Two Tickets to Paris

Photo by Thorsten technoman – Pexels


Sybil lay under her white cotton duvet, listening to the early morning sounds of farm life. She recognized the crowing of the old rooster near the barn and sighed at the sound of the doves cooing under the roof trusses. She glanced over to where Chris lay snoring gently next to her. She wanted to run her fingers through his pale grey hair but she was reluctant to wake him. What had she done to deserve so much happiness? Sybil snuggled a little deeper under the crisp white linen to enjoy a few more moments of bliss. Her peaceful moment was short lived as the mobile phone on the nightstand vibrated and bounced around to get her attention.

‘Oh my Lord! Not now! Don’t they know how early it is on a Saturday morning? We are trying to sleep!’
‘I’m so sorry Chris… I didn’t mean to disturb you…so sorry my Love.’

‘Good morning, this is Sybil speaking. Do you have any idea what time it is?’ She paced the bedroom floor, shooting worried looks at Chris on the bed.

‘Good morning Ma’am. Am I speaking to Mrs. Sybil Browne?’

‘Yes, yes.. of course you are. I have already told you who I am.’

‘My apologies, Mrs. Browne. This is Myrtle Benning from Visage Promotions. You entered a competition a few months ago when you purchased our full range of facial products. I am very pleased to tell you that you are our prizewinner and you have won a romantic trip to Paris for two people. You….’

‘Are you kidding me? Are you sure you have the right person? Sybil Browne? Woo hoo!’ Sybil catapulted onto the bed and Chris covered his head with the bedding.

‘Chris.. Chris, we are going to Paris, my Love… to Paris. To Paris. Can you believe this?’ The shiny black cell phone slipped through her fingers and shattered into pieces as it slid across the wooden flooring.

‘When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie,**
That’s Amore!
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine,
That’s Amore!
Bells will ring…’ Sybil danced across the room, her hands flying above her head.

‘Wrong country, my Love.’ Chris chuckled. ‘That’s Italy. We’re going to gay Paris!’

He held her in his arms as they moved in unison across the room. The rays of early morning sunshine tried to sneak in between the soft white curtains to join in on the frivolity.

Sybil stopped abruptly and disentangled Chris’s arms.

‘Oh my goodness Chris! I have to phone that woman back! I got so excited about Paris. I’ll have to put the phone together again…’ Laughter peeled from her belly like excited bells.

‘Let me help you. I wasn’t even aware that you’d entered a competition for Paris. I know that it’s been on your bucket list for so many years…. and now. Wow! Isn’t this exciting? Want to hear a little confession?’ Chris glanced sheepishly at his wife.

‘No Chris, please don’t tell me that you had a steamy affair there once in your turbulent youth?’
Sybil threw back her silver curls as she hurled an embroidered cushion at him.

‘I’m going to get you for this…. I’ll just tickle you until you wet yourself’

Sybil ran for the protection of the bed covers, but Chris intercepted her and they both landed on the soft down duvet, giggling and out of breath, in one another’s arms.

‘Chris you need to promise me something…’ Her eyes darkened

‘You are frightening me now, my Love. What is it?’

Please promise me that you will never ever leave me. Please, please, please just promise me.’

Chris bolted into an upright position as his stomach knotted. Surely, she couldn’t have found out already.

‘Why are you asking me this right now? How can anyone make a promise like that? Where is this coming from? Who have you been speak…..?

‘It’s just that I love you so much Chris and I’ll just never ever survive without you. I hope you know that?’ Sybil held him so tight that he could hardly breathe and he sighed with relief that she could not see the troubled look in his dark grey eyes.

———-0O0———-

Sybil’s leg twitched as she sat in the back seat of the vehicle bound for the airport. She glanced down at the burgundy leather shopper on her lap and bit her lip.

‘How far do we still have to go?’

‘Almost there.’

The departure hall loomed large ahead of her. She wondered if she could face the frenzy here today. She took a deep breath and moved towards the check-in counter.

‘Good day to you. Are you looking forward to your trip to Paris? I see that you have two tickets. Will the other traveler be checking in soon?’

‘ I…. um, …. yes, I’m sure he will be. Do I have to wait for him? I’d rather just board the plane as soon as I can, if you don’t mind.’ Sybil tapped her fingers on the counter top in irritated anticipation of her boarding pass.

‘Are you alright Mrs. Browne?’

‘Yes, yes thank you, just excited to get to Paris.’ Her voice trembled as she spoke.

‘Enjoy your flight. The agent shook her head and a frown wrinkled her young brow.

Sybil took large steps up the ramp and headed toward the final boarding gate. She was always elegant and composed. Now wasn’t the time. She had to get to the huge white bird waiting on the apron. She held her leather bag close to her chest.

‘Welcome on board.’ Another warm smile on a beautiful young face.

‘Thank you.. so much’, Sybil replied as she tried to catch her breath.

She flopped down into her seat. Sybil opened her bag and placed a small wooden casket next to her on the open seat.

‘My Love… I knew that you would never ever leave me.’

(**That’s Amore Song written by Jack Brooks & Harry Warren)

Uncle Doug

A peaceful silence hung over the ward in the Hospice in-patient unit. The sound of tinkling cups in the distance announced the onset of teatime in a few minutes. Tritan’s ears pricked as he lay in the large comfortable patch of sun. He licked his lips in anticipation of a tasty treat that would follow during the course of the afternoon.
Uncle Doug stirred under the white covers on the white steel bed above him.
‘Are you still here my boy? You are such a loyal old soul. You make my days here worthwhile. Yes, come over here so that I can rub your head. That’s it, you beautiful boy…’ Tritan’s golden Cocker Spaniel tail wagged with delight as he stood with his two front paws on the cotton bedspread.
‘You better not let Sister Rosemary see your dirty paws on my bed. We’ll both get a scolding.’
Firm footsteps approaching the ward were Tritan’s cue to return to his place in the sun.
‘You are such a clever boy. I don’t even know your name, do you know that? You just appeared out of nowhere one day and made yourself comfortable here in my room. I must have done something good in my miserable life to be blessed with your loving company during the last days of my life.’
Tritan rushed to the window as a large ginger cat appeared on the ledge outside. His instincts battled inside his head. This fluffy creature challenged him through the pane of glass, emerald eyes piercing his defenses.
Tritan ran out of the ward, confused.
‘Don’t go… please” Uncle Doug’s voice snapped him out of his predicament.
He could not leave him now. His heart told him that this assignment would end soon. Emerald eyes would still be there tomorrow.
Tritan returned to his patch of sunlight.

Just Causes

Just Causes


Hundreds of images of disaster, loss, and grief have flooded our television screens and newspapers over the past few days. In an already negative environment, these images overwhelmed me and caused so much sadness as I have tried to make sense of it all. Senseless murders caused far too many families to bury their loved ones. Floods and fires brought their disastrous share of destruction and poverty wreaks havoc in communities all over the country.
As an employee in a non-profit environment, I am acutely aware of the many organisations and causes that face enormous daily challenges to raise funds for their communities. Hospices, animal shelters, day care and educational centres, clinics, women’s shelters and poverty alleviation spaces, to name a few. As I mingle with people at fundraising events and address various assemblies, I become more and more aware of the misunderstanding that exists towards organisations that are dependent on the public for financial and material assistance on a regular basis. Donors are often reluctant to donate money, as they fear corruptive practices and others have become so tired of continual requests for help.

Specifically in the hospice environment, there is a massive reluctance to donate to these worthy causes as the mere mention of the ‘Hospice’ word evokes fears of death…. Intense research has shown that this is a worldwide phenomenon and much education is needed to quell this misconception. The Hospice philosophy is not just the buildings where patients are cared for, but also the services that are offered. Very often families become donors only once a family member has passed through the hands of Hospice care. Another misconception is that only ’older’ people are treated at Hospices and only cancer patients. Patients of all ages and all suffering from life limiting diseases are cared for at Hospices and many resources are needed to care for these patients from every walk of life.

To make sense of the non-profit world, I have had to make peace with the fact that we all choose an organisation or a just cause of our choice. It really does not matter where your heart lies. What is of utmost importance is that we do indeed donate our time, money, or goods to a place where our efforts are sorely needed. An incredible example of this is in action east of Johannesburg, where senior women, affectionately known as ‘Gogos’ in the communities, spend afternoons in makeshift libraries, reading to the township children. As part of their service, they also go to great lengths to find suitable books for these avid little learners. Woolen caps, gloves, food and blankets round off this heartwarming support.

 

Another worthy cause operating in all the townships in the same area is a group of animal lovers who collect pets for inoculations and medical services, free of any charges. Bags of food and warm blankets form part of this service. Yet another group of women are knitting little ‘breasts’ from the softest cottons and filling them with the purest cotton balls for breast cancer patients just out of mastectomy surgery. These little ‘breasts’ fill a space that is now vacant and won’t hurt the tender surgical area.

I could continue writing about the thousands of non-profit organisations presently active in South Africa. I am aware that we are often annoyed and irritated by constant requests for assistance, but being involved on the other side; I can assure you that non-profits cannot possibly operate without the support of their communities.

Sadly, we often wait for disasters to happen before we stand together and make plans to relieve the suffering and loss of those caught in the crossfire of these calamities.

Especially at this time, where so much lack and destruction is evident, let us choose our cause or organisation to support, and be reminded that these very important places are not JUST causes or organisations…. they all fill a need in someone or some animal’s life.

 

Where can YOU help?  

Until next time….

Sharing is Caring – or is it?


Sharing is Caring – or is it?

A very recent trip to the coast, where sharing a room with two of my best friends was the order of the day, I became acutely aware of the words of the faithful kiddies’ character, Barney: ‘Sharing is Caring’. I am sure that since Barney made his appearance on national television all over the world, many mothers, educators and child minders have quoted his famous words over and over again. How do you teach a young child to share? Just remind him what Barney says. Whether it works all the time, probably remains to be seen, but it is certainly worth a try to maintain peace and tranquility when little ones vie for ownership of their favourite (or others’) space or possessions.
How do things play out when three adult women, varying in ages and with incredibly strong personalities, share a relatively small space for a period of ten days? Interesting comes to mind….and perhaps even challenging? Perhaps Barney would even have had a secret giggle had he been there? I am really quite accustomed to sharing with a friend or family member on the various trips that I have had the pleasure of experiencing throughout my life and as I honestly don’t enjoy confrontation, I am known to back down and just let things be… but this time it was very different! I had made up my mind several weeks ahead of this recent trip that I would most definitely have a room of my own in the family set up that the hotel provides. The other two would share and that was the way it was going to be – well so I thought…
After a grueling eight hours on a small, less luxurious, 22 seater coach, having experienced all four seasons during the trip and the worst mist ever, we finally arrived at our destination, in need of a very strong cup of tea, or something a tad stronger. As the tour guide of the group of mostly senior citizens, I was obliged to help them all to recover their luggage and settle them into their accommodation. Eventually with great anticipation I boarded the lift to my room, totally assured that my ‘single’ room awaited me. The children’s room in the family unit was what I viewed first and I was really happy that this would be my haven for the next nine days. The main bedroom was something to behold, crisp clean linen, and a sea view that took my breath away. That’s okay, I thought, the other two could share the room and the view as well. I would pop in now and then to get my fair share of the sea breeze that billowed through the open windows, as long as I could have my OWN space for a few days.
I am not so sure if Barney would have had any advice for me as the days wore on, but my solitary space literally disappeared by day two, like a beautiful mist driven out by the early morning sun. Strong female personalities and raging hormones soon determined who would be housed where and I finally had to make peace with, (yes you got it!) once again sharing a holiday space!
This situation got me thinking…. does ‘forced’ sharing really make you very caring? I was constantly wondering if my reactions were acceptable or not? Known not to cause disruptions in situations, I carefully accepted the status quo once again. The main question in my head was: ‘Am I still caring?’ while my emotions often stormed inside of me. One friend with me, desperately needed this holiday and my resolve shifted from disappointment to tolerance eventually and then on to my version of ‘caring’ while we were all sharing this small space.
I could probably write this experience down to my ultimate test in Barney’s wise words: ‘Sharing is Caring’ and it all boils down to me making my correct choices, no matter how difficult the situation that presented itself. Please don’t get me wrong, I am no saint when it comes to dealing with situations, especially when the war takes place inside of my heart and my head. I would hope that I passed some lesson in life that was destined for me for those few days of my life. Let’s hope Barney would have approved.
Until we meet again… Read More

Craving Gentleness

 Craving GentlenessCraving Gentleness pink.jpg edited

Over the last few months I have become acutely aware of a lack of gentleness and kindness all over the world. Countries are plagued with terror attacks and politicians are driven by incredible greed and power. Refugees experience the worst of circumstances to get to other countries with the hope of a better life and poverty leads many to vicious criminal acts. Heart wrenching images flash across our television screens and appear in newspapers and magazines, highlighting the depths that mankind is capable of.

I have always been shocked by the way in which women and girls have been treated throughout the ages and still are in many countries. I am busy reading ‘Mayada Daughter of Iraq’ written by well known author, Jean Sasson. This book tells the awful true story of a woman’s survival in Saddam Hussein’s torture jail in 1999. The story recounts the dreadful and traumatizing acts of absolute savage behavior in this jail and tells the stories of many women crammed into a single prison cell. Prison guards were driven by promises of wealth and status in return for the most brutal acts of torture and suffering.  A pivotal theme in this book is the total disregard of humanity, respect and human rights. It boggles the mind that human beings, who have been given such a precious gift of choice between good and evil, can stoop to such levels of human degradation.

Daily we are surrounded by angry motorists, impatient shoppers, negative news reports, conflicting health reviews, cynicism towards our new ideas, lawlessness and an abounding fear of the future …….. and a huge absence of gentleness, kindness and patience.  What has happened to our world?  What messages are we conveying to our children and grandchildren? That it is acceptable to beat up the boy in the classroom because of a misunderstanding or a skew word or are we teaching them to spare a thought for the other person’s set of circumstances and reactions?

I am an avid lover of films and often find myself feeling really sad after watching a movie with a gentle story line. Does this only happen on a scripted set or are there still genuine stories with happy endings? Of course there are, but they seem to be rare nuggets waiting to be unearthed rather than just lying around for all to see and experience.  Of course life is not like the Hallmark movie channel where everything is peachy perfect and all’s well that ends well…..our journeys are created to have diversions, trials and searches to hopefully create strong and vibrant characters along the way. Like the game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, some ladders need to be climbed and at times we slither down the ‘snakes’.

Sometimes my life feels like a maze, each room filled with a situation that I am not quite equipped to handle or rather wish I didn’t have to enter. Some rooms are filled with overwhelming noise and issues that go totally against my belief systems, but cannot be avoided and I just have to find my way out of them. Other rooms are filled with disappointments and broken dreams or choices that I would rather not be reminded of and then there are those that have bright shafts of hope and reminders of gentleness and possibilities of good things to look forward to.

Perhaps I just need to remove myself periodically to a walk in a quiet labyrinth where I can take deep breaths of  fresh air and new ideas and find the gentleness that I crave in this world of mine. We are all part of a world that is woven together with various colourful strands of kindness and gentleness amid the often overwhelming issues that we cannot change or don’t want to accept. Life is often challenging, but amid all the highs and lows, we can find a place to call ‘my happy space’.

 

Until next time…..

Images courtesy of Google Images.

 

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The Healing Hands of Sh’Zen

Lavender long basket

Having recently attended a Sh’Zen Healing Hands workshop, I was once again reminded of the importance of touch.  Sh’Zen’s renowned clinical aromatherapist, Tertia Mariott, gently guided us all through the amazing realities of energy levels in the human body and the stark realization that the skin on our hands reveals our true age.

Tertia’s knowledge of the world of essential oils and floral extracts opened up my mind to the wonder of creation and the sheer power of all things natural.  Rosemary is energizing; tree oils have grounding properties; lavender clams us down; fruit oils give the body nourishing energy and ethereal flower oils have magnetic attractions. I could not stop myself from feeling truly privileged to be in the presence of this really remarkable woman.  Tertia’s gentleness and strength permeated the room as we settled down peacefully to learn the art of a healing hand massage using the superb Sh’Zen hand product range.

Lavender bunch

We worked together in pairs and comfortably massaged gently fragranced treatment products into relaxed hands and concentrated on pressure points while discovering the exquisite link between reflex points in the hand to organs and very important areas of our bodies. All the while, I realized the vital meaning of sharing the human touch.  I couldn’t help wondering just how many hurting souls out there could be blessed with these gentle healing sessions.  Fragile spirits and neglected hands would find solace and nurturing in this peaceful environment. Once again gratitude overwhelmed me…..but I needed to pass on what I had just been privy to.

Lavender BasketFrom the Nurturing Hand Sanitizer, through the gentle Perfecting Sugar Scrub, to the Treatment Cream working its magic in a neatly wrapped towel, the           pampering continued. My two personal favourites, the Replenishing Serum and the Perfecting Day Cream, rounded off a perfect evening of sheer pleasure in the presence of like minded women, strong in their united faith and belief in a   treatment range that far surpasses any other.

(Photos Courtesy of Google Photos)