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SEX: A love poem

Sex, the physical way in which two individuals connect on a deeper level.

The most intimate way to connect with another human being.

The church regulates it as if it owns the rights to it.

As if it invented it and therefore owns the trademark to it.

Why should an outside authority assert what two individuals agree on, in their private space?

To what two individuals agree to participate in, out of their free will?

The medical community exorcise it that it is almost impossible to enjoy it without remembering how unsafe and deadly it can be.

When did it stop being a contract that two people enter into emotionally?

A contract bound by trust and truthfulness.

A contract born of a strong emotional bond between two or three people, if they so choose.

A contract born of emotional transparency, whose foundation is love and emotional vulnerability?

How did it become so perverse?

How did it become just an act that two bored, lonely, miserable or drunk just engage in to ease their pain?

The psychopaths use it as a weapon to control others,

They assert their will over others by pretending to love them and when they have lured them into their net, they abandon them like a plague, withdraw their attention, leaving them pining for their hollow love.

I am wondering when did something so sacred, so beautiful, which the rest of the human race was entitled to became for a select few, with clauses and conditions met before anyone can indulge in it.

When did it become a state’s problem?

When did it transcend the bedroom, a sacred space which two people share?

When did the public opinion determine the quality or quantity of it?

When and how is it done did it become a matter of public opinion and debate?

Who and how frequent one engages in it did it become a public opinion?

I am praying for a time when it was so simple to engage in this sacred act.

An act driven by emotional connection more than anything else.

When the bond of trust and the depth of love determined its quality.

When looks and figure, even muscles for that matter, didn’t factor much, but were an after thought.

When the soul connection was the main factor.

I long for that time.

The time past.

Love and motherhood

(Photo by Unpslash)

Recently, there was a hot debate on Twitter on whether or not R3k is enough to raise a child on. A large number of men in this debate thought this was enough, while many women, some of which are single parents, or are helping someone who is, were greatly enraged by this. I was just there, watching on the sidelines as I have no first-hand experience of this, but it made me think about motherhood and brought it to closer to home. The thought of children has always been a distant one for me. This is mainly due to my upbringing, which was heavily influenced by church. At church I was taught to first find a husband before I can even think about having children. Even that was entirely in God’s hands. In my naiveté, I never considered the when and the how, never factoring miscarriages and infertility. I thought about it in the Cinderella kind of way. In my mind, once a husband came children would automatically appear. How they would be provided for was not my responsibility either. I guess at the back of my mind it was a husband’s job to figure out such details. The church taught me that a husband is a provider of his family. Now that I’m approaching the 37 year-old mark and also my conversations with friends, I’m thinking about children a lot lately. I also never thought I would still be single and childless at this age and, that it is my own decision to make if I want children or not, before I meet someone. I also never thought that not having children could be another option. This option is still seen as taboo though, especially in the context of African culture. In the olden days, not being able to bear a child, particularly in marriage, carried a stigma. I have people; who, when I tell them I’m not really sure if I want children tell me I will regret it one day. My mom on the other hand, in spite of her strong beliefs that a child should only be a product of marriage, told me it’s okay for me to have a child while not married. Her reasoning was: what if the husband never comes?!

The most important factor I never considered before was the cost of raising a child. Raising a child in the modern age is different from when my parents raised me. When I was growing up my family dynamic was pretty simple: my dad worked and my mom stayed at home to raise us, like many women in that era. Now things have changed. Today it is not only a man’s responsibility to provide for a child; it’s also mine. I want to make sure my child has a better life experience than I had growing up. I want my child to grow up in an environment that will enable him or her to thrive in life. The reality is that I’m an entrepreneur and my laundry business (https://www.changeexchange.co.za/Change-moments/Landing-that-Job/washing-my-way-to-fortune) is in its infant stage, and that means I’m not financially ready to take care of a child alone, at present. The business is not yet in a position to pay me a salary. The laundry business concept is still new for the township market, where customers only bring in their laundry and we provide everything else that’s needed to get it done. This means that the price is slightly higher than what people usually pay the ladies who do the same thing, but informally. This makes my business profit to fluctuate from month to month and I am still studying the customer behavioural patterns, which will ultimately determine whether or not I have a viable business. I cannot factor a child in this; it’s a lot of uncertainty. The business itself is like a baby.

In spite of my mom’s affirmation, I still don’t feel a strong urge to have children. Honestly, sometimes the option of not having them at all is more appealing to me. However, as much as I’m leaning more towards the “no children” option, I’m still keeping an open mind. Maybe if I meet someone who is ready and willing to be a present and an active father to my child, not only financially, but emotionally too, I may take the plunge. I guess motherhood remains a far-away dream for me just as the church taught me. For now, I will focus on building my business into a profitable enterprise.

This was first published on http://www.changeexchange.co.za website, for which I wrote a monthly column, three years ago.

Six months blogging hiatus

Today I’m blogging after almost six months of a hiatus. This hiatus was not by choice. Firstly, my phone got broken just after lockdown was announced. During this time, you would think I was doing nothing…well, to an extent, yes I was doing nothing. But on the bigger scheme of things, I was attending to my emotional health; nurturing myself by connecting with myself and people I love. Although lockdown was extremely difficult in the beginning for me, I learnt to adapt to being at home even when I wanted to be out of the house. If I’m being honest, the announcement of lockdown felt like a lifelong prison sentence for me.

I’ve been working from home since 2018 when I quit my media job and soon started my laundry business, operating from home. This meant that I had lost my social connections which I had forged through my work. I also do not have a lot of friends; my closest friends live in Johannesburg and we chat regularly on the phone, but it’s not the same. My family also lives in Hermanus, which is one and half hours away from me. When quarantine rules were firmly in place, this meant that I was on a government imposed exile from my family. I live with my nephew in the family house, but when lockdown was announced he left for Hermanus to be with family. At first, this was great to finally have the whole house to myself as someone who thrives in being alone. The first few weeks were extremely hard that one time I called my mom, telling her that I felt alone and just broke down. My mom has never heard me cry on the phone…. except when I resigned from my job after feeling overwhelmed by the weight of my decision, doubting if I made the right decision. She told me I was not abandoned and that they loved me as the family. It’s the assurance I needed and it did comfort me, given that I’m the go to person for everything in my family. It felt great to be on the receiving end of my mom’s love and support.  I often jokingly tell everyone that in my family, I’m the doctor, counsellor or therapist, a financier of all sorts of things, an adviser and a mediator when there are disputes. I’ve accepted all those roles and have played them well until lockdown. I felt alone, vulnerable and weak for the first time in my life. Solitude felt like torture and not the joy it usually is. I couldn’t go out to my favourite coffee shops. I couldn’t just go out and be near a beach even though I’m not a swimming person. When I do go to the beach, I usually just dip my feet into the water.

This feeling of being trapped at home heightened my anxiety and the constant reporting of the death toll rising due to the virus were not helping. People on social media were also hysterical. I then decided to go off social media, including deleting my WhatsApp. I informed my friends that if they needed to reach me, they would have to call me. My friends are kind, loving and supportive. They understand my struggle with anxiety and they had no issues with me leaving WhatsApp. They called and texted me every now and then, checking up on me. I also decided not to watch news as I didn’t want to worsen my anxiety. This was a welcome break and being off these platforms gave me time to tend to my emotional health and be more in touch with myself. The only unfortunate thing was that I couldn’t write as my phone was broken. I mostly blog from phone as it easier than blogging from my laptop. So, now it feels good to be back into blogging again.

Xoxo:)

Blogs I follow and enjoy

screenshot_20200316-135528I love reading, especially reading blogs or other people’s views and thoughts. Ever since discovering the online world those many ears ago, the greatest joy for me was being able to read stuff while sitting in a taxi or bus on my way to or from work. Thank God for smartphones, the reading got easier. I would use all my two gig monthly data allocation from my service provider just on reading at night. This hasn’t stopped, except now my special interest is in blogs. Below is the list of some of my favourite bloggers in no particular order. I subscribe to these blogs, which means I can read them on my email even when I’m not connected to the internet.

1. Freckels and frowns is a blog by my friend Neli Tshabalala. Neli blogs about friendship, relationships, goals and life in general. I love the quirky name of this blog. I love Neil’s writing style is easy going and, nice short pieces which are easy to digest. Neli is also a digital editor for Financial Mail, a financial magazine, owned by one of South African media publishing houses. I’ve been friends with Neli since 2013 and we met at work and a few years later, I replaced her at her previous employment.

2. Brevity is a non-fiction blog. I particularly enjoy reading pieces by Allison K. Williams who is also a social media editor for the platform. Allison writes moving pieces about life in general. The last piece was about social distancing due to the pandemic. In the piece she also shares her gut-wrenching experience of her packing her friend’s who had passed. Stories like these give that sense of “togetherness”. You share in other’s joys and griefs.

3. KDD & co is a platform that features different bloggers, mainly published writers. I love getting lost in these stories.

4. Blogvlovin’ is another platform I had spent years reading. This platform has a variety of content, including fashion and food.

5. Normandy blogger is a UK expat living in France. I was first drawn to the blog by the name. Her blogging style is light hearted even when she shares about serious stuff. I particularly enjoyed the piece she wrote about burglaries in France. This was a shock to me.

6. Workout tips by Digital nomad (that’s the blog name). This is a go to blog for all things fitness, outdoors, hiking, sports nutrition, etc. As an outdoor enthusiast myself, I love reading this blog. This guy can write! He writes long pieces and gives ou useful information and guidelines. He also wrote about hiking in Cape Town.

7. Roche Mamabolo is a South African blogger who blogs about entrepreneurship, business and life in general. Roche is an entrepreneur mentor and thought leader. He is also the founder of his entrepreneurship academy, which teaches seminars on entrepreneurship. He recently launched his podcast: Sawubona, which features leading entrepreneurs in the country.

8. Travel with Karabo is another South African blogger, whom I know personally. Karabo is a travel, lifestyle and wellness blogger, with the main focus on travel. If you are looking for cool things to do around Cape Town, she’s the go to person. I always celebrate my birthdays with a hike and she acommpanied me for my 2018 birthday hike. We hiked Lion’s Head, it was super fun and epic.

9. Rendani Mampiswana is a very good friend of mine. He blogs about innovation and the 4th Industrial revolution (4IR). Now he writes about his Ph.D. journey. Oh, he also does his yearly reading challenges. He sets himself a goal to read, for example, 30 books this year.

10. Lindi Mlandu is a South African blogger who documents her travels, both local and international. She’s Neli’s friend. Check her out on Lindi Mlandu on wordpress.

Buchu and other herbs

In the journey to healthy eating and healthy living, you soon realise that there are healthy options, but there’s also organic options. This, supposedly, means that it’s the healthiest option. Like any disciple to a new religion, you devote yourself getting the best out of your practice to ensure you get the results promised to you. Since I was introduced to that Nettle and Hibiscus tea fusion that fateful afternoon, in that little coffee shop in Observatory, I cannot count how many times I’ve noticed various teas I wouldn’t otherwise notice prior my discovery. It’s called “Law of attraction”. Now my healthy eating antenna is on high alert. I see healthy foods everywhere I go. Ingredients scream at me from product packages. I could easily spot them in the trash bin if they were stuffed in there.

My most recent found is buchu tea or leaves. I bought the leaves from the Rastafarian guys who sell sage and other natural herbs on the streets in Claremont.  It is bitter to the mouth but drinkable still. My friend also introduced me to the wonders of turmeric, mixed with cayenne pepper, black and white pepper and ground ginger. I drink this mix when I have an upset stomach. I also gave it to my neighbour the other time she had an upset stomach (not running stomach). She was so pleased with the results that she said she’d buy a pack and take   it with to the Eastern Cape during December holidays. I sometimes drink ground ginger alone. It tastes delicious with a little bit of sugar. I’m yet to quit sugar all together.

I also drink warm water with crushed garlic and apple cider vinegar regularly. I’m easy on apple cider vinegar as it can be harsh to the intestine lining. I make sure I drink a lot of water before I drink it. This is important. I drink all these for fun mostly, but I’m also aware of its healht benefits.

Healthy eating vs starving

We put too much emphasis on over eating and fatness. Rarely do we highlight the problem of low or under eating. Probably we think it’s a Holywood thing to not want to eat or have low interest in food. We hardly recognise this problem even in ourselves. A majority of people who go to gym go there to lose weight. In fact, I think the entire gym industry is tailored around weight loss. This begs the question: what about those of us who don’t necessarily need to lose weight, but want to maintain a healthy body?

I’m not a big meat eater, in fact, I always say, “I can easily become a vegetarian”, except that I love pork so much. In a quest to balance my anxiety, I embarked on a “healthy eating” journey, but without proper knowledge or plan. This meant that I didn’t eat properly and didn’t prepare my meals. Instead of eating healthily I almost starved myself. This was not intentional, of course. I didn’t realise that I had a problematic relationship with food. First, I don’t really like food. I often brag to people, saying that “I only eat so I won’t starve”. I even forget to eat at times, until my stomach starts grumbling. Then I would remember , “Oh, I haven’t eaten anything”. This is usually around 1 pm. What makes me forget eating also is my strong relationship with coffee. Drinking coffee often makes me believe I’ve eaten something. This was a common theme for me in 2019. This was not until July, when I hit an almost rock bottom. That’s when I became intentional with eating and the kind of food I ate. Soon my intentionality became neuroticism. I treated food like an enemy. This only intensified my warped relationship with food. I told friends and neighbours that I was becoming vegetarian. I even started planting my own food, which is now blooming nicely. I was proud of myself, thinking I was being good to myself by trying to eliminate meat from my diet. Thankfully, that was not hard work for me to do as I was already not eating much anyway.

In the beginning of 2020, I started feeling extremely exhausted with serious hunger pangs. I would wake up feeling like I haven’t eating for days. I would find anything I could just to keep my “breath”. That’s when I became intentional about eating breakfast. I make sure I eat something no later 10am. I bought oats and it only takes 10 minutes to prepare. It’s less complicated and it is also low in carbohydrates and rich in energy. I also do energy mditations in the morning, which include breathing exercises. These exercises help with digestion. Since starting this routine, my stomach is more peaceful now. On top of meditations, I do jumping squats as part of my excercise. This helps with my heart rate. I also eat a proper lunch, which includes 70% vegetables. I cook during the day, something I used to hate doing. I also snack on fruits and drink water.

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I came across an article, posted by a friend on her WhatsApp status update. The article talked about what is called Aryuverda.  The concept talks about a cluster of daily activities that a person can do to maintain a healthy balance of the body. It also explains different body types and how each body reacts differently to stress. This concept is based on ancient Indian philosophy which denotes that, “I’m a spiritual being having a physical exprience”. It makes sense that when we are stressed our bodies react because the two are interconnected. I’ve also incorporated some of these daily practices and the exhaustion is completely gone. The debilitating hunger is also gone. I’m freer and happier. My body is feeling healthier, too. I also went back to my morning runs. You can read more on the Aryuverda concept on Deepak Chopra website: http://www.https//chopra.com/articles Chopra is a trained medical doctor and a mind/body philosopher.

Simple home workouts

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When I quit my job, I couldn’t afford gym anymore. I had to come up with innovative ways to keep me fit and healthy. I joined a running club and ran each morning from 5a.m. to 7 am. When I started meditation last July, this interfered with my new found process and schedule. I recokend that feeding my spirit and calming my mind before starting my day was more important than being physically fit. However, I still needed physical activity.

I downloaded YouTube videos on different forms of exercises, ranging from cardio exercises, to breathing exercises, yoga, etc.

1. Full body cardio excercise

I downloaded a 10 minute full body workout video. This video consists of deep squats; wide squats; plans; mountain climbing; kick squat; jumping squats this work out involved the whole body.

2. Focused breathing

In the afternoons, I do a 13-minute breathing called prana yama. This breathing is made up of passive inhaling and active exhale. The purpose of the breathing is to stimulate and strengthen the lungs. It is said that as humans we’ve been breathing incorrectly. This breathing focuses mainly on the navel: you isolate the navel in order to bring energy into the skull (also known as illuminating the skull). The benefit is that if your skull is illuminated, you have more oxygen in the brain, which is good for your overall health.

3. Body stretch yoga

I have different types of yoga vidoes on my phone, which target different body parts. Sometimes I do lower back and neck pain relief yoga. The stretched are focused on  easing pain on these targeted areas. Other times, I do anxiety and stress relief yoga. I realised this type of yoga is mainly about self soothing. The focus is to be kind on yourself and be mindful of your body as you do the practice.

4. Mindful eating

As much as eating is not a physical excercise, I realised that you cannot exercise without being mindful of what you eat. I call this mindful eating. It involves watching the amount of sugar I consume; how much vegetables and fruits I consume on a daily basis. I make sure I eat a banana before I eat breakfast. I eat my breakfast at 10:00. Eating banana before I eat my breakfast helps me my eat early. This is good for digestion. I also eat foods, which are rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants such as spinach. I feel energetic each day and my body feels strong and agile. I’m also mindful of beverages I consume. I’ve increased my water consumption and drink less coffee – and more tea.

Grounding for productivity

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I love being spontaneous or going with the flow as the saying goes. When I was still employed, I used to boast that I’m a morning person. I lied. I am not. I still wake up early though. My alarm is set for 5:00 each morning. Sometimes I wake up before it goes off. I run my own business from home. I have no boss to answer to. So, this means I don’t need to set my alarm for 5 am, but I do. Working in corporate gives you stability, not only financial stability, but a foundation for productivity. When I was still employed, I started work at 7:00. I was the first to arrive in the office. This gave me time to ground myself before people came in with their energies. It helped set my day. If I happened to be late, I would feel flustered and would spend half my day trying to ground myself. This was time lost that I could have used to be more productive. Grounding is more important than rushing to tasks. The first year after quitting my job, I woke up aimless. It took me a year to develop a daily routine that works for me. This routine includes waking up to meditate. I use guided mediation audio to help me with my practice. I then open my business at 7:00 and expect customers to start coming in. I water my plants before I make myself a cup of coffee or tea. I then do my daily squats of 50. I then proceed to make my bed, clean the house so that it’s clean when customers come in, to drop off their laundry. I eat my porridge at 10:00. From then on, I’m free to just cruise through my day because I’m settled in my grounding. This helps me handle anything that comes my way, including rude or difficult customers. I’ve also noticed that I’m generally in a happy mood when I do this grounding. If I don’t, just like when I was an employee, I get flustered and sometimes grumpy. At the end of each day, I journal. I reflect on the day. I also do gratitude journaling, which helps me recognise what’s good in my life. These little things help increase instances of joy. Since I established a routine, I’m less anxious and more joyful and energetic. They also give me direction for the day, showing me which way to take – what tasks are more important and which ones aren’t.

Social media and beauty

img-20200306-wa0025 My relationship with my face got complicated at age 25, when I started working in corporate. I never had acne growing up, unlike my sister who was prone to break outs. I started straightening my hair with chemicals when I started working, in an attempt to look ‘professional’. I thought this was expected of me. Well, it was implied as many people did it. I also started experimenting with make up for the first-time. Needless to say, with my limited knowledge of make-up, I did a lot of trial and error with both facial products and make up. The most frustrating thing was never getting the right foundation, which matched my skin tone. Also, my skin started breaking out in pimples. These pimples would leave black spots because I couldn’t stop poking them, something beauty technicians at beauty stores advised me not to do. That was the beginning of my roller coaster ride with my skin problems. This became a war I would dedicate my entire life into winning.

In a quest to have a clear skin that I would be proud to show to the world, but more importantly, to myself, I searched for products that would yield these results. Unfortunately, it was an elusive dream. The more I searched, the more unattainable the dream was. I spent a lot of money trying it different products at the advice of beauty technicians at the stores. I also followed the three step formula: wash, cleanse and tone. I tried to be consistent with the daily routine, still, no results. I got more frustrated and to make matters worse, my skin under the eyes became black. I went back to beauty technicians to seek advice: they told me to drink more water and sleep more. They also advised me to use some under eye creams, which meant spending more money. Nothing worked. This was pre-smartphones, which introduced the concept of selfies. I’ve had a complicated relationship with smartphones from the day I first owned one because of this small feature. This feature amplified my insecurities about my face, thus my overall beauty.

Fast forward to 2018, I quit my fancy job, which paid me enough for me to afford those fancy products that kept my insecurities at bay. The stress that comes with the uncertainty of entrepreneurship took a toll on my skin. I became obsessed with my skin in a way I’ve never been before. The more I stressed about my skin, the worst my skin became. Towards the end of 2019, my stress and anxiety levels had reached high proportions that leaving the house became a mission. It’s March 2020, it’s better. I leave the house more frequently now. Sometimes I stay the whole day without my foundation on. Because my face is extremely oily, not washing it is better if I want to stay foundation free for the day. I’m able to stay the whole day without covering my black spots, but only at home. This is major progress for me.

I’m often in Observatory, at the Drawing Room, which is owned by a friend. The photo above was taken by him last Friday. I posted this photo on my Instagram. I got more likes than any other photo I’ve ever posted and even got a few compliments. I was hurt by this overwhelming love. I even wanted to remove the picture, but waited to see how many more likes I would get just to prove my point. I replied to those who wrote their compliments, who happen to know me personally, or have seen my face in real life. I told them that’s not how I look in real life. I bought my phone in 2016 and it takes crappy pictures. This phone camera quality adds to my anxiety. Every time I take a picture, I’m never happy. I often use filters on my photos before I post them on social media. I still haven’t yet had the courage to post my pictures make-up free. I will get there, but I’m not in a hurry to get there.

Posting that photo allowed me an opportunity to publicly address this problem I’ve had for so long. Also, I’m working on building my brand as a lifestyle blogger and influencer. Most influencers are picture perfect and don’t seem to have skin problems like I do.

What confidence issues do you have? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Why caring for my hair is loving myself

I’ve had my hair cut short since 2011. I braided my hair for the first time last July. This was purely by chance. My friend Luso gave me her left over synthetic hair. I decided that I’ll use it to plait my hair. It was just a silly idea because my hair was short. This became a welcome change. I fell in love with my braided hair. So my hair planting journey began! Whenever I took off my hair during a breather period, when I was still putting money together for the next round of braids. During this period, my hair came out in its full glory and I fell in love. This is when I decided to grow my hair. I still hadn’t made an intention to take care of my hair. I was just growing it because it looked cool long. I can’t remember the last time I had long  hair, my own hair.

 

Prior to braiding my hair, I cut my hair in a nice cut, sometimes with a hair colour. I took the colouring to the extreme by using bleach. I would take out another colour with a different colour. A terrible thing to do to your hair. My hair was resilient enough that it never broke or fell off. I continued with this behaviour when I started braiding my hair. I took out braids and didn’t wash my hair, but I’d  put another round. I did this for a few months until the last set of braids. This particular style damaged my hair. My hair line was pulled back for the first time. That’s when I got a wake up call. It was then that I decided that growing my hair was not enough, but that I was going to take care of my hair.

I set myself a budget to buy products that will help me take care of my hair. I went to Clicks and found Afrobotanics products on special. I bought a leave-in conditioner and a twist, curl & define cream. Both products help with the detangling process, especially after taking off braids. It also helps soften my hair before I twist it at night when I go to bed. I’ve also learnt about other homemade recipes to grow healthy hair.

I realise that this process not only forces me to take care of my hair, but that it forces me to live my hair. Because loving my hair is loving myself.