If you follow me on Instagram, you may have watched my recent stories while I was in South Africa and felt one of two things: A) you wanted to kick me in the shin because it was peeing down of rain in the UK and you couldn’t stand my smug face grinning out from a beach/safari/sunbed with cocktail while you were on the commute to work with B.O man’s armpit in your face OR B) You smiled and found it fascinating! As one of my true (in real life) friends said today “While you were away, I woke up and checked your stories immediately as it felt like I was actually there with you – it was really exciting!” And that made me happy, because that was my aim. Even though it was just me and loveable, old Stressed Husband, I wanted to share it because it was such a wonderful, mind-blowing trip, I wanted you to get some enjoyment from it too! And that is the wonder of social media…in my world, sharing is caring 🙂
But…I’m back with a bump into the longest January since world records began. I feel lucky to have missed the worst of it and hope that February will be kind and spring-like to us all. Initially, I was going to do a round up of my favourite places and best things to do in South Africa, but because I think I’ve shared all of that on Instagram and Twitter, and I’ve returned with that fresh, ‘holiday’ mindset, I feel as if I’d rather write about what this trip actually taught me about myself. And here are my 5 lessons learnt from my second honeymoon….
- I can still have the same fun and feel the same excitement and awe at the world as I could when I was a 22 year old travelling around the world. Put it this way, the emotion that I felt when I reached the top of Table Mountain and overlooked the most stunning landscape and views I’d ever seen, brought about a surprising sob of emotion rising up in me. I actually had to hide behind my sunglasses and pull the visor down on my baseball cap as I felt a bit silly. I wondered whether this surprise crying fit was hormonal, and it probably was a bit, but it happened a lot during the trip: At Boulders Beach watching the beautiful and comical penguins; when we witnessed dolphins surfing about while we were sitting at breakfast; the night Stressed Husband taught me how to play pool and I went on to beat him (apparently, I’m a natural). And when I secretly watched my hard working husband standing on the veranda of our lodge just outside the Kruger and saw him wide-eyed with excitement, looking the most relaxed I’ve ever seen him. I cried a lot. Not big, snotty tears but happy, joyful, peaceful, can’t-believe-I’m-seeing-this-and-doing-this tears. It was lovely.
- I missed the kidults but they missed me too! So, we set up a family WhatsApp group and used this to keep in touch while we were away. For the first few days…oh ok, couple of weeks…I sort of sent a barrage of messages that went like this:
ME: Lils, are you up for college yet – don’t be late!
ME: Aimz, Don’t forget your key when you go out and what are your plans for today?
ME: Hey Will.
2 hours later…
ME: WILLLLLLLLL!!!!! Why aren’t you answering?! I’ve messaged you 5 times and you should be up by now. Lily, Aimee, can you check on him for me please. Is he still in his room and did he actually even come home last night?
To all of these messages, I would get this sort of reply:
AIMEE: MOMO!!! Stop it. WE. ARE. FINE! Will is alive and he is breathing…very hungover, but definitely alive and Lily is already at college! She got there early to go to the library and I have a busy day with all sorts I’ll tell you about later…and I HAVE MY KEY!!! Now get off your phone and chill please!
So after regularly getting told off by Stressed Husband, I realised they WERE fine. And I needed to let go of those umbilical cords a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy that they could cope without me. Of course they could – at 23, 21 and 17! I’ve obviously done my job (and nanny was there as a back up too,which always helps to make sure they get fed and watered). But what made me so delighted was waking up to a flurry of frantic messages to show how much they actually cared about me! I’d fallen asleep early and forgot to text the kidults and when I woke up a few hours later, I saw this…(Oh, and please excuse the swearing…the kidults have been told off!)
- The World is MASSIVE and AMAZING – okay that’s not something I didn’t know but a trip like this, where you see such natural beauty and luxury hotels and top class restaurants besides shanty towns and people who are struggling to survive really puts things into perspective. Life is strange. It’s unfair and can be so cruel but it can also be incredibly wonderful and we are so lucky to be here, experiencing every day with whatever hotchpotch of emotions and goings on it uncovers. We really need to make the most of every little bit of it.
- I have anxiety that needs to be addressed. I touched on my rising levels of anxiety in my last blog (link) but for the first week or so (apart from the ridiculous amount of messaging the kids), I noticed that I panicked about so many things: the driving trips – well we were sometimes quite close to mountain ledges), flying – we had four flights on the trip and on one of them I was shaking uncontrollably and found it really difficult to get back in control, ……..I will say that by the end of the holiday and after lots of pep talks from Stressed Husband when we went over why I was often being unreasonably worried about things, I started feeling calmer and more relaxed. That 22 year old girl was getting stronger within me and the menopausal 50 year old was allowing her to break through. It felt great to go with the flow without feeling anxious, especially as sometimes I felt anxiety rising and didn’t even know why?! So, I’m going to work on this because its not a nice feeling and I don’t want it to hold me back in life and stop me from experiencing new things.
- I married the right man, twice. Soppy as it sounds, there really is nobody I’d rather have been on this trip with than my darling Stressed Husband. We had a couple of tiffs but nothing we couldn’t laugh off within a few hours but we had so much fun together. Canoeing, climbing, swimming and even playing the memory game and singing like loons in the car on long journeys. I’m grateful that he is as laid back as he is a lot of the time (the Sressed Husband tag comes from how he is at work, not at play) as it rubs off on me and he teaches me how to ‘let go’ and enjoy the moment. He is world-class at loving every moment and making the most of things – from stopping while driving the Garden Route to experience every little bit of beauty he sees, and to point out things he’d been Googling in the hotel room earlier (ie, why baboons have weird red bums. Google it – it’s interesting!) Through to his ability to make friends with everyone we met.
We often get stuck in a rut with our other halves and that’s normal, but sometimes, it’s important to remember who they were when you first married them and look for those traits and little reasons why you fell in love with them in the first place – and if they’re still there even after 25 years, then you’re on to a winner!
So, these are my 5 main lessons learned on my incredible trip to South Africa but another one I guess that has emerges is that I definitely want to do a lot more travelling – if luck and opportunity allows. You know what? I’m glad a chose a trip of a lifetime over another diamond when we got married again!