“I just need to breathe, I just need to be alive, why can’t I?”

snowy fieldI woke up today, admiteddly very late, and looked out the window to see the street was covered in snow. This hasn’t been unusual lately, but it was rare weather for the weekend. I decided to venture out with my camera, get some pictures and some fresh air. I don’t mind snow when it’s fresh, not yet been trodden into sludge and ice. I thought it would be nice to enjoy it, instead of looking out at it from my office window.

Unfortunately, it was not quite the winter wonderland I expected once I’d gotten going. It started raining about ten minutes into my journey and didn’t really stop. I was sodden and miserable, trudging back through deep puddles and sludge. Of course, I’d stubbornly walked all the way to the nature reserve I wanted to as I intended, and done a circuit of it too, before finally heading home. I kept thinking, it will let up soon but if anything it just got worse.

This is why I am no longer running. I think I’ve mentioned it before, haven’t I? That I really want to be a runner. I really love the idea of being a runner. Being like those people in movies or books or worse, on blogs and Instagram, who run off their stress, anxiety and depression, for whom running is freeing and life changing. I tried it once, stopped about a month in, sore and exhausted and still anxious. Then I decided to try again. I thought, maybe I was too ambitious last time and instead of following couch25k religiously, I circled through weeks one and two. It was easier running when I could break it up with bits of walking. Sometimes, I liked going out in the evenings when it was quiet. Sometimes, I thought I came close to understanding those fictional characters and those people – sometimes it felt good. Other times I was exhausted and sore and I hated it and didn’t want to do it. Then winter settled in properly, and I didn’t want to go out in the ice, in snow, in strong winds and storms. I had an excuse to give up. I’d see people out running in those weathers anyway and I’d feel, I do feel, such a baby. But I also feel very cold right now. And I do not like being soaked through and sore from walking awkwardly on slippery surfaces. Like today. I could appreciate the beauty of the scenery in many ways, but I also felt cold, and I’d left my earphones behind so couldn’t distract myself with an audiobook or music. It wasn’t aweful, but it could have been…considerably less damp.

I am vaguely unhappy right now and I don’t want to be one of those people who complains without doing anything about it so I have been trying things- running, yoga, going for walks, cooking more/eating better, cutting out caffeine, decluttering the house. Nothing seems to really work and nothing seems to really stick. I do compare myself to other people – out there running or doing yoga or meditating or eating tonnes of salad to a happy, healthy mind and I wonder – what is wrong with me? Mindfulness definitely doesn’t work.
And other things, is it me making excuses, giving up too soon, doing it wrong or is it simply me. I want to find something that frees me, but I can’t. I can’t make it work. It’s very frustrating. Perhaps I have too high expectations, compare too much. In fact, I definitely do. Now, like always, I need to accept good enough instead of striving towards some bizarre, unrealistic ideal. It’s hard though.

I think – I should stick with something and find some acceptance that way, I must keep moving. Then I think, I must be kinder to myself and just keep trying, eventually I will find something. I remind myself- I am perfectly allowed to quit if something really doesn’t work. I am allowed not to stick with something actually. So. I’ve given running a good go and it’s not worked and that’s…that’s ok. That should be ok. It’s hard this, to let go of your expectations and hopes, when necessary, to admit that maybe you were wrong. To stop trying to be someone else/who you think you ‘should’ be. I’m just too stubborn. Like today, I should have just gone home straight away or at least sooner. That also would have been ok.

It’s hard to find the middle ground between being kind to yourself and being too easy on yourself – you need to push yourself to grow, or do things you don’t like sometimes. I’m just, evidently, not very good at picking my battles.

Unfortunately not my cat.

At some point, I stopped writing. Online and offline, I ran out of words. Things haven’t been great these few weeks, months, this year. I grew tired of that narrative. I didn’t want it here, on this blog, and writing it offline wouldn’t help. I told myself I’d come back when things improved, when I was in a better headspace, but that has not happened. Nonetheless, there are good things, too.

Moments like this. I’m sat on my bed in my parents house, with my sister’s cat curled up next to me. I’ve missed my own cat so, so much this year. Nothing has been the same since she died. I am very happy to have some cat time. I’m at my parents house with my parents, my sister, and my sister’s cat. We will open presents tommorow and have Christmas lunch. It’s really good to be at home and not be at work. I was counting down the days until Christmas break and I was almost giddy with happiness, hyper, on the last day on Friday.

I’ve never been one to believe in New year’s, or enjoy Christmas. But with things so otherwise bleak I’ve thrown myself into festivities – hanging lights in my apartment windows, buying too many presents, crafting an ornament for our Christmas tree- and I’m looking forward to trying to reset things alongside the change in year.

Anyway, wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, or a happy holiday break, and a happy new year.


My sister came to visit me on the weekend. On Saturday we went out for lunch and to see a show, and of course to shop, and then we spent the evening chilling out at home. On Sunday we went to IKEA – and I drove.

I recently got back in touch with my driving instructor and arranged two lessons. The first was to help me with hill starts and teach me how to reverse park into a bay, and the second was motorways (which you may also know as freeway, highway…expressway? ). The former was just brushing up on things I already sort of knew, but the latter was completely new. I was terrified that lesson, so afraid I would do something wrong and get hooted at or cause an accident. Ever since I got my licence people have been telling me that motorway driving was easier than normal driving but I couldn’t believe them. I was scared and then the longer I put it off the more scared I became. Then I spent a week driving my coworker home as his car was out of service and at the end of it he said my driving was ok. Having that reassurance from someone who has no motive to compliment me was the boost I needed. I contacted my instructor and I went out on the motorway. And it was fine, it went well even. It helped that it was a Sunday and very quiet, probably, but it turned out to be nowhere near as awful as I expected. It was mostly tiring – there was so much to concentrate on and a lot to take in.

But since then I hadn’t had the courage to go out again. So I asked my sister to help me out since she was at mine. Thankfully she agreed. And, she was a patient instructor with me. There was more traffic, but it was still fine. We made it without incident. (Sadly I couldn’t show off my new ability to reverse into a bay as it was too busy but oh well. One thing at a time is enough!)

I think, and I say this very tentatively, I’m really doing ok with this driving thing. My confidence is growing all the time. I’ve even been able to go out and learn new skills. And I’m actually kind of loving it. Like, I still dislike driving but I just love the independence it gives me. Like I feel about plane travel- the process isn’t fun, but it’s incredible the ability to get from A to B like that. Someone once told me I needed to hurry up and get my licence because nothing beats being able to get in your car and go wherever you like and they were SO RIGHT. Public transport has some benefits, sure, but I can’t bring myself to miss it. I feel my world expanding beyond bus routes and timetables and it’s amazing. I can go anywhere, I can choose when I leave, I can control my environment within my car (no more being stuck on smelly, humid yet cold buses !) I can take luggage! As much luggage as I want, not just as much as I can carry/reasonably fit on the bus without making other people hate me. It’s exhilarating. I couldn’t believe it when I got to IKEA. I’d always have to wait for someone to be available to take me to IKEA, but now I can go myself . Now I can use the motorway I’m hoping to finally free myself of public transport for good. I actually can’t afford it anymore now that I’m 25 and therefore no longer eligible for young person’s discounts (sniff) so I honestly couldn’t have gotten my licence and my car at a better time. I couldn’t have finally gotten on the motorway at a better time.

I feel a little bad sometimes, a little lazy perhaps, but mostly a bit guilty because of how un-eco friendly cars are and I want to care about that. But it’s amazing to have this kind of independence, to gain so much time back, to save so much money. I just love having a car and I am so glad I finally got my licence and said car.

My sister’s cat

It’s coming up to the one year anniversary since my cat died. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m still really sad about it. I went home this weekend and I brought some roses with me to place on her grave. I thought maybe it would provide some comfort. But it didn’t. I still ache. I still can’t accept it. I look at her grave and it just doesn’t make sense.

My parents are looking after my sister’s cat right now. So she was there when I was. My father kept calling my sister’s cat by our old cats name and it’s hard to say anything when he does it, because it’s awkward, and it’s sad.

My sister’s cat is a delight. She was a little wary of me on Saturday, but then on Sunday she crawled into my lap and passed out there. Several hours passed and my legs went numb but it was perfect, to feel her warmth and her weight. I kept following her around all weekend, pestering her to allow me to cuddle her and pet her, because I miss it. I miss my cat. I miss having a cat.

For a time the neighbours cat was here, but he did move away. And I know it’s for the best, he was getting too clingy, but I do miss his presence. He was a good substitute. It was good to have his company, his warmth.

I tell myself she was just a cat, but it doesn’t quite work.

I’ve felt lonely since she died.

Today I was in Tesco (supermarket) when I discovered something I’ve never seen before – a South African section. Not just a part of the world foods, which would have been unique enough, but an actual labeled section. There were biscuits. Chips. Biltong and wors. Guava fruit roll. Beer and cream soda and rooibos tea. And of course, big jars of Mrs Balls chutney and large bags of mealie meal. There must be a community of us! I thought excitedly. An actual community of us, here, in this random northern city, in order for us to get our own section. (Our own section! In the nearly two decades of being here I’ve never seen anything like it. We don’t usually even demand a corner of the world foods. We’ve never had any space in the supermarket that I’ve ever seen…) Alot of the stuff was sold out too, with the dates of restock noted, which must also mean there is a lot of us. To have that kind of demand. I wonder where these South Africans are, how long they’ve been here, why they’ve come. I jokingly thought to myself I should stake out this corner of the supermarket, just to see who turns up.

Honestly, don’t think I’ve been so excited and surprised since my dad managed to find gem squash in our local supermarket (several years ago, and sadly it only happened the once. I wonder if this section will soon disappear too? If the demand is temporary for whatever reason…)

I recently booked flight tickets to go home. To Cape Town. And it’s been on my mind. Home. How long it’s been since I’ve been back. How much it must have changed. How much I’ve changed. I’m excited and terrified and I just cannot wait. I want to go home right now.