How to detox: don’t.

It came as a big surprise. The trauma of turning the Big 4-0 had just begun to subside when I woke up and realised that in 6 fast weeks I was going to be 41. My father’s favourite saying screamed in my head: “Life is like a toilet roll, the closer you get to the end the faster it goes.”

The knowledge that I was currently unravelling faster and faster to certain death catapulted me into something I had not done since I was a serial-detoxing teen. And that is: going on a health kick.

Since Finn was born just over five years ago I have been largely surviving on litres of caffeine and unhealthy quantities of refined sugar. Before pregnancy I would turn my nose up at dessert and smugly say, “I’m more of a savoury type of person, thank you.”

Now, if I don’t eat at least one chunk of chocolate cake and a fistful of a winegums a day, I stop functioning. Or I start putting extra spoonfuls of sugar in my coffee. It is no surprise, really. If you haven’t slept in five years due to two babies, a career and a little a book you just had to write, then you have to get your energy from somewhere.

But when it became apparent that I was clearly never going to stop ageing I decided that I must do something about my health. Not one to go gentle into the good night, I decided to throw myself into the darkness by stopping all caffeine and sugary foodstuffs (including bubbly which unfortunately has an extremely high sugar content, even the dry stuff).

Have you ever tried to stop drinking coffee? It’s like coming down with swine flu and a migraine at the same time. I’ve thankfully never had either, but I cannot imagine it’s worse than life without coffee.

The sugar free diet is no easier, made infinitely more challenging by working in an office with 50 women who insist on bringing in sweet baked goods at least 2-3 times a week in celebration of their birthdays. It is easy to consume your bodyweight in cake on a weekly basis round here, but not so easy to watch your colleagues blissfully consuming cream and caramel cupcakes, while you stare into your rooibos tea.

It’s been a bloody ordeal. Though it has been three weeks now and as I’d been told most of the side-effects of the caffeine withdrawal have subsided. The headaches are gone and I am only occasionally hit by spells of achiness. But I am yet to shake the feeling that I’ve lost a long-term friend. Whenever I’ve felt a bit low, tired or even a bit bored I’ve turned to my cup of coffee for comfort and a lift. I have yet to find something to replace that with. Aunty Rooibos and I have just never clicked in quite the same way.

Yesterday Finn declared: “Mom, I know why adults are always so busy.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because they know they’re going to die soon.”

And as far as I’m concerned the same can be surmised for why we go on health kicks.



Bus spotting… surviving the school holidays

When my brother and I were children one of our all-time favourite games was pretending to wait for the bus at the bus stop around the corner from our house. We’d sit on the hard bench protected from the searing sun by a giant OMO ad and just wait. We’d sometimes sit for hours. But eventually we’d hear the low growl of the bus coming down the long straight main road of Alberton that led to the NG kerk – the town’s only attraction. Our hearts would quicken, we’d whip our scruffy little heads around the side of the bus stop, see the large orange bus moving towards us and then we’d get up and run like hell. I don’t know what we thought would happen if the bus actually saw us pretending to wait for it. I do know that one weekday afternoon while my brother and I sat waiting, a lady in a yellowing Cortina stopped, rolled down her window and yelled that she’d tell our mother what we were up to. Everyone was bored in Alberton. Not just us.

Roxi has similar memories of childhood. She has memories of days spent hanging over her front wall waiting for unsuspecting passerbys. One afternoon a large lady with black knee-high boots trotted by and unable to help herself, Roxi called, “Oh mighty booties!”

The lady yelled back: “GAAN SÊ DAAI VIR JOU MA!”

My point is: our parents were onto something. They lived in places where there was absolutely nothing to do. And then left us alone for large tracts of time while they did other things. Like hang up the washing and braai and on occasion walk into the sliding door on a Sunday afternoon after “one too many”. Ok, this might have only happened once.

The reason I bring this up is that we have just survived the Easter holidays with the kids. I didn’t once see them waiting for buses or setting fire to a veld or jeering at the neighbours. They were simply too busy. There were outings to the aquarium, a kiddies birthday party with a pirate theme and puppet show, movies in 3D with popcorn-slush-n-smarties combos and at least one trip to our local firestation. Not to mention an almighty Easter egg hunt and a three-course lunch just incase eating your bodyweight in chocolate bunnies had left you hankering after a salty roast.

It’s been fun. But I am left with the feeling that it would have been nice to have had a bit more time to ourselves. Just a little more time for Roxi and I to hang up the washing or slam ourselves into the sliding door.