Friday 13 December 2019

Defying reason

Emotionally, this past week has been one of the most challenging of my life. What I have felt has gone completely against what my logical and pragmatic mind knows and understands and accepts. 

It has given me cause for a lot of reflection to determine why my reaction and emotions have been so incredibly strong and the hurt that I've felt has been so deep. 

I am fortunate to have good support and both talking and listening to friends and their experiences and perspectives has helped me to find strength to face, respond less emotionally and to deal with challenges that still lie ahead. 

The funny thing about situations like this, where it makes no logical sense at all, is that months - or even weeks - down the line I will probably wonder what it was that has caused me to so completely crack when my pragmatic self was completely ok with things. 

That's the thing with emotional distresses - you feel what you feel because that's just what it is. It defies reason. 

While I could not have imagined the depth of hurt that I have felt, I have enough sanity to know that it will pass and that the little bombs along the way will have less of an effect on me in time. And also that this be behind us. 

I think, I write, I reason. I work through pros and cons, reasons, explanations, reality, and silver linings to dark clouds... 

Right now, I do not feel the strength to face some things that I know are coming without inexplicably bursting into tears but in another week I am quite certain that I will feel differently. Stronger.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Moving and reducing

The two weeks since Celliers and I split have been crazy. In week 1, I had the organising to contend with for a group of 90 on the river - catering, venues, guides, equipment. And, I moved most of my stuff to my mom's place. The weekend went well and I was thrust straight into a very busy work week (which is the norm and not an anomaly) and then a bomb of an emotional distress, which threw me completely. I fell apart. And, on top of this and work, I've been moving into a cottage.

I like to think that I'm generally stable and sane and reasonable and logical. This time, despite what my logical brain told me, I was ripped to pieces emotionally. Of course, time heals - it always does. I have a lot to face this week that needs to be resolved.

I have moved and I spent my first night in my new place on Friday night. It is a really nice one bedroom cottage. I'm on a quiet street in a part of town where I often run. Close to time trial and places where Rusty and I run regularly. Everything is close in Parys, which is handy.

Part of my excitement in moving was the opportunity to sort stuff and to declutter. I have been non-stop busy for years and so my home office had needed sorting and even stuff from when I moved from Jo'burg still needed to be dealt with.

I saw this post on decluttering about two days ago - stuff is a burden that weighs us down. Of course, I need my sports equipment, office equipment and files, kitchen and home equipment, and sufficient clothes, linen and the like to make living easy, but there is always extra that can be shed.

I have been through every file and folder, box, and crate. I've already dropped stuff at the SPCA store and I've released myself of papers- lots of old stuff that I'd been hanging on to and others that were not longer valid or relevant. I have trashed the lot and have a hefty crate for the recycling collectors.

Today, I moved another load of stuff. Some of the things that I am giving away include my waterpoint decorations for Forest Run. Whether I every hold another Forest Run event, I don't know. At the moment, I am too tied down with work to even contemplate it and land access on a section of the route remains inaccessible. There is no point in hanging on to these items for another bunch of years. I've got a car load to go to the SPCA shop.

I've also accumulated bookcase 'decorations' over many years and these all have sentimental value, like the green frog soft toy thing that I was given by a runner at Jungle Marathon in Brazil in 2003 and the wooden camel I bought at one of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge events; and the wooden puzzles that I like or the belt buckle from my HURT 100km run in Hawaii in 2006, and the wooden abstract snake carving that I like the shape and feel of, and the yellow plushy sunflower that I bought in Atlanta airport on my very first flight to the States in 2004. For most of these items, there is no point in hanging on to them. They don't serve a practical purpose and someone else may be able to enjoy them. I've put all of these in the SPCA crate too.

After emptying paper from so many plastic folders, I have an abundance of empty folders that are still in good conditions. I'm unlikely to use most of them because the way that I do things has changed. SPCA box.

It is cleansing to discard unused items. I'm mostly there with the unpacking and sorting. I'll be better able to survey my handiwork tomorrow after dropping off stuff.

I'll really consider my books over the next week as I'd like to trim my stash. Books are such a weight and volume to carry around and while I treasure my adventure library and have loved reading these books, will I ever read it again? If not, I'd rather pass it on. Letting go of books is hard.

I've got a number of other items like magazine clippings of articles that I have written. There are a lot of them! I don't read them, they serve no practical purpose but some have historical significance. If I threw them all out, would it change anything in my life? No. If I keep them, I just have to find somewhere for the box. And then agonise over throwing them out again at a later stage. So silly.

Rusty has been very unsettled but she'll be fine. I'm here for her. It has been raining non-stop since Tuesday evening. She'll probably feel a lot better too when the sun comes out again. Me too.

Tuesday 3 December 2019

A good funeral

The mothers of two friends, who live together and are both older than me, died last week. I missed the funeral for the one on Friday but I went to the second today.

This was a good funeral in that it was for a remarkable 92-year old woman. 92! That's a good, long life. Olive was sharp and with it until the end. She was not well these past months and she slipped away at home, with her daughter nearby.

Funerals for people who have not yet seen out their lives are sad affairs indeed.

For this one, I was sad for my friend and what she has been through caring for her mom, but not for Olive. She was a remarkable woman and an inspiration of how to grow really old beautifully.

At her funeral were her five children and a bunch of grand and great-grand children. How fortunate these grand children are to have grown-up with Olive in their lives and to have actually known her as older teenagers and adults and not just from the perspective of a young child.

The number of relatives present today and their collective memory that will span decades more is a wonderful celebration and legacy of Olive's life.

This was a good funeral that marked the end of a long life well lived.

Monday 2 December 2019

Big youth group for two-day river trip

This weekend, we (Paddle With Us) had a big youth group from the Joburg-based Bryanston Bible Church on the river with us for two days. With a group of over 80 paddlers ranging from 10 to 17 (and a few adults), we used a combination of 6-person rafts, 2-person inflatable 'crocs' and our double-seater Vagabond Mazowe kayaks. The planned pace was easy with short distances between start, snack stops, lunch stops and the finish for each day. I had a great team with some local guides from Flo-Pro Rafting, Otters' Haunt and further away from Impact Adventures.

The section that we chose for this novice group was primarily flatwater on the river but with highlights for each day. On Day 1 we stopped for lunch at Candy's Lodge in Vaal Oewer for filled rolls, fruit and copious amounts of iced water. We then went down the kayak chute of the Goose Bay weir. The water level was just right for a fun, safe run. We ended the day at Camp Riverlake where the group slept overnight.

On Day 2, the paddlers enjoyed a few kilometres of paddling and then some kayak games followed by a snack stop at the lovely Kedu River Lodge. The pool was a welcome attraction and distraction from the day's heat.

Then, it was time to go down two rapids (the first runs into the second). At this low water level it is good fun with no scary bits. Shortly after the rapid, we reached our take-out at Bly of Gly, a spot popular with fishermen for hefty catches. We quickly ate lunch before the buses departed to head back to Jo'burg.

I usually paddle a Vagabond Marimba kayak, which at 4.5m long is like a cross between a surfski and a rec kayak. This weekend I paddled a Tarka, a kayak perfectly suited to those who weigh less than 90kg (and still has carrying capacity for gear). This is a superb kayak and is now officially my second favourite kayak from our range. It is a perfect women's kayak as it has an ideal size that makes it easier to lug around and to manoeuvre.

Thank you to Rene for this photo.
This was a super group of teens who were friendly and polite and game for this paddling adventure. It was a good weekend.

We look forward to hosting them on another section of the river next year.

Vaal Explorer 2019 Awards - silver!

On Wednesday night, Celliers and I attended the Vaal Explorer 2019 Awards.

Vaal Explorer is a magazine & website, Facebook platform that promotes tourism in the greater Vaal region - from Heidelberg to Venterkroon and Vredefort, including all kinds of little places you've never heard of.

This region is on Jo'burg and Pretoria's doorstep and the offering of places to stay, restaurants and cafes, spas,  activities, operators, galleries, and wedding and conference venues is as good and better than anything you'll get in popular far-flung locations.

This Awards evening was held at the Three Rivers Lodge in Vereeniging - I'd never heard of the place. What a lovely venue it is. The Awards so impressed us for the places and services that won bronze, silver and gold awards. This should be drawn up as a must-visit list in the region of the quality and diversity of the offerings.

Vaal Explorer's Petra Stuart is passionate about tourism and this region and in promoting all that there is out here. Petra and her son Brandon are the people behind Vaal Explorer - they are doing wonders for our region.

We were chuffed to be a nominee for the awards but even more so that we received a silver award.

Although awarded jointly to me and Celliers, this award is certainly a tribute to Celliers' almost two-decade contribution to putting Parys on the map with his acclaimed kayak designs, the creation of his first kayak company and now our company Vagabond Kayaks, which manufactures kayaks in Parys and, the writing of his books 'Run the Rivers of Southern Africa' and 'African Veins'. In the paddling industry and community, this has put Parys, paddling and the tourism elements of the area on the map.

For me, it was inevitable that my two decades spent organising people and events would be carried into the four years that I have lived in Parys. From my Forest Run trail run in the Vredefort Dome to being Event Director for the Parys parkrun and now my kayak-centric focus with Vagabond Kayaks, Paddling Race and Paddle With Us, I'm just getting warmed up.

This award was more in an individual capacity than strictly Vagabond for our proud, individual representation of Parys and all that this town has to offer. Celliers and I are only at the beginning of what we aim to accomplish for our town, community and for the activity of paddling.