The Simple Joys of Little Things

I am thankful for the little things, recognizing them for the blessings they are.


Angel Wings & Cloud Whispers

Yonks back I could never imagine myself as a mom; now I cannot imagine my life otherwise as I, with the help of my village, raise Joy. Nothing gives me greater joy than being her encourager as she navigates through life; she makes it look so easy…

Going through our photo collection, I looked back at her first day of school over the last six years, noticing the number of parents hovering around their bright-faced young ones’ desks; I realized then that I had never lingered beyond the perfunctory meet-the-teacher. This year she dismissed me at the school gates and gave the okay for only one picture; I snapped three…

Initiating the conversation I checked if she had noticed. The wise missy reckoned with much confidence, “I wished that you could stay, but you always came to fetch me early (on the first day) because you would take time off especially to be with me.”

Nothing slips her attention. She finds joy in the little things. Ask what gift she would like and it would likely include art supplies of any kind and writing paper for doodling. Last year her wish list included a Ferrari; now even a rare treat at the nearest steakhouse steals her heart.  I have a standard reply to her question: “Mom, what treat will you give me?” is “life with lots of love.”  There is no rolling of the eyes (yet)…


Fiery Clouds


My gratitude is for the exchange of love, family, relationships and the gift of each new day and its provisions. I appreciate beauty of the simplest things, and try to live life full-out.

Sometimes when I am too engrossed in the difficulties of circumstance, I encourage myself that that too shall pass, choosing to find joy. In the process I retreat to my “cave,” shut off from the world where I can be still. It is not only my escape, but also rejuvenation place to come away revived, refreshed and renewed.


The Gift Horse

Breezing out for a quick lunch break, I stopped at the stall of a street trader to stock up on airtime (mobile recharge).  With limited funds in my pocket, I stood my ground as consumer to pay the same amount for the product as is printed on the receipt.  The gentleman continued to explain to me about the cost for consumables that he needs to keep his operations going but I would not budge explaining that I would take my business elsewhere.

After lots of engaging to-and-fros I got my exact change and airtime, feeling quite accomplished, more so that we both could explain our point of views and power of choice, coming away afterwards with cheerful chatter as I went on my merry old way.

Making my way back to the office I had an extra sweet treat which I could save for home, but had the prompting to give it to the first person that I see.  In view comes someone who has seen life living on the the streets of Cape Town.  He enjoyed a treat of grapes and I interrupted his “flow” when I appeared to present him my sweet offering.

Thank you very much, Ma’m.  Can’t you spare me R10 (ten rands) which is a few cents short of a dollar.  I made my apologies but politely engaged, turning to rush back to work.  He paused and offered, “God bless you.”

Turn back the clock to the day before when the  brakes on my car needed urgent attention.  On the other end of Janu-worry I declared that I needed a quotation and would have whatever repairs done at the (bitter) end of the month.

The owner did the diagnostics and explained to me in simple terms the (bad) condition of the brakes, advising that I should rather not use it until the repairs are done.  Next thing he turns around and says that he could not allow me to drive the car in that state and offered to do the repairs in good faith that I would pay for it at the end of the month.

I rejoiced knowing that God makes a way where there seems to be no way.  The joy makes me run out and go “tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord.”

More than words

If you want anyone of the Vandamily to have their backs up, tell them “I love you.” Worse: open your arms to fold them into a hug.

We’re especially wary when Mom showers us with endearments.  “What do you want, Lorraine?” Mom would giggle and ask, “Why can’t I just tell you that I love you, my baby?” Mmmm… Baby… RUN for the hills!!  It gets better when she’d ask, “Marcelle, don’t you want to do XYZ or the other?”  Don’t assume that you’ve been given a choice to say no.  Then again, that’s another story for another day.

Ask any of my friends and I’d tell them that “I absolutely love and adore my friend Heather, Lolly, Michelle, Nadhi-aaa-ha, Alicia…” and my especially vocal and honest friend would say, “But Marcy, you never tell me that you love me.” Sana, you should just know; that’s automatic…

On the other hand, I smother the Joy Child in hugs and kisses, and I love telling her how much I absolutely marvelously love and adore her.  She’d walk away saying, “I know. You always tell me, Mama.”  Like the Vandamily, she’s not very expressive either and it feels like Christmas when she does say, “I love you you, Mama.”  I worry when she calls me “Mom.”

The Vandamily express their love in doing and giving, and we tell everyone that we love them, except the ones closest to us, because they must know (mos)…

You are my heart. I absolutely marvelously love and adore you more than you could ever imagine.

Live on Purpose


Window of Opportunity

These last few days I am attracted to Open Doors as photo subject, and for the messages that they contain.  New opportunities await on the other side of the threshold; the comfortable familiar within with enough glimpses of the outside world.

Life has presented me with so many alternatives to how I had planned it.  As I plotted a new course new possibilities unfolded without me having to do much except side-step a bump in the road.  From the outside it seems like plain sailing; very few know of the struggles, battering storms and hard rowing it took to stay on course.

The adage goes that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Unbeknownst to anyone we wear our battle scars on the inside, keeping appearances with big smiles because “I’ve got this…”  Admitting to the contrary would leave me vulnerable and I’d have to do the please-explains for things I do not have answers to.

Driving to work I sense, “Girl child, you’re in your comfort zone.”  That shakes my senses and makes me uncomfortable.  Therein lies the challenge: use your talents and gifting to make a difference and so find your joy.

Live on purpose!


Memory Lane

30 December: this day always caused the greatest confusion in the Vandamily home.

Dad would wish Mom a happy anniversary; without fail she’d reply that it was the next day.  He would send her to “the file” to check the date on their marriage.  They would laugh about it and give each other a quick congratulatory kiss, until the last time that they’d celebrated in 2003.

Did I mention that every year they’d get divorced?  Depending on the mood, they’d threaten each other with divorce on birthdays, Christmas, Easter, New Year, anniversary dates and any other day that suited their fancy.  As children, growing up, the mere mention of the word brought relief and each year my brother would double check with Mom, “So is this the year that you’re going to get divorced?”

I still remember our disappointment when we were told, “I’ll see how it goes in the New Year.”

The story goes that my father had never asked for Mom’s hand in marriage.  Instead, he had told my gran that he would have “take Lorraine”; Ouma wanted to know “Take her where?”  Without ceremony he would announce, “for my wife.”

Years later we would hear how their friends played matchmaker and set up dates around school dances and soccer matches for a friend who had two left feet and no interest in watching 22 men chase after one ball.

It is hard to stifle a giggle when Mom tells of her excitement that she could settle on a farm, marrying someone from the farm.  The town of Beaufort West is anything but a farm, but what would a young city slicker know anyway?  Her hopes were dashed when Dad decided to swop the small town for the big city instead.

Somehow this chalk-and-cheese couple found a way to navigate through life’s rough patches and come out on the other side stronger for it.  They had a solid innings of 31 years when a chapter closed and the race ended.  14 years on we still honour Mom for enduring till the finish: for better and worse until death them did part…

Happy anniversary, and thank you for your “yes.”


Quick Hi & Bye

I love to make the occasional telephone call to family and friends, “popping in for a quick hi and a bye.” 

In those moments we would catch up and check on each other’s wellbeing, exchanging news, and sketching pictures of our lives.  Animated voices reverberate over telephone lines bringing us into close proximity to each other until the next time we would meet in person.

Each time I come away refreshed, renewed, invigorated at having made the contact and connecting after long periods of silences.  There are other occasions where we engage in a giggle brigade or burst out in uncontrollable raucous laughter.

When one is on the other side of the line receiving unexpected news of the passing of those near and dear to us, it leaves one stunned to silence.  Words of comfort wash like a soothing balm touching those broken places.  Memory reels play flashes of significant times; moments that exist only in our minds and in the retelling of others that can never be reclaimed.

My heart goes out to Monray and his family who, on Christmas morning, received the tragic news that his mom and three fellow Vrygronders lost their lives in a car accident; his dad succumbed to his injuries in hospital two days later.  As in a dream, one hopes that the reality were different…

May today be your best day yet!  Let’s invest time into our relationships and build each other up, encouraging each other and speaking life over each other.

Wishing you much love and joy always,


You live once…

…  and sometimes, if you’re lucky, twice or thrice.  We’ll never know, until the opportunity presents itself.  Live life to its full, and allow each day to be filled with wonderment and awe.


Mom’s famous last words are, “Marcelle arrived home from Pretoria with little more than her baby and a few items of clothing.”  My time there expired on 31 August 2009, and I could not stay on a day longer.  I had no desire to ever return to the Gauteng Province, and most certainly not to Johannesburg.  This had been my attitude, until an invitation made me change my mind…

It came as an unexpected suprise when the Joy Child and I were invited to celebrate a friend-sister’s 50th birthday.  With enough time to spare, I accepted the invitation that would be a turn-around in how I view life.  Like the first invitation to Pretoria – for a Capetonian, Johannesburg and Pretoria are both the same place, and the names are used interchangeably – I needed to respond swiftly and step out of my comfort zone, taking an enormous leap of faith.

Joy’s biggest concern was that the Rands we use at home would be acceptable currency in Jo’burg Country.

Leaving everything until the very last minute, we managed to secure flight tickets for our weekend breakaway.

The trip was extra special as we celebrated Joy’s maiden flight.  On any given day she hardly shows any emotion, but this time around she could not hide her excitement behind sharp squeals and broad smiles.  If anyone should ask her what was the highlights of the trip, she’d tell you that the best part of flying was during take-off and landing.  I could not pry her away from the window as she stared long into the night.

There was not much time to wander off too far on our own, but we went where the brave would not go.  In search of a local supermarket, we descended a koppie (hill), blissfully unaware that criminals stake out for a shopping spree of their own.  Thankfully this mother-daughter duo considered it a walk to the park, but after heeding stern warnings, we returned to our lodgings by cab.

Had we stayed home, nothing would have changed and we would not have thought that we’d missed out on anything.  We’d be in familiar settings with a myriad of options to explore without travelling too far.  Yet, because we stepped out, my view point has changed to embrace new possibilities.

We’re planning to visit again in the new year and explore must-see place such as Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, the Maboneng Precinct and perhaps Pretoria and the National Zoo.


Make every moment count…