8 Years of Sobriety…

“Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to – alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person – you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”

When I read these words by Eckhart Tolle in the “Power of Now” a few years into my sobriety, it hit home so hard. I’d wondered why I’d fallen prey to addiction. Why I didn’t have the willpower to stay sober. Why me? What did I do so wrong that I couldn’t save myself from an obsession with alcohol that was destroying me bit by bit?

I had to look deep inside and analyse what pain was causing me to drink. And there was so much pain. Pain I’d buried because it was too hard to live with. Things I’d done that I couldn’t forgive. Thoughts I carried that shouldn’t have tortured me every minute of the day. I was a prisoner of pain and alcohol numbed that pain.

The more I drank the more I felt I was becoming someone else. The more I was moving away from the person I was meant to be. The further I was to God, to everything and everyone I loved. Alcohol became the master and I was the slave. It didn’t matter how many times I said I would stop, curb drinking, white knuckled my way through, it always won and I remained the loser.

I attended my first AA meeting on 11 January 2010 with trepidation and fear in my heart. I’d tried every alternative to stop, it didn’t work. AA was my last resort. If I didn’t stay sober I was going to lose my family, my job, everything I held dear. Something happened at that meeting, something clicked, something made me stop drinking because I have not taken a drink since.

God came into my life in that meeting, he held my hand and never let go. Because I was brave to admit my powerlessness over alcohol, despite the fear in my heart, trembling hands, shaky voice, he gave me the courage to stay sober, one day at a time. They say it takes a village to raise a child, it took the fellowship of AA to love me until I loved myself.

Stopping drinking doesn’t mean I am cured from alcoholism. I will always be an alcoholic, I am only an arms length away from taking a drink again. But I chose to stop, to change my path, to want a better future for myself, the life I was meant to have before pain won, before I lost myself.

My work began the day I chose sobriety. I no longer had the crutch of alcohol to calm my nerves, to numb my pain, to hide my sadness. All the pain seeped to the fore, the insecurities, the fear of not being good enough. For a good part of my life I hated the shy, introverted person I was. How was I going to grow in confidence, how was I going to become worthy of myself? The answers lay in the rooms of AA. By attending meeting after meeting. Speaking up when I didn’t want to. Sharing my thoughts with my Sponsor, letting out the pain, crying a river of tears, speaking kindly to myself, being cheered on when I stayed sober for 30, 60, 90 days, one year, two, three, four, five, six, seven and now eight years!

How far I’ve come from the lost soul who wandered into that meeting. How much I’ve changed over the years. Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe how someone like me could have been given a second chance to get it right. To have found God again, to know that he loves me despite my faults, my mistakes and all the pain conjured up inside.

Mariah Carey sings it beautifully, “So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong, and you’ll finally see the truth, that a hero lies in you”.

It’s my 8th Sobriety Birthday and I am forever grateful ❤

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Sobriety Celebration 🙂

 

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Singh Family Vacay…

Life in the Singh household is crazy at times. We all have hectic schedules and don’t get to bond as much as we should. Early January 2017 saw me booking a holiday, saving up for it, planning all the finer details and mostly getting excited as time ran towards it.

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View from our abode

The destination chosen was Pine Lake Marina, a resort in Sedgefield, Southern Cape. The resort boasted tons of activities to keep our teenage daughters and ourselves occupied. The period of our stay was 7 days. We were booked in a double story face brick house. It had everything we needed, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, full of comfort, kept cool with industrial ceiling fans in each room. A balcony with outdoor braai area overlooked  lawns that weren’t lush and green, a constant reminder of the drought experienced in the Western Cape. A brown picket fence cocooned a prized blue pool that kept tempting me to take a dip. A flight below the pool was the bank of the Swartvlei Lake. Calm waters stretched for kilometers, dotted with boats, people jet-skiing, canoeing, some even swimming. It was picture perfect and I felt like I was in a dream.

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Happy to be in Pine Lake Marina!

As much as we wanted to explore every nook and cranny outdoors, it had to wait. First was buying groceries in Sedgefield for our stay. Since it was two days before Christmas, the shops were packed, queues were snaking from one end to the other, but it didn’t bother me knowing I’d be returning to paradise. Neil had started the braai and the girls were playing a game of 30 seconds. We enjoyed a light meal of boerewors rolls on the balcony as the sun dropped into the Lake. After supper we donned our jackets to explore our backyard. First up was the pools. There was a child and adult pool, decked with sun lounges and hammocks. The water was surprisingly warm to the touch. We explored a walkway and found it led to a gate running down the embankment of the Lake. It was so quiet, the only sound was the rippling water ebbing to and fro. We walked along a pier to where people were night fishing. A bright new moon gleamed from above and the stars winked at us and we just knew we’d made the best holiday choice.

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Our abode

The second day of our stay saw me getting up early, feeling rested. I brewed a cup of coffee, opened the curtains and unlocked the sliding door. It was a beautiful sunny morning. The Lake was sparkling like diamonds as the sun glistened on it. It was breathtaking to behold and I sat there for a long time drinking its splendor. Some children were frolicking in the pool, soaking up the sun and I was torn between wanting to explore it and the Lake simultaneously.

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Gearing up for the peddle boats

We were excited to try everything at once but had to pace ourselves. We had 7 days to get through and wanted to enjoy every moment. The girls ventured to the pool and spent a few hours there. Upon their return we decided to head out to the Lake to see what activities were on offer. They had everything from peddle boats, kayaking, jet skiing and yachting. We opted for the peddle boats. We were strapped into life jackets and hopped in two boats. The boats were controlled by a lever for directions whilst pedals maneuvered it around the Lake. It was great exercise pedaling away, exploring the Lake. The water was shallow, which was a relief should one topple over. We pedaled and pedaled around the vast expanse of the Lake tiring ourselves so much that we stalled, allowing the sun to embrace us. The water swayed around the boat as we found renewed energy to return to the pier.

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Zhane and Lakeisha loving the peddle boats

Lakeisha wanted us to play tennis in the afternoon. We took a stroll to the games room to collect rackets and balls for a game of doubles tennis. I hadn’t played tennis in a while and thought I’d be rusty, but as soon as I hit a few balls I was back in the swing of things. We had great fun, shouting and screaming as we lost a ball or a game. Sweaty and tired we returned home only to jump in the pool to cool off. Neil prepared us another delicious braai in the evening. As I tumbled into bed later I was exhausted but so content.

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Playing tennis

Day three and it was Christmas. If I was in Cape Town I would be slogging in the kitchen preparing a big lunch. Not this time! We decided to take a drive to Knysna, 30kms along the Garden Route. It has everything from luxurious homes, a lagoon, forest and Lakes. Sadly a fire devastated parts of the town in June 2017 leaving nine people dead, homes destroyed and blackened trees, evidence of its destruction. Many of the restaurants were closed and we opted for sushi at a quaint Chinese restaurant. We topped it off with ice creams for dessert. No hassle for Christmas lunch and no stress either, yay!

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The love bench ❤

Day four and we decided to explore the resort on foot. Pine Lake Marina resembles a little village of  houses, grouped in various colours. There was a Piazza that housed a small cafe selling all sorts of necessities. There was a bar with a karaoke, a gym, hot water pool, jacuzzi’s, sun lounges and hammocks. Family favorites were tennis courts, a squash court, trampolines, putt-putt and a game house with every game imaginable. What caught my eye was a love bench with a wedding arch wrapped around it, containing locks, inviting lovers to lock their love while on holiday. Eager to comply, we bought a lock, had it engraved with our names and had a small ceremony officiated by our girls. Hand in hand we promised to love each other forever, locking our love in Pine Lake Marina.

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We locked our love ❤

Day five saw us heading to the Lake again. This time around we opted to go on a cruise boat called the Loose Goose. Captain Sane helped us aboard a white and blue weathered boat. He sported a white beard, lit a pipe and took the helm, navigating it around Swartvlei Lake. He relayed the Lake was formed by two conjoined rivers. The further we sailed, the darker the water became living up to its Afrikaans name. Captain Sane pointed out where he stayed on a small hilltop called Leopard’s Ridge where wild animals roamed free. It became cooler the faster we went, taking in some of the width and length of the Lake. He even made “donuts” in the water before returning us to shore. Exhilarated after the ride we decided to play a round of volleyball with the girls. It was such fun – jumping, running, smashing the ball over the net. After a quick bite, Lakeisha and I returned to the tennis court for a match. We enjoyed it so much, playing two matches to even the score 🙂 Once again we finished the evening with a swim in the pool, the cold water soothing us as we swam and splashed around.

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On the Loose Goose

Day six saw us playing putt-putt. The course contained obstacles of stones, windmills and bridges making it hard to gain a good score. Neil won the round as he did most games we partook in. Luckily he never lets it go to his head (another reason why I adore him so much ❤ ). It was a blazing hot day in the Marina, to cool off we bought ice creams at the Piazza. We tried our hand at table tennis. It was way easier to play than tennis and so much fun tapping the ball of air onto the table. Upon returning home, the girls swam and I assisted Neil with a lamb potjie for supper.

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A windmill slap bang on the Putt Putt course

Day seven arrived and the girls were tired, opting to laze around. Neil and I wanted to go cycling and went to the Lake House to hire bicycles. Cycling is not my forte, having rode only during childhood. Straddling the bike, I wobbled a bit to find my balance, pedaling slowly to gain confidence. Before long I got the nick of it and followed Neil around, dodging cars and people as we meandered around the Resort. It was another scorching day, the only shelter available from shaded trees we passed. After an hour of cycling, we returned our bikes to the Lake Shop. We walked along the pier to cool off, relaxing under a covered bench. The wind had picked up and a cool breeze embraced us as we enjoyed the Lake one more time. We returned home for lunch and Lakeisha wanted us to play another round of tennis. My arm was tender after the previous match but we didn’t want to disappoint her and decided to play again. Once the match was on, I forgot the pain, enjoying the banter between us. It was becoming easier to serve and hit balls with all the practice. We played two matches, each winning a set much to our delight.

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Got some cycling done

So came to an end a delightful holiday in a resort that became like a second home to us. I was going to miss the serene Lake, the sounds of holiday-makers having endless fun, the stress-free days, all the activities we seldom get to partake in. As a family we bonded, made the most of our time together and enjoyed everything to the fullest. I have no doubt the memories we created will remain carved in our hearts forever ❤

Singh Safari…

Neil and I recently celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary! Sometimes I have to pinch myself as a reminder of how lucky I am to have found a wonderful man like him. God has blessed us with a beautiful marriage, unforgettable memories and a love that keeps getting better.

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We lead busy lives and sadly date nights don’t feature highly. Hence when our anniversary rolls around I make a point of arranging something special for us. This year I wanted to try something completely different and I wasn’t sure if Neil would be keen.

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Me

Cape Town, South Africa is where we live. Africa is home to the Big Five. Tourists stream in from all over the world to view game at various reserves, yet locals rarely seek them out. I understand why – the rates charged isn’t affordable to many and doesn’t feature high on a must-do list.  I adore animals and visiting a game reserve has been on my bucket list for a while. The time felt right to do it now.

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Neil ❤

Neil had the same reservations as most South Africans. I had my work cut out as I argued my case from different angles, hoping he’d cave in. Luckily I have excellent convincing skills and before long he swayed my way, agreeing to go on our first safari!

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Tyler Willemse, our Guide

We opted for Aquila Private Game Reserve, a two hour drive out of Cape Town, close to Touws River. We traveled the N1, passing the Hugenot Tunnel, taking in the scenery. Sadly Cape Town is experiencing its worst drought ever as reflected in the arid landscape. Summer was on full display and rain refused to make an appearance.

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The infinity pool at Aquila Private Game Reserve

Arriving at Aquila at midday, we were warmly welcomed with drinks. Tourists were lining up to go horseback riding whilst others were gearing up for game drives. An itinerary was awaiting us for our one night sleepover. We headed to the dining area where a scrumptious buffet lunch was on offer. Opting to sit on the patio overlooking the bluest infinity pool, we sported big smiles, happy with our decision to get away from the City.

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Wildebeest

Well-fed and feeling a tad tired we headed to our lodge room a short distance away from the reception quarters. An air-conditioned sanctuary awaited us with a queen bed and bathroom facility. Upon inspecting the room, Neil exclaimed with alarm, “There’s no TV!’’. I turned around, searched the cupboards and every available space to locate said TV, to no avail! Neil is a big soccer fan and couldn’t fathom how he’d get by without it. I chuckled silently as I’m not a TV person and welcomed the peace and quiet. Besides we didn’t come all this way to watch TV, there was far too much to do!

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A hippo lazing around

Our game drive was scheduled for 16h00 as we scurried to the pick-up point. We were bundled into a 15 seater truck. The roof was enclosed, but the sides were open for easy access to view the game and snap pictures. Tyler Willemse introduced himself as our guide. Firing up the truck as it crawled along the gravel terrain, I held onto Neil and the railing for dear life as a smooth ride was impossible.

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Majestic Elephant

The elephants were the first to be spotted. Sauntering around, majestic and magnificent, totally unfazed by us. I wondered how high it would feel to sit atop them. Their grey trunks were long, wrinkly and oh so flexible. They did everything with them. Trunk touching is a vital form of communication for their kind. Tyler relayed they can live up to 70 years if well taken care of.

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Brown Zebras

Next up was the Wildebeest and Zebras. They tend to cohabitate, especially when predation is rife. Wildebeest is highly sort after for biltong in South Africa, a meat delicacy. The Zebras were a sight to behold. They looked like statues, the only thing moving were their tails. These particular ones were brown Zebras. Tyler said the only way to verify if they were well nourished was if there manes stood pin straight. Naturally theirs were.

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Rhinos

A further trek saw us finding the Rhinos. There is a campaign to save the Rhinos in South Africa due to illegal poaching. The Reserve supports this campaign and also has a rehabilitation center for animals, something they’re passionate about. Rhinos can be very vicious when their territory is crossed. I for one would not like to mess with them considering their sheer size and ginormous weight.

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Male Lion

The lions were up next. They were isolated from the other animals with electric fencing running all the way up the Karoo Mountain range. Entering the security gate, my heart was racing and wild thoughts seeped in that we might not make it out alive! But there was no escape now as I sat rooted to Neil, praying for safety. When the truck came to standstill at a resting place where golden lions lay, I was oohing and ahhing instead! They were adorable – lazing around, unperturbed by our presence. The male lions were breathtaking with their regal manes setting them apart. They didn’t seem deadly at all but looks can be deceiving and I had no doubt they’d butcher anything in their way.

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Female Lion

We traveled for a bit before stopping off for refreshments and snacks. It was appreciated as the weather had turned icy and the wind wasn’t letting up. Neil and I huddled around the fire, savoring biltong and grape juice. Our group on the drive consisted mainly of tourists from Germany and France. There was a local family who interacted in Afrikaans to their curious little four year old son. He was a livewire, unafraid of the animals, hoping from lap to lap finally finding his way up front with Tyler as we made our way back to the Reserve.

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A glorious Giraffe

Exiting the truck, Neil and I were frozen returning to the Lodge. We jumped into a hot shower and got ready for supper. Once again a lavish buffet awaited us. We didn’t overindulge for we were exhausted after a long and satisfying day. We decided to turn in early as we had another game drive at six in the morning and didn’t want to be late.

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A dazzle of Zebras

My alarm buzzed at five and my eyes were burning from not getting enough sleep. I always find sleeping away from home unnatural. I had to take a shower to wake me up, dressing warmly this time, before stepping out to find the rest of our crew. Hot coffee, tea and Ouma rusks awaited us much to our delight. It was a grey morning as clouds gathered on the horizon and as soon as we climbed into the truck, light rain fell.

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Eland

The game drive wasn’t to be as long as the first and we would search for animals we missed. Lucky for us many of the animals were on full display. It appeared the animals were most productive during this time. We found Giraffes twisting their elongated necks to graze away. We checked in on the lovely lions again and spotted a male and female padding up the mountain. We even happened on Ostriches on our way back. Tyler remarked they can be very dangerous when people step in their way. Should one charge you for any reason, the best thing would be to lay down on your belly and cover your head. A scary thought considering they were pecking away non-stop at their food on the ground. Sadly, we didn’t get to see the buffalo or leopards as they were roaming out of sight.

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Ostriches

Our stay at Aquila Private Game Reserve was everything and more than we expected. We let go of our reservations that we couldn’t afford it and made a plan to make it happen. We were brave enough to venture on our first safari together, view the Big Five up close and personal, an experience that will stay with us forever ❤

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Book Review

Book Review: The Silver Moon – Bryce Courtenay

This is the first book I’ve read by the Author. It’s beautifully packaged in a blue hard cover reflecting the plains of Africa, where a giraffe gazes at a spectacular silver moon.

Bryce Courtenay passed away in 2012 after a brave battle with cancer. He was a prolific Author churning out countless best-sellers. Born and raised in South Africa, he departed to the UK to study Journalism before finding his calling in Australia. A career as a Copywriter spanned the next 35 years. At age 53, Courtenay wrote his first novel, “The Power of One,” giving rise to his talent and ultimately leading to a lucrative writing career.

The book reveals glimpses into Courtenay’s extraordinary life. A stand-out Chapter is the “Thinking Well.” How often do we find ourselves at crossroads not knowing which way to turn? Seeking a place that’s “only yours” to rifle through thoughts, asking honest questions but also taking into consideration opinions of others. This consultation with your inner-self leads to reasonable decisions and eventual contentment.

Courtenay was an incredible storyteller thriving through the power of words. He shares stories of his childhood, finding success and a vast knowledge on writing. Becoming a successful Novelist so late in life, he selflessly gave back through “Masterclass” teachings, empowering writers to craft popular novels.

The silver lining was the lyrical manner Courtenay described his everyday living. The animals he adored, obstacles overcome, growing vegetables, creating landscapes that brought endless joy. The penultimate Chapter, “The unfortunate process of dying slowly” opened the flood gates as Courtenay dwells on climbing the ladder the best he could, but sadly there would be no more “one last time” 😦

The final Chapter provokes a deep desire to plant sunflower seeds – to take pleasure in watching them grow tall, dancing in the sun 🙂  I have renewed faith that I too can become a successful Novelist no matter my age. But mostly, Bryce Courtenay reminded me to keep writing and always believe my time will come.

An inspirational masterpiece! An absolute must-read!

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Flair for Fashion…

If I wasn’t a writer, I probably would have considered a career as a stylist. I love fashion, choosing garments that flatter the body, instinctively knowing whether they’d match or not.

Born under the Libra star sign, I have a natural inclination towards things of beauty. I can’t live or function in an environment that does not appeal to me. It leaves me despondent and I have to find ways to spruce up the place.

So too with fashion, every day is an opportunity to express my creativity. Mixing fabrics, trying different styles, to layer or not, dressing up or down. I love receiving invites to weddings or parties for I have license to pull out all the stops and sparkle 🙂

Know your body

Nobody knows your body better than you. A certain style might look great on someone but may not work for you. This is where you need to be an expert on what suits you. Flattering styles will always elevate confidence. Clothing does not have to break the bank. Invest in a few timeless items to mix and match your wardrobe with. A denim jacket goes great over a black dress to create a casual look for day or night. Or how about donning colorful shoes to an all-black outfit 🙂

To accessorize or not

Accessories are everything. I have a ton of costume jewellery that doesn’t cost a fortune. Earrings, bangles and belts add a dimension to any outfit. A statement necklace can bring to life a drab outfit if you let it. Sometimes people get a bit carried away with accessories, a word of caution – less is more.

Make-up

There was a time when I didn’t wear any make-up. But I have hereditary dark circles under my eyes that bothers me, so I conceal them and apply a good foundation. I invested in make-up lessons learning how to accentuate my features. It takes practice to create a fully made face, but if you make time for it, it can transform your appearance, adding splendor to your outfit.

Shoes and handbags

I’m past the phase of wearing killer heels to draw attention. Nothing spoils an outfit more than aching feet. It is possible to be stylish and comfortable at the same time. The right pair of shoes will compliment your look with a bit of searching and patience. Handbags have become overpriced with all the brands on the market. A few inexpensive bags in varied colors can alternate well with many outfits finishing off your ensemble in the most glamorous manner.

When you look good you feel beautiful

Nothing beats a bad day more than receiving a compliment on how fabulous you look. It makes all the effort worth while. Always consider yourself a work of art, inside and out. Looking your best always brings joy!

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Book Review

Book Review: A Marriage Worth Saving – Therese Beharrie

I’ve made it my mission to read as many Local Artists as possible, not only to support creatives like myself but also to encourage others to read South African books.

Therese Beharrie is a Romance Author who writes for Mills and Boons and the Harlequin Stable. Her writing is sharp, the characters are beautiful, a riveting plot, strapping the reader on a roller-coaster of emotions.

A marriage worth saving delves into the complexities of family loss, misunderstanding, seeking validation and near divorce. Mila and Jordan adore each other but a tragic incident drives them apart, forcing them to question their love. The passing of Jordan’s Father brings them together on a quest to create an event the couple met at two years ago, this time to win ownership of the family vineyard.

This book is a tearjerker. It reinforces the message that love can overcome tragedy, heal hearts, uniting those destined to be together. I highly recommend this book to all romance lovers and guarantee you’ll love the Author as much as I do when you’re done!

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Losing weight vs Being healthy…

There was a time when I desperately wanted to lose weight. I wasn’t content carrying extra kilograms and my unhealthy lifestyle was to blame. I joined Weigh-less and so began a journey of losing close to nine kilograms.

The weight didn’t fall off instantly. In fact it took over a year to see substantial results. Because I was never obese, I lost weight painfully slow, much to my disdain at times. I’d also started running at this point and found the more I ran, the more consistently I lost weight.

But following a low-fat diet is challenging. One has to eat six small meals a day to keep the blood sugar levels stable. I was always hungry, biding time to the next meal. Although I was looking great and receiving lots of compliments, I was also becoming obsessed with losing more weight. I’d surpassed my goal weight and was bordering skinny when Neil voiced concern I was taking it too far.

Taking stock of my health

When I turned 40 my body went through some changes. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and was battling eczema. I had a lot of inflammation in my body that seemed to trigger my ailments. I researched my ailments and found I needed to follow a diet that would keep my inflammation levels at bay.

I stopped the low-fat diet as it wasn’t working for me any longer. I joined the banting tribe, eliminating carbs and sugar. This was super-tough to forego. But in time I did and my energy levels soared. I was eating lots of fats that kept me fuller for longer and I wasn’t famished any more. My inflammation eased up and my eczema is under control.

Being happy with my body

I’ve accepted I’m never going to look like a model and that’s okay. What’s important is having a healthy body to carry me through my later years. To exercise regularly, to never stop striving to improve my performance. I am disciplined most days and have a slice of cake when I need it – it’s called balance. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest, not endured!

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Sensitive Soul…

I am a sensitive soul. I am emotionally charged, I wear my heart on my sleeve, find it hard to front a brave face when I’m crumbling inside. For a big part of my life I hated being this way, wished I could snap out of it and grow a thick skin.

Being a loner meant I was always at odds with others. People don’t understand me, label me sturvy (a Cape Town slang word for being stuck-up or conceited). I don’t easily fit in groups, people bypass me because I’m not loud and don’t voice my opinions easily. I always have to prove myself to others for them to accept me which is exhausting and a waste of my precious time.

It was only when I got to know myself better in sobriety that I realized it was okay to be sensitive. That I didn’t have to be perfect, that I didn’t have to have my shit together all the time, that I’m allowed to be me and those who loved me would understand and still love me, no matter what.

How I learned to love myself and work through difficult situations

Instead of hating myself, I started embracing the person I am. I savor my “me” time, those moments center me, affording time and space to figure things out. When someone says something hurtful, I walk away instead of giving them a piece of my mind. I calm myself by talking to God, praying for strength and guidance. I sleep on it before making hasty decisions or acting regretfully. I forgive myself if I feel to blame for the part I played in the problem. I am always open to discuss things and more than willing to come to a compromise to clear the air.

How I wish others would treat me

I doubt I will ever stop being sensitive.  If you got to know me better you’d realise I love deeply, believe in supportive friendships and would help you in any way I could. Respect my sensitivity as I would your personality trait. Let’s love each other unconditionally and accept imperfections.

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Letting go…

Why is letting go so hard? Why do we stay when we should have left a long time ago? Why do we keep on doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result?

These are the questions I’ve mulled over facing different junctures in life. I knew I needed to make changes when I felt suffocated, but applying it seemed insurmountable. It meant letting go of my old way of thinking, leaving something behind I had ties to and opening the door to a new beginning.

It’s scary to let go. Worries of making a wrong decision come into play. Hurting people along the way. Standing up for yourself, refusing to be a doormat takes enormous courage. Not everyone is going to approve of your decision and you have to stay firm in your resolve.

How to enforce letting go?

Listen to the whisperings in your heart. It knows when you’re hurt, when someone has pushed you too far, when it’s time to move on. Don’t ignore it, don’t think things are going to change, don’t sugar-coat a bad situation. Feel the rawness in its entirety and promise yourself you deserve better.

Be fearless in the pursuit of making the change. Don’t allow others to persuade you otherwise. You are the expert in your life, you hold the key to your freedom, you have the ability to move mountains when you need to. There will be flashes of doubt along the way, toy with them, then toss them aside with the notion you made the best decision for you. In time you will come to a peaceful realization that you took control of your life and walked away from what didn’t suit you any longer.

And that’s a proud moment! Cherish it!

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Injury recovery…

I’ve been running for seven years now. I was a late bloomer discovering it, teaching myself the basics, setting small goals and conquering them. It’s where I fell hopelessly in love with it and no other sport has come close.

But I’ve had my fair share of disappointments along the way. I was so in awe with it that that’s all I did – four times a week. I didn’t want to strengthen weak areas that were failing me time and time again. I became depressed, resentful and didn’t open my mind to cross-training during periods of injury.

My dream of running long distances, a marathon, an ultra-marathon or even Comrades came to a halt when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knees. It felt like a death sentence. Doctors were advising me to forego running and I simply couldn’t accept it.

I underwent an arthroscopy to treat and repair my knees. The recovery was painstakingly slow and once again I was forced to stop running. I had reached my rock-bottom, I’d shed too many tears, I was sick and tired of chasing a moving target that kept switching the rules of the game!

Things had to change, my mindset about running had to be altered, I needed to be realistic about what my body can and can’t do. I was advised to take up cycling to strengthen the areas around my knees. I hated cycling, how was I going to do something I disliked so much! But I forced myself to do it, three times a week on a stationary bike in the gym. Before long my knees were getting stronger, I could get around more easily and the aching pain disappeared.

I’ve cut down my running substantially. I only focus on short distances or as much as my knees allow. I listen to my body intently. If it doesn’t feel right, I don’t run a race just because I entered it. I allow myself to feel disappointed that I’m missing out on something I wished I could do. But I carry the knowledge that my body is precious and I am the specialist on my health.

My advice on overcoming injury?

Be kind to yourself. Every athlete gets injured at some stage in their sport. You are not alone. Most injuries take between 6 – 8 weeks to heal. Respect the recovery period. Open your mind to trying different forms of strength training whether you like them or not. Always believe you will return to your sport, healthier and stronger. Be grateful that you can still exercise, so many don’t have the opportunity to do this. Appreciate the setbacks, there is always a lesson to be learned from them.

Most importantly nurture your body – its the only one to carry you through this lifetime.

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