Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Hidden Advantage of Having a Big Bum

For most of my life I thought that having a big bum was a curse.  Two large bags of fat to sit on.  Jeans that never quite fit.  A mission to walk sideways through a narrow space.  Although there was one boyfriend many years ago that said I had a sexy bum but if I remember he was quite drunk at the time.  So in all probability his vision was blurred and he thought he was seeing double, when actually he wasn’t.  Sad but true.
Don't get excited, that's not my bum but it could be after watching Jamie Oliver's Sugar Rush on the plane.  I'm thinking twice about my sugar intake now and the sodas I drink.  This Coke I am drinking might be the last.  This is just a random Google bum.  But this is what my bum feels like on airplane seats.
Bums have suddenly come into fashion thanks to the Kardashian sisters.  Big is now beautiful in the eyes of the masses.  Some people are even getting butt implants. ( If you contact me I reckon I can give four people butt implants from my bum.  You can get them for free, just pay for my surgery to remove my slabs of lard.)  I have to say bumless bums are quite unattractive.  You know the ones where people are completely flat in the buttocks area so that their jeans sag.  It looks almost as if they were jumping onto the Metro and the doors closed on their protruding butt slicing the excess off.  Hey, maybe I should try that?
Besides being a slave to fashion and having a big butt, what could possibly be the hidden advantage you are probably asking.  Well, it's not to rest your backpack on and spare pressure on the small of your back.  (Mind you, a big bum does help with that!)  Let me tell you a little story that will illustrate the hidden advantage of having a big bum.  This was something I had never previously considered.  
When I checked in online for my flight to Vienna, it did not give me the option to select my seats.  On my boarding pass it said "Seat - None.  At first I found this quite distressing, then I thought maybe it was because I had been randomly selected to sit with the pilot.  So when I went to the Online Check-in Counter to drop off my bag, the flight attendant said, "Sorry the flight is full so you have to have a middle seat."
Then he smiled his simperingly sweet fake smile as if he really cared that I would be spending 9 and a half hours doing my sardine-in-a-can impersonation.  "I'm afraid on both the flight to Dubai and the flight from Dubai to Vienna you'll have to have a middle seat."  It had just got worse.  Now the 6 hour flight to Vienna would also be cramped.
I flared out my butt cheeks like an ostrich fluffs out their feathers before they attack.  "I'm sorry but I have a really big bum.  Can't you find me an aisle seat?"
He glanced at my posterior regions and reached for the phone.  "Hello, we need a disability seat," he communicated with his supervisor, nodding at me as if we were in some kind of secret conspiracy.
"I can give you an aisle seat on both your flights.  Enjoy your trip!"  And he handed me back my passport with the two boarding passes.
For a minute I stood there staring at him, not sure whether to be insulted or impressed.  Although I have often cursed my over-sized bum in the past, I had never really considered it a disability.  Now I am wondering if I qualify for the disabled sticker for my car so that I can get the good parking!
Cindy Vine is an author and teacher who lives in the beautiful city of Cape Town.  She is the author of Hush Baby, C U @ 8, Defective, Not Telling and The Case of Billy B.  All her books are available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback format.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Give them enough rope

You can guide and advise people up to a point, and then you need to take a step back and let what unfolds, unfold.  My Granny used to say, "Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves."  Now I am not a psychopath who enjoys being surrounded by decomposing bodies hanging from all the trees in the neighborhood like funeral flowers sticky-taped to the branches.  I actually do want people to succeed and not end up as a corpse in a tree.  Imagine all the flies they would attract?  But I digress.
You can advise your children until your face turns blue and you look like a not so distant relation of the Smurfs.  But at the end of the day, some of your advice will sink in, others will get flung back at you as an accusation, and your children will make their own decisions.  As a parent you can only do so much.  You can't watch over them every second of the day as you have to work so you can afford to buy them all the stuff they want.  Sorry, need.
This whole thing about needs and wants.  When we lived in NZ we often used to go to a shop called The Warehouse.  ("The Warehouse, The Warehouse.  Where everyone gets a bargain." Is the catchy jingle I hated.  No bargains when you take your children with you into that shop!  And what is it when things are cheap or marked down that we feel compelled to buy them even though we don't need them?)  Anyway, initially my young son always 'wanted' the expensive toys.  When I always responded with "Those who want don't get."  (You can see what a nice caring mother I was.)  He changed it to "Mommy I need it."  And then there always followed a justification of why he needed it.  Then I would say he could pick one toy.  He would come with a toy that cost over $300.  Obviously, as a single mother always on the bones of her arse, I would respond with something like, "Put that back are you crazy or what?"  He would then come back with something that cost $100 and get the same reaction.  Then something for $50.  Finally, he would arrive with something that cost $10 and I would agree to buy it, only too relieved it never cost $300.  Not forgetting that I had said that I would not be spending more than $5 on a toy when we pulled into the parking lot.  It took several months before I realised that it was the $10 toy he wanted all along.  And the $300 toy he would be bringing too me was part of his elaborate selling technique.  (Interestingly, he has made a career in sales.)
So when they ask if they can have a barbecue party and you explain that as you live in a tutor centre where you also work, the place is not set out for entertaining.  Like we don't have a lounge or a dining room.  Those are classrooms.  But because you don't like being accused of being unsupportive, yadda, yadda, yadda, you cave in and say "Okay but any mess and you clean it up."  Walking out this morning to make myself a cup of coffee, I noticed a) the state of the kitchen b) all the bottles and glasses lying around two of the classrooms c) bottles outside.  Looks like it was some barbecue!  My initial thought was, "Thank God I don't have to clean up this mess!"
Give them enough rope hahaha.
This works with all relationships.  People you live with, work with etc.  And also people who try and destroy your good name or people who enjoy spreading stories about others.  The story-spreaders are a perverse lot.  They take a small glimmer of truth, or something they think they heard, and they twist and turn it so that it is manipulated into something you don't even recognise.  Like someone who systematically steals your possessions, these people steal your truth.  They fall into the same category.  Your initial reaction might be to defend your honour, make people aware of the truth, confront the person stealing your stuff.  But if you give them enough rope they will hang themselves.  The thief will get too clever and slip up, and the rumour-monger will be found out and exposed.  The truth will out.
So instead of buying a sword or a gun to attack with, rather just buy some rope and leave it there and walk away.  Their behaviour and decisions are their choice, not yours.  They have to take responsibility for their actions.  They have to live with the consequences and you have to move on.  Don't try and own what they've done.  Don't let the injustice of it all hurt you.  You know the truth and that's what matters.
Cindy Vine lives in sometimes sunny Cape Town South Africa.  She is the author of The Case of Billy B, Not Telling, Defective, C U @ 8 and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle format.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Confessions of a Perpetual Traveler

When I lived in New Zealand I was amazed at how many people had never left Auckland.  To never move from one area your entire life boggles the mind.
I could never be that person.
For me life is made up of a series of adventures. Granted, not all of them are good.  Some are downright miserable.  But travel is always a good adventure.
As a child I was a bookworm, and would read into the night.  I lived vicariously through the characters in the books.  Through them I traveled to exotic destinations and ate amazing food from all around the globe.  Those characters' lives planted a seed in me that was to grow over time.  It was not enough to just read about the different cultures and cuisines, I wanted to experience them first hand.
Danger and living life on the edge became a part of me.  The easy route through life is so mundane that it puts you into a comatose state where you just go through the motions of being alive.  Little house, white picket fence, loving husband, 2 children and a dog.  (Not a cat as I am allergic to them.)  I have to confess, I did try that but kept swerving off the well-trodden path, until my life became one detour after another with many side roads.  No cul-de-sacs for me.
Although it was never part of the grand plan (I had wanted to become a farmer or a vet), teaching proved to be an excellent career choice.  It opened doors for me to see the world.  Living in different countries and becoming absorbed in their cultures is different to going there on holiday.  Immersion not a quick flit in and out.
Nowadays, my part-time job (which is actually my sole source of income) takes me to many different countries.  I can sometimes travel to three different countries in a month.  Some might say I am lucky.  Those are the people who don't travel a lot.  Those who do travel will know exactly what I mean when I say that continuous traveling gives you a sore bum.  Airlines really need to do something about their seats.  No jokes.  Yesterday's flight had me struggling to get comfortable.  I think my coccyx is permanently bruised from bad plane seats.  When it is more comfortable to sit on the toilet on the plane, then you know there is a problem with airplane seats.  Hopefully, some airplane designer will read this and design seats for the frequent flyer.
Last night at the passport control, I watched two people completely lose it.  The queue was long, I have to say.  We had been standing in it for over an hour, shuffling forward every so often.  Then a Filipino woman started shouting, "You jumped my line!  You jumped my line!  You are not a man!  What kind of a man are you?  You jumped my line!"  The man in question first tried to respond in a friendly manner.  He had a wife and about 4 children and a granny with him.  But the irate woman kept shouting, "You jumped my line!"  So he started shouting back.  And then it was a very loud, full-on shouting match.  Airport security arrived.  Removed both the woman and the man and his family out of the queue and made them sit down for a while.  More security arrived and escorted them all to some offices in the depths of the airport.  They hadn't re-emerged when I finally went through passport control.  It shows you have to be patient and just wait in the line.  No matter how annoying it is.  And use your elbows to protect your place in the line.  That is something I learned in China.
Two weeks ago I was in Poland and managed to visit Auschwitz, a lifelong dream of mine.  Two trains, three planes and I was back in Cape Town.  Now I am in Doha, Qatar, looking out my hotel window on the 35th floor, wondering where I can go to forage dinner for tonight.  Cheap food, not over-priced hotel room service.  And what is it with hotels and restaurants all wanting to serve Italian food?  Seriously?  Why are they so ashamed of the local cuisine that they have to steal someone else's?  I choose the local cuisine ahead of Italian every day.  Not that I am anti-Italian.  But eating the local food definitely enhances the travel experience.  And makes you forget about your sore bruised bum.
Cindy Vine is an author and teacher currently living in Cape Town, South Africa.  She is the author of The Case of Billy B, Not Telling, Defective, C U @ 8 and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle format.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Looking for the Me I used to be

What happened?
Today is exactly one year since I last posted on my blog.  One year since I last wrote anything of significance.  I was once a prolific writer, brim full of creativity and out the box thinking.
Somehow or other I allowed myself to become swamped with other people's dramas, until I was drowning in exhaustion caused from sleepless nights of working out solutions to their problems.  Then my life became one huge problem.  Looking forward became a no-go zone, as problem after problem blurred my vision and killed my creativity.
Somewhere in this lump of flesh that just exists and no longer lives, must be the me I used to be.
I need to find it.  I need to find me.
That spark must still be there somewhere.  The humour that was pushed aside to make way for a seriousness that is both life-threatening and demoralising.
Existing is not living.

My nails are chipped and cracked from clinging onto survival.  If I am only here to just survive then I would rather not be here at all.
So, take back your dramas.  Remove your problems from my portfolio.  Let me renew my spirit.
I was put here to create.  Do not hinder me.  Do not block my path with inconsequential things.
Do not block me from myself.
You might not like me much, but I like the me I used to be and at the end of the day, that is what counts.
Don't distract me from my quest.  Because when I find the me I used to be, you'd better watch out.
No more character's dialogue echoing through my brain when driving the car, only to be forgotten when I return home.
I am removing your drama from where it has been in residence in my mind, clearing out the compartments, making room for my creativity to return and take back control.
Where it is supposed to be.  In the me I used to be.  And like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, the me I am again.
Cindy Vine is the author of Hush Baby, Defective, Not Telling, C U @ 8 and The Case of Billy B.  All her books are available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback format.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

When life changes direction

One day when I am floating towards those Pearly Gates, I can look back and say my life was never boring.  There was always something, some little drama to keep me entertained.  But stay out of it Hollywood because this is my soap opera.  I have earned the copyright.
When I headed back to Cape Town in November 2014, after many years of working overseas, I thought I knew exactly what my future held.  I was going to open a Remedial Centre for children with learning difficulties.  It was going to be a business.  I was going to make money and have a life.
But, like the books I write, there had to be a twist.  And a good twist is one even the characters don't see coming.
Parents approached me to homeschool their children.  The Remedial Centre was only in the afternoons, so there was time in my day to start a a learning/tutor centre in the mornings.  But with word of mouth my learning/tutor centre grew until all my available time was spent teaching and getting resources together.  There was no time left for my writing.  No time to market the Remedial Centre.  No time for family.
It began to feel like I was on a hamster wheel, treading for my life.
My business quickly evolved into a charity with all available funding going back into the learning centre.  I started feeding the children.  During this time I became aware of a huge need for a Family Crisis Centre in Table View, the suburb in which I lived.  Women with children who fell on hard times, had nowhere to go when they got divorced, were being abused...there was no place for them in our area.  Nowhere they could go until they got their lives back on track.  Getting this Family Crisis Centre off the ground and up and running is my current project.  I have applied to register an NGO but our government works at a different pace.  With an excellent team and supportive parents, my learning centre has gone from strength to strength.  We thrive on Ubunthu.
So from wanting to start a business and generate an income to make a living, I have moved onto wanting to make a difference in people's lives.
At night I go to bed tired but excited that I am making a difference.
The late great Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
This of course does mean that I have to sell my house as without an income I cannot afford to keep it.
A year ago I was working in an international school with privileged children, earning a fat salary.  But I was unhappy and heading towards depression.  Who would have thought that a year later I would be loving what I am doing, but too broke to pay attention?
But that doesn't stop me, I am about to change the world, one child at a time.
My life has changed direction and I never saw it coming.
My business evolved into a charity.
Teaching children who don't fit into the one-size-fits-all mold of the South African education system.
Helping children get the specialised education they need when their parents can't afford to pay for it.
Working to get a Family Crisis Centre off the ground.
Meeting other caring people in the community who are also committed to making a difference.
Now that there's an offer on my house, friends and family ask where I'll stay when my house is sold.  I smile and shrug.  "I'll let you know when I find out."
So many twists and turns in this current chapter of my life, I am getting a little dizzy.
If you can help fund our learning centre or Family Crisis Centre in any way, we have a Go Fund Me page.  Every $5 helps.  Food and resources are expensive.  Every month is a struggle.  Please click on the link. http://www.gofundme.com/vawqc8 
Cindy Vine is the author of The Case of Billy B, Not Telling, Defective, C U @ 8 and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in kindle and paperback format.
http://www.amazon.com/Ms-Cindy-Vine/e/B002C1D9G2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mandela Day 2015

What are you doing for Mandela Day on the 18th July? How are you making a difference?

Sunday, June 7, 2015