100 Steps to Happiness: more than once in a blue moon

Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows anybody- Mark Twain

Despite a deeply frustrating day, something was truly pulling at my bones to be upbeat and happy. Only after sitting in an hour of traffic, when I was nearing home did I see a beautiful full moon. Aah c’est la vie.

I’d been stressing today. It wasn’t that everything was going wrong, it wasn’t. But I didn’t feel right either. Until I saw la luna belle. Did you know the world lunacy is derived from the belief that the moon (luna) has an effect on the behaviour of people? I didn’t turn South African Psycho but I sure as hell did feel stranger, freer.

The moon has always had a massive pull over me. I’ve knelt at the feet of it’s ruler, Artemis, and danced beneath moonshine. The moon is mysterious, always feminine, always changing and yet so constant. The only light within a dark night. Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered if someone you loved as seeing what you saw too? It’s incredibly romantic, and incredibly sad- hoping that the celestial object can unite us. The Sun will always be loved for the warmth it brings to us, it’s contribution to our growth and livelihood. The moon has no light of her own, she relies on having to reflect the rays he decides to shine upon her.

No one ever thanks the moon for safe guarding us at night. No one thanks her for keeping time, being omnipresent in all aspects of the feminine.

05.061A full moon, which officially happens tomorrow evening is all about the attainment of one’s desires, realising one’s potential. It’s a time to take a chance because from Saturday, that energy begins to wane. During this time, anything is possible, even if people think you are a lunatic to think that way.

 

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

It’s not all me

I completed this list in less than 5 minutes…

What is wrong with me?

  1. I have a very awkward tendency of asking any question that comes to mind, no matter how awful or embarrassing.
  2. I love to drink- and not just a glass of wine.
  3. I don’t look after my health.
  4. I struggle to connect with my family.
  5. I dwell too much in the past and obsess over the future- therefore forgetting to live in the present.
  6. I have high expectations of other people, but even more so on myself. I’m too critical of myself and less so of others.
  7. I am naïve. I care what other people think of me.
  8. I am selfish.
  9. I avoid conflict.
  10. I can’t handle rejection and criticism.

I then turned my negatives to positives…

  1. Asking questions is my job, I’m a journalist it is what I was born to do and it is just part of my tenacity
  2. As long as it is not affecting my health or causing problems for family, what’s the harm?
  3. At least that’s what doctors say, but I also don’t have serious health risks and I have never been completely over the top health conscious or dismissive of my health
  4. Who doesn’t?  But I make an effort and that’s what counts
  5. I’m a dreamer and a worrier if my dreams are at risk, I don’t like losing focus and I’m all about the long term
  6. I always want to better myself, and I want to hold myself accountable- rather than than be completely ignorant of how useless or lost I am
  7. I always see the best in people. I want myself to be presented in the best possible light.
  8. I want to be happy.
  9. I enjoy peace and harmony
  10. I invest so much into myself and my work that I can hardly understand the term of ‘not getting it right’ because at the time I did my best, or the best I could do with the situation I was faced with

The final list took almost half an hour to do, which goes to show how hard it is to believe in all the good things about myself

20 reasons why it is great to be me

  1. I can pee sitting down and considering how hectic my days always are, those 30 seconds of solitude are perfect for quiet contemplation
  2. My thighs, it’s almost summer and already I am excited to rock out miniskirts and booty shorts and feel the heat on my skin
  3. I have an amazing supportive family,
  4. and a ridiculously hot and sexy boyfriend who is smart and who challenges me
  5. My youth and combine that with my ambition- my future will always be bright and have direction
  6. I have my self-collected Beauty and the Beast-esque library going on, all paid for by me which I read devoutly and I have so many more waiting on the shelf for me to attack
  7. I love being short and petite as I get the greatest hugs and people automatically help me carry things- I often feel like a princess
  8. I can cook and bake- I’m often too lazy to do so but I can so shhh don’t tell my future husband
  9. I am an optimistic realist- I get excited about an idea but I never let it just stay that way and I have the ability to create realistic steps to achieve my goals
  10. I have a fantastic memory- which helps during arguments with the boyfriend or when I need to prove a point
  11. At the same time, I forgive and forget so easily because I look at the picture and know what is important if I want to attempt to live a happy life
  12. I retain a truly prodigious lexis which I habitually take the time to scrupulously use it in tête-à-têtes to remind myself and others of my smartness
  13. I get away with a lot when it comes to my diet as I hate to exercise and love to eat, but I hardly look like a contestant from the Biggest Loser
  14. I do not have any completely paralysing and weird phobias- nothing is unattainable, no obstacle is completely immovable
  15. I am a proud nerd- from being a Whovian, to esoteric and fantasy cults to being able to play Sims for days on end
  16. I feel that I am attractive, not too bad on the eye
  17. I have confidence and I can get on well with people- adaptable to most situations
  18. I have been spoilt rotten by my family and been offered amazing opportunities such as travelling overseas, top education
  19. I laugh, I love to laugh and smile and just be happy- I like to make others laugh and I have love-hate relationship with being tickled
  20. Sarcasm, one of my main gifts- always with a quick comeback and pride myself for the ability to think on my feet

Iqniso lami

In my ideal day, the sun isn’t shining. In fact, it is a gentle Johannesburg rain that is warm and soothing- and instead of beating at my window, it caresses it and slowly wakes me up. It is not an ungodly hour, 8 is reasonable enough as I’ve gotten my adequate beauty sleep, but the right side of my bed is still warm, a reminder that my boyfriend held me through the night. I am in a beautiful apartment, it is not very large but it’s homey and comfortable and represents the quirky relationship we have. Piles of books on my nightstand, ticket stubs from the Rugby game we watched this weekend on his

I roll out of bed- not in the glamorous Disney kind of way with annoying birds ready and willing to help me dress- but that lazy, content manner. The apartment may not be living it up in Joburg North style, but the view is incredible- the clouds blocking the horizon, the grey and calming torrent of water slicing patterns through the trees, onto the asphalt.

Of course I am late for work as always, but it doesn’t bother me- or the traffic that I will be sitting in for the next hour because it’s the perfect time to listen to the latest Adele. And when I get to work, looking and feeling good- wearing ridiculously inappropriate high heels, I smile all day- dealing with random callers and watching the presenter run my show which I conceptualised and scripted. I remember something awesome to include, that I know our listeners will love and we are working in sync, the callers keep coming.

Show done, feedback and prep work complete I can swing by my sister’s school and pick her up- something I haven’t had time to do in a while. She’s going on about this insane design project of hers and her latest romantic problems, and it’s good to reconnect. We drive back to my place, and while she does homework I slip off my heels and get to cooking supper- imitating something I learned on Masterchef. I’m home early enough to catch the news, and I don’t have to download the latest Suits because I can watch it live- commercials and all.

The boyfriend comes home and over a glass of wine (I’m already on my second) we catch up on our days. He joins my sister in the lounge and I bring through supper. My mom arrives to pick her up- we make plans to go to the book sale next weekend, and I remind her that I owe her and dad brunch after church.

My day is not over as I pull out my books and read next to my guy, honours is hard work and I’ve got to put in the hours. He goes to bed, and I continue late into the night with my studies. Finally I’m satisfied I’ve made enough progress; I close my books and breathe in a deep sigh- taking a moment to myself. I head to bed, and snuggle under the blankets, enjoying the warmth. I realise that it has stopped raining. I smile.

This is obviously, just a fantasy- but what was so beautiful about the way I felt when I wrote it, were the potential reality and the deep yearning place that it came from. Nothing is stopping me from achieving this dream, and what it is even better is that I am frighteningly amazed at how on track my life is to achieve it.

This weekend I started thinking a lot, which is not unusual, but now I began to think about HOW I think. It started with talking about what kind of house I saw myself living in one day. I automatically went on about how much I hate clusters, because they are on top of one another, and how I always envisaged a freestanding house with a giant yard. My boyfriend was surprised as my dad had told him that I wasn’t much of an outdoors person.

This got me thinking; do I want a yard and a house because it was expected, because my parents’ opinions had passed down to me? Yes- I regurgitate a lot of what I’ve seen and heard from my family. And that’s ok, because I really do want a house and a yard- but what was now interesting was that I had to re-evaluate for myself why.

This may sound small and futile, but if something so insignificant could make me pause- how much of my truth and identity is regurgitated, how much do I need to re-evaluate about my life.

For example, it may surprise you to know that in my entire 23 years of existence, I have never drunk a full cup of coffee, and can in fact count on one hand the amount of times I’ve tasted it. My parents are coffee addicts- I think we have around 3 different types of machines and over half a dozen different canisters with words like golden, mocha, blend and decaf- which I can’t pretend to understand. But I have never been able to get used to the taste, from infrequent forays to inspect my parents’ cups to accidently chewing a coffee flavoured biscuit, and subsequently spitting it out. No amount of homogenisation by my parents could convince me that caffeine could go into my body without becoming a Coca Cola or Red bull addict. I can proudly claim that I truly loathe coffee.

Now I can spend the next few hours going into what I should do- but if I really wanted to do it, I would have done it already.

So this week, I’m going to do things my way, I’m going to do what I want (not irresponsibly) and more importantly the manner in which I want to do it. Although honesty to everyone is important, I’m going to try and be honest with myself first.

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be”- Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

Becoming a Goddess: Empowering myself

Those who meet me will always have one main impression of me- that I am opinionated, and give it freely.

When I was 10 years old, I was under the impression that I knew enough to teach the class- that I knew best. When I was 15 I refused to learn a language I deemed as racist and oppressive, and had to use synthetic paintbrushes because I felt squirrels were being mistreated. I was quite a handful- always being able to offer my two cents, even when no one wanted it.

However it is strange because when it really counts, when I have something to say- I shut up. You can’t get a word out of me. It starts with doubt, doubt in myself. Tonight, I wanted something really badly, but I started immediately thinking that there must be something wrong with me for wanting something- that I was being greedy, selfish and insensitive. .

Despite being asked several times what was wrong, I struggle to articulate my own wants, needs and desires- because, and it’s shameful to note, I feel that they are not worthy to be brought forward. Because I feel that in the grand scheme of things, what I want isn’t as important.

But that is not how I want to live my life- consequentially acting passive-aggressive because I am frustrated at the situation or waiting to snap a few days later and it comes out the wrong way. I’d prefer to be upfront and honest, and demand that my feelings and wants and needs have a place and deserve to be acknowledged.

When I continuously feel that what I have to say doesn’t count for much- I am choosing victimhood. Its how I felt coming out of a long-term break up where I knew it wasn’t healthy, when I go through a 12 day work week absolutely miserable and not acknowledging why, when I gave into the dark place…

And to think, what if I acknowledged long before I got too deep into the relationship that I wasn’t emotionally ready nor liked the way I was being treated. What if I had chosen to accept that work cannot always be sunshine and rainbows and I needed to Just Be Strong… what if I had spoken out and said I needed help before things got so bad that it almost tore my own life apart, and my families.

But if I keep depending on what ifs, soon I’ll be looking down from the Summerland and realised that I what if-ed my life away.

And I can’t have that.

I need to be strong, my opinions come from a good place- my instinct are good and if something is wrong I need to speak up immediately. A goddess doesn’t wait for someone to acknowledge her. Besides it’s easier to apologise than ask for permission.

Book Review: A Bantu in my Bathroom

I considered myself a bad friend for not having gotten to Eusebius Mckaiser’s book sooner. In all honesty I was a bit hesitant. There is always a possibility that even admiration of a good friend who is constantly in the public eye and who I’m very much proud of, can be warped into a reluctant disappointment when you read verbose, narcissistic ramblings.

I was even more hesitant by the fact that seemingly EVERYONE at Primedia (owners of 702 Talk Radio and Highveld) was writing or just completing some sort of memoir- but not everyone can be that relevant can they?

I’m glad to say that I was wrong. A bantu in my bathroom was more than a wonderful piece of written work, it affirmed and questioned my very thinking from my identity as a coloured woman in South Africa, to my mostly-African dating style to even my sexual history and sexuality. Eusebius dealt with issues in a balanced and more importantly personal matter, which made me connect with him on a whole other level than I’d done before. I found myself crying and sharing his anguish as I read about his brutal past. His story was my story. His story was many South African citizens’ stories.

Now that I’ve started working for Powerfm, the new Gauteng station, I realise how important it is to be able to tell a story and to have people connect with it. Different stories can affect different people, but we all share the same capacity for pain and joy. I want to tell people’s stories, and have the courage to connect it with my own. Honesty and compassion is how we will once again build South Africa.

Step 6: I become entirely ready to remove all these defects of character

I don’t believe in perfection, there really is no such thing which is quite ironic considering my perfectionist tendencies. People while being beautiful and amazing beings are completely screwed up but our flaws make us human and separate us from the divine.

Even certain deities who I zealously follow have some flaws. Artemis, the Greek goddess, is my patron. She is known as the virgin goddess of the hunt- she is a warrior and epitomizes strength and honor. Despite her virgin status, she is also the goddess of fertility and aids women in childbirth. However Artemis is also jealous, possessive and has a temper, able to seek vengeance on those who betray her, her friends and family. There are many contradictions about her behavior but that is also what makes her so inspiring. For example she protected women in labor however she could bring about sudden death to them while they were giving birth, she had power to heal but also spread diseases. What is the most important thing to me about Artemis was that she would never allow any man to dishonor her in any form.

I believe in the perfect balance, that is what I aspire to. The ultimate yin yang, good and evil. Naughty and nice, sweet and spice is pretty much how I wish to be.

I think I do have a problem with pride and the way I present myself, call it narcissism or whatever but being represented in a good light, in being perfectly balanced is important to me. It’s hard for me to ask for help and to admit when I am wrong. I take on too much to the point of being overwhelmed and I feel good by taking care of other people and it’s dangerous to have so much of your happiness connected to other people’s happiness.

I need to learn that balance isn’t such an amazing thing because it is perfect, but rather because it can become unbalanced at times which is frightening and dangerous, but that is ok because sooner, rather than later, it will right itself again.