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When it’s good, it’ll be right. And when it’s right, you’ll know. You won’t have known all the time, but there’ll be moments when everything is suddenly so clear that you can’t understand why you’d ever considered doing things any other way. When it’s good, it’ll be so right that to behave, think, speak or feel any other way, will be wrong. And when it’s wrong, it’ll be the worst.

When it’s good, it’ll be the best. And this doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be perfect. No one ever said that perfection was naturally the best. And whilst it may not be perfect, it’ll still be good. In a life where so very many things can go wrong, be wrong, feel wrong, the ability to recognise and hold onto what’s good may get a little lost. We’re so busy concerning ourselves with how the people and “traditions” of the world dictate us to feel, and who we ought to be, and what is or isn’t acceptable, that we lose sight of the most important fact: you get one life. One. And you’re the one who has to live it, everyday. So why would you choose anything other than what’s good, what’s right?

When it’s right, you’ll know. You can have faith in that. And when it’s wrong, you’ll know, too. The only thing that ever gets in the way in the pursuit of what’s right, is ourselves. We sit, and worry, and think, and wait. Instead of wondering who you are to have so much good, ask yourself who you are not to?

When I wonder who the people I have respect for are, my answers are probably somewhat unorthodox. It’s the man or woman who says “I don’t” when standing at the alter – arguably one of the most unacceptable places at which to be completely honest about how you feel. It’s the young rape victim who, pregnant with the rapist’s child, brings the child up to be the very antithesis of all of the evil of the man who caused his conception. It’s the mothers who love their children through the terrible two’s, teenage angst, drug addictions and worse. It’s the man who follows his heart in pursuit of the woman he loves, because even though his friends may tease him for being “whipped,” he’d rather sacrifice a man card or two, than ever risk losing her.

When it’s good, it won’t always be good, but it’ll be right. And you’ll know it. With every part of you. Once you know it, the times it isn’t so good will be okay. Because no one ever promised you that it would be easy, just that it’d be worth it. So, let go of the past. Let go of the fear. Start again. And this time, give more. Trust more. Love more.  Find what’s good. Find what’s right.

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It’s safe to say that I’ve had some pretty terrible relationships in the past, with men who probably weren’t the best fit for me. However, it’s nothing to regret or wish away. Every relationship we have will end until the one that doesn’t anymore. And every interaction with another person, be it for a month or five years, allows us to learn more about ourselves, as well as what we need from a relationship and a partner. However, this process of learning is made useless if we can’t articulate it. And so, bear with me as I try to define to you how I will know when I’ve found him, the man of my dreams.

He’ll buy me books. And not because I can’t afford to. Oh no. It’s usually a safe bet to assume that I’d rather live off cereal for a month than go a couple of weeks without the purchase of a new book. He will buy me books because he’ll know how very happy it makes me. He’ll know how in love I am with the weight of an entire world in my hands, and the smell and feel of the pages as I follow the author’s words on a journey unlike any other. And because he loves me, he will buy me books.

He’ll be nice to me. My parents have been married for 42 years, and when asked what the secret was to their success, the answer was simple. It was a reference to the film Venus, wherein a senior citizen explores a love affair with a much younger woman. When asked what it is he can provide her that no other man has given her before, he merely replies: “I’m nice to her.” This moment dictates my parents’ relationship in that they realised that it was the very least you could do for the person with which you intended to spend the majority of your life. So, the man of my dreams will be nice to me. And not because I ask him to be, or because he’ll feel he has to be. He’ll be nice to me, because being any other way towards me never even crossed his mind.

There will be no need to imagine the potential in him, or us, because it will be all I ever dreamt it would be – and more. This may sound like a tall order, but when it comes to forever and finding the one person next to whom you want to wake up for everyday of the rest of your life, we should never, ever drop our standards. He will be the kind of man with whom I can be whether things are going well or not. I don’t care if we make millions in our first year together and live comfortably for the rest of our days, or if we’re bankrupt and sleeping under bridges every night. He will want to be with me regardless, and I with him. It won’t be about putting off our happiness until things are better, because no matter how things are in that moment, happiness will be he and I. Together.

He will go on adventures with me – even if it entails nothing more than trying to find a different route home in the dead of night. Impulsivity is, I believe, the key to staying young. That doesn’t mean never making plans or sticking to the plans you’ve made. But there are few things more riveting than coming home one day to find both of your bags packed because he’s decided you’re getting out of the city for the weekend. Or perhaps, you want to try something new such as surfing or kloofing. If I suggest it, the best answer he could ever give me would be “why not?” It may sound a cliche, but I want to live a big and beautiful life – and he’ll want to live one with me.

As bad as any fight gets, I won’t be afraid that he’ll leave me. It may stem from the many experiences I’ve had with men over the years, or the fact that I never saw my parents fight and make up when I was growing up. But when I fight with him, I won’t be gripped by the fear that it will end us. It’s taken me a while, but I’m slowly learning that couples can – and ought to – fight, without it being the be all and end all of the entire relationship. And whilst I know I’ll still get scared, he’ll understand this. And he’ll remember to remind me, even in the middle of the screaming match in which plates and pillows are flying at one another’s heads, that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

He’ll be real, flaws and all. I don’t want perfect. I want flawed. Because I’m flawed. Oh man, am I flawed. These flaws will never mean we treat one another badly, however. And whilst we may take one another for granted sometimes, it won’t be too hard to remember how wildly, crazily and incomprehensibly we love one another. I want to know him, warts and all. And I want to be known. I want that connection wherein words need not be used, but everything is understood and clear. Even if we aren’t near one another the whole night we’re out with friends, a single look need be all that lets me know I’m the one he came with, and I’ll be the one he leaves with. And if that look has a smile beneath it that makes me blush, well, that’s alright too.

He will make me understand why cliches are cliches, and what all of those love songs were trying to say. The words of love penned by poets and authors will take on a new meaning, and every sense of mine will tingle with a renewed awareness. He will listen to me, he will hear me, and he’ll know when there’s nothing to be heard. There are so many things we can look for in our significant other. And maybe we spend too long waiting for a partner who ticks all the boxes. But I’m lucky, perhaps, in that I have a heart that let’s me know exactly what it wants. And so I trust that it will invariably shout and kick and scream with delight when it finds the man of my dreams. And maybe he won’t be at all as I imagined. Whoever he is, here’s hoping I have the courage to go and get him…

It’s your loss, I’m afraid. I’ve moved on. And whilst I’d still come running back if you were to look in my general direction with only the slightest hint of longing, I won’t let you know it. Instead I’ll carry out a flawless and evil plan in which you’ll get the message that I’m over you. Although not so clearly that you don’t realise what you’ve lost and come running to my house, begging for me back, with a boombox spouting love songs held up high over your head. Allow me to elaborate on my dastardly ways.

I’ll date. Oh man, will I date. If a man asks, I’m in. And because of the friendship status you’ve allocated to us, I’ll come to you for advice on how to let a man whose fallen for me, down easily. I will date. But I’ll never feel the butterflies I felt for you when I’m getting ready. And my heart won’t skip a beat when he leans in to kiss me. Whenever you kissed me, I could barely breathe. But with these men, my heart may as well have flatlined. And it’ll be your fault, because none of them will kiss me the way that you did, like that night when I fell asleep in the car and you woke me with a kiss that left my brain buzzing. Or all of those times we went on adventures, to mountain tops at midnight with moonlit ocean views. How can any other date ever compare? You’ve ruined it for them all. And for me, too.

I’ll pretend not to care at all. Oh, you didn’t know I still cared? Good. You don’t deserve to. And you won’t. So go ahead and tell me about all of the new women in your life, and when we’re out, why not flirt with the big-breasted blonde? I won’t betray my bleeding heart. Not one tear shall fall upon my
A cup chest. At least, not until I get home, and shut the door as you drive off none-the-wiser. If you don’t care, neither will I. Not out loud, anyway.

I’ll daydream. You don’t know it yet, but I was the best thing you never had. And I’ll daydream about the moment it dawns on you. It’ll be oddly wonderful. This look will come over your face, as if seeing me for the first time… And then you’ll pull me into your arms and promise never to let me go again. And until then I will wait and watch for that light of realisation to flicker in your eyes. I thought I saw it once before, but perhaps it was just a camera flash, or the flame from your lighter, or even the reflection of the moon. Whatever it was, it’d be helpful if you could have the decency to stop blinking, so I that can catch it when it happens, dammit.

I’ll break my own heart. You always said you knew me, but if you did, you’d know how loyally and hopelessly I love. And I know you won’t mean to lead me on, but I’ll find hope in every little thing that you do. And when you finally catch on to what it is I’m doing, and remind me (once more) of how you feel (or don’t feel), my heart will break. Again. And it’ll hurt. Until I resolve once more to win you back. By showing you that I’m over you. Again.

It’s come to my attention that my dating life, up until now, is being used as the example section of “how not to do it” in the conversations of my family and friends. I’ve become that girl. The girl that’s invited to tell the horror stories of her past relationships to make other women feel better. And I’m sitting here wondering when I let it get this bad? I mean, did my mother read me one too many fairy tales, instilling in me a deep desire to kiss a frog (or 100) and find a prince? Never disheartened, I’ve resolved to come up with a few guide lines for myself, and any other ladies, who can’t seem to take the psychotic glint in our potential partner’s eyes as reason enough to run.

1. If he uses his cell phone whilst you’re on a date – especially the first date – even if he apologises. Come on! He carries his phone around with him 24 hours a day and can’t take an hour or two off to meet your eye line and actually hold a conversation that isn’t punctuated with message alert tones? What, must you learn to mimic the sound his cell phone makes in order to come top of the charts? How about no. Next please.

2. If he uses any one of the following to describe himself: asshole, commitment phobe, serial monogamist, jerk, free spirit, lone wolf, etc. Come on ladies, I know this guy. I’ve been there. A man who’ll tell you that he’s one of these, but adds that “perhaps things will be different with you,” had said this line before. And guess what? It won’t be different. It’s never different. Take him at face value. He’s giving you a warning, so dodge the bullet honey. Let’s not run face first into this brick wall again expecting a different result.

3. If he’s flaky. Are you constantly waiting to hear from him so you can arrange to see him? And when you do make plans, does he cancel them last minute or just never get back to you because he was super busy? Well, maybe he’s busy, but I’ve yet to meet someone who can’t send a text that takes all of thirty seconds to type to ensure you don’t sit around feeling worthless. If you have time to pee for Heaven’s sake, then you have time to send a text! And ladies, this guy, the one for whom you’ll make excuses to yourself and your friends, he’s actually sort of magical. Want to know his most effective trick? The moment you stop making excuses for him; stop texting him; and stop waiting around for him, he will disappear from your life for good. Kinda neat, huh?

4. If he never compliments you. Now, I know what it’s like to wish a guy would like you. You’d be wiling to do anything – ANYTHING – and yet, you can never quite NOT get upset when he tells you how beautiful he thinks another woman is. She may be in a film, a magazine or walking passed you on the street. Either way, when you’re trying to be the best you can be, and that STILL isn’t deemed worthy of a compliment from this cheap and insensitive waste of time you’re seeing, I have one word for you: run. You’re incredible. You’re beautiful. You’re sensitive, and your capacity to love – as a woman – knows no bounds. So dammit lady, give yourself the compliments he won’t, and move on.

5. If he won’t hold your hand, give you a hug, or kiss you unless it’s the prelude to sexual intercourse. Enough said, it’s that simple.

Relationships are tricky as hell, and Lord knows I remain in square one when it comes to them. But if we’re the ones in control of our lives and those we let into them, I think we ought to resolve to be a little bit smarter about these decisions, don’t you? I’m done chasing, and I’m done giving everything for nothing in return. I’m going old school. Chivalry is not dead, and it’s the least I demand. I am woman, hear me roar. No more grey area, no more murky, no more “it’s better than nothing.” I do well by myself, and I will not be tamed. It’s never too late to not settle for anything less than you deserve.

I know the start of something new can be scary. It can be incredibly daunting. Every ‘first’ is so shiny, so new, and the exhilaration of sharing these firsts with another human being – a human being that you could grow to love – is quite unlike any feeling we experience in our lives. It’s not always perfect, and realistically, every relationship you have WILL end until you find the one relationship that doesn’t. And in the end, this may even be a relationship with yourself. However, as homage to the hopeful romantic inside of me (and every one of us, I believe), why not make a few promises on what I feel, an ‘us’ might be like…

Promise #1: there will be adventure. 
As a firm believer in never saying never, and trying everything once, I can guarantee you that we will go on adventures at least once a week. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean we’ll necessarily be throwing ourselves out of planes and off of mountains at an alarming rate. No. But maybe we’ll try both of those at some point. By adventure I mean novelty. So if you want to build a tent under the dining room table and stay up late telling stories, or take a mattress out to the balcony and fall asleep under the stars, you can guarantee I’ll be in. I’ll make us sandwiches, you bring the coffee flask, and we’ll climb to the tops of mountains at midnight. Whatever tickles your fancy, and whatever tickles mine, we’ll do it together and it’ll be nothing short of magic.
Promise #2: there will be magic.
Those moments we’re told ‘only exist in the movies’? They’ll happen. I don’t know how many people know this, but all you have to do is let them happen. Be it rainbows after a storm as we surf perfect waves, or a misty full moon across the ocean as we round the top of a mountain road bend. It’ll be magic. And when we’re there, together, in the thick of it, that’ll be magic too. We may not know it at the moment, but these will be memories we’ll never forget. And if you’d take my hand before folding me into your arms and kissing me, well, that’d be magic too.
Promise #3: I will bring home strays.
You’d hide it super well, but the amount of times I’d ask you to stop to pick up a stray along the side of the road – even in the dead of night – well, it might irritate you. So, I won’t do it too much. But if I’m alone and successfully manage to coax a stray woofy into my car, it will be brought home. And fed. And loved. And cuddled. And yes, it will be allowed to sleep on our bed. Because it’s cold.
Promise #4: I’ll only ask to keep the stray once. Maybe twice. But three will be the absolute limit.
I know a dog is a lot of hard work. I do. And we’ll both be working hard and possibly long hours. So, I know that ideally the dogs I pick up on the side of the road ought to go to a home with children in it so that they can dedicate hours and hours of play to the pup. But I’ll ask if we can keep him or her. And I’ll ask again. And I may even ask a third time. But I’ll respect your decision and understand the reasons why we actually can’t get a pet right now. And I’ll promise to take the woofy to the shelter. Tomorrow. But tonight, it’s definitely sleeping on the bed.
Promise #5: I’ll bake if you deal with the spiders and Parktown Prawns.
I love to bake. I’ll bake everyday. And I’ll even make you heart shaped scones topped with strawberry jam so you’ll know just how much I love you. But when there’s a spider or a Parktown prawn, I will squeal like a little girl. I’ll jump up and come find you, demanding that you drop what you’re doing to rescue me. And when you’ve got the offending insect far away from me, I’ll retell the story to our friends emphasizing the sheer size of the insect (it’ll always be HUGE!) and the bravery of my knight in shining armour!
(P.S. because I understand how scary these two things can be, I won’t judge if you’re a little frightened, too. Oh and you absolutely cannot kill it. You have to take it outside where it can happily live out its remaining days. Far away from me.)
Promise #6: I will use you for your body warmth.
I get cold very easily. I am also stubborn about this. I won’t ever take the jersey or jacket off your back, even if you offer. I mean, if you offer more than once who am I to refuse. But I really will try to refuse. However, I have no shame when it comes to the use of your body for warming purposes. This may sound harmless, but it could get taxing. When we’re sitting and watching TV, my feet will worm their way under your bum, and my hands might relocate themselves to rest against your warm tummy. In bed, I’ll bury my cold nose into your neck whilst wedging my (still) cold feet between your calves. I admit to somewhat predatory heat-seeking methods, but here’s where I’ll compromise. I promise I’ll wear socks to sleep, to lessen the shock of my refreshingly chilly feet against your skin. Now that is what I call love.
Promise #7: Man Flu will be treated as if it were a real disease.
There’s some truth to the belief that men regress to become total babies when they fall ill with even the least serious of ailments. The common cold has been known to topple full grown men into whining and whinging masses of man-flesh. However, your every need shall be catered for. I shall bring you tea in bed, and climb in along side you. I’ll keep all the stories of just how much you moan to myself, and ensure that you receive all the T.L.C. you need. That said, don’t take this for granted. Abuse my loving nature by asking me to run your bath because you “feel too yucky,” and I shall expose all of the evidence on how pathetically you behaved. Yes, I’ll even take photo’s. Boom.
There are many promises I can make to you, about ‘us.’ But for today, we’ll leave it at these seven. The rest will be discovered along the way. In the meantime, let’s go on an adventure. The sandwiches are made, just remember the flask of coffee; we’ll grab our walking boots and get lost somewhere.

I foster puppies. It’s the same concept as fostering a child, in some ways. The abandoned or abused pups are found, and treated with deworming pills and other things, if need be. We’re then given a call to come and collect them and give them a home for a while. The whole things revolves around ensuring the puppies aren’t sick in any way, before they’re (hopefully) adopted to their new homes, where they’ll be given lives of happiness and love. I am currently fostering two gorgeous little puppies, one of which is 4 weeks and one of which is 6. I’m always delighted and amused by the very strong personalities that accompany each new pup I foster, and it’s no less amusing with these two. Spending all of my days with them, I’ve begun to pick up on a few invaluable trinkets of wisdom from them. I know it may seem surprising, but I feel we’re always able to learn from the various experiences we have, and the people (and animals) that cross our paths. And learning from two creatures that have been on this earth for so short a time, well, let me tell you that it’s humbling, and wonderful. I’ll try to express some of these lessons here.

The most obvious lesson these pups have taught me is that sometimes it’s okay to bark. I mean, not when you’re sharing your food. Barking or growling then is rude, and it just makes others around you not want to be there. But if you’re asleep and your friend bites you on the bum, or you’re playing and they sit on your head, then it’s okay. I know you’re probably not seeing the lesson in this right away, but bear with me. Puppies know what they want. They know when they’re hungry, they know when they want to play and with what, and they know when to bark and say “stop”! In this sense, they know where their own boundaries lie. And we ought to, too. We ought never let anyone push us into a situation or even a space in which we’re not comfortable. But since we’re the only ones who can hold ourselves accountable, and know where these boundaries lie, we need not feel too shy or embarrassed to speak up. Be honest, be loud, be heard.

Play is vital to a happy puppy – and, I feel, to a happy human, too. I admire most the fact that puppies have no sense of past or future. They’re entirely devoted to the now. One minute they’re enthralled with the crunchy leaf outside, and the next the squeaky chew toy has won their attention, and the attention each thing is given is whole and devoted. Now, I’m not saying we need to jump from one thing to another, one person to another, in a minute by minute flurry of activity, but I am saying we need to live in the now. The past has happened, and whilst we need to know where we came from to know where we’re going to, we can’t live in it forever. We need to make peace with it, be thankful for the experiences we’ve had – both good and bad – and then resolve to live. We also can’t exist with a fear of the future. We don’t know what’s coming, we never will. We can hope, wish and pray all we like, but there aren’t any crystal balls or palm lines that’ll let you in on what life has in store. So don’t let fear cripple you. If you spend all of your time worrying and waiting for what might/could/can’t happen, that’s all you end up doing – spend all your time worrying. Rather hope for the best, give life your all, and grab at every opportunity you’re given with both hands. A life half lived is no life for anyone, or anything.

Love. And love a lot. I fetched these puppies from the Haven late Thursday afternoon, and that night they were asleep in my arms. Every morning when I come down, I am greeted by whimpers and wagging tails, licks and nibbles that make me smile. I marvel at how these puppies, abandoned and possibly abused, can love to easily and so honestly. They will love anyone, as long as they’re given the chance to. If you treat them kindly and look after them, make them feel safe, they’re yours for life. I don’t really know if any other animal can love as unconditionally as a puppy. And I’m inspired. We spend our time rationalizing our issues, and finding complications, and reasons not to pursue a loved one or fall in love at all, yet I can’t seem to understand why… With all the horrors of the world, the deaths at the hands of man and at the events of natural disasters; with all the pain and suffering we encounter, why would we so quickly and easily turn down an opportunity to love? A friend, a family member, a lover… All of these people, in our lives, deserve the very best love we have to give them. I know things happen, relationships end and people fall apart, but when you know that the person standing in front of you is someone you could love, and when you know that they are standing there hoping you’ll let them love you, well, I don’t see how any amount of justification can excuse turning it all down. Like the puppies you need to jump in, all paws forward, and just trust it’ll all be okay.

There seem to be all manner of lessons one can learn just by interacting with a puppy, and I’m enjoying finding out just what these lessons can mean for me. At the end of the day, maybe they have it as simple as it needs to be. Eat when you’re hungry, bark when you have something to say, play whenever you get the chance, sleep when you’re tired, and never ever forget to love anyone whose willing to let you.