My Africa my Home!

Here it is!! I’m beyond excited to announce that the first book in The Fault in the Family memoir seriesMY AFRICA MY HOME is ready for preorder! I’m nervous, I’m excited, it’s been an incredible journey, and it’s not over yet. I would just love it if you could have a look, maybe a buy (it’s way cheaper to buy it as a preorder than once it launches on April 12th). It’s available as an eBook on all Amazons around the world.

Book Cover Medium One

Here’s the blurb:IG Author Bio-2Scrawny and straw-haired, seven-year-old Jenny wakes up frozen. Her eyes won’t open, her voice refuses to work, she can’t even move her lips or her tongue. In fear, she grasps for her face, but her arms are both tied down, splayed out at either side. Why can’t she move? Where is she? And how did she get here? Her immediate assumption is that this is a punishment. But what was her crime? She searches through a mass of fear and fog, and as a blurry picture begins to form, of noise and drama, snot and tears, horror and panic …. she finds it. That must be it. She’d ignored the rules, fractured the silence, made a scene. She’d broken the cardinal rule; she’d been disobedient. Publicly. She’d broken free of invisible and caused all this terrible trouble. And now she was paying the price.

In this, the first book in the Fault in the Family Memoirs, Jennifer shares her gripping story of chronic neglect and loneliness in her teeny-tiny-bubble-of-a-world, slap bang in the middle of white, privileged, apartheid South Africa in the seventies. In My Africa My Home, Jennifer sets the tone and the background for this epic journey that will transport the reader through five decades, two families, eight international moves, and a shocking hundred-year-old legacy that underpins it all, in her search for identity, “home” and a place to belong.

As a teacher, mentor, author, artist, disability activist, TCK, corporate-wife and above all, mother, Jennifer brings her wealth of life experience as well as and her beautiful, heartfelt, vulnerable, passionate writing style to this incredible life story of hope where there shouldn’t be, and of redemption in ways she would never have imagined.

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If you’d like to read the first chapter, sign on to my email list HERE and I’ll email you a copy.

Please share, and shout if you’d like an interview, a chat, a review …. or to help spread the word!

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New Look, New Book!

It’s not quite official yet, but the long-awaited, much anticipated first book in my memoir series is just about ready! Amazon is doing their thing, we’re just sorting out pricing and fiddling with boring things like blurbs and bios… all of which I hate doing. But it needs to be done and by Monday we should have all the links and the ball will begin to roll. It will be ten weeks till launch but if you’re on the email list I’ll sneak you some photos, snippets, and even the first chapter!

I’ll tell you more about it this week, but in the meantime we’ve both been completely lost down the rabbit hole of artwork, cleaning up links, giving this old blog a new look, dotting all the “i”s and crossing all the “t”s. So if you notice anything that needs fixin, pleeease tell me!

I’ve even updated the “Who am I?” post HERE which was very out of date, so check it out if you’d like.

And I love my header. I do almost all my writing on my lap in bed, at airports, on couches, in Molly…. so I no longer have a real desk, so my new header is the one I created. It’s my imaginary desk, (though the photos are real… I took them and pieced them together)… I think I need to add a cup of tea, what do you think?

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If you’d like to receive the first chapter of My Africa My Home – The Fault in the Family Memoirs Book 1 (for free, in your mailbox), then sign on for my “big news only” (I promise I won’t spam you! I only send them when something important is happening) then click HERE.

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Perth Catch Up!

The short version of Christmas is we arrived safely, and had a mostly happy Christmas.

The long version is it was a loooong, stressful journey of three completely separate international flights with a broken website (so no checking in online) and wrong details appearing on check in and at every leg. The trip was characterised by long layovers, grumpy staff, and a broken bag on arrival. We’re still debating whether it was “broken” accidentally or tampered with. I’m certain of the second option for a number of reasons but it arrived totally unzipped and wrapped tightly in rope! If it was damage, the numerous glass gifts inside would be broken for sure. Annoying at best but yet again …. another close call!

We arrived at night to thirty six degrees (Celsius!) and so while exhausted we didn’t get a lot of sleep.

For the first week I felt totally out of control, puffy from the heat, sore from the trip, bad sleep (from the heat) and no turning of my legs yet (waaay to hot to even think of bringing Daisy out), but we set Daisy up ready for when the evenings cooled.

That first fortnight, even once the heat backed off a bit, was just a fog of exhaustion but I tried very hard to remain enormously thankful for unexpected chill times with all the babies, including the youngest who is busting to come out I’m sure. It’s hard not to wish he’d come early and join us!

With too much time lost to sorting things out, I had no spoons, and major brain fog. So it was survival mode for much of the time and a plan B kind of a Christmas; I just wrapped what we had and forgot about what’s missing, slept on the couch, shopped for curtain rails instead of gifts, salads instead of roast veg, threw the roast on the bbq instead of in the oven, made jelly instead of plum pudding….

But the bottom line is: planB is waaay better than all the worse options, we were ALL here for the first time in years, the company was the best ever, and I have so so very much to be thankful for!

And now we’re settled somewhat and finding our rhythms, we rode 237 km this week!! I’m soooo proud of me! He’s lost weight, I’m gaining !!! And I’m not impressed about that at all! But apparently my muscles are getting stronger.

It’s a strange combination to be able to move so freely on Daisy, but I still can’t walk any more than usual… but maybe that will change…

Anyway, sorry for a long, late, rambled catch up, but I needed to do that before writing about anything else…

See you tomorrow with the more relevant stuff soon 😊👊🏻

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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What Constitutes a Happy New Year?

My newsfeeds are filled with wishes for the new year, blog posts and articles on how to claim happiness, commiserations over what appears to have been a pretty horrible 2018 for many, and endless recipes on how to be “happy” in 2019.

Many are clichés, most are variations on the same theme, and no doubt, all come with good intentions. The world teaches us that it’s up to us to make our own happiness, that whatever we put out into the world will be returned at the very least, and that each of us has as much control over our lives as we want to.

At the same time my newsfeeds, through 2018, have also been littered with trauma, sorrow, sadness, frustration, pain, and loss, from people who are good, kind, giving, loving, hard-working and self-sacrificing.

What’s clear is that the world isn’t fair. We rarely get what we wish for and when we do it might not be the best thing for us.

For me, 2018 was hard! It wasn’t anything I expected. It was harder but better, exhausting beyond measure but so filled with blessings I find it selfish to complain about all the hard stuff. But I also felt like I I’d been hit by a truck, and woke up on the last day of 2018 feeling as though I have so little control over my life and that it’s a complete zoo.

So I threw off the covers, had a big moan to a dear friend, deleted it, then pulled on my big girl pants, wrote a few lists, took my daughter-in-law out for morning tea and a bit of a shop, shook the cobwebs out my head, chatted with God (prayed), made some major decisions, straightened out my priorities, rearranged my 2019 calendar completely, and by mid afternoon I was doing something I haven’t done in years; put my feet up with a paperback book, and actually laughed out loud – a lot!

It was marvellous! Why hadn’t I done this a long time ago? It was New Year’s Eve, so I read some more, we saw all the family, we moved our bedding to the pull out couch (where the sun wouldn’t wake us up at 5am any more), watched the Sydney fire works at our 9pm, and climbed into bed feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

But the neighbours had other ideas. They threw open their doors and windows, cranked the sound up to full blast, screeched at each other over the music, and played “Simon Says” till five in the morning.

It wasn’t just loud, it was deafening, and the stop/start of the music constantly jolted our bodies the moment we thought we could cope. We even tried just enjoying the music, but none of it was consistent and I don’t think they played a whole song all night. I’d treated myself to a sleeping tablet so while I was never asleep neither was I ever quite awake either. It was mind numbingly dreadful!

And a huge reminder that we have such little control over our lives that I wonder why I bother sometimes.

It’s not to say we have no control. Buying Daisy and riding a hundred and sixty kilometres this week alone, and being careful what I eat means that since mid December I’ve lost the pounds that Bertha (the bitch of a damaged hip) put on over July, August and September. And my New Years resolution for 2019 is to lose the weight put on since Frank (my damaged foot), do all the personal work we’d committed to doing post “retirement”, as well as publish three books, ride the Danube and ride across Belgium, and more…

BUT…. and here’s the really important bit; the control isn’t all mine. We live in a broken, damaged, Godless world, and so much is beyond my control. So in 2019 I also plan to build in way more buffer zones, to bring back more of the self care, to join the library again and read more books! To fly overseas way less, …but stay longer, breathe slower, to stand back more, to let others make their own mistakes. To shed the weight but also the burdens that were never mine to carry.

To take time to cherish more, eat better, and prepare for our second half of adult life in the ways we said we would. I’m sure that none of these things will bring any happiness as such, and that no matter how planful and careful we are in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll have no more control of those things around us than we did in 2019. But maybe we’ll get to accomplish more of the truly important things we’ve set out to conquer? Maybe we’ll have a little more sleep through the process? And hopefully we’ll be setting ourselves up better for all the journeys ahead of us.

What would a “happy” 2019 look like for you?

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Looking Back on 2018!

I stopped sending Christmas cards about a decade ago, and the end of annual newsletters came not far behind. I’m not sure I was ever any good at either and I know few people who do them well.

Too much to brag about, too much to complain about; the best and worst are often invisible or too hard to capture in a single photo or a few words anyway. Or they’re way too personal or too few people even care… the list of reasons why they’re so inadequate is long…

But I guess one still needs to somehow reflect on the last day of the year right?

2018 has been a roller coaster of note, and I’m struggling to wrap my head around everything that’s happened – planned or otherwise. I’m sure to the outside world we appear totally crazy and I often wake up wondering the same thing.

But I guess the bottom line for me, what I want people to know the most, is that in the quiet, prayerful moments when I remember what we are doing and why, I feel peaceful and content and ever so thankful. I’m not good at explaining much of it, but I do want people to know that there is reason and method in all this madness somewhere and that it isn’t nearly as random as it may appear.

I realise this all appears rather cryptic and I apologise for that. I constantly think “if I can just get enough sleep, enough time to write properly, enough days in one spot, enough this, that or the next thing… then I’ll regain an appearance of control of my life again and it won’t appear to be a complete zoo!” … but I’m not sure I’ll ever get any of those things and if I did manage to get them, I doubt I’d actually be in any more control than I am now?

When I look back on 2018 I’m not sure I’d do a whole lot differently? Ok, I take that back, I’d do lots of things better, slower, less thoughtfully (I tend to over think things, try too much and too hard), I think I’d have let go of more, been a little more “selfish”, tried to fix less things and allowed more people to make their own mistakes?

I’ll save what I hope to do differently in 2019 for the next post, but for now, thanks to all of you so much for reading, commenting, supporting, and putting up with me! Thanks soooo much for all the encouragement and personal contact! Thanks for all the amazing new friends and experiences, thanks to our amazing children for putting up with us! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this year in such positive ways.

No thanks to those who didn’t. I’ll not comment on those who tried to steal from us or derail us, those who tried to bring us down or make our choices all about them. It’s shocked me (even though it shouldn’t) how selfish people can be … from total strangers to those among the ranks of what were once our greatest supporters…. I’ll leave the negative at that.

It’s been a year of grandbabies and travels and changes and celebrations and losses and exhaustion and on the very last day of the year I think more than ever I need to retreat a little bit more and nurture myself better… whatever that means…

And as always, I’m off to cuddle and celebrate and be thankful with my pre iota babies and their families…

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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Updates:

On writing… not as much as I’d like, but certainly having a “Writing Buddy” helps and I’m way more organised. Watch out 2018…

On Unpacking… getting nowhere but oh well, there’s always next year…

On Daisy… we’re doing great! Today was ride number four and not only have I done nearly a hundred kilometers already, but many of them have been uphill (a few times with only me pedalling I might add… to see if I can).

We had our first fall today, a slow one where we took off and immediately toppled right over (into a parked car which was thankfully so bashed and scratched it’s hard to tell if we damaged it). Many people have questioned why I have my harness and today reminded us why as it earned its keep forever. Without it I’d have been sprawled across the road (at best), but instead, apart from some scratches and bruises, I stayed firmly in my seat.

The other fall came at the end of the ride. It’s hard to explain my difficulty with walking yet ability to ride, but in Daisy my seat is tilted right back and my feet are raised. I can turn the pedals without putting weight on any of my joints. At the end of a ride it’s so easy to forget I can’t walk. But worse, my joints have moved into “riding position” which for me is not the same as “walking position” and I can’t get up off the bike and certainly can’t walk till my joints resettle. Today I forgot. Yes, I gingerly climbed off (no chance of getting off any faster), waited a few seconds, took one step towards the curb, and just like that both my legs folded under me and completely collapsed.

Thankfully I was unhurt, but it was a little embarrassing fully slumped in the gutter at my front door. There was no way I could get up again for a while either… hence no photos other than once I was on my feet again.

The scenery in Malta never ceases to amaze me, even though there’s rarely anything close to flat or smooth. Apparently this is good training for me!

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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The Weary Travellers!

Sunday midday and all three of us were home safely in Malta! Exhausted but thrilled to be back again.

Daisy and I completed the last leg of our journey over the last twenty four hours, off to the airport in the upgraded rental mini (thanks #SixtLuton !!!) with Daisy safely wrapped in two seperate parcels, a 3:45am alarm, flight, #wheelchairassist followed by a flight over the #FranchAlps, across the #MediteranianSea, and a bumpy landing into #malta where #Molly was there to meet us!

We haven’t put Daisy together again yet, but all pieces are accounted for and look fine! Out cake the Thermomix and in the blink of an eye we had delicious risotto for lunch and homemade pizzas for dinner!

Nighty night from one VERY happy little household!!!

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

Monthly update newsletter:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

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@JPeaSmith