Touching lives

I have always believed in the power of sharing your story and owning your truth. I was reminded how sometimes simply sharing your experience can connect you with someone else for a profound moment. Seeing as it was Women’s Day today it seemed fitting to share this story.

At the expo I did in Joburg with Carle I had the following experience. I was chatting to a lady about crocheting socks, she was a vendor at a stall a couple down from us. As we were chatting I overheard 2 of the other ladies saying “not that I will ever get married again, but if I do this is such a nice idea” – she was paging through a magazine. I never saw what she was talking about, but being a bit of a big mouth, I could not help but pipe up “I also said I would never get married again and now I am” She looked at me as if to say; Yes, but you don’t know where I have come from. She then said “can I ask you something personal, why do you have pink hair”. I told her that after my disastrous marriage I came out having lost who I was, and very very sad. The pink hair was the road to finding myself. It made me happy and it reminded me to never again forget who I was or let it get changed or buried by someone else. To be true to myself, even if that person was a bit odd and quirky. She said something like it was lovely and rather brave. We small talked a bit and then I had to go back to our stall.

Later just before I was leaving for the airport she called me over and she said “I just wanted to say that I really admire you, you came out of your bad marriage with pink hair and I came out fat” I looked into her eyes and could see the pain as clearly as if it it had been freshly carved into her soul, yet there were layers of hurt from years of pain. I just said “You are a strong and beautiful woman and you can find the person lost inside again – it will get better” There was a connection and moment when time stood still and I just held her eyes and tried to send as much love as I could. I was then called to leave and the moment was over. I hope she believed me, I hope she knows how special and valuable she is as a person, worthy of great love. I saw someone who believed she would never marry again as she had been so torn down, she did not see herself as able to find someone to love her for who she was. I hope she finds that someone, but most of all I hope there are more women on her journey willing to share their stories that might help her heal.

I hope I touched her life in a small way because she touched mine, she connected with me and gave me a piece of her hurting soul that I will carry with me. I hope I gave her a piece of my vision that it can be better and that it lightened her load a little.

Someone once told me he did not want to love again because each person he loved he gave a piece of his heart to and felt like soon there would be nothing to give anymore. I think he missed the point or maybe I remember his point wrong. I feel different, I feel that we have to give pieces of our heart and soul away so that we can receive pieces back. These help us see the world through experiences different to our own. I know he was talking about a girlfriend, but when you fear connection, be it in a relationship or in a brief encounter with a stranger, I think you lose the chance to change your life and theirs. Not all people were supposed to stay in our lives for long, some are just a passing encounter. We only have to be open to looking past the masks we all wear and seeing the soul.

This is not a pat me on the back kind of story, see how great I am for connecting with someone. It is to show that sometimes we don’t know how powerful sharing our story can be and how much it can touch someone else’s life. Being able to feel like we are not alone in our experiences, is often what we need to find a way through them. I have had those who have inspired and shared with me that have made my road easier and to each of them I say thank you.

SIX WORDS FOR OUR SOUTH AFRICA.

“I don’t do politics. Instead, I naively believe a government should run the country, make sure we have schools, roads, health care etc and are safe. Sadly, I think most are pretty crap at doing just those basics. George Orwell’s book, Animal Farm, always springs to mind, where greed and power turn even the best into just another set of pigs. But enough about that.

What does worries me is the how much we ordinary South Africans buy into their crap. I have been wanting to write this post for ages. I was thinking about Eugene Terreblanche last week actually, as a comparison to Julius Malema, another raving lunatic in my eyes. I was going to say that at some point they all fall off their horses, but that seems a little insensitive now. My point is that we will always have loud mouth outspoken extremists – we’ll have to deal with that. We do not muzzle them by getting outraged and fighting them. You can’t fight hate with hate. They have no power if we, the people, stand together and say

“No. We don’t believe you! We will fight and we will work to make this country better!”

They can turn us, one against each other, ONLY if we let them. We have the power to decide what we buy into.

As I said at the start, I am not all that interested in politics. I AM about people, the real people who get up each day and who work in this country. We went to bed last night and we woke up today, no different, despite the events and the clamour. Yes, leaders and media and propaganda now try to build bigger divides between us.

That needn’t be. There is a vibe about this place that you do not find in other countries. A feeling of potential and hope. If only we could look each other in the eyes and work together.

I believe that we fight this hate by knowing each other. It is hard to hate people you have connected with. But it is easy to hate and fear the nebulous “them”. We don’t fight crime with higher walls, more razor wire and armed guards. But these barriers will give way only after the ones in our hearts have been removed – we do that by listening and learning about each other. Yes I know I am an idealist and I know it sounds too naive and silly, but I have seen the power of stories.

We own South Africa. We are the people and we choose if we listen to this or if we choose to stand together – I think we need a new song, a new slogan, a rallying cry.

I’ve always wanted to collect stories (that’s another post), but for now I would like to try the 6 word idea like I did here . Please send me, your 6 words, why South Africa is worth fighting for, or the good, or why you love it. Be creative. Maybe we can even get some proudly South African companies to kick in some prizes, who knows?. I will leave the comments open to enter for a week and then we’ll have a week of voting.

I’ll start the prize basket, with 2 bottles of organic South African wine from Lazanou farm, and I hope others will add stuff.
But most of all, I’d hope that you would add your words, your strength, your love of our country.
It’s ours. Let’s take it back from these fools.”

Blogs 4 Free Press #SpeakZA

It does not matter which side of the political fence you are, or even if you are perched neatly on the top and never get involved, when freedom of speech and the freedom of the press is threatened we should all be alarmed! As some who believe in the power of words and that we should all have a voice I will stand up and be counted on this one.

So Count me in this campaign
Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of the ANC Youth League spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the Secretary General of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money laundering practices of Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at the City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprisals against journalists by Shivambu. His actions constitute a blatant attack on media freedom and a grave infringement on Constitutional rights. It is a disturbing step towards dictatorial rule in South Africa. We call on the ANC and the ANC Youth League to distance themselves from the actions of Shivambu. The media have, time and again, been a vital democratic
safeguard by exposing the actions of individuals who have abused their positions of power for personal and political gain.

The press have played a vital role in the liberation struggle, operating under difficult and often dangerous conditions to document some of the most crucial moments in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore distressing to note that certain people within the ruling party are willing to maliciously target journalists by invading their privacy and threatening their colleagues in a bid to silence them in their legitimate work.

We also note the breathtaking hubris displayed by Shivambu and the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in their response to the letter of complaint. Shivambu and Malema clearly have no respect for the media and the rights afforded to the media by the Constitution of South Africa. Such a response serves only to reinforce the position that the motive for leaking the so-called dossier was not a legitimate concern, but a insolent effort to intimidate and bully a journalist who had exposed embarrassing information about the Youth League President.
We urge the ANC as a whole to reaffirm its commitment to media freedom and other Constitutional rights we enjoy as a country.