An unexpected family…

I am blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful family. We are close, we talk and we laugh together. I am supported under my parents roof and not just financially. However despite this, I am always surprised and finding family in unexpected places. It’s not that anything was missing before… but there are people you cannot help but hold dear to you and care about.

On Whatsapp there’s a group called _We Social. I hated the idea of Wati adding me to it. After an hour over 150 messages had been sent…what could these people have to talk about? The chats were frivolous and I knew at once I wouldn’t take it seriously. I mean how realistic is it chatting with over 24 strangers who’s only clue to their identity were chat room nicknames.

Something in me forced me to get involved and the more I started chatting with them, the more I became fascinated with their personalities and stories.

Benita is constantly tearing up about something but always had something positive to say. Bugz is a trouble-maker like me, always ready with the dirty talk. Lee is the selfie queen and a tweleb in the making. Mpho, Ntando and Reuben and Riley are our guys who conveniently are only around when conversations about sex are happening. Then there are the creatives like Riz, Sihle and Trompie. Thatso has school and Tina is a single mom who is so compassionate and open. Wati is someone who brings us all together, surprisingly intuitive about what the group needs to get us talking or to change the tone.

Despite not knowing these people, my routine had shifted to needing to check the group as soon as I woke up and before I went to sleep. Appreciating everyone’s opinions and being able to share such personal experiences on an open platform with strangers- truly a safe space.  I’ve come to love and admire these strangers who set my phone vibrating.

Moving closer to home, my family extends from Johannesburg to Cape Town and all the way in between. I’ve found an older brother in Kasi who has given me some surprisingly serious and sobering speeches. Lindi I see now as a sister who I can battle out the confusing world of relationships with. My heart beats in Cape Town with my husband Lu and my brother in arms, Vuyo always keeping in touch with me, just to let me know that I’m still relevant in their lives and vice versa.

On 24 August 2014, I became a God mother. A sexy one of course. Her name is Athena Olerato Mothudi-Goremusandu and she has a Bots mother, an Zim father and four crazy local god parents. Athena is being groomed in my mind to take over the world, once I decide to step down from my throne. I hope to instil in her wisdom and a love of literature. Athena is also a physical presence of unexpected family. I fully recognise the importance of the role as a god mother. If anything should happen to her parents, I would be there for her in any way, she has a home with me.

This isn’t my most articulate post but the strongest sense I have of this familial connection that doesn’t always originate from blood. Being linked to these lives is a wonderful and inspiring feeling but it also comes with a certain responsibility. The more you expect others to open up to you, the more you must show of yourself and become vulnerable for them.

These unlikely family members are allowing me to slowly open up again and I’m loving every minute of it.

100 steps to happiness: sleeping with the Pilates instructor

I’ve been avoiding the gym out of pure laziness. And since my medical aid sent me a polite warning that I better get back to sweating before I lose my benefits, I thought it was time to rejoin the fitness fanatics. So I took my sinuses and slight flu-ridden body off to the gym this evening, ready for a relaxed evening of pilates. It seemed like a great idea where I could de-stress and convince myself that I was exercising.

Have you ever noticed that there is a hierarchy at the gym? At the top are those who know what every single machine is used for, they are kitted out in matching gym attire and are properly sweating. Way down a few levels you will find me, someone who feels it necessary to bring my phone, my iPod and a book to get me through 45 minutes of minimal exertion.

I walked into quite a zen space with around 10 ladies of different age groups. I was definitely the youngest there and probably the most inflexible. I started doing my thing, holding my own and it actually wasn’t so bad trying to push my body to the limits. Our instructor was Jonathan who I couldn’t tell if he was cute or not since I refuse to fully geek out and wear my glasses.

We apparently warm up, by then I was already breathless and my hair was clinging to my cheeks. We then had to lay on our backs and put our legs on top of a large bouncy ball and thrust our hips upwards. Hmmm, this is quite a fun thing to practice. I realised I’m definitely better doing certain stretches on my back than ….well never mind. Pilates can be quite sexy. I’ve heard in movies how guys dream about hooking up with a pilates or yoga practitioner as if that means something- I certainly don’t see myself performing such things. Plus a giant ball would make things quite complicated yeah?

couples_retreat-movie-yoga-scene1At some point I close my eyes while thrusting into space, focussing on my breathing. At this point Jonathan decides that its time we bounce and grabs my legs and makes me bounce and thrust. I didn’t dear open my eyes, but he was laughing and I was giggling and it was torture because I don’t want to  be the yoga slut of my class in front of these middle-aged, boring housewives. After what I think was more than 10 sets, he really isn’t so skilled with keeping track, I was released and lay breathless on the map.

This continued over the next hour, he found ways of making me clench and squeeze and thrust and open and I was definitely engaging in full on mind sex. Each time I flopped back down on the mate, he walked away with smug satisfaction and my body felt used and sated. I was shuddering, turned on and struggling to breathe. Upon reflection he was definitely a pervert and I hope I wasn’t the only one who noticed his erection during our “warm down”.

Will I be back? Most likely. Who am I to deny the pleasure of endorphins and fulfilling the dream of sleeping with the pilates instructor?

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100 steps to happiness: being alone

When was the last time you went anywhere by yourself? By choice? And enjoyed it?

World Cup Kick Off, Brazil vs Croatia… rooting for the host team I have decided that I’ll watch all “must-see” matches at my local pub, whether accompanied or not. I went tonight by myself and wow was it amazing to enjoy my drink and my game without having to plan to be with anyone.

Being alone can be so liberating, it’s me time, you can be selfish! I can swear at the TV, I can jump up and down, and I don’t need to worry or be concerned about anyone else except me.

Thoroughly enjoyed the fact that I didn’t need a +1 … I can be happy with just me.

PS: Brazil kicked ass. Oscar you are my hero! #ChelseaFC

100 Steps to Happiness: Long walk IS freedom

Nelson-Mandela-Bridge

Nelson Mandela Bridge

So I accidentally walked over 5kms yesterday in Johannesburg’s CBD. I was given an early lunch and rather than drive around, I decide to explore a place that not many people I know would feel too comfortable walking around in.

The Johannesburg CBD is dirty with rubbish blowing past your feet, the stench of urine as you round the corner and not the most trust-worthy of characters at your back.

However it also also one of the most beautiful and vibrant  places alive. Many of my friends pity me that I’m from Johannesburg, the “crime and rape capital of the South Africa” and while I realise that more often than not their right, their view of my home town is incongruent to what I see and experience.

More than once I could have been a target of crime. The first moment was when I was at the bank and I’d not realised I’d dropped my purse on the floor (it had been laying there for quite a while). The second occasion was that I’d stupidly not zipped up my bag properly and the opening of it was facing away from me, enticing any pickpockter who happened to be near by. On both instances, people came forward and pointed this out to me- showing their concern for my safety and well being. Joburg isn’t heartless, despite our often “New York” attitude.

At an intersection I slipped on what I hope was drain water, in full view of busy traffic. Vendors and gentleman loading their trucks chivalrously helped me up and checked if I was okay. I was overwhelmed by the constant connecting of people in the city. It reminded me that no person is an island and that we need other people to be there for us.

So my second step was quite a profound one. Can you imagine how exciting your day is when you actively look for happiness in the smallest of things?

100 steps to happiness: The first step

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate… our deepest fear is that we are more powerful beyond measure”

Watching Coach Carter and his Richmond Oilers climb their way to victory is a great lesson to remind me that “playing small” serves nobody. The system is designed for me to fail, the system needs to be beaten. 100 steps of happiness is my daily tribute to finding and achieving happiness every day over the next 3-4 months.

This doesn’t mean I need to be consistently happy and walk around with the Joker’s smile on my face. It means that I should strive to find a bit, a step towards happiness in at least one moment during my day.

I woke up in a terrible state. I had the most amazing, fantastical dream where the man of my dreams demanded me back, apologised for making a mistake and we moved forward together. To wake up alone, and broken hearted after that was humiliating, emotional and confusing.

The day steadily progressed with my journalism project not working out the way I’d hoped. My team wasn’t in sync and I was still in a foul mood from earlier this morning. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over, I hated that this week was flying by which means that the stress of returning to work and all the problems there, were nearing.

But I forced myself to start writing again, committing myself to 100 blog posts over the next few months because logic knows that whatever I internalise must come out in some form- rather let it be a creative output.

My dad was surprised at what his new ringtone was when I played it for him. Rowan Pope is my dad- despite his issues he want’s nothing better than for his daughter to be the greatest. But most importantly, he says this to her when she decides to throw her future away over a boy:

“You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have. For God’s sakes. You know to aim higher…At the very least you could have aimed for chief of staff. Secretary of State. First Lady — do you have to be so mediocre?”

The segment of the episode I’m referring to can be found here.

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An awkward start

This is not going to be easy. I’m one of the most cynical people I know but it starts with the first step. So on this first day I decide to stop being mediocre. My nickname in varsity wasn’t first lady, it was Mrs President. I am going places- what I have control over is how fast I get there and what impact I have on those around me.

The Break: S02E01

Today our heroine decided to allow herself to be happy,  and the source of this happiness came from the most unpredictable place.

A baby.

No not mine, my friend’s found themselves with a surprise.  I recognise the very judgemental person in me, it was on the tip of my tongue to lash out at them for such irresponsibility and foolishness, they don’t have steady incomes,  they’re still studying and they have so much to live for.

But I also realised that I can’t expect myself to be responsible for every plan (even if it’s one I have for my friends) that doesn’t work out. Shit happens.

I’ve been asked to be the godmother of Little Chickpea, an overwhelming and humbling feeling.  Now this is something I can control, I can offer my guidance and all the hard lessons I’ve learned.

This request made me so happy today.  Recognition and appreciation of the person I am, so much so that they are willing to let me be an important part of their child’s life.

Whew I can barely come to understand what I’ve agreed to, but I look forward to learning and offering my support. Kind of excited to meet my godchild, just 7 more months.

And I got to do some more reading today. Poor Fanny Price can’t be very comfortable with how long I’ve taken to interrogate her life story. It’s so weird, I feel like my personality constantly swings between her and Elizabeth. Two completely different young woman. Opitime of Gemini I guess.

A good 6 weeks still to go,  but I’m training my brain to think of him less. I’m definitely in the distraction phase- work, reading, school, obsessing over my future (which I’m tentatively rewriting without him in mind)…and I even dared myself to self-service. Hee hee.

You gotta love yourself first, after all.

Serenity. Courage. Wisdom.

The Quarter Life Crisis

In South Africa, if you are lucky, it is possible to live up to the natural age of 52.62 years. This means that if all works out, I have around 29 years to achieve all I can before I perish and become absolutely irrelevant.

I’m in a panic. My entire generation is in a panic. We won’t get the luxury of enjoying a mid-life crisis at 40 where we can divorce our husbands for the youthful, hunky gardener or cash out our pensions for that hot, red convertible. Our life span has been shortened, and so has our craziness. A quarter life crisis is meant to be growing pains, a transition from teenage terror into functioning adulthood- where we as the young adults enter the real world. We’re supposed to feel out of place, chaotic, nervous and lonesome. I almost wish a hot gardener fits in with this description.

 

Thanks to the Generation Y/Millennials – which luckily includes me, this stage of development has been exacerbated. What makes Gen Y so special that we’ve drawn and literally QUARTERED our life span? Look at the developments that we’ve grown up with: cable TV, satellite radio, the internet, cell phones etc. Naturally we’re tech savvy and have to be connected to everyone, at all times.  I saw South Africa’s transition into democracy, I spent hours glued to the TV screen watching the Twin Towers Fall while flipping to channels and witnessing two Royal weddings, the US gaining its first black president and reality TV with the Kardashians.

Due to most of our parents who were raised in times of the struggle for freedom, we were told: “You can be anything you want”, now fly. And oh, like Icarus we’re shooting passed the International Space Station. Too ambitious for our own good, too confident and focused on achievement. And most importantly, we are never happy and never satisfied.

Here’s a great explanation as to why

We’ve been labelled as arrogant, selfish and narcissistic. Although, and maybe this is irony, I think we’ll be the greatest generation there is yet. But going through a quarter-life crisis isn’t fun, although since most of us are adrenaline junkies who thrive on stress (since stress= ambition) we won’t admit it. Every day, every hour I’m constantly thinking of the future. Whether its work, my education or my relationships, I have a fully mapped out plan of how and when I’m going to get there. If I take a step back it’s kind of scary, I have so much to achieve and often I feel like not enough time to complete what I need to do before the Grim Reaper yanks me off of this earth.

Anxiety for me, is like a chill pill for those who grew up in the 60s. If I’m not anxious, if I relax and let go, something is wrong- I’ve forgotten something or I feel untethered as if I’m drifting or floating. Last year I studied full time, I worked full time. It wasn’t enough that I’d gotten a job, no I had to get my dream job. Mission accomplished. Yet I’m already (2 months in) thinking about the next step, the next big move for me.

In a world of celebrities where we revere the social media gurus, my generation and I are struggling to remain relevant, to leave our mark upon the Earth. It doesn’t help that our inspiration and thought leaders are the like of Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and so on. We consistently check the Forbes list of the richest, or the most powerful or the most influential.

It’s exhausting, but that fear of failure, that fear that we will be that generation who have contributed nothing to the world remains heavy on our minds. I really do worry that with all this excitement, I’ll probably have a burn out in my 30s, a heart attack in my 40s and hey! conveniently expire at the expected life expectancy age. It’s strange but I’ve never imagined myself as a granny doing old-people things. And I will not repeat the four-letter abbreviation but paraphrase, Live Fast and Die Young. There are plenty of websites that claim they can cure the crisis, but honestly- who wants to. Ambition is sexy. I’d rather blasting forward than going nowhere slowly.

If any of this sounds familiar, yet you still don’t believe me, ask yourself these 10 questions