Sometimes We Give It Our Best

Wrote an exam today and guess what I flunked it miserably. What hit me after writing was not the feeling of disappointment but knowing that it would not be the only thing I am still to suck at, as long as I have dreams, aspirations and goals.

So we give life our best. My first experience of the negative results of giving my best was heartbreak and guess what I got over it. Then there were a lot more lessons in life about giving it all that I could. Often when the positive happens with hard work and dedication we shy away from counting or attributing it to the result of hard work. Then when we fail we start counting, failed relationships, job losses, business ventures that won’t launch, unfavorable exams results and the list goes on.

Somehow there is a universal understanding that nothing comes without trying, failing, getting up and trying once more, twice more until we get to where our journey leads us. Sometimes it just needs us to try so much that on the umpteenth time we get it that it is not for us. But the reward comes with giving it all we can and ultimately knowing that in all existence we maximized ourselves as best as we could.

Whatever you want full ownership of, you must be willing to take 100% effort, 100% accountability and 100% learnership – Sarah Ravhudzulo

So I am sitting here, drinking some gin and tonic contemplating my next move. And guess what? It includes giving whatever I embark on next my best efforts. My “skin in the game”. How I come out of the next ride will determine how smooth or rough the journey was. I want to win and I want to fail with a hunger for a lesson in mind.

Brocken Vessels

A fine glass vase goes from treasure to trash, the moment it is broken. Fortunately, something else happens to you and me. Pick up your pieces. Then, help me gather mine. – Vera Nazarian

I recently encountered a whirlwind that sucked me in. It dragged me from solid ground, hurled me into a vacuum, spun me in different directions and spat me out, leaving me in a hot mess of emotions and a limping spirit.

This whirlwind, being an outpour of emotional events which played out in a form of a dear friend grieving the loss of a beloved friend that made my soul ache with a familiar pain, a stranger confiding to me about a sickness that has little chance of cure which anchored my heart to the sea floor as I realized the inevitable, someone I respect have an erratic episode towards me that left me shaken and as though it was not enough, self affliction reared it’s head as I slipped into a deep whole of self pity marred with insecurities. And as a result to attest to the mashed up gravy of emotions my face broke out into a gravy of adult acne, what a reward!

Life opens us to moments of experiencing things we are not prepared to deal with, even at the times we feel resilient. These are moments that beg for our strength abruptly, yet leaving us feeling thrown into our most fragile state.

My lesson in this has been that at that very moment, our strength is not in knowing what to say in the moment of pain and grief or how to react when feeling attacked or even how to pull yourself out of a vacuum of negative emotions. But to surrender to the moment as it presents itself. We have to allow the cracks to surface, the broken pieces to fall off and the gaping parts of our souls to lay open. All this because magic lies in being able to acknowledge that a vessel is broken. When we acknowledge the moments in the raw, uncut and pure state, we allow ourselves a salve for restoration and healing.

We are all just a tad bit broken! And universe allows for special moments, whether we chose to see them as special or horrid, the moments are a mirror reflecting the cracks and scattered pieces in us or those around us, so that we may learn something about who we really are.

Well, how did I deal with the whirlwind moments? For whatever it’s worth, I chose the magical powers of compassion. Yes compassion for my friend, the grieving lady, the relative with the outburst and in the same important vein, compassion towards myself. I cried all these different moments because my compassion was about being in touch with my emotions. I chose to reflect on the meaning of each encounter and learn something from it. I prayed for spiritual discernment for each aspect that I had encountered and to understand what the lesson is. I also expressed gratitude for being afforded the opportunity to encounter moments that validated my existence.

Compassion is a strong adhesive that puts back all the broken pieces. It may not take one moment of using the magical powers of compassion but the conscious application and repetitive efforts of compassion surely pave the path to healing, comfort, forgiveness and restoration.

When things come undone

The start of something new poses a positive and tangible optimism in the air. A renewed hope and a restored soul. To see something that you have prayed for, hoped for and worked so hard for finally get in motion, the heart does a back flip lands on its feet and jiggles in a happy dance.

So a week ago after our church ward meeting I stood with two beautiful souls that God brought into my life or rather God delivered me into their lives, by the parking bay and I blurted out “please pray for me, I am struggling to get in touch with my emotions”. That came out quicker than I could articulate what I was trying to say or to even stop myself from saying what now sounded absurd to me. What had I just said, did I even know what is was saying? It was too late, the cat had jumped out of the bag and now I had to deal with the touchy-feely responses of the people I knew cared. They where definitely going to take it seriously and they did.

Why I say I had to “deal” with the responses is because I actually was not looking for a response. I was not ready to dive into my emotions, if there were any to find in the first place. Not at that moment when I did not even know what I had just said, to say the least. So, one of my God given angels reached out to me and hugged me as she told me it’s okay to surrender to myself and my feelings. My other angel related to her own battle and they held me close. And an annoying void glared at me, it glared at the situation until it all felt awkward. An annoyed voice in my head retorted, saying “This is a moment you could show that you are human being you know, a tear roll or an unstoppable vent on what is causing this lack of emotion could do right now”. Silence, nothing but the void glared back, I held my angels close, but still the void glared right back.

We soon changed the topic after some heart warming advice from my angels with some pleasantries, an exchange of hugs and everyone started for their homes. Before I could turn on the ignition I gave myself a pep talk that went like “Are you crazy, how can you start something like that and not even go deep, surely whatever you are feeling they could have helped you get over it or you could have cried it all out with them and be fine by now”.

I often say I cannot cry before attentive eyes, and yes, it is real. So, lo and behold as soon as I left the church premises and turned into the street that headed home my tears welled out like a fountain. I cried the ugly cry. My wails and screams filled the air in the car. The thick air filtered into the void in my heart with a rush of emotions and the ugly cry turned into a soft sobbing of song “I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee my blessed Saviour I surrender all” in my nasally squeaky voice of course. Immediately I knew what was the cause of my “I am struggling to get in touch with my my emotions” tantrum. It was a facet of things that I had refused to deal with because it meant dealing with the bad and the ugly, it meant wrestling and logging heads and it meant the feelings of helplessness and the feelings of defeat. I had for a long time turned my head away to all this and put it all at arms length and said “Nope, not my cup! not this year!”. Now, I have to confront it all before it fully consumes me.

So, I begin my journey of letting go. The journey of surrendering to myself and being vulnerable. I will stumble, fumble, rejoice and eventually, though it will be at a slow and gradual pace, I will get in touch with my emotions.

The warrior stands alone

Africa has bore her children in labored and excruciating pains that run through her veins to connect all ethnicities and cultures through the voluptuous valleys and majestic mountains of her continent. Her daughters are raised as warriors and her sons groomed as kings. She boasts the beauty of the melanin hues of their skin and the textured crowns they carry on their heads, inherited from her soil and jungles of her earth. Their blood carries minerals and precious stones like salt to nourish the rivers and seas that feed into the souls of her young.

Thabelo ignores the deafening sounds of the hooters from the cars that surround him at all angles. He has deliberately walked without a trace of fear nor a wince of hesitation to the centre of the busiest road in town, causing cars to stop at a holt whilst others swerved to avoid crashing into each other. All this commotion to avoid hitting him. Could he be drunk, or mad maybe or just plain stupid? What has got into him? Only Thabelo knows. He stands in the middle of a busy street in deep town, surrounded by tall buildings hovering over him like dead branches of a giant tree and concrete streets meandering in and out around and behind as just like the confusion that has muddled the wires in his brain. Some people walk past as if unaware of the “crazy” man in the middle of the street and some stare with shock, some amazement and some in anticipation ready to capture through their devices the action for the day, something to share with family, friends and strangers on social media. Yet he stands there not oblivious to the chaos, but choosing to block it out of his’ minds eye. He stands there stuck, still and waiting like a tree rooted deep. Waiting for a thud to jerk him back into sanity, yet with a deep fractured longing to end it all.

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Thabelo closes his eyes for a moment and allows his imagination to take him back home to Limpopo. a deep sense of longing and loss collide into each other within. But with his eyes shut, all he sees is a dirt road, and a young boy wearing a neatly ironed yet worn school uniform. The boy is walking to school full of hope and trust in the possibilities for his future. A very smart kid, a top achiever in his whole school. The intelligence that afforded him an international bursary to study abroad and come back to head one of the top law firms in his home country. But the young boy on the dirt road, at that time has a sense of contentment and he is so sure of the future. Life is not easy for his family but the love and support that surrounded him had him grounded. there is an invisible cord that connects him to the very earth he walks on. A smile creeps onto Thabelo’s face as he remembers playing soccer in the dirt of the school fields, returning after a long fulfilled day to a home cooked meal and a warm bath in the steel basin behind the family hut. Life so simple, yet so rewarding.

The persistent car hooters bring him back into the current moment with a jolt that brings back those voices in his head that just don’t want to give him peace.  For the first time since he walked into the busy road, Thabelo makes eye contact with one of the passer-by’s ad all he can see is an empty stare. A stare that dares him to make a jump right in front of the next moving car and end it all. Through his eyes, everyone seems detached to the umbilical cord of Africa and she weeps. Thabelo longs to be released into Africa’s spirit, to return to her loins and back in her arms.  One by one the voices in his head chant “just end it” “you’ve failed ” “loser” “it’s too much” “it will be quick” “no one will miss you” “see you are a joke” “just end it”….

Depression is real, it doesn’t matter how accomplished you are in life. The bottomless pit is the same for everyone, it it just deep, dark and antagonizing in the same vein…I dedicate this to everyone that suffers depression and faces it as a daily battle. I don’t have a remedy but I ask that you who read this insert take some time to pray for someone whom you may know is going through depression.

Africa weeps and wallows, her beautiful creation falls away like leaves plucked off a tree before the flowers could bloom. Her precious children, swallowed by a dark invisible and intangible beast.

The beauty of scarves

Experiences in life can strip us of the basic human dignity and leave us bare and feeling naked. As if the virtual garment of self-worth and a genuine sense of value can no longer exist. It could be the loss of a loved one, a betrayal, a sense of failure, a mutual separation or a rejection which leaves us feeling that the translation opens us to be judged or condemned by the world and boxed in certain societal translations of that very experience. There is a saying “Love covers all”, but maybe scarves are made to compliment love when the arms of love struggle to come full circle.

Takalani stands in a trance in the middle of the town market, yet her eyeballs dance to the rhythm of the scarves that flap and fly mid-air showing off their colours and carefully crafted designs and patterns. The seductive dance of the scarves holds onto the strings of her soul and play a love symphony, a soothing melody that flickers a flame that warms up the cold compartments of her whole being left vacant and wanting. Like a shield so soft and supple yet a solid protection against so much that hovers above an imperceptible threat to her soul.

Shaking herself off of the trance she moves to pick the scarves that move to the rhythm in her soul. One for the time that she lost her father, another for her marriage that wanes on threads of destructive cycles and a few more for all the businesses that she has started but never saw through and one more for the vacant spaces which she can’t quite articulate as to the cause for the void. As she pulls all the scarves closer to her chest the flicker burns out into a hot flame that comforts and caresses her into a burst of joy and a fevering glow on her face. She smiles to herself when she imagines how she will carefully fold and pack them as soon as she gets home, adding to the collection in her cupboard where she has created a special place just for her scarves.

Then what in your life, holds you back together again?

Takalani has found a beauty in scarves that translates into a world that holds her back together into one whole piece. She wraps each one with a very dear and sentimental meaning, only known to her. Whilst everyone else marvels at just their beauty and attractiveness, she really knows the true value. Whether going out for a simple lunch with friends, dressing to a formal outfit for business or a communal gathering, she knows in each occasion she is backed by the force that the scarf stands to represent.

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

The tunnel bares a promise of light at its end. The journey through the tunnel, to reach the light may be short or longer than expected, but there is light. Those who have never seen it, never lived long enough to reach the end of it. A tunnel that does not open, becomes a cave, a dark and dim promises of oblivion that promises no hope.

Sedzani grew up with the sense that he could do it all, he lived up to every challenge. He enjoyed the rewards and failure had because to him it all birthed an even bigger challenge to tackle. He had dreams that scared him and aspirations that invoked the feeling of fluttering butterflies in his stomach. There was a light that shone right through his eyes and a brightness that beamed from his face. He was a natural creative, he thought sharp on his feet and provided constructive input wherever he could and always tried something new. He was like an ever expendable rubber, never tiring or stretching out. But all that had died. All he had left was a worn out shell hanging onto a lifeless soul.

The world in it’s essence does not allow people to live in silos and with that it comes with an inevitable desire to influence and contribute to who we are as individuals and what matters is what we take in, what we leave outside the door and how we let it affect us. Sedzani, along the way encountered antagonism, doubt and fear… all these being learned instincts. Drowned and tangled in the marshes of seeds of doubt planted in him, he has grown weary and allowed the light to be snuffed out.

Along this journey of brokenness all he has been thinking about is the one thing that always gave him an unconfined excitement, capturing moments. Photography had always been a passion that he took for granted, he grew up seeing the talent being shunned and looked down upon, yet in him a great desire to capture moments spoke life. Photographers had always been seen as misfits and lost souls and because of this he avoid inheriting the labels that came with it, until he had to face the label of failure had on.

Hope…sometimes is all you have when you have nothing at all. If you have it you have everything.

A year into a world that he has found himself lost, tattered and lifeless, today, he is sits with a neat box on his laps that he had stashed away in his cupboard trusting he would never want it again. Inside it is his camera. As he picks up the lifeless contraption the weight and realness of this “thing” makes his heartbeat quicken and soften at the same time. Tears started roll down his cheeks as a year of hopelessness flashes in his mind and a spring of hope starts to brew in his core. Could it be possible to feel such a deep love for something you have avoided so long? Could this be the light?

Light Gives Way

Albert Einstein described enlightenment in one of his many famous quotes, saying  “The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.” the Wikipedia states enlightenment as an insight or awakening to the true nature of reality. Ten people can look at a sculpture, experience an event or a even read an insert and come up with ten different insights and motivations. How you seek the light and how you choose to see the light gives way to your wisdom and understanding.

Londi, cries a lot, she cries tears of sadness and an even truck load tears of joy. Life for her is a big event and might as well come with a sound track to accompany every moment, an array of voice overs and consistent sound effects. She carries within her an innate positive impulse as if a flower grows within her and blossoms every time life calls for it. She smiles a wide and generous smile that pulls her cheeks up towards her ears and she lets out a shrill of joy that can be translated into nervousness or uncontained excitement. Barely a sad note nor a negative utterance is confessed past her lips.

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You could swear she was born enlightened, an old soul buried deep within her and answers to life etched into the layers of her skin. But it has not been all smooth sailing. It has taken losing multiple times for Londi to fully understand the goodwill of life. She knows that with every loss there is a gain and with every strain there is a relief. The fall down has always been so instant, a heavy thud as she hit the solid ground and the rise slow and trying that lifting her head begged for every ounce of her patience and strength. Her strength has become the light that radiades from her face and her resilience the firmness of her feet with every conviction her steps take.

Every person caries a light that shines and radiates with love, kindness and joy, summed up as being “content”. How often does you light give way to the feelings of contentedness?

Londi aspires to stand before a multitude of people one day and share her life stories. She would like to give hope, strength and courage to people who find themselves in the tender moments of failure, loss, grief and worthlessness. This, she know is not just a wish but what she was born to become, a destiny that is developing is it’s pace and acquiring it’s own standards.

She Matters

There are a lot of connotations attributed to the role of a female. In one aspect she is seen as a driving force that yields change, impact and value, in another note she is objectified to fulfil a certain context of a servant, weakness and worthlessness and in another footing she is seen as non-essential whether she puts in value or not. There are a lot of nuances and undertones that cannot be captured in one expression yet all can be felt, experienced and lived whether positive or negative and this comes with no punches spared by people of all sexes, races, creeds and generations.

Khodani grew up in a world that all the nuances and undertones that come with being a female have been affected on her. She has been made to feel larger than life, invincible and wise and in the same vein she has been subjected to feeling lower than an ant’s shadow and in many instances she has been overlooked and made to feel of no value at all. She has walked the road, taken in all the experiences, absorbed the lessons and out of it, she has chosen to entrench the attitude of consciously asserting the fact that she matters.

She walks with a stance of an overly confident peacock, declares words of affirmation and reassurance in her conversations and lives a life that seems self-serving. She carries the amour of a thick skin with a fashionable feminine touch to avoid looking rough around the edges. It is a fine balance of being tough and yet supple enough to make a statement of worth. Khodani recently faced the demon straight in it’s face when she had to let go of her partner who she believed they were compatible in many ways.

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They dated over 5 years when she literally took Nina Simon’s quote “You have got to learn to leave the table when love is no longer being served” the day that she decided it was time to pick up her dignity from the floor. One of the easiest and liberating decisions yet so heart wrenching at the same time to realise that he had not given their relationship that much value to begin with. He was not shaken by her departure. She had hoped for some resistance, questions or even tense exchanges to indicate that there was a bit of fire that still burned, but she knew it was not about the relationship but the value that the other placed on their partner. They had a perfect relationship, in the sense that it offered a lot of freedom, space and flexibility however it offered all that with the undertone that her presence was neither felt nor appreciated and the breakup indicated just that, after she poured her heart out on how it would not work he managed to groan a short “noted, well understood”.

A slap in the face! She did not expect marriage or luxurious trips all over the world out of the relationship, just validation that she mattered.

Khodani does understand one lesson out of this encounter and many more situations that carried the same nuances. That is, the value that one places on herself, no matter what script in life you live out, self worth and respect matter more than any other tag a woman can place on herself.  Knowing that all woman have been given life because God trusted them to live it and out of that, what great respect we give to God living it knowing that we are worthy, valuable and important… knowing that we matter.

I let you go, you let me grow

Life is so delicate, yes delicate in its strength and vigour. A lion cub is born vulnerable to  its environment, oblivious of its powers and fearful nature until in grows and matures into its rightful stature. It grows to it prime, where it commands respect at a roar and it’s gait carries it’s authority until old age. With age, the lion’s fearce look remains a tale of what once was, it’s strength weathered with scars a reminder of battles won and battles lost and its raor a cry of distant memories that still seek to be and at the same time it still haunts those who know it’s might.

Lara has been soaring in the past years, she has reached heights unimaginable and she is just so full of  life! How she got to this point, she will never know. A dark cloud of grief has been lifted off over her and she finds herself light on her feet and sharp in her mind. Losing a loved one is the hardest point in one’s life, knowing that they will never assume the physical role and fill the void that stares you in the face. When Lara’s father was still alive, he was her soft landing and her source of courage. She had never imaged a life that he she would walk without seeking guidance or encouragement from him.

Their last conversation remains a silent whisper of strength on a daily basis. The conversation had ended by him telling her “be strong”, a few days after the conversation she received the dreaded call that he had passed. Broken, lost and aggrieved she had cried herself to sleep, cried herself to work and cried herself during her morning jogs and walks for months. Every step an effort and action lacking in will. However she has now broken through the cloud, her heart beating with a new rhythm. Her father’s presence calm and palpable to her conscious state always. Lara feels much more mature, with a braveness and willingness to face life with a fearless attitude that seeks to assert itself. As if the lion cub’s eyes have just been unveiled to it’s greatest potential and realizing that the artillery for war has long been provided…an ordination to it’s youth and vigour!

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When we lose the ones we love, what are the tings we hold on to that restore us and ignite us to become whole and live fulfilled lives?

“Be strong” these two words ring in her ears on her worst and best days. As if her father took off a virtual cape from around his neck and placed it around hers. In her walk and her language there is an entrenched boldness that surprises her and a contentment that catches her off guard. Though she may never have her father available to take her calls just so she can hear his calm voice when seeking comfort or return to the moments where they debated until late in the night on issues about life, she knows she carries a baton to be strength, love and light to someone else.

Breaking Beyond Bounds

Fhulufhelo sits in her living room and stares into space as tears run down her cheeks like a boundless river that overflows after a great downpour of rain. This time it’s not the depression that hits in sync with the menstrual cycle of the month nor is it the overwhelm of the work overload that she takes on and thrives under the pressure until it breaks her nor the feeling of not being good enough that she has struggled to shake off ever since she was a young girl trying to assert herself in every area of her life.

It’s the mirage of the words that she has come across as she endeavoured to achieve dreams that always seemed illusive. The passion that was often snuffed off by scepticism and scientific facts used to back up the little trust given to her ambition. The road has been an battlefield full of landmines and snares that threatened to cripple her soul and assign her sanity into oblivion. But she pulled through…and the rest and peace that come with this sudden tranquil road has brought on this eruption of suppressed hurt, pain and anger towards herself and everyone else who made their views and believes known over her capabilities. She admits to herself that the road to healing from the encounters is still long.

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Her mantra has always been “humble beginnings will always find a way to humble you”. Growing up in an informal settlement that was established to support a growing mining town, with parents who worked for very little but gave in abundance to their children, she never new poverty until it was told to her that she was from poverty. Treated with disregard and often overlooked she still maintained in her heart that she was destined for greater heights. Now she sits in a house that she owns in full, with the responsibility over ten individual’s livelihoods and a legacy of the impact that she has over a number of communities where she is committed to give her time and funds to.

What does it take for you to break beyond the confines of education, social classing and financial constraints to get to where you want to be?

Fhulufhelo does not believe that she has “made it”, because to her it has never been about reaching a destination with an end, but about growth made possible by believing in herself and achieving beyond the boundaries of society’s expectations. She stands up from her couch, picks up her car keys and wipes away her tears as she walks past the mirror by the passage and mentally gears herself up for the motivation talk she is booked for at an all girls school, the topic of her motivational talk is “Breaking Beyond Bounds”. The very topic of a life that she lived in preparation for such moments.