How to be a Hero

Heroes come in all sorts of disguises. Not many fit the prescribed formula we had imprinted on us as kids by Hans Christian Anderson, or Enid Blighton, or even Stephen King! Growing up, traditional heroes rode magnificent steeds into battle; were always armed with the biggest gun or sharpest sword; carried badges; solved crimes or mysteries; and saved people from the inevitable Baddies. Traditional heroes were confident; outspoken; brave; and were regaled as Heroes - celebrated as one to aspire to be like - a template to be followed in order to be a success, a Good Person. A Hero.

What about today? Who are our Heroes? Is there still a template that would render one a typical Hero? Looking around, in all societies, in all cultures, across all levels, I see a lot of Fallen Heroes. People who have once ticked all the boxes that magic template prescribed. Who we as society acknowledged and celebrated as the Real Deal. Heroes in every form.  Why them? What made us lift them up onto those pedestals? Revere them? Aspire to be like them?

Not to beleaguer the point - but to mention a few. Oscar Pistorious begins his trial for the brutal murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steencamp tomorrow. (Make that 19 August - postponed already!!) Once a hero in all forms to so many, meeting all the preordained requirements, - on the sporting field, for his upliftment projects, for his positive and motivating advocacy of the handicapped in sport. What will he be remembered for now?  Will history still reflect his life as that of a Hero - once claiming his rightful spot on that elusive pedestal? Lance Armstrong? A True Hero - unadulteratedly admired by nations. His undignified fall from grace rendering him Only Human? Movie Actors and Actresses are often viewed as Heroes by our kids. They have been built up in this imaginary, fantasy world by the industry, and when they come crashing down to normalcy - their fall is harder than most. I remember Hannah Montana (Mylie Cyrus) being my daughters Heroine for a very long time. Then she saw pictures of her in "Real Life" smoking - boom! She was now banished by Kirsten to the category of Fallen Hero. What, or rather, who is left? Spiderman? Superman? Wonderwoman (or was it Catwoman?)

I look around in Real Life, in my small world, and I have personally have plenty of Real Life Unsung Heroes. These are the Heroes I have, and will be further, promoting to my children. I am so lucky to have a large circle of amazing friends, who are part of my life in so many obvious and intrinsic ways. Friends who have made me who I am, friends who help me to strive to be who I want to be. Friends who are like second moms to my kids (Ash and Karen - the roles go both ways!), friends who frustrate me, challenge me, and friends who make me silently count to ten in my head! I have friends who have always been in my life (Jen - almost 28 years of friendship - forever and always x), and friends who have just come into my life. Friends who have come, and gone, and come back again, friends far away and friends up the road. I have one group of friends, whom I have wanted to write a tribute to for a long time. They have been my glue for the past five years. We have developed a bond that is untenable, and have a deep love and respect for each other that overshadows the most seemingly impossible situations. For laughter (in abundance), for tears (there have been lots - we take turns!), for help, for wine, for fun, for dancing, eating, talking, sharing, teaching and ultimately, for just being there. My Bookclub Babes. When I think of heroes in the true sense of the word - these girls are mine.

(Take out the names, and I guarantee these heroes exist in some form in all of your lives. And somewhere in there, you may find yourself - a hero to someone special.)

My two friends Caren and Georgie who not only survive but excel as part time single moms while their husbands travel for work on a permanent basis.  They are truly amazing women who are each raising three amazing kids, in the most beautifully creative homes, with wonderful foundations. Georgie - who has overcome cancer, who rises to any challenge life throws at her, who is always ready to (literally) kick her heels up and let loose, and who is a completely compassionate and empathetic human being. Caren - who along with kicking ass in a huge way in her gym sessions (I once literally battled to sit or walk for four days after one of her training sessions! I cursed her. A lot.), has this amazing, eclectic decorating eye - this ability to put a 1920's sewing machine on her mantle, hang handbags on her wall, mount life size Freda portraits in her hallway, and make it look unbelievably phenomenal!  I am constantly in absolute awe of her - and unashamedly green with envy! She is strong minded, and passionate - and is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Gen - my strong, resilient wonderful friend, who survived a horrible hi-jacking at work, faced her fears and trauma and didn't allow the monsters to change who she was. She went back to work and has made such a success of her business - which alone makes her my hero. (Well, that and her Master Chef capabilities!). Gen is without a doubt the most organised person I know. She is master-list-maker-supreme, she organises the BEST getaways, has a fantastic dress sense, and is the kindest, most generous, honest friend I know. She wears her heart on her sleeve (I have so much respect for anyone who does this), and I have never heard her utter an unkind word. Gen's door (and heart) is always open.

Carla - the epitome of the Mother Bear defending her cub. Carla has recently had to endure the agony of watching her step-daughter go through an intense trauma. She has walked on fire to stand up and fight for her, to ensure that justice prevails, to help her daughter heal and emerge stronger for the experience. Carla is a real hero in my eyes. She has had to visibly react in a way in which every mother hopes she has the strength to do. Aside from this, Carla is my mentor. She has accomplished so much, and never lets anything stand in her way. She had a desire to learn to paint? Done! With such skill and flair. Carla is also one of the most generous people I know - generous with her home, her entertainment, her skills, her knowledge, her advice, and most importantly, with her heart.A very special lady.

Four Kids. And the last one in her 40's. And all achievers. That's a whole heap of work! The exhaustion, the emotion, the financial outlay, the juggling act, the organising skills - Debs is fantastic! She makes motherhood look like a walk in the park. To add to her hero CV, Debs is an accomplished lawyer (not practicing right now), and always looks gorgeous and stunningly dressed. Dylan once thought that Megan Fox, who happened to be gracing the cover of Cosmo one year, was Debbie. I kid you not. Debbie has this ability to create an impression the moment she enters a room. She has an infectious laugh, and way of getting you to open up without realising you have done so.

With the ability to create the most spectacular art - in all forms, with her paintbrush or her mouse, Jos is my enviable hero. She is a free spirit, with the most phenomenal ability to sense when you are hurting or needing a friend. Her calls or messages always come at just the right time. She is incredibly talented in graphic design, and her artistic ability is unbelievable. Anyone who can create awe out of a flat canvas, is a hero in my eyes, and Jos just takes this to a whole new level. She reaches out and hits home, when she senses you are down. She celebrates all your successes. She taps into your psyche and is incredibly wise and deep in her advice. 

Robyn is about to complete her BA psychology degree. Her second degree. In her forties. With three children. And a travelling husband. She whips up culinary master pieces, putting us all to shame with her wine drinking capabilities - surviving most bookclub evenings (lets not mince words - we all understand its wine club!) with no hangover! But more than all of this, what makes Robs a hero in my life is how she has jumped in with both feet to be there for her sister, who is undergoing chemo for breast cancer at the moment. She is strong, and focused, and emotionally a pillar of strength. She has put her own fear and heartache aside, and has stepped up to the plate in so many ways. Robs has a magnificent, raucous laugh! (Along with Georgie, they have literally brought bookclub to its knees with noise levels, according to Warren attempting to sleep upstairs!!) She is a wonderful raconteur. Her stories are colourful, loud, and spellbinding!  With Robs in the mix, there is always bellyaching laughs, and genuine emotion.

I have always been a bit wishy-washy (a very technical term!!), when it comes to dealing with conflict, and have a habit of mincing my words in an effort to always try to say the right thing. Karen- there-is-no-grey-only-black-and-white-Foord is my ultimate hero in saying what you mean. If it needs to be said, she will say it. But in such a good way that you leave her company feeling like all the problems of the world have been solved. She has talked me though many issues in such a straightforward, level headed way. She is also the friend who senses you need it, so just pops past to give you a hug. Oh - and if you ever want to know ANYTHING - ask Karen! Karen has opened up conversations you swear should be banned in public. Many a waitron serving our table at dinners have earned themselves an invaluable education!

My darling, special friend Monique. Whenever you need a friend, a supportive ear, a shoulder to lean on or cry on,  someone to have that much needed afternoon glass-of-wine-that-extends-into-supper with - Mon is there. Always. Without fail. I needed help co-ordinating a more-than-we-bargained-for charity project this year, and without blinking an eye, or questioning what was involved, Mon stepped up. She can single handedly whip up homemade bread in a pan on an old gas stove in the middle of the bush; lend you a pair old kick-ass shoes in any colour of the rainbow; create timeless, unique GORGEOUS furniture from relics bound for the dump (Revive - partnered with Caren - these two are seriously fabulous!) - and be an amazing wife to her Greek husband who still believes in the sanctity of the weekend afternoon nap!  Without doubt - my hero! She has recently had an op, one which is excruciatingly painful. She took it head on, without flinching. She waved away her pain, got out of bed, and got on with her day. No milking of symptoms. No playing for sympathy. Always true to herself and her friends, my hero.

We all need hero's in our lives. They help us to be better versions of who we already are. When life hands us lemons (in Bookclub Babes they would either be used for G&T's, or for Robyn's mind blowing cevichy starter (literary liberty with spelling!)), these heroes make us see that there is more to life than disappointing sports stars, badly behaved-movie-stars-masquerading-as heroes, fallen politicians, and super/spider/cat/wonderwomen and men who by virtue of the fact that they wear their underwear on the outside of their pants, are destined to disappoint. Without looking too far, we are surrounded by good. By genuine, down to earth, Real Life Heroes. And I for one, am blessed to have so many Heroes in my life. I'm Just Saying...