breathing.

It is only April but I really feel that it has already been such a hard year. So many things have gone wrong or disappointed me that I often wake up with a feeling of dread hanging over my spirit. It is a strange and painful period in my twenties and I often find myself exhausted just trying to pull myself together and find my greater purpose or whatever. Over the past few weeks the heaviness has grown and I knew I needed to make a serious effort to not be dragged completely under. I could feel myself losing perspective and wallowing but I did not care to pull myself together. It was easier to commit to the pain and sense of devastation. At some point I realised that I could not continue to cry about it; nothing is ever as bad as it seems and there is joy to be found even in this difficult and painful period. This all sounds very easy and “I woke up one morning and decided to be better, so I was.” Not at all. It was a long and painful battle within myself to get better. There were lots of tears and pain and anger and resignation before this stage was reached.

I started practicing greater mindfulness, focusing on the little things that go right and bring me joy. Because even in the most difficult situations, there will always be something to ease your spirit and help you breathe easier.  I started a gratitude journal, began to spend more time with my family and loved ones, and made greater efforts to plan my life and adapt to challenges. It has not been easy, but I can feel my spirit lifting slowly and even when things go wrong, I breathe and allow them to be a mess, then pull myself toward myself and push forward. It will be okay. And even if it is not, life goes on.

Whether it is enjoying a really good plate of ribs on a Friday night in my oldest sweats, or pushing myself to the maximum at the gym, or skipping gym to go to happy hour, or skipping my favourite band to go to church instead; I have learnt to listen to myself and give myself what I need at that time. I write down what has gone well that week, and look back and smile at the good moments. It has been such a small but powerful method for maintaining a positive perspective.  I have purposefully refused to wallow in my circumstances. I give myself time to mourn what has been, and look forward to the next stage. If I have nothing else, I have hope.

How do you practice mindfulness and self care when you are struggling? I would love to hear from you.

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chasing.

About a year ago, someone asked me what I wanted from the year. My response was something along the lines of, “Oh, I want to be happy.” It was a bit of a throwaway response, unintentionally flippant. It was just an odd question from someone I felt did not know me enough to be asking me that. Resolutions are after all, often deeply revelatory and measured. Along the lines of “Oh I want to finally have a baby; I want to get married; I plan to get a promotion; I am visiting my dream country.” Things that tend to expose you a little.

We laughed it off and continued, but when I really sat down and looked over my resolution list and what I hoped to get from the year, happiness was right there at the top, overarching. I have been consistent with that demand over the years. I have followed through. I was tired of being a sad girl. I wanted to sparkle, to shine without apology, to be who I truly am, not at the mercy of my emotions and people who dulled me. Happy was a priority; to be insisted on, prioritised and chased without apology.

Ever since I was young, I have struggled with anxiety, consistently focusing on what could go wrong. Never on what was working. It was usually the smaller things that I allowed to snowball into something more, digging deeper and deeper into my head, fixated on the one tiny thing I had messed up, the things beyond my actual human control. Truth is, I was and am doing better than I imagine. That came when I resolved to persist regardless of the fear and stress that idea brings me.

This year, I want to move forward. To be honest, to be kind, to make a difference, to have fun. And to keep pushing through, to not not worry so much about messing up and to see how well I actually am doing.

A simple life,a happy life, a loving life. To be honest, to be open, to be kind, to be a good person, to make a difference, to do my work well, to be excellent, to just keep pushing through, to have fun and to not worry about things going wrong and to not worry so much about messing up . And to know that I can always start again if I do mess up. And to remember that most times, I am doing just fine.

Letting Love Lead.

This year I resolved to challenge myself in every way possible. I was curious. What do I look like when I push myself to the very limits of my capabilities?  I felt that I needed to put in a lot more work than I have ever done before, aligning my actions with my long-term goals.

I’ll be honest: it was not easy. It was also extremely important and necessary.

For a few weeks now, I have been reflecting and planning my coming year; pondering over lessons learnt this year, people loved, places gone, pictures snapped.

I see something and it triggers a happy memory. Remnants of a love lost. Bittersweet. I thought he was the one. A reminder of how warm it felt in that embrace, how safe that love was. Home. And how I felt I would never be happy again when that light went out. The night I cried myself sick, the last night. Every challenging night since then, I have reminded myself, “if you could survive that, what are you afraid of?” Life goes on.

It’s never anything big; just small meaningful moments that make up the sum of my life.

This year I saw a commitment to family and how blessed I have been; nurturing friendship, forgiving and growing as well as letting go; steady progress in the gym- discipline extending to other areas of my life; career wins and lessons; the importance of health and wellness after I ended up in the emergency room a few times; dancing in the dark, letting my boundaries down to just be in the moment a little; choosing the wrong person willingly; loving even after all the heartbreak and disappointment, choosing to not be defined by failings in that regard; defining how I want to be loved even more clearly; returning to love and showing up every time ready to do the work. Letting love lead, never fear.

Highs and others; grateful for the growth, the love and lessons.

One of the best things I did for myself this year was scheduling time and love. Where it is invested, how it is managed. The home frequency where you put your head down, give it deliberate focus and invest in the right situations. Working and knowing exactly what you are trying to do, and where your energy needs to be.

Here’s to an even more deliberate 2019.

 

CPT.

2018 was a big year for me, a watershed year.

Someone wrote about how there are years that ask questions and years that answer. For me, 2018 year was all about doing groundwork . Hopefully 2019 will reveal the answers I have been striving toward. Faith is difficult to hold onto when you are simply putting in the long hours without immediate results. As a particularly millenial millenial, raised on and sustained by immediacy (haha), I can easily admit that I struggle with that. But I have learnt that in the years that ask questions, you have to just push through and trust that you’ll emerge right at the end and that the sacrifices will be enough. Yes, even writing exams on your birthday. And there will be a glimmer here and there that you are on the right path. Reassuring.

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By late September, I could feel the weight of the year on me. It felt like all I had done was work.  It had been a great year with lots of spontaneous and organised trips, an international jaunt, and lots of cocktails, lazy brunches and selfies. Add to that, my best friend and I in the same country after a long break apart,  and it really was a party.

The issue remained though, that the balance remained in favour of working and building. As the year drew to a close, I found myself deeply unhappy, stressed and severely anxious. I still had so much work to do in the year and I was unsure of how I would get through it. Exhausted, I was waking up in a panic multiple times throughout the night, stressed at my exhaustion and inability to get anything done fast enough. I realised that if I was to close the year off strong, I needed a break. So I did just that!

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I headed to one of my favourite places in the world, where I lived for a few years, growing and growing up. Where the sun shines a little brighter, the air calms my spirit, and I find myself breathing easier. Cape Town.

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I am obsessed with Cape Town. I resolved that for my own sanity, I would travel there at least once every year to recharge, see my family and friends and breathe. The convenience of getting around, the insane amount of eateries  and the general improvement in my skin and health when I am there made it a no-brainer holiday hide-away get-away. a7f7ff7a-cd54-4fb0-9dc1-ff80495e924c

I stayed in the City Centre first to get some business and admin out of the way, before moving to a place in Camps Bay. Both places were really great, well- maintained with really lovely staff. What I loved about Camps Bay though, was that I could start my mornings with a leisurely stroll along the beach before breakfast. Cold morning air, warm sun, easy conversations- stunning for the spirit.

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When I first moved to Cape Town, I loved it. All of it. But an experience that really stuck out for me and solidified my love for the city was my first visit to Hout Bay.  I visited my lovely Aunt and her family for the weekend, and we went all around the city, ending up in Hout Bay for the day.  Time seems to slow down, the locals are friendly, the food is rustic and good, and it is just the loveliest place to find yourself. My friend D and I brainstormed briefly on where to spend the day, settling on Hout Bay before moving on to Muizenberg for a quick visit.

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This time around, we had some really lovely seafood at Snookies, before wandering across the road to a local artisinal brewery, Urban. A great place with a gallery around the side. Do check it out, particularly on a quiet Tuesday morning, although I am sure it is even more amazing on a Friday night.

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I ate a lot. I walked a fair bit. Took in the crisp air, smiled, recalibrated and reminded myself of a few things that had gotten lost throughout the year. The balance that I felt? Priceless.

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Honourable Mention: Banana Jam Cafe in Kenilworth. Trust me on this. It has an excellent vibe, good drinks and is an all-round intimate spot.

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Sun, Sand and Sea. Throw in cocktails, friends and rainy nights, you have a winning combination. I came back refreshed, ready to finish off the year, and so grateful for the blessings in my life.

Body Series: Self.

relationship with body (n). always a little complicated, hesitant and begrudging. most importantly, ongoing.   

can i decisively point to the moment where the grapple between body and self began? not with any honesty. all i know is that it happened, and continued to happen for the next two decades. something triggered that contention. and we are still here today. learning, unlearning. breathing, trying. sometimes gloriously wonderful and deeply fulfilling. other days darker, messy; to be tolerated as best can be, shrinking and hiding.

re-emerging, waving. “i am still here.” affirming. 

what does the world say? faster, better, stronger. most importantly? lesser. be smaller, therefore more attractive, better than. consistently thinner. non-negotiable and to-be-obeyed.

youthful foundations: discipline, timeliness. acceptance and grace. there was this body, so good at navigating the world. shiny medals, flying the flag, excelling. even in the midst of all that celebration and joy, the mind always reminding: thinner, smaller, better- never forget. careless to forget. 

what was this desire to disappear, to be less visible even while becoming more? less and therefore more desirable? where did that yearning come from? forever grappling with that question. thinner echoed consistently. running, sinister whisperings. running, disappearing. obsessively striving to be less, to not be too much. much too much to ever be loved even as i was loved for being so much. navigating. 

“i see you’re not on this perpetual mission to destroy yourself any more.i’m glad you finally think you’re worth saving.” upile chisala.

at some point, impasse. sheer exhaustion from over a decade of mutterings. an enduring affair began in lieu of therapy. a little peace followed. then a lot of it. then the strength. smaller, certainly, but no longer cruelly demanded. what mattered was no longer smaller but stronger, faster. a relief to add happier, kinder, softer, more honest, committed.

recovery.

life from what was once so desperately sought to be destroyed. a jealously guarded home. 

learning to sit quietly, to listen deeply. to let go of the fear and whisperings. fear of failing. not enough. too much (from and to all the men i purported to love- thank you).

“what about this theory. the fear of not being enough. and the fear of being too much. are exactly the same fear. the fear of being you.” nayyirah waheed

sensible. ongoing.

soft.

A rare pleasure to be listened to.

To be seen, to be felt, here.

Softly understood and loved.