Camp Nano Winner 2017

I committed to writing a romance novel in June. It was a decision I didn’t take lightly. I knew it would take a lot of sacrifice and hard work to see the end result and the timing felt right. Coming up with an idea for my novel didn’t materialize overnight. It took months of soul-searching that set me on the path to believe that maybe, just maybe I could do this.

Although I was thrilled to start the writing process on the 1st of June, it began on an anticlimax as I could only write a few words before anxiety set in. I was feeling overwhelmed by the mammoth task ahead and doubted myself. It took a few days for the fear of failure to leave as I refused to give up, pitching up every evening, writing as many words as I could get out.

I’d also scheduled a number of writing days with fellow writers to work towards our various projects. This was daunting as I prefer to write in isolation. However, I felt their energy and skillfulness rubbing off, encouraging me to persevere. It was the perfect place to ask all sorts of writing related questions and receive professional advice without any charge! My writing friends are always eager to impart their knowledge, something I’m grateful for.

I managed to make it to Chapter Three when one of my friends challenged me to join Camp Nano Wrimo. This is a virtual camp that takes place during the month of July. One registers and creates a profile with a project and sets a goal of what you’d like to achieve during the month. I chose a goal of 10 000 words. That meant writing 323 words per day. It seemed manageable as I’m all for pacing instead of sprinting to the end.

When the 1st of July rolled around I was eager to get the ball rolling. I had four writing friends in Camp with me and it was fabulous to have a site dedicated to our goals, projects, word counts and a chat room to stay in touch. Once again I struggled to reach my daily target as my old friends “anxiety and doubt” surfaced. But I didn’t allow them to intimidate me as I diligently sat typing one word to the next, determined to achieve my goal.

Some days the story flowed beautifully, on others my characters were running in different directions like naughty children, much to my dismay. But I allowed them free reign, didn’t try to control, letting them to tell their story for I’m merely the scribe. It’s liberating pitching up at my computer not knowing what’s going to happen next, finding I’ve written more than anticipated, caught in the heat of a story even I don’t know the ending to 🙂

I reached my 10 000 word goal on 24 July 2017 on a high! I was so proud to have taken up the challenge, achieving what I set out to do. I even spoiled myself with a celebratory treat as a pat on the back for a job well done. I believe it’s important to celebrate oneself as expecting others to leads to disappointment as they don’t understand your sacrifice and commitment in pushing yourself beyond inconceivable limits.

Currently I’m sitting on Chapter Ten of my novel and I have to pinch myself because I didn’t think I’d get here. Camp Nano Wrimo gave the much-needed nudge to speed up my writing, to not overthink everything, to let the story flow and just enjoy the ride. The journey is far from over though, I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I know I have what it takes to get to the end.

There are a number of people who’ve been my pillars of strength during the month of July. My Writing Group consisting of talented, strong, intelligent women who’ve encouraged me every step of the way. We’ve come a long way and having you as a support network is priceless. My family, especially Neil who’s always been so supportive of my writing, affording me time to pursue my dream whilst listening to endless chatter about my project, accompanying me on research missions 🙂 without a complaint! My children for sharing the burden of household chores when needed most. A massive THANK YOU to you all, without your belief, love and understanding I wouldn’t have reached this magnificent moment ❤

Romance Writers’ Writing Day…

It was the weekend after a harrowing storm and deadly fires threatened the Western Cape and the Cape Town Romance Writers were in desperate need of tender loving care. What better way to forget disasters, life and every day stresses than uniting for a Romance Writing Day.

The location, Lalapanzi Lodge nestled in the picturesque town of Somerset West. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted with a motherly hug from Rose, the Manager. Phoenix Kelly coined it “Rosa Lodge” as it’s the second Romance Organisation of South Africa event held in its midst, the first being a Writing Retreat in February this year.

Since the success of the Writing Retreat, there was a call for Cape Town Romance Writers to connect and support one another. Many writers tend to write in isolation and feel cut off from the rest of the writing fraternity. It is believed that belonging to a support group is highly effective in creating a space to share fears, gain advice and attain individual goals.

Rae Rivers and Natasha Anders took the lead in arranging this get-together. The order of the day was to provide an environment conducive to writing and bonding. Initially I wasn’t keen on attending a writing day in the heart of winter. It’s my least favorite season and I worried about getting cold, unable to get anything done. My doubts were unfounded when I walked into a warm and cosy dining area, a roaring fire going, interlaced with underfloor heating, making me feel like royalty. The view from the upper deck of the lodge revealed Table Mountain in the distance hugged in clouds. The pitter-patter of much-needed rain was music to the ears and from time to time a rainbow emerged reminding us we were sitting in a slice of heaven.

It was fabulous to see familiar faces again, to catch up before the aim of the day began. Some writers were on deadline, moving into quiet spaces, determined to make use of the time wisely. I’m one of those writers who like to work alone and having to sit beside others seemed daunting at first. Again, my fears were misplaced as everyone was consumed with their stories and it didn’t take long before I too became immersed in my writing.

We gathered for a delicious lunch of open sandwiches, warm drinks on tap and light conversation. It always amazes me how supportive Rosa members are in helping newbies like me. From answering questions on research, writing software, giving advice when stuck – everyone was eager to share their knowledge.

The afternoon saw us getting down to more writing. Rose spoilt us with cups of steaming cappuccino’s and a special treat, milk tart and chocolate bars, chirping in the background, “It’s not called Rosa Lodge for nothing,” as we squealed with laughter. Just as I was truly in the creative zone, the day had come to an end and most were packing to leave.

I was sad to depart the warmth of the lodge, to bid farewell to all. But I was beaming because I had a productive day spurred on by the collective energy of fellow Romance Writers. Reading the messages on the Whatsapp group later the evening, we unanimously agreed the writing day was a hit, with talk of a next one well on the cards 🙂

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Photo credit: Lalapanzi Lodge, Somerset West

 

Book Review

Book Review: Not a Fairy Tale – Romy Sommer

Set in Los Angeles, Hollywood starlet, Nina Alexander is beside herself for losing the Oscar for a supporting role. Thinking it couldn’t get worse, she receives an unexpected proposal on the same stage. Not wanting to commit to someone she doesn’t love, she turns it down, thus attracting further media attention.

Dominic Kelly, a gorgeous stuntman and womaniser comes to her rescue. Nina’s always found him attractive, yet strangely he’s never shown an interest in her. They spend the night at his place to lose the paparazzi and Nina gains a glimpse into his life.

Nina loves fame, fortune, even the isolated life she leads. Her past has hardened her and she’s worked hard to reinvent herself as the actress she envisioned. She comes up with a plan to redeem her image by going after a coveted role. To do this she’d need to transform into an action heroine and asks Dominic to train her.

Dominic doesn’t exactly jump at the offer. He has reasons to decline, one of them being the fear of losing his heart to Nina. She was unlike the women he bedded and didn’t want to complicate things. Through his better judgement he agrees to her request and is unable to resist her charms.

Romy Sommer is a talented romance Author. The story is captivating, her characters are believable, the sex steamy and the ever-after beyond satisfying.

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A novel idea…

I’m in the process of writing my first romance novel. A way of staying in touch with my followers is to take you along with me as I share the highs and lows of fiction writing.

Many don’t appreciate the intricacies involved in writing a novel, short story or even a poem. Considerable time and effort goes into finding perfect words for a poem. A short story is fast moving generally with a beginning, middle and end (or a twist in the tale). Writing a novel is a labour of love taking months (even years) with a vision only the Author harbours (without a guarantee of it becoming a success or not).

Truth be told, writing is hard work! It requires belief, determination and a never give up attitude. Starting and finishing a story takes immense courage. Having stories critiqued is torturous. I learnt this the hard way when I received harsh reviews whilst fighting back tears. It made me question whether I was good enough and if I’d make it as a writer. At that stage I was very sensitive. My stories were my darlings and I couldn’t separate myself from them. It took a long time to accept that not everything I write is going to be ground-breaking. Every failure strengthened my resolve to work harder, learn from mistakes and KEEP writing.

For years I didn’t feel ready to write a novel as I didn’t have sufficient experience in fiction writing. I gave myself small attainable goals like writing short stories, learning the ropes, whilst building confidence. I surrounded myself with experienced writers, absorbing as much as I could from them. I’m not ambitious. I write because it makes me happy. The pay back is when readers appreciate my work, making it worth while.

This is my maiden journey in writing a novel. I have nothing to compare it to nor can I say that I’ll succeed in making it a reality. All I have is a strong belief that the time is right to do this.

I’m a planner when it comes to writing. I like to have a map of where my stories go. But this can spell trouble as too much preparation can block creativity. I saw this in some of my stories where I couldn’t identify with my characters as I was holding the strings too tightly. Characters need to be set free to find their own destiny and letting go wasn’t easy as I wanted to run the show.

The first step in writing a novel is coming up with an idea. Generally music is my go-to when I’m in need of inspiration. I listen to songs and like to come up with stories based on the emotions they evoke. And with so many songs available I could write countless novels… yet I couldn’t find something compelling enough to get lost in.

I was having anxiety that I may never find the right idea and was wasting precious time pursuing dead ends. The more I stressed, the more frustrated I became. I have a close relationship with God and live a spiritual life. I called on Him countless times, praying that I’d find an idea soon. I knew that if I left it in His hands something would come, maybe not as quick as I wished but in time it would.

And it did. Actually God has been sending me messages for a while now, steering me in a direction that confused me as I never considered anything like it before. After too many coincidences it finally dawned on me that the idea for my story was becoming stronger and what seemed impossible before could very much become a reality.

I finally accepted the idea and it felt so right in my soul. God listened to my prayers, heard my frustrations, soothed my doubts and tried to comfort me. He wants me to succeed, wants only the best for me and helps me in every way. You see, I’m not venturing into the unknown alone, my best friend has joined me on a journey that’s going to alter my future 🙂

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Feature in Runner’s World…

I started running in 2010. It was my go-to when I decided to abstain from alcohol, seeking a healthy lifestyle. I’d never done any form of exercise before, so breaking into the sport wasn’t something that happened overnight.

Being overweight and unfit didn’t help either. I recall how tough it was to run for a minute. It felt like my chest was going to burst and I’d faint from exertion. But I didn’t give up. Before long I was able to run for three minutes and walk breaks became shorter. Soon I was able to tackle a 5km, much to my delight. That’s when I joined a running club and started taking it seriously.

In conjunction with a healthy eating plan, the weight melted. I entered races, loved the thrill of competing and became smitten with running. It taught me discipline, perseverance and setting goals I could conquer. In return I appreciated my body, challenged myself to push past mental limits and felt blessed to run in a beautiful City.

I wrote a piece on why I love running in 2015. It was published in Runner’s World and Modern Athlete. This was a huge accomplishment for me, gaining exposure not only for running but intertwining my passion for writing.

Although I was riding the wave in running, I was plagued with many injuries. I was training for my first marathon in 2015 when I fell prey to plantar fasciitis, crushing my goal. I soon underwent a double bunionectomy that saw me side-lined from running for the next six months. This was torturous as I’d become dependent on it and couldn’t find anything to take its place. The only thing that kept me going was the hope of returning healthier and stronger to the sport I adored.

And I did. Taking time off makes one appreciate running even more. It didn’t matter that I had to start from scratch and gain fitness back. My muscles remembered how much it loved the road, my mind opened to new goals and I never stopped believing I’d conquer the next big race.

Sadly the injuries didn’t abate. The more I trained, especially on hills, my knees cried. I was soon diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a degeneration of cartilage in my joints . It broke my heart for I knew I’d never be able to run the way I used to and accepting this wasn’t easy.

In February, I underwent bilateral knee arthroscopy to clean out the knees and inject good blood cells, aiding the healing process. My recovery was painfully slow and once again I was forced out of running for two months. This time I questioned whether I’d be able to run again, whether it was time to call it quits on a sport that means everything to me.

Then in March I got a message from Lisa Abdellah, Deputy Editor of Runner’s World asking whether I was interested in featuring in the Run it Off story. I was gobsmacked – why was I given this opportunity when I was on the verge of stopping. It was as if the universe was saying running wasn’t ready to let me go.

My journey has taught me not to have expectations where running is concerned. Not to compare myself to others, to always listen to my body and afford it time to heal. The joy of running isn’t how far I run or how many races I do. It’s being grateful for the body I have, for the time I spend on the road and the glory running evokes in my soul.

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Runner’s World feature 🙂

Writing Romance…

I adore romance. My adolescent years saw me curled up reading Mills and Boons. I swooned over the hero, the beauty that steals his heart, hated the obstacles in their way, longed to hear their confessions of love and felt sated when they lived happily ever after.

Of course I wasn’t surprised when I found myself drawn to writing fiction and in particular, romance where love is the order of the day. Yet it’s been a long and winding road getting here.

Writing is ingrained in me. It’s a medium I turn to when I can’t make sense of the emotional baggage life throws my way. It was my outlet when I loathed myself during my drinking days. It comforted me during recovery in sobriety. Today it’s helping me reach my dream one day at a time.

I’ve written countless short stories. I’m my biggest critic when it comes to sending work out for scrutiny, living in doubt of not being good enough. It takes courage to believe in your writing, to write everyday despite not everybody appreciating your work. I’ve finally come to a place where it’s okay if people don’t like what I write. What matters are the ones who do.

There’s so much to learn about writing that one gets caught in an abyss of information. I joined a Writing Circle a few years ago where I was challenged to write poems and fairy tales. I had no idea I could do this, yet I persevered and succeeded. It’s rewarding realising the untapped potential one has when stretched. But one can’t really be a pro juggling too many things at the same time.

Therefore I’ve dedicated this year to focusing on one objective. To write a romance novel. I’ve been to a Romance Writing Workshop in February where insight was given into the various imprints on offer. I had no idea of the vastness of the genre or the millions of dedicated readers waiting for fresh stories. I got a 101 on writing romance and set a deadline to get my first draft done.

I’m also part of the Romance Writers Chapter in Cape Town, a group of Authors living their dream writing romances. I actively participate in a small group of writers who task one another to produce stories. This year our aim is to write our novels simultaneously and to support each other during the process.

As much as I’m afraid of the unknown, of doubt setting in, of failing. I need to remind myself how far I’ve come already. This is my calling, it’s what I’ve been gearing for all my life and the time is now.

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Book Review

Book Review: The Pursuit of Happiness – Douglas Kennedy

This novel is 648 pages long. It took me back to the tomes of yesteryear, the kind that kept one spellbound from cover to cover with intrigue and drama.

Douglas Kennedy writes in first person. He tracks the journey of two women, Kate Malone and Sara Smythe. The saga commences at the funeral of Kate’s mother and the spotting of Sara for the first time. Coming to terms with a major loss, Kate is contacted by Sara begging to see her. Not understanding why a total stranger would want to meet at this juncture, she affords her a hearing only to have her world uprooted a second time. Sara claims to be her father’s lover. A father Kate barely knew having passed on when she was only a few months old.

The story shifts to Sara and how she meets Jack Malone at a party in her brother, Eric’s apartment in Manhattan, 1945. One glance was all it took to bring the pair together. They chatted and ended up making love before having to rush Jack back to the ship that would take him out to sea for the next nine months. Though this behaviour was out of character for Sara, she knew Jack was the one. He promised to write everyday as he kissed her deeply and set sail.

Jack lied. Sara wrote countless letters; she waited, hoping he’d return. He sent her a postcard many months later with the words, “I’m sorry”. Sara was crushed. It took forever to forget Jack and only through Eric’s aid was she was able to find herself again. The relationship the siblings shared was unbreakable. Both were up and coming writers reaching success before long. Eric for a short stint was involved in communist party activities which he regretted and distanced from. However, this association leads to his downfall.

Three years later, destiny draws Jack and Sara together again. Only this time Jack is married with a young son who was the reason why he didn’t pursue a relationship with Sara. Now he wants her back and refuses to take no for an answer. Sara eventually relents and they come to an arrangement that allows Jack to remain in his marriage while maintaining one with her. Their affair, for a brief period was everything Sara had hoped for. Once again, Jack lets Sara down, this time betraying her in the worst possible way. Tragedy strikes over and over, Sara caught in the midst, unable to forgive and forget.

Douglas Kennedy is a phenomenal writer. He captures every scene to the minute detail. The capacity to write from a women’s perspective and doing it so convincingly is impressive. There were paragraphs of truth that stood out throughout the book that had to be savoured more than once. Sara’s characterization was impeccable, I felt her heartbreak, suffering and never-ending grief. I laughed, cried, then cried some more until sadness overwhelmed me realising I’d come to the end of her story and there wasn’t any more.

This novel tops my best reads list. A well-deserved five star rating!

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“Which is perhaps one of the great reasons why love always disappoints. We enter it hoping it will make us whole – that it will shore up our foundations, end our sense of incompleteness, give us the stability we crave. Then we discover that, on the contrary it is a deeply exposing experience. Because it is so charged with ambivalence. We seek certaintly in another person. We discover doubt – both in the object of our affections and in ourselves.

So perhaps the trick is to recognize the fundamental ambivalence lurking behind every form of human endeavour. Because once you recognise that – once you grasp the flawed nature of everything – you can move forward without disappointment.”

Trusting Intuition…

Much has happened in the past two months. Last year I was diagnosed with early signs of osteoarthritis in my knees. As a runner, it spelt disaster. It wasn’t easy to accept I may never be able to run the way I used to. With that came a host of emotions I couldn’t deal with.

When I was ready to slip my running shoes on again, I found I couldn’t run more than two times a week. My knees were sore and I was forced to take time off to rest. I’d also decided to change my running club. This wasn’t an easy decision to make as it’s where I took running seriously and turned it into a success. Yet the time felt right to move on, to shut the door on the past and look to the future.

Little did I know that further setbacks were waiting when I decided to join another club. I made an appointment to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon said to be the “bee’s knees”. Upon studying the MRI scans, he confirmed that although they looked bad, he could “fix” them. This meant performing arthroscopy on both knees to clean the fragmented cartilage and inject vials of ACP, my own healthy blood to boost the healing process. He said it was a minor procedure and I’d be out of work for two days and be back to normal again.

I didn’t like undergoing another procedure and didn’t have a good feeling about it. However, it seemed like a quick fix, exactly what my knees needed to get back to running. I didn’t take time to think it through, instead setting a date for the first week in February. I had a jam packed month with Neil’s birthday, two Romance Writing Workshops and a busy period at work.

As the date drew closer, I started to panick. The procedure entailed going under anaesthetic. I loathed it’s side effects of nausea and weakness. When I informed people within my circle of the pending op, I didn’t hear positive stories. Yet I’d already committed to the date and felt I couldn’t back out. I told myself it was normal to feel jittery about an op, that other’s experiences wouldn’t be mine. I’d be fine and before long, would be running again.

On the morning of the op, Neil and I rushed to the hospital to check in. We were taken by surprise when the hospital informed we needed to pay in a hefty amount that the medical aid wouldn’t cover. I was taken aback. I’d never had to do this before. I lost my cool and said, “What happens if I die on the operating table, would we still be responsible for the bill?” Neil calmed me down and said not to stress, that he’d pay and everything would be fine.

But I wasn’t alright. I was angry and scared. All I had was Neil assuring he’d stay by my side and be waiting when it was done. He walked alongside me as they wheeled me into theatre, saying how much he loved me. The anaesthetist was waiting to insert a needle in my vein and before long I was out. I came to when I was brought back to the ward and found Neil waiting as promised.

I drifted in and out of sleep. Nausea was setting in and I battled to have something to eat before I was discharged. My knees were tightly wrapped in bandages and I couldn’t feel a thing. The Surgeon came by to say the op was a success. I enquired whether I needed crutches to walk or had to see the physio before I left. He said not at all, I’d be able to move around when I got home and further treatment wasn’t necessary.

Neil helped me to dress, put me in a wheelchair and took me home. When I got home I jumped straight into bed to sleep off the rest of the anaesthetic. Awaking the next morning to go to the loo, I couldn’t get down the two stairs leading to the bathroom. My right knee was locked, it felt like the patella was raw and every movement I made was punctuated with pain. I sensed something was wrong. This wasn’t merely the aftereffects of surgery and anaesthetic, this was serious.

I tried to contact the Surgeon’s office but since it was a Friday afternoon, no one was answering. I was in a state, sobbing thinking the worst. Neil tried to allay my fears saying the pain would settle and I needed to give it time. I wasn’t buying it. I removed the bandages as they were suffocating me. I was shocked to see how swollen my knees were. The right even more so. The wounds were covered with transparent plasters. They were caked in dry blood and were a hideous sight.

Even though the surgeon didn’t tell me to ice my knees or elevate them, I did so religiously. I knew what was needed to get the swelling down. I couldn’t sleep comfortably for every movement brought on a fresh shot of pain in the knees. I was living on pain meds, numbing myself.

By Sunday evening, it was clear there was no way I’d be okay to return to work. I could barely get around, let alone drive. I informed my Boss that something was terribly wrong and I needed to see the Surgeon. I called the Surgeon the next morning and relayed my symptoms. He didn’t seem taken aback by my condition, saying I needed rest, to keep icing the knees and see him on Wednesday. I was livid. Here I was, in agony, unable to get around, not recovering the way he said I would and he didn’t care.

When Wednesday rolled around, my condition hadn’t improved. Neil took me to the hospital and we walked to the Doctor’s room at a snail’s pace. Sitting before the Surgeon, I spoke my mind. I asked whether he’d worked more on the right knee as it couldn’t bend. He said yes, as it had more damage. I questioned why he omitted to mention this and also why he hadn’t said that it would take longer to recover. He said in most cases patients heal quickly. Then there was the 10% who took longer. Obviously I fell into that bracket. I said he should have alerted me to this, that I shouldn’t have been given false hope I’d be fine. He apologised and seemed to take me serious thereafter. He said I should see a physio and cycle as soon as possible to strengthen the knees. I looked at him dumbfounded… now I had to fork out more money to see a physio to fix my knees due to his doing. And how was I going to cycle when I could barely walk!

To say I was disappointed in the procedure and the Surgeon would be an understatement. I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s been a long and frustrating road to recovery. I was booked off for the rest of the week recover. During this time my anxiety spiralled. I didn’t have faith in physio’s either, yet I had no choice but to find one desperately. Through sheer luck I found a physio who answered all my questions on the phone and seemed to know her thing. I immediately set up an appointment with Wendy Snyers. After a brief examination she picked up that the patella on the right knee had run off track. The muscles along the entire leg had stiffened thus not allowing any movement. She said I was probably weak on my right side heading into the op and since the main aim was to fix the knees, my muscles caved in. She had to release the fascia throughout the leg. This was done by pressing deep into the muscles, emitting a pain that was unbearable. The result was I could bend my knee and had some movement. For the first time since the op, I had hope that I’d turned the corner and would heal.

But it wasn’t a quick recovery. I had to see her four more times for my knee to gain full mobility. Walking around was an effort as I’d become slow. I had to go to gym three times a week to cycle. I found the more I cycled, the patella stayed on track and the muscles surrounding the knees grew stronger. I had to learn to climb stairs again. I’d lost count of the many times I cried out of pure frustration.

I took so much for granted when I was healthy and fit. I thought I was invincible and my body would remain this way. It’s only when one has an op or gets older, does it sink in how precious the human body is. It carries one through the storms of life and demands protection and care.

From this dilemma I learnt to trust my instincts. They are like whisperings of unease bubbling around. They shouldn’t be underestimated for they hold power and speak truth. When I ignore them, terrible things transpire. I’m trying to be more receptive to them, to listen carefully, not to make hasty decisions, affording myself the gift of time and patience to figure it out.

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Two years Dad…

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Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that time has erased your presence from my mind. When days go by and I didn’t stop to think of you. Memories that seem so distant, moving into a space that’s hard to reach.

I have a playlist of songs that holds special meaning to me. A few belong to you. They are impossible to sing for every line is laced with emotion. So what if I cry in traffic, for a brief moment the world has stopped turning and I’m with you again, remembering your goodness, wishing for another chance to say I love you.

They say time heals all wounds, I think it makes it easier to forget how much it still hurts.

“And I can’t breathe without you, but I have to” 😦

Happy Birthday Sweetheart …

A week ago I had a medical procedure on my knees. I was pensive heading into surgery, unsure of the outcome, fearful of the effects of anaesthetic, battling to stay positive. Normally I turn to my faith in times of despair, but at that time I relied heavily on you to get me through.

True to your nature, you never let me down. You were there to wipe tears, reassured that it would be okay and you’d be waiting when it was all done. You walked beside me as they wheeled me into theatre, kissed me tenderly and whispered you loved me so so much.

I don’t recall much of what happened next, falling into an induced slumber. Coming to, I was wheeled to my room and caught a glimpse of your smiling face, asking how I was feeling. You sat with me through my mumblings of how very tired and nauseous I felt. You held my hand, spoke of things weighing on your mind, as I drifted in and out of sleep.

Later when I was discharged, you helped to dress me, carried the bag, walking beside the wheelchair, ran to find the car, ushered me in, escorting me safely home and into bed. Rushing to the chemist to fill out the prescription, ensuring I had something to eat before the meds, making certain I was comfortable.

Its times like these that I am eternally grateful to have someone like you share this journey called life. Because it’s not all about the joys that come our way, but the challenging times and the uncertainty of the unknown; that one clings to love and family to carry you through.

And you, my dearest make this world a better place to live in. Cementing the belief that there are still kind-hearted souls whose greatest desire is to see others happy. Epitomising what a role-model should be to our daughters, to mirror you and search these qualities in others. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband and partner to share forever with.

On this precious day we celebrate you and everything you are, the sacrifices you make, the time and effort you unselfishly bestow, your unconditional love, the sweetness of your soul and the vast difference you make in our lives.

Have a blessed birthday Sweetheart. We love you always and forever ❤

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Happy Birthday Handsome ❤