, by the way :)

I think I object to these descriptions because they're just things that happened to me, not who I am at my core.

I'm grateful to parent these twins but I like to think that if I had the four I'd wanted (as Kendra has taken to telling everyone she meets!), I'd still be the same sort of parent. So how does having twins make me more special?

Same with being organised. I honestly, down to my deepest inners believe that anyone can be organised. It's a skill like learning to use Excel or Word, and we can all do it.

People don't say, oh this is Marcia and she can use Excel, so why is being organised that special?

(granted, I have called some of my colleagues Excel geniuses, but that's not how I introduce them to others!)

I read a post on a blog recently where the lady's friend died and she said things like, "she was such a great friend; she never let me hide away and she cared deeply for all of us".

Now that's just lovely.

I think it hurts when friends introduce me to others as "she has twins" or "she's so organised" because I think, "wow, I'm all this and that's all that comes to mind? Is there nothing else I am or represent to you that you could have said?"

I turned the tables and asked myself how I would have described the person and I could think of many other ways.

I have had one awesome introduction which I mentioned here before, which was Laura, who said I'm the most intentional person she knows.

That's the kind of thing that thrills and delights me. Thanks again, Laura, I will remember that moment forever!

So where's this going?

I was wondering if there's a way to reinvent yourself?

Clearly if the words people use to describe you aren't floating your boat, you should do something about it.

I was asked to proofread an email at work the other day "because Marcia's the nicest one of us here". I told them, "I'm taking that as a compliment". What they meant to say was that I write diplomatic emails without letting people off the hook. Also, no-one's ever called me nice!

Some nice things by previous bosses of mine - I'm the most passionate person (ha! that's his way of saying I gave him beans!) and that I care deeply for my clients (true!).

How would you like people to describe you?
How would you describe me?

PS D really gets me more than anyone else on earth. So when one of these incidents happen, I ask him the second question above and he says exactly the right thing for which I'm extremely grateful :)
PPS these pics have nothing to do with anything - I think they were our last pics from last year's project 52 and I love them... although I feel cold just looking :)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Can we talk about the price of groceries?

Before we talk about groceries, can I please ask you to tell me ONE thing on this post?

Thank you kindly because I really don't fancy talking to myself!

My Baggu shopping bags - bought about 8 years ago, still going strong :)
Our grocery bill has increased dramatically in the last 3 - 5 months. I can't say that we're eating differently - if anything, I was cooking less because the heat wasn't kind to me, and I therefore avoid my kitchen in summer. Good thing everyone around here thinks eggs on toast is a perfectly good meal :)

Usually one or two months of not sticking to the budget doesn't unduly alarm me. I tend to think maybe there were lots of specials (D is a sucker like most of you for The Sale) or we were having show houses (I am a sucker for all the cleaning things).

But then month 3, and I realised we needed to increase the budget. I can't keep making a line item called "overspent" - it just doesn't feel right.

My colleagues and I have been talking about the grocery issue for months now.

Yes, we moan about it but somehow there's somewhat of a money buffer in our budgets so we can stop doing other things to pay more for groceries.... and water and electricity (next blog post) and petrol.

But what of others who are living "on the bread line"?

I felt so guilty about this issue that we gave Nanny S and the gardener a cost-of-living increase in March.

Back to the groceries. R24,99 for a head of broccoli or cauliflower that used to cost R15,99. All packs of 1.5 kg apples now R25,99 each - they used to cost R15,99 and we bought 3 every week because we all eat lots of apples.

Carrots, thankfully, are still about R10,99 a bag. These prices are at the blue and red retailer.

So, no wonder the grocery bill has exploded. And I am getting more fussy so I'm checking that fridge daily to see what needs to be used, what can be tossed into the freezer for when we make soup. I even said, "we are not buying any more cereal until everything is used up". It still isn't, two months later.

Also, thank you to Kelloggs for the huge hamper of cereal I won at the blogger meet-up. I shared with Nanny S but we still had plenty for ourselves that will probably last til mid-June since we only eat on the weekends.

Anyway, so tell me, are you feeling the pinch?
Do you have any new tricks up your sleeve to not waste food/ use up food in interesting ways? I'm letting my pantry run completely bare a lot more... and making do every couple of weeks with what is here instead of adding more.

What are you doing to stretch your rands/ dollars?


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