we are shaped by our experiences but we can choose how to live out those experiences. We choose how to live, we choose whether we give up or go on. We choose to forgive.
life demands of you to be intentional; intentional about your actions, your energy, your focus, your thoughts and emotions.
It hasn’t been easy but it has been fulfilling
love is one of the most if not the most powerful source of hope we have on this earth
Its not just okay to live as your authentic self, its absolutely necessary.
do not fear. do not tremble. do not question or second guess
These hard, tiring and busy days won’t last.
Your ability to nurture, love, care and encourage is God-given.
break out of the mould you created for yourself with all the things you thought you knew
I hope you relinquish all expectations you had of yourself for this next season and simply enjoy being alive.
Even if it fails, at least you know that you tried.
We all have a place in our minds where we wish to go, things we want to do and places we want to see but if I’ve learned anything, these last few years, is that you won’t get there if you don’t get moving.
It’s a beautiful day. The dog dreams. I breathe
Better to have a moment of awkwardness than to have a lifetime of regret.
I’ve been thinking about mental health or mental illness for some time now, and like most people, I’ve been there. I call it the dark place. I remember when I was going through a dark time, I felt lost. It was as if I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt alone. Almost as if no one saw my struggle and my pain, or even if they did, they couldn’t understand it. When I look back now, I see myself in that place, a dark hole, an endless dark pit, the darkness tangible, I could almost taste it. It doesn’t leave you. There are times even in your healed state when you find yourself sliding back into the embrace of that familiardarkness. When I say darkness, I don’t mean not being able to see in front of you which is also very much the case. The darkness I am talking about is a heaviness, a hollow heaviness. It tortures you day after day after day until it eventually chokes the life out of you. I was alone, lost, and being slowly killed by an enemy I couldn’t see. My faith saved me. It saves me still. Once you’ve been in that dark place and made it out, every single day after that is a battle not to go back there. I’ve learned that this battle is no longer mine. You wake up every day, knowing you’re fighting today to stay alive, to not fall back into that dark despair. It is not something you get over. It’s something you have to work on every single day. Can you imagine the emotional turmoil, the mental anguish, and the raw desperation someone must be feeling or experiencing to come to a place to want to take their own life and then the bottomless and overwhelming hopelessness to go through with it? Just take a second and think about it. Finding yourself at a place where you have absolutely no hope, no escape, and no place to turn except to death.
So just a bit of food for thought; next time you engage with someone just be kind. We don’t know what battles people are fighting within their minds. Your kindness could be what saves someone from taking their own life.
Being a writer is a very lonely thing to be. Unlike a band of musicians working together to create a symphony; a writer is but one person.
You are all alone with just your thoughts. A pen, and a paper, trying to make sense of the loneliness. You hope someone will understand but knowing no one ever will.
It’s a very lonely place to be. In a room by yourself, writing about loneliness. The words on a page holding you together granted you should crumble if you don’t let it flow from the ink.
Yes, it’s very lonely. Very quiet indeed.
Words not like music are silent, unassuming, and not demanding. Gentle almost. The silence is deafening. If not for the sound of your breathing and the slide of the pen, you would almost think you were dead.
Alone and dead with only a pen and page as your companion.
Only the brave ones know where writing truly stems from and where it takes you The places in your mind and imagination that you thought you had forgotten. The memories you never knew you had. The dreams you never dared speak of.
It’s a road not travelled at all. A sad and painful place where the rivers are made out of tears. Very lonely. Very heartbreaking.
Sitting outside feeling pressed, smelling the dog next to me. The sun’s heat warms my skin. Hearing bird songs and little insects all around me. It’s hard to pinpoint in which direction it’s coming from. There’s a helicopter somewhere, flying overhead, the sound of it starts or far, then it comes closer and closer until I can almost feel the vibrations on my skin. I see the dog out of the corner of my eye, vigorously scratching himself. I’m hot right beneath the sun. I take off the pink cardigan and immediately feel a chill. The dog lies down on his side, baking. His white fur looks almost golden brown. A car whizzes past. A bird chirps in the distance. The sun is hot. I look up and squint. I’m still feeling pressed. It’s a beautiful day. The dog dreams. I breathe
This month I celebrate my 30th birthday. The last 30 years seem to have gone by in a blur but there were some hard and necessary lessons learned. As I enter my 30s, allow me to share 30 things (out of the thousands) I’ve learned before turning 30-years-old. My 20’s were for learning. My 30s will be for putting what I’ve learned into practice.
1.Everything is a blessing from God if you choose to see it that way and if you can’t see it as a blessing, see it as a lesson.
Isaiah 43:1-3 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
2. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and frustration if you choose not to focus on what others think of you.
3. Time with family is more precious than money.
4. Its not just okay to live as your authentic self, its absolutely necessary.
5. Gratitude opens up the door to opportunities.
6. Comparison is just another form of ignorance.
7. Griefnever goes away. You simply learn to live with it.
8. Patience, persistence, preparation and prayer, these things will get through hard times.
9. Rest when you need to. You are no good to anyone when you are operating on fumes.
10. Inspiration is not something to be found. It’s something to be created.
11. To get through anything, you’ll need patience. You’ll find yourself waiting a lot. Waiting in queues, waiting for transport, waiting on people, waiting for signs and miracles. Work while you wait. (I wrote this part while waiting in a queue at a clothing store)
12. Always have a book with you. Whether its a reading book or a note book. You’ll either read something worth remembering or write something worth sharing.
13. No one will and no one should believe in your art more than you.
14. Prayer will guide you and conviction will save you.
15. You need to have honest conversations with yourself about who you are and who you want to be. You need to dig deep into your heart and that will hurt sometimes because you won’t always like what you find.
16. Marriage and love are beautiful thing things. Despite the fact that many people will make you think love is painful or marriage is pointless, once you find it and experience it at its purest essence, you’ll understand the beauty of it.
17. You children will never do what you say. They will do what you do. Make sure you do the right thing.
18. The world is full of bad things but there are even more beautiful things to be discovered.
19. Set goals for yourself, have a plan. Do not go through life rudderless.
20. Take care of your finances. Be smart about your savings and where and how you spend your money.
21. Mind your business but make it your business to care for others.
22. Read and study your bible. You’ll find all the answers you need.
23. It’s okay to ask for help. It does not mean you are weak.
24. Your mind can become a battlefield, you need to protect it at all costs.
25. Be grateful for the hard times. Grapes are pressed and crushed to create wine.
26. Change is scary but sometimes it takes a big change to move you into action.
27. Being kind doesn’t have to be a production. Sometimes its a sincere word, a hug or just a smile.
28. Not everyone is out to hurt you. Some people simply want to get to know you and love you. It’s okay to trust people.
29. Don’t make social media your life.Make time to live in the real world.
30. Love sincerely and wholeheartedly and never regret giving someone your heart, even when they break it.
“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been” – David Bowie
This past December, my family and I took a road trip to East Londonin the Eastern Cape. I met my husband’s grandmother, and now my grandmother.
In the ten days I lived in her home, I saw and experienced raw strength.
She is the matriarch and a true one at that. Mama is my husband’s 81-year-old paternal grandmother. She is also as fierce and feisty as they come. For you to understand my admiration for Mama, you need to understand a bit of her life and her history.
Mama, as she is so affectionately known, lost both her husband and only daughter of five children, who was also the youngest sibling, within the space of 6 months more than 15 years ago. She ended up having to take care of her late daughter’s son, who was two years old at the time. He is now a well raised young man.
Through conversations I had with Mama during our stay at her home in Buffalo Flats, I was in awe of how she relayed stories of when her husband, Dada, died and then how she lost her daughter only six months later. When I listened to her speak, I could hear pain, sadness, loss but also acceptance. She made me realize that acceptance like that only comes from a very deep-rooted strength.
I also realized that she didn’t have a choice but to be strong. She took on the responsibility of raising her grandson like he was her own. I cannot fathom the sheer determination and willpower it had to take for her to get out of bed every morning and be there for her grandson, the rest of her children as well as other family members.
SHAPED BY EXPERIENCE
I watched her as she sat on her red lumpy but very comfortable sofa in her home, hunched over with all the experiences from her past trying to weigh her down but she gets up every day, determined to live her life and do her daily chores.
It was at one of these moments when it hit me; she wasn’t sitting on a couch but a throne.
Mama also very much reminded me of mymother who died in 2020. Both women have seen and have been through some of the worst pain you can imagine, both refusing to be dictated to by bad and negative circumstances and both set in their daily way of life.
During the time I spent with Mama, I learned that yes, we are shaped by our experiences but we can choose how to live out those experiences. We choose how to live, we choose whether we give up or go on. We choose to forgive.
There was a point where Mama said to me that she didn’t know if she could ever accept or get through what had happened to her but God had gotten her through it and she did manage to accept her fate.
She could have chosen to be angry and to turn away from God, which I’m sure there were many of those moments when those bad feelings overwhelmed her. She could have chosen to become a lifeless vessel of her former self but I can assure you, that woman still has a lot of life left in her.
Her relationship with God is so secure and I truly believe that that is her source of strength. Every morning she wakes up and reads devotionals and her Bible. I’ve decided to put that in practice as well.
LIVING WITH INTENTION
Every time Mama would tell a story and explain the difficult parts, she would say, “but it doesn’t really matter“
For me, that didn’t mean she gave up or lost hope or didn’t accept things. For me it meant that in the bigger picture, the grand plan of God for her life, her focusing on the past was not the point. It was what she got out of all her pain and loss. Thewisdom and understanding that her loss and pain was not for nothing.The way in whichshe imparted her wisdom and what she learned, to others around her.It was peace beyond all human understanding.It was knowing that love is sacrifice and that understanding comes from compassion.
Mama showed me that life demands of you to be intentional; intentional about your actions, your energy, your focus, your thoughts and emotions.
I learned patience and I saw accepting the things one cannot change, in action.
I loved sitting in her company, I loved watching the movie of her life play out as she told me stories and showed me old polaroid photographs.
In ten days, I lived a life of 40+ years through the eyes of a woman who lost everything, was forced down on her knees and found herself in the perfect position to pray for the strength and will to live to tell the tale.
I hope you learn to appreciate all your flaws and find the beauty in every scar, wrinkle, and folded skin.
I hope you learn to love your voice. I hope that you use it to change your world.
I hope you learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and, I hope you let go of the burden of guilt.
I hope you find love in all the different relationships in your life.
I hope you chase your dreams and get the chance to watch them come to life.
I hope you share your stories and adventures and inspire others to do the same.
I hope you learn to be gentle with yourself and remember that bad decisions do not define you.
I hope you find the strength to fight through the bad times and come out the other side a stronger person.
I hope you remember to pray.
I hope you remember how beautiful you are.
I hope you laugh more.
I hope you play more.
I hope you find more.
I hope you always look for stars in the darkest of nights
and know that the sun will always rise in the morning.
I hope you start believing in love again.
Just believe it again.
I hope you can look back on the last season in your life and find the good
And I hope that you will always be grateful that you have made it this far.
I hope you know that your story is far from over and that the next blank page is waiting for you to create the life that you want.
I hope you know that you have the power to change your life and I hope you remember to never give that power away.
I hope you know that you can push boundaries and break barriers.
I hope that you know that you are never alone.
I hope that you witness great things and climb majestic mountains.
I hope that you find the courage to reach deep within yourself and do what makes you happy.
I hope you walk away from anything that no longer serves you and, I hope you walk away with your head held high.
I hope that you smile again and laugh with all the joy in your spirit.
I hope it’s so loud that the rest of the world can’t help but laugh with you.
I hope you remember that saying goodbye is not always a bad thing. I hope you know that the pain doesn’t last. I hope you know that love is plentiful. I hope you dance in the rain and roll in the mud. I hope you plant seeds instead of picking flowers. I hope you remember that having a bit of fun is good for you. I hope you hold warm hands and kiss soft lips. I hope you get the chance to look into loving eyes and fall asleep in a warm embrace. I hope you take care of yourself.
It was fun to be a part of this project. I recall, when the Whatsapp group opened, and all the discussions started flowing, I thought what a wonderful group of people who would come together and contribute to the idea of one person. I believe that is the foundation of Paper Trail.
An amazing group of writers is brought together with a variety of thoughts and ideas and it’s all mixed together in a melting pot of creativity.
I spent some time reading through the journal and it was really hard for me to choose which pieces were my favourite. When you read through it, it really highlights the importance of young people and the pivotal role that they play in society. It gives them a voice.
“Where there are challenges there is bounteous space for the cultural economy to flourish. All that is required is clarity of vision and openness”
On the Twitter page ofPaper Trail, the pinned tweet reads as follows:
“Our mission is to inspire young people through modern storytelling, and our vision is to create a digital journal that includes collaborators of all age groups to share poetry, short stories, articles and write-ups on young leaders and small businesses that improve our community.”
A TRAIL OF FAVOURITES
Like I mentioned before, there are so many facets and a variety of topics in this journal, that it makes it pleasantly difficult to choose which ones were my favourite. There are however some pieces that I would like to highlight.
“Back In The Day” by Shiara Sharanund. A learner at Westville Girls High school wrote a beautiful article that makes you reflect on the days past and how they made you feel. It sums up the idea of nostalgia stunningly. Below is a piece from her article.
There is also a sweet little piece from a Grade 4 learner at R.A Engar Primary school. This piece made me feel a bit sad but also put a smile on my face. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we have forgotten that the little ones have also gone through some major changes but they have adapted so well.
The following quote is from a piece written by Shika Budhoo from her column titled “Align and Shine”
“Be the producer / radio DJ of your own mind and make sure the thoughts you think stay focused on your blessings and goals.”
Shika’s column gives you easy and practical tips on how to change the frequency of your thoughts from negative to positive and I think we can all do with a bit more positivity.
Another important piece that I would like to highlight is “How To Take Care Of You and Your Mental Health” by Robin Cleote. This piece speaks to all of us and after everything we’ve been through, it’s definitely worth the read.
KOFFEE FOR THE SOUL
I also contributed to the journal and I truly feel honoured that I could do that. I shared a space with amazing writers and if you haven’t heard of them before, you surely will now. Paper Trail brings communities together from across the world through the power of words. It reminds me of my review on Letting In The Light. Another body of work that simply reminds you about the beauty of words and shared experiences.
When I thought about the column that I wanted to contribute to Paper Trail, I wanted to write something honest and something that anyone could relate to. I didn’t want to give advice, I simply wanted to reflect and that’s the brief I proposed to the founder and editor, Ekta Somera.
The name “Koffee For The Soul” was inspired by how when we drink a warm beverage, its comforting and relaxes us and that is the experience I wanted to give the reader.
There is a little bit of wisdom in every piece that has been added to this journal. I am amazed at the array of writers and their contributions.
Paper Trail brings together a range of articles for every kind of reader. From recipes, poetry, history, fashion, and makeup to anime and so much more. There is truly something for everyone.
It is not just an enjoyable read but is also a learning experience.
Well done to everyone involved and to Ekta Somera for the idea of starting this journal.
The other day I had three consecutive seizures at my workplace. When I wrote this piece, I feel ashamed and embarrassed about having Epilepsy and slightly worried because of how I believe my colleagues might treat me after seeing me like that but you’ll be happy to know that I’m over that.
No one asks for a chronic condition. It just happens. You could be the healthiest, most active and fit individual and still somehow suffer from some chronic condition. It could be a heart condition or a neurological illness or simply a defect that you were born with.
I certainly never asked to have Epilepsy but I was officially diagnosed with it in 2019. My mother also had it. I pray that my children won’t develop it but chances are that one of them will and when they do, I do not want them to feel ashamed or embarrassed, hence I share this now. Epilepsy and seizures are weird. You have no control over your body. Sometimes when I’m in the midst of a seizure, I can make out voices, I can see people around me but I can’t speak and I can’t move. At times, I’ve found myself saying, “I’m here, help me” in my head but no one hears me. No one knows I’m screaming internally.
HOW IT STARTS
I get really bad headaches, then I feel the aura. An aura is a warning that you are probably going to have a seizure at any moment. When that happens, everything seems to be moving too fast and too slow all at the same time. It feels like an out of body experience, I feel a tingling sensation in my hands and then I become disorientated.
I only remember bits and pieces of the episode. I believeEpilepsyliterally eats at your brain, little by little.
When I wake up from the seizure, and this is from what I can remember and from what people have told me, I don’t have feeling in my hands or sometimes my legs. From what the paramedic told me, this could be induced by anxiety.
I struggle to speak or articulate myself, as if my tongue is too heavy for my mouth and I don’t remember much. I was told during my epileptic episode, I asked for my mother.
If I’m honest, I’ve been irresponsible with my health and especially with my Epilepsy diagnosis.
When I was diagnosed, I was in denial and I probably still am. I haven’t been consistent with my medication. I’ve made excuses of why I don’t want to take it; it’s too expensive, the side-effects are bad ect ect. It’s all nonsense.
The truth is, I don’t want to be the girl that has fits.
My condition doesn’t just affect me. It affects my husband when he has to get me off the floor or deal with my convulsions and sit with me until I come to. It affects my children when their mother can’t be a mother to them because she is passed out due to an epileptic episode.
Me not taking my medication is me being selfish.
I remember how it was for me when my own mother would have her episodes; I felt helpless and frustrated because I didn’t want to have to deal with it. It was as if I was my mother’s keeper and I blamed her and maybe that’s my issue, I blame myself for being ill and maybe I’m punishing myself by not taking my meds.
It makes no sense, I know.
A part of me resented my mother for her condition and the position it put me in but now I see, I’m doing the exact same thing to my own family.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you are sick or you suffer from some chronic condition, it is your responsibility to make sure you take care of yourself, if you are able to do so.
The cost of ill-health is too high and too much to bare.