Lessons in Love

Love It has been a long time since I’ve written anything here. And a long time since I’ve felt like I  had anything I needed to say. But now, at the beginning of a brand new year, I need to write  down, more for myself than anyone else, some of the things I have learnt about love in the  last year.

Love is NOT supposed to be an emotional roller coaster. Yes, we all know that first flush of  love, and the excitement, and the butterflies. And we also know that it calms eventually and  real love is what endures after that. But love that is real does not hold you to ransom. It  shouldn’t make you fear changing situations and moods. If you are sitting with a stomach  twisted in knots when you think of the person you “love”, that is not love – that is fear. When  you are with someone that makes you feel calm and centred, yet strangely energised, that is the one you should be spending time with. Real love is a place of peace.

It is most important to be with someone who makes you laugh. Maybe we are all led into false hope by too many romance novels that words will always be tender and sweet, that the sex will always be mind-blowing, and that no one ever looks less than their best, but the true romance is that love remains in spite of, and sometimes because of, all the things that you don’t like in yourself. So when the butterflies have calmed to a mild flutter every now and again, make sure you have chosen the person who makes you giggle, and makes you see the ridiculous in yourself. Real love has a sense of humour.

All of us want some kind of fairytale romance, and too many great relationships are thrown away because there’s some small thing that doesn’t quite match the picture in your head. The truth is, we have to write our own fairytale. Every person’s story will be different – some people need the knight in shining armour, and the white horse and the sunset and all the trimmings, but even in those stories, there is a wicked witch somewhere. The fairytale for the 21st century is the person who drives you home and puts you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink, who comes to your rescue when you do stupid things like run out of petrol, and who makes you tea in the morning. Sometimes the true excitement in love is how comfortable and how “you” the other person makes you feel. Hold on to that. Real love is safe.

Real love is not needy and does not set out to hurt or wound. It has taken me this long to learn that when you have an argument or disagree, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love each other. Just because you enjoy different things, or have different friends, or need time on your own also doesn’t mean that your feelings are any less true. I don’t know why we feel that romantic relationships should be any different from the relationships you have with your family. And in most normal families, siblings fight with each other and with parents and none of it means that they are loved any less. Real love is unchanging.

It is a very sobering thought that I’ve had to wait until I was 30 to learn these lessons. So this is written with deep gratitude to the person who has taught me… Here’s to real love for everyone in 2014!

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery


SS Armadale Castle

This is a picture of the Union Castle steamer Armadale Castle, which is the ship that my grandmother sailed on in 1921.  Her family emigrated from Scotland to South Africa when she was 5.  I still have the Bible she was given for the journey.  I can’t imagine how scary that must have been, to leave everything you know and love, and be faced with nothing but a wide open sea for months, and to have no idea what it is that you are going to.  Were people then more courageous than they are now?  The thought of general leisure travel fills me with dread.  I can’t even comprehend the idea of emigrating…








A Life Like the Sims

The Sims Social

The Sims Social (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a confession. I am one of those annoying people who post game requests on their Facebook feed and expect our friends to click on them. It gives us a sense of achievement when we can say that we have achieved a goal, or completed a quest, or unlocked new scenes, or reached a new level in whatever Facebook game we happen to be addicted to at the time.

I am not a gamer in any sense of the word. I don’t play for the sake of playing. This means that I choose my games carefully, and to date there are only three that I have any kind of attachment to. The first, Scrabble, I am attached to because it is my life-long ambition to beat my grandmother hollow. She taught me to play when I was little, and mostly beat me, and then she moved back to England and there were no regular games. Now using Scrabble on Facebook, we have five or six games going at a time, and our skills are fairly evenly matched. We tend to win an even sort of a number, though I think I am creeping ahead a little… The second, Hidden Chronicles, I stumbled upon by accident and because I always think of myself as having lived in a large English country house a la Downton Abbey in a past life, the concept of building an estate with caretaker’s cottages and secluded pavilions appeals to me. But the first one that I played, that I play still, is the Sims Social.

I love the Sims because that is what I want my life to be like. I don’t know what the real Sims game is like – I’ve only ever played the social one on Facebook – but the Sims earn their money through literature, art, music and cookery. Of course I can’t claim to be proficient at all of these and it is highly unlikely that I will ever earn anything by cooking and all the art skills were appropriated by other members of my family, but I like to think I’m fairly proficient at the other two. Music is already how I earn my living – through teaching, as opposed to performance or composition, and it is my ambition to one day earn some money from writing. Or at least from reading – I rock at reading! The fantastic thing about the Sims is that it all seems so effortless. You earn enough coins to buy the next skill item and suddenly you are sculpting, or dress making, or singing karaoke or playing a magnificent grand piano. And when you’re done with that one, something new comes up. Oh that the creative life were really so effortless.

And then, instead of spending their hard-earned coins on frippery things like food and rent and bills, the Sims buy newer and nicer items for their homes. In the Sims, I have my dream home (well, sort of), where the garden is always immaculate, I never have to do laundry and I can spend all day at home! Having said that, I already spend all day at home – I have a teaching studio in my house so all my pupils come to me. Surely that’s an ideal world? We spend so much time and money making the kind of home we want to live in, and most of us spend all day in an office, earning enough money to live in the home we want. This is my second year of working from home, and I can’t imagine wanting to do it any other way.

So my sisters may think I’m wasting my time with the Sims, and my friends may get irritated by the stream of requests on my timeline, but I have learned valuable lessons from the Sims. Firstly, that good money can be earned from creative pursuits if you take the time and follow the steps, and secondly, when you don’t take the time and follow the steps, you can always have a Sim who earns that way. Lastly, and most importantly for the creative person, there are always new and improved ways to procrastinate!

New Cure for Flu!

Bed made with white bed linen. Four fluffy pil...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone who’s ever had a long and hard day at work knows the joy of collapsing at the end of it, sinking into the feeling of fresh, cool sheets against your skin. But there is something even more satisfying when the bed linen is brand new.

We’re going to have loads of visitors over Easter, and the challenge of finding places to sleep for nine extra people gave me an excuse to finally go and buy a new duvet and things for our bed. We’ve had a queen size bed for the longest time, but always a duvet designed for a double bed, which in this climate is usually quite sensible. For five months of the year, it’s just too damn hot to have even a sheet over you. But for the following five months, you wish you lived in a place where you could buy thermal underwear and reindeer skins to sleep under. Amazing that a place with no winter rainfall and no snow – EVER – could get this cold. But that is what happens in the desert. So cold that even the cats want to get under the duvet, and the dogs need tucking in under layers and layers of blankets each night. That’s not for their survival, by the way. That’s just because our fox terrier will whine at our door all night if she isn’t.

As luck would have it, I bought our new duvet just in time. The day I changed from the old to the new, the evening temperatures suddenly dropped and we were glad for the extra warmth of the new 8 tog, medium weight duvet. Added to that was the fact that I came down with the flu the same day. When you’re feeling absolutely rotten and stuffy-nosed and headachy, and your ears feel blocked and your whole body feels like it’s been hit by a bus, new bed linen does so much to ease the discomfort. So I’ve decided now that every time I feel like I’m coming down with something, I will buy new sheets and pillow cases, have a hot bath and curl up in my new bedclothes in my favourite pyjamas. I am a genius – I have discovered a new cure for flu!


Choir Festival

It’s been a very very very long time since I’ve written a blog post. Not because of a lack of inspiration, which is normally the reason, but because things have been a bit crazy round here in the world of music teaching, and I have been too busy to even think. Last night, however, was an event worth writing about, so I’m taking time out to do it, even though the to-do list is a mile long, and getting longer by the minute.

There is an annual Choir Festival here in Gaborone, organised by a local primary school. Five schools are invited to perform three numbers each, and then there are two combined songs that all five choirs perform together. It’s always a stressful yet rewarding event as a music teacher, and I have always enjoyed being part of it, not least because I know my choir is good. Last night was the first time, however, that I haven’t been present as a primary school music teacher.

The PPC National Youth Choir were invited to be the guest choir at last night’s Festival! We have only been going since October, and on an hour a week of choir practice, I think they did brilliantly.  They looked smart and neat, and they (in general) behaved themselves in a decent manner, and we got a ton of compliments afterwards. And what’s even better is that now there are kids at those primary schools asking how they can join! So it seems as though our next audition session will by more fully attended than previously, and maybe my ideal number of 70 in the Choir isn’t that far away!

I am hoping that some kind and fond parent has taken photos or video of last night for me to post, but in the meantime, have this one. I am a VERY proud music director



Derek – The Piano Man

Derek – YouTube.

This man is incredible.  Watch it.  Not only is he incredible, but so is his teacher.  This illustrates precisely how a passion for something can transcend even the most difficult of barriers, and how music is a language that can communicate so much more than words.

I want to teach like this teacher.  I want to remain patient and passionate through all the frustrations my students and I may feel, and I want, one day, to be able to say of an incredible musician, “I taught that child.”


A Blogging Sort of Saturday

This has been the perfect sort of Saturday.  We have spent the day lying on the bed with laptops, D. beginning a new blog and me updating my 21 Days of Abundance page.  The more I blog, the more I enjoy it, especially since it seems now to be becoming a household activity!  The kitten has added her usual two cents, mostly by nipping at toes and playing with power cables in an effort to distract us and make us pay attention to her.  But focus and commitment to writing have prevailed!

In short, it really has been the perfect day.  We have been blessed with a full day of electricity (long may it last!) and now the wind has picked up and the storm is beginning.  There is nothing quite like the smell of impending rain in Botswana, and the immense feeling of relief as the first drops hit the dust.  I have made healthy eating choices today in accordance with my long list of affirmations about health and weight, and consequently I feel wide awake and ready to keep writing.  I have had so many new ideas (most of which I haven’t written down, so don’t let your expectations exceed my achievements), some of which I have put into practice and some of which will have to wait for another day.  All in all, however, I am feeling intensely creative at the moment.  If you need to feel intensely creative, go and find The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander.  Written by a creative person for creative people, it will be the most motivating and rewarding book you ever read.  Seriously…  I read voraciously, books of all kinds on all topics, but I don’t recommend easily.  So from a Leo who always knows what’s best for the people around her, take the advice!  Or if you’re feeling a little lazier, try Sark’s Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed.  It truly will do that.  As Andy Hamilton, one of the writers of Outnumbered said when asked about getting up, ‘I’m a writer, so getting up isn’t really part of the picture’.

In addition, my sister has introduced me to Shelfari on Amazon where you can connect with other book-lovers and share recommendations and discuss topics of interest.  I am nowhere near finished putting up my ‘bookcase’ as it were, but I have made a good start.  Apparently there is a way to put it on your blog, so it shall appear here when this technologically-challenged individual figures out how it is done.

In the meantime, the storm is getting louder and closer, and I am getting hungrier and hungrier, so time for dinner and House MD reruns, methinks!  Hope you’ve had a perfect Saturday too!

Exercise for the incapable

I love the simplicity of this form of exercise…


Maybe incapable is unfair. What I’m getting at would be the equivalent of “exerciser-ly challenged”, which doesn’t really read that well or exist as a word or phrase. Actually, I’m not really talking about exercise either, as you’ll see.

So I was in the pool the other day, and was building myself up to doing 10 lengths, to get the heart beating slightly harder than the prescribed 68 bpm or so, or the actual 78 bpm or so, as I had done the day before. As one does, I prepared the pool, moving lilos and balls and stuff aside, and started thinking, with the mind of one committed to exercise,  that I hadn’t really tried out the noodle. So I put it under my arms and found it really works for buoyancy; funnily enough. Thing is though, to keep your head comfortably above the water you need to lift your legs, which is…

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Place of Peace

Welcome to my home and my garden, my place of peace. In fact, when it comes down to it, my office that I’m writing this from is also my place of peace. I love being surrounded, all day, by my music, my cats, and some of the things most precious to me. Of course there are times of the month when I’m drowning in a sea of paperwork that my office is the least peaceful place in the house, but for the moment we’re getting along fine. Quite often during the day, I wander outdoors, usually for a smoke break, to my other place of peace, the garden. I am so thankful that we live in a country and a place where gardens and swimming pools and space are possible.

Earlier today I was looking through some pics on my computer to print out for my brand new 2012 vision board (that’s a whole post in itself – I promise to share when it’s done) and found some pics of the garden when we moved into this house in April 2011, and some that were taken more recently. Now I don’t pretend to do anything in the garden, other than let nature and our amazing gardener take their course, but I do love watching the progress of the seasons and the new things that flower.  So I thought I’d share some pics.

Dry and dusty, before the grass and before the rain

When we moved in, we were lucky enough to have some well-established trees in the garden, a rarity in this desert country. But the lawn left more than a little to be desired, and there just didn’t seem to be enough. I have always dreamed of having a green and lush garden (as far as water restrictions allow) and this garden was almost a blank canvas.

So bit by bit, we are adding to it. We have a vegetable garden, which so far is producing only a surfeit of chillis, but will soon be yielding onions, peppers, tomatoes and butternut.  Our mango tree is heavy with fruit and they are juicy and delicious. That’s a great incentive to eat more healthily, actually, that the fruit and vegetables come from your own garden. That tree will provide me with breakfast for the next few weeks.  The grapefruit trees don’t produce particularly nice fruit, but they keep amazing birds in our garden.  The plants that we moved from our old garden have settled incredibly and thrived in this new house.  My purple wreath and jasmine are taking over areas of the verandah, and my bauhinia has taken on a life of it’s own.  It had never flowered before we moved, and now it is full of bud, and bright red splashes of colour, and makes itself useful by providing shade for our heat-sensitive and half-witted Boerboel. Not to mention the kitten.

After some rain and some TLC!

It’s amazing the difference a few months and some rain have made to our garden. We sit out there in the morning, watching the birds and noting all the new growth and changes in it, usually while trying to stop the Boerboel licking the other animals and ourselves into oblivion. She does sometimes make our garden less than peaceful but at least she looks the part, like she belongs.  I am grateful every day for our garden. The children and the animals have plenty of space to play, we have a place to picnic on the lawn when it’s not too hot, and we have incredible birds to watch. The garden is one of the things that I love most about where we live.

What is your place of peace like? Where do you live? Is there a place that you can escape to that is all your own?

Here’s hoping that in 2012 you discover your place of peace, both inner and outer, and that you remember to retreat to it whenever you need to.

The Resolution Monster Strikes Again

And so begins 2012.  I have been a little slow off the mark this year, but now all the necessary Lynjag new year rituals are complete!  Well, complete enough for me to take a break and write something at least!

Normally I spend the 1st of January setting out my new diary and filling in important dates for the year. This year, however, New Year‘s Day was a Sunday, and we spent it with friends braaing round the pool.  It was a fantastic day, but delayed my readiness for 2012. I made a resolution to make no more resolutions, but all the years of vowing to be more organised and on top of things caught up with me and I couldn’t shake the guilty feeling of not getting stuff done. To whose schedule I was supposed to be operating, I’m still not sure, but the Resolution Monster caught me!


The toys enjoying the sun after their New Year bath

The next few days were spent in the traditional new year fashion of spring cleaning.  We have cleared out cupboards and cleaned and scrubbed and rearranged.  Somehow these activities seemed to pacify the Resolution Monster for a while, but my office has taken more tidying and sorting out than all the rest of the rooms combined. I have cleared all the piles of paper that have waited for a year to be sorted, I have thrown away two huge bin bags of paper I should no longer be attached to, the desk is sparkling (though already starting to fill up) and the instruments and music have all been put away where they belong. Having no electricity for five hours did help progress somewhat, but it would have been even faster had there been an air con!

So this post is a celebration!  I have finally got to the point where I have opened my brand new 2012 diary, filled in the important information that belongs at the front, made to-do lists for Monday, and made note of all the important birthdays I have to remember.  I’m writing this outside, taking advantage of the cool breeze that has finally arrived, and enjoying the weird light quality that is particular to Botswana on a stinkingly hot day, witha dark grey sky. The thunder is rumbling and I can see a rainbow. I’ll take it as a sign that this is the year I find my pot of gold!

Happy New Year!