I Am Who You Say I Am
My daughter was in hysterical sobs when I collected her from school yesterday. She managed to keep everything together until she opened the car door, and then she melted into tears the moment she knew she was safe.
“Mum, I am not good enough,” she howled in desperate agony. “I am a ‘C Team’ player and every other girl in my class is in the ‘A Team’. They are a gang of sporty girls. And I am on the outside. I am just not good enough. I don’t measure up. I try so hard but never seem to get anywhere.”
Her pain rang a dagger right through my heart. Here was this child who, in my eyes, is sheer perfection. She is gifted with remarkable talents outside the sporting arena which will take her way further in life. And yet here she was berating herself and challenging her own worth based on her (lack of) sporting prowess.
How many of us are judging ourselves on one area of our lives in which we don’t quite measure up and applying that pecking order to the rest of our lives? Your marriage hasn’t worked out, so you must be a failure. You haven’t cracked it at work, so you must be a failure. You don’t have the looks, so you must be a failure. You are feeling lost and purposeless, so you must be a failure. Your finances are in a mess, so you must be a failure. Your kids have been rebellious, you are a hopeless parent and you feel like – yup you guessed it – a failure.
Yes, I too was feeling the weight of yet another political upheaval yesterday.
The truth is, almost all the politicians have dirty hands, but some hands are filthy. It is my belief that those who thrive in the filth are doing their best to discredit the man at the top so they can deepen their pockets once more. Yes what Ramaphosa did was wrong, but it is precisely because he does have a conscience that he was willing to step down, unlike many other politicians. I can promise you that Ramaphosa is not the only businessman in South Africa to have done cash deals. In fact, I may even be hard pressed to find businessmen that are 100% clean. As Jesus said: “May he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
Yesterday, I was personally approached by three people who thanked me for my positive perspective on Africa. They said my words help them. So I wanted to write today to those of you who have woken up with heavy hearts to remind you why I love Africa.
I will never forget the day my mentor called me to say that that cancer had taken over and that there was nothing further the doctors could do. In essence his call to me was a goodbye call. He had been my mentor since I started working and we had always stayed in touch, even though our geographies were spluttered around the world.
In the silence that followed as I tried to digest the enormity of what he was telling me, he followed with these wise words:
While I was watching Queen Elizabeth II being laid to rest today, which was a remarkable and fitting send off for an icon of our time, I couldn’t help but think that the greatest human to ever have lived, shared none of the media coverage, none of the wealth, none of the adoration, no jewels, no heads of state to mourn or heads of church to preach at His passing.
People Never Forget Kindness
The most extra-ordinary thing happened to me this week. My kids had finished playing club hockey in the evening and we had quickly nipped into a 24 hour grocery store on the way home to get dinner.
A lady who I had met briefly for the first time at hockey that evening came up to me again, smiling, and said:
“I know this sounds like a really weird thing to ask, but I don’t suppose your son is born on the 22nd of January 2014.”
I was quite taken aback. That’s not an every day question people ask and that was 100% his date of birth.
Listen to Hear
When people respond to your greeting saying they are “Okay,” listen carefully and look in their eyes. They may very well not be okay.
Why do we do that?
Why do we pretend that everything is “Okay” when our hearts are breaking?
I cannot tell you the number of times I have had a good cry in my car, only to get out, put on my glasses, smile and respond with the same greeting response: “I’m Okay thanks, and you?”
Dr Hamilton Naki Teaches Us: “You can only get more in life by saying YES!”
This is the story about a remarkable man called Dr Hamilton Naki who never attended a day of school in his life. He could neither read or write. And he obviously never went to University. Yet this man was awarded the honourary degree of MASTER OF MEDICINE from Cape Town Medical University which is respected around the world for its contribution to medicine.
This man taught over 30,000 surgeons and was an extra-ordinary teacher. The way he learnt and taught medicine surprised the human mind.
Author, speaker and activist. Glennon’s candour and vulnerability just nails it!
I could not put down Glennon Doyle’s book: “Untamed” – there was something in that book that really spoke to me so I decided to put together a collection of some of her quotes that really hit home in the hope that some of her incredible wisdom may encourage you.
Today as we celebrate Heritage day, it’s a moment to pause and reflect on what it means to be a South African. What makes me proud to be an African?
Shew, the question alone brings a lump to my throat….
It hasn’t been an easy year being a South African, especially if you are from Kwazulu Natal. Covid, businesses in distress, riots, fire, looting, home schooling, unrest, a massively incompetent government and of course crime. Many people have “skriked” properly and are pulling the plug. I don’t blame them and I don’t judge them. Africa is not a place for the faint hearted. We, however, are staying put.
Help someone out of a dark hole by shining a light on them.
I read an article the other day (I wish I could find it) which really stuck with me. It was about helping people who are in a dark place. It said that it is not our job to remind people or point out to them what their weakness is. When people fall off the path, it is instead more helpful to pull people out of their dark hole by reminding them of who they were when the sun shone brighter. We should remind people of their strengths.
Never before has the cry for inspiring leadership been louder!
The world is in desperate need of leaders willing to stand up, stand out and be counted. We need leaders with vision, passion and integrity. We need leaders who put themselves last and are here, first and foremost, to serve. Every leader was once a child who grew up in a home. What if each and every parent saw their role as an opportunity to turn these challenging times we are facing into a leadership training exercise for the next generation? What if we saved the best versions of ourselves for our kids every day instead of them getting the left overs after a crazy day. Maybe, just maybe, we could actually have a chance at raising an inspired generation, injected with integrity and fervour to heal our broken world.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and Everything In Between
Yowzer Trowzer living through an attempted insurrection is not for the faint hearted! I hope I never experience another one in my lifetime! But just in case I should ever find myself in a time of extreme crisis, here is a list of things I learned. Feel free to add yours to the list so we can never say we are not well and truly prepared, mentally and physically!
When Facing Potential Hunger Or COVID, I Didn’t Once Think Of COVID
Two weeks ago when things went belly up in Kwazulu Natal with the unsuccessful insurrection, I found myself on the third day worried about where food was going to come from. Our fridge was running empty quickly and I needed to make a plan. I got wind that some courageous store owner was going to try open and heed the call for people’s urgent cry for food so I jumped in my car to wait in the queue in earnest.
Word spread fast and within 30 minutes a couple thousand people must have gathered outside the said retailer. And then it struck me: here we were, almost at the peak of the third COVID wave, and not one person was worried about the crowd. Given the choice between feeding your family and facing COVID, people were very clearly more concerned with the former.
Even lights that try to shine bright some times go out.
Yesterday, Friday the 16th of July, my flame was extinguished. I was very emotional and I think that’s totally okay. I was crying because I knew the imminent danger was over. I was crying because I was moving out of survival mode. I was crying for the horrific damage to property and the loss of businesses. I was crying for environmental damage. I was crying for the future ahead that will be characterized by job losses, hunger and a harder life, especially for the poverty stricken. I was crying because I felt God’s goodness like never before. And yes, I was crying for the extraordinary love and courage that I have witnessed this week.
Never in my lifetime, have I been this proud to call myself a South African, even though yesterday was one of the most terrifying days of my life. We have not slept a wink since Sunday. Many people have lost their businesses and their livelihoods entirely. We were personally not excluded from this destruction.
You were very clever Mr Zuma. You planned your targets very well. You knew exactly where to throw the matches to set the skyline alight. You hit certain factories because you wanted massive flames. Watching the TV now, you and your team are probably rubbing your greedy hands together and congratulating yourselves on what you think is an ingenious plan and a roaring success.
But Mr Zuma, I want to tell you loud and clear, that you are wrong.
I Know It’s Scary Out There But Evil Can Only Persist When Good People Do Nothing
I woke up to the sound of bullets this morning so loud that I thought someone was banging on my door. Parts of South Africa are burning today, especially in the province I live in: Kwazulu Natal.
Protesters, apparently angry that Jacob Zuma, our former President, has been jailed are having a field day burning trucks, malls, property and looting to their hearts content.
This chaos started last Thursday and has escalated. I was afraid this morning. The gun shots and shouting were off the charts and my fear started rearing its ugly head.
We Are Who We Are Because Of Others
We were created to live in community. Not to live alone behind closed doors. Yes, we are doing what needs to be done to keep COVID infections down but once enough vaccines have been administered and herd immunity has been achieved, I hope we never again take for granted the joy that comes from human connection.
Are you Shrinking Back Or Rising Up?
“When the call comes, will you shrink back in fear, or rise up in love?”
Too often, fear, and dare I even say, self-involvement, holds us back from doing what we were inherently born to do: serve and love one another. A few year back, I had a life experience that will remain with me forever.
I answered my phone with delight upon seeing my friend’s name on the screen!
“Hi my friend!” I screeched with glee, “how wonderful to hear from you.”
“Julsie,” she whispered in her not-so-usual tone: “I need your help, but you can say no if you feel it’s too much. I will understand. It’s quite urgent. A family who we don’t know from a different part of the country was driving through our area and was involved in an accident. The child is on life support and the family are asking for people to come to the hospital and pray for their child seeing as they don’t know a soul here. His condition is critical and we need to do it now. I can’t get hold of our usual prayer team and so I thought I would ask you. Can you come?” …………….
Silence……. (that wasn’t the catch-up conversation I had been envisaging) ……….
Have you had times in your life when you felt lost?
Have you ever felt like you were floating and not so sure footed? Of course there are plenty people out there who are going hell for leather at life, achieving and doing remarkable things. They inspire me and I genuinely am happy for them.
But in a way, it also exacerbates my plight.
This time a year ago, I was living my best life. I had started a marketing consultancy for safari lodges. I was helping design lodges, coming up with camp names, creating brand identities and devising all the marketing materials that launch brands and put them on the map.
Then came Covid and international tourism was decimated. I lost all my clients. Suddenly my living the dream was reduced to the cold, hard reality that my income had dried up and along with it, the fire in my belly that roared when I was doing work I loved.
Luckily the void was filled with home schooling which kept me super busy but now that kids are back at the school campus, I have had some time to pause and reflect.
Exercising alone in nature often gets my mind working and it was on one of my runs that I was suddenly struck with the horror that I don’t know what my next set of dreams or goals are.
I don’t know my next step.
5 Things We Can Learn From The Waiting Game
We have all heard the saying: “All Good Things Come To Those Who Wait.” I am not sure about you but waiting isn’t my game. I was born to do things quickly. Speed runs through my DNA. When I was working in the corporate world, I earned the nickname the Tazmanian Devil because, like the cartoon, I ran everywhere to save time. Walking was for the weak. I needed to maximize time and efficiency!
Wasting precious time is so frustrating to me that I structure my day around having to minimize waiting. I will wake up an hour earlier to avoid traffic. I will shop when no one else does to avoid queues. I will wake up in the middle of the night to get to the front of a home affairs queue. You get the point. Read more
How Jane “Nightbirde” Marczewski Delighted The World
On the 8th of June 2021, Jane “Nightbirde” Marczewski became an overnight global sensation when Simon Cowell struck the golden buzzer after her breath-taking performance on America’s Got Talent. But it wasn’t just her beautiful voice or the depth of her lyrics that stole hearts. There are millions of others with the same talents. What made her stand out and pull heart strings around the globe was her remarkable attitude in the face of extreme adversity.
At just 30 years young, Jane has survived divorce in the midst of kicking cancer to the curb, three times. In June 2020 Jane was given 6 months left to live. She told the camera’s: “I have a 2% chance of survival but 2% is not 0%. 2% is something and I wish people knew how amazing it is.”
Do you ever get in the way of yourself?
If you are anything like me, you make mistakes. You stuff up. You sit there thinking: “You idiot! You know better! Why?” And then a voice whispers urgently over your one shoulder: “It’s because you are not enough. You are just not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. Not kind enough. Not disciplined enough. Not experienced enough. Not popular enough. You don’t have what it takes.”
9 Tips To Keep You Going When You Are Contemplating Giving Up Your Dreams
I finished The Shine Blog two weeks ago. I have gone from so excited to share it with the world while it was in development to “Oh shucks, what on earth was I thinking?!?! Who on earth would want to read anything I write?!”
Has that ever happened to you? You were hell bent on achieving a goal. You got close to making your dream a reality and then……you get the jitters…..you start doubting yourself……..you think that living small and safe would be a much better option instead. Why be open to the world’s criticism when you can rather choose to live quietly without bringing your passions to the world. Yes, maybe the world won’t benefit from your gifts, but at least your heart will be safe.
The Inspiring Story of Johnny Barnes – Mr Happy Man
If there is one blog post of mine that you read, allow it to be this one. This story will fill your heart with joy. It’s a story of infectious positivity and the massive impact it can have on those around you.
I first read about this beautiful soul in Max Lucado’s book and when I researched it further, I was blown away at the heart of this man. I have captured the story below to share my delight with you.
My hope is that it encourages you to be aware of your impact and that it inspires you to bring more positivity to the world at a time that it’s absolutely needed.