Oh hey – look… it’s my Blog!

Where am I? What’s this? Oh right… my blog… that place where I sometimes dump a load of words in the hope that someone reads them and derives some enjoyment. A little corner of the internet that I’ve claimed as mine, devoted solely to my musings. And I’ve all but abandoned it. It’s a tad dusty in here now after months of being left vacant. Thought maybe it’s a good idea to pop my head in and open the curtains for a bit.

So where have I been? Oh, I’ve been around. Wish I could provide more exciting details, but honestly, the last few months are just a blur of work and home, parenting, chores and the odd playdate with friends. A little bit like being on a hamster wheel. You know the feeling, right?

claire-gymIf you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that Claire had a round of gymnastics competitions which took up a bunch of weekends and she has an armful of gold medals for her dedication.

Ewan was finally accepted into the high school we were all hoping for, so now the countdown to the last day of primary school is on! Each time we have a primary school event, it’s in the back of my head that this is the last time we will do it with him.

One of my highlights in the last few months was buying a new car! After deliberating for new-carages, I finally signed along the numerous dotted lines and bought a lovely cream coloured Renault Captur as a replacement for my Honda Ballade. I am absolutely loving driving this baby. It has all the bells and whistles, and I do like bells and whistles. Even though it’s relatively small and zippy, it doesn’t feel like I’m driving a dinky toy.

 

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Workwise, I’ve had an interesting few months. I went on a fantastic leadership course as well as a great business project management course. The leadership course was absolutely fascinating in terms of the insight it gave me into how I think. In preparation for the course, they did two detailed assessments on the participants. The results affirmed that I really am a creative being at heart, with a strong bent towards people and reasonable organisational skills, but not a whole lot of natural analytical skill.

 

I’ve been given a regular opportunity to use my creative word skills at work and I am loving the challenge. Much like my blog (or a painting – way back when I used to play with paint) I am always fascinated by the process of sitting in front of a blank screen (or canvas) and finding the flow. Most of the time, I love the result. Especially if I leave the finished product for bit and then revisit it with fresh eyes. Maybe I’ve neglected my blog a bit because I am getting a regular writing fix at work? Or maybe I’m just looking for excuses 😉

I can’t say I’ve done a whole lot of reading lately, but I am absolutely in love with Audible. Between the audio books and podcasts, my drive to work is a pleasure. I find that I listen to different things to what I would normally read. My default read is light chick lit, but as audio books, I love biographies and mystery/suspense. And as for the podcasts, I really enjoy listening to the comedy stuff, particularly live storytelling. If I’m not on Audible, I listen to podcasts on Cliff Central. They’re intelligent and irreverent, obnoxious at times, but a whole lot more entertaining than old school radio. Isn’t it amazing how we can pick and choose media content nowadays?

Staying on the subject of picking your media content, we also cancelled our DSTV account at home and we now do Netflix. I’m not a big TV watcher at the best of times, and much rather prefer browsing the interwebz and social media for mindless time out, so I don’t really miss much on DSTV, except maybe the cooking shows… I always loved the cooking shows. I am enjoying a bit of series binge watching now on Netflix. Nick and I just finished watching a really cool Brit crime drama series called “Broadchurch” and we are now on the hunt for the next series to watch.

And then there was the studying thing… Oh boy, I’m battling with the motivation to buckle down and study at the moment. Exams are just over a month away and I really needhil-assignments to focus. I started off the semester pretty well with my assignments – or at least I think I started well, I haven’t actually had the results yet – but I’ve really not been very disciplined in the last few weeks.

In an attempt to gather myself towards myself, I bought a Vit B complex supplement as well as some herbal brain power supplement called Xcel. I told the lady at Dischem that I would come back and buy her a chocolate if these products that she recommended actually work and I pass my exams!

 

Finally, an update on my running. Or lack thereof. Running took a bit of a back seat in winter. After reality kicked in and I decided not to attempt running a the CT marathon (happening this coming weekend) I took a bit of a time out. I walked at least one session each week, but I’ve been finding running quite painful. My right knee was sore – which seems to have eased up recently. My left foot and ankle however have been giving me a lot of trouble. I feel okay when I walk, but running has been painful. And the hours after running are even worse!

Last week, I decided to enter the Soweto Half Marathon to give me something to work towards again. I committed to a training plan, but after two short consecutive run/walk sessions this past weekend, I realised I can’t and probably shouldn’t try and run through the pain. I was in a lot of pain on Sunday after my 8k run/walk and my left foot is actually swollen at the moment. I’ve consulted Dr Google and self-diagnosed and I’ve finally made an appointment to see a physiotherapist and have an appointment this evening.

All being well, I plan to do the 10k Cape Town Peace Run/Walk this coming Sunday while Nick, Jents, Karen and Lance take on the 42.2k. I am so excited for a grown up weekend away with Nick and our friends and enjoying the scenic 10k route at a leisurely pace, taking loads of pics and just soaking up the vibe.

And that, friends, is my news for now. I won’t promise loads of regular blog posts for the foreseeable future because my focus really should be on studying, but if the inspiration strikes…

Love,

Hils xxx

That time I signed up for a full marathon

If you’re hoping for a super motivating post about achieving the impossible… I suggest you turn back now! This isn’t that sort of post! This story is about changing my mind and deciding not to go for a particular goal.

A couple of weeks ago I had this crazy notion to sign up for a marathon. A full 42.2k race. Even though I said a gazillion times to all that would hear that I was never going to run further that a half marathon. The reason for signing up was honestly a bit loopy. My friends had signed up for the Capetown Marathon (see Jenty’s blog for her story) and Nick signed up too… and I suddenly felt massively left out and grumpy about it. FOMO x 10000. Grumpy because I suddenly felt like a useless runner again. I felt like I used to feel when I trudged behind the last of the pack whenever I walked. Gradually, my grumpiness gave way to an inkling of an idea – what if, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I tried to join them. I tested the waters by throwing the idea out to a few running friends and the responses I received were mixed, to say the least. Some agreed that the idea was crazy and others said if I put my mind to it, I could do it. I’m grateful to both camps for both the honesty and the faith. I went with the latter opinion, paid the entry fee, signed up for a full marathon. I did some research and convinced myself that even if I walked the entire race at 10 minutes per kilometre, I could still finish it. I found a 12 week training plan, which seemed sort of doable. Although I told my close friends about my decision, I couldn’t quite bring myself to post about it here or talk about it to too many people because even with the plan, it seemed like such a far fetched idea! 

I loved the idea of feeling the elation that I felt when I finished my first half marathon and doing what I never believed I could, but the reality of running that sort of distance was scary as hell!  

A couple of weeks have passed since I completed that online entry and I’ve had some time to think about the idea and why I wanted to attempt the run and honestly, FOMO is just not a good enough reason! The truth is, right now, I’m not physically strong enough and three months is just not enough time for me to build that strength. 

Even if I somehow managed to get my legs and lungs fit enough, I really don’t think that my feet can cope with that sort of distance. The commitment to training is another issue. I’ve signed up for a bunch of modules for my degree course and they have to take priority. Training to run a marathon whilst trying to complete my assignments, study for year-end exams, work full time and be a wife and mom just seems like more than I can deal with. 

This past weekend, I ran the Northgate 10k, and it was a pretty good race. I enjoyed the run and I realised that having made the effort to run more regularly in the last weeks felt awesome but that I was completely okay with deciding not to run the Capetown Marathon. Although it felt good to have a goal which gave my running some focus, it didn’t feel great to have a goal so huge that I got palpitations everytime I gave it any serious thought. Deciding not to do it felt more right than trying to do it. I’m no longer saying never to anything longer than a 21k, but I am saying not right now. 

Maybe knowing my limits is winning in its own way? 

Birds, Bees and the Brock case 

For the first few years of parenting, I imagined the day with a measure of dread. They’re so sweet and innocent and how is it possible that they will ever be big enough to have to know stuff about body hair, puberty, periods, contraception. I didn’t even consider factoring rape into the discussion. And being a young, naïve parent I somehow imagined that the talk was a one-time event that would occur at some point in the distant future. Like getting a driver’s licence… but with more discomfort. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the greatest comparison – the process of actually getting my driver’s licence came with a huge deal of discomfort.

As I became a slightly more experienced (aka opinionated) parent, my mental preparation evolved. As soon as they asked the first question, I would respond with an age appropriate answer, love, clarity and zero embarrassment. I would be matter-of-fact about all matters relating to body. I would emphasise the normalcy of it all so as to avoid them growing up with all sorts of hang ups. I would emphasise love and maturity and informed choice. My kids would feel comfortable to ask me anything, confident in the knowledge that I would answer them with love and openness.

 The reality is slightly different though. This was never to be a once off conversation. And it was never the clichéd “where do babies come from?” that I had been mentally preparing for. This was never clearer than on the day that my almost 10 year old son overheard a news report about a 10 year old girl that was pregnant and asked how it was possible. Instead of being sweet and innocent, I found myself explaining the horrors of molestation, rape and the basic mechanics of sex in one go, which with the benefit of hindsight was probably too much, too soon and hardly age appropriate. But my thought process at the time was that if a girl, barely older than him was capable of conceiving, then maybe he needed to know it all. And when you’re caught off guard, it’s not easy to know where to start and stop. Another thing… as a trained doula with a bit of knowledge about the processes of pregnancy and birth, I tend to get a bit technical about these sort of things. I worry that I have bombarded my poor children with too much of the actual biology, not to mention my own biases.

Despite my best intentions about open lines of communication and my kids being free and comfortable to talk to me about anything… they are often just not that keen to talk. My boy child especially. We’ve had a couple of good chats, but they’re never easy. I think that no matter how open minded and liberal a parent may be, it’s just not that easy to talk comfortably about sex. It’s been slightly easier with my daughter. She loves a good chat and seems fairly comfortable discussing things with me. The most important thing that I have realised with having two older kids is that the talks have to happen and happen again. And again. Their filters are so different at each age and what they have taken in from our early talks is very different from what they take in now as a tween and a teen. And the conversations mostly need to be started by me. I need to check in regularly and find out where they’re at, and hopefully they will follow with what they want to know.

I don’t think that kids should be left to get Sex Ed from school but I’m extremely grateful that my children’s school has an annual workshop for the senior primary students where they’re given age appropriate talks about all sorts of tricky subjects. These talks happened last week and have opened the doors to conversations between the kids and I. We’ve talked about a whole host of things in the last few days. In light of the horrible Brock case that has been all over the news this week, I realised that the talks also need to emphasise my daughter’s right to say NO, no matter the person or situation. And for my son… that No is always No, and saying nothing doesn’t mean consent.

It’s a learning curve, as is everything with parenting. What has your approach to “the birds and bees” been? And how do you feel about talking about the really uncomfortable stuff like rape? 



 

The Scholarly Edition

Running has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few weeks as preparing for exams took priority. Yes, exams! 

21 years after finishing high school, I am embarking on a journey into higher education! One of my biggest regrets was not getting a degree and I don’t want a life full of regrets. I have actually started this journey a few times before. I’ve even gained a few first year credits but I’ve always quit after a while. I was lacking focus, motivation, direction or discipline. 
Things have changed over the last few years though. Maybe it is because I have grown up a bit. I’ve found a some direction, career-wise. I’m nurturing my love of writing as a form of creative expression and I have opportunities for this expression at work. I do believe that there is a space for me as a creative in a corporate space. 

Running has played a huge role in all of this. For one thing, the life changing experience of learning to run inspired me to start writing – which then reminded me of how much I enjoyed playing with words. And the fact that you guys read this blog and comment, share and motivate me to write more has given me confidence in my ability to craft with words. This has given me goals to work toward in my career. So thank you for that!

The other thing involves the unlikely reality that I went from a confirmed couch creature to a runner. As in a real runner who buys expensive shoes, participates in races, has a CGA running license and medals. I realised that if I could change this most fundamental part of me… the part that couldn’t maintain or enjoy any physical activity, then perhaps I can change other fundamental beliefs about myself, like the self defeating idea that I lack the discipline to see a tertiary degree through to completion. 

So back to those exams. Well, they’re done for now. I don’t know about how well done, though. Just figuring out how to study has been a bit of a learning curve, if you’ll excuse the pun. It took weeks of procrastination, opening and then quickly closing the books again because I didn’t know where or how to start. 

Eventually with the exam deadline looming large in front of me, I had no option but to start somewhere. I didn’t give myself enough time to cover the material as well as I should have and I have been incredibly stressed over the last two weeks about whether I knew enough to attempt the exams. I’m very grateful to my family for putting up with me hibernating in my study and supplying me with endless tea, hugs and motivation. 

I can’t promise I won’t procrastinate next semester but I do think I’ll be a bit clearer on how to get going. At the end of this, dressed in a cap and gown, with a degree in hand, the stress and hours studying will all be worth it. 

Wish me luck as I wait for the results to be released! For now, I need to find some running focus again! 

From the other side

I woke up a little stiff this morning, after yesterday’s Adrienne Hersch/Randburg Harriers race. And I didn’t even run. I was there though. My shoulders were a little achy from holding out water sachets for all the runners!

Our Run/Walk for Life branch looked after the 8km water point so a bunch of us crazies woke up early, long before dawn cracked and  a sparrow farted, donned our RWFL shirts to go set up our 10 water tables.

To the non runner, you may wonder why we would get up so early, on Mother’s Day Sunday, in the chilly weather, to hand out water sachets and cups of coke.

Because it’s fun!

We made bacon rolls on a skottel braai and drank coffee from flasks. We worked together. We chatted to neighbours and felt like part of a community. We laughed and joked. We cheered for the thousands of runners as they ran past. Runners who included family, friends and colleagues as well as some of SA’s top runners. We got to see Caroline Wostman speed by, as she tapers before Comrades in three weeks as well as Rene Kalmer, who won the race.

I got to give my hubby a sweaty hug mid-race – he ran the 21k with his brother, Jonathan. And massive kudos to Jonathan who ran and finished the 21 k in a great time, despite having not run further than a 10k training run in months. It was fabulous seeing the two brothers running together.

The kids were with us and loved every minute, hanging out with their mates, cheering the runners on, handing out drinks and stomping on the left over water sachets at the end. Without a doubt, most runners would much rather grab the water from the little ones! I loved my niece’s squeals of excitement every time she “sold” a water to a runner.

Without wanting to sound too precious about this whole running thing, I think that it is really important, if I am to be part of a community, to give back a bit. It’s fun as well as valuable to experience the water tables from the other side. To witness and be a small part of the hard work that goes into organising these events. It gives me so much appreciation  and reminds me that a smile and a joke with the workers and the marshals makes the whole experience more special for all!

And finally, a note on the event organiser, Graham Block. This man is such a hero in our running circles. He organises amazing weekend long runs from Virgin Active Randburg, with refreshments, each and every weekend! He also organises weekday shorter runs from the Boskruin Shopping Centre. He has a heart of gold and never fails to inspire us with his kindness, dedication, humour and warm laugh. Thank you Graham!

So with that, I will leave you with a few photos from the morning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Anti-Diet Project

It’s Sunday, the 1st of May. I’ve spent the last few days contemplating how I would restart my diet food plan for life today. Debating whether it was viable to start today, considering it’s a Sunday and a long weekend and all. It would have been so much better if this first day of a new month fell on a working Monday…everyone knows it’s better to start a diet way of eating on a Monday. But August (when the 1st of the month does actually fall on a Monday and that’s three months away, by which time I may have put on another ten kilograms by eating last suppers before the diet healthy way of life begins. images

I wish I could say I was just trying to be funny in that first paragraph, but that really is how my head works. I plan to start my diet eating well almost each week and sometimes I succeed for a few hours or days and sometimes I succeed for a few weeks and even months. Sometimes the will is strong and sometimes it is non-existent. Sometimes I try to make the changes holistic and I journal, support group etc etc. Sometimes I toy with the idea of a quick fix, a crash diet kick start. Even though I have learned my lesson and gotten the XL t-shirt from those supposed miracle cures, I still catch myself looking twice at an advert, or pricking up my ears when I hear a conversation about how great Mary looks after trying *insert wonder obesity cure here*.

Okay, so back to my pondering about the best way and day to start my diet way of life. It may sound a bit hippy trippy (my friends know know that I am a bit of a wannabe hippy anyway) but I’m a bit of a believer in the universe sending me messages. This week, as I searched through my Kindle app (which I haven’t touched in a while) for something new to read, I came across a book that I had bought and never read called “Intuitive Eating”. I found an unread novel too, but this book caught my attention and I kept thinking about it… that maybe I should actually try reading it. This morning, I read the prologue and a bit of the first chapter. And then I decided to do some internet research… and came across the anti-diet project  and got to reading some of the many blog posts and I suddenly feel inspired, and a little, no actually a lot, terrified.

The basic idea is re-teaching yourself the very basic, and what should be obvious, skill of eating instinctively. Eating what your body craves, when it craves it, and as much, or as little as it craves. It sounds pretty straight forward, but when you have spent over half your life dieting, it really isn’t. It’s a complete paradigm shift – away from the legal/illegal foods, the cheats, the points, the good carbs and bad carbs, the good fats and bad fats.It’s not about losing weight. That is probably the most terrifying aspect of all. I want to be thin. There! I said it. Yes, I want to be healthy and wise, but I also really want to be THIN. And this is not about being thin. It’s about being at peace with yourself, your body and your mind. And that… that is just so appealing!

I have no idea whether this new idea will bed down, take shape, grow and no promises about whether I will ever even post about this again, because it is a mere seed of a plan at this stage, but I am going to hit “Publish” on this post, and go to bed and read a bit more of the book. And for tomorrow, there will be no diet, no legal or illegal food. Somehow, I feel a little more peaceful knowing that.

If you have any thoughts on this, I would absolutely love to hear them.

 

 

Freedom day thoughts

A couple of days ago, the company I work for invited staff to submit their definition of freedom, in anticipation of Freedom Day – 27 April – yesterday. I don’t try to write poetry very often, but on this occasion my thoughts formed something vaguely resembling a poem so I thought I’d record the words here.

My Freedom

I close my eyes for a minute and dwell on what I’d be willing to fight for.

 What I’ve fought for

What I haven’t had to fight for, because others have fought the fight.

That is my freedom.

To be treated, regardless of gender, as the equal that I am. That is freedom.

To vote, and for whomever I choose. That is freedom.

To wear a short skirt or a cropped top without fear of rape or abuse. That is freedom.

To wear clothes that cover fully, wear a burka or hijab or niqab. That is freedom.

To not wear them, to not worship at all. That is freedom.

To be gay, straight or anywhere on the spectrum in-between, without judgement or ridicule. That is freedom.

To recognise colour but not judge or be judged based on it. That is freedom.

 If it’s worth fighting for… that which you feel so strongly about.

 That there is FREEDOM.

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Our Wonderful Vacation (Part 1)

I started writing this post on the long drive between dorpies in the great Karoo. The scenery in the Karoo is beautiful in a desolate, African way. Windmills, sheep, greeny-brown vegetation, big sky, dusty towns and long, straight roads. 

I’ve shared some of my favourite photos on Instagram and Facebook already but thought I’d share them  and more in a blog too for some context. 

On the drive down, we overnighted in a tiny town called Victoria West. We have had great luck with food in the small dorpies this holiday! 

This was quite the best lamb pie I’ve ever tasted! We found these pies at a little padstal advertising Pizza Hut and Karoo Fried Chicken! Got to love a good sense of humour!   
 
We had dinner at the Karoo Deli in Victoria West. They weren’t technically open for dinner but we popped in at lunch time and the restaurant owner said that she was cooking for another couple, so she would cater for us to! She laid out the best spread of boere food that only my late Ouma would have been able to compete with!   

Our Capetown accommodation was fabulous – we stayed in a house Nick found via AirBnB in the Marina Da Gama in Muizenberg. 

Below is a photo I took of the kids from the look out tower in the house. 87 steps to get to the top of the tower! The kids counted! 

And the view from the deck!  

A view of the marina from the tower…
 

As soon as we had unpacked we took our first trip And then of course the first trip to the beach!

  
 
After collecting our race packs from the CTICC on day 2, we went to Hout Bay and the best fish and chip lunch at Snoekies.
  

Oh, and a drive over the incredibly beautiful Chapman’s Peak! This was a recce mission before Nick’s big ultra run a few days later!

  On one of the afternoons, I met my friend Elsabe for a coffee and cake at the Olympic Cafe in Muizenberg and took this photo on the railway line across the road. I just loved the bright colours oft the buildings against the blue sky!
 
Of course we spent a fair bit of time just chilling – books and wine… Bliss! 

Credit to Claire for this pic. 
 

Even though us adults considered it to be less than ideal beach weather, the kids still insisted on swimming and boogie boarding. I’m sure our next trip here will involve surf lessons!  

  

And of course Claire posed upside down… #handstandsaroundtheworld  

A highlight I didn’t take any photos of was a lovely lunch last Friday with my cousin Graham and his family.

I haven’t seen him or his wife Careen in years and have never met their son, so it was great to catch up. The kids loved meeting a cousin they didn’t know and spent the afternoon playing. 

Careen ran Two Oceans the next day and it was wonderful to see Graham’s familiar face supporting the runners on the race route! 

The next day was race day, which I’ve already blogged about in my previous post. 

Stay tuned! I will be back soon with part 2 of my my vacation blog post. 
  

Two Oceans!

Last year, Nick got to run the Two Oceans half marathon as part of a work thing and I had such FOMO – even though I hadn’t yet actually run a half marathon! 

I was really keen to experience the race for myself so when entries for the 2016 event opened up we decided to see if I could get an entry for the half. Nick said that that if I managed to get a half marathon entry, then he would enter the ultra marathon! 

As luck would have it, I did get one of the elusive half marathon entries and so the planning began. We decided to plan a holiday around the event with our running friends Lance and Jenty and their boys.

I will admit my race training was a little sketchy. I tried to focus on speed and hill training, but was pretty lazy about doing the long runs and relied heavily on the fact that I’ve done a couple of half marathons now and knew that I could run the distance but I was terrified of not being able to make the cut off time! The rainy weather in Jozi in the weeks preceding the race made tapering very easy – some afternoons running was just impossible! 

  
So now that all my excuses are listed… Here is how the race went down! 

After much guessing about what the weather might do on the day, we decided to take along black garbage bags as makeshift raincoats and thank goodness we did, because it was a rainy wait to start to our race. We left home at the ungodly hour 3:45 am and as we drove into UCT, the heavens started spitting. I’m ever so glad we left early though. A couple of friends got caught in the crazy traffic and one of them didn’t even get to run the race. It is a helluva long way to come to all the way to Capetown for a race and not actually get to run! 

  
The pre-race build up was just awesome! I loved the singing of the anthem and the canon signifying the start of the race. Real goosebumpy stuff. I was nervous, but not nearly as nervous as I had been for Knysna, so I really just tried to soak up the energy and try to commit the experience to memory. 

I managed to somehow to get seeded in the Group D starting pen, which I was grateful for because it meant I had an extra 10 minutes to run the race. I felt better knowing that there was an extra few minutes on my side. I’m still not sure how the seedings actually work because a whole lot of runners I know, who are faster and more experienced than me, started in the E group. 

And so the race… I started off with a good run for the first two kilometres. I was too scared not to run at that point because there were just so many people all around me running and I didn’t want to stop. The third kilometre was a tough one and I had to walk a bit to conserve my energy for later in the race. I was feeling nervous at that point. It was before I had warmed up enough and my the muscles in my legs were not fully cooperative. I gave myself a bit of a talking to about giving this my all and managed to pick up my pace for the next while. All was going pretty well until I hit the notorious Southern Cross Drive. My pace slowed right down there. I felt like I had no choice but to walk those hills. The runners around me were mostly walking and I just didn’t have the strength to try run around them. I drew on my walking training from my early days at RWFL, put my head down, swung my arms and trudged up! 

The rest of the race felt fairly easy by comparison. I managed to run a good chunk of the last few kilometres. I finished with a time of 3:05:50. I had hoped to finish sub 3 hours, but considering how difficult and full the race is, I’m not unhappy with my time. 

  
Aside from the rainy weather as we waited to start, the weather gods were really on our sides for the race – the rain and wind held off for our 21 km run and the temperatures were lovely and cool. 

The wait for Nick’s finish was a bit chilly but he ran in strong with a time of 6:30 – such an amazing achievement to complete an ultra marathon after having only recently entered the world of long distance running! I was super proud! 

Would I do it again? For sure… Now that I have one under my belt, I’d love to run another. I would like to be stronger for my next race. Running a 21km highlights all my weak spots – so it’s time for me to focus. My feet, my glutes (ITB) and my core strength need to improve. And it’s time to shift those last 15 or so kilograms!  

Maybe I will see you next year OMTOM???

I will be back in a few days with a post about our holiday! I’ve got some awesome pictures to share! 

The Art of Asking – an audio-book review of sorts

I was driving to work one morning this this week, fighting my way through rain, traffic, potholes, broken traffic lights and taxi drivers while listening to the ever more depressing Zupta-gate news and I could literally feel my mood getting blacker and blacker. I really like being relatively well informed and knowing what’s going on in the world so I tend to listen to quite a bit of talk radio, but sometimes it all just gets a bit too much. So I switched to my iPod and the first song on shuffle happened to be an Amanda Palmer song, which reminded me that I needed to write this post. 

Side note: I’m so very tired of the drama and the traffic. Thank goodness it’s very nearly time for my holiday! Maybe it’s time to bury my head in the sand for a bit. Maybe it’s even time to do a bit of a social media unplug (gasp!) while I’m on holiday next week?  

Anyways, back to my black mood. I’ve had this feeling before – where talk radio just gets too heavy. And the music radio is just inane crap. And Apple Music is eating my mobile data. I decided to download Audible and try out listening to Audiobooks while I drive. 

But what to choose to listen to with that generous free first month credit? I investigated my options as only I (the great overthinker) could do and eventually settled on The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. This book was a suggestion from my singing, songwriting, piano and ukelele playing friend Nicole. 

  
Nicole introduced me to Amanda Palmer a few years ago. Nic is a massive Amanda Palmer fan.  I’m hardly an audiophile but I did become a minor fan after doing some listening. I liked her quirky story songs but that was about as far as it went.

So a bit about Amanda, in case you’re not familiar with her. She’s also a singing, songwriting, piano and ukelele playing artist. She had made a living from standing on a crate as a living statue, as well as busking, amongst other insane and awesome things. A few years ago, after kicking her commercial music production company to the kerb, she funded an album entirely with a massive and recordbreakingly successful   kickstarter campaign.  She currently funds her art via a website called Patreon. Her music is a mix of indie, alternative, punk and caberet but she is so much more than a musician – she embodies art. 

The minute I started listening to Amanda telling her story, I was hooked. She narrates the book and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She welcomed me in to her artsy world with arms wide open. I have always secretly wished to live some sort of eccentric, bohemian artist’s life so for the few days that she was my companion during my commute, I lived vicariously through her. 

When I initially downloaded the book, I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of her story. People were talking on Twitter about how the book had changed their lives. I’ve witnessed a massive change in Nicole which she attributes to the book. But for me? I mean,  I’m not practicing my art much. I am a salaried employee of a big corporate, there’s not much busking involved. 

But I really did get so much out of it.

The book was inspiring and delightful and has reminded me never to lose faith in the goodness of people and just… Love.  And to try to live fearlessly. 

I also had loads of insight about myself and my creativity. And living my life, whatever the circumstances, as a manifestation of my inner creative spirit. 

I feel like I need to listen to the book a few more times to gain everything there is to gain from the book. And to go back into my imaginary bohemian world. 

If you’re keen to find out a little more, I highly recommend watching her TED talk.

My only regret is that my obsession is so new.  She  visited South Africa last year and I missed her Ninja gig here in Jozi. 

If you’ve read or have listened to The Art of Asking, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

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