Happy Anniversary to my Parents.

​I am thinking of two beautiful humans, who are incredibly important to me. Two people who one day took me into their home and gigantic hearts.

Regardless of the fact that their DNA does not run through my veins, or that I do not have any of their eyes, or shared childhood memories, I became their dogter, I am one of their own.

When I needed a bed, clothes, food, career advice, a shoulder to cry on, a giggle or uncontrollable laughter, a push in the right direction, knowledge or just that look of I love you dearly dogter, they have done and still do their best to be incredible parents.

Mom & Dad, even when I am silent or not around, you are always in my heart, always on mind, always with me in some way.

They say a day without gratitude is a day wasted, so I would like two of you to know that I am grateful for you, always.

Thank you for being the incredible mom and dad that you are.

Thank you for being my peoples, for being in my heart and for having souls that vibe with my soul.

I miss the two of you, dearly and I am sorry that I am not around often.

I love the two you unconditionally, forever and always.

http://www.twitter.com/kylajeanv

Kyla

Heather Hook – Behind the scenes

Who is Heather? Well now that’s quite a story. Putting down who you are on paper is quite hard. Those who know me well, will know what I do and how I give my all to every single thing that I do – but it’s hard to get that across to people who have never met me, without coming across as a hard arse.

Today I am a media personality, radio host and social media addict. Where do I come from? Now that is quite a long story.

I was born and raised in Cape Town, to the two most amazing middle class parents, who gave me a great upbringing, great, but not spoilt. I attended good schools, and did extra murals, but I wanted more than sitting around smoking and drinking as a teenager. By the age of 15 I was already working to bring in my income, and I say “my’ income, my parents did not believe in handing out things – if I wanted luxuries (magazines, the latest trends in clothing or CD’s – I had to work for it.)

I started doing chores around the house as soon as I was a teenager – it was only at around 16 that I realised I could monetise this – my time is worth something to someone else, be it their time, or a chance to do other things – and though I didn’t really have a clue then about business, I became a trader.

I traded my time to do ironing, baskets and baskets of ironing, R 10 was a lot in those days, and I worked for it. From around 16 I had my first part time job as a waitress, I took orders, served drinks and meals, cleared plates and worked until 1am, unblocked bathrooms, whatever it took to give me financial freedom. I made scrunchies really cool hair bands back in the 1990’and sold them at school to my fellow pupils.

By 18 I had three part time jobs between my studies – I baby sat, cleaned houses, and did pretty much anything that I could walk to after school, and be home by dark. As soon as I could drive and got my hands on a car I widened my scope to working at events that were hosted around Cape Town. I have cleaned bars, balanced glasses on a tray above my head in a packed night club, carried beer kegs from the back of the bar and lugged crates of plates until my back almost broke.

Why? Because I craved my independence – and money gave me independence. Freedom means not having to ask anyone for anything – being able to make my own choices – if I spent my week’s wages on clothes, or cigarettes and petrol for the car or a night out with my friends, I didn’t have to tell anyone why.

Then, I met a boy. He had a motorbike and long hair, he swept me off of my feet. Miss independent saw white dresses, and cooked dinners, and babies on her horizon, and do you know what? I gave it all up. I got married and became a housewife. The novelty wore off after about 6 months – I started looking for other avenues to make money – I painted and did crafts which I sold on local craft markets, I waitressed, looked after show houses on a Sunday for an estate agent, and did pretty much anything I could to earn an income as my marriage slowly fell apart around my ears.

At the age of 28 I was on my own again. I had to survive, I had no other choice, no one else to rely on.

I started at the bottom of the scale, as receptionist – 7 years out of the working game means you are well behind your peers on the market – but I worked hard, and worked my way in to an Events Management company – as a PA to one of the Directors. Salary increase and more responsibility – whoo hoo!

The events industry tested my mettle to the utmost, long hours, working every weekend – but I am not a quitter, and I worked my way up through the company, moving up to Conference Producer in three short years.

In 2010 a chance to move from Cape Town to Johannesburg presented itself, and I grabbed it with both hands – the City of Gold, right? This is where dreams come true – and looking back 6 years now, it is indeed just that.

I moved from working for my original company to working for an international motivational speaker, to opening my own events management company – a dream I had fostered for many years.

Being an entrepreneur is no joke – it sounds glamorous, the reality is that it is anything but. The benefits and drawbacks weigh each other out, looking at it now, I have learnt and grown so much in the 5 years I have been running my own company. Bad decisions made, people trusted that I shouldn’t have, amazing relationships made and grown, people that have seen the strength in me and have chosen to support and work with me – which has given me the proverbial leg up in the industry.

I am always about support and full on honesty – that fuels me. Make no mistake I am not an easy person to work for, or with, but I am honest and down the line to a fault – I call a spade a spade, and I speak openly about what I see.

Oddly enough most people don’t like this, they prefer not hear about the bad and only hear the good – I am the complete opposite – I tell my clients what’s going on every step of the way, challenges we are facing, when issues arise, and I strive for perfection, always.

My brand is me and the reverse. Be it the events management company, or me as a person, I am open and honest – possibly too much sometimes.

I love the clients I work with, and the people I forge good relationships with – for them I will traverse mountains – to me this is service, and to be honest is ultimately the crux of why we are on this earth as human beings. What’s the point if life is a façade – who are you connecting with, on an honest base level?

At the beginning of 2015 I realised that events management was something that paid the bills, as passionate as I thought I was about it – the industry wasn’t conducive to a healthy life style for me, a few health scares and warnings made me look at other opportunities to live my life.

I asked myself, Heather, what are you good at, what else can you do? I can write, and I can talk, oh boy can I talk. And so I set off on a path to change my life, and in doing so, create a lifestyle for myself that I would wake up to every morning leaping out of bed shouting YES!!!

I don’t know if I am even at the pinnacle of where I want to be – I don’t even know what that pinnacle would be – all I know is that freedom and friendships are part of it.

I am lucky enough (with some very hard work behind it) to be getting closer to living my dream, I have a podcast radio show once a week on a small radio station called Niche Radio, I guest present on Cliff Central, I speak to groups of teenagers about changing their lives, I write for magazines – and get paid to do it, and I get to dabble in the social media realm, which I love. Certain companies in South Africa have seen what I do, and have contacted me to do the same for them, and boy do I love a challenge.

I get to work from home, in my pajamas most days – I dictate my own hours, if an afternoon nap needs to be had I can do that, but I work until the work is done, regardless of the time on the clock.

If I never achieve the wealth in the forms of physical possessions that I aspired to in my youth, that’s okay – I am beyond wealthy in the life I lead, good friends, work that challenges me and forces me to grow beyond the boundaries I have set for myself, every day, and I love that.

The future? I don’t know what it holds, but I will continue to work as hard as I always have, to continue to live the life I do, make my own decisions, travel as much as possible, and be as free as I possibly can be.

Some call me brave, most call me mad, but ultimately I am just me, doing what I love – who can ask for more?

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/heatherlhook

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherLHook

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/heatherlouisehook/

Web Site:  http://www.heatherhook.com/

Turns out we both liked men.

Dear friends, family and interesting creatures,

I happened upon my dearest friend, Louw’s video about being different yesterday. I’d never thought different could mask the word gay.

When I finished watching Louw’s video about coming out to his Dad, I had an ugly face cry.  I hated that Louw had felt any hurt ever.

I felt compelled to acknowledge the truth in my own life. My children’s father is gay.

I usually am very quick and witty about this subject. I say things like: (insert drum roll here)

I love gay men so much, I even married one once.

The truth is nothing like that. Truth is jest.

I would like you to watch Louw’s video, before you read the 30 things Brian is most grateful for. Perhaps it will explain to you, why I have felt an assortment of emotion, but never anger, nor blame. It’s a strange, strange world we live in Master Jack. 

I urge to you attempt to accept, embrace and have empathy for what you do not understand. I know this is not easy. Not for you, and certainly not for the person standing before you.

Thirty things I am thankful for:

There are so many ways I could look at this, so I will probably split my thirty things I am thankful for between the serious and the slightly more flippant.

  1. I am thankful for the path I have walked, for better or worse I feel I am a more authentic me.

Roughly a decade years ago my life was in turmoil. I realized whatever life I was living it was not me. Being a sometimes compulsive writer I wrote my thoughts down at the time and made a decision to try something new.

What I wrote at the time follows:

“I have never been afraid of death until now, not death itself but rather the life I will live until I die. A life lived in fear, a life that becomes banal, uninteresting even to myself” For a few months I know I lost the plot completely and drew into myself. No More.”

I will not live an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to love
so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

– Dawna Markova.

To not live an unlived life I realized was to require an absolute freedom, not bound by the shackles of my past, or the shackles of a grafted on morality.

I would rather live a life guided by that which sits deep within me. An honest life that is true to me and true to those around me.

“Accepting a freedom like that is both exciting and terrifying. How much do the points of reference on a moral compass shift, when reliant on purely one’s sense of self and who one is?”

The words above were written by a man who had been living in absolute fear and conflict with himself, deeply closeted to a point of denial.

Making a decision to seek something different, I never imagined where the journey would take me.

Today, I am a happy, out of the closet man who can fully accept me without conflict. So yes, for this I am thankful.

  1. I am thankful for my three children. Each a unique and special blessing who have walked the long path with me. Who love and accept me for who I am, flaws and all. Without them I am nothing.
  1. I am thankful for the mother of my children. Without her I would have nothing to offer this world when I am dead and gone. I hope that they each carry a piece of me, so that others will know my character even if they never met me.
  1. I am Thankful for a Grandmother who carried me in my youth. She was a mentor, a confidant and a friend. Certainly she formed part of the mould for who I am today.
  1. I am thankful for those others dear to me no longer of this earth. The lessons learned the memories cherished. For them in those dark hours I will still steal away and cry.
  1. I am thankful for past lovers. Some left me hurt, some left me poorer. Some I will carry in my heart forever. The all left me older and wiser.  I am thankful for that wisdom.
  1. I am thankful for the children along the way who I did not raise but still call me dad. It has been my privilege.
  1. I am thankful to live in a country and community that makes room for all and gives all a place in the sun.
  1. I am thankful for a small but precious circle of friends. These are the family I got to choose.
  1. I am thankful for my brother. He will always be a shining star in my life. Never on this earth could anyone be more proud of a sibling.
  1. I am thankful for late night conversations, the sharing of tears. I hold these moments sacred.
  1. I am thankful for my first love. Music. The soundtrack to my life would be an eclectic mix. Everything I have ever felt can be expressed in music, be it the lyrics or the emotion of the instruments.
  1. I am thankful for the fact I have lived over two decades in the one industry, it was foretold I could never make it in.
  1. I am thankful for those who will put themselves on a stage to perform. These courageous people who put themselves out there for our entertainment.
  1. I am thankful for the artists in the world. The ones on gallery walls and the ones on the subway walls. Creativity in all its forms inspires me.
  1. I am thankful for the moments when my mind grows still.
  1. I am thankful that in most cases we get to try again tomorrow.
  1. I am thankful for a world rich in fragrance, be it a flower, a dish to feast upon or the unique scent of a man or woman.
  1. I am thankful for the tree lined avenues I travel on my daily commute.
  1. I am thankful for the random smile of strangers.
  1. I am thankful for the animals I have loved throughout their lives. I love them still.
  1. I am thankful to the genius who first took leaves from a plant and let them steep in boiling water. Five Roses African Select is its perfect form.
  1. I am thankful for the genius who figured out fermentation. Beer or wine for me.
  1. I am thankful for the genius who figured out distillation. Vodka anyone?
  1. I am thankful for the genius who first processed a Cocoa Bean. 75% Dark chocolate for me.
  1. I am thankful for the Afrikaans language. Truly a beautiful language.
  1. I am thankful for the months that run out before the money does. Wish it happened more often.
  1. I am thankful for the nights where I beat insomnia. I wish they were more.
  1. I am thankful for “out swimming” a lot of other sperm. (Sorry I could not resist)
  1. I am thankful for any of you who took the time to read this.

 

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

 

With Love,

Brian

31 reasons to fall in love with @Verushka143

1-Fullscreen capture 20160906 23310 PMWomen are made of Sugar and Spice and all things nice or so they tell us in the nursery rhymes we learn as toddlers. But it is true us women are rather complex with so many different sides to us.

1) I sing in the shower and let us just say I could audition for Idols and not be laughed at. Favourite shower song is from Pitch Perfect “Titanium by David Guetta and Sia“. Reminds of how strong I am and that I am a warrior.

2) As much as I love Technology , there are certain things I prefer the old fashioned way. Books for me need to be real and not ebooks. The feel of turning crisp clean pages,the smell of new pages and the sound of pages flipping send my soul to a happy place. I always carry a book on me.Literally I can spend hours in a book shop and lose track of time. Want to impress me ? Give me a copy of your favourite book !

3) A hopeless romantic who still believes in love even though my heart looks like a patchwork quilt.

4) I love making lists. Most people have a #BucketList of places they want to travel but I have several lists which include :

a) Books to read
b) Places to eat at around the world
c) Photos to capture
d) Experiences around the world

Spice5) I love watching Bollywood movies and I get lost in the magic of romance. I do not speak the language but over the years I have picked up the language by watching movies. My mum and I have days out where we go to get our Bollywood fix.

7) My parents live in the same house for the last forty years and we have the same phone number. Crazy especially as in this day and age people are constantly on the go.

8) My first teaching job was in the ‘lil town of Ixopo in KZN. I taught and lived at a boarding school. Alan Paton was a  Headmaster at this school and this was where he wrote Cry The Beloved country.

9) Vanilla is my most favourite spice. So be it perfume, tea or coffee there is always an underlying flavour of Vanilla.

10) Going down stairs, are a nightmare for me especially if there are more than 5 steps and they are narrow. I have a phobia of falling down the stairs though once I did fall up on a flight of stairs.

11) I have a real job besides my blog. Having studied an Education degree ,I have taught in schools and in London. Currently well for the last 5 years I have been lecturing at a local TVET College. I start work at 12 midday and finish at 8pm.

12) My most favourite chocolate in the world is Lindt. More specifically the Red Lindor Balls.

13) Mildly addicted to all things British. After living in London for almost a decade I know a cup of tea is always a good idea, a fry up breakfast is the best hangover cure and YES I still watch BBC soapies.

14) Rose Gold is my favourite metal and has been for over ten years. Fell in love with this metal after I discovered I love the colour pink. Long story cut short but hard to believe that once upon a time I hated the colour pink.

15) I have a medical condition called Keloids. This means my scar tissue over heals and leave excess skin and tissue in the form of lumps on my body. I have gotten keloids from my baby injections on my arm and on my eyes from having my ears pierced with a surgical gun.

16) I have 3 tattoos and still plan on getting more.

17) I do not feel dressed unless I have a watch on. I have on some occasions worn a dead watch as the battery had died and I felt bare with it on my wrist.

18) I have been bitten by the Travel Bug and all I want to do is travel. Through my blog I have been fortunate enough to get some opportunities.

19) I take daily Chronic medication for High Blood Pressure.

20) I love cooking for my loved ones. I see myself as the Indian Nigella.

21) When ever I watch any sporting matches and hear the South African National Anthem I get goosebumps and get all teary.

22) The name of my blog is inspired by a movie called Mistress of the Spices.

23) Mad about animal print currently on my lust list is an animal print sari.

24) I started my Twitter account before I started blogging.

25) I love statement jewellery. My sense of fashion includes combining my Eastern looks with Western statement jewellery.

26) Once upon a time I had my nose pierced but removed it after 3 years.

27) After watching the Stephen King movie “IT “ as a child I am rather afraid of clowns.

28) I love taking pictures of my world and myself. I used to be very self conscious about the way I look but not anymore. Love me for all my flaws or leave me be.

29) I used to not be an animal person but that all changed when I got my first puppy four years ago and now I own 2 dogs Chai and Zara.

30) As a plus size girl I am proud to be a Brand Ambassador for Curvy Girls Chronicles which is a Body Positivity Campaign in America with ambassadors around the world.

31) Proudly South African with a deep rooted Indian cultural identity.

Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/verushka143

Instagram : http://www.instagram.com/verushka143

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/SpiceGoddessBlog

Blog : www.spicegoddess.co.za

Be Inspired !

Verushka Ramasami

From GLITTER to toast.

30 great things I’m grateful for – in absolutely no particular order of preference, except the first two.

Janice

1. My children – for the funny, the quirky, the challenging, the enduring, the different, the surprising, the everything … especially the love!!

2. My man – for his patience and his steadfast permanence, mostly when he has no clue what I’m doing (which is most of the time)!

3. Glitter (obviously!) – all colours, all the time!

4. Toast (ya – I guess that was obvious too!) – preferably rye toast, especially on cold winter mornings, with melted butter … mmmmmmmm!!!

5. My book Tribe

6. My doglets, Phoebe and Chandler

7. Tea & Coffee – such a confusing conundrum being a lover of both!

8. Notebooks – ring-bound ones

9. Actually, most stationery! I love stationery!

10. Living in a country where we have the freedom to practice what we
believe in, and to support others who might feel that this isn’t the
case.

11. Being privileged to watch incredibly talented SA performers on-stage on a
regular basis. I don’t think people realise what amazing home-grown
talent we have in our country – they’re so busy criticising anything
local.

12. Things we don’t even think about – the roof over our head, running water, electricity, clothes, shoes – that others only dream of.

13. Pain-free days. For anyone who suffers from any type of ‘invisible’ condition, where your pain is practically unbearable, so you just pop those pills and suffer in silence, you’ll know what I mean!!

14. My mom still being able to travel over from the UK to spend time with us.

15. The fact that we can all help anyone, change anyone’s life for the better, in an instant, at anytime (to paraphrase Anne Frank).

16. Google Maps (especially when I’m in Cape Town – sorry, telling me to ‘just look for the mountain’ doesn’t actually work for me!!!!)

17. Music that inspires me

18. Getting a good night’s sleep (rare, oh, so rare!!)

19. The incredible inspiration I get, and all the amazing, insightful things I learn from the diverse group of people I get to call my friends, both online and in real-time.

20. Emily – without her, our home and our lives wouldn’t actually operate … at all!!!

21. Soup – in all and any weather.

22. John Frieda Frizz-Ease Shampoo & Conditioner

23. Sweet peas in summertime – my favourite flowers

24. Work that fulfills and rewards.

25. Books, books, books, and more books!

… for the love of books.

26. My Kindle

27. My Cellphone

28. Garlic Bread

29. Lindor Balls

30. Lip Balm 

Blogs: www.jansbookbuzz.com 

www.glitterandtoast.com

What are you thankful for?

Abundance & Gratitude with Clairvoyant Lifestyle Blogger Neeta

1. I am Grateful for a loving husband! And our marriage of just over a year.

2: I am Grateful for the awareness and creativity I am able to share with everyone.

3: I am Grateful for my beautiful home.

4: I am Grateful for my gorgeous plants, I love my plants and that they grow.

5: I am Grateful for the ability to cook healthy meals with awareness.

6: I am Grateful to be healthy and vibrant.

7: I am Grateful for all the amazing friends I have, through blogging and media.

8: I am Grateful for the amazing diverse country and cultures I live in.

9: I am Grateful for the ability to work from Home as an entrepreneur, share my creativity with others, through art.

10: I am Grateful for amazing Neighbours and friends that are supportive and caring.

11: I am Grateful for running water and electricity, my cellphone.

12: I am Grateful for the ability to experience new adventures, through travelling and blogging.

13: I am Grateful for the best weather and sunsets in the world

14: I am Grateful for my helper, all the waiters and service providers we have in this magical country.

15: I am Grateful for my health and the ability to function in every way.

16: I am Grateful for the ability to stand out.

17: I am Grateful for the courage to drive on Jo’burgs roads, especially not coming from a big city.

18:I am Grateful for being an avid reader and learning more.

19: I am Grateful to communicate and share inspiration with everyone.

20: I am Grateful for my amazing family!

21: I am Grateful to inspire others.

22: I am Grateful for my qualification in the beauty industry.

23: I am Grateful for the ability to use my Discernment, and choose the right company for me.

24: I am Grateful for the travels and adventures I continue to go on.

25: I am Grateful I can paint and draw, create jewelry.

26: I am Grateful for the sensitivity and compassion I feel towards others.

27: I am Grateful for this magical day.

28: I am Grateful for a birthday coming up next month.

29: I am Grateful for spring, the birds chirping the love of nature.

30: I am Grateful for this journey, grateful you are reading this!

Neeta is a Lifestyle blogger, Writer, Creative Influencer & Clairvoyant

  • Blog:  Love Art By Neeta
  • Twitter: @neetaraga
  • Facebook Page: Loveartbyneeta
  • Instagram: loveartbyneeta

img_20160831_121320.jpg

Laura’s World

Personally I think that there are a 100 things that I can be thankful for but here are my top 30:

Laura

1. My parents – because they show me what true love really is every single day 

2. Good hair days

3. Good health

4. My rescue cat Fluffils purring, when she gives me morning cuddles

5. Starbucks Caramel Macchiatos 

6. Wine

7. Friends I can drink wine with – any time – day or night

8. Finding a pair of stockings without a ladder in them

9. Fireplaces in Winter

10. Yellow Daffodils in the Spring

11. Silk sheets when you’ve just shaved your legs

12. Google

13. Every good book I’ve ever read

14. Cheese fondue – all kinds of cheese really

15. Music that can change my entire day – on repeat

16. Bloody Mary’s

17. When those designer shoes you’ve had your eye on for months goes on sale

18. SALES of any kind

19. A really good pillow

20. Sleeping in

21. Pizza with cream cheese and chive sauce on it

22. Patrick Mavros jewellery 

23. Zimbabwe

24. My faith

25. Travel

26. Ryan Gosling – always

27. Bach

28. A rainy day indoors

29. Homemade tomato soup

30. A relaxing bubblebath


Join me on: 

Twitter: LaurasWorldza 

Instagram: laurasworldza

Zomato: https://www.zomato.com/laurasealy

Looks like we’ve made it.

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

Before I married @SirNoid ♡ I was a very enthusiastic amateur photographer. A year or so into our marriage, I became ill.

The things that was part of the tape that held me somewhat together during my divorce, and the years that followed, slowly started falling away.

I physically was unable to do many things and being a manic depressive, there were some deep dark days.

As we celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary later this month (24th – don’t forget) I am in a very different space physically and mentally.

No, life is not all rainbows and unicorns but I have received great medical care with thanks to SirNoid. While I still cannot sit behind a desk for 8 hours, I can do two hours at a push,twice a day with a long break between the two, which means I actually got out of bed right? Yeah!

I was asked to do a shoot in May of this year and I was incredibly nervous. I had not held a camera for 90 minutes in years. I did the shoot. I was happy with the majority of the shots but most importantly it woke up the photographer loving me.

I can feel the “seeking for an unusual perfect shot” slowly creeping back.

I enjoy doing couple shoots because I always hope to find that bubble of who they are, and shine it back to them.

So, who is next? 🙂

Jenny and Ezio

Wedding Edition:  11 May 2016

Captured by: @NocturnalWenchy #flipagram created using @flipagram 

https://flipagram.com/f/vIZJu4oFf2

I wish you enough,
Wenchy

Immediate and extended. Paula Gruben #Umbilicus 

​TODAY I AM GRATEFUL FOR:

1. My health. And all the doctors and nurses who have kept this old sack of skin, blood, and bones going the past 42 years.

2. My husband. My partner in crime since 1994.

3. My child. Best thing that ever happened to me. Period.

5. My family. Biological and adoptive. Immediate and extended. You are all precious to me.

6. My friends. Old and new. Near and far. Real-life and virtual. Thanks for letting me be me.

7. Our domestic helper, Surprise, and our gardener, Christopher.

8. Beagle Watch. Keeping our neighbourhood safe, so we can sleep at night.

9. The Democratic Alliance. For instilling a renewed confidence in the future of this beautiful country. (No need to emigrate just yet.)

10. Teachers who believed in me and inspired me (my English teacher at Westville Girls’ High, Mrs Buckley, deserves a special mention). Teachers who do the same for my son.

11. Bosses who took a chance on me, and gave me the opportunity to cut my teeth on many facets of the publishing industry: Margie Koch, John Bowles, Eureka Zandberg / Anfra Mostert, Rosanne Buchanan, Sammi-Jo Botha.

12. Amazon, CreateSpace, digital printers, and small print runs. All of which have made self-publishing a reality for indies like me.

13. A successful book launch. And all the people who came out to support me.

14. My readers. I am deeply humbled by each and every person who has taken the time to buy / read my book, and provide feedback.

15.Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and my personal blog Jozibelle. I cannot imagine how insular and boring life would be without social media and the blogosphere.

16. Woolies Foods, restaurants, takeaways. Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom.

17. Cows. Fillet steak, chocolate, cheese. Pigs. Bacon. ‘Nuff said.

18. Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine. “Folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” – Abraham Lincoln

19. The rise of plus-size supermodels like Candice Huffine who make me feel better about my body, and designers who are now acknowledging and catering to us tall and curvy girls.

20. Holidays and travel. For enriching my life through first-hand experience of other countries and cultures.

21. Art, Architecture, Design, Fashion. For making the world a more beautiful place.

22. Nature. For feeding my soul. And keeping me humble.

23. Trees. Shade.

24. Rain. I am a pluviophile.

25. Aircon in my car.

26. Winter days, summer nights. Hot showers, clean sheets.

27. Music, Books, Movies, Netflix, digital cameras, smartphones.

28. Microsoft Word and Excel. Google and Wikipedia. WiFi and 4G.

29. Antihistamines and Myprodol. Psych meds and HRT.

30. Braces and Roaccutane. Makeup and hair dye. Moisturiser and sunscreen. Razors and tweezers. Pedicures by Sylvia Ngwenya – best foot massages EVER.

“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

—oOo—

“Is this all there is? Nothing more?” 

Once upon a time, there was a girl child and she woke up very early in a dream forest. Some people wake up rather late in their own dream forests, but her awakening was at the dawn of her journey. She could identify the landscape early on; she could locate her place easily within the forest; and she could see her fellow travellers.

Some of the travellers were scary, some of them were not, and some were her companions in the journey. Loved, as family tends to be.

She could map her journey, look back on her past, look forward to her future, and examine her present. As is natural, people come and go when you inhabit a dream forest—some partings are easy, others hard, but each is a step in time. Dream forests always have good and bad places so that people can grow and be strong—fierce against predators and villains.

Her dream forest had given her the gift of creativity, an ability to express herself in words and pictures. Oft times, she would gather fellow dream-forest children around and regale them with impossible tales that would have everyone giggling or crying—depending on the story. Other times, she would draw and paint and visualize the dream-forest world, certain of what lay before.

One day, as she skirted the edge of the forest, looking out at the wider world beyond, a man approached from outside of the forest, beckoning to her. She went to him and he invited her to follow him out onto the plains. She had never explored the plains, the forest had always been her sanctuary, but she knew that everyone eventually ventures out onto the plains—it is simply a matter of when and how, and if they stay or go forever.

He told her that he was an inhabitant of the plains, he knew their landscape, and she should join him there—which she did. He became her guide to the plains because she didn’t know the terrain. He drew her further and further away from the forest into his world, until she could no longer see it, and her dream forest was but a distant memory. Sometimes she would hear the call, from far away, but he would turn her around to face the plains again.

Together, they wandered the plains. She was his helpmeet, and handservant. He fought battles to establish his place on the plains, they had two children, who knew only the plains. And she could no longer remember the beauty of the forest, although in her dreams at night the images came to wave a ghostly hand across her mind.

Fiona

At times, she would rebel and make a move to go back to the dream forest, but he would drag her back to the sun-seared plains, where water was as scarce as a loving touch.

Decades passed. She could feel the bindings of the plains around her body growing ever tighter, as they lost their suppleness and bit into her flesh. In their travels as a family, she would often stare with longing as they would edge close to the dream forest, but as much as she could see its shape and outline, she could not reach its nurturing shade.

One night, as she stood with a friend, she lifted her eyes to the sky and stars above the plains and asked, “Is this all there is? Nothing more?” Her friend knew, because her friend was also a reluctant plains traveller. But her friend did not know how to console her.

The bindings grew tighter. She realized that one day they would cut flesh. And one day they did. A small cut, easily patched over.

But then another cut, and another, a bit deeper this time, like word swords. This one was harder to heal, but it eventually did. The journey continued, but now she was beginning to tire. Every step became an effort. Every move drained her soul. She kept a smile stuck on her face, but the glue was not holding very well.

One day, the dryness of the landscape, the lack of care on the bindings, caused them to cut really deep, in many places. The word swords danced like evil gremlins. The symbols of connection were discarded, and she said to herself, “No more! I am not a dweller of these plains! There is no water of life here!”

She cut the painful bindings, and they flew off her like the skin of a snake that sheds. The man laughed and said she would never survive the plains on her own, that she lacked the skills and ability to negotiate the dry, barren landscape.

She turned to him and said, “This is not my land, it does not nourish. I am going to the dream forest.” And she turned her head to the horizon, knowing that the journey would be arduous before she would find the mountains and trees that were the landscape of her youthful mind. His laughter echoed behind her, but she stayed the course, until she could no longer hear his mirth.

Just as the journey away from the forest took so long, so too did the journey to reach the landscape that birthed her. But small signs along the way showed her that she was nearing her goal.

A rare flower here, a soft stream there. Beauty and abundance beckoned. She resurrected the skills she had forgotten, she exercised her mind and her spirit, she grew stronger and more certain.

Until one day, there it was: the dream forest at the far edge of the horizon. She hurried on now. She could smell the moisture and life of the forest. And best of all, it was not the very same forest of her youth, but a more mature, richer, deeper place. Just as she had changed in her absence, so too had it, promising more reward and greater happiness.

And so she returned a richer person to the world she had left behind: artist, mother, writer, creator, lover, life-giver.

Me.

Fiona Tipping is a Designer • Artist • Writer • Human Being • Mom • Sister • Friend • Networker. She resides in Great Brak River, Western Cape, South Africa