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.
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
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.
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.
I’ve always had this fear of confrontation. Speaking to people or addressing issues with people that bother me or put me in an uncomfortable position. I get nervous when I simply think about speaking my mind about certain things of which I have an opinion. I’m that person at the restaurant that will eat the wrong order that the waiter or waitress brings me. I am also a chronic over-apologiser or if you will, a knee-jerk apologist ; I constantly say sorry for things that certainly do not need an apology. Instead of saying ‘Excuse me, if I need to pass by someone, I would say, “I’m sorry”. I would rather write a long letter or text message, than confront you face-to-face.
At times I find myself apologizing for apologizing in the first place.
In an article byPsychology Today, it speaks about the different types of people who apologise. It also referred to a 2010 study that indicated women tend to apologise more than men.
“A 2010 study found that women apologize more than men. Women also self-report committing more offenses, or engaging in behavior that warranted apologies, than men. Do women simply misbehave more than men? Not exactly. The study found that men and women have markedly different thresholds of what constitutes an offense deserving an apology. Women have a lower threshold; men have a much higher one. In other words, women see more acts for which we must apologize than men do; we see more of the things we do as wrong, out of line, inappropriate, or hurtful. A man and woman may do exactly the same thing but regard it differently; she will see it as an offense that requires an apology and he may not.”
I get this uncomfortable feeling in my gut, like a knot when I think about confrontation. Even after I’ve said something or on the rare occasion that I do address an issue, it would sit with me for hours afterward and I would replay conversations or try and think what I could have said or done differently or maybe what I should not have said. I would have second-hand embarrassment for even doing it. Sometimes I find myself simply typing something on a Whatsapp group and instantly regretting it once I hit send.
I can’t tell you where this fear emanated from; there wasn’t a specific day or event when I decided that I will fear confrontation and I won’t tell you either that I am working on it. I guess I simply get used to certain settings even though I still get nervous or anxious, even when I know I’m not doing or saying anything wrong.
There have been situations where I have accepted an outcome when I knew it was wrong. In that situation, I did not retaliate or address the issue, even though it sat heavily on my heart.
I need to specify that the confrontation I am speaking about is not the aggressive / physically violent confrontation. Kathy Caprino in an article for Forbes writes the following:
I know it takes bravery to speak your mind and say what you think or feel. There have been times when I’ve been told that I let people walk all over me and maybe I can be labelled as a ‘people pleaser’ or even weak but I don’t see myself that way. I just want to save my fight for when it matters.
Sometimes people tend to get into verbal confrontations which end up going nowhere; you interact with people who love the sound of their own voice more than the actual topic at hand and more than they try to reach a reasonable conclusion based on facts. There are some people that you simply cannot win an argument with and at times, it’s not worth the breath that you waste on that confrontation or argument.
TIPS TO DEAL WITH CONFRONTATION
I’ve found some amazing references on positive or healthy confrontation. Here are some tips to get over the fear of confrontation in no particular order:
There are many other ways in which we can work through our fear of confrontation, but always try and determine if the situation calls for a confrontation or simply for a nod and a smile. It might save you a lot of unnecessary long-term conflict.
There is a saying I love that goes;
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt”
Sometimes it is better to be silent and other times it’s best to speak up; we just need to know when is the right time for which action.
I have to admit, it took me a while to really sit down and read this book. I think mostly because of the subject of the book; mental wellness or if you like mental health. It shouldn’t be surprising that so many of us suffer with some form of mental terror; depression, anxiety and sometimes we deal with feelings, thoughts and situations that can’t be described. When I started readingLetting In The Light; I felt a sense of coming home, a feeling of being welcomed into someone’s heart with open arms.
The foreword by Pick Me Up Poetryfounder, Webster Chagonda encompasses this feeling so well;
“Remember, darkness will always make way for the day, and wherever your mind may lead you, I hope these poems become your place of refuge.”
It’s difficult for me to tell which one of the poems are my favourite; there are pieces of each poem that speak directly to me.
They are all relatable and also somewhat confrontational but quite necessary,
“A fleeting moment of peace
as you cease to wonder when the next red drought will dry out this puddle
And if you won’t have drowned in the depth of your head until then”
When I read through the poems, I realised that so many people understand the feelings and circumstances around one topic. I felt safe reading it and saying to myself, “It’s okay to feel this way”
It truly is a stunning body of work with a beautiful use of words, descriptive methods and metaphors. It is almost as if what you’re reading is being carved on your skin. That is how deep the words go.
“Everywhere you walk, you will be a constellation of footsteps”
The anthology sheds light on all the parts of your life that is affected by depression; your mind, body, soul, family, friends and your career an daily life.
“I am ready to recite myself into existence. I am ready to tell anxiety a prophecy even though I sometimes don’t believe”
I want to encourage you to get this book. The words will speak to us all differently and once you get into it, you’ll realise its not just a book you can read once off. You can always go back and remind yourself that you are not alone in your darkness when you feel overwhelmed.
“I was bound by the plight of life and could not get away. I was blinded by the pain of this fight and could not see my way but I heard Hope’s gentle whistle and Joy’s hearty squeal, gently fanning the embers of my heart”
Well done to all the poets who contributed their words, feelings and experiences to this book. Thank you for being brave and baring it all on the pages.
Congratulations to the publishers, Chasing Dreams Publishing and everyone who worked to put this amazing body of work together.
Watching Connie Ferguson at her husband’sfuneralbroke my heart. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to my husband of only 4 months, imagine the pain she feels of losing her best friend and life partner of 20 years. Death is such a painful experience and before I lost my mom, I couldn’t really relate to anyone who lost another person. I couldn’t understand that grief and pain. I couldn’t fathom the emptiness and now I see and feel it all around me, almost on a daily basis.
It’s painful to read, report or hear of someone dying, it’s heart-shattering. When someone you love dies, a part of you dies with them. There is constant emptiness, a dark and hollow feeling. You can never shake it and you live with it all your life. It rocks you to your core and breaks every resolve you’ve ever had. Then you have to rebuild. You need to start again.
Something that is beautiful though is love, love makes the memories that you carry worth all the pain that you feel. Memories and the feelings associated with that person, makes it bearable.
What this death has reminded me of, is that we run out of time.
We do not live forever.
The time that we have on this earth is more than precious, it is sacred.
The people we have in our lives, the ones we love and cherish and adore, are the ones that deserve all that we have to offer.
We cannot afford to be selfish and arrogant. We can’t live in a way where anger and hatred dominate our lives.
Say ‘I love you’ as often as you can and mean it.
Enjoy every minute you can breathe.
Laugh as much as possible and love even more.
Create art and enjoy it too.
Live each moment as if it’s your last. It might sound like a cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Every single day we hear or read about someone dying. They become a number in the statistics and leave a hole in the hearts of people who loved them. Every single day when we hear of someone losing their lives; whether to Covid-19 or something else, our hearts break a little more. You don’t need to know the person who has died. You simply need to have a sense of humanity and compassion to know that somewhere in the world, someone is left reeling from the death of a loved one.
The entire world is sad. We feel it all around us and see it on the news, we hear it from strangers. We see it in the tear-filled eyes of our friends. Some of us live it daily. It doesn’t seem to end.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my kids’ bedroom, on the floor and the picture of my late mother is right in front of me. I moved it to their bedroom a couple of nights ago because my 6-year-old daughter wascrying in her bed. After all, she was missing her Ouma. She too, is sad, having lost her grandmother just over a year ago.
The sadness seeps into our lives, our work, creativity, our ability or lack thereof to be in social settings. It’s in our bodies and minds as we lay on the couch, watching yet another episode of a Netflix series that ends up adding to the melancholy. You might think this post is so depressing but, the truth is, we are all living in a perpetual state of sadness. Denying that will do no good to anyone. It’s okay to be sad, don’t dismiss anyone’s feelings simply because it doesn’t fit into the narrative of the day.
But just because we are sad doesn’t mean we can’t have hope.
Earlier today: It’s Saturday afternoon, the house is quiet, the wind is howling outside, keeping the sun company. It seems like a good time to reflect on the last year.
I’m braiding my hair and thinking about this time of year. Last year (2020) we lost our mother. It was a Friday and she died in a car on her way to the clinic, my then boyfriend (now husband) right next to her. A shift happened then and a shift is happening now. My husband, sick with Covid-19 and myself, also sick but I haven’t tested for Covid-19 at the time of this post but we’re treating the situation as if I am sick with Covid too. Though I feel strong enough to clean the house and make sure we have something to eat, I still don’t really feel like myself.
All these health issues have done a very good job of distracting me from what day it is. The day my mother died. I’m not feeling incredibly sad or melancholic when I think about it; I feel a sense of peace, maybe even gratitude, that we as a family have been able to make it through the last 12 months in one piece and then some. We had an addition to the family with my niece, we had a wedding and we had the birth of our company. Those are quite huge life milestones. It just goes to show that life really does go on after the death of a loved one, at least if you let it.
Still in the quiet of the house, I wonder to myself, why is it that these shifts or life-changing events seemed to have happened around the same time for the past 2 years and I can’t help but wonder will something else happen next year around this time? I also don’t really want to question why these things are happening and happening in the way they are and around the time they are. I understand that no one truly knows the inner workings of time so I simply want to breath and say, “Thank you Lord” .
Something that has really stood out for me during this time of isolation over the past several days, is the kindness of people; everyone we care about checking in on us and bringing us food. That especially has reminded me of the week when my mother died; everyone brought us food and groceries so that we didn’t still have to worry about that. I’m really grateful to all the people who have come through for us during this time.
With that said, I’d like to share 12 things I’ve learned in the last 12 months since my mother died.
It’s okay not to feel in control.
You can cry whenever and wherever you need to.
Change will always come, don’t fight it.
Nothing ever goes the way we expect or plan, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared.
It’s okay to feel the ‘bad’ feelings; fear, sadness, anger, frustration ect.
You won’t always succeed at everything you take on and that’s okay.
You are allowed to want to be alone.
Grief throws you into an unending spiral of self-confrontation.
Cooking or baking is therapeutic.
Love is all there is. It will get you through your darkest nights and brightest days.
Don’t waste the time you have. You won’t get a refund.