Rise and Grind

So here’s the thing. I love coffee. Not any coffee and certainly not instant coffee. But simply the good real freshly ground stuff. I mean it all mocha me crazy.

Being quite a fussy coffee drinker, I thought I would give the low down on what my taste adventure has been. I will certainly try keep this short and to the point, so don’t worry be frappè!

So here we go…

Seattle Coffee:

I must admit this is generally a good cup of coffee but almost always luke warm. There’s nothing worse than drinking an almost cold cup of coffee. Brewing coffee at the right temperature is a critical part of a Barrister’s skill, as the correct temperature helps to extract just the right amount of flavour and oils from the coffee beans. And this temperature should be in the range of 90 to 96°C.

To avoid disappointment, my standard request is now to ask for an extra hot cappucino, where the milk froth is heated to a higher temperature once the coffee has already been made. This eliminates any potential of burning those delicious beans.

Starbucks:

As a standard rule I never order coffee here, unless I’m feeling like something different. The coffee really does make me all depresso. However, the blend and mixes do appease the craving for something a little sweet and delicious. My favourite being the White Mocha. Definitely not the healthiest choice!

Vida E Caffé:

I seriously have a range of mixed emotions with Vida E. Here the coffee is almost always far too hot, which in essence burns the coffee beans, and leaves one with that horrible lingering burnt flavour. But they do offer a single origin coffee bean.

Single origin is of course the best beans as they are grown in one geographical location with preferred methods of roasting and often found to be seasonal, which makes one look forward to the taste sensation. Yes, a little more expensive than standard blends but pretty much like a good wine. Once you find a brand you generally stick to it.

Words cannot espresso what this beans to me. It’s a dilemma, with my choices being limited to a cappuccino or latté, and only when there is an option of single origin beans being available.

Woolworths:

Definitely not the go-to place for a great cuppa, especially when one loves coffee. The coffee is often so bland it’s as though one is drinking flavoured hot water. It was actually so bad at one point my hubby and I had to return it and ask for a new one. Sadly even the new cuppa was just as disappointing!

When there is no other option available, I select the Vanilla and Cinnamon cappuccino. The syrups give a great flavour if moderated according to cup size and coffee blend. I must admit that this is where Starbucks wins, hands down.

Home brewed:

Last of all, I’ve tried them all and I have to say, there is nothing like our home brewed freshly ground coffee. We source single origin beans where we know where the coffee has been grown. And then we grind them with a burr grinder, one that allows the natural coffee oils to be preserved in the beans as they get ground to the selected coarseness. Plunged to perfection. Yummy. Home brewed definitely wins the vote.

Have a brewtiful day!

The Battle of the Enormous!

Some time ago, way down in the Southern Drakensburg, we were once again camping with family. One of our favourite places to be, that almost always has all four seasons in a day and seasonal days of terminal rainfall.

You know what rain does? It brings out all those bugs one wouldn’t normally notice. As the rain swamps their nests and ground shelters, they seek out a drier and more comfortable location to settle in. You know, like your tent!

Needless to say, during one of those nights, a rather noisy flying bug had found it’s way into our tent and flew straight over our faces. Well, as I sat bolt upright, my hubby screamed like a girl and cowered underneath the bedding, leaving me to defend the both of us.

Mmm…

What was a girl supposed to do?!

Our camping neighbours all heard the commotion so I stand true to my word!

No one likes to be woken up from a deep, peaceful sleep, uncertain of what you will face on waking up. I recall my own racing heart beating in my chest, but of course I still had to get up to find a light bright enough to search for this bug. After all, my hubby appeared to be paralyzed underneath the warmth of the bedding. Funny though how he was fully operational in providing instructions!

Mmm…

Needless to say, this bug certainly sounded enormous. On spotting it, I crept up and pounced on top of it, wrestled it to the ground, amidst shrieks of fear. Feelers and legs in all directions.

Ok not quite! But I did get it, together with the moral support coming from deep within the bed!

Mmm…

Just the other day my hubby calls me from down the passage.

“Babe…”

I hesitated a little anticipating the rest of his sentence, but it didn’t come. And so in slow motion I start to head towards him when this time he shouts:

“Babe!”

Of course he expects me to know that by saying ‘Babe’ on it’s own that something is wrong and he is trying to catch a bug of some sort. I mean, seriously!

As I arrived he shouted:

“There’s a cockroach as big as my hand and now it’s run off!”

Do yourself a favour and just read what he said again. Then hold your hand out and imagine a cockroach as big as your hand. My hand is about 17cm long. Thats one enormously sized cockroach. One enormously sized imagination!

Mmm…

Not long later he spots a mosquito also the size of his hand, just sailing past him waiting for that opportune moment to suck his blood! At least this time he tries to swat it with both hands and even though this mosquito was as big as his hand he still missed it.

Mmm…

But seriously! My hubby must be Commander and Chief of the enormous!

Egg in the middle

So I decided to cook up something quick, easy and fun a week or so ago. Being a sunday evening, we generally just eat something light, if anything at all. Well, I thought I would try something my mom used to do when I was growing up. A tasty little treat.

On mentioning it to my hubby, he gave me a rather skewed look of disbelief that I could actually cook up something called ‘egg-in-bread’ (also known as egg-in-a-hole). I mean how could he not know this little favourite recipe?

I was flabbergasted!

So I took out the bread and the eggs. I was on a mission to at least make up for what he didnt experience as a child. Poor thing!

Carefully buttered both sides of the bread and then cut a perfect little square out the middle of each slice. Just big enough to hold the yoke of the egg. After frying the bread in a little real butter, I cracked the egg into the hole.

‘Oh’, he says, ‘is that what you meant! Never had THAT before!’

I dont know what he thought I meant! And so for the first time my hubby experienced and wafted down the egg-in-bread. I’m guessing he quite liked it!

Life Lesson 3

If you wish, you can read previous posts on my life lessons:

Not everything is black and white

Being a hero comes at a cost

This week I know I’m going to make those eyes roll back in your head and churn some thought processes. I have to challenge some mind sets and this specific one is certainly controversial but when you really think about it, also rather practical.

#3: Everything does not happen for a reason

Don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Let me explain.

I believe everything happens because of the decisions we make. It’s these decisions and actions that lead to consequences, good or bad, within your control or not. And ultimately these decisions determine where you are and what you do at a specific place and time. If I could, I would rewrite the statement like this:

‘Everything happens because of our decisions’.

I know this may not be your conviction but it is mine. And it’s a good thing for me. It’s not to say we are always responsible for inviting the bad things that happen to us. It simply means we have freedom of choice and who could ever know what lies around the corner in the future. It really is a gamble at times.

Whose to say that you made the perfect decision to stick to the speed limit, only to get hit by another speeding and reckless vehicle. Or gained a bunch of kilograms simply from eating chocolate every day for a month.

You see, when we realise just how much is within our control and what is not, this point becomes much more clear. For example, checking the traffic and weather before deciding when to leave for that crucial meeting and arriving on time. Yes, that can all change enroute (out of your control), but if not anticipated (within your control) and you arrive late that’s your own fault. We have so many resources on hand nowadays, there is actually no excuse. We need to accept the consequences of our decisions (or lack thereof) and not simply settle with ‘everything happens for a reason‘. That can only be a byproduct of everything happening because of the decisions we make.

I met my hubby on a dating site and my checklist as a woman, never incorporated considering a man who was previously divorced and had kids. But I made a decision to click on him and he made a decision to click on me too (read more here Coincidence or Not).

What’s the chances we would fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after? We met because of our decisions to take a chance. This was all within our control and everything after happened as a result of those decisions.

If you really think about it, everything we face is the result of a decision made at some point in our lives. And yes, because of these decisions, everything happens for a reason we already chose – be it consciously or unconsciously!

#Just some food for thought

Life Lesson 2

Just to reiterate, I know these Life Lessons may in fact be controversial to say the least. Use them or don’t use them. Remember to keep in mind that we cannot live on someone else’s conviction. We need to grab hold of our own personal convictions and only then can we live with meaning. I do hope these lessons will challenge current perspectives.

(Read more on Life Lesson 1)

#2: Being a hero comes at a cost

Whether you asked for it or not, circumstances can sometimes subtly dictate and autonomously place one specific person in the spotlight without any conscious choice. Most often this is not something one could ever prepare for or even just have a moment to consider, and no opportunity is given to accept or decide upon. It just happens.

One is thrust into a position of leadership, where an exceedingly heavy mantle of responsibility is unconsciously taken upon one’s shoulders and carried through the circumstantial period of time. It happens at the blink of an eye. The natural fight or flight reaction of our brain chooses to fight. Not flight! It chooses to survive, chooses to save a life and chooses to ensure right prevails despite the repercussions. And all this without any reasoning or logic.

And only some time later, reality hits home. The implications and consequences of what was done, the good and maybe the not so good if any, begins to play devil’s advocate. And before you know it, the age old question reveals itself and cries out ‘Why me?’.

Enter the pool of self-pity that begins to heavily weigh down on you with each ‘Why me?’.

Yes, being a hero comes with much honour and sometimes even prestige, mostly unwanted. With all the best of intentions, it can even have the appearance of a profession one would want to grow up into. But being a hero eventually plays out and takes it’s toll on you emotionally, mentally and physically without any persuasion or comfort. It just happens without your permission. And no one was designed to carry that kind of responsibility. It can wreak absolute havoc with thought processes and emotional stability if not identified and accepted sooner rather than later.

For me, I reached a point where I was on the verge of losing everything. It’s a hard place to be and one to be avoided at all costs. Quite ironic that sometimes this very point is just what is needed to shock the brain back into realizing just exactly what you do have and how much value that already has – just enough at just the right time.

I honestly do not know how to wrap this one up, but maybe I can leave you with just these suggestions:

  1. Humbly acknowledge being a hero
  2. Recognize and deal with the effects (no matter how small or big) even if it means seeking professional help
  3. Be grateful, even though life may be overwhelming

Life Lesson 1

I used to live and make decisions based on what I was told. Those that had any form of influence in my life, I held in high respect. I never questioned or challenged what I was told. I believed acceptance was the right thing to do. But as I grew wiser, better looking and more experienced in life and all it’s amazing fullness, I have to say that I have learnt some real hard lessons, like most of us do. Lessons that certainly do not necessarily agree with past influences and lessons that have certainly played a role in moulding me into the me I am today.

Over my next few posts, I will touch on my top life lessons. I know that they may in fact be controversial to say the least, nevertheless these are my lessons. Use them or don’t use them. Just keep in mind that we cannot live on someone else’s conviction. We need to grab hold of our own personal convictions and only then can we live with meaning. I do hope these lessons will challenge current perspectives.

#1: Not everything is black and white

That’s right. It’s not just about black or white, light or dark, yin or yang, right or wrong. That neutral tone colour that exists between black and white indeed is there, grey does exist. This doesn’t mean there is no absolutes, but what most of us do not realise is that sometimes seemingly opposite forces can actually interrelate with each other resulting in unassuming prevalence and necessity in facilitating decisions and actions that may not be the norm. Yes, they are grey areas!

For a Type A, perfectionist like myself, that did not sit well with me at all. After all good people deserve good things right?! But often bad things happen. What we don’t see is that just maybe those bad things could be the doorway to those often missed life giving turn of events. We never know.

When this realization hit home for me, it felt like I had invited a form of chaos to rule in my mind. Something I had to tolerate and give a chance. It wasn’t easy. But chaos is not necessarily right or wrong and there is something called ordered chaos. The truth is that sometimes in certain situations, we may not fully know or fully understand or have the ability to comprehend matters, and that is actually ok. Yes, it is ok! That is a grey area. We do the best with what we have at that given time, even when it doesn’t make sense!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way condoning this grey area to be an excuse for inexcusable decisions and actions. Wisdom is required. So when something maybe does not fit into your black or white box, leave it out in the grey area. The more one tries to force it into a black or white category, we stunt our creativity and personal growth. Maybe just give it a try!

Time is love

For those of you that have read my story (click My Story to read), you probably would have noticed that I just told the story as best as I could remember. A simple sequence of events (past) with a happy ending so to say, and a story that contributed in so many ways to who I am today (present).

What most people do not know, is what followed over the next three years. Those years were the hardest part of my story. The detail is certainly not important, but in a nutshell, I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress. It began roughly seven months after the incident. Despite the fact that I had somehow gotten back on the horse on numerous occasions back to the berg, this potentially in itself exacerbated the already declining sleep patterns. Before any realization, the damage had set in and escalated to a critical point where I could no longer function. Night terrors striking unexpectedly. It was horrible. No one really knew or could possibly feel what it was all about, leaving those closest to me helpless in their plight to be of any support. They could only watch and wait and I’m pretty sure prayed and prayed and prayed, while all I wanted to do was to remain highly medicated so that my reality would remain a distant blur.

Taking this high road cost me three years of my life. That’s 156 weeks gone. Over one thousand days gone. Never ever able to get them back.

The one thing I have always been proud of is to live without regrets, and I do not regret those years. I have to say that as much as I may have been out of control, I believe those many days and weeks and years were neccessary for my soul to mend and heal. And boy, when that day arrived and my mind was set free, believe me when I say the sky was indeed bluer. Every sense was heightened and intensely aware, so much so that it quenched and satisfied my soul beyond what words could ever express. No one can conjure up such an experience. I can only say it was a miracle.

And when reality did hit, it was just as painful as it was beautiful. It opened my eyes and my heart, it opened an old door in a new way, it gave me time, time I could utilise and start using for things so much bigger than myself.

Time is a gift. It’s all we have. The right now. This very moment. We will never get it back. And we should be cramming it with as much life giving and uplifting moments so much so that one falls in love with life. Time is not an illusion. Time is real. Time is love. The brevity of human life may many times feel like a heavy responsibility, but my plea is to not let it pass you by. It may not be easy but it is beautiful and worth everything.