What is it?

What is it that I should have been?

What is it that I should have done?

What is it that I should have said or should have thought?…

And So why didn’t I? Or Why couldn’t I? …. or actually could I have? Really….

I started thinking all of this because I’ve just submitted a 10 page article for peer review, for inclusion in a special edition publication of a journal on e-learning (one of my passions). After I submitted,  a wave of emotion flooded over me. Yet again, I’ve pulled one of my crazy spontaneous stunts. See I absolutely hate travelling for work (I love travel – but not for work, only for holiday), so at the end of last year when I spotted a call for presenters to talk at an international conference being held right at CPUT #LowHangingFruit, I decided to try and take advantage of it.

For progression in my chosen career I need to present and publish. So on a whim I submitted an abstract. At that point (November last year) I only had an idea for research. My abstract was accepted. Thus in the crazy whirlwind that followed, in-between Christmas holidays, my PhD research and preparing for and starting to present class again, I conducted this bit of research (the idea I had*). The insane part was the deadline – less than three months from idea to finished paper and yet I somehow managed to finish. Now who knows if my paper will be accepted – the reviewers could very possibly decide it’s a shitty paper and toss it. Hopefully, even if they don’t like it, they’ll still let me present and I can at least put that on my portfolio. But whatever happens, once again I tried. I made an effort and I showed up. I put my heart and my energy out there, risking rejection in the name of what I think is good for me = Wave of emotion that follows.

Coming back to answer my questions above…. No, I couldn’t have been anything that I am not.

If I wasn’t a certain way, that was because I couldn’t be that way. I didn’t know how because I wasn’t meant to be that way.

If I didn’t do any particular thing, then I wasn’t ready to have done it – or else I would have done it.

If I attempted something and then failed, that was because I was ready for that lesson, but I was not ready for that thing.

What I thought, what I said and what I did was what I believed at the time was in my best interest to I think, to say and to do at the time when it happened.

I accept that all of me, what I was (how I behaved) and who I am ‘now’, was and is driven by love. Not merely romantic love. Romantic love is one component of greater love, Love for life. In the past it was ‘seeking out’ or trying to ‘preserve’ that love. Now it is accepting that love already lives here. That is simply all that it was and all that there is to it.

So today I make a choice again – to try to not pretend be anyone who I’m not. I choose not to be ashamed of anything that is me. I admit that in the past I have behaved in a way that I perceived was acceptable and pleasing to others, in search of some elusive goal. I’m choosing now to try my level best to only behave only in ways that is acceptable and pleasing to me, and beneficial to the greater good as a life principle henceforth.

There is nothing more favorable to me now, than just being uniquely me. I have one precious life, one precious soul and I will honour it. I will make my own life scared** because I can. To do that in my humble opinion is nothing special – it’s something each and every person can do – make your own life sacred! Don’t wait for someone else to tell you it’s amazing, that you’re good and loved. Be your own best friend and do it yourself.

So I make a note to self: Look around you Bronwyn. See all those lovely things you wanted, all those ‘things’ (belongings, situations even people) that you believed will make you happy. They are lovely yes – some of it. Let’s not deny that, but my love, they are not yours. Some of it was, but is no longer. Some of it never was. And the bittersweet irony is, because of that, you actually are free. To have ‘that’ would cost you a portion of your freedom Bronwyn…. And even worse – a part of your identity in each and every case. Who you are, and what you have, is enough. Sometimes you forget Bronwyn, and when you forget then you say to yourself that you’d willingly pay the price. Today I’m telling you, it’s not worth it. Let’s be kind to us and face our truth, own our reality.

Today I look around me, see all that it is – what it is that I do not have but have fooled myself into believing I should have, and admit to myself that regardless of this,  I am a whole, beautiful and a fulfilled human being without that. I don’t have it, I don’t really need it and I am actually still fine. I am happy, because happiness is what remains after you strip away everything that makes you unhappy. That is what it is.

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…..Ok so Enough now. Let’s move on and kick ass, I have class again tomorrow.

*My research paper is on using screencast to give feedback to postgraduate students. I think using technology to teach is flipping amazing. I’m discovering new uses for it all the time. Most recently I found that making screencasts for my masters students not only helps them see and fix the gaps in their research, but simultaneously I teach them how to use their word processing software better and I motivate them.
**Making my own life sacred is burning the scented candles for myself and sandalwood and rose or geranium incense while I work or just relax. Going for Swedish massages (not Thai massages… those Thai chics are crazy – they wrestle you!) and going for long slow runs in the rain. Buying my favourite tunes on iTunes. Eating chocolate ice-cream or drink gin at midnight. Basically whatever makes me happy!
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My new boss

Hello world. Please meet Bella. She is my new boss. She is such a Diva, she is gorgeous and she knows it.

I don’t want to become a crazy cat lady. I repeat …. I shall not become a crazy cat lady… But how….. how on earth does one resist?

Resistance to her super deadly disarming and highly lethal charm is completely futile….

Bella has a much smarter slightly older sister, Oreo. If the two of them were ever in a horror movie, then Bella would surely be the dumb chic who got killed first because she’s way too curious and walked into the pitch dark room without a weapon and wearing only a flimsy nighty – immediately after she heard screams and the sound of a chainsaw coming from that room! Oreo would find a way to trap the murderer and call the police.

Oreo is just as cute as Bella, but she’s more reserved and logical. She doesn’t quite strut around with the same ‘I’m the boss’ attitude.

I conceded to getting these kittens because my minions wore me down eventually with their pleas to get pets again. Against my better judgement it seems I’ve absolutely totally fallen in love again. I …is ….smitten 😍💗💕❤️🌈

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I was busy fighting with this nasty cellphone charging cable, but that was so tiring that I had to stop and take a quick nap. It’s exhausting being a kitten!

The misadventures of Accused Number 1, Number 2 and Number 3…

So I had the coolest experience at the Cape Town High Court. I found myself at the High Court because one of my BFFs was admitted to the bar as an attorney!!! Whoop whoop 🙌🏾👏🏾💃🏾🎉🎊🤸🏾‍♀️🏆 Well freaking done Melissa Suzanne Baker!

She graciously allowed me to share that very happy, somewhat emotional and extremely proud experience with her… but not in a stock standard way, as is typical Bronwyn.

So the morning started with breakfast around the corner from High Court and about an hour before the admission procedure, the group of us (Mel, family and friends) pickled off to the High Court building to witness the admission. The High Court building consists of several courtrooms.

 

To our surprise (maybe not) Courtroom 1, where Mel was to be admitted was packed to capacity – so besides Mel, we couldn’t all go in. After standing outside for a bit Roberto, another friend and I decided since we can’t see the admission and we were at High Court, we might as well do a bit of exploring…

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Packed balcony outside the courtroom. No way to get in….what to do, what to do.?.. AH HA, Let’s find the divorce court!

Picture taken from foyer with view of balcony outside Courtroom 1

 

The building itself was like a maze to us, as we pretty much peered into every room, nook and cranny that we could, looking for a courtroom where something intriguing was happening.

 

Roberto and I figured that finding the divorce court in High Court would probably be cool thing, because at least you know if you meet someone there, you definitely know they’re single! And you don’t have to pay an online dating service for those introductions 🤓. We so smart! So off we missioned to find the divorce court.

 

And so we accidentally meandered into Judge’s chambers and small rooms that looked like meeting rooms, until we finally found a courtroom where it looked like something interesting was taking place. Not knowing where we were or what exactly we were doing we sat down in some benches. There were attorneys and other people around us. They first looked amused at the sight of us but then they pretty much ignored us. After a few minutes we peered around and discovered a short staircase right behind our seats leading from what we could only assume were the holding cells at the court! There we sat, Accused number 1, 2 and 3…

For 30 seconds we pondered going downstairs to check it out, but then we remembered our gangster-speak wasn’t actually that good, and we weren’t quite sure what we’d say to Aggies if we met up with him down there. So we abandoned that idea and decided to go in search of the divorce court again. Instead, we found the civil courtroom and watched a few interesting matters then decided was time to go again.

We thought about perhaps trying to find another courtroom but it worked out that our timing was perfect because as we got to the foyer area again we met up with the rest of our party who actually made it into the courtroom with Melissa. And there too was Melissa, our friend… the newly admitted attorney. And so of course it was time to head outside for photos.

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Not too shabby for a Friday morning adventure me thinks 😊. But now tis time for my minion weekend for this year.

Embrace uncertainty

So the gears of 2018 have started turning…

The past few days I started revving, rocking and getting back into action. Thinking about what lies ahead this year reminded me of a thought I had a few months ago – embracing uncertainty. Embracing uncertainty in 2018 means allowing myself to feel intrigued by, even curious about the unknown. Yet every time I think of the ‘unknown’ tis human nature to instinctively feel fear…no?

Moments of fear and sadness cannot be cured or defeated. They can only be transformed by learning to love and support yourself when they arrive” – Sarah Blondin (Live Awake 2017)

Fear has a purpose. What is it that my fear is trying to tell me? It has a message for me. Every time that I stopped trying to run away from it, or stop pushing it away from me and actually let it in to determine it’s message for me, then fear releases its tight grip on me, and my life becomes more pleasurable indeed.img_4948

In 2018 I will embody my fear, free my spirit, look up, step forward, move ahead …believe, breathe, believe, dance, cry, laugh and love….. C’est la vie. Let’s just frikkin do this.

Kachow!!!

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The value of ‘presence’

Villa Paradisa

And so this above is the only picture I have of an amazing weekend spent with some new and extremely interesting friends on the West Coast.

The weekend was different for a couple of reasons. For starters it was a meat free, and mostly preservative free weekend… kind of. In total we were 10 people, of which 3 were vegetarian, 2 pescetarian, and 3 others weren’t vegan, vegetarian or pescetarian, but did not eat anything with preservatives or added sugar. That made the weekend menu very interesting. We all helped with the cooking, and I’m thrilled to share that we had the most delicious predominantly plant based meals that were tremendous fun to prepare.

The other difference was it was really chilled in strange way, considering we don’t know each other that well. I guess I expected some anxiety since I didn’t know them well, but to my surprise, everyone was super relaxed and friendly (happy?). I think it’s because everyone that was there, was self assured and just confident in their own skin. Silly things to illustrate my point…. after an amazing dinner and socialising on both nights, everyone went to bed by about 11pm. Despite there being loads of alcohol (and vegetarian food) available, overindulging just wasn’t something that appealed much to anyone. Over the weekend I went for two longish runs and my friends did various things including cycling, kite-surfing, sculpting (one posed and one sculpted), a few of us read a bit, listened to music, had stimulating conversation while we prepared food and at times we just all chilled on the beach. And during the entire weekend no one bothered to watch tv.

The culmination of this translated into the most significant difference, the outstanding feature about this weekend….To me is feels that everyone there was present. And that was seriously cool.

It truly was different to any other weekend I’ve been on before. We didn’t take pictures. No one bothered to ask anyone else to take selfies with them. No one posted on FB or Insta or anywhere else that I know of. It’s not because the weekend wasn’t fun – it’s because we were all fully engaged in the weekend. On Saturday I realised that there wasn’t a single person that seemed to be preoccupied with their smart phones. Smart phones all lay on a pile on one of the tables while we sat outside sharing pita and talking about that various activities that everyone got up to that day.

Every time I caught myself thinking about the past, or the future (besides a few very practical things that needed my attention), I gently acknowledged and then dismissed those thoughts. I don’t know for sure, but I surely am inclined to believe that this thing, this new experience to me, aka living in the present is the source of true contentment and happiness.

Anyway who knows….. but lets try this Bronwyn why not!

Simple Comforts

1. Making a huge pot of popcorn, after coming home from a run and eating it all while watching a movie

2. Watching an old’ish movie you intended to see ages ago when it was on circuit… but you missed it. So you stream it #iTunesRocks

3. Listening to Ed Sheeran #CutieWithAmazingVoice

4. Devil’s Peak First Light

5. Burning rose or geranium scented incense for no particular reason …just because you are beautiful and life is good.

6. Watching your children interact with their friends #Priceless

7. Giving yourself ‘off’ from working on a particular night even though you didn’t finish those impossible goals you said you would that day. YOLO… life is more than just work!

8. Having a Din Din club to send drunk texts to. …. not like that I send drunk texts like sometimes… like ever (or blog when drunk 🤞🏾) 🤦🏾‍♀️😱…. much.

9. Insight Timer to lull you to sleep.

10. Drinking gin, beautiful gin in the dark, taking selfies and laughing at yourself for being an idiot.

Fees must not fall

So yes, I am being incredibly brave, and the truth is I am not at all scared of my own opinion. Opinions are dynamic evolving things and for now this is mine.

Over lunch yesterday, my best friends and I had a great conversation and engaging debate, which got me thinking about the content of this blog post. Who knows how it started, talk about cheese and beer drifted into a conversation on societal  inequalities, and an opinion was expressed that education is the key to change (this I agree with) however a continuation of this sentiment is that education should be free (and this… I most vehemently disagree with).

Nothing can ever be free. Not even love. Everything in life costs something. The love from even your mother comes at a cost to her. If it did not, it would not be so powerful. Anything and everything that is worthwhile in life comes at some sort of sacrifice. So hold on …..wait, before I become too philosophical, let’s backtrack because I think my friend/s meant in the more practical sense. The example of Sweden was offered as a model for free education. Very practical yes….. and IMNSHO, very ridiculous yes! It is outright insane to compare South Africa with Sweden. Sweden is a very socialist country, because they can afford to be socialist. As in literally (they have the money) to afford to be socialist. Their basic human rights are taken care of – in South Africa ours are not. Without that, any plight to educate will be futile.

Education is more than studying from a few books, writing a few research papers, getting a degree or three or seven. It is not the cognitive abilities of our society that will fix our problems, it is our metacognitive abilities that will do this. Our thinking about our thinking. The foundation for our  metacognitive abilities is only fertilized through socialisation. You can be smart, but a sociopath at the same time. And those fuckers are absolutely no good to society.

It is at grassroots that we must foster development. The past is in the past. Yes I was not popular with my friends for saying that, but I will stick to my guns.

We have what we have. Now – the present. No actions now will undo what was done. There is always the option for vengeance (….yes peoples that what it is – call it whatever else you want to now, but know that it is vengeful to 20 years ex post facto lash out now for something that was not addressed). AND vengeance stagnates growth #Fact. Again IMNSHO, there is no difference in looking at this from a personal point of view. Let’s say I had an abusive husband…. treated me like dirt, emotionally disempowered me, the shit beat me to pulp regularly and verbally lambasted me for years…you get the story. We got divorced – and we each got our settlement. A settlement we agreed upon. Some years later I am unhappy because my life still isn’t going according to the ideal I thought it would – so now I want to go back and take more of what I feel is rightfully mine. It’s driven by emotion…. and yes THAT is vengeful. While there would be some comfort to be gained from vengeance – it’s comfort that is short-lived and short-sighted.

Education is the key, but redressing the more basic problems in society is needed before an attempt at educating the nation will be successful. Academic degrees won’t make us a better or more caring society – and that’s actually what we really need. Not more educated people, more caring people! We need to address those needs first. Higher education (HE) is a luxury, when security, health care and basic education is so severely restricted as it is in our country.  One has to actually respect the ingenious way certain politicians use the thought, the notion of HE as a carrot, which they dangle in front of the masses, getting them to believe that is the solution. It’s really clever.

A note of education…. UCT and MIT have a comprehensive selection of MOOCs which are freely available. Surprise, surprise….there are cost free options to educate oneself! However perhaps because current “paid for” university education seems more “prestigious” … the politicians would have us believe that it is key. Sadly MOOCs cannot be fully utilised without basic needs such as a safe learning environment. Besides that, the throughput in general is not good…. Why?, again IMNSHO because it is free – so the quality of what is offered is not on par with a paid for face to face course. It takes time, energy and resources to develop and offer educational content that is worthwhile – Anything that is free, is not worth as much as something that has come at some sort of sacrifice. Why should education be different to food? It would sound outrageous and ridiculous if people demanded free food from the government, wouldn’t it? Why doesn’t it sound ridiculous when people demand absolutely free education? Or does it……

Anyway, I could go on and on and on, but enough of this already. Time to get on with my jobs – coincidentally, one of them is being an open education practitioner (For example I use YouTube to make educational resources available for free for any/all students who need help with stats) …. so I have nothing else to prove. My views on educating people, and facilitating public access to educational resources is clear. But as a whole, South African society – we are not ready for Fees to Fall.