March 25, 2015

Single or Attached, This Is How You Need To Feel

This morning I made myself a coffee from my beloved coffee machine, walked downstairs to sit at the desk I chose for myself, and did a few hours of work.

And then I paused, and looked around at the bedroom which is mine, in the apartment which is mine, in this life which is mine... and I felt happy. Really, truly happy, in this moment.

I don't always feel happy. Life as a divorced mother is often challenging. I can feel lonely. I go on bad dates. I spend many a Saturday night alone. I feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of sole parenting for much of the week. I wonder if I will ever take an overseas holiday with a partner again.

But today I feel happy. Today I feel a sense of ownership of my life, a sense of control and peace that I have rarely known.

I often worry that if I speak of feeling content in this life that it will be taken as a slight to my ex husband, and this is not at all what I intend. I have enormous respect and affection for him, and I always will.

But I really never lived alone until now. I moved straight out of home and into my then-boyfriend's home. After we broke up I moved back in with my parents for a while, and then lived on my own in an apartment for only a few months before I moved in with the man I would marry.

And from then on there was joy and there was travel and there were children and there were the infinite highs and lows of married life. But I never had the opportunity to learn my own tastes or desires or preferences independently of my partner. Or rather, I had the opportunity to do so, but I didn't take it. I chose my own path, but didn't understand it's impact until now.

This home is the first home I have decorated myself. My last holiday was the first holiday I have chosen alone. This desk was the first desk I have bought without consulting another. I choose my friends, the men I date, the work I do, the places I go. It is an incredibly empowering feeling, to make decisions about your own life.

To me, this sense of ownership of one's own life is fundamental. Whether you are in a relationship or single, you need to be in control,  of your decisions, your choices, your path. Relationships are about compromise - hell, life is about compromise - but that sense of ownership is vital. If you don't have it, then take the steps necessary to do so. This is the only chance at life you're going to get.

Whatever your situation, life will be challenging. But life is about moments. It is about those fleeting snatches of happiness.

And for me, today is one of them.

March 24, 2015

Social Media: The Never Ending Argument

"Kerri, you don't know when to stop!"

If I had a rabbit for every time my parents said that to me during my childhood, I'd have an entire nation of rabbits. Because I didn't know when to stop. And I'm still not sure when to stop. When it comes to arguments, or opinions, or ideas that I hold passionately, I can go on and on and on like the proverbial bull at a gate. (Who, presumably, would stampede over those rabbits, but that's just mixing metaphors.) I feel an intense need to convince others of my opinion. and if I can't actually convert them to my way of thinking, then at least have them acknowledge that my point of view is valid.

Before social media there was a natural limit to my arguments. I only had contact with a certain number of people every day and there were only a certain number of topics we would discuss.

But Twitter and Facebook and blogs have changed all that. They offer me an endless number of potential subjects to debate, and an infinite pool of people with whom to debate them. I could, quite literally, spend all day every day on social media arguing. And I have spent hours and hours doing so.

Strangely, however, it's actually had a paradoxical effect. It has started to teach me when to stop. Because there is no organic end to arguments on social media. You can finish with one person and have ten more waiting in the wings to take up the challenge. You can write a tweet or Facebook post or blog about an issue and be inundated with responses from people itching for a fight. It never ends. It never ends unless you put a stop to it.

So I am learning to do so. I am learning when to say Enough. I am learning how to let things go, how to accept that there will always be people who think differently to me, how to maintain inner peace in the face of heated opposition.

But it will always be a challenge. I will always be a person of opinions. And I suspect I still have a few more rabbits to collect along the way.

March 19, 2015

Looking. Searching. Pining.

I have a problem.
I've become obsessed. And I mean obsessed. I've had obsessions before but this is different. I can't concentrate. I can't work. I can't focus on my kids. All I do is surf the web looking, searching, pining for the one.
And I can't find it. Or rather, I've found it about five times, but then I realise it's not right. It's not the one. It isn't satisfying me. There's another, that's right, that's perfect, that is going to solve everything. There's another, that is going to make everything okay.
And I can't stop.
It's been going on since Sunday. I have spent hours and hours and hours searching online for....
A desk.
A new desk.
A perfect new desk.
I hadn't even thought about a new desk before Sunday. I was happy with my (admittedly worn and a bit crappy) desk I bought when I first moved into my new apartment. I was rushing, at the time, and didn't put a lot of thought into it, but that's okay. It was fine. It served its purpose.
Until Sunday.
On Sunday I decided I needed a new desk. At first I wanted a super modern desk. Then I decided I needed a ladder desk. Then I was sure I wanted a secretaire desk, with a pull down front, and tiny little compartments. Then I was absolutely positive I wanted a super-cool vintage wooden desk, which unfortunately was only available in the States and couldn't be shipped to Oz.
Then I broke down, because it was hopeless. And then realised I didn't know what I wanted. I was just searching. I was searching for something. I was searching because I am lost.
I finished my manuscript on Sunday. My manuscript for my latest book. I sent it to my agent last November, and she recommended some revisions, which I worked on for the past four months. I worked hard. Really hard. Every single day I worked on my book. How I laugh when I hear of people writing novels in a month. This novel took a year of hard, all-encompassing work. And then I sent it in.
And now it's over.
And so I am searching, searching, searching for the perfect desk. Except that maybe I don't really need a new desk after all.
Maybe I just need to start a new book.
And it won't matter at all what I write it on.

March 17, 2015

I'm not that bad. Really. Mostly.

When I started blogging it was 2009, I was married, and I didn't imagine myself being out in the singles scene again. (Please note: Even though I am divorced now I am not exactly out in the 'singles scene'. The 'singles scene' for me carries intonations of 70's disco music, key parties and men with handlebar moustaches, and I spend most of my time alone in front of the computer. But still...)

Back in those days, I felt free to wax lyrically about all of my flaws - my poor cooking skills, my clumsiness, my parenting fails, my massive fuck-ups, even my poor seduction techniques. And it was fine, because I had a partner, and it really didn't matter if the rest of the world knew how deeply imperfect I was.

Now, however, times have changed. At some stage, I am going to want to attract a mate. And so I need to put my best foot forward, and demonstrate to the world how marvellously desirable I really am.

Yeah. I need him.

Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to do that in my videos with Lana. Therefore, before you watch our latest offering, I would like you to peruse and study the list below. It is important to redress the imbalance of information out there, and to understand that I have many excellent qualities too.

For example:
  • I am a warm and friendly person (when I have had enough sleep and am fully caffeinated).
  • I can reverse park into very tight spots, often without even bumping the car behind me.
  • I do a sensational French Braid. (Not on my own hair, because that requires quite a sophisticated level of hand-eye co-ordination, but on other people.)
  • Dogs love me. I'm not mad about them, but they really do love me.
  • I am very loving and kind (when I have had enough sleep and am fully caffeinated).
  • I make brilliant scrambled eggs. And really, that is a meal in itself.
  • I am an excellent friend and always answer emails and texts. (Not phone calls, of course. But who makes phone calls anymore??)
  • I have an excellent sense of humour, unless you believe my son. But please, please don't believe my son.
  • I am supportive, empathic and nurturing (when I have had enough sleep and am fully caffeinated).

watch us discuss (some pretty weird) bad habits here:

March 12, 2015

The one subject I have never before discussed.

I've been writing online for about six years now. And in that time, I have made it a rule not to talk about weight or diets. Apart from a Sunday Life piece I wrote in 2002 entitled 'Thin Body Fat Brain', I have never gone there. Ever.

Until now.

You see, Lana and I had one of our little on-camera chats and we got to talking about diets. And the thing is, I am fervently anti-diet. I have been for the past 16 years. But - as Lana points out in the video - people don't like hearing a slim person talking about weight issues. Because, you know, SLIM. What can I know if I'm slim? Only overweight people can understand weight struggles, right?

Except that I was overweight. For a long, long time. Not the kind of 'Happy At Any Size' overweight. I really didn't want to be overweight. I wanted to be slim. And I dieted and lost weight and then regained it and dieted and lost weight and regained it and so on and so on ad infinitum until I was 31 years old.

And then I stopped dieting. Forever. And I lost about 10 kilos and have never gained it again. I dealt with my food issues, not by following some kind of restrictive eating plan that tells you what to eat and when and makes you crave all the things you're not 'allowed' to have, but by working out how to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full and not eat for reasons that have nothing to do with physical needs. Reasons like boredom. Frustration. Anger. Sadness. Celebration. Depression. Or simply Because It's There.

It was a process. It took a while. I did a lot of work on myself and my relationship with food. And I got there. And now I passionately believe that diets don't work.

Except I'm wrong, in a sense, because diets do work. All diets do. If you stick to a weight loss regime, you'll lose weight. And this is easy, if you're a person who doesn't actually have issues with eating. If you've gained weight on holidays or during pregnancy, for example, but fundamentally have a healthy relationship with food, you'll lose weight on a diet and probably keep it off.

But most of us have issues with food. And certainly the vast majority of overweight people who struggle to lose weight have issues with food. And so diets aren't going to work long term unless we fundamentally change our relationship our food.

Anyway. You can watch Lana and I argue about it here. And you can decide for yourself.

March 9, 2015

How we came to be

When I was 38 weeks pregnant with my third child, and my sister suddenly died, I was a mess, as you can imagine. I was having all sorts of health problems and suddenly plunged into grief and I had two young children to care for, and it was without a doubt the darkest, most oppressively difficult time in my life.

Friends rallied around, of course, and I will be forever grateful. But in that hideous period, the kindness of two near strangers stood out. One, a teacher, volunteered to bring both my kids to the school gates for the remainder of the term so that I wouldn't have to walk into the school. She knew how difficult it was for me to face people, and I will never forget her sensitivity and generosity.

The other, the class parent for my daughter's year, arranged a food roster for me. Every single night for weeks I had a hot meal on the table for my family thanks to her. I'd never met her, but that woman made a profound difference to my ability to cope.

Fast forward eighteen months, and I am sitting on the grass at a class picnic with my now toddler on my lap. I am chatting to that class parent, properly thanking her for all she did to help me. The conversation segues into a discussion of social media. I explain that I'm on Twitter (I'm feeling quite proud because I already have a couple of hundred followers) and wonder if she's ever heard of it.
"Kerri, we've been chatting on Twitter for months. I'm Sharpest Pencil."

The woman was Lana Hirschowitz. Until that point I had no idea that the hysterically funny person I'd been tweeting online was the very same woman who arranged meals for me after my sister died.

My worlds collided.

Since then, Lana and I have spent a ridiculous time communicating, across every medium one can imagine. We talk on Twitter, in public and (far less politically correctly) in DMs. We talk on Facebook, on Instagram, in emails, and in texts. We talk on the phone and we catch up in person. I have many friends who I adore, but Lana is the only friend who lives in all of my communities - the online, the Jewish, the school, and the anxious.

Of course, being South African, Lana is as different to me as cheese is to a polar bear. Her accent is irritating and she's bossy and she doesn't like most of my clothes. She is a dog person and I am a cat person. She is also a cat person, but whatever. And we disagree on nearly everything, which is weird because we also agree on nearly everything.

But our conversations are hilarious, and often bizarre, and for fun, we thought we'd share them with you.

This is the second in our serious of #5minutes with Kerri and Lana. We are in bed. Don't ask why. Just go with it and look at those ginormous pills.


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