Freedom my friend, freedom…

I wake up in the morning. My eyes are still heavy with sleep and I sleepily stumble to the living room. There it is, every morning, my trusted 8cm, tobacco filled friend. Before food, before water, before shower, before anything really, the two of us need to have a serious conversation. Why? We haven’t spoken for a while, 8 hours average. Time to catch up. My friend is never absent, because I make it so. Now comes the ritual of flipping open the pack, sliding out a cigarette, searching for my lighter and stepping outside. I curl my legs onto the camping chair where we usually meet and I light him up. I give him a voice.

What do we talk about? Well I talk, he listens. I think, I hope. I take a drag and I am relieved, or am I? Not sure, my heart is beating a little faster. I go through my day, things I need to attend to, things I’m not in the mood for. I need to remember to buy another pack before work, don’t want to run out of smokes later today. I might meet up with Melissa (we’ll call her that for the purpose of this article, she is my best friend who smokes like I do, constantly) and when that happens I always need more. I stub out the cigarette bud and head to make a cup of coffee, lazily lounging about until the water comes to the boil. I pour a cup, mmmm a cigarette would be good with this. I head out to the camping chair again. I greet the neighbour who waves back at me with a smoke dangling between her fingers. See, I’m not all bad.

After a hour I am ready for work. I have another one before I head out the door. When I am in the car, I double-check my handbag to make sure my cigarettes and lighter are firmly in their place. Great, cigarettes, wallet, cell (notice the order). I leave for work (a very casual working environment) and have another one outside before I go in. ‘Hi, Hi, Hello all round, what’s up, what’s been happening’, etc. is what I say. I boot up my computer and it’s time for another coffee. I make one. I check my emails. One says that someone might be interested in purchasing a property (oh yeah, I’m a broker), I get excited, I tell my boss then go out for a fag, because I’m excited you see.

Melissa calls me and arranges lunch at our favourite restaurant where smokers are not frowned upon. The food isn’t great and the place smells like back alley but hey, we can relax here, we can smoke and chat and bitch and moan. So before lunch I have probably another 4 cigarettes, after replying to that exciting email of course.

Now it’s time for lunch. I am there first. A smoke because I’m waiting, I am not sure what else to do. She arrives. We are at that restaurant remember? The one that smells a little foul?  We light one after the other, unable to REALLY taste our meal, but it really doesn’t matter, because we are having a glorious time. We cough in between sentences and get serious about quitting these bad boys. ‘We really have to quit. Yeah, you have to be READY though. I just can’t do it now with the shit at work and all’. Blah Blah Blah

We discuss, AS we are inhaling the toxins, how much better we would be able to work out if we quit, we would be able to breathe better and have more energy. Then we fall back to talking about movies, or actors, or the book I’m trying to finish. Then we agree that most people who are creative have a horrible vice, all great artists were drug addicts (sometimes the news proves us right). So now we pay the bill and I am lucky enough to not have to work from the office so I head home.

I do some work online, have a smoke and head out to gym. I am ready to face the beast with a wicked playlist in hand (INXS, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Annie Lennox, Mumford and Sons). On the treadmill things go okay at first, until I turn it up a notch. I struggle to breathe properly so I find it hard to get a rhythm going, I turn the speed back down and convince myself that walking is better for me anyway. I don’t really have the energy to do a full session so I stay 20 minutes (that’s not bad right?) and head home.

I have to write. I’m only on chapter 3 and I WANT to finish this book in the next three months. I have a smoke and think about the book, the characters, the plot. I write a little. I go to the loo and check myself out in the mirror, my face specifically, or even more specifically, the lines forming around and under and between my eyes. What the $^#&, I’m only 30! I have a smoke.

I’m done with work and decide to turn on the television, Crime Channel (my favourite, and inspiration for my novel, weird I know). I watch, I smoke, I think about my book. I need to write but I’m not completely ‘in that space’ now and I need to see who murdered this old lady, what a psycho. I wonder what’s wrong with some people. I think about all the evil people out in the world. It didn’t matter whether we wanted to believe that everything and everyone is sweet good goodness, that just wasn’t the case.

My evening is spent drinking coffee, smoking and reading. I read a lot. I enjoy sitting on the balcony on my camping chair with my smokes and my coffee and my book. Me and my 3 Goodfellas. I love reading, I adore it, I cannot get enough. It’s around 10pm and I need to brush my teeth. I do that, then have another smoke, standing out on the balcony, the wind throwing branch shadows from the trees onto the opposite wall. It looks and feels scary but I like it for some reason. The wind makes things come alive. I don’t want to go to bed yet, I’ll have another one.

For about ten years I have smoked roughly 20 cigarettes every day, more when I went to a party. At roughly 10 minutes per cigarette that makes 200 minutes per day (3.3 HOURS) of being unproductive WHILE killing myself. What a combo! Even though it didn’t seem like it, I was desperate to quit. Desperate with absolutely no faith in myself.

I have been smoke free for almost three weeks now. Granted, I had assistance (Champix). More than the health benefits, the thing I am happiest about, the biggest gain for me, is the freedom. I can go to any restaurant, I don’t need to freak out if there’s only one left. I don’t dread going for dinner with that couple because they don’t smoke (yeah, ridiculous). I don’t lie in bed at night worrying about cancer (I often did and it killed me, haha). I don’t need cigarettes to be creative. I don’t need cigarettes to have a conversation. I don’t need cigarettes when I’m sad or excited. I don’t need cigarettes to feel confident or sexy or busy. I DON”T NEED CIGARETTES!

So, I know, it’s only been 3 weeks, don’t count my chickens. All I wanted you to know, if you are still trapped, is that the FREEDOM is the KEY. The FREEDOM is the pay-off. The FREEDOM.

“You have freedom when you’re easy in your harness” – Robert Frost

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Lions, Pythons and Ice Cold Beers

First of all, a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you out there. I hope that when you read this, you have just woken up from a holiday nap and that you are not yet consumed by the engine of every day work.

I am writing this post from my parents’ home in Namibia. A medium-sized beach home community on the coast called Longbeach. It’s 4pm, the colour of the sky is a rich dark grey, the north wind is causing choppy waters and large container vessels are lying silently out in the big old Atlantic.

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I managed to enjoy quite a few things during the festive season. Since not all of you have had the opportunity to travel to Africa, I thought I would share some of the moments with you. A camping trip to Erindi Game Reserve (www.erindi.com) left us with some amazing images. Lazy lions stretching out in the cool afternoon (one of the males sneeking a feel, typical).

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Four Kudu bulls huddling together, a large bug devouring a not-so-large bug (freaky shadow) and a huge elephant (or the rear end of one at least).

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A short trip to our family farm produced an encounter with a python which is rarely seen. We got extremely close, absolutely worth it. Lying dead still, its skin glimmering in the sunlight, this big boy is not known to have caused many human fatalities, but best to keep your wits about you.

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I have always found giraffes

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Other than that, I enjoyed some time with the best friends and fiancé a girl could ask for.  Ice cold beers, braais (barbeque) and long naps. I feel rejuvenated and absolutely ready for 2014!

In 2013 NaNoWriMo helped me to write in the region of 22 000 words of my novel. Not the 50 000 as aimed for, but I’m happy with the result. Time to finish this bad boy!

xxxx

Dear Madiba, may your rest be as peaceful as you were.

Today is truly a sad moment as we mourn the loss of the great Nelson Mandela. As African souls, he will forever be imprinted in our hearts for the man and leader that he was.  May what he stood for never be forgotten. You were a true human being and we will celebrate you until the end of time.

Rest in peace Madiba. You live in our hearts and we thank you.

Image: ecr.co.za

Image: ecr.co.za

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

– William Ernest Henley

We have promises to keep – Robert Frost

I was watching a documentary on the John F Kennedy assassination when the narrator mentioned that President Kennedy loved to quote Robert Frost. He spoke specifically of the last two lines in the poem below.

Interpret it as you will. For me, today in particular, this poem inspired me to keep writing my novel. I made a promise to myself that I would have 50 000 words by the end of November, and I have that promise to keep.

Image: thewistfulmuse.com

Image: thewistfulmuse.com

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.  

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)

Random Page Number 2

 

For those who are new to my Random Pages, I will every so often open up a page at random in an inspirational/motivational book and scribble the writings here. If you are feeling low and don’t have the time or energy to read an entire self-help book, perhaps one of these pages might be applicable to you.  Grab a coffee, kick off your shoes, you are always welcome here…..(bring cake if you can)!

“Anger is fuel. We feel it and we want to do something. Hit someone, break something, throw a fit, smash a fist into the wall, tell those bastards. But we are nice people, and what we do with our anger is stuff it, deny it, bury it, block it, hide it, lie about it, medicate it, muffle is, ignore it. We do everything but LISTEN to it.

Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a MAP. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go. It lets us see where we’ve been and lets us know when we haven’t liked it. Anger points the way, not just the finger. Anger is meant to be acted upon, not acted out.

Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us. With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us”.

– Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way)

Random Page Number 1

I will every so often be opening a motivational book on a random page and scribble the writings here. This is for when you’re feeling blue, which is a nicer word for “shit” and let’s face it, “shit” is a better word when you’re feeling blue 🙂 So if you so happen to feel down, pick one of my Random Page Numbers.

Much has been said about the simple writings of The Secret, but at the end of the day it does what it was meant to do.

“You are here on this glorious planet, endowed with this wonderful power, to create your life! There are no limits to what you can create for You, because your ability to think is unlimited! But you cannot create other people’s lives for them. You cannot think for them, and if you try to force your opinions on others you will only attract ‘like’ forces to You. So let all others create the life they want. The universe offers ALL things to ALL people through the law of attraction. You have the ability to choose what you want to experience.

Do you want there to be enough for you and for everyone? Then choose that now. There is unlimited supply. There is so much magnificence. So choose for You, because you are the only one who can.

THE SECRET

 

Hah! You expected an image of a sunset right? Or perhaps an old man holding the hand of a just as old woman, smiling life’s troubles away? Those would have worked fine, but perhaps you feel more like an abandoned castle. Maybe you are trying to crawl through the twigs and branches that surround you so you can be seen again. Then the above post is for you 🙂 We are all a little rusty and a little dusty, ain’t nothing wrong with that!