Monday, February 27, 2012

Just smile and do it

There are times when I'm convinced that no one in the entire world procrastinates the way I do. It's like I'll KNOW how important it is to do something... to complete a task or to follow through on a project... but I'll have absolutely no inclination to do it. Then I'll find every excuse not to do it and will even become absorbed in the most mundane activities - it's ridiculous. And I'll always end up wondering why on earth couldn't I just get to it. I mean, I recognise the urgency and the need, but I just.can't.seem.to.get.there.

I'm not always like this though. There are times when I can forge ahead with such a force that the devil himself doesn't stand a chance. If only I could be like that all the time, and not only when I'm desperately wanting things to go my way.

Three months ago I enrolled in an Advanced TEFL (Teaching English to Foreign Learners) online program that cost a small fortune. And for days, weeks and months following my enrolment I just sat and looked at my screen quite vacantly. I'd read the first line, get bored and then go on Facebook instead. And when I got tired of that, I'd go and read everything on The Daily Mail - because even something as stupid as Victoria Beckham making her way through LAX was more interesting than Phonemes and Teaching Methodologies.

It reminded me of my second year at University more than a decade ago - when I spent a good deal of my time incarcerated in Linguistics and Literary Science, a pre-requisite pain-in-the-ass kinda class if there ever was one.

Sure there were modules that were interesting and I wouldn't have been able to have long semi-impressive conversations on Post-Modernism, Matisse and Dali, Impressionism, Rembrant's artistic style, brush strokes, abstract art and everything else in this world that is a whole lot of information on nothing.

But a large part of it was mind numbing and painful. It felt like my mind was being repeatedly assaulted and violated and there was nothing I could do about it. Staring at the seemingly endless list of modules on the Advanced TEFL course was very similar. I would have rather opted to have my eyeballs skewered while I was being skinned alive than read another excruciating page.

And so the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months. Then finally, last week it dawned on me that I had a deadline date looming after which my allocated time would expire and it would be all over. I wish I could say that this did it for me. But no.

It was actually my Mother. See, Mother kept on asking me about it and I kept on deferring. Then she went away and I missed her so much that I thought it would be awesome to surprise her when she came back. So I made up my mind to get it done and that's when I just sat down and did it... in less than 5 days. And every single HOUR, I had Beto Perez's words echoing in my mind:

"Just smile and do it"

I managed to shut out everything for some time and got it done. And then I wondered why on earth did it take  me so long to get down to doing it. I would have been done ages ago and saved myself a lot of anxiety and stress. Anyways, my aggregate is 78% which ironically, I'm disappointed about because I know I could have gotten 90% at least. But it's done and I can breathe again without feeling the weight of Kilimanjaro on my shoulders.

It got me thinking about the reason I procrastinate so much. Perhaps it's my fear of failure... or even more so... my fear of success that prevents me from getting it done. Because when we succeed, we push ourselves beyond our own physical, emotional and psychological limits into uncharted territories. And uncertainty has always been a breeding ground for fear. The trick is to find the courage to succeed and trusting that we'll be fine along the way.

For some reason it seems that lately, there are more and more things where I'm forced to just smile and do it. It's not a pleasant place to be. But at least some things are getting done.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

#3

I love history. And legends. And myths. And linking history, legend and myth.

For that reason, I particularly love visiting places that have rich historical backgrounds. There's nothing like a good story to accompany your imagination on a visual escapade. And that's why I want to go to Troy.
Aerial view of modern day Troy

Yes, Troy. Because shit like this fascinates me.

The city of Troy is located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey (previously part of Greece).

(Turkey is a number in itself on the bucket list, but we'll get to that another time)

There's something so mesmerising about places like these. Long forgotten tragic places where people once lived and loved and fought to survive. I often wonder what their lives were like; what they held to be true, what their daily routines consisted of. I'm sure stuffy offices and suits weren't a part of that routine.

Silver tetradrachm from Troy during the Hellenistic period, 188–160 BC. Head of Athena in Attic helmet.

Sometimes I think it would be poetic to arrive in a majestic wooden replica of the Trojan Horse. Or maybe a real horse and a wooden carriage would do. Or maybe we'll just leave the horses  and walk.

Sounds like a good day trip.

Monday, February 20, 2012

#2

For clarification purposes, I'd like to make a slight alteration to a previous statement. Yes I'd love to go to Ravello and stay at the Hotel Caruso, but it's not the absolute number one thing I want in this world - purely because I love travelling so much that almost every destination would tie for the number one spot.

So my list will follow in no particular order.

And today's wish is to go to Navagio Beach, also known as Shipwreck beach or Smugglers Cove in Greece.



Navagio is located on the north-west shore of the Ionian island of Zakynthos (Zante) and is only accessible by boat from Porto Vromi to the south, and from the Harbor of Saint Nikolas in Volimes to the north-east.


This is one of those places I'd want to visit with a special someone. You can't witness something so majestic while you're trekking solo. Goes for most places. And while we're in the vicinity - we can pop down to Paros Island.



Two birds, one stone.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

#1

I was having a look at someone's bucket list the other day, and it prompted me to think of my own. If I had a bucket list, it would be filled to the brim with dreams of traversing the earth, discovering hidden gems in far corners and languishing through the days soaking it all up like a sponge.

And that's precisely why I never had a bucket list. I thought it would be heart breaking because it would just remind me of everything I don't have and haven't yet accomplished.

But dwelling in the era of change, I've decided that the time has come to make one. And because I have such rich and consuming dreams and aspirations, it would be impossible to encapsulate everything in just one post. So I've decided to divide them up in instalments.


The number 1 spot on my wishlist would belong to Ravello, Italy. Ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to go to the Amalfi coast and stay at Hotel Caruso overlooking the Med:



It's not entirely impossible, but it is a tad expensive ranging from € 1,648 to € 2,068 per night. It's still BEAUTIFUL. And I wouldn't mind saving every penny I had to be able to experience such beauty up close.


For now, it remains a dream...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rhymes with stupid...

So it's that time of the year when Teddy-Bear manufacturers work over-time and make enough sales to meet their entire years' objectives and fulfil their annual quota. I don't know any other time of the year when people actually go out and buy furry toys.

This year I've received 17 love letters for Valentines Day. But it's not what it seems and it doesn't count when you're holding a metaphorical gun to their heads. That's what I did to my students. I demanded it from them "You WILL write me a Love Letter in ENGLISH because I AM your Valentine...". The aim was to see how well they expressed themselves emotionally in English and most of them didn't seem to mind since it was better than writing a composition on Civil War in Africa.

Initially, I suggested it as a joke. And then it morphed into something that everyone took quite seriously. In any case, I wasn't prepared for, or expecting this:

Some of my favourite lines are:

"I'm not gay but I want to tell you by this Valentine's Day how much I appreciate you and you are a lovely person."

"You radiate life, your smile and your sense of humour says a lot about you. You have such a zest for life that it becomes difficult to maintain in your classroom in being sad."

"Without your company, my existence would be ungrateful."

"Sometimes when my mind is down your smile, your jokes, the nickname you gave me make me smile again."

"I'm very proud to have you as teacher because you are beautiful and clever. You are also open and sincere. I love you too much my heart continues to amaze."

"I love you because you are you, all simply."

Even though they were obliged to do it, I couldn't help feeling touched. I was also quite impressed by the effort they put into it. And then they surprised me with these:
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I believe that real love is selfless and doesn't feed the ego. If it's all about you and how you feel, it isn't real love. Real love is pure and honest and generous and it isn't something that you celebrate or express once a year.

However, it's still nice to know that someone appreciates you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Brass Ring...

So Karl Lagerfeld slipped up and accidentally called Adele a fatty. And then he tried to backtrack and say that she may be fat but she still has a great voice. That’s like telling a woman that she resembles a donkey’s ass but that she shouldn’t worry because she still has pretty feet.

And then Adele hit back saying that she represents the majority of women and that she’s proud of that. Well she should be. I’m not sure that I could value such advice from someone who looks like he just stepped off Christopher Columbus’ ship dressed like Prince circa 1988, much less take him seriously.

I was looking at photos of plus sized model Tara Lynn recently and I couldn’t help but think that there is something so authentically beautiful about her. She looks like a real woman - for me anyway.
This has been a recurrent theme in my life in the past few weeks. I’ve been reading various articles that lead back to this topic and then today after work, they were discussing the issue on a talk show.

The thing about getting older is that there are certain things that you just cannot fight. For instance, I just cannot contend with the fact that gluten-free does not mean fat-free. And I’ve just had to accept that my body is changing in ways that I can’t control and that I will probably have to exercise religiously for the rest of my life.

I have also had to accept that as I get older, I put on weight easier and it’s much more difficult to lose. And  that with my hips, I will never be a size zero.

Here’s the clincher... I don’t want to be. I find that the older I get, the less I care about such things. I need to exercise for my stress levels and I enjoy it... but I do it more because I enjoy the idea of being fit rather than striving to be a size zero.
Having been in the UK and Europe a few times in the last few years, I know that they are much more health conscious then we are. South Africans LOVE food. It’s like some post-apartheid rite of passage. So on most occasions my trips abroad always left me feeling like what’s all the fuss about?

However, with my recent health issues, I know the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. But again, does healthy mean super-skinny? For most people, the answer would be yes. Although, I do notice a changing trend (however small a trend that may be). I for one will no longer be subscribing to an impossible ideal. I want to be fit, but I don’t want to be miserable for my entire life or kill myself doing it.
I want to be more content in my shell. And I’ve come to believe that at the end of it all, it wouldn’t matter because Mr. Right and I are going to have a lot of fun, no matter what we look like. I've discussed aspects of this once before and in many ways, it seems like this particular issue is coming full circle and the fat lady sings once again.

But in the back of my mind, I'm still quite befuddled by it all. I mean, there's obviously some pay-off for looking like a rake. What's with the skinny obsession? And is this really the male ideal?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just a few more things you didn't need to know...

I always find it both strange and amusing to be awarded for my thoughts. But other people don't think so... anyway, thank you Randy.
So I'm supposed to list 5 random facts about myself and then pass it on to 5 great blogs that I like and recommend. Problem is, I like and would recommend more than 5 blogs - waaay more.

Thing is, I'm generally a very busy person, so if I make the effort and take the time to read your blog and comment on it, it means that I like it and that you have my approval. And I enjoy reading a wide variety of blogs for different reasons.

So I thought that instead of torturing myself for hours trying to choose 5 specific blogs, I'll substitute it instead with a list of 10 random somewhat unknown facts about me:

1. I’ve started eating eggs again after 15 years of being off them. Only hard-boiled eggs though. It happened one morning on the cruise. The reason I stopped in the first place was because I couldn’t stand the smell.

2. I can't go to bed without washing my feet and drinking a tablespoon of olive oil mixed with water.

3. My Dad’s cousin is a famous pop star in the UAE.

4. I don’t only appreciate male beauty, contrary to what people may believe from what they’ve read here or seen on Facebook. I appreciate all kinds of beauty and openly admire beautiful women and adorable children as well.

5. I don’t say things I don’t mean. So if I say that I care about someone or something or that I think someone is beautiful, amazing or awesome – I genuinely mean it.

6. In real life I'm a very affectionate person. In the words of someone who actually met me "I was expecting a great big lion to chew my head off and all I got was this harmless cute little kitten". I can be fiesty but I love to love, and I'm not afraid of expressing that love. So I'm always hugging and kissing family members and close friends and telling them that I love them - much to their irritation. 

7. The irony is that the people that I love most in the world are the only people I can't express it to - and they're my parents. Just thinking about telling them that I love them overwhelms me to such a degree that I get very emotional, choke up, can't get a word out and I could cry for DAYS.

8. My parents are dangerous people. Mostly because they’re very well connected. When I was younger, I would often fantasize about running away to a tropical island and living out my days there. But I knew that there was no way in hell that would ever happen because Mother would only need to make one phone call and everyone from the country’s top cops and detectives, to the FBI, Interpol and the Chinese Mafia would be out looking for me.

9. My thoughts and opinions are always subject to change. For some reason people tend to think that everything I say is etched in stone. What most don’t realise is that I have mini revelations and epiphanies quite often, so I’m always learning and growing as a person. I also believe that growth and self-improvement is important. Hence what I believe to be true at any particular moment changes every few months.

10. My students voted me as their funniest teacher and one of the best teachers they ever had in a recent poll. The problem with such accolades is that it’s a breeding ground for jealousy from other insecure and emotionally retarded colleagues.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

10 reasons why it's better to be a WOMAN...

10. You're not governed by an appendage and your whole life doesn't revolve around your pride, ego and groin.

9. You know what it means to care about someone else other than yourself (and your groin).

8. Your brain is perfectly lodged in your head (and not your groin).

7. Your heart isn't located in your groin.

6. You have a heart.

5. Even if he had two degrees and his groin had a PHD,  you'd still be more intelligent than he is.

4. You have no issues asking for directions so you won't ever have to wander around for hours, driving in circles.

3. You're not in denial about homosexuality and you know that anyone who wants to see two women together probably feels the same way about men - despite what they say.

2. Pathological lying isn't a part of your DNA.

1. Hell hath no fury... and I quote:

"If my husband had to cheat on me I'd go out, find someone with AIDS and fuck the life out of him. Then I'd go home and fuck him too before I tell him that I cheated. And then I'd hide his meds and we can both go ahead and DIE slowly." Can't beat that.