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Stocking Fillers December 14, 2018 00:00

The joy of gift giving at Christmas is really great. Yes it can be a bit stressful negotiating the crowds in malls over December, but if you haven’t yet discovered online shopping, then now is the time!

And often I find that stocking fillers are the most fun to buy. They’re small things that show you’ve thought about someone while out and about, and they don’t carry the weight of responsibility of “The Main Gift.”

Here are a few things I’ve found and would recommend giving to your nearest and dearest.

 

Sleep Masks

Of course I had to start with my own goodies!

They’re made from leftover fabric to try to minimize waste and the strain the fashion places on the environment.

They’re super soft and comfortable to wear, especially over this season where you may be overindulging a bit and perhaps need to sleep a little later!

Or perhaps you’re taking an exciting, long trip somewhere and need to shut out the light to catch some zs.

Buy here.

 

Mist Collectables Notepads

I met Thea a few years ago and even collaborated with her on Sleepy T-shirts. I love the dreamlike quality of her work and just can’t seem to get enough.

Now she’s brought out notepads!

Pop these on your fridge and use for your grocery shopping lists, or my favourite – next to your bed to note down any thoughts that disturb you falling asleep.

I find my mind relaxes immediately once I’ve written down something that’s troubling me or that I need to remember. It’s down on paper, impossible therefore to forget, and so I can slip away into Lalaland.

I always have a notepad and pencil next to the bed for random thoughts, to do lists and jotting down quotes from books I’m reading.

 

Royale Pomegranate Oil

I discovered this wonderful serum recently in Stellenbosch, but they’re available online as well.

It’s thick and more viscous than any other oil I’ve tried. I’m usually really disciplined about the products I buy, but I tried this (of course it’s vegan and cruelty free) and fell in love.

I walked away attempting to be cool about it, but the feeling on my skin was just too delicious to ignore. I went straight back and bought it.

I’ve wised up to beauty products that sell youth and luminance. I know that more important is consistency in your beauty routine. But this has all sorts of side benefits which I find very appealing.

Also even though it’s an oil, it sinks into your skin leaving it silky soft and not oily at all. If I could, I would slather it over my whole body.

Read more here.

 

SharLeBel Mushrooms 

I met this passionate duo recently at Kamers Stellenbosch and they stole my heart, which is quite easy to do with great food.

I was wandering around looking for something to eat - a very challenging thing at this market where there is perhaps one vegan option if you're lucky - and came across this little mushroom biltong snack. 

But they could see I was ravenous and so they offered me some crackers with their superb mushroom salsa. 

Wow this stuff is good! Slightly spicy with, of course, Shiitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic and some other deliciousness mixed in with a bit of magic.

They use only Shiitake mushrooms which have endless health benefits. Here's some more info on what they do and where you can get your hands on some.

 

Have you found anything special that you’ve added to your stockings this year?


Happiest Holidays December 07, 2018 00:00

My whole childhood I felt a sense of missing out. My parents were very solitary, and I wasn’t allowed out to parties often, so felt very isolated.

But in December, we went to the sea!

It was always the same. We’d travel down to Port Elizabeth where I was born, and where my grandparents lived in the house my parents still owned.

At around 03:00 in the morning we’d be woken up from a deep sleep, the car packed up, some dithering and arguing, but finally we’d be on the road with a cup of coffee in our bellies. We're Italian. We learned to drink coffee young. (As an aside, I barely touch the stuff now.)

The trip was arduous with all three us sisters in the back seat in a car without air conditioning. It was hot and cramped. I remember the seats were patent leather and so you’d go through varying degrees of sticking and then sliding around in your perspiration.

Then if a sister dared to cross the line into your space, there was immediate backlash. The back seat real estate was precious and to be preserved at all costs.

We would stop once only for a burger and to fill the tank – always at the same place – and then hit the road again eating our lunch in the car.

Visiting the grandparents was wonderful. What is it about grandparents? They’re so loving and encouraging that you couldn’t help but feel happy in their presence.

My grandmother had the added bonus of being an excellent baker. Before we arrived, she’d have spent days baking her famous cookies. There were three types: romany creams; custard and soetkoekies. These would serve as breakfast and afternoon tea while we were there. There was no limit on how many we were allowed. It was a seemingly endless supply. My sisters seem to remember a lot of marble cake, but it's the cookies that stand out in my memory.

Of course while we were there she’d have another few intensive baking days preparing more for us to take home with us when we left.

I remember incredibly lazy days. Every morning was dedicated to the beach – King’s Beach in particular. After a few hours there, we’d go home and lie around a lot, mainly reading. Sometimes there would be a visit to cousins or friends my parents had made many years before.

There would be the daily feeding of wild birds that my grandmother loved so much.

I remember one year we were loaned a blue beach buggy. It was one of the highlights of all my December holidays. We really made good use of it.

It was a sort of pilgrimage for my parents, visiting their old haunts. Without fail we’d also go to Jeffrey’s Bay where my parents had a few pieces of land. It was a lovely drive and in those days there really wasn’t very much there. We'd go to each respective piece of land. Stand a while. Look. Take a picture and then go home. I never quite understood why we did it, but it was part of the ritual so that was that.

There was also a run down place called The Shack. A hastily self-made cottage on the Krom river where we would have to use an outhouse for all ablutions, but there was fun stuff like fishing and boating. It was the first place I water-skied. It was overrun by massive baboon spiders at night which lurked around every corner. Everywhere you sat or lay had to be triple inspected so you didn’t have a nasty encounter.

Occasionally we’d be joined by other close family friends and I remember the joy of being able to discover and share our secret places with them.

Because I read so much generally, but especially over this time, I had it in my head that I should have a holiday fling. Of course I’d never had a fling of any kind, ever, so how I thought I could possibly have the freedom to be flung while away with my parents, I have no idea. But I dreamed and dreamed of it. Every teenage boy who walked passed was part of a story in my mind.

To this day I’ve never had a holiday romance, and I guess there’s an age limit on that sort of thing. I’ve also stopped reading romance novels which makes giving this idea up a lot easier :)

I always think back to this time very fondly. Don’t we all long for a summer holiday as carefree as when we were young?


Flavour At Your Fingertips November 30, 2018 00:00

 

November is all about soul food for me. That also includes actual food!

With these hot summer days all I ever want is a lovely food bowl with a variety of flavours and textures.

I love herbs but get irritated when buying them. They're always wrapped in plastic, there's often far too much for one person and they're so pricy it just doesn't make sense to me.

While I'm not the best at keeping herbs love between seasons, I'm pretty good and planting and using them while they're still around. It gives me all sorts of happy feels from getting the rich soil on my hands, to brushing past them and taking in their fragrance.

Being able to pop outside and pick what I want is so satisfying. 

I have a little bridge over a pond to my front door, so I've got a few brackets with rectangular pots to hang over the edge of the banister. It's the perfect position because it's close to the kitchen and gets a lot of sun. 

I also get reminded about having to water them because I'll pass them a few times a day.

So the herbs I use most and have decided to plant are:

Sweet Basil (still had a struggling plant from last season)

Rosemary (for pasta sauces and roasted vegetables)

Sage (fried for a simple Agli Olio sauce and for roasting with butternut)

Mint (for salads and cold drinks)

Dill (for roasting with vegetable and mixing in with salad dressing)

Parsley (for anything and everything)

After finding my perfect spot and getting my herbs, I got a bag of potting soil and filled up the pots.

Then I gently removed the herbs from the pots they were bought in and loosened the roots a little. 

I dug a hole using a spade and pressed the herb down.

After a good watering, they're in and ready to settle down.

And thats, that! It's so easy and I'll have herbs ready for immediate use whenever I need. And there's not wastage as I only pick what I need and leave the rest to grow instead of rotting in my fridge.

Bon Apetit!


Road Tripping November 23, 2018 00:00 2 Comments

I recently had a big market in Stellenbosch and when I tell people I drove down all the way from Johannesburg, they're generally shocked and horrified.

Why would anyone choose to drive when you can fly?

Well the truth is, I find flying incredibly stressful. Yes of course you save so much time and money flying, but for some reason it just doesn't feel like a break that way. 

When I was little, every December we'd travel to the Eastern Cape to visit my grandparents for Christmas. Perhaps I learned to associate long drives with holidays. 

My father would always make sure we travelled the full distance in one day with hardly any stops. I vowed I'd never do that when I was in charge of my own holidays.

I like to stop when I see something interesting, or follow signs that look like they'll lead to magical places.

The freedom of being in charge of your own path is exhilarating.

I drive until I'm tired, and then find somewhere to spend the night.

I love the creepy little towns and the charming way people have used throwaway items in creative ways to add character to dry, dusty places.

I love finding out-of-the-way guesthouses, and chatting to the hosts about their lives and how they ended up where they were. And more often than not, they have lovely pets that make the place feel like home.

So while I was travelling for work, it's so much nicer to pack the car with everything I'd need for the market and clear my head on the road, rather than battle with coordinating couriers, flights and stock.

I get to explore our majestic country a little bit, and it's a grand experience!


Vegan Survival Tactics at a Market November 16, 2018 00:00

It's really difficult to find vegan food at markets. Although more and more options are popping up, when you're there for a full week, there definitely isn't enough variety to make lunch interesting.

Call me a control freak (you'd probably be right), but I don't like eating food prepared by someone else for too many meals in a row. For most meals, I like to know exactly what I'm consuming, and the only way to do that is to make it yourself.

Enter the mason jar salad, an absolute life saver. 

This is how I survived the market. There are many variations on this theme, but I'll assume you're smart enough not to have to be spoon fed :)

I usually do a shop at the beginning of the week for some veggies and then add them to my salad according to my mood that day.

I'm obsessed with all things fermented these days, so this is my favourite salad dressing at the moment:

1 TBL olive oil

1 TBL nutritional yeast

1 tsp soy sauce

1 TBL miso paste

1 TBL apple cider vinegar

I just blend them all together to create a whole lot of deliciousness.

This needs to go at the bottom of your mason jar. A tablespoon is enough for me.

The rest of the ingredients are:

Baby spinach
Beetroot
Edamame beans
Boiled potato (because saying no to carbs is just miserable)
Tomato
Avo (with some lemon juice squeezed over so it survives the day)
Sauerkraut
Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

The best way to layer it is to place the heavier ingredients at the bottom, working up to the more tender veggies at the top. 

 When it's lunchtime, I just tip the jar over into a plate. Everything falls out beautifully, and is dressed and ready to be devoured!

 


Stolen Time November 08, 2018 08:37

The market is done and so am I. While I’m anxious to get back to real life and take up my designs and training again, I’ve made a promise to myself to take time out when I need it.

So it’s a really bad time of year to try take a break. It’s the start of silly season, so the prep is in full swing for Christmas sales and Black Friday.

But I’m in the fair Cape, staying in Camps Bay, and why wouldn’t I take a few days off since I’m here?

I’m taking just 4 days before the road trip home, which I’m filling with ice cream, beetroot juice (my latest obsession), beach walks and seaside drives.

I’ve booked a few yoga sessions with a friend to catch up and just ease my body back to life. I’ve confirmed a few pole classes, which I’m really looking forward to. I still have 2 competitions before the end of the year and have to keep my training up, but I also just love a fresh perspective on this beloved art, and I get to meet a few new pole sisters.

Other than that, I’m going where the wind blows (which hopefully won’t be too far). Last minute meet ups with friends, slow mornings and lazy afternoons.

On the recommendation of a friend I’m reading Sourdough, so bread is front of mind and the star in nearly every meal, and I’m ok with that. This fear of bread and carbs is just completely irrational, so I don’t feel even a smidgeon of guilt about it.

Favourite quote from book:

"Greatest among us are those who can deploy "my friend" to total strangers in a way that is not hollow, but somehow real and deeply felt; those who can make you, within seconds of first contact, believe it."- Robin Sloan

Catch you on the other side!


A Maker At A Market November 02, 2018 00:00

I’m at Kamers Market in Stellenbosch this week, which is, as always, an intense and incredible experience.

Preparation for this starts months in advance with applying for a position and waiting to hear if you got in.

Then you get your stall size and dimensions and need to start planning your space, taking your neighbours into consideration.

You also have to start deciding about which styles to produce and how much you think you might need – always a bit of a thumb suck! Depending on where it is plays a big part, but mostly it’s a guessing game.

The set up is always quite fun and involves a lot of moving around of rails and shelves to get the space just right. Then everything needs to be hung up and steamed so it looks beautiful. The set up is done over a couple of days so is really relaxed and peaceful.

Then it’s a case of crossing your fingers and hoping you have enough stock!

My life is set up in such a way that I have very limited contact with humans, except in very controlled environments. I’m not naturally a sociable person so it’s difficult for me to be in spaces like that for a long period of time.

Also, my time is usually my own so I’m flexible with my working hours.

Here, I am surrounded by people all day, every day for 6 days. And I have to be in one place all day, every day for 6 days, except for the odd loo break.

It’s grueling. I spend A LOT of time thinking about my bed.

But it’s also stimulating in a really good way. I’m aware that I’m very insulated, so being in direct contact with customers and designers is invaluable. I love the feedback that can I store away and use for future designs.

 And of course the discovery of new lovely things is a big plus – except I always spend way too much on shopping. In this context I feel justified in supporting small, local businesses. There’s always a way to justify spending!

Then the pack up. Oh my word, THE PACK UP. Those last couple of hours on the Sunday are usually the longest of my life. There are very few people around and those that are there are enjoying the afternoon chatting to friends, having a post-lunch glass of champagne. They’re not much interested in shopping.

But 17:00 hits and it’s like the whole venue implodes. There’s a frenzy of packing and getting everything to your car so you can get into the exit queue and finally get home. 

This is always the worst for me because I often have to do it alone and finding help is just about impossible. Most of my fittings are easy to take apart but occasionally I need another pair of hands to lift one thing onto the other and into the car.

So think of me this Sunday at 17:00, or maybe pop around and help me lift stuff at around 17:15 ;)


Breast Cancer October 26, 2018 00:00

Breast Cancer Awareness month really seems redundant. These days we are all too aware of this terrifying illness. Everyone knows at least one person who has suffered from breast cancer, and breast cancer is still the most invasive cancer in women.

Breast cancer is in my family, so I'm always aware of the possibility going through that at some point in my life.

I thought I'd speak to my friend, Lizelle Slabber, about her experiences.

 

When and how did you find out that you had cancer?

I was diagnosed in Nov 2014 with triple negative breast cancer. I found lumps under my arms and felt extreme fatigue. GP first thought it was glandular fever cause the lumps appeared under both arms initially then after a while were only under left armpit. We waited a week but lumps were still there, that’s when they did biopsy of the lumps. Tests came back positive but showed that lymph wasn’t primary so they did further tests and mammogram and they found lumps in my breast.


Had you ever thought about it before and gone for regular check ups?

After my babies were born I went for regular check-ups, mammos and pap smears, but never once did I ever think of the fact that one day “it could happen to me”.



How did you feel when you first heard you had cancer?

I recall the day like it was yesterday…when my GP called and said she wanted to see me to discuss the results I knew my life was about to change forever. My mom was with me and as the doctor said the word cancer, my first reaction was NOOO I don’t want to die now! My kids are still so small they need me. I basically experienced every emotion all at once.


Along with illness usually comes a lot of emotional and psychological turmoil. How did your family handle the situation?

Parents: Because my parents had already lost one child, my brother was killed in a car accident 5 years prior to my diagnosis, there was no way I could let them loose both their kids! It was a huge shock to all of us. We are a very close family so they would do anything and everything they could to help which they did.

I had chemo every three weeks. My mom (69 at the time) would often drive, alone if my dad was working, from the Eastern Cape to come nurse me for a week after chemo. She slept on a mattress next to my bed every night, fed and bathed me like a baby literally…


My dad always stayed positive and supported us all. He was the glue and logical one when things unravelled as they sometimes do when you in the midst of fighting for your life.


Husband: Soon after I was diagnosed Ms Karras, the head of department when I was studying, came to visit and shared a few pearls of wisdom of which she had so many.

She said, "This cancer thing is actually the most difficult for the spouse, you know."

And she was right…they want to fix it, make it all better, make it go away, take your place, do anything but see their beloved suffer. Our lives changed forever that day I had to tell my husband over the phone, because he was on a gig, that I had breast cancer. He had to be dad and mom to our kids. And go to work every day and keep it together. I thank God every day that He blessed me with such a faithful and amazing man who stood by me “in sickness and in health”.


Our children were 6 and 2 at the time so still very young. They kept me going and fighting every day.



Did you find a lot of support in your family and friends?

The love and support we got from family and friends was truly amazing. Our one friend refers to it as the “laager manoeuvre” which explains it so well. We were surrounded by love and support all the time and in so many different ways.



Looking back, what did you need most from family and friends in terms of support?

To look after my kids because I physically couldn’t most of the time. Pray for me continuously. And to tell me everything’s gonna be ok. In my experience fighting cancer is a lonely journey because at the end of the day its only you who can fight the fight, really.



Tell me a bit about your treatment.

I had 6 months of chemo, session once every 3 weeks. Then I had 2 surgeries, first a lumpectomy (removal of tumour) and then the dorsi-flap which is the reconstruction where they use your lat (latissimus dorsi) muscle from your back to create a new breast. Once I had recovered from surgery I had radiation, every day for 6 weeks.



Did you find your medical team compassionate and caring?

I was so blessed and fortunate to have the best medical team in the country (in my opinion) treating me. I often hear people saying “oh no Dr So and So has no bedside manner they are not the friendliest person" etc. etc.

My theory is I’m not here to make buddies, I’m here because you’re the expert in the field. The staff that these experts surround themselves with, that is where I experienced the compassion and care.



How did you find the whole treatment process in general?

Very scary. You have no idea what you’re in for. All cancer patients’ bodies respond differently to treatments so it doesn’t matter how many people you speak to, each one’s journey is unique. The chemo had the harshest effect on my body, but mentally the surgery messed with my mind the most. After that, radiation seemed like a walk in the park.


Do you still live with a certain amount of anxiety over your illness?

Every single day. When I said to my plastic surgeon after the reconstruction “I am so glad this is over forever now” her response was “it’s never over”.

Boy was she right.



Any advice you would give to someone who has just heard they have cancer?

Know that you are not alone. Reach out to your family and friends and let them help you through the journey.



What have you learnt about yourself in this process?

The biggest lesson I have learnt is that I am not in control… never have been and never will be. My relationship with God has deepened through this experience and I work toward that growing deeper every day. Once I surrendered, God performed miracles in my life literally on a daily basis, big and small.



What have you learnt about people in this process?

A few things:

Love always wins, no matter what.

We worry about things we have no control over… huge waste of time.

Fear is our biggest enemy.



Any thing else you’d like to share?

Early detection saves lives. I am still astounded by how many ladies are afraid of having a mammogram. Please girls, trust me when I tell you it’s the biggest gift you can give yourself.

 

Image source


Dancing With Downs October 19, 2018 00:00 2 Comments

A dear friend of mine who I greatly admire for many reasons, recently blew my mind when she announced she was teaching dance to people with Down syndrome. She went on to explain how incredibly rewarding it was and how much she had learnt.

I remember feeling a sense of awe at this since I was so ignorant of what I thought must be insurmountable challenges. 

So in light of it being National Down Syndrome Day tomorrow, I've asked her to share her story.

 

Joanne's Story

I am so happy to share my story of how I started teaching dance to children and young adults with Down syndrome. This journey has changed me forever…

A few years ago, I was teaching at a dance school in Washington State. Each Saturday I would teach an open class for anyone to join. One day a boy named Dylan who had Down syndrome came in to dance. He was so passionate about dance and was really quite good, most definitely good enough to keep up in the class.  Dylan had some triggers I was not aware of and I had no idea how to handle them or him in the class. Weeks past and he eventually left. I completely failed him.

I never felt ok that he left and that I had no idea how to include him in the class. I had no one to turn to for advice or training, and wished he did not have leave because of my inability to teach him.

But life is a funny thing. A year later I moved to the UK, and would you know it, one mile from my house was an organization called Gloucestershire Dance that specialized in inclusive dance. They gave inclusive classes for all disabilities and able-bodied dancers. They believed everyone could dance and no one should be left out. I offered myself as a volunteer teacher in exchange for training, and that’s how it all began.

The first step was getting over my belief that only young, able, strong bodies could dance. I had to start looking at why people danced, not at their body make up to dictate if they could dance.

We would have all teenagers in one class, some who had Down syndrome, some were deaf, some in wheelchairs. All of them dancing because IT FELT SO GOOD! Even if it did not look the same on everyone the effects were the same. Dance was forever changed for me in those months.

GDance, as they are known, had me in schools with children in wheelchairs, some none verbal, some autism and Down syndrome. One day there was a boy, Daniel. I will never forget him as long as I live. We would go in once a week and set classes on a theme. Each week we would teach the children a combination and add one step a week to the final dance. Daniel had severe autism as well as Down syndrome (DS-ASD) where he could not connect with anyone. He had no eye contact and was always in his own small world. But one day (luckily the day his parents came to watch) HE CONNECTED! He looked them in the eye and danced for them. He smiled, laughed and remembered all the steps from the previous weeks. He connected with his Mama!

The tears still flow as I write this, because that had to be one of the most worthy times of my whole life. I got to see it, and more than anything else, I got to feel it. His mom was a crying mess along with his teachers and the rest of us. From that moment on I knew I would give my time freely to feel the feeling of true miracles.

Walking miracles really – I believe children with special needs and those with Down syndrome were put on the earth to teach us all a little something. The problem is most people don’t stop to hear the lesson they have to share.

While living in Virginia I got to work with an amazing organization in Norfolk called MixMo (Mixed Abilities in Motion). It was an 8am class on a Saturday morning that brightened up our whole weekend. There were many volunteers of all ages from 15 years old to us 40 somethings. It was a buzzing hive of parents, siblings, volunteer drummers, doctors, all coming together to dance. Children with Down syndrome from 3 to 42-years-old participated in three classes each set to their age group or levels.

In those classes I discovered the following:

 

To let go of the ego

They genuinely do not care what others think about them. They really live the quote 'dance like no one’s watching'. If we could just harness even a bit of this super power they all have, I guarantee we would all be much happier.

To love freely

You will find they look you in your eyes: no judgement - no preconceived ideas of who you are - then give you a big hug. They do not hide love, control it, or hand it out in little bits.They just express it as it flows out of them.

To own it

If they do something and you praise them on a good job, the normal response is, 'I know’, or they just fully own a great job done.  For them the ‘doing’ is their focus, not the ‘what will others think of me if I do it’.

Give yourself what you need

They give themselves what they need when they need it. If they need a break they take it, if they need to do double what was asked, they do it!  

Real greetings

Saying hello and goodbye was my favorite part of my Saturdays. Each hello and goodbye is so heartfelt, so real, and so open. They are events! Imagine we could make a greeting the highlight of someone’s day.

Celebrate all victories

Nothing is too big or too small to warrant a high five to everyone in the room, a happy dance, a big hug or a nose-to-nose precious moment.

 

Imagine we could all live like this, how free would we all be? How loving would the world be?

I walked out each week feeling like a fraud to say I teach them. It's they who are the teachers.

And, even though I feel like I failed Dylan, I think the gift at the end was for me to start this journey … Thank you Dylan!


Are You Suffering From Mental Illness? October 12, 2018 00:00

Mental illness is very hard to understand and cope with if you don't understand or even recognise it.

October is Mental Health Awareness month, so I spoke to psychologist, Lorenzo Stride who has helped me through some very difficult patches in my life. Here are his insights.

 

What are the signs of mental illness?

The most commonly experienced mental illnesses are Anxiety Disorder and Clinical Depression.

Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder include:

1) Bodily symptoms, which would include fatigue, restlessness, excessive sweating, increased heart rate, tingling soles of the feet, and sweaty palms.
2) Behavioural symptoms such as hypervigilance, irritability, short-temperedness and being easily angered by situations that one would normally have responded to in a healthier way,
3) Cognitive symptoms such as racing thoughts or unwanted thoughts, as well as an inability to concentrate;

Additionally one might experience excessive worry, nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, feelings of fear, thoughts of impending doom, heart palpitations, dry mouth, or trembling.
If these symptoms last for longer than two weeks, then an assessment by a professional would be advised.

Clinical Depression

This is the persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest in what previously would've interested you.

The symptoms that characterise major depression can lead to a range of behavioural and physical symptoms, which may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behaviour or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with suicidal ideation, sometimes with intent (actually trying to commit suicide), and sometimes without intent.

Other symptoms include:

1) Mood related symptoms : anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, sadness.
2) Sleep disturbances: early awakening, insomnia, restless sleep and hypersomnia.
3) Bodily symptoms: excessive hunger, fatigue, loss of appetite, restlessness, weight loss or weight gain.
4) Behavioural symptoms: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, and asocial tendencies.
5) Cognitive symptoms: lack of concentration, slowness in activity, and suicidal ideation
Additionally symptoms may include poor appetite or obsessive thoughts

Clinical Depression is a serious disease that could lead to death, but it is also highly treatable, so if you think you suffer from depression, seek out a professional for an assessment.

What are the habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves?

There are many factors that could lead to the experience or development of a mental disorder such as a recent or historical traumatic experience, a family history of psychological disturbances or mental illness, unresolved and un-validated emotions. In addition a stressful lifestyle with little balance could also be a contributing factor. Many mental health issues are simply organic, and are "just there" like Diabetes, Cancer, High Cholesterol, etc. The factors are thus quite varied.

What is it like to live with mental illness?

It can be quite a lonely and isolating experience as there is still a stigma attached to any mental disorder, more so than any physical disorder. People who experience any psychological difficulty often feel ashamed or embarrassed. Nevertheless mental disorders are legitimate and definitely treatable, so it shouldn't be looked at as something insurmountable.

What should you do if you feel you might be suffering from a mental illness?

The first thing to do would be to try and not panic and to consult with your medical doctor, who could refer you to a psychologist. Alternatively, take a friend or family member into your confidence and ask them to assist in the sourcing of a psychologist.

Does making positive life choices affect your mental health and is one actually capable of making truly positive choices if you’re suffering from mental health?

Making positive life choices certainly assists in the treatment of mental health issues. However, the person experiencing the mental health difficulty is often too incapacitated to start with the implementation of such life choices.

What would you consider to be positive life choices?

Meditation, exercising, a healthy eating plan, mindfulness, taking regular breaks from work and daily routine. In short, making yourself a priority, and doing things to add to your quality of life.

What can we do to help a loved-one we feel may be suffering from mental illness?

The best thing to do is to support your loved one by asking what they would like support with, and how they would like to be supported. Allowing your loved one to remain autonomous is important, but assisting as far as they need is helpful. Without consultation with your loved one, you're bound to make assumptions about what you think they might need, so it would be recommended to have a conversation about it to clarify what it is that they might need.

How can we best support a loved-one who is suffering from mental illness?

It is easy to assume that one knows what another would need based on what we feel we might need, but we're all different. Additionally, a positive, non-judgmental stance could really be helpful.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be useful in creating awareness?

It is important that we de-stigmatise mental health difficulties as they are no less legitimate than any physical health difficulties. The person with the mental health difficulty is most likely already judging themselves. So, seeing it in the same light as a physical illness is essential.

 

More about Lorenzo:

Lorenzo Stride is a psychologist who hails from Queenstown and East London in the Eastern Cape. He was educated at Rhodes University, which later became the University of Fort Hare, East London. He joined the practice of Cleanstart Wellness in August 2009,  where he was involved in the addiction and support programmes at the practice. Since then he started a private practice in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

Lorenzo enjoys working with people and believes that your relationship with yourself is the most important one you will ever have while on this planet! If you're able to have a healthy relationship with yourself, other relationships automatically become healthier. A "Healthy You" is as essential as breathing - emotional, psychological, financial, spiritual, physical and social health. Unfortunately most of us are socialised to focus our energies on the health and wellbeing of others, which is important, but essentially it starts with you, and ends with you!

Find out more.


A Month For Awareness October 05, 2018 00:00

It seems October is the month to be aware of stuff.

Seriously, just look up the awareness calendar for October and you'll see what I mean. The list is at least twice as long as for any other month. 

Perhaps it's because October doesn't have much to credit it naturally, except perhaps Halloween. It's well into Spring already, but too far from the end of the year to have any meaning for anyone.

In fact, I've often found October one of the hardest months to get through. It's like your adulting stamina is stretched super thin. It's a true test of courage and "vasbyt".

I guess the powers that be decided that this make it the perfect month to pile on the special days.

So here are some of the awarenesses, observances and occasions in October:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Bone Marrow Stem Cell Donation and Leukaemia Awareness Month (15 August to 15 October)

Eye Care Awareness Month (23 September to 18 October)

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

1 International Day of Older Persons

2 World Habitat Day

2 International Day of Non-Violence
3-5 Rotary Family Health Day Outreach Campaign

4 World Animal Day

5 World Teacher Day

9-15 National Nutrition Week

10 World Mental Health Day
11 World Sight Day
12 World Arthritis Day
12-20 World Bone and Joint Week
13 International Day for Disaster Reduction
13 World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

13 World Penguin Day
14-20 National Case Management Week
15 Global Handwashing Day
15-19 School Health Week
15-19 National Obesity Week
16 World Food Day
16 World Spine Day
17 World Trauma Day
17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

20 National Down Syndrome Day

20 World Osteoporosis Day
20-26 International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

21 Global Iodine Deficiency

24 Disorders Prevention Day World Polio Day

28/10-3/11 National Stroke Week
29 World Stroke Day
30 Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day

31 World Cities Day

31 Halloween

 

 

Quite a list! I'm pretty sure I've missed a few, but it's as comprehensive as I could get it :)

 

I'll be touching on some of these during the month and would love to hear some feedback from you as to which you find quite important.

 

 

Information sources:

https://www.netflorist.co.za/Upcoming-Occasions/

http://wessa.org.za/site17/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/WESSA_Year-Of-Special-days-Calendar_2018.pdf

http://www.kznhealth.gov.za/health-calendar-2018.pdf

 

Image by Peter Driessel Photography.


New Spring Beginnings September 28, 2018 00:00 1 Comment

I really love Spring for the feeling of a fresh start. 

It seems to be more sustainable than the New Year's Resolution, which I find is usually more of a punishment for over-indulging or slacking over the December holidays. 

In Spring, there's a natural awakening. A growing awareness of what you really need. A revitalised mind ready to take on new projects and challenges. It feels more honest, gradual and lasting.

I'm annoyingly healthy. I eat a plant based diet and make most of my food from scratch. And just before you think of accusing me of being too rigid, I must add that I include regular treats for balance. 

I dance often to express my feelings, and the side benefit is that I exercise a lot. I don't drink alcohol by choice, not by imposition.

I know right.

Annoying.

I love living a healthy and wholesome life. 

What I suck at is taking breathing time. Even when I'm on holiday I'm working on my business and social media pages. 

As a yoga instructor I should know better. As a sleepwear designer who preaches this all the time, I should run and hide myself in shame. In bed. In my pjs.

So I resolve, yet again, to take the time out that I need.

Practice breathing.

Practice presence.

When the feeling of overwhelm starts to hit, have a lie down and relax. 

 

Photo credits: John Spence


Reliving a Favourite Childhood Spring Activity September 21, 2018 00:00

I've been having a particularly anxious and frenetic September and have almost forgotten how joyous Spring can be. 

I thought I'd look back at what used to make Spring light-hearted in my childhood. There were a few things I really looked forward to.

Our primary school would host a Spring Day on the first Saturday every September. This was a grand affair with carnival rides, food stalls run by the mums, egg-and-spoon races and the crowning of the Spring Queen. It was one of the highlights of the year.

But what sustained me more through Spring was roller skating. I have 2 sisters younger than me, and my parents didn't like the idea of spoiling us. So we had one pair of skates that had an adjustable sole for different sized feet, and which fitted over any pair of sneakers. 

Let me be clear. This was ONE pair of skates shared between the three of us.

They were seriously rickety and decidedly uncool, but they were wheels on our soles and we used them to death.

I remember looking with envy at other kids with their proper skating boots that were brightly coloured - usually yellow and blue. But I was just grateful I had wheels at all, even though I couldn't do fancy tricks with them like everyone else could.

I loved the feeling of the wind against my skin as I sliced through the air, probably a lot slower than I imagined. Those early days in Spring are still a little cool, so even though you're sweaty from exertion, you can cool down by skating faster and faster.

So in the midst of all the chaos that running businesses, teaching, competition prep and general adulting, I decided get me a pair of skates.

And aren't they just the most beautiful things you've ever seen??

My idea was that I'd take Coco for walks with them, but I'm much more aware of my mortality these days, and felt too insecure to go out into the road just yet. I also didn't get all the protective gear, thinking it wasn't necessary. It IS necessary!

For now I'm skating around my atrium, driveway and the roller rink, getting some much needed practice and confidence.

I don't eat much sugar, but they had candy floss! The obvious choice was to gorge myself on it.

I can say that going to the rink on a random weekday morning with no one there was the best ever. I literally had the rink to myself. No dodging. No-one to see your shame when you fall on your bottom!

I think every time I'm feeling stressed, I'm going to take myself off for a skate and candy floss and try to remember a simpler time.

Wearing the Cloud Couple Sleepy T.

Photo credits: Peter Driessel

 

 


A Message From Spring Flowers September 14, 2018 00:00 1 Comment

Coco and I often urban hike around my neighbourhood which is especially enjoyable at this time of year with the warmer, softer air and flowers tentatively showing their faces to the sun.

Here's a random pic of Coco passed out after her walk...

I recently reread "The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh which includes a strong theme of floriography, a cryptological communication through the use of a flower arrangement. I've always loved the idea of conveying a deeper, subtler message by giving specific flowers as a gift. 

And as I walked, I wondered...is spring giving me a deeper message with her early blooms?

I thought I'd look up the symbolic meanings of the flowers on my route.

Daisy

This simple flower has a rich history. In old English it was referred to as "day's eye" because the petals would open in the day and close at night. This is where the saying "fresh as a daisy" comes from, signifying someone had a good night's rest.

It's also the Norse goddess of love, beauty and fertility, Freya's, sacred flower. 

My favourite is from an old Celtic legend, in which daisies symbolise innocence and purity. Whenever an infant died, God sprinkled daisies to cheer the parents.

Jasmine

Depending on culture and setting, jasmine symbolises different things. It's associated with love, beauty, sensuality and romance. 

I find the scent of jasmine uplifting and mood enhancing. I cannot be stressed when I smell their blooms and always try to grow a plant close to my bedroom.

Euphoric White

This delicate flower will bloom all summer long. It's a hardy plant, tolerant to heat and drought.

It's associated with purity and protection.

Lavender

The Lavender flowers message is one of refinement and royalty! It’s beauty and aroma speak of grace, elegance and femininity.

While purple is the color of royalty, and pink the color of youth, lavender is femininity all grown up. It represents refinement, grace, and elegance. 

It's also associated with purity, serenity, silence, devotion and grace.

 

So to sum up, I'm getting a lot of purity, protection, sensuality and grace. I'm very happy with that.

Thank you Spring for this beautiful gift!

 

Information sources:

https://www.ftd.com/blog/share/daisy-meaning-and-symbolism

http://www.flowermeaning.com/jasmine-flower-meaning/

http://www.lucasgreenhouses.com/plant/Euphorbia-Hybrida-Euphoric-White

https://healthfoodsoul.com/spiritual-meaning-of-plants/

http://www.flowermeaning.com/lavender-flower-meaning/


My Best Spots for Spring-Fresh Juices and Smoothies September 07, 2018 00:00

I've been feeling such cabin fever after Winter and just want to be out exploring my local neighbourhood. I enjoy the occasional sweet treat, but that's not always very easy to find when you're vegan. 

Smoothies and juices to the rescue!

Nourishing and packed with vitamins, anti-oxidants and general goodness and yumminess, here are a few of my favourite places.

But first:

I always carry reusable straws in my bag, and when I know I'm going out for a drink, I take along a mason mug with a lid so I can reduce unnecessary waste. I also always have a cloth napkin handy for little spills and to wrap my used straw in when I'm done.

Pictured above is my mason jar/mug with lid and space for a straw, a hand made hanky. 

My straws are:

2 sizes of stainless steel

Smoothie sized glass 

Bamboo

And then I have a mini brush for cleaning them properly, and a handy little pouch for my bag.

 

Gravity Cafe

This lovely little cafe is really unassuming and has friendly, accommodating staff. The decor is relaxed and cool. They have free wifi and don't look at you askance if you've not ordered something in a while :)

I love their Funky Beet juice which has:

Beetroot

Pineapple

Orange

Fennel

The colour is rich and it feels like I'm getting healthier just being near it!

Fruits and Roots

 

Every Thursday I have a training session with a friend and my treat afterwards is the Almond Bliss smoothie from Fruits and Roots.

I must say it's really awesome to walk into a place and get greeted with a smile, and "your usual?"

So my usual is a modified version of what's on the menu. 

Coconut Milk

Almond Butter

Banana

Dates

Heaven

Chez Moi

Nothing like making your own smoothies with whatever you happen to have in the house. 

This one had:

Coconut Milk

Oat Milk

Frozen Banana

Blueberries

Avocado

Tahini

Ground Turmeric

Ground Cardamom

Pinch of Himalayan Salt

Sprinkle of black pepper

Stevia for sweetness

 

What are your favourite smoothie places I could try out?


Self Care Benefits Of Indoor Plants August 31, 2018 07:42

The first time I started feeling like a responsible human was when I got my first plant. We had family pets as a child, but they were too high profile for me to be solely responsible for. My plant, however, was my own to care for and keep alive.

Just knowing that this living thing was reliant on me for its well-being made me want to step up and do my best for it. It made me feel good to ensure it was nourished, watered and trimmed.

And I loved the plant's will to thrive and grow. Even if I accidentally trimmed off too many leaves, it was always replacing them with new ones.

As an aside, my father was really cross with my mom for something I can't remember, and probably isn't important anymore. In a fit of spiteful rage, he cut off all the leaves of her favourite indoor plant right at the root, but this plant grew back voraciously and was more beautiful than ever before :)

I found this to be really profound. 

Plants always uplift the atmosphere in any room, and I thought I'd look into why.

Reducing Stress

Countless studies have shown that proximity to plants and nature increase general well-being and happiness. Since we spend so much time indoors, it stands to reason that indoor plants will help reduce stress.

Moreover,  research has shown that there are microbes in soil which are known to boost mood and reduce stress levels. Of course taking a walk in a natural setting will expose you to these microbes, but simply being near a potted plant will have a similar effect.

Improved Air Quality

Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, thereby purifying the air.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in many building materials and cleaning products are the primary cause of both acute and chronic diseases.

A study conducted by NASA indicated that indoor plants can remove up to 87% of VOCs from an interior environment over a 24-hour period. 

Colour Therapy

There is a school of thought which maintains that along with blue, green is the best colour for creating a calm atmosphere. So the colour of indoor plants is believed to stimulate both the brain and the digestive system, and even reduce stress.

Psychological Benefits

Caring for plants by pruning, watering and cleaning can become very therapeutic.

Just be sure to choose the right plants for your particular environment based on the climate and amount of light in the space, or your poor plant may end up withering and dying.

 

Do you have a favourite indoor plant? I'd love to see some pictures of them in your space.

 

Sources:

https://gardencollage.com/heal/mind-spirit/houseplants-improve-mental-health/

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/03/the-surprising-mental-and-physical-health-benefits-of-houseplants

https://www.property24.com/articles/why-indoor-plants-are-good-for-your-health-and-mental-well-being/25844

 


A Personal Look At Gender Inequality August 24, 2018 06:00 1 Comment

This is not a generalised blog post with statistics and facts. These are just a few of my experiences with gender inequality. 

I understand my perception is skewed, mostly by the fact that I (along with all humans) have been raised with certain beliefs and ways of being that completely cloud my thinking, and make it almost impossible to even notice the more subtle manifestations of a patriarchal system.

This is what I can no longer tolerate, from my (admittedly privileged) point of view.

I immediately feel the need to apologise for what I'm about to say, but in the spirit of the post, I'm not going to do that :)

1. Uneven Division Of Domestic Labour

When people join forces and start building a life together, all responsibilities should be shared. It is very rare that only one half of a couple earns an income, and whether or not they each bring in equal pay (let's not get into that) both parties will probably spend similar amounts of time at work. 

Yet most domestic chores still fall on women, while men casually exclude themselves from most of the running of a home. Why?

Why do men need cheerleading to contribute to their own homes? Why should we be eternally grateful when he does the dishes or makes dinner? Why should we even have to ask for help? It is not a woman's job to be a manager at home. You're both in it together. 

2. Guy Talk

Why do men think they're paying you great respect when they apologise for demeaning women in front of you?

Why are all things female used in derogatory terms: naming women's genitalia for weakness; expressing an emotion; changing your mind; etc. 

This constant dismissal in small ways can only perpetuate and reinforce dehumanisation of women and it must stop. Whether or not you've forgotten there was a woman in your presence.

3. Being Unreasonable And Complicated

I have yet to meet a man more straight-forward than me. I have found men to be just as complicated and unreasonable as women are always accused of being. They're just really good at deflecting it.

Also, historically, women have not been allowed to express emotions frankly, always having to be pleasant and mild mannered. The frustration has to go somewhere, and it generally comes out quite explosively. 

The best way to avoid this is to listen without dismissing emotions, and encourage honest communication.

4. Obligatory Beauty

It is not my duty to be beautiful, thin or make any effort whatsoever to be physically pleasing to you.

I am a human with actual characteristics, skills and qualities that make up far more of me than you can see.

5. Fear

I'm tired of being scared when walking to my car after an evening out. Or even just walking my dog in the park. I'm sick of looking over my shoulder waiting for someone to harass me. 

I'm tired of modifying my wardrobe and not showing too much skin in summer in case someone thinks I might be "asking for it". 

I'm not interested in your catcalling. It's not a compliment that you think I'm attractive. Again it's just objectifying and dehumanising and it makes me afraid for my own safety.

I'm tired of hearing story upon story from women around me about how they've been abused, raped and harassed. 

We need to move away from thinking "don't get raped" to "don't rape". 

 

Yes, this is an angry post, but things that threaten my well-being make me angry. I'd love to hear some of your experiences.

 

Photo Credit: Peter Driessel

 

 

 

 


Empowering Quotes From Strong Women August 17, 2018 09:00

What terrifies me about all things feminist (and in fact any social and personal issues as well) is that we don't know what we don't know.

It seems obvious, but think again.

We don't know what we don't know.

We are so used to a specific status quo. We are so used to things being a certain way that we cannot imagine it any other way. Like a fish being unaware of the water, how can we conceive a different and better way of living?

I recently watched a talk by Paula Stone Williams, a transgender woman who lived as a man for most of her life. The tiny differences in treatment that she highlights in her talk are really quite fascinating. How she instinctively started doubting herself and her intelligence is something that started making me very aware of how I made myself smaller to fit into a box that was considered more appropriate for a woman.

Rehabilitation from a certain way of thinking is a long process that requires tremendous amounts of patience and a lot of helping hands. 

Here are a few quotes from remarkable women to get you thinking.

"It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent."

—Madeleine Albright

 

"You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female.'"

—Erin McKean

 

"I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own."

—Audre Lorde

 

"For I conclude that the enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; we deserve lipstick, if we want it, AND free speech; we deserve to be sexual AND serious – or whatever we please. We are entitled to wear cowboy boots to our own revolution."

“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.” 

-Naomi Wolf

 

"A man told me that for a woman, I was very opinionated. I said, 'For a man, you're kind of ignorant.'"

—Anne Hathaway

 

"It's not about the dress you wear. It's about the life you lead in the dress."

—Diana Vreeland

 

"It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and your real estate."

—Amy Poehler

 

"I want every little girl who's told she's bossy to be told instead she has leadership skills."

—Sheryl Sandberg

 

Do you have any other strong women you follow? I'd love to hear about them.

 

 

Image sources:

https://girltalkhq.com/a-feminist-perspective-on-why-more-men-need-to-join-the-fight-for-gender-equality/

http://www.cogreatwomen.org/project/madeleine-k-albright/

https://blog.ted.com/the-top-10-words-of-ted2014-according-to-erin-mckean/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wIuwR4fv18

http://www.asiaone.com/women/naomi-wolf-no-western-feminism-model-asia

https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/7/26/17616966/nia-wilson-murder-anne-hathaway

https://nationalpost.com/entertainment/review-the-bazaar-wonderful-life-of-diana-vreeland-in-the-eye-has-to-travel

http://www.bdcwire.com/amy-poehler-is-shameless-in-the-most-inspiring-way-possible/

https://www.sxsw.com/news/2017/sheryl-sandberg-joins-convention-keynote-lineup/

 


Strike a Rock August 09, 2018 08:30

Internationally, Women's Day is supposed to be about celebrating the social, economic, political and cultural achievement of women, which I find to be a bit patronising - how surprising! 

But it does also draw attention to issues such as violence against women and gender inequality in various spheres of life.

Mostly though, it's been diluted into a type of second Mother's Day, with a few nice retail discounts and a pleasant day off work.

I love our South African Women's Day in that it is a commemoration of a truly outstanding achievement by women.

Pretoria, 9 August 1956

Risking arrest and detention, about 20 000 women from all around the country marched to the Union Buildings.

Organised by FSAW (Federation of South African Women) and led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams, they delivered a petition outlining their frustrations with the proposed pass laws (the Urban Areas Act), restricting access to certain urban areas.

After laying the bundles of petitions at the door of the prime minister JG Strydom, the massive crowd stood in silence for a full thirty minutes. Before departing they sang a song composed for the occasion,“Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!” 

wathint’ abafazi,
wathint’ imbokodo,
uza kufa!

When you strike the women,
you strike a rock,
you will be crushed [you will die]!

The phrase "When you strike a woman, you strike a rock" has since come to represent women's courage and strength in South Africa.

The march was a resounding success, described by many as a moving and emotional experience. 

 

Image sources:

http://www.sahistory.org.za/sites/default/files/article_image/womensdaysouthafrica.jpg

https://mg.co.za/article/2016-08-25-60-iconic-women-the-people-behind-the-1956-womens-march-to-pretoria

https://face2faceafrica.com/article/national-womens-day-south-africa


My Reading List for Women's Month August 03, 2018 09:00

I'm exploring themes of women and feminism this month, and as always, I start my research with books.

Here's what I've gathered based on reviews from Goodreads.

Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend any others?

 

The Feminine Mystique

By Betty Friedan

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique. Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name”: the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in a time when the average woman first married in her teens and 60 percent of women students dropped out of college to marry, Betty Friedan captured the frustrations and thwarted ambitions of a generation and showed women how they could reclaim their lives. Part social chronicle, part manifesto, The Feminine Mystique is filled with fascinating anecdotes and interviews as well as insights that continue to inspire. This 50th–anniversary edition features an afterword by best-selling author Anna Quindlen as well as a new introduction by Gail Collins.

Read more.

 

Sister Outsider

By Audre Lorde

A collection of fifteen essays written between 1976 and 1984 gives clear voice to Audre Lorde's literary and philosophical personae. These essays explore and illuminate the roots of Lorde's intellectual development and her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers and the absolute necessity to explicate the concept of difference—difference according to sex, race, and economic status. The title Sister Outsider finds its source in her poetry collection The Black Unicorn (1978). These poems and the essays in Sister Outsider stress Lorde's oft-stated theme of continuity, particularly of the geographical and intellectual link between Dahomey, Africa, and her emerging self.

Read more.

 

We Should All Be Feminists

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.

Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Read More.

 

Men Explain Things To Me

By Rebecca Solnit

In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.

She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”

This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.

Read More.

 

Bad Feminist

By Roxane Gay

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

Read more.


Homemade Body Products July 27, 2018 00:00

I love supporting South African small businesses, but I love making my own things even more.

There's something so satisfying about making your own beauty products. It feels like you're taking extra special care of yourself by carefully selecting ingredients and choosing your perfect fragrance.

I am not qualified in any way to make body products. These are just some very simple recipes I use for myself after some research and trial and error. Maybe they'll also work for you!

To start off with, find a few great essential oils you love. You need to test these on your skin to make sure they don't cause an allergic reaction and perhaps it's a good idea to check with your medical practitioner before continuing if you're afraid you might have an adverse reaction to them.

I have some family and friends in the States, so I'm lucky enough to get DoTerra oils which are incredibly pure and can even be taken orally. I also use Soil organic essential oils, a proudly South African brand.

My favourites are grapefruit, bergamot, lavender, black pepper, cedar wood and citrus bliss. Depending on my mood, I'll open smell them all and then just decide which I'm drawn to on that day, and mix them accordingly. Most of the ones I like are mood enhancers.

Hand Oil

I've played around with so many variations with this one, using avocado, grapeseed, coconut, almond and olive, but in the end, my favourite is just the simplest.

I pour some extra virgin olive oil into a glass spray bottle I saved, throw in my essential oils and voila! I have perfectly moisturised hands and cuticles immediately.

I find the olive oil sinks into the skin beautifully after just a few minutes, and the effects definitely last the longest for me.

Hand And Body Exfoliator

Melt some coconut oil in a saucepan over a low heat. Remove from the stove and add an equal part of fine Himalayan salt, and your favourite essential oils.

Let everything cool and then pop it into the fridge for the coconut oil to solidify.

Once it's solid, whip it up with a hand beater. The air you beat into it makes it much easier to use.

Decant it into a glass jar and use as needed! The salt exfoliates and the coconut oil helps moisturise as well. Double whammy!

Luxurious Body Butter

Melt equal parts shea butter, cocoa butter and olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and remove.

Add your fav oils.

Wait for it to cool and then pop it into the fridge to solidify. It might take quite a bit longer for this to happen than with the exfoliator.

Whip it with a hand beater and decant into a glass jar. 

This mixture has saved my skin from the dry Jozi Winter. I can't do without it!

 

Do you have any special lotions or potions you make for yourself? I'd love to try your recipes!

 


Pets and Self-Care July 19, 2018 19:10

I recently had to put my cat Audrey down. She was 14 years old and had massive tumours on her kidneys.

She was really thin when I came back from my trip, and seemed to gain weight in the week after I returned, but her health just suddenly deteriorated.

I was an awful way to start the week having to make such a decision, but I'm really glad the option was available to me. She was so ill and I could see she was in a lot of pain, so instead of putting her through more tests or surgery which would've ended with the same result, I stood with her while she quietly slipped away.

And even though I knew it was the right decision, watching the life drain out of her because of a decision I made was really awful. As they injected her I momentarily, but strongly, wanted to undo it.

This whole experience got me thinking about how our pets help support us emotionally, and how so much of my self-care is tied with taking care of them.

There's been a lot of press recently about people taking flights with their companion animals, most notably a woman's emotional support peacock was banned from a flight.

I understand that pets are a little different to companion or support animals, but I think they're just as valuable.

Google brings up hundreds of reasons why pets are beneficial to you. This is what I have found to be most beneficial in my life.

 

They Are Always Happy To See Me

No matter what your day was like. Whether you ran out in a hurry without saying goodbye, or if you were a little agitated when they insisted on sleeping on your legs, you are always greeted with joy.

I Am Always Happy To See Them

There's never any residual resentment or expectation. I feel free to love them wholeheartedly and without limitation, and that feeling alone is so liberating.

They Don't Judge Me

If you've had a spat of critique or feel like you can't seem to get things right, my pets have always reminded me that I am enough as I am. I don't need to change. I don't need to be more or less than I already am.

They Remind Me Of Simple Pleasures

Whenever I lose my way in the mire of adulting, they remind me of the pleasure of stroking their soft, velvety ears, or how soothing it is to have a cat purr on your lap, or the shared joy of a dog fetching a ball.

They simplify a complicated life by reminding me that just being in a moment is more than enough.

They Make The Best Company

Just knowing that another creature is around, makes me feel part of a little core family. I feel we belong to, and look after, each other.

They comfort me when I've had a bad day, because somehow they intuitively sense my mood.

 

Do you have pets? Have you found having pets enriches your life experience?

 

 

 

 

 


Hand Sewing You Can Do At Home July 12, 2018 16:42 1 Comment

I was recently quite shocked to hear that many friends simply discard a shirt if a button pops off, or will throw out a dress if the hem is no longer on trend.

These are such simple things to fix, and getting rid of a perfectly good blouse seems excessive if there's just a button missing.

So in the spirit of reducing waste and making things last, here is a quick tutorial.

Stitching A Button

You'll need:

Thread

Button

Small pair of scissors

Of course if you can save the original button, that would be ideal. Otherwise you'll have to get one of the same size and similar in colour and style to the others, just to avoid replacing all the buttons. I suggest taking along the shirt to a fabric store or haberdashery and test that the button fits comfortably through the button hole.

Unroll about 30-40cm of thread in a matching colour to the thread used for the other buttons. If it's too long it may get tangled and knotted, and then you'll have to start from the beginning again.

Thread it through the eye of the needle and join the two ends, making a knot. 

Stick the needle through from the back of the fabric and through the button hole. If there are 2 holes you'l go up through one, and down through the other. Keep sticking the needle through the fabric and the holes in the button about 5-6 times. 

Wind the thread around the bottom of the button about 3 times, catch a few fibres of the fabric and pull the needle through most of the way, but leaving a loop of thread big enough to put the needle through. This creates a knot. Pull the thread tight and repeat.

Trim off the excess and you're done!

 

Taking Up A Hem

You'll need:

Scissors

Thread

Needle

Measure to exactly where you want the hem to fall. It's best to ask someone to help you with this as if you bend forward to mark it off, it'll end up way too short when you stand up straight again.

Measure from the bottom up and drop about 3 cm lower that you actually want it to be. This leaves room for the hem allowance.

Measure it ALL around the hem line very carefully before cutting it off. It's best to use sharp fabric scissors for this.

Working with the garment inside out,  fold up 1cm from the bottom and press it between your fingers. Then using your hair straightener you can iron it flat all the way around. 

Keeping that crease, fold it up a further 2cm and iron it flat.

Cut off 30-40cm of thread in a colour that matches the fabric, and thread it through the needle, tying a knot.

Stick the needle into the first crease you made so the knot is buried in the hem allowance and pull through.

Catch 1-2 fibres from the fabric, then stick the needle into the hem allowance fold, exiting it about 5mm further on. 

Keep repeating this slip stitch till the whole hem has been stitched. Finish it off by making a double knot, the same as when you finished off the button.

You should barely be able to see the stitches from the front if you're using matching thread.

 


My Time Away July 02, 2018 18:16 2 Comments

I recently closed my online store to take a much needed holiday. My assistant was busy with exams and I felt I wouldn't be giving myself the full benefit of time away if I was always trying to deal with orders and queries.

Some of you may know that my husband passed away nearly 2 years ago and it's been a long, hard journey to get back to "real life" so to speak, in between dealing with grief and the mind-blowing (and -numbing) amount of paperwork involved with rounding up an estate. 

Well, after more than a year and a half, it's finally done. While I'd been pushing to wrap everything up, when it finally happened, I felt at a bit of a loss actually. 

I knew I had to take a lovely trip somewhere and start creating memories on my own and of my own, which is why I thought I'd walk the Camino. I just did the minimum amount in order to receive my Compostela, a certificate which states you have walked it. But the minimum is still over 100km.

I did this over 5 days. 

I'm really fit, and while I didn't take it lightly, I certainly didn't expect to struggle as much as I did. My joints gave me trouble with every step, and my hiking boots that have felt like walking on clouds for the past few hikes, suddenly decided to bruise and squeeze in places that are still bruised and squeezed, more than a week later.

It was beautiful though. It winds through forests and hamlets lined with wild flowers and rosebushes in such full bloom that they droop over the pathways, perfuming the way.

I spent the time in introspection, just listening to my breath and trying to focus my mind beyond the pain. 

I also spent a bit of time with my sisters in the UK, which felt like a giant hug. They have been so supportive and caring through this whole process.

There's a feeling of finality about having the estate completed. Not that one can put a time limit on grief because everyone's process is different, and honestly I don't think it ever leaves you. You simply adjust your life and heart around it and so managing it gets easier. But I have this question that won't leave me be:

What now?

I find myself a bit adrift once again. A bit untethered and unfocused having such a large part of the journey behind me now. 

But I guess that's all part of the process. 

Back to sleeping, dreaming and creating, which really is quite awesome in itself.