Strength of the Feminine

This week has been full of stress, trauma and drama.

My smallest Pomeranian, Panda, has had an odd turn which has had the whole family so upset. Norm had meetings on Wednesday and when he got home he noticed that Panda’s normally high pitched yap was a coarse gruff bark.

Norm took him to the vet who noticed that his face and tongue were swollen and she said that this swelling was why his voice was impacted. She thought he had been stung by an insect and gave him a cortisone injection and some allergex for the swelling.

The other animals seemed to sense he was not well and kept by his side.

Navajo tried to almost cuddle him and had such a look of concern on his face.

The next morning we noticed that Panda was a bit unsteady on his feet but thought it was the sedative effect of the antihistamines but by afternoon he was struggling to stay upright and we rushed him back to the vet. They took X-rays of his spine to check for injuries and X-rays of his airway to check for constrictions but all was fine. The vet was baffled as to what was going on but assumed it was due to the inflammation and gave him more cortisone and sent us home. As the next day progressed he was completely unable to stand on his own and we took him back again. This time they decided he had not been bitten and instead there was something neurological going on and tried to get him an appointment with a neuromuscular specialist at one of the veterinary hospitals but they were all booked solid. As this was a long weekend in South Africa we could only get an appointment for Tuesday. Initially the local vet wanted to keep him there with them until Tuesday but then decided it would be better to keep him at their offices during the day and let him sleep at home in the evening.

As the weekend progressed Panda deteriorated to the point where he could only move his head.

He could not sit up or turn over or even hold his head up by Saturday night. He cannot bark or make any sounds at all. I was in bits and just sat crying and praying. I felt such despair. When he started refusing food and water I was inconsolable with worry.

Finally on Sunday when he came home from being at the vet all day he was perky and alert for the first time in days.

That night he was very hungry and gobbled up the boiled chicken and broth Norm made for him. He ate eagerly and was very interested in his surroundings again. He still cannot make any sound or move his limbs. His legs twitch but are as limp as noodles and he cannot hold himself up.

The vets think it may be Acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis. That is quite a mouthful! It is more commonly called Coonhound paralysis. Here is a link about it. It is a serious illness but most animals can recover and that is what I am focusing on, hopes that he will recover. My long term readers may remember that Panda has already survived one near death experience when he was attacked by a dog and I have confidence that he can recover from this too with enough love and care.

The specialist tomorrow will do the relevant tests and hopefully we will have a prognosis and treatment plan in place afterwards. Until then I am trying hard to remain positive.

We have also been giving him doses of tissue salts from my friend Alison. We dissolve them in his broth.

Last week had plenty of other stresses.

On my way home one evening last week I was stopped at a pedestrian crosswalk when a minibus taxi came up behind me and ran the red light, then went across on a pedestrian crossing. I stayed behind him on the way up the mountain and then he stopped in the middle of a narrow curvy road to offload a passenger and another taxi came from behind me and overtook the first taxi that was stopped in the road by driving on the wrong side road with a car coming towards us. It was rather terrifying!

You who live in the US or Europe may ask, where were the police? Well, I ask that often, the taxis here are a law unto themselves and this is why there are so many deaths from taxi crashes. The drivers overload them to ridiculous degrees. At most they should take 14 people, yesterday one crashed and all 24 passengers were killed. They had almost double the number of passengers there should be.

There was another bus torched this week as well. There was a protest in Cape Town and the bus took the brunt of the protestors anger.

I also read that 6 officers from the anti-gang unit were shot in one day! Police were conducting an operation in the community when they came under attack. Police said anti-gang unit members had arrested one suspect allegedly linked to recent murders in the area and as they were searching for another suspect, the officers came under attack. It is pretty scary when even the police are not safe!

This week we also saw shitbag husband Rob Packham sentenced to 22 years for the murder of his beautiful wife Gill Packham. It is not long enough if you ask me. He showed no remorse and continued to try and bullshit his way out of being prosecuted. He is a horrid little toad of a man. For those who don’t remember my previous blog, he not only murdered his wife he burned her car with her body in the boot.

His wife. The mother of his children.

He must rot in jail.

Why do some men feel they have the right to treat women this way? And why are so many men intimidated by strong, confident women? And should we as women try to minimize ourselves in order to fit into that little box that those men want to keep us in?

I had a dilemma of this nature this week where I was told I was too quick, too clever and too thorough. I was told that as I was dealing with a junior resource that I must slow down.

So I must lower my standards for the sake of progress and to avoid damaging a fragile male ego? That is not in my nature. I expect others to rise up to meet me rather. To stretch themselves. When I started in IT I latched onto any mentors who were willing to teach me, but I am generally always eager to learn. I find that is not always the case with others.

My current contract had requirements which concerned me at the start as I am usually placed on a client site with a developer who manages all of the technical aspects. This project there was only me and I have managed to act as the data architect, data modeler and the data analyst in addition to the business analyst and data quality consultant roles I normally do. I’ve had to teach myself to write SQL queries which is a skill I had only a basic grasp of, but I have been given very complicated stored procedures to unpick to determine the mappings and transformation rules.

It was a challenge but I approached it with all I had and I googled what I did not know. My client calls me ‘his superstar’ and my 3 month initial contract has been extended to 6 months and they are trying to find funds to extend me further. This gives me such a sense of achievement. The other day my client reminded me that when I came for my interview I told him ‘no I can’t do that’ in response to many of the things I have now easily achieved.

We are only limited by our own mental boundaries.

Our low carb eating has taken a back seat to our nursing of our baby boy. We had takeaways most nights and the anxiety meant that I either needed a gallon of vodka or M&Ms to get me through it.

I opted for the latter. The family sized bag no less.

Norm did cook this week before our baby fell ill. He has been determined to make the perfect sweet potato fries.

Monday we had chicken breasts stuffed with brie and wrapped in bacon. He roasted broccoli and cauliflower in the oven (I adore roasted broccoli). He attempted the sweet potato fries in the air fryer and I thought they were tasty but he was not 100% satisfied with them.

The next night he made spaghetti bolognaise and served it on spinach noodles and topped it with cheese.

The next night he made pork fillet roasted in teriyaki sauce. He again made his air fryer sweet potato chips. He made roast broccoli, zucchini and green beans.

I tried to eat low carb at work for lunch most days. One day I had the chicken peri peri pot from Now Now Cafe, it is a bed of cauliflower mash, roast chicken, peri peri sauce and topped with sliced almonds and sour cream.

This dish is so delicious!

Friday I always go for lunch at Nuri Sushi Factory and the last two weeks my new colleague has joined me. She is very sweet and was so supportive this week with me being so upset about Panda. Nothing like someone crying in their prawn pops to put you off of your lunch! Sheesh. Was a bit embarrassing really but I’ve been a bit of a basket case.

On Saturday night Caitlin came around and brought a gorgeous dinner to have an early Fathers Day dinner for Norm. She had cooked a pork shoulder in the slow cooker to make pulled pork and she made a low carb mustard sauce to go with it, she also brought two different types of low carb salads and some fresh corn on the cob. It was absolutely delicious! This was restaurant quality food.

Caitlin did a great job. I give my baby’s delicious dinner 5 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Caity brought over the gifts that she, Trevor and Lily had bought Norm for Fathers Day. We kept Panda’s bed near us so he could feel a part of things. Norm got a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

He also received some PJs and 3 new tops. He was so spoiled but it is what he deserves.

We had quite a bit of rain and it was bitterly cold a few of the days during the week and this cold streak continued on Saturday so we built a big cosy fire while Caitlin was here.

During the day over the long weekend while Panda was at the vet, I watched nonsense on telly to distract me from obsessing endlessly.

I watched the movie ‘Always Be My Maybe’.

It was so cute! I loved the actors and the characters they played. I give it a strong 4 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

I watched several seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race as it is mindless entertainment which makes me laugh and doesn’t require too much concentration. I wasn’t mentally able to cope with anything more taxing.

Panda went off to the vet for the day today and Norm took me for brunch. It was my first foray out of the house since Friday. I was feeling much lighter of heart and felt up to it. We went to Constantia and popped into Mugg & Bean for brunch. We sat outside on the patio.

I ordered Eggs Benedict.

Norm ordered the The Country-style breakfast consisting of two eggs, back bacon, pork sausage, fresh baby spinach, grilled mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado & cauliflower hashbrowns.

After we finished brunch we walked over to the shops. Norm needed a new battery for his iPhone as his was only lasting an hour and there was an Apple Doctor there and so we dropped it off and had a mooch about the shops. I badly needed a new wallet as the card section in mine was so loose and that is why I lost my driving license. I found one the size I wanted that zips and it was on sale. Do you like it?

Today we were off work as yesterday was Youth Day. Youth Day commemorates a wave of protests across the country known as the Soweto uprising of 1976. 176 people were killed by the apartheid police. It is celebrated as a public holiday across South Africa to remember the brave students who protested.

I wish that I could see more change in the lives of more of the youth as so many still live in such poverty and poor conditions. The ANC has brought so little change to the lives of the poor. But freedom from oppression may be worth more than gold to those who have felt the yoke of that oppression. I guess it is all relative.

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Shadows

The hot weather has continued but despite the mugginess in the air promising us rain it has been scarce. We received a few drizzles again on Friday, we are so thankful to the Water Spirits and the Cloud Spirits. I pray that they distribute water liberally over our dams. I would so rejoice if we had a weekend of rain. I’m trying to practice gratitude for the water we do have rather than stressing and focusing on the scarcity of it. Keeping a positive gratitude is the aim.

We have a houseful this weekend which is lovely. Josh is racing this weekend and Lily and his Dad David came down to stay for the weekend.

Last night we had a braai. It was windy but we were sheltered at the back of the house. Norm cooked chicken sausage, steaks and chicken kebabs and Lily and I made cole slaw and there was potato salad from woolies. Lily made garlic butter for the mushrooms and Norm cooked them on the grill.

Last weekend when Norm and I were at Pick n Pay they had an excellent special on Brie and Camembert and so we picked up some Brie. On Wednesday evening Norm braaied 2 fillet steaks for the 3 of us as I was going to slice them that was enough meat. I put the Brie into some oven proof dishes and drizzled them all with honey and Norm popped those on the top shelf of the gas braai while the steaks cooked. I made a big salad of spinach, cabbage, carrots, cucumber & tomato and for the meat and I made a sauce by chucking in a preserved fig, a green chili, a big shot of lemon juice, a glug of vinegar and some honey and blitzing it until smooth. To serve I sliced the meat and rubbed it with the sauce and lay it across the salad and served a little bowl of it for adding to the salad.

OMG this was so good!

I will try to recreate that again but as I never measure anything my dishes are never consistent. But I try to not get too hung up about that.

I have written before about mindfulness and that I am trying to focus on being in the present and conscious of my internal dialogues. A friend mentioned the work of Tara Brach on The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine website. I subscribed to the site and they have sent me some videos on deepening our connections to others. You can click that link and sign up to the site and watch yourself. I really recommend it.

I also recommend subscribing to Tara’s YouTube channel.

Tara talks about the need for self-acceptance and how lack of this can interfere in our ability to form intimate bonds and relationships with others. I strongly identify with this as I have self confidence issues. People always find this surprising as I have no issues with stating my opinion and to those who do not know me well, I appear to be a confident extrovert. In reality I have this inner voice constantly telling me I am not good enough, that I am inadequate in many of the ‘roles’ I play, from my career to parenting to marriage to just being a woman.

In today’s culture women over 50 are invisible and are often deemed not worthy of attention. In many cultures women are not valued at all regardless of their age. If you have wrinkles or are overweight, you are bombarded with millions of media images of perfection and this can impact your self esteem. With the influx of stories about women being victimized by men and then not believed and even worse of those violators not being taken to task for those violations deepens these feelings of being undervalued.

The first video from Tara is discussing ‘How to Shift from Self-Criticism to Self-Acceptance and Love’.

It is impossible to feel negative about ourselves and still form a strong bond with another person. The two are mutually exclusive.

The second video is discussing ‘How Self-Acceptance Rewires the Brain for Deeper Connection’.

Three points which Tara mentions as a way to help us change our sense of self are:

  1. Learn to Observe your own thoughts. (Mindfulness)
  2. Mindfully Feel your feelings.
  3. Offer a gesture of care to your inner self.

The idea that Tara puts out there is that what we hide from others (and often even hide from our own conscious thoughts) can block us from forming deep bonds.  Hiding what you do not like about yourself impacts upon your ability to have a healthy relationship with another.

This is aligned to what I have been reading from Jung about the shadow archetypes. Jung believed that the Shadow archetype represents all that we are ashamed of, all that we do not like about ourselves and all that we keep secret, the unconscious parts of ourselves which we repress. As long as we repress this part of ourselves we cannot grow into a complete mentally healthy person. We have to become conscious of this aspect of ourselves and bring it into the light. Jung’s philosophy is that the act of making the shadow conscious is the starting point towards psychic health and individuation.

It is not the same as the Cherokee concept of the Shadow Walker. A shadow walker is someone who can walk the line between light and dark, life and death. So both conceptually refer to a division in the person, but very different in actuality.

Many therapists and psychologists believe that shame is the root of most addictions. Addictions in turn can then become part of our shadow self and something that we hide. We also hide various other behaviours which in turn can lead to deep feelings of shame and self loathing.

The 12 Step recovery groups have a slogan ‘we are only as sick as our secrets’. This refers to the idea that feelings of shame and regret about actions taken while not in recovery can quickly derail a person in their attempts to get clean or sober.

For me I know that my issue is around both self acceptance of my physical self and my strong personality.

Aging and weight loss have riddled my body with bags, sags and lumps and bumps. This makes me so self conscious that I cringe at the idea of anyone seeing me undressed, even my darling loving husband who loves me unconditionally whatever my weight.

This is not HIS issue or HIS feeling of revulsion I am experiencing, it is just a thought in my head. I do not have to buy into that thought, I can choose to let it go.

So for me to implement the 3 step guidance that Tara gave in the second video I will need to first witness the voices in my head and listen to what they are saying. To acknowledge that these are just my self destructive thoughts and they only exist in my own head, these are not what anyone else is feeling.

Secondly, I need to name the feelings which are triggered by these thoughts. Am I feeling shame that I have taken so little care of my physical shell? Am I feeling embarrassed that I am not toned and sleek? Am I feeling other emotions? What are they?

Labeling these emotions activates a different area of our brain. We need to think of the emotions as waves and let them just roll over us while mindfully acknowledging our suffering.

For an empath, the need to ‘dampen’ down our deep wells of emotion is a survival instinct. If we allow ‘in’ everything and tap into some of that energy it can be incredibly overwhelming and even depressing. We need to learn the skills to master it and not allow it to ‘stick with us’. To feel the empathy but not let it overwhelm us.

The third step is to offer comfort to ourselves. Tara suggested closing your eyes, putting your hand on your heart and offering emotional and even verbal comfort to yourself. When something which causes us pain rises, to even verbalise ‘ouch’.

Imagine the joy of yourself healing from these useless negative emotions.

To move away from self judgement to self acceptance is the goal.

An easy way for most of us to relate is regarding dieting or food issues in general. We set a goal for ourselves to lose weight, this is sometimes driven by feelings of self disgust or lack of worthiness. If we ‘cheat’ on our diet, we then have even more feelings of self disgust, sometimes leading us to give up completely on our goal. Instead, we should just write that off as an oops and carry on with no guilt. Just pick yourself up and go back to the original goal. It is only one meal. But if you self sabotage repeatedly then you need to address those issues. Why do you not feel worthy of self care and healthy food? Is the weight some sort of protection?

Some of these feelings of lack of self acceptance run very deep, the roots may be buried in childhood. We may have to keep hacking at those roots with a metaphysical machete.

Consciousness is our first step. I am willing to take that step, do you want to come along?

Kisses from the Kitten xxoxoxoxox

The Throne

I never thought I would get excited about a toilet. As a Virgo even the mention of a toilet makes me cringe. However the looming presence of Day Zero is a bit of a game changer and makes you think about things which we take for granted every day.

Such as elimination of waste.

Norm was tasked with getting us prepared for the very likely possibility that we have to live without running water to our homes. He went to several stores and all of them were out of stock of 25 liter water containers as well as ‘survivalist’ toilets. He put his name down to be contacted and they rang to say they had stock on Tuesday and over R3k later we have the containers we need as well as a toilet.

We are currently restricted to 50 liters consumption per day per person. To put this into perspective, here is a video from several months ago on what 87 liters looks like when going about your daily life. Imagine this being restricted to the proposed 25 liter per person per day.

Or to try and determine what you are personally using, there is a calculator page where you can input your consumption and it will give you an idea. I think you will be shocked at how quickly it mounts up.

Here is a more recent video which discusses the restrictions in US measurements but despite only being released a few days ago it also is out of date as the parameters change almost daily.

I already only wash my hair once a week and my ‘showers’ are more of a 2 minute quick, cold sprinkle of water than an actual shower. I use makeup remover cloths each night to avoid using water to wash my face. We have buckets in the shower to catch our grey water and this water is used to flush the loos or water the few plants which have survived the drought and lack of irrigation. We have pipes which attach to our guttering down pipes which route any rain water into our pool. We limit our dishwasher to when it is so full you cannot get in an extra spoon. As a result our pantry smells revolting. Anyone have tips for destinking a sitting dishwasher? We can’t waste water rinsing every dish so there is left over bits on some. It’s rather horrid, but we are doing what we can.

We have hand sanitiser by all of the sinks to reduce the water we use washing our hands. We try to avoid using much water to cook. Or we are clever about it. Last night Norm washed the spinach over the steamer then used that water to steam the broccoli. That bit of water will go into the garden today.

It made a gorgeous dinner too. 😍 He stuffed chicken breasts with Brie and wrapped them with bacon. He added a bit of cream to the spinach.

Back to whining about the drought after that brief interlude……

Meanwhile we witness other people using their garden hose to wash their cars. I have not washed my car in months and months. It used to get washed weekly.

However the panic only seems to be among certain residents. When I chat to my African colleagues about Day Zero they say ‘bring it on’. The point of view of some people is that it is only the people who live in ‘expensive houses’ who will be impacted by this issue. I was chatting to a colleague who said that the people who live in the informal settlements already have to walk 3 or 4 blocks to reach the standpipe at the location so they already conserve water. If you have to walk and carry every bit of water you use then you will value every drop.

When Mzudumo and Cordelia arrived at work on Tuesday, Norm had a talk with them about the water restrictions. Neither of them had a clue about Day Zero. They know to conserve water as Mzudumo isn’t washing the cars or watering the dead garden and Cordelia is asked repeatedly to not waste water.

Norm is now measuring our consumption via the water meter. He tracked how much we used on a day when Cordelia was in as she mops and does the laundry and dishes and therefore uses a lot of water. Norm has now given her a spray bottle of diluted cleaning product to use for cleaning rather than a bucket. We asked her to only do 2 loads of washing, one of whites and one of colours.

We will track our consumption daily and identify when we might be going over our designated amount.

Many people have wondered why the city doesn’t just apply the same principals to the water supply as they did to the electricity supply. From what I understand the water pressure fluctuations causes issues with the aged infrastructure and results in new leaks. It can also cause issues with the geyser etc from what I’ve heard but I know nothing about plumbing or building.

With all of this added anxiety and stress I am still trying to manage my crazy lady hormones and emotions.

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It is not easy.

Traffic is my bugbear. I now listen to my Robbie Robertson’s CD Music for the Native Americans and practice my ho’oponopono prayers and that calms me.

But it takes a focused approach to living consciously and being aware of our emotions. I try and analyse whatever emotion I am feeling and then decide whether it is helpful or harmful and then let it go or use it to channel into something positive.

However not all frustration and anger are ‘bad’ emotions. I believe that the turmoil on Mother Earth is a catalyst for change. I feel a huge change coming, I hope that the  feelings of anger which so many people are feeling is building up to a positive transformation and bringing so many people into the light.

We just have to wade through the dark to get into that light.

Keep heading towards that light people. We will come through this, just as we come through everything that life throws at us.

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxox