Looking west out of our sunroom window there is a half moon of purple. Framed by the light blue sky the crown of the majestic jacaranda takes your breath away. October in Johannesburg is bursting with jacaranda trees in full song. Winds tickle the lilac trumpet flowers off their stems causing a purple drizzle that carpets the dark grey tar beneath. The blooms soften the cracks, cover the parched sidewalks and scraggly beds and fill the air with sweet scents. It is a beautiful time of year in a somewhat crabby part of the country.
Yummy sweet tasting peas from our veggie garden
Two peas in a pod
We harvested some sweet peas from our vegetable garden this week. We weren’t sure if they were ripe. Opening a pod, sweet green bursts of freshness assured us they were. No two peas in a pod were the same, one wonders where that saying came from. We added them to a dinner of cauli mash and veg sausage. Definitely not mushy, the peas took a minute to cook and were delicious!
Matthew and his brother, Emmett, were said to be like “two peas in a pod” when they were younger. Five years apart in age, you couldn’t really tell. They spent many years together starting businesses and dreaming big dreams. And then having those dreams and relationships crash. You know - brothers.
Now, many miles apart, Emmett at a beautiful coast, us in the big, decaying city, communication is mostly a quick “hi hiya doing?” via text message. Then out of the blue: “Hi, I’m coming to Jo’burg for the weekend, do you have time to meet for lunch? “ After a bit of calendar chess, of course we did.
Two peas in a pod? Not so much anymore!
Purple walks and wanderings
Before our lunch we went on our walk, as we always do on a Sunday morning. The purple sidewalk carpet popped under our shoes and sent bees puffing up to the sky. By the end of our walk it looked like we had been stomping violet grapes. Along with admiring the beauty of this natural annual display we reflected on the remarkable week we had had. It had been trimmed both with frustrations and amazements; confrontations and connections.
Life felt good walking in our streets on Sunday morning, even though the evidence of living in a city where maintenance is not a priority, still surrounded us. The noise that seems to be an ever present and unwelcome guest, seemed less unpleasant at that moment. And it wasn’t just because there were no grumbling generators or complaining neighbours, load shedding was scheduled for later that day.
“What does a person work on, if they’re in a good place?” asked Matthew. He was talking about using Shape of Emotion as a regular practice.
“You may be in a good place, which is fantastic,” Chantal replied, “but there is always something to work on. The experience with that difficult client, or the frustration of being misunderstood the other day. And then of course there is the mountain of issues that avail themselves in our city: non-delivery of services, the infighting and politicking in council, the lack of community on the roads. I could go on, and on, if you want.”
“No, no, you are right, far too much already, thanks.”
“The thing is, if you consider any one of those things, either you have little to no control over it, or in and of itself it is not huge. We just make up stories about the incident, the event, the behaviour. Stories that are only ours. We make them up and have no evidence that they are true. But they fire up our indignation. Stoke the frustration. Weave threads that tie the story to us so that we cannot let it go. Worse, the story grows, and with it the accompanying feelings. Sometimes to the point that it consumes us.”
“So what do we do?”
“We stop telling the story and - “
“Deal with how we feel.”
“Exactly! Stop the story and deal the feel!”
Something strange and wonderful arrived in our garden…
Stories of a different kind
Talking about stories, Chantal has started doing some interviews as part of her research for our book. She started closest to home, with her parents. Her mother specifically. Memories are slippery things and much had been lost in the noise of being born during the war in Amsterdam, the excitement of moving continents at eight years of age and the novelty of new and different cities, homes and streets full of friends.
In this instance the stories fill out a two dimensional map and raise it into a vibrant, colourful, peak into a time long gone and yet still living on in the heart beats and molecules of her children and her children’s children.
Choose these stories to listen to rather than the made up stories that build on the fear and the frustration. But if you do find yourself stuck ruminating and rumbling, stop the story, and deal the feel.
Until next time.
Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew
…and then flew away!…
About the author
5th Place is a dynamic organization that's passionate about emotional fitness. We're the creators of Shape of Emotion, a revolutionary tool that's changing the way we understand and manage our emotions. But we're not just about theory - we're about practical, tangible change.
We offer Emotional Fitness Classes and courses that help individuals, from children to adults, build emotional resilience and well-being. For our younger audience, we've created the Vibarealm, a vibrant universe that encourages a healthier interaction with emotions.
Join us on this journey to emotional fitness and let's make the world a better place together.