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

 

Girls With Curls

Nappyversary*, shrinkage**, BC***, LOC****. Just some of the many terms that have become part of my natural hair discourse since dumping the ‘creamy crack’ (chemical relaxers) and, literally and figuratively, embracing my roots twelve years ago.

1-Fullscreen capture 20160829 12715 PMI had started researching issues of slavery, oppression, Apartheid, class and race for my third year mini-thesis “Representations of ‘Coloured’ Women on Stage”. The bigger issues are too much to go into here. But the scales fell from my eyes as I realised that centuries of societal conditioning, no pun intended, had me hating my hair as it grew out of my scalp! I saw within my own community how beauty and worth in women were directly linked to the straightness of their hair and European features, rather than the naturally kinky-curly hair and African/Creole features.

Well, this all kicked off my personal revolution. I ‘returned’ to my natural hair, giving up the seasonal chemical trip to the hairdressers, the weekly rolling in and blowing out of hair, and wearing a swirlkouse at night (pantyhose cut and tied, swirled around the hair and used to hold the straightness overnight). I also gave up being scared of getting my hair wet or even close to mist or inclement weather, lest it mince (frizz)! I started to acknowledge or try to understand all my cultural roots and those of ‘my people’. More importantly, I started to care about what I thought about MY hair, not others’ opinions.

I officially entered the entertainment industry a year later in a tribute show where my fabulous, new afro shouted out my debutante arrival! At castings, I was usually the only brown girl with hair like mine. Walking around my hometown of Cape Town, I’d get asked if I was Brazilian or American – so strange was it to see someone embracing their natural hair. Acquaintances or old family friends would brazenly ask when I was going to “sort my hair out”. Other female friends dealt with family or partners telling them they looked ugly with their natural hair.

Fast forward to the present day and the world at large is seeing a move to people of colour loving themselves as is! The Natural Hair Movement is part of that revolution as more and more women are seen sporting their natural afros and curls, from business to the government. Natural hair salons are sprouting up all over, tailor-made products are everywhere and the myriad of supportive natural hair forums make it so much easier for the women of colour who choose to embrace it.

So, aluta continua, Naturalistas!”

*The anniversary of going natural
**When the curl coils up on itself when it’s dry, making your hair appear shorter than when wet
*** Big Chop, cutting off all chemically-treated hair
****Liquid, Oil, Cream – a combo of products to get the curls popping

You can reach Chantal Stanfield on:

Twitter – @chantalstan

Instagram – @chantal.stanfield

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories.

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

For some reason, I can still touch my toes.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall
Sometimes I don’t like what I see in you at all…”

30 years ago, I don’t think I had a clear idea of what my body looked like. I might have envied some of the lithe, swan-necked “It-girls” who floated ethereally around campus, but I was too busy stomping my way angrily out of the horror movie that had been my childhood.

Sandy

Taken in the States in late 1993. I thought I was obese! If only I was as fat now, as I thought I was then!

My body was merely a container that transported me, took my brain to lectures, helped me emote my way through my drama classes and tried to stay awake nights at the security phone-bank job that was essential to my financial survival. As to what it looked like, that was somewhat irrelevant.

My wardrobe staples were tracksuits and takkies. My other uniform consisted of a voluminous ankle-length skirt, a much-loved hand-me-down from a distant relative that I would pair with one of two holy thrift-store sweaters. My boyfriend would beg me to let him dress me, to not hide my body (no surprise that he’s now the co-owner of the largest costume hire company in Southern Africa – and married to a man), but I had no interest.

I remember being in a production that went to Grahamstown and then months later, travelled to the Market Theatre. Someone who’d seen me in both cities, came to comment on how much weight I’d lost in the time between, and all I could do was stare at them as if they were insane. I’d had absolutely no idea. Weight didn’t factor into my concept of self. My terrible twin/best friend with whom I was joined at the hip since first-year drama-school, suffered from anorexia and my idea of trying to help her get over it, was to eat for her. I was aware of her losing the hair on her head and sprouting it on her forearms instead, but personally, I was never one for scales, and obviously lacked a certain self-awareness.

Somewhere along the line, that changed. Maybe it coincided with my move to the States, becoming a gym-rat and trying to start a career in Hollywood, but somehow a scale made it’s way into my bathroom and its daily fluctuations began to rule my reality. I had a recurring role on a show called “City of Angels” with Blair Underwood and Viola Davis (yes, THAT Viola), and I recall going to Vancouver during the shoot, and enjoying a lovely meal which was rounded off (pun intended) with dessert. The meal was barely over before I was overcome with an attack of anxiety so profound that I promptly found the nearest treadmill to try and run away from the calories I’d just ingested. I firmly believed that that one meal would stop me from fitting into my character’s wardrobe after the weekend.

So, many years and BMI extremes later (including, dropping below 48kg during times of emotional duress), I’m living proof that diets don’t work. I’ve Master-cleansed and eaten lean, taken pills and gone to the gym twice daily. A few years ago the Dukan Diet helped me to shed 10kgs for a movie, and I managed to keep it off for a long time. However, after this last year where my regular running sessions fell victim to frequent sinus infections, bouts of bronchitis, multiple courses of antibiotics, cortisone, sessions of nebulizing, etc, and a final diagnosis of Asthma, most of those 10 kilos have snuck back and I find myself middle-aged and sporting the dreaded middle-age-spread. And the only thing firm about me, is my belief that diets don’t work.

I need to start the uphill climb back to health, so together with starting chronic asthma meds, a few weeks ago, I restarted my yoga practice and I’ve been on my mat between 4 and 5 times a week ever since. I, who once trained for rollerblade marathons, taught cardio-kick classes and could effortlessly touch my toes (okay, for some reason, I can still touch my toes), felt like I was going to die. My belly-rolls compressed painfully into my chin, felt like an elephant sitting on my chest and made it impossible to breathe. Every joint creaked and complained, and yet, I kept going back. I show up and keep my eyes and my practice on my mat. Now, less than a month later, I am amazed at how our bodies forgive us for our multitude of sins. I do what I can and I thank this body for giving me a chance at a do-over. And an interesting thing is happening. I haven’t really lost weight, but I’m stronger. I’m standing taller, stretching deeper and each day I become more flexible as I listen to what my body wants. I can now do headstands, those shoulder-stands aren’t nearly as impossible, and my breath-capacity is increasing.

If I’m honest, I’ll admit that for most of the last 20 years, when I’ve weighed more, I’ve felt less than. I feel so much better about myself when I’m leaner. My clothes fit better. I feel confident, even sexy. I’m not comfortable when I’m “coloring outside the lines”, when my bra-straps cut painfully into my shoulders and my usually quirky style of dress consists of whatever fits. In a strange contradiction, when my body takes up less space, I feel like I have more of a right to my place in the world.

And yet… as an activist, I sit myself down and lecture myself about the fact that we are not our bodies. I want to bookmark all the body-positive blogs and frequent the fat-girl-yoga IG feeds. I’m trying to be kinder to myself – as kind as I am to other buxom, big-boned beauties, or to the skinny waifs who will always look prepubescent, but are no less woman. The irony is, I can see other women’s inner and outer beauty so clearly, but I’m myopic when it comes to seeing mine. Maybe my chosen career creates this kind of body dysmorphia, but I’m going to keep insisting that a woman’s worth does not lie in the numbers on a scale, or the size on a clothes-tag. It lies in how we love, our empathy, compassion, strength, resilience, our creativity, in how many times we get up when life knocks us down, in the grace, or galumphiness, with which we navigate our daily challenges. That, to me, seems closer to the truth and I’m going to keep repeating it to myself till I finally, whole-heartedly, believe it.

I’m going to keep pounding into my brain the fact that even when I think my body, reflected in the mirror, is too much, I, am more than enough.

Sandi Schultz is a South African actress best known for her role as Dr Jennifer Adams in the Afrikaans language soapie Binnelanders.

You can find her on

Instagram

Twitter 

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories.

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

I am free!

When I was asked to write a piece for woman’s day, I found the thought quite intimidating.  What would I write about?  What could I possibly offer that would be worth reading about?  Obviously because it was my #bestie, Wenchy that asked – I couldn’t say no.  So here I sit pondering on my life gone by, trying to decipher the best advice or even the best recollection that I may pass on to other women.

Gail and Wenchy

#Besties Gail and Wenchy

I think that the hardest part about being a woman in today’s life, is to actually be a woman.  Most of us grew up in a time where it was prime choice to have a boy.  Unfortunately for me (and my two sisters), we were born female.  This turned out to be our greatest crime in the eyes of our father.  No matter how hard we tried to get out of that stereotype, it stuck.  Granted we learnt to do a lot of things that other women generally cannot do – like service a car, change a tap washer, tile a bathroom, paint a house etc.  While this took up our weekends, our mother fervently tried to embrace the feminine side of us – teaching us to cook, bake, and sew and other such suitable activities.

So many of my parents’ quirks have moulded me into the woman that I am today.  That combined with a 20+ year marriage.  As a young child and growing up into adulthood, we were melded into the role of prisoner / house help / gardener / and anything else that might have been needed.  The absolute terror of my father coming home, lest anything be out of place or our school results not good enough.  We were brought up in a house where children were not seen and most definitely not heard. We were not allowed to have friends over and it was very rarely that we were allowed to go to a friend’s house. It was a different upbringing, one that required survival skills sometimes tantamount to Special Forces. The three of us learnt the art of karate – after all we needed some sort of defence mechanism against the father; the drunk, abusive father.

In my matric year, I met my soon to be husband.  Also a difficult man, but certainly better than the other option of staying at home.  The day I got my matric results, I was told to leave.  This after many bitter arguments on the subject of tertiary education.  So at the tender age of 17, with only my clothes, I stepped into the wide world of adulthood and moved in with my husband.  I am sure that I might have loved him, but I loved the idea of “freedom” more.  How wrong I was!  As the years passed, we had three daughters.  I had started studying in a highly specialised career and he plodded along to his own routine.  This routine unfortunately did include much work, and the burden lay at my feet to ensure that the children had a place to stay, had food to eat and all their other needs were seen to.

As the years passed by, he became more withdrawn and more difficult – becoming more and more like my father.  I was torn between wanting to leave and having a stable, two parent home for the girls.  I was caught in the cycle of keeping my mouth shut and doing what was necessary for everything to run smoothly.  Irrespective of the snide and biting comments, or the lack of income from his side, I did what was necessary to keep it all going.

I am freeI can’t exactly say what snapped in me, but something did.  On a balmy night in November I had enough of his threats and accusations.  I marched over to him and told him in no uncertain terms, that I was done with this relationship.  I just couldn’t carry on the way things had been going for so long.  (Things had become worse after his nervous breakdown and suicide attempt.)  I can’t say for certain what actually triggered this event.  After all, things had been like this for so long already.  Once again, I was at the point of not going out anywhere, not having friends and living a totally secluded life.  I was even being checked up on at work (just to ensure that I was actually at work and not some other devious place.)

After the brave act of telling him that I was done, things became unbearable.  Between the threats and accusations, we literally fled with our clothes and our beds.  It has been just over a year now and slowly but surely I have been working through issues that imprisoned me all these years.  I still have a long way to go, but each day I am learning to be free – to be me.  Actually, I am learning to be me and learning who me is.  I have had such a different life up to now, that the most normal of behaviours in others absolutely floor me.  The differences have culminated in some really interesting OCD traits and a lot of naivety.  The best thing that I have done for myself – is to escape the male dominance and to live for me, to the betterment of me.

Every woman deserves this freedom.  The freedom to be completely herself, unashamedly.  So for now, I have this constant reminder to never get into that position again.

You can contact me on Twitter.

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

Who is Gaynor Paynter?

Gaynor Paynter is a wife, a mother, a pet-owner, a business owner, a blogger, a 41-year-old woman. But it doesn’t really answer the question, does it?

Sometimes it’s confusing to think about which role to fill, which person to be, and whether deep inside there’s still something left of the original person.

gaynor 2A conclusion which presented itself recently was the following: Deep inside I’m still the 13-year-old girl who came about in 1988. My theory is that the burgeoning teenager is our true self.

We love things because we do. Not because we’re conditioned by the world or the people around us. You hear something or see something, you love it and that’s that. That’s why people from the 50s still love Elvis. People from the early 80s swear by movies and TV from that time. Because it’s your true self reacting, your true love without bull shit. And if you’re lucky, you’re worry free, so you can give your whole self to it. Pop music, fun, celebrities, animals, writing. At 13, I knew who I wanted to be as an adult. The saviour of the world. Someone who mattered and who made a difference.

I wonder if this is not something that a lot of women deal with. Somewhere between being 13 and being 35, that original person gets lost under other things. Responsibilities  comes along and kills just about every other thing. Family, love, just ….. growing up.gaynor

For me personally, the loss of the original person was a contributor to depression and anxiety. You turn from being a person into being an automaton. Not LIVING, not really – just being.

Providing. Caring. Paying. Raising two sons with unique and special needs BY OURSELVES. All necessary, but not exactly FUN. I don’t know if it’s got something to do with turning 40, but when that number approached, the realisation dawned: the world was not saved. The fun had pretty much …. stopped. No difference was being made. I had let that 13-year-old girl down. Do all women go through this?

Depression and anxiety are no joke. And in most cases (as in mine) there are many contributors. But there are things that can be done. FIND the time for fun and for self. A happier you is a happier family. I did a lot of damage to my family by being emotionally absent while I was trying to keep all the other balls in the air, and we are still recovering from the consequences of that. Go back to all the things you enjoyed.

It’s easier now with the internet. Through iTunes and YouTube the beloved music was easy to find and now my kids know all the cheesy 80’s music that I love. The internet makes amazing things possible – like this blog post. Thank you so much Wenchy for asking me to be a part of this. I’m honoured to be featured on your site!

Instead of having to write fan mail to pop stars, we can email them or contact them on Facebook, and promote them on the internet. Old passions that you’ve lost touch with are doable again. This may sound self-indulgent and maybe a little self-absorbed. But take it from me – your family needs you to be happy. A happy family needs a happy mom.

This is Women’s month. Which is a bit of a joke to me until people like the head honcho Jacob Zuma take it seriously. But we can make it worthwhile for ourselves without help by getting back to who we are and honouring the young teenager inside.

Owner: Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC
Website: http://typewritetranscription.co.za/
Contact: gaynor@typewritetranscription.co.za
Twitter: @TypewriteSA  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TypewriteTranscription/
Buy my ebook: http://typewritetranscription.co.za/index.php/e-book/

Entertainment / Pop culture blogger: Pop Speaking
Website: www.popspeaking.com
Contact: gaynor@typewritetranscription.co.za
Twitter: @Popspeaking

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

​The Waiting Room

If walls could talk I am certain that the walls of this small enclosed space would have many a tale to tell; what once was a fresh, clean coat of enamel now appeared to be the suffocated silent scream of pain and agony, the white no longer exuded its originality but through no choice of its own portrayed the aura of a brownish-beige tinged with red.

“Red, the colour of blood- blood being an essential element in life,” I silently murmur to myself. The blood flowing through my veins though oxygenated runs cold within my body, I breathe, I feel, I am alive but have ceased to live.

Overcrowded as this room is, I am alone, alone with my foreboding thoughts, alone with my emotion, alone… All alone in this cold dark bleak world.

Scanning the room the trepidation on each individual’s face is unmistakeable. The ginger-haired girl is ruffled up, the smell emanating from her hints that her body has not had the pleasure of water running across it, let alone any soap being lathered into its pores. 

She has scars of old and scars of new, her eyes are hollow and she sits motionless yet without a doubt she sits emotionally exhausted.

Chocolate; dark chocolate has always being a favourite of mine though these last twelve weeks had me put off the delicacy. Twelve weeks previously life as I knew it changed…

The door creaks as it is opened and the pale skinned girl that exits walks hastily across the green carpeted area, eyes downcast ensuring that she does not make eye-contact with any of the occupants of the room, she makes her way into the sun-lit area just beyond the double doors separating life from the lifeless.

“Number 15” a well built lady behind the counter called and as she did so the slender meek looking girl rose and slowly entered the room. It was not long before she emerged, her face tear-stained clutching her belly before falling to the ground, her sobs growing louder with all eyes fixated on her. The lady standing at the door slowly shook her head and then yelled next.

Slowly the room began emptying out, with each lady taking an approximate of thirty minutes each behind the shut wooden doors. I being the last in would also be the last out.

The ticking of the clock grew louder with each passing hour, the minute hand seemed to move slower and the room, though emptier felt as though the walls were closing in on me. 

Two more girls; a short rather plumpier  than average girl that looked no older than sixteen and the subdued lady in pink were still ahead of me.

The large double doors swung open and in its entrance stood a petite brown girl, her hair long and luscious fell to her hips in a neat black braid. 

She looked confused and immediately got the attention of the lady behind the counter whose voice was only heard when calling the number of the next in line.

“You’re in the wrong place my dear,” she said courteously.
“My name is Taladia and I… I…” the brown girl trailed off.

“Number 19” the lady screeched from behind her table and with that both Taladia and number 18 disappeared behind shut doors. 19 entered the next room thus leaving ’20’ and myself ’21’ in the eerily silent room.

Now that it was just me and the young girl she looked with pleading eyes. I shifted over next to her and without pause, without hesitation she began her story:

He said that he loved me every morning when he dropped me off at school and more on days when I did not enter the school gates at all. He gave me money for food and bought me gifts. He said that he loved me!

Many a day I’d wait with him in his taxi for all the learners to leave in search of an education and then together he and I spent the day.

We kissed, oh how we kissed… I knew that he loved me from the way he kissed me, it tickled me all over and the hair upon my neck stood with excitement. He said that he loved me!

Eventually the kissing wasn’t enough and as he kissed me his hands moved across my body. He cupped my breast in his hand and whispered into my ears that I was the most beautiful woman in his world. Boys my age tease me, they call me fat and ugly. They say that I am one of them and that they’d never date me. He made me feel special…

We sat in his taxi, mum worked hard to make enough money for our survival, she paid him his taxi fare to take me school but that day I did not go to school. 

We drove around and then parked off somewhere quiet. I don’t know where it was because as we drove I was picturing that I was sitting next to my husband. I was happy, he was my future…

He switched off the taxi and turned to me, he kissed me softly, slowly and in the most gentle way that he could. 

He said that he loved me and took my hand and placed it between his legs, he told me to feel his love for me, to feel just how happy I made him.

In place of a flaccid penis there stood an erect one, I was scared but he kissed me more fiercely now. He whispered words of affection as his hand scanned my body and slowly he undid the zip of my grey pants. 

I pulled away and he called me a tease so I kissed him and allowed him to have his way with me. It was painful, it was sore but the smile emanating from him told me that he enjoyed it. 

The next time was less painful and before I went home that day I too was enjoying the pulsating movements of him within me. I asked him to use a condom but he responded saying that real men don’t use condoms in the same way that kids don’t eat a sweet with a wrapper on. 

I wanted to prove my love for him more often now, and understood his want for sex with me as his love for me. 

On days that he didn’t want me he barely spoke to me. I loved him and he said that he loved me too.

Two weeks ago I told him that I was pregnant and that sent him into a fit of rage, he called me a bitch, told me that it was not his and then he stopped speaking to me.

Today I am here to terminate this pregnancy alone though it was not I alone that made this baby…

Her story ended as number 19 left the room and her number was called.

Alone in the room now I looked at the lady behind the counter and wondered how many stories like this had she heard, how many young girls have a similar story to tell…

I guess she felt my gaze on her and looked up, found my eyes and stared into them. The story her eyes told was unnerving. 

There she sat in all her sophisticated glory with a superior air to herself and condescending glares, her spectacles propped on her nose and a neat bun at the nape of her neck, Yes, here I am sitting in the waiting room of a legal abortion clinic with her knowing my name and number but not my story yet being judged for all my worth.

I think to myself about ‘Taladia’ that had for a fleeting moment considered a legal termination but more than likely had chosen a backstreet abortion safe from the judgement of this big burly bureaucrat…

It was my turn and cautiously I entered the room, it was cold and the smell of death was present. The butch doctor in her white lab coat plastered a smile upon her face, immune to the raging emotions that were contained in this very room.

Blue surgical gloves clothed her hands, her voice timid in comparison to her muscular appearance requested that I put on the gown available, freeing my body for a quick examination.

The bed, dressed in green disposable linen was propped up at an angle, ahead of me the wall was covered in charts displaying various images of the foetus at different gestational periods and my breathing intensified as the image of what was happening inside my body became a reality in my mind.

I had spent the greater part of the last few weeks in denial, denying the reality of my pregnancy but could deny it no longer.

“You’re precisely 10 weeks pregnant,” said the doctor interrupting my thoughts as she concluded her examination.

“What are my options of termination?” I asked, knowing full well that that was my only option.

She responded by telling me that I could have a ‘medical procedure’ done on an available date during which they would ‘suction’ the foetus out or that I could be given the ‘abortion’ pill immediately but if I waited beyond twelve weeks I’d have to undergo a non-invasive surgical procedure having to spend a night in the local hospital. 

She reiterated that abortion was legal up to the twentieth week and that I had time to think about it and make a rational decision.

I opted for the pill and within minutes the hexagonal pill was placed under my tongue.

“In Twenty four hours take the second pill, it will clean out whatever is left behind,” she said before I dressed and left the room.

I did not know how this pill was to work and I was too terrified to ask any questions but I knew that within twenty four hours I would no longer be pregnant.

The taxi drive home was silent beyond that of the thundering noise of the vehicle that was clearly not road-worthy. 

I could hear my heart beating and sat in pensive silence all the way home. I had decided to visit a clinic far from home in case someone who knew me or my family saw me entering the clinic.

Nobody could know about the events that took place on the brink of Spring.

It took roughly three hours before I started experiencing pain and by the fifth I was in excruciating pain. 

My thoughts went to the young girl and wondered whether she would be able to handle the intensity of the pain felt and then unwittingly my thoughts went to ‘Taladia’, hoping fervently that she did not opt for some side-street abortion.

Hour after hour the pain first intensified and then began subsiding whilst fragments of the foetus was discharged. 

The blood flow was heavy, the smell nauseating and the stark reality of the absent ‘father’ painful.

My family, oblivious to what was going on could be heard jovially entertained by the television whilst I lay in an agonising foetal position wishing death would have me.

The days that passed did little to improve the mood of my depressed spirit and it was only with a little guidance and encouragement to seek counselling did I finally make peace with my life’s choices.

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories

Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,
Wenchy

Embrace the journey.

I hear him open the front door and admit feeling a small excitement. It is 21h33. He has worked another 12 hour day.

It feels like the long walk to freedom as he climbs the stairs to our bedroom. 

He walks in with a smile and we talk about our day. We both worked from our strengths today leaving us energised mentally, while we clearly exhausted physically.

He walks over and hugs me. I love that melting into a bear hug feeling. Out of nowhere he says, “I still love that photo of you. It is my favourite.” I smile.

It is a photo I gave him during the few short days leading up to our elopement.

1. I love how sentimental you are.

2. I love when you wink at me from across the room.

3. I admire your dedication to provide for our children and I financially to the best of your ability.

4. I think you are crazy screaming at the TV when the Cheetahs or Liverpool FC is playing, but it is very testosterone!

5. I think it is sweet when some innocent (usually gay friend!) man compliments me on social media and you respond with “He knows you are married right?” … or “Does he need reminding?”

6. I love that you like animated (kids) movies as much as I do. We never miss those pre-release invitations! 

7. Every night when I fall asleep with my phone or tablet on my face or chest, I imagine you shaking your head, putting it on my table and switching off the light.

8. It’s kinda fun when I think back to our first dance in your Mom’s lounge late one night. “Let’s do the time warp again!” 

9. Thank you for pretending that my ever growing library is not hording. 

10. I appreciate that you do the dishes on weekends and wipe every corner of the kitchen.

11. Your ability to see me as extraordinary amazes me. I seldom see what you see.

12. I overhear you telling someone of something I have done with such pride …when I wasn’t aware that you even knew I did it. So you do pay attention!🙂

13. You will remind me of my gifts at times I want to strangle you. This may be a tactic to save yourself!

14. Apparently it’s weird that we phone each other from different parts of our apartment. I’m glad we find this normal.

15. I appreciate that you remind the kids to wish me a happy birthday or a happy mothers day. I hope one day they won’t need a nudge.

16. Being quite a conservative man, I’m still not sure why you married me…and I’m not the one that suggested we elope ! 

17. I love that you don’t complain about paying for proper perfume. Especially since we kinda chose it together by accident. “Angel” it is.

18. Love it when you cook rare steak with cream cheese. It makes me feel very spoiled because you make a mean steak.

19. Huge gratitude for your never ending support in my chasing my social media, blogging and book publication dreams. 

20. I do wish illness was not part of our package. It is horrible to lie and say “I’m fine!” when I’m not. Thank you for knowing the difference.

21. I think it is very funny that you flush the toilet before you use it. Are you even aware of this habit? :) 

22. I adore all your purple shirts and that you specifically will look for a purple one. 

23. It is hilarious how genuinely confused you look when I once again swap the furniture around.

24. Thank you for laughter when I do something silly for the hundredth time….like burning myself every bloody time I cook anything. Memory nor precision being a talent of mine.

25. I still hate the colour of your car. I’ve tried…. but the next car, I’m choosing the colour bad boy!

26. I wonder what will happen to the gifts I give you that you refuse to eat because they sentimental… as I look at the chocolate cow I bought you three years ago teasing you for playing “HayDay”.

27. Sometimes you drive me around the bend. Good thing I always wanted to travel. (Thank you Shirley Valentine)

28. The massage oil you used last time, is next to my bed. Feel free to use it again. 

29. I love that you and Victoria have a pet name for each other. It is very endearing.

30. I love it when we walk to the Mall, holding hands and pretend we don’t see rain clouds. 

….finally in closing, having written for every day of August…

31. Thank you for your generosity in acknowledging what drives me to do the things I do, which makes me love you more!

 Hope Believe Dream

Wenchy

So let’s get this out the way … I’m a crossdresser

What is it that makes a woman?

So let’s get this out the way so nobody dies wondering: I’m a crossdresser and unlike a full-on transsexual (think Laverne Cox or even Caitlyn) I probably can’t handle (trying) to be a woman full-time. The scare tactics of periods, pregnancy, labour and nurturing certainly worked their trick on me. Please forgive my intrusion during women’s month admittedly only being a part-timer. Not too sure though whether a pseudonym like mine will go down well with the representatives of the braaivleis fire when they get their chance next month.

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The plethora of differences between men and woman have been explored extensively (and exhaustively) by people a lot more adept (and qualified) at it than myself. So, eager to appease my hostess and not descend into beigeness, I’ll cut to the chase: Why does someone like yours truly cherry pick the perks of womanhood, transforming into the best female version of themselves they can realistically attain, and then head out into public space?

Does the answer simply lie in the delight of dressing, the embellishing of the self in the process mostly managing only half as haute a look as the naturally gifted (read pretty much all genetic women)? Experiencing the pleasure of wrapping in the purity of Prada? The sheen of selfies courtesy Chanel cosmetics? The unparalleled pairs of Choo’s or the hegemony inherent to a Louis Vuitton handbag? (Not that I can afford any of those but a girl can dream right?).

Humbly acknowledging my aspiration to (not to mention the inspiration of) the above, the answer leaves me short, disconcertingly short. No, the answer lies in the principle of elegance which is simplicity. It lies in the infatuation with who you are, not what you wear. Why? Because woman can feel! Which means, when we’re with you, we’re allowed to feel too! Half a lifetime’s worth of (and in my case more but don’t mention it!) exposure to emotion numbing drugs (called hormones) will ensure summary dismissal from the clan of the braaivleis fire, should one venture bravely into the forbidden land of speaking about feelings. When we’re with you though the landscape changes and we dare open that treasure trove of gut wrenchers no shot of testosterone could kill off.

Let me infuriate you by digressing for a moment. It is amazing that women can be anything they choose to be. I celebrate women in fiercely fighting for victory at the Games. I am in awe of it! I celebrate the gentle kindness of the woman regularly offering me coffee in the office since I broke my leg. I appreciate it! I also celebrate the quiet strength of the woman (still) putting up with my crap 12 years after she caught me wearing a dress in her spare room 12 years ago. I love you and hope we can overcome the obstacles to us being BFF’s again soon.

The answer (for me anyway) thus lies in the pursuit of the essence of womanhood. It is in your essence that one finds your substance, the ever-elusive bit I venture to capture in emulating you. A fancy way of saying I want to be (like) you every now and then by dressing like you. I attain assimilation through simulation. A lame way of saying I believe (or kid myself into believing) I can be part of the sisterhood by looking like I belong. As a (genetic) male I can never fathom the full breadth, width and depth of feminine experience, the everyday differences or the finer nuances, the wide open expanses nor the major chasms, but I can kid myself that I do and for a brief moment I am free.

So that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it! And to be perfectly honest, it is too much fun not to! Admit it, dressing up is fun! Personally, it’s the most fun I can have with my clothes on, remember the “wedding dress” episode in the sitcom “Friends”? Please forgive me my forays into (my take on) femininity, I promise I won’t impose myself for too long. And consider being kind to your friendly neighbourhood TG (transgender), again I promise, we don’t bite.

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories  Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

​Lize Jacobs – An Author in Potent Pink

31 Things people don’t know about me:

1. I am Geographically Impaired: I can get lost while in possession of a map, written directions, cell phone and GPS – all at the same time. Yes, this is a legitimate medical condition, or so I am convinced, that urgently needs research funding to find a cure.

2. I am not a girly-girl but I love Pink: Strangely enough, with all my tomboyish tendencies, I am crazy about pink – pink shoes, pink shirts, pink in my hair…Just Pink…potent Pink!

3. I have a talent for hitting curbs: Driving over, against, and onto curbs is just one of my special gifts.

4. I love strangers: I prefer meeting, talking to, and listening to strangers…Their experiences, points of view, and plans.

5. My happy place is Lize-land: A realm where all the characters that live in my reality peacefully exist in a functional society.

6. I have seven and a half voices in my head: These belong to characters (which incidentally reside in Lize-land), that systematically come into existence on the pages of my books as the main character. (The half-voice belongs to a teenager – just in case you were wondering). – Hope I don’t only have 8 books in me.

7. I prefer sitting to the left of someone: When I need to be seated next to a person, I am more comfortable being on their left.

8. My favourite number is 25: In my opinion, 25 is the most beautiful and complete number that exists.

9. Mathematics nauseates me: When I need to work with numbers; add, subtract, multiply, etc. I get nauseated – even when I hear or see others doing it…ugh! (Even now when I’m writing about it)

10. Every 7 years, I get injured on my birthday (Except when it’s Friday the 13th): This is a proven fact! On my 7th birthday, I broke my arm. On my 14th birthday, I fell off my bike and hit the pavement hard. On my 21st birthday, I broke my wrist. When I turned 28, nothing happened (Friday the 13th). The year I turned 35, I severed my Achilles tendon – this didn’t happen on my birthday…but still, really?!

11. I love Country Music: I could listen to only Country Music for the rest of my life and die happy!

12. I think life should be a Musical: I would be ecstatic if people spontaneously burst into song and dance as if it were normal.

13. Very bad with detail: Predominantly in everyday life, especially when it comes to people’s hairstyles. I would not notice if someone with long hair suddenly cut it extremely short, or someone dramatically changed their hair colour.

14. I believe that when your ears tweet your brain is resetting itself: The tweeting sound your ears sometimes make is just the process of your brain getting rid of its RAM.

15. I have a very bad memory: I sometimes struggle to remember what I did the day before. When someone asks me if they have told me something already, I just generally say ‘no’ to be safe – because even if they had, there is a distinct possibility that I won’t remember anyway.

16. I absolutely love beer: And as I’ve recently discovered, I love Lager! Except for water, my drink of choice is Castle!

17. I get Goosebumps and tingly all over when I pass a theatre: Stage productions are the coolest thing the human race could have invented.

18. I was diagnosed with Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) when I was 8 years old: This diagnoses happened accidentally and I am thankful every day that it was discovered and I am still alive.

19. My car is always dirty: When my car gets washed and cleaned it is a celebration among my friends.

20. Huge fan of quotes: People’s ability to express or in inspire with just a few lines is absolutely amazing to me. One of my favourite quotes is;

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Shakespeare, Hamlet.

And one of my favourite personal quotes is:

“Stop following your dreams and catch up to them.”

21. I can spell my name on a calculator: 3217 (Made you tilt your head, didn’t I?)

22. I don’t like shopping: A store is a shop is a store… Except for toy shops! Love toy shops!

23. I love balls: This sounds weird, I know… But should anyone ever wonder what present to get me; balls! Stressballs, rubberballs, beanbagballs, soccerballs, basketballs, rugbyballs, etc. etc. etc.

24. I get super excited when I see Playing Cards in shops: I love the look, feel, and smell of Playing Cards…I just do!

25. I love wristwatches: Although I don’t really wear them anymore, I love wristwatches; especially a sexy watch on a man…

26. My favourite outfit is a denim, t-shirt, and tekkies: I have recently started to experiment with turning this outfit of choice into an actual look that could reflect my personality better. Make it different, make it me!

27. My favourite smell is wet concrete: Don’t think I need to expand on this.

28. I don’t like ice-cream: About every 8 months or so, I would get a craving for ice-cream and eat a Magnum, and then I am so over it!

29. I love Romance in stories: Whether it happens in books or movies, I love clever interesting Romance; especially when it is coupled with banter-battles.

30. I believe characters are real: Once a character is created, they exist, and all you need to do is listen and follow their story, attempting to comprehend  what they try to convey to the best of your ability.

31. I have a very bad memory: Have I mentioned this? Can’t remember…

Twitter:  @LizeJacobsBooks

Facebook:  Lize Jacobs Books

—oOo—

Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,

During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories  Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me wenchy@mweb.co.za

Happy Woman’s Month!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy