Emotions Running High…

Nikita and I drove to work amidst the sound of chants & sirens, the smell of smoke and what might have been shots being fired.  You see, yesterday a group of angry residents of one of the local informal settlements decided to protest about the apparent lack of service delivery in the area.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you squat, you can’t expect to have services delivered because there is no damn infrastructure in place for said services to be delivered.

Look, it’s not that I am totally unfeeling towards the people – I too have things I am not happy about, but they are small in comparison to the conditions these people must live in daily.  I live in a fairly safe area, far removed from the blue lights, rubber bullets and tear gas, but I am not unaware, nor do I not comprehend that their issues need addressing.  I do feel though that if common sense is a flower that grows in your garden (which it clearly doesn’t with everyone), you would either wait for your state-funded-residence, as so many before you have, and you’d join the ranks of the rest of society that pays (regardless of the amount) for their services.

I am angry though.  Angry that they feel it is okay to damage public property with their tyre burning escapades and torching private dwellings.

Photos from Citizen.co.za and eNCA

Yes, you read right – these criminals razed other peoples’ homes to the ground because they’re not happy about the state of affairs at their own.  I wish I could find these cruel idiots and shake some sense into them, asking them how YOU would feel if someone did this to you, or someone you cared about?!  Where is the logic?  Just this morning we heard from a colleague that had to travel through the hot-zone that a minibus carrying innocent school children had a brick tossed through its window.  Sure, there is a visible police presence, but I think the laws of this country allow the criminals to rape, pillage and plunder while the police have to stand with their hands tied, trying to appear fierce and forceful.  I would even wager that down the line the community may take matters into their own hands because they are also starting to get gatvol.

During the drive, Nikita and I were talking mainly about the fact that we have a compassionate employer, one that empathises with the situation many of the staff find themselves in because of the barbaric acts taking place close to them.  I have a few friends, also employed by local business people and am totally disgusted how they are told “You will come to work or face disciplinary action” or “Fine, stay at home, but just remember, no work, no pay”.  Have these people no compassion whatsoever? Would a better approach to the situation not be “Yes, I know the situation is volatile, but let’s assess it in a few hours, maybe you can come in then?”

Their employees, people I know are often hardworking and sometimes exploited because they are desperate for the pittances they receive as remuneration are now in need, yet understanding from their employers is not forthcoming; these poor souls are not even heard out.  I find myself wondering how such business owners sleep at night.  Is their revenue for the day more important than the life of one of their employees?  In many instances, it appears so.

Again, yes, I get that this protest action is screwing with our already junk-status-economy but being a royal doos to your employees who actually want to be at work but can’t because they fear for their lives tells me you don’t have much wealth in the brain-, or compassion bank.  You should take a leaf out of Richard Branson’s book:

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The Bleeding Heart of Rejection

I have the most awesome friends, and blog followers! I’ve received a few topics after my request for assistance, and I’ll get to all of them, even if it means writing every day for the next decade.  Okay, that’s a hyperbole, but still, I have stuff I have to write about. Yippee!

My friend of a quarter of a century, Kerry, gave me four topics to write about:

  1. The Meaning of Friendship
  2. The Bleeding Heart of Rejection
  3. One Wish, and;
  4. Simple Little Things

Number 2 is what caught my eye first, because honestly, we’ve all been there. If you haven’t, then you’re either still a child and shouldn’t be reading my blog, or you’re a Cyberman.  If you don’t get the reference, you need to brush up on your British Sci-fi, otherwise we can’t be friends…LOL

Jokes aside, rejection comes in many forms, but none so sore as the loss of someone who owns your heart, because you decided to give it to them, trusted them to keep it safe, not to rip it to pieces and stab you continuously with its shards. After every heartbreak, there is healing, but the scars remain.

Before you all stop reading here, thinking God help us, this is going to be a morbid post, it’s not – because after every rejection (regardless of the shape it takes), something better comes along.  I’ll admit it sometimes takes ages, but it does happen.

The very first sting of rejection I can remember was in 1986, my first year of school. I always finished everything last – because I wanted it to be absolutely-, faultlessly perfect. Virgo trait, which today, thankfully, I have learned is not the be-all and end-all of everything. Organize chaos is a thing, and it works; for me at least, anyway. Every month there would be an election of Class Captain, and every month I’d be passed over. I couldn’t understand why. I was also the kid that always got chosen last for a team. I couldn’t understand why trying my best, wasn’t good enough. It confused me, but more than that, it hurt. At the end of the year though, during prizegiving, I received a book prize for First in Class: Grade 1.

My first heartbreak happened the year I was to turn twenty-one. A lot happened during the time Peter and I were together, and many things were said (and we all know that the tongue is a two-edged sword) that left me feeling not only rejected, but utterly worthless. I wanted to die. I lost almost 2 stone in a matter of a week, and I didn’t even want to shower, nor bath (and if you know me, you’ll know I cannot go a day without washing my hair).

Years have passed, and there’ve been some other disastrous relationships in between – all of which have ended because they chose not to be with me. Each time has been hard (I’d be lying if I said it gets easier), but looking back, I learned valuable lessons from every single one of those guys.  Their behavior towards me, I came to realize quite late in life, is not a reflection of who I am, but who they are. I have come out stronger, more confident, and for the most part, happy – albeit it sometimes lonely. I’ve learned to love me and bask in the uniqueness of the person I am.  Some people see it, others don’t, but as I said here I’m over what people think. I’m loved by the people in my life now – because they value me and appreciate my individuality, even when I sometimes doubt myself.

In closing, I want you to look at these two images:

Both hearts are clearly wounded – the choice lies with us whether we pull out the knife and continue to let the wound bleed indefinitely, or whether we bleed for a while (which is natural) and patch the wound and try again.

 

 

 

 

 

I Need YOUR Help! Yes, You!

I should write more. That’s the consensus among the close friends I have that read my blog.  It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s more a case of The Muse being a bigger hibernator than I am.  But, they’re right *sssshhhh don’t tell them I said that*; I’m not doing what I love on a daily basis.

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In an attempt to write more, an in so doing, pursue my passion – whether poetry, prose or anecdotes – I’m going to need help. Please would every one of you that reads this particular entry, leave a comment of what you’d like me to write about – it can be anything – I will do my utmost best to do right by you.

So, who’s first?

The Winds of Change are A’Blowin’

Sometimes, something happens, and you find yourself (for lack of a better term), different.  Out of this Misfit’s book, I give you two personal examples:

Dining Alone

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I’m not sure which one of my girl friends it was, but she said, “It’s like when you reach 40 you just don’t give a rat’s ass anymore what people think.” Pretty much everyone 40+ in the company agreed.

I’ve always been one that enjoys my own company; growing up as an only child in a building where there were no other kids taught me quickly how to keep myself entertained.  As I grew up, I became an extremely social person; I was a relatively well-liked teenager (albeit a book nerd) and post-21, I had many people I considered friends.

As we all know, life happens, and people’s paths diverge – there is no definitive turning point, or fork in the road.  One day you’re still cruising on a Sunday-roadtrip-to-nowhere with your best friend, a year later you’re sitting in a coffee shop alone, having an oversized brunch, chased by a double-thick-peanut-butter-milkshake.

If anyone had told me a year ago, that on the brink of thirty-nine, I would be that person, I would have laughed because I’ve always been of the opinion that there are certain things nobody should do alone – like have a meal in a restaurant, or go to the movies, yet yesterday, I was that person. And it felt surprisingly good. I paged leisurely through some tattered magazine while waiting for-, and during (my mother would just die if she knew I was reading at the table) my meal. I was lost in my own little world, oblivious to what was happening around me, until a stranger accidently bumped my table on his way out.

The point I’m trying to make, I suppose, is that I’ve reached that point, where I’m okay to go out on my own (although solo-movies are still daunting) and not be fazed by what the people around me think.

It boils down to acceptance of self, but more than that love of self – because face it, if you don’t love and accept who you are, how can you expect others to?  I’m confident and independent – and that epitome is the greatest thing ever; just a pity it’s taken me almost forty years to realize it.

Social Media Slow Down

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It’s been eleven years since my friend, Vixen, nudged me to join Facebook – the magical world where I could play Texas Hold ‘Em Poker without losing any real money, stay in touch with friends, plug my Herbalife business, share photos & random thoughts (some of my memories have me wondering, What. The. Actual. Fuck?) and Lord knows what else.

Round this time last year, the appeal was just gone.  I woke up one morning thinking, how many people really bother with checking up on me there, as opposed to getting in touch with me by other, more immediate means? I’m not saying I’ve become a total social media luddite, I’ve merely tapered down my use of almost all the apps related to it, except Whatsapp, because it is my main go-to means of comms, mostly because I use my almost ninety-five hundred percent of my allocated 100 minutes of talk-time on my contract to chat to my friend Trisha, in Durban.

Being a complete social media hermit is not normal in the age we live in, so I’ll still log in and check what’s potting in Facebook-land, sometimes I’ll even post something, but quite honestly, I’d much rather save my data to chat with the circle of people on Whatsapp that matter to me, as much as I do to them.

Maybe it’s also because I’m almost forty, who knows?  One thing’s for sure though – there is a change in me, and I’m embracing it.  I feel like a new person – more accepting, more open and sure as hell, more awesome.

Change is not a bad thing – sometimes it is more necessary than we’d care to admit, and it’s a part of growing up, and enjoying life.

It’s Cold, but it’s Good…

I think my spirit animal is a bear. Not a polar one, one that hibernates. Oh, and eats when it is only necessary. Yip, a bear, definitely a bear.

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I’ve always said that if I could have a single season all year round, it would be Autumn- the days are still long and relatively warm and there is a golden hue to everything around me, like an angel’s halo, glowing in the light. The trees dance a gentle waltz to the song of the breeze as their leaves change colour from green to red, red to yellow, yellow to brown, and eventually fall to the ground, their naked branches a stark fortune-teller that reminds us for rebirth to happen, death must occur.

Winter is not my season. At all. The days are short: it’s dark when I get up for work and in the height of the season, it’s dark when I get home in the afternoons, just shy of 17:30. For the most part, I’ve learnt to appreciate the darkness. Many a winter night I will get into bed early, with a hot beverage and just listen to the stillness that only a winter’s night can bring. It’s during these times that many of my troubles come to the fore, but also because of the clear blackness not only around me, but in my mind, I am able to think of systematic solutions. It is also a time when my Creative Muse seems to surface from her den, inspiring me to create something, anything, beautiful.

Just this past Saturday, while under a blanket on the couch at a friend’s place, I got the urge to cook – I’ve laid my hands on quite a few recipes, and am excited about the smells and warmth that will be emanating from my oven, or from the bubbling pots atop. I also unpacked all my cake decorating tools not too long ago too.  More importantly, I’ve indulged my true passion a bit more: I’ve been writing!

Looks like winter may be my season after all… hearty soups, hot chocolate, Port, stunning sunrises (because I’m awake to see them), time for self, time to create and above all, knowing that when it’s over, Spring springs and a cycle of new hope and new life begins.

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Virtues: Kindness

Many years ago, when I was doing my novel-writing course, my tutor, Alex Smith, said that if a character needs a bit of development, I should use this Proust questionnaire as a starting point. Every so often I take it out and have fun with my friends, “interviewing them”.  It’s also fun to look back at what original answers were vs what they are now.  Some things change, some things stay the same.

One of the questions that always fascinates me is “what is the most overrated virtue?” It is a question that, at first glance, seems easy to answer, but in reality, it isn’t, because not everyone has the same understanding of what a virtue is, nor do their moral compasses face the same True North.

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So, instead of working it from that angle, I’ve opted to discuss what the underrated ones are – in my misfit opinion, but also in the opinions of others who opted to reply to a post I put on Facebook in an attempt to research more about the topic.

To start, I’ll talk about one of the virtues that ranks really high on my list, but that is very often disregarded by others (whether intentional or not, it doesn’t matter): Kindness.

What has become my motto in life is this quote by Ian Maclaren:

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Face it…  Every single one of you reading this post has had it tough at some stage of your life.  Would something as simple as a smile from a stranger, a hug from a friend, an encouraging word from a colleague, or a gentle squeeze on the hand from your spouse have eased the trial, if even for a fleeting moment? I believe so. I’m not in any way trying to say that kindness is the key to solving the problem, but merely that it lightens the burden, if only for a short while. It opens the door for other virtues, like hope and perseverance.

Do I fail at being kind? Sure, I do.  I’m not infallible. Honestly, I fail at a lot of the virtues that will be blogged about during the course of this month. My creativity sometimes leaves for months on end; I can sometimes be selfish instead of selfless; sometimes I am conceited, instead of modest…

In closing, I challenge you to be kind to everyone who crosses your path today, bearing in mind that kindness, like every other virtue, does not require a grand exhibition of self, but a pureness of heart and a humble spirit.

Seven Years & Still Going Strong…

Seven is considered in many cultures to be a lucky number; in some even spiritual. I think that in this instance, it’s both.

Today, seven years ago, my life changed. I landed a job at a company that has afforded me the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally and allowed me to utilize my talents, all in a safe, happy working environment. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve picked up scraps with some colleagues, but that is an occupational hazard everywhere. The difference is that the people I work with are not just like family, they are.

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I was saying to Nikita, whom I sometimes carpool with, that I still remember my first day. I parked my car in the visitor’s bay and my boss came to me and pointed to a bay demarcated for my car.  I didn’t do much that day, because my boss had just returned from a two-week-long overseas visit. I was shown to my office and then taken through the factory to meet everyone.  The rest of the day I settled in.

In the time I’ve been here I’ve got to put my writing- and proofreading skills to good use.  I also received incredible support when I decided to complete the final subject for my tertiary qualification.  I’ve been mentored by incredible leaders, admonished when necessary by one father-figure in particular, teased like a little sister by some colleagues and carried by others when things have not been all sunshine-and-rosy.  See, family.

How many of you reading this can honestly say that going to work isn’t something you abhor, but look forward to? How many of you can say that spending time with your colleagues is not something you do simply because of the pay cheque at the end of the month?

I can, because seven years ago, when I walked through the door, I wasn’t half the person I am today, and for that I’m grateful.

Here’s to the next leg of the journey – and of course, cake to celebrate!

I Don’t Need a Crystal Ball

I’ve done a bit of reading on psychic abilities in general of late, spurred after rereading Stephen King’s Carrie.

carrie nel paperback stephen king

According to the research I’ve done, everyone possesses psychic abilities, but not everyone hones the skills.  Probably not a bad thing, because if I had pyrokinetic abilities, I think a lot people I dislike would be sitting in hot-seats every day.

Wikipedia has a long list of notable psychic abilities which I am keen to learn more about, but for now, I want to discuss one in particular.

Precognition. Or as it’s more familiarly known, premonition.

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I have this ability, but it is not well whetted. Honestly, I’m not sure if I want it to be sharpened given that every foreboding I’ve had has been a sign of something bad. Only one has signalled death, the others all related to something less fatal, like illness, job loss or car accidents.

In my case, I get feelings of dread and angst, and I know – soon I’m going to hear bad news about someone I care about. I don’t always know who, but sure as the sun that rises in the morning, these feelings are proved right, time after time.

I seldom talk about this specific intuition because I know many people perceive psychic capabilities to be evil, or even simply, a bunch of hooey.  Tina and I spoke about it a while ago though, because I had a feeling that something was amiss with her.  I didn’t know what it was, but I knew something was off.  Turns out her relationship was on the rocks, despite it being the perfect proverbial husband-two-point-five-kids-two-dogs-manicured-lawn-and-a-white-picket-fence-picture. She sobbed as she shared the trials of months gone by.  My heart went out to her and while there was nothing I could do to comfort her, I knew she was grateful to have me there, if only to listen.

Last week, again, I was in a bad space.  There was no definitive reason for me to feel down.  Sure, I’d had a bit of a disagreement with my boss, but it isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. I felt restless, and overwhelmingly sad, yet I didn’t cry.  I knew I would hear ill tidings at some stage in the future. I couldn’t weep (although the tears would have been cathartic), because I didn’t know what I’d be crying about.  I also had a panic attack, for the first time in almost ten months. This time though, on Thursday night, it was in my sleep. I woke up drenched in perspiration, my hair wet, as if I’d been swimming and tears streaming down my cheeks, with Jasmine ringing in my mind.  Shallow breaths racked my lungs and my pulse would have rivalled a racehorse at Ascot. After that, I slept like the dead, for six-, uninterrupted hours (which is a record for me!). I was happy for the rest, because when I woke on Friday morning, I felt better. The feeling of being caged in had lifted.  Had my premonition been a false alarm?

No. It hadn’t.

Yesterday I received word that Jasmine, a close friend who had surgery for cancer not too long ago, had been readmitted to hospital, this time with shortness of breath and chest pains.  We have known each other for twenty-five years, but our lives took different paths and while we stayed in touch, it is only recently that we really reconnected.  She’s been someone I have been able to confide in about certain things.  As soon as I heard what had happened, I found myself thinking that’s why you felt so awful.

I’ve spoke to her earlier.  She’s doing better and is taking it easy.  So, for now, my being is at peace.  There is calm, happiness and joy in my spirit, which is the way I prefer it.

Here’s to a new week! Let hope, gratitude, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and love abound.  Let’s drive the darkness out with positivity 😀