Just hours away from the end of 2022 and it really does feel like i might just make it out alive.

Let me be honest, for me the past two years have been a bit of a dog show. My wife announcing she is moving out and then later ending the marriage in 2021. Having the courts make it all official in March 2022. While i don’t speak specifically about the end of my marriage, there is a podcast episode titled ‘When Your Ship Hits The Fan’ that speaks to those facing extremely troubled times.

But at the same time, there was a LOT of good happening in and around my world. One of the silliest and most enjoyable moments being a little board game competition that i won in South Africa. Where the prize was a trip to the island of Malta [yes, we all had to google it!] to represent South Africa in the World Catan Championships which i wrote about here and spoke about over here.

Not only was i number 1 out of everyone, after four rounds of games had been played – 86 people from 48 countries! – but i then came second in my semi-final and ended up finishing 2022 as the #7 of a thing in the world. Bizarre, but beautiful!

The competition had two main highlights [three if you count the incredible picture i got of Settlers of Catan game designer, Klaus Teuber, posing with No_bob, the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin!] which were:

[1] The people. Meeting so many of the competitors and making some cool new friendships [and being offered beds in Lebanon, Portugal, Bulgaria, Holland, Belgium,  Czech Republic, Sweden and more…] was the very best part of the adventure. From David my Portuguese roommate to Luka [and the lovely Christien] from the Netherlands [who brought my favourite snack Hagelslag in exchange for Rooibos tea and rusks!] to the entire Czech Republic squad [from Pavel, the youngest competitor of us all, to the best dreads in the world – sorry Dreadlock Mike – on Jan, and my lost-in-the-rain buddy Arnaud from Belgium, and Svetlin from Bulgaria who i have been i the most contact with having some deep and challenging conversations via Instagram, and so many more… but the time spent playing fun games, exploring Malta, eating together, cosying up in the crammed not-quite-working jacuzzi and so much more. With special mention to Stefan and Mariska from the Netherlands who i had a lot of fun with and who presented me with a Malta dolphin companion for No_bob…

[2] Malta. A reminder that i wanted to be true no matter how the Catan competition turned out – i freakin won a trip to Malta to meet and hang out with Catan players from all over the world. That’s the prize. i already won. And am so grateful that when the sad loss happened in the semi finals, i held to this and it really didn’t bum me out as much as it could have. Cos Malta! Taking a few days before and a few days after the competition meant i had a really good opportunity to jump on buses and take a trip on a ferry and be driven to the most amazing sunset by my newly discovered birthday twin, Megan, and so much more… Was really looked after well by Jess [before] and Megan [after], neither of whom i had met before, but the strength and beauty of friends-of-friends who have the gift of hospitality.

And for another year at least i am the frikkin number 7th of a board game in the world. THE WORLD!!!! Evil villain laugh… [so silly!]

Klaus Teuber with No_bob

Looking Ahead to 2023

So there was an end to a marriage and there was a crazy insane trip to Malta, but there was also so much more in the good, bad, and ugly categories of life. From the continuation of a Partners with Possibility partnership with Fuad Viljoen and Lavender Hill High School to ongoing work and camps with BottomUp non-profit doing work in Greater Grassy Park area schools, to the incredible Fathers Matter program launch with Heartlines, which i wrote about over here, and spoke about over here, my sister Sue from the US visiting and my younger sister Dawn visiting from the UK [after just moving to the UK] to run a 100-miler race [NUTS, but so proud, what an achievement, although technically a 96 or so miler thanks to an unforseen fire so she will have to do it again!] and SCO Conference [and new Croatia friend from Ecuador who has been hanging out with us til she leaves on 4 Jan!] and meeting a whole lot of mostly Joburg Twitterer people in real life and books and games and series and talks and just so much more. There was a whole lot of good despite the framing that was painful and chaotic.

As i look forward to 2023, i am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions per say, but i do like to make intentional commitments.

In the past there have been a number of years where i have given up a thing for a year. One year when i was still at Teacher’s College i gave up drinking Coke and eating chocolate for a year. i think i ate chocolate a week before the year ended, but otherwise pretty well done and i remember not enjoying the taste of Coke [to this day, really] after skipping it for a year. i gave up chips [as in potato crisps] the one year and i am pretty sure i have done others.

The plan for 2023 is to [largely but not completely] give up sugar. So in the form of general chocolate and desserts and sweets and things. And partly this is connected to my desire to lose some weight [in collaboration with eating better and exercise] but also because the discipline of avoiding something for a year i have found to be quite helpful. Likely still going to add the quarter of a teaspoon of sugar to my coffee and certainly not planning on giving up wine or other drinks. To be honest i rarely do fruit juice or fizzy drinks tending to prefer water and so that will be my focus next year as well. Am also considering trying Intermittent Fasting again which worked really well before so no eating after 7pm or before 11am every day. This time around i think i will limit my cheat day to one day and not the weekend cos not sure that was helpful. Or even maybe not cheat days to start off and see how it goes.

Beyond the eating, another of my plans for 2023 is to continue to find creative ways to read the Bible more, and together. After years of struggling to get into any kind of regular reading of it [to be fair, having grown up in the church and spent a LOT of time reading a lot of it, i do likely know it a lot more than the average person, but it doesn’t hurt to keep reading and hopefully learning] i somehow managed to find a rhythm of a chapter a day as one of the first things i do in the morning after making coffee. But then i connected with two friends towards the end of 2022 and we now do a weekly chapter together with shared reflections on Whatsapp and that has been amazing. So the idea is to read the chapter on Monday [not sure i got it done once before Friday] and then voice note some reflections to the group before listening to each others thoughts and possibly adding comment to that. This has been so refreshing as my two mates are a lot younger than me and so tend to share very different perspectives on the passages we have been working through and so there has been a lot of learning or being inspired. Then, leading up to Christmas, a random group of us from the Twitterer worked through the book of Luke in a similar way which was also really great – so hoping to do a few more short-term versions of that through the year.

The second month that Val and i spent in the Philippines just before lockdown was meant to be about writing my book. Which i did and largely finished my writing for this book on race for white people. Tentatively titled “I’m not a racist butt!” which i am now feeling quite strongly drawn back to. And it has largely sat untouched while i was waiting for a number of other people to get back to me with their writing, but pandemic had hit, and apart from a fe unsuccessful attempts to find interest from a publisher, not much was happening with it. But then suddenly in the space of the last month, 4 or 5 different people out of nowhere asked me about my next book. So i am thinking i must pay attention to that, and hopefully in the new year i will put some time aside to go back and see what i have and see what it needs and begin the search for a publisher again. i still completely believe there is a need for it in SA [this week’s Maselspoort pool incident speaks to that] and that there is not much available that has been locally written for white people on race.

i have LOVED being in a Whatsapp Poetry group with daily prompts inviting us to write something based on a picture or phrase. Thanks to my brilliantly talented friend, Ekta Somera [who has two poetry books out you should totally get hold of!] i have written more poetry this year than many other year’s combined and am even toying with the idea of writing a collection of poems for another book [or maybe as part of mine?!] So hoping to put aside more time to write poetry and read in 2023.

When it comes to reading, i have read a lot this year. But want to really move back to reading more people who don’t look like me [Brandon Sanderson pulled me away from that a little bit this past year] and next up is my new friend Gasant Abarder’s book ‘Hack with a Grenade’ as soon as i finish ‘How God sees Women’ by Terran Williams.

Made in Poetry on table

Spaces for People and Words and Change

While my word for 2023 – which i will probably say some more about in another blog post early next year – is HEALING, i can’t imagine it will be a year of focusing solely on that and nothing else. One of the ideas that has been bouncing around my head in the last while is that it is time to create some more spaces for safe and honest conversation [like we did in the past with Not A Meetings and Deep Dive Conversation Dinners]. One of these i want to create space for is definitely going to be aimed at people who love Jesus but are struggling with current church spaces in South Africa. But also no doubt race and Justice issues will be other spaces and conversations we have, especially given that recent events prove there is still so much more work to be done. So look out for these and come and join.

Finally, my thinking around Season 4 of my podcast, Out of the Fishbowl – and if you somehow still haven’t listened to a single episode, please do give at least one of them a try, starting at the very beginning with Pineapple on Pizza, somewhere in the middle looking at being defined [or not] by the very worst thing you ever did, or closer to the end with this invitational piece all about Curiosity.  – is that i am likely to do it interview style. The hope is to get some of my favourite and respected people into the studio and just improv some honest, raw, and rough Q and A and see what emerges on a variety of relevant topics.

For this to happen, i would once again Love for it to be community-funded. i covered the recording and some Twitterer friends covered the production and editing of Season 3 which made it a lot more possible to do. While it would be easier if a few committed people with money decided to jump on as Patrons on my Patreon page, so that i can see how much money there is, we can also go the same route of putting out an ask when the time comes and seeing who comes forward. But if you are someone who believes in the content being produced and that it has value and would be up to investing regularly to help pay costs, that would be great!

Out of the Fishbowl

Onward into 2023

So there you have it, and they do sound a little bit like resolutions i guess. So many of us just have knee-jerk reaction to the idea of New Year’s Resolutions because of the ‘Make the promises, Break the promises’ vibes of years gone by. Which is why i see mine as commitments. These are all things that i am actively planning on doing. Writing them down adds some accountability to them for me, as long as i remember to come back and read over them when the year gets going, maybe once a month would be good.

But would Love to hear from you in terms of things you are planning to actually do in the New Year. If you don’t take a moment to pause and reflect and name some things, then the likelihood is that any good intentions you may have will come to nothing. So speak them out or write them down and get going on them asap so that they can quickly become tried and tested habits.

i’m a little over saying “These past two years have been the hardest years of my life” and am certainly not looking to add a third year to that list. Malta was a really good time for me in that it interrupted the continuity of the sadness/hardness and gave me the opportunity to stand up and dust myself off, and i definitely returned to South Africa feeling somewhat lighter. These changes will hopefully add to that.

So here i go – in the midst of a seemingly-imploding world and country, i choose to be Hopeful. And i am committed to the change. To continue to call out and interrupt racism and misogyny where i see them and to hopefully partner with many other incredible people, both online and offline to do the same.

i am coming for you, 2023. Hope you are ready! And also, Marvel, enough of this Phase 4 nonsense, sort yourselves out and give us better movies again, starting with you, Guardians! Here’s to a most excellent and fruitful 2023 everyone! In all my Indian Chic glory… 

2023 here i come