Dream, breathe, live

It was an early hour, it was cold and as my heart skipped several beats I have somewhat forgotten how to breathe. Those who know me well might think I’m dramatically describing my start to any given day (mornings and winter are two of my least favorite things) but actually, it’s an attempt to briefly explain a moment where I think, for just a second, I physically experienced probably one of the most abstract “feelings” in human life: freedom.

This episode occurred at the US Embassy as I left the building – awkwardly trying to figure out which way to go, obviously looking like I’m absent-minded and slightly lost but mostly overwhelmed… My mind could not process anything other than the fact that my Visa has been approved. This was the last tick on a checklist that, once complete, would be the start of my very first journey abroad. After years of dreaming, a moment of deciding, months of planning and a ridiculous amount of hours spent in a state of pure procrastination I could finally say, “I am going to America!”

Being an independent woman means that I’ve been free to make decisions and live my life the way I want for quite some time, but the comfort zone was suffocating me in such a sneaky, subconscious way that I even adapted to fit into this little bubble I called “my life”. It’s as if I trained myself to breathe less as to settle for however little oxygen was available.

Dreaming it is pointless if you’ll never be doing it.

Why decide to live this dream NOW? I wouldn’t say I’ve reached a ceiling in any aspect of my life. There’s ample opportunity for growth – professionally, personally and in relationships. The way I see it, you don’t always have to reach a ceiling before you can extend with another room. Actually, this is exactly what I’m doing (which I have just realised mid-type): By pursuing this dream I am not climbing, I’m growing. I’m pausing the life that I know and I’m taking a gap year, a breather, to tap into a life that I don’t know. It’s a change, a challenge, but most importantly it’s an opportunity to grow. And if that’s the closest I’ll ever get to freedom, I’ll take it!

Do you sometimes feel stuck in the ordinary, knowing that there’s this dream you never pursued? A dream that died because you never made it come alive? We have been given authority to pursue all that this world has to offer – why say no to such a wonderful favour?

 

Additional

A relatable quote for my fellow fans of literature:

quote_breathing dreams like air

The weight of words

If we were to count every word we speak in our entire lifetime, statistics show that it would come to an average of 860.3 million words… per person. Obviously (since I’m more into words than numbers) I just thought “oh, that’s a lot,” until I saw a comparison; I’m quoting Google: “In one lifetime, the average person speaks the equivalent of the entire text of the complete Oxford English Dictionary more than 14.5 times.” This time I went “OH! THAT IS A LOT”! And then I thought: if every word we speak carried a certain weight based on its intent, how much will 860.3 million words weigh?

We carry the weight of words spoken over us.

The power of speech is a concept known by many different cultures and religions. Over the years it has become a common habit to speak against the power of speech…

Touch wood!

Point is, no matter what cultural background you are from, which religion you practice or if you are against all beliefs and consider yourself worldly, we all know the impact words can have.

Year in and year out we are protesting against animal abuse, signing petitions to protect our human rights, planting trees, donating money to charities, cooking soup for the hungry, providing clothing to the poor and converting to vegan as to support some movement. We are great at these things – especially sharing it on Facebook so that everyone can see! Yet every day we’re given a chance to be kind in the way we speak to others… and I think this is where we fail. Hard.

I know life gets busy and times are tough and smiling takes effort, especially when your heels are killing you and you have to sit in another meeting that could have been an email and there is no such thing as a lunch break and traffic and grocery shopping and paying bills and seeing friends and family and going to the gym – LIFE! I know! But the beautiful thing I have realised is this: When you can’t be kind (because let’s face it, we’re all human and sometimes it really is impossible) just don’t be mean.

Imagine if each time a negative word was spoken over you, that person just kept quiet. Imagine how little weight we’d have to carry if all the bad words weren’t added to the 860.3 million we so easily seem to utter. And better yet, imagine how lovely we’d feel if all those bad words were replaced by nice ones.

Maybe it will be easier to live life when we speak life…

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Company sets the climate

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see Justin Bieber perform and baby-baby-baby-oh, it’s definitely an experience worth writing about! We started off as a party of three with two bottles of Ships (a newly found and surprisingly satisfying alternative to OBS) and a bus ride to Soccer City. With temperatures dropping as low as 4⁰C, accompanied by raindrops which could easily be mistaken for snowflakes – I can say with certainty that Joburg Weather has a sense of humor. Nonetheless, we were ready as ever – nothing a furry coat and a plastic poncho couldn’t fix!

What do you mean?

After making friends with strangers, finishing our Ships and recording several Boomerang videos as an attempt to keep warm, the rest of our crowd joined us and we bravely marched towards the gate (which, little did we know, was the first of four entrances). As we approached the stadium, soaked shoes and frozen fingers, I realised the only thing one does not want to realise at a time like this: I lost my ticket! 

Where are you now that I need ya?

We ran along the way we came, my heart sinking much faster than the Ships. Already I’m imagining myself in an Uber on the way home while the whole city is jolling with Justin.

Is it too late now to say sorry?

Now, let me entertain you with this rare and almost unbelievable truth: I FOUND MY TICKET! Never in my life have I had any luck with winning, but this time, I took first prize!

Don’t you give up na na na

Back on track, the whole crowd relieved and slightly in shock, we made our way through another 3 entrances. By the time we got in, we all needed some comfort, so we stood in a 30-minute queue where we made friends with more strangers. When we finally found a dry place to sit in one of the stadium halls, we had our cold hotdogs and coffees – still in good spirits and enjoying the vibe.

Life is worth living

Eventually, the concert started and we marked a spot in General Standing where, generally, one cannot see… but we had so much fun! There was an issue with the sound and it seems the rumors might be true about Mr. B not being fully devoted to his fans – to be honest, I got the idea he doesn’t give a crap… but the boy makes good music and most importantly: he made 60 000 people come together on which could have been the coldest day ever experienced in May. Now that’s impressive.

I’ll show you

The highlight of the day was definitely the company. That’s what I love so much about Joburg people: they are flexible, which is key when you are looking to have a good time.

Can we, we keep, keep each other company?

bieber fever

LBD: An endless love affair

I know every girl’s secret and I’m about to tell… We all have that one item that we’re dying to wear, but for some reason, this trend (which made it so big that society gave it an acronym) is the only one we seem to take for granted: The Little Black Dress.

Legend has it that this classic item was popularised in the 1920’s by Coco Chanel – an iconic French designer whose name still lingers on everyone’s lips in Front Row – as an intent to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable and accessible to all. (Checklist when buying a dress: all of the above!)

Sadly, now that see-through fabrics, metallic pink and embroidered pop-art made its way to New York Fashion Week, the LBD went from hero to zero. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the latest Spring/Summer Collection; it’s just that, like most things nowadays, fashion seems to have more commitment issues than a man in a mid-life crisis. Tried and tested: if you see a must-have in the display window of H&M, just go back after three weeks and you’ll walk out with a bigger bag AND a bigger budget (if any men going through a mid-life crisis reads this, don’t think that the same method applies – women are never on sale; at least not the ones that are in style).

Back to the point. Why, oh why do we always have to let go of the old to make room for the new? Now that retro is back, we all go and buy new retro-looking clothes while we secretly regret not keeping those hand-me-downs. I know what you’re thinking and I’m not saying become a hoarder, but maybe consider being just a little sentimental once in a while.

Who knows, maybe Coco Chanel had an LBD in mind when she said, “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous”.

So go on, stop discriminating and wear that black number to your best friend’s wedding – it’s the last colour to compete with the bride anyway! Besides, we should never stop celebrating a trend that lasted a century – we owe it a little sentimentality.

Content before comfort

When living life in the fast lane, flexibility is key. You have to stretch yourself – put yourself in situations you wouldn’t normally find yourself in, knowing that they’ll grow you in some way.

I think everyone in their 20’s is experiencing a lot of growth at the moment. We’re at a stage where we feel the need to push ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally until we get to a point where we are comfortable enough to stand in any situation with confidence. I recently discovered an interesting side to the so-called comfort zone…

By the time we get there – wait for it: it’s uncomfortable! Sometimes we just stretch ourselves too much and eventually, we are chasing an idea of things we’re not even able to enjoy once we get to celebrate achieving it. And, let’s face it – stretch marks doesn’t look good on anyone!

I’m not going to give examples as I believe we’re all able to relate to this. However (in case you wondering what the point of life would be if we’re not purposefully chasing targets) I want to share what I think might be an answer: Being content.

(Ironic fact: the word “comfortable” is a synonym of “content”.)

Us millennials, we are so impatient! We need to accept whatever season we’re in. Progress is often painful, but it’s very important to remember why we’re on this journey and to focus on the joy. If the joy is gone, you may need to relook at your strategy and change your goals. Or, you just need to re-establish your focus.

When you set your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s easier to shake off those orange leaves and turn a page to where the grass is greener.

The deeper our roots the higher we’ll rise

The current political climate in South Africa has everyone up in arms and soon many will be marching the streets… with their arms up (pun intended as I know too little about politics to make this post seem highly intellectual). However, since a writer always has something to say, I would like to leave you with a thought: If you tend a garden really well, you won’t be too bothered when a storm hits – for the surface may perish but the roots will remain and when the next season comes, there’s a fair chance it may blossom again.

Today, let’s remember that we walk upon this soil with a purpose: to grow as a Nation. We are all planted in the same field – why not unite our roots to form a shield? If we all take hands, we leave no room for the enemy to join the circle.

Our roots go deeper than what’s earth-bound; all struggles are seasonal after all.

#SAunites #SouthAfricaMustRise

Perspective

Growing up in the Free State and always having to travel for what felt like days to get to civilisation, was probably the main contributing factor to my love for the city I now get to call home. In the beginning, my reasoning was typical and shallow: anything I want and/or need is available at any given time and I can have it within a short period.  In Johannesburg, where everything happens swiftly, one quickly gets used to life in the fast lane… but wisdom does not come in a day and the greatest lesson of them all:  learning the ropes can take away from your character as much as it can add. The keyword, I’d say, is perspective.

After two years of living the dream, I can say (thankfully) that I’ve been around the block. From street art to fine dining, Joburg has so much to give and I’ve taken as much as I could carry… until I started to feel the weight. Tired and worn out, significantly unexcited about things that used to drive me, I became an observer – silently staring at the crowds who were indulging in the city lights and all that shines from it – no longer taking part, no longer being lit.

At first, the city taught me to be independent, responsible and confident; then all of a sudden it turned me into the complete opposite. I suppose that’s what happens when you forget that you are the one in control of your life. You determine who you are – not the people around you, the places you go or the clothes you wear.

I realised that I have changed since the day I first came here and that I needed to change my perspective, too. It’s not what you look at, but how you choose to look at it. Once I stopped complaining about the steep journey, I got to see the amazing view and (needless to say) I fell in love all over again.