I am both delighted and excited this week to feature one of the loveliest people I have ever had the privilege of meeting and someone who, despite the thousands of miles between us, I am lucky enough to count amongst my very best friends. Claire and I met at a local music group we both attended here in Hamilton with our little girls and as we were both foreigners in a new country, we instantly had something in common - as well as the fact that we each had a daughter the same age and almost share the same birthday. We happened to live off the same street so it was a friendship that easily and quickly developed into a very strong bond, not just for us but for our daughters too who became tiny best friends. We bonded over play dates, park visits, paddling pools, picnics, days at the Gardens, baking & crafting sessions, cups of tea, kiddie dinners, weekend barbeques, occasional meltdowns and far too infrequent grown up evenings with a glass of wine.
I remember before starting our family always being told that you form some of your closest friendships when you have children and in this case it certainly turned out to be true. Although I don’t necessarily agree that just having children in common guarantees lifelong friendships, I do believe that it puts you in a position to meet like-minded women with similar values and gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with wonderful people you may have otherwise not met. Whether through a playgroup, a music group, a kindergarten or years spent at the same school gates, just being there opens the doors to starting a conversation and building up a marvellous friendship with someone new…
For any of you out there who knows Claire, I’m sure you already know how blessed you are to have her in your life, whether as a friend or the person helping you with all things pregnancy and baby related. For those of you who don’t, I hope you enjoy reading her words and I wish you all a similarly wonderful friend! Claire is exceptionally kind, sincere, thoughtful, brave, warm, friendly, fun, creative and as my 6 year old Arabella would say, “entirely lovely!”
My darling Clara, my soul sister, I miss you always and we all miss your family in our lives. I thank you - more than my heart can fully express - for your friendship and for the far too short but oh so sweet time we shared together in NZ. I thank you for the memories, I thank you for the laughter, I thank you for the tears and I thank you for the love… X
Now over to you:
1. What does Lovelyness mean to you?
"Lovelyness" is when a person/object has the ability to leave you feeling all the better for having been in their presence. It's warm and radiant and wholesome... a hug, fits of laughter, a cup of tea.
2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?
I am happiest when my family is happy. What brings me joy? To put a smile on someone's face! And good music!
3. What are you most grateful for in your life?
For health, for my husband and children, for good friends.
4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life?
- To raise my girls the way they deserve to be raised.
- To be the kind of person that people are better off for having known.
- To "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God" Micah 6:8
5. Who’s your current role model and why?
A lady in my family. The reason she's my role model is because she is a "see the good in everyone" type of person. She has had trials in her life and she has dealt with them with perseverance and gentleness and those are qualities I would strive to have. That, and she's an amazing mum and I strive for that too.
6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)
These are two women who became friends of mine through our children.
The first is a friend who's daughter was born on the same day as my youngest. She is lovely because she remembers everything about what's going on in peoples lives, in a good way. She's thoughtful and she follows up!
The other friend, who will always be lovely to me, has a little girl the same age as my oldest. This friend embodies loveliness in her style and in the way she is with others. She's comfortable with who she is and loves to make others happy, and that's lovely!
Famous: Reese Witherspoon and The Dutchess of Cambridge, because they just are, aren't they?
7. What's your favourite type of food?
It's more about favourite flavours than a type of food... ginger and coriander top it. I'm a Durban girl so I love a good curry. I have a serious weakness for salted dark chocolate but can't do a lot at a time fortunately!
8. What are your favourite pastimes?
Anything I can put my hand to that's a creative outlet: baking, cooking, painting, furniture projects and more recently, building lego with my 4 year old! I also love to read.
9. Do you have a favourite quote?
10. Where’s your favourite place?
The African Bush... there's something so soulful about it, especially the rivers. I love the quiet, and the smell. It's like breathing in goodness. The Kruger Park holds a particularly special place in my heart. I grew up going there on family vacations and it's taught me such an appreciation for nature and I feel very close to God there.
11. Which is your favourite season and why?
Summer! Sunshine makes me happy and I just don't cope in the cold! Summer also brings the Christmas season here in South Africa, and that is my "most wonderful time of the year".
12. Do you have a signature style?
My Havaiana's are my best friend... I'm a flip flop girl by day but love nothing better than throwing on heels that are probably a bit too high and getting all dressed up for an occasion or a night out!
In terms of my home, it's a mix of stuff we've collected along the way and the overall look is now a bit afro-coastal. Most pieces have a story, like the studio chairs we bought on the side of the road in Kenya that my darling indulging husband carried back on the flight home for me. Another is our console table made from the wood of a Dhow boat that we designed as our first baby's changing table.
13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?
My late Gran, Alice. This little lady (in stature not character) was graciousness personified! She out-lived four young children and a husband and had every right to be angry but she was anything but. She saw the good in pretty much everyone and had a sense of humour second to none. She taught me that there's something to catch onto in this life, and that is to look for the rainbows and not the storm clouds, to rise above whatever gets thrown at you. Not only to rise above, but rise above and fly.
14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?
Honesty is paramount. I really value loyalty and trust, and I do best with "what you see is what you get" people, people who are comfortable enough in their own skin to allow me to be me.
15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?
Ok, let's start with the worst... I have the ability to take things personally and I care a lot about what others think. But I'm learning that sometimes what other people think doesn't matter, and when it does matter then I must learn from it!
Best attributes... I cannot lie (even if I want to, not even the small white kind) and I care a whole lot, so if I can help I will go out of my way to.
16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?
LOVELY! Loyal, consistant.
17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?
I am most at home in Africa and I love Umdloti where we live now. It's a small coastal town with wildlife that visit the garden most days but it's close enough to convenience if I need it! If I had to choose somewhere else in South Africa it would probably be Cape Town because it's just beautiful and well run. If I had to choose a city outside of Africa, I loved Boston, it's got a great culture and is also so pretty... but I haven't been to Paris yet ;)
18. What are your aspirations for the future?
To be a good wife and mother. To grow my baby clinic and lactation consulting practice, and be a blessing to young moms in my community.
19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?
- Song: "The way you look tonight" by Frank Sinatra. I danced with my Dad to this at my wedding and it makes me smile.
- Movie: I have two. "The Family Stone" which I watch (with a box of tissues) every Christmas. It just ticks all the boxes for me! The other is "The Polar Express" which I watch with my girls at Christmas time too!
- Book: There are many but I have read "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks many times and can still get lost in it every time.
20. Any Lovely Last Words?
In the words of Edward Monkton: "Let us be lovely, let us be kind, let us be silly and free. It won't make us famous, it won't make us rich but dammit how happy we'll be."
And I have to say I love this blog... "Lovelyness" is a good thing to pursue!
Claire x - Grow Perinatal Care