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I had an aunt named Rose.

She was lively and determined. She hated people who were fake, in fact, anything that was fake. She, like me, had no filter, and if she’d ever thought twice before she spoke, she would never have said anything at all. She was brutally honest, and if she thought it or felt it, she said it. I’m sure you’ll agree that this kind of honesty doesn’t always go down well. As human beings, we ask for the truth but are often angered when we get what it is we asked for. However, this never daunted Rose. In fact it’s her words that I remember most.

My aunt Rose loved fiercely. She loved her friends, and her family with a fire that burnt strong and true. I remember she once told me, with a mischievous little smile, that if I married for love, I’d be materially poor. If I married for money, I’d be emotionally poor. And if I married a man with a foot fetish, I’d have the best in footwear that money could buy. The final bit was a fact she’d learnt from first hand experience, and a memory which always left us in a fit of giggles. But I know Rose married for love, and spent thirty years of married life filled with happiness as a result of it. And I know that I, too, could never marry for anything other than love – because Rose got it, and made me see, that if you found love – the real long lasting stuff – there’s a lot of other things you can do without.

My aunt Rose wasn’t happy all of the time. She had a life that wavered tempestuously and often found ways of kicking her when she was down. But I don’t have a single memory of her in which that sparkle in her eye didn’t grow to become a grin on her face, as she cooked up some new form of mischief with which to astound people. Whilst her body, as all our bodies, changed with age, her heart remained as youthful as ever. My aunt Rose never found herself out of place with young people, because the one thing she was always up for was fun!

I had an aunt named Rose, who passed away yesterday. I prayed for those she’d left behind, and I prayed for her – but some part of me knew she’d already found her way up to the angels in Heaven. She’d been reunited with her own mother, and her daughter, and was already causing havoc with the celestial beings around her. In my heart I knew she had begun to look down on each of us with the wisdom and love she’d always shared with me during each of our meetings. And I knew she’d always find a way to ensure her presence was still felt – in the final rays of the sun as it sets, and the ever-rolling waves of the ocean against the shore. 

I had an aunt named Rose, who I am blessed and proud to say I knew.
I will carry her heart in mine. I will renew my zest for life, and resolve to live as lovingly and honestly as Rose did, never growing too old for a little fun and a good giggle. 
I will never forget the words that she gave me on every occasion that we shared.
And I will never forget Rose, and her mischievous smile, and the twinkle in her youthful eyes…

Reconnect with an old friend, or an old flame, a lost chance. Chat one day on Facebook. Comment on how many years it’s been. Accept when he suggests you meet up for a drink. Know it’ll be a once off. Put it out of your mind until the day arrives. Be nervous whilst you fret over what to wear. Don’t understand why. Eventually settle for the outfit you first chose. Go.

Smile when you see him. He hasn’t changed a bit, and yet there’s something different about him. Talk over one another at first, in the rush to catch up. Resolve to let one another take turns. Laugh at the things he remembers about you, and the one and only date you ever had. Smile slightly when he tells you that he’s recently single. Say good night eventually realising that six hours have passed and you didn’t even know it.

Be thrilled when he messages you to say how good it was to see you. Tell him the same. Say yes when he suggests you do it again. Go out drinking together almost every night for a month. Find yourself, on every one of those nights, in a drunken haze of happiness. Wonder why he hasn’t tried to kiss you yet. Try to grin when he tells you time and time again how happy he is to have found a friend like you.

Pluck up the courage one night after another drink-filled night out and ask him to kiss you. Sit with your heart pounding in your chest. Wonder if he can hear it as loudly as you can. Listen out for the beat of his heart, too. Wait for him to do or say something. Practically faint when he finally leans in and your lips touch. Lose yourself in the 3, 4, 5 seconds that you kiss. Hide the disappointment you feel when he pulls away again. Search for a sign of emotion; a sign that it meant to him what it meant to you. Ignore the awkward silence that’s settled in between you. Say good night without seeing a sign of anything at all.

Wait to hear from him all the next day. Jump out of your chair every time your phone goes off. Ignore the pit in your stomach each time you realise it’s not him. Hang around on Facebook on the off chance that he’ll log on. Get butterflies when he does log on. Ignore the sinking feeling in your gut when he doesn’t message you and then logs back off.

Regain hope when he eventually messages you. Ignore that he calls you ‘dude’, ‘bud’ and ‘friend’. Make plans to go out with his group of friends.

Spend the whole night checking his face and body language for a sign. When you say good night, notice that there’s something he wants to say to you, something that’s been on his mind. Hold your breath. Keep a straight face when he tells you how glad he is that the drunken kiss didn’t ruin the friendship. Try smile even. Say goodbye. Cry as you drive home.

Find yourself waiting for him to realise how he feels about you. Go on dates to makes him see. Feel confused at how he seems genuinely disappointed for you when the dates don’t work out. “You’ll find someone,” he says, trying to reassure you. Hate him in that moment because you have found someone.

Try not to let him hear your heart break when he tells you he’s met someone. Feign excitement at the chance to meet her. Hate her before you’ve done so. Hate that you like her from the moment you meet her. Hate how beautiful, intelligent and funny she is – love that she’s the exact type of woman he deserves. Hate the way he looks at her; the way he places his hand on the small of her back; the way he leans in and whispers in her ear. Hate that they have eyes for no one but each other. Hate that you have eyes only for him. Hate yourself. Love him even more.

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.

Left to my own devices when you’re gone, I will reread old text messages from you. I mean, I didn’t save them for this purpose… But if they’re automatically saved to my phone, well, best I make use of them. And chances are, I’ll smile just as widely as I did when you first sent them. And I’ll hear your voice in my head as I read them. And I’ll end up missing you more.

When I can’t stand to miss you any longer, I’ll go for a run. Once a day, I’ll run. At least 6 kilometres and at most 10 – because we both know my legs are quite short, and to run any further would make me pass out (read: die). So, I’ll run. And whilst I run, I’ll listen to music. There’ll be an assortment of songs playing in my ears, with words that may or may not remind me of you. And I may put our song on repeat, firstly because I like the song, and secondly because every time I listen to it, I hope somehow the words will pop into your mind and make the distance between us that little bit less.

I will say ‘yes’. The key to forgetting how much I miss you, will be to keep busy. So every invite extended my way by a friend or family member will be accepted. Perhaps a long lost friend whose face I haven’t seen in six years will want to catch up over coffee, or perhaps I just won’t be able to say ‘no’ to the 7th night out in a row with friends. Either way, I will say ‘yes’. And wherever these invites end up leading me, I’ll get there and for a second, wish you were with me. But only for a second because I’ll lose myself in the moments shared with the people I find. Until I get home. And crawl into bed. And find myself suspended in the moments between midnight and sunrise, lost beneath the hilly landscape of my duvet… And it is then that I will forget to forget how much I miss you. And I’ll fall asleep fooling myself into believing that the pillow around which my arms rest, will magically restore itself into you. Even if only for a second.

I’ll completely change my life around. I’ll resolve to be more organised, more prepared for things, and more dedicated to work. I’ll launch myself into a new fitness regime and give half my clothes to charity. I’ll move the furniture in my bedroom around, and repaint the walls. I’ll hang new pictures, and immerse myself into creating an entirely new world. And after all of this, I’ll still miss you. Because the letters you wrote me will remain at the bottom of my jewelry box. As much sense as it makes to throw them out, I won’t. And the photographs we took of ourselves that day will still live in the drawer of my bedside table, readily available should I wish to lose myself in them and the memories they represent. And as much as my life and surroundings may have changed, I’ll still be the same. And that means that I’ll still miss you when you’re gone.

I’ll tell everyone in my life how well I’m doing. I’ll be better off, and I’ll ensure everyone knows it, or at least, hears me say it. And there’ll be times when I believe it. Wonderful, flash-in-the-pan kind of moments where I can finally breathe without a memory of you haunting me. But these moments will fade as quickly as they arrived. And I’ll be back to square one. And if you ever decide that you miss me, too, that’s where you’ll find me… Right where you left me.

A broken heart sucks balls. It’s crap. If you asked me to choose between a broken heart and taking my chances with Hannibal, I’d order you to lock me up with the man and throw away the key. But what’s worse than the sheer agony of a broken heart, is having to bear the broken heart in public. If you’re at home, no one minds if you rot in your pyjamas all day, or work your way through every make of tissue, grading them on the efficiency when it comes to tear-wiping and the gentleness of nose-blowing. I don’t know how, but movies feature broken hearted men and women who look relatively decent and who can afford to brave the harsh light of day and not be accused of mimicking the living dead. I am not this fortunate. Not only do my bigger-than-average eyes go bloodshot, thus drawing attention to the leaky make-up streaming down my face (which I only put on in the first place, in an attempt to look somewhat normal), but I also cry. And not politely or delicately either. Oh no. Gone are the days of a ladylike sniffle. I blubber, often resulting in the term “ugly crying” to be used as a description. What follows is my list of the Top 5 worst places in which to have a broken heart.

1. On an airplane
This tops the charts as the ultimate horror setting in which to suffer from a broken heart. Not only are you shoved into the plane in a proximity to strangers than not even sardines in a can could even comprehend, but your sniffles and elephant-like nose blows announce to all on board that there’s need for a serious clean up in aisle 2.

2. The dinner table
Not only does one’s appetite diminish or expand when it comes to a broken heart, but in my friendship group, any dinner table event means one thing and one thing only: repeatedly singly me making an odd number beside an empty place setting at a table full of couples in soon-to-be-wedded bliss. Yikes.

3. On social networks
Let’s face it. It’s just added insult to injury when you end your relationship and several people ‘like’ the notification. But having to relive the loss in every photograph and wall post of the past, just kicks you when you’re down. Do me a favour ex-boyfriend, and stop existing. Delete your account and take all of the pain you’ve caused with you. Oh and running commentary, pipe down. Only asshole ‘like’ that a relationship has ended, for all of the world wide web to see.

4. At university/work
Oh, how sweet! You couldn’t have waited until I got home to rip my heart out! You just had to come and see me at university/work to get it done. In public. And in front of all of my friend/colleagues. Well, that was very kind of you. Why didn’t you just ‘tweet’ me? It’d have been far less degrading than sitting here trying not to fall to pieces as you walk away – and then having to go back to my desk and actually function.

5. Anywhere. At. All.
Well done. You have successfully turned me into a wreck. Love songs make me feel ill and if I see one more RomCom that leads me to believe that I’m the exception and not the rule, I may kill someone. By breaking my heart, you’ve stolen a piece of it that I can never get back. A piece of me that you will always hold until my dying day. So, let me give you some advice for your next endeavour into the world of love – advice I wish someone had given you before me. Giving up is for cowards. If you’re a coward, rather don’t try at all. No, we can’t be friends after you’ve murdered every trace of happiness we ever shared. Honesty is all I ever wanted, no lies or deceit.
And the next time you tell someone you’ll love them forever, just the way they are – mean it.

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 have no filter. I’m not sure if it was a side-effect of my mum already being 40 when she gave birth to me, but I’ve never had one. If I thought twice before I spoke, I’d never say anything at all. And whilst this may not seem so serious or negative a characteristic with which to be born, it is. As a result of my “I think it therefore I say it” condition, I only ever end up removing my own foot from my mouth, to put the other one in. As a result of this frequently placing me into somewhat awkward situations, I shall now launch myself into a description of what NOT to say when faced with similar situations to those I describe. Note: I don’t take responsibility for any repercussions of your reading this. I have no filter. And you have been warned.

“Oh. That’s nice.”
This phrase is basically the worst phrase in the English language. Deceptively simple and painfully monosyllabic, it is rarely used in the appropriate context and frequently results in an awkward silence that cannot be salvaged. I have been known to utter such a phrase when all other words fail me – and whilst this may not seem possible, it is. One such occasion that springs to mind, is when a young man divulged the details of his seemingly passionate and annoyingly immortal love for me. In person. With chocolates. And a Mix CD (the modern twist on an Old School favourite.) Aghast, and left without a clear notion as to where to begin explaining the myriad of reasons as to why this was just not for me, I choked. My brain blanked and the space where I’m pretty sure my filter ought to be, was flooded with this go-to utterance that left the two of us in a vortex of silence. It seemed as if there wasn’t a single sound in all the world except the echo of these three words off of every surface in the room. I’m not proud, but to be fair, this brain fail was probably the best response I could give. In my defense, a three word cop out was probably a lot kinder than the verbal tidal wave that might’ve bowled him over as every word I knew stumbled out of me in an effort to let this well-intentioned young man down gently, but firmly. Stop judging, I said I’m not proud, alright?

“Are you gay?”
I don’t know if anyone of you know this, but the myth about women having a gaydar that works 100% of the time is just that – a myth. Or at least it is when it comes to me. (Wondering whether I’m life’s personal joke as I fumble my way without either a filter or a gaydar – not ideal.) And whilst I’m pretty sure that when a gay man is around I can tell he’s gay; I can’t entirely tell when a straight man is straight. You must understand, it’s not entirely my fault, too! With the way men’s fashion is going, we’ll soon all be shopping in the same stores – and the stores will all be Forever New and Hip Hop. So, as a result, I may or may not have asked one or two men who may or may not have been trying to pick me up at a club, whether they may or may not have been gay… And I don’t know if any of you know this either, but that’s a question that I don’t think a single straight man anywhere on the planet won’t take offense to. I’m not an entirely awful person, I just genuinely couldn’t tell. And since my ability to shut up is as successful as Julius Malema’s, well, I always end up apologising profusely – and buying the offended individual a drink or ten. My bad.

I’m allergic to heroine.”
What? Stop looking at me like that. It’s not like I’ve tried heroine. I haven’t! And now I bet you’re wondering, how do I know that I’m allergic to it then? Well, smart ass, because I’m allergic to codeine which contains opium which is the base material for morphine and heroine. And yes, I did just stick my tongue out at you. Now, I’m not sure why, but people have begun asking somewhat generalised questions when attempting to get to know me (a practice which I find somewhat nonsensical). And so, when posed with a frustratingly obtuse inquiry such as “what can you tell me about yourself?” I tend to go for shock value. And without a thought of what reaction I might elicit, out rushes this little known fact about myself. I’ve never met anyone whose face hasn’t expressed either surprise, horror, or a resolve never to speak to me again, when I’ve shared this little titbit. In other words, I need to take up a new hobby so I can tell people about that instead.

Come play with me!”
This may come as a surprise – or it may not – but I’m a Never Never Land baby. This said, it means that childish things such as blowing bubbles, jumping in puddles, and building forts are still activities in which I like to take part. With friends. I like to play. And I believe it’s healthy for adults to play. All adults need to find some way of allowing their inner child out, and I do this successfully and frequently. So, when I call on a new friend who has yet to learn this about me, their expectations and reactions to my invite to play can be one of several. In the most extreme case, I never hear from the person again. Good riddance, I say in such a case. Bubble blowing is an activity reserved for the wonderful. Some people seem to understand me straight away and join into this revelry in all that is childlike and happy straight away – a reaction that has resulted in many incredible memories! And the third kind… Well, let’s just say that it’s rather awkward informing an individual what you really meant by play, when it’s been interpreted in a rather more, err, adult way. There’s no pleasant way of telling someone to put their, aah, toy away.

In the end, the examples that lend themselves as evidence to my lack of a filter are numerous and seemingly infinite. I’ve been informed that it’s possible to ‘grow’ a filter by many individuals who seem rather in control of everything they have to say. But on second thought, so long as I say everything I mean and mean everything I say, I’ll stick to this for now. Because that’s how I roll. Bitch.

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.