It’s that manic time of year, at least in the Southern hemisphere. School is over for the year (finally). There are new books to be ordered, teachers presents, staff gifts, cookies to be bought for gift hampers, scheduling parties for the Princes to go to (I’ve already dropped one Prince at the wrong party venue). All the mindless jobs that remind me why I’m not a PA or secretary (I would be fired on the first day). The unpacking of school bags, wiping down the grimy cheese and tomato sandwiches that have made friends with fluffy green mold. At this time of year my organisational skills are stretched to their finest, hysterical ends. Before I collapse into a heap of overwhelmed, dramatic tears, I have to stop, get away from my never ending to do list that grows longer every time I look at my cell phone, and have a cappuccino.

Mulling dreamily about my year over a flat white (it’s not as frothy as a cappuccino, and I’ve found my perfect one at Naked Coffee in Melrose Arch) is much more my vibe. What have I done this year? It’s flown by faster than the loom band craze. I’ve run from grocery shops to the kitchen, to bits of writing, to lots of coffee shops all year. Despite all this ‘busyness’ it’s hard for me to pin point what I’ve actually done. I haven’t had a nine to five job where I’ve achieved anything. Hence the mind talk whirrs into being like a top class Nespresso machine. The truth is out – I’ve done nothing, besides a lot of school lifts and a lot of nappy changes (bless my little Prince’s fast metabolism).

Then I think to myself, even with a nine to five job, there’s no guarantee that I’d have something tangible to show for it. Maybe a few deals, a good monthly pay check, but what more? These thoughts remind me that life is about process. Whilst our society often values product and achievement, the real joy and beauty in life is in the process. When I forget this I’m undermining my very life as a mother, a human being, a soul as a spiritual being having a physical experience. Of course producing tangible results is brilliant, but just like raising a child is in the every day loving acts and detailed care, so is our own lives. At the end of the day when we die it’s the small every day joys, those that build our relationships and inner peace that we are proud of. They are our legacy.

So now that I’ve thought that through I’m feeling much better. And I can go through my simple, favourite things this year, which have brought me much joy and have made me so grateful for my year.

Cappuccinos – As superficial as this sounds, there’s a deeper meaning to sitting for a cappuccino. A lovely hot cup means I STOP and relax for five minutes. With a friend the cappuccino experience is perfected. There is no greater joy than having a delightful cappuccino and connecting to a good friend. Tea of course works just as well. Coffee shops are also the best place to work. You don’t have to worry about never ending house jobs that surround you at home (like no electricity – thank you Eskom), and someone serves you for a change.

Yoga – There’s nothing like a powerful yoga class to shift my mind and get me into my body and feeling vibrantly alive. My favourite yoga studio is Nadine Hurwitz’s Yoga Lova in Illovo. Her classes are intense and nurturing at the same time. (Just what every woman needs.) There’s nothing as joyful as being able to lift up into a handstand. It should be on every one’s bucket list.

Writing – Everyone needs a vocation, a hobby, something that makes their heart sing and time stand still. For me it’s writing. I feel so grateful for every article I’ve written and blog post I’ve published.

Cooking – This year has been a big gastronomic year of dinner parties, casual weekend get togethers with friends. The best meals being when I’ve been bored of my normal repertoire and have taken out a new recipe and made it, despite my mother in law saying, ‘Never make new dishes when you have guests.’ We all bore with the zany sometimes gross, politely interesting results and we gutzed on the couple of sensational recipes that I conjured up. (Ottolenghi’s garlic tart is one such dish. You can google the recipe. It’s well worth making.) Meanwhile for all my cuisine talk I’m toying with the theory that it’s not the food you have but the friends you have gathered around you that matter. I’m still working up the courage to try my theory with tuna on crackers as the main course. Next year’s resolution! Can you imagine how much more often we’d all get together if it all it required was olives and cheese. (Unless of course you’re my cousin who has people for gourmet meals all the time producing them as effortlessly as a glass of lemon water.)

Last but not leastFamily
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Ending the year in loving relationship is the biggest achievement of all. A year with your loved ones has its ups and downs. The investment of reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my Princes, sitting and playing Battleship or cards with them (when I really don’t feel like it), making pancakes for a Sunday morning treat, asking them the highs and lows of their day, or just fetching them from school with a loving smile, is all very special. I take it for granted, but it’s what makes up my year. I’m not going to speak about the heart wrenching squabbles, the tearful breakdowns, or the Princes running amok in a mud battle. When I look back at my year I somehow see the good things only – just like on Facebook.

I guess focusing on joy builds joy. Scheduling in the good times in our crazy busy schedules; like date nights, family pizza games nights (which I need to do more often), family picnics, all build relationship and makes up our year. Looking back I want to do more of that in the coming year. These glorious summer days are a good place to start.

The older I get the more I realise that the simple things are what matter and bring us happiness. They’re easy and don’t cost much. Life in a coffee cup is beautiful, and shared with others it’s very worth while.