Wednesday, 8 December 2010

How they slip away, no chance for last goodbyes

Today I lost an old and dear friend. He slipped away in the early hours of this morning and I only heard about it a few minutes ago.
Michael had had pancreatic cancer for some time. He has struggled with pain for much of his life having hurt himself early in his career as a ballet dancer which put paid to his dancing dreams.
This is a man who once danced with Nureyev and spent time with Andy Warhol, yet today one cannot find a picture of him on google so far had he faded from fame and fortune. Michael had faded from my life too, I hadn't seen him in almost 18 months. I thought of him just last week and wondered how he was. Somehow in the rush and madness of running around getting busy with life and everything that goes with it, I had lost my old friend.
Now it is far to late for goodbyes.
RIP Michael Richter

Sticks and stones might break my bones... but keystrokes can sometimes kill you.

This story really freaked me out today.
I am pretty tech savy but it made me think about how my daughter, aged 2, might concievably have to deal with some things which go far further than sticks and stones in her day to day interactions with her peers and collegues in the future, and I might not have the skillset to help her cope with it.
It made me think about how much I as a parent need to keep up with what is going on in my child's life right from now, and how it is my responsibility, nay, my duty, to make sure that I not give in to technology and shrug my shoulders saying, "this is too higher-grade," the way many parents are doing today.
We are thinking seriously already about when Evangeline is going to get her first computer. At the moment it will probably just be a simple machine without any real network access, more a workstation for herself to keep her away from ours where she can do real damage by accidentally downloading HUGE files or undoing steps I spent hours on in editing photographs (both of which she has done already, did I mention she is only 2?).
Parents of teenagers who are not up to date with the technology being used everyday by their sons and daughters have a daunting task ahead of them.
An I being naieve in thinking that if I keep upo to date from now I even stand a chance of being alright by the time my child is a teenager?
An adult friend was attacked in a similar fashion to that described in the article on cyberbullying about a year ago.... He, at 38, struggled with the same issues and ended up wasting a lot of time and energy fighting an enemy he couldn't see who didn't follow the rules.
This sort of thing is going to get worse before it get's better.
There are all sorts of statistics of suicides which are related to stuff that happens online.
It really makes a mockery of the old song my Mum used to teach me to help me deal with taunts and teasing, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010 a great way to earn extra income online

I joined this market research panel a few months ago and filled in a few surveys but then forgot all about it until a little while ago when I realised I had accumulated enough "baskets" to more than cover my activation fee.
So I activated my account and lo and behold I have already recieved a payout of R120 from them with more due to me at the end of the month.
I recommend this to anyone who is remotely interested in either making money online or just to have people ask you for your opinion.
It can only get better as more people join up therefore making it's panel more attractive to companies wanting research done.
Click: to join yourself. Even if you just operate as a free panelist until you have earned enough baskets to make your activation worthwhile. I'm sure you will find it beneficial.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Your service is only as good as your weakest link

"You are the weakest link, goodbye!" might well have been the comment I made after three staff at an Internet Service Provider served up the most awful service I have recieved to date from any company.
However I am of the opinion that the only way to make things better is to take on issues head on and make sure that those who need to know about problems hear about them.

It is exactly this type of thinking that is behind HelloPeter a local South African site that gives customers a chance to report bad service and compliment companies that are doing a good job.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

They grow up too fast

This past weekend I had occasion to do a photo shoot with a difference. It was done as part of a young lady's 12th birthday party.
While studio parties have in the past been quite with older girls this was the youngest group I had done one for. They were wonderful. All between the age of 12 and 13, all girls, and full of fun.  One or two of them took me aside at various times during the afternoon to quiz me on ways to break into the modeling industry, each quite concerned that the others might find out so I was sworn to silence about their inquiries.
The girls dressed up in three outfits, a black outfit, a white outfit and something with lots of "crazy colours" as the invite described it.
They went without make-up (they are only 12 and 13 year olds after all) and they had a blast.

Made me think of what is to come with my own daughter. She is only 2 at the moment, but already a star of the studio strutting and posing like a real little lady when we have here there while we do shoots. But when we actually want her to pose, for a picture with her grandparents, or because we want a new picture of her for family, then she pulls her bottom lip out and sulks and says "No! Stop it!" and runs away.

I cherish this time while she is still little but everyday I see more and more signs of her growing up and I feel quite helpless because it feels like just the other day that she was born and was so little her dummy took up almost her whole face. She still likes the dummy and Henrik is quite worried about it but I assured him that she will most probably not want to take it to her Matric dance one day so we shouldn't waste time worrying about it.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

You lose which ever side the coin flips to

I recently spent almost a fortnight in hospital due to some rather faulty thinking which had me obsessing over ways to end my life.
I suffer from Bipolar Affective Disorder or Manic Depressive Illness (the second being a more accurately descriptive and I feel more apt name for the condition).
So far this has been the third time in just over 8 years since my initial diagnose that I have had to be hospitalised.
Each time it has been the depressive side of the disease that has got me to the point where my doctor has felt it best to "put me away" for a time, until she and a team of other experts, can get me back to some semblance of normality.
I have yet to be hospitalised for mania, although I did swing quite dramatically into a manic phase during my first hospitalisation which is how I came to be diagnosed. That time I had just been hospitalised for depression and work related stress. I went in a sad, overworked but "normal" person, and came out a "certified loon".
I like to make light of my condition. It is a coping mechanism for me.
What used to be a diagnoses that pretty much put paid to people's hopes and dreams has now become a condition which is very treatable.
What is important is that patients comply with the treatment, take their meds, attend the sessions with therapists and contact their psychiatrists as soon as they feel a change in their mood towards either of the two extremes.
And there lies the problem.
No one seeks help when they are feeling fabulous, even if everyone else can see that the fabulousness is too fabulous to be real. The fabulous person remains convinced that they are just too fabulous for those around them and everyone else is just jealous of their fabulousness. Add to this the fact that when one is manic one often feels that taking the medication is not necessary (because one is fabulous so why does one need those pills?) or not wanted because the medication takes the fabulousness that one is so enjoying away, and you have a perfectly set scenario for mania to take a hold.
Then there is the other side of the coin. When one is so depressed that one feels the silt on the bottom of the ocean floor is more lively, exciting, worthwhile and interesting than oneself, it is hard to convince oneself to take one's medication. After all, what is the point? It doesn't help anyway... Or at least that is what one is thinking at the time. Remember I mentioned faulty thought processes?
Both sides of the coin have the same result.... lack of patient compliance. And that leads to the slippery slope of mood instability which ultimately leads to disaster.
Then there is the other aspect of the management of Manic Depressive Illness. In fact this aspect is key in the management of all illness but I will limit myself to Manic Depressive Illness as that is what I know about.
The insurance that one pays a lot for each and every month and is supposed to ensure that one is able to receive the treatment one needs. There are almost always shortfalls and limits and nasty surprises when one goes to pick up one's meds from the pharmacy.
This is bad enough for any type of illness, but when one mixes it with a condition that has a big problem with patient compliance, the patient is even more inclined to not comply with the prescribed treatments.
This can lead to extra time in hospital and or even death if the patient becomes suicidal due to not taking their medication.
In South Africa the government has a list of conditions that medical aids are obliged by law to cover. This list of conditions is called the Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB) list and Bipolar (Manic Depressive illness) is on that list. However medical aids still manage to avoid covering the treatment as prescribed by the doctors by creating lists of formularies listing medicines they will cover but refusing to cover others. Strangely many of the medicines on the formularies are not the ones that doctors prescribe, either because their side effects are too severe, or because they have already tried them on their patients and found them to be ineffective.
When someone who doesn't want to be taking their medication gets given the run around by a big business trying to shirk their responsibility of care it makes it very difficult to convince oneself to preserver and do whatever it takes to make sure one gets one's medication and takes it.
Part of what landed me up in hospital recently was the fact that I simply stopped taking some of my medication because the medical aid didn't want to cover it, and I didn't have the cash to pay for it myself. As I told the pharmacist who was dispensing the medicine along with the bad news about how much it will cost me, "The stress involved in having to find the money to pay for this medicine and fight with the medical aid is probably going to do me more harm than any benefits the medication will provide, so don't bother with it thanks."
Clearly I was wrong.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Waiting Waiting Waiting

At the moment I am waiting for the South African Post Office webpage to open.  I have been waiting a long time.
I need to track where a parcel is that I have been expecting. I need to be able to collect that parcel as soon as possible as I have clients who are expecting delivery of their wedding photo book package.

Try as I may I can't seen to get the page to open let along the track and trace window. Eish! This is getting frustrating.

I spent over a week getting the photo book looking fabulous and now I am sitting at the computer getting very frustrated over something I cannot control on a day that I should be spending time with my beautiful daughter.

It occurs to me that we spend most of our lives waiting for things to happen. We wait for our children to be born, we wait for the end of the day, we wait for the weekend.... we wait in traffic, we wait for people who delay us in some way, we wait and wait and wait.

What is the benefit to us of all this waiting. Is the wait worth it? I think in some cases yes, but more often than not it tends to be the case that we have waited our lives away for nothing more than a fleeting moment that only ends up leading to more waiting.

I have resolved time and time again to stop this waiting and get on with life.

Yet still, here I am today.


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Motherhood Triumph and Fortitude

My best friend Sandra is celebrating her son's first birthday today.
She has done all the usual things to prepare for the celebration, baked a cake resembling his favourite TV character, Brum; wrapped gifts he will no doubt thoroughly enjoy unwrapping and then discard to play with the paper; made sure that every thing is in place for him to have a perfect first birthday.
What she can't do though is make sure his Daddy is there to celebrate it with him.
Tyler Jame's Daddy, Gerrit died in a motorcycle accident a few days after Christmas so she is a single mother to her beautiful son who is growing into the likeness of his Daddy to the point that even those of us who didn't know Gerrit well can see how much Tyler James looks like him.
This is certain to be a bittersweet time for her as she enjoys the birthday and the time with her little boy. She must feel the loss at these times even harder than she does usually, and I'm sure she feels the loss of her beloved Gerrit all the time like a shadow over every part of her life, or a veil pulled across the window she watches the world through.
I can't know how that feels. My daughter has her father with her every day and I have him here to assist me and support me in the sometimes achingly difficult times of motherhood and share in the joys which grow larger with the sharing.
I wish I could do something for my friend. All I can do is stand by her and offer a shoulder and a smile, a distraction and my friendship, and hope that is enough to help to brighten some days and lessen some of the load on her shoulders.
She is one of the strongest people I have ever had the privileged to know. I admire her ability to put one foot in front of the other each and every day. She shows great fortitude, and her will to provide a happy environment for her son triumphs in everything she does.
Tyler might be too young at this age to understand the ramifications of his birthday and for that reason I feel the first birthday is one we need to congratulate the parents on rather than the little ones.
Mums and Dads are the ones who have hit an anniversary, they have survived parenthood for a year, some surviving a little better than others, but most doing the best they can which is really all we can ask of any parent.
Then there are some who are managing to do more than just their best, they shine in the task of parenthood and magically (with the help of the fairies I imagine) are doing a better job than most despite some very hard knocks life has chosen to hand them.
Sandra is one of these parents. She is the best Mum I know and my hero.
Congratulations on being Mum for a year Sans.

Remember I am here for you.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Andrew Parker gets married

Dorothy got a little choked up as she said her vows in front of friends and family.
Today was a momentous occasion. One of my friends finally got married to a lovely girl he had known almost his whole life. He first met her at his mother's wedding to his stepfather on this day many years ago.
Andrew Parker is quite a character. He is the epitome of self-made man having built up business after business venture to achieve his goals one by one despite the curveballs life has sometimes thrown him. He is an increadibly lucky guy, but one that knows how to make the most of his luck and mack the luck happen when it isn't there through determination and grit.
The remarkable thing is that all this hard work hasn't dampened his spirit. He is a fun loving prankster who goes out of his way for a gag. Even in the sermon his pastor regaled the congregation with stories about how he played pranks on him many years ago.

There are some of us who believe that even today he played a prank on all his guests by getting the staff to shake the bottles of celebratory sparking grape juice so that every table's bottle overflowed, showering the poor guy who took on the task of carefully opening the bottles.
I had the privilege of being a guest at this wedding. I attend quite a few weddings as a photographer so it was refreshing to be in the congregation rather than up front taking pictures. But I was asked to take my camera along and get some "funky shots" where possible. I happily obliged.
Congratulations Andrew and Dorothy Parker.
May your marriage be as fun filled and joyous as your wedding day.