Just as Lost as You are

I have been living in a new city for four days.

I arrived here after having lived in a small town for 16 years. Before that, I grew up in a gravel roaded, tether your horse and pump that windmill village.

So needless to say it’s been pretty exciting, and completely terrifying.

I have discovered that your best friend, when you live in a city like Cape Town, is the GPS on your phone. Unfortunately, it does not help you to find your car in a large mall parking lot.

Note to non-city people: ALWAYS take note of the level and block you park in, and that little ticket thingy you get when you drive in – ya, you can’t leave again if you toss that sucker. Apparently, it’s important or whatever.

I have always thought Cape Town drivers were raging maniacs (they are) but I finally understand why. Noone, not even the seasoned city veterans who have lived here all their lives, has a cooking clue where they are or where they are going.

Without the magic of Google Maps (Or Waze Lady – Laze Wady, as we call her), no-one would get anywhere. I realized that it’s not just I, the newbie with CX number plates, who is unable to navigate my way out of a paper bag (in Cape Town) without assistance.

If you look around you, you will find that at least 75% of people are driving with the help of a navigational aid. My bestie and her colleague even admitted openly to the fact that after a decade of living here, they can’t get anywhere new without using the mighty map of Google.

Of course me being me, I got to thinking about the deeper implications of what it means to be lost in a bustling, throbbing city. What does it mean if you accept that you just don’t know where you are on a map? If you can’t form a mental picture of where you are in relation to home, or where you are going.

Is it a new kind of trust, of letting go – where you simply trust the device? As a bit of a control freak I find it hard to fathom. It makes me sort of claustrophobic if I think about it too hard. But maybe it’s actually good, to simply be where you are and trust in the universe’s ability to get you home.

Or is it actually a new kind of helplessness and does it represent a greater loss of self? Are we all so lost in the great bustle of our daily lives that it no longer even worries us that we’re physically lost, too?

Perhaps it’s both a type of zen and a type of “lostness”. Perhaps it’s two sides to a coin.

Whatever the case may be I suspect the answer is time, and patience.

In time we learn the routes. In time we find ourselves. We find what matters to us. We find our focus, our lighthouses in the dark (or our Google Maps lady telling us to turn right in 300 meters, if you prefer). I think the big thing is to give yourself time, and also to take time to listen to yourself.

I know my country roots are going to miss the stars, the darkness at night, the wet grass underfoot, the smell of rain on hot dry farmlands. But I have a hope and a feeling that city life may be wonderful, too. I am taking the time to find my lighthouses, my routes and my new points of focus, and I am going to be a little bit more patient with myself this time around, because I’m in my thirties now, and life is too short to always be in a hurry.

x

(PS: If you were wondering about the weather here, chances are, it’s windy, regardless of when you read this)

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Time for a Change

Only you can choose how you are going to spend the rest of your life.

I want to make everyone happy all the time.

And that’s a bad thing.

Sometimes you must do what’s right for you, and let the chips fall where they may.

With everything that’s happened in the last few months (and years) I have been faced with some hard choices. Being the kind of person who is loyal, and who doesn’t run away from a difficult situation just because it’s difficult, it’s hard for me to give up on something that’s not working anymore.

Especially when doing so means disappointing others.

I’m a trouper, I do what I have to, I don’t give up.

But sometimes, by not giving up on something old, you are sacrificing (or giving up) the possibility of ever having anything new.

Which is why I decided to do something terrifying.

I made a choice that scares the bejezus out of me.

I took a shot, applied for a job in a new city, and got it.

I handed in my notice at the job where I have worked for almost six years, even though I knew how disappointed and upset my bosses would be.

I told my mom that I’m leaving town, even though she has never lived in a different town from me (when I left home she followed me).

Am I terrified of leaving everything I know? Yes

Am I scared that I will fail and that I will end up homeless? I am.

Is this one of the scariest things I have ever done? Absolutely.

So, why am I doing it, you may ask?

It’s simple. I realised that the only thing that scared me more than taking this huge risk and changing my entire life, was the idea of everything staying the same.

I could see my future, old and alone, sharing tins of tuna with my 23 cats (as a vegetarian, this is an even scarier thought).

But, in fact, everything is not the same.

Sometimes the universe throws you some pretty huge hints that you need to change something big in your life. I have discovered that if you don’t embrace change, the universe will thrust it upon you anyway. I decided I want a say in my changes, from now on.

Signs that it’s time for a change

One of the surest signs that it’s time, is that you really want to make a change.

Another good sign is that things are changing anyway (the universe has NOT been subtle with me, but apparently, I take a lot of convincing).

I am not going to get into the signs I have been dealt, but fire, death, and devastation have all been part of it.

Lastly, when it’s the right time to make a change, everything falls into place.

I tried to make things work, pick up the devastated pieces of my life where I was, and with everything I tried, I hit a wall.

The moment I decided to move, things started to flow.

I got the job I wanted, I found a flat, almost every essential item I lost in the fire has been replaced through the kindness and generosity of others. It’s all good. New things, new job, new city, new life.

I have been amazingly blessed by the kindness of others. Honestly, I am so lucky.

Am I scared? Yes.

Is it a spontaneous decision? No, not really.

If I think about it, part of me has been planning it for a while. It’s just that now the time is right.

As for how it will go, I don’t know yet. I’ll let you all know when I’ve been there for a while.

What to do if it’s not the right time to change things

I didn’t get to the point where everything was perfectly lined up by accident.

Yes, some of the things that drove this decision were huge and unplanned disasters. Some were huge and unplanned miracles. Some events were both. But I would not be able to do what I am doing now if I hadn’t been prepared.

I prepared by working incessantly for years to get an education.

I prepared by not just accepting where I was in life, but working towards who I wanted to be.

I prepared by biding my time and getting work experience in a field that interests me, learning as much as I could and working on as many different kinds of projects as I could get hold of.

I knew all along that someday it would come in handy. Or rather, I had faith that it would.

I prepared by believing that things could be better and taking whatever small action I could, each and every day, to make things better.

I wasn’t sure where I would end up, or what choices I would make.

I didn’t know how I was going to fix my life. I just knew that I had to try.

Don’t give up on your life, or your goals.

It doesn’t matter if you have no idea how or when you will get where you want to be. It doesn’t even matter if you are not 100% sure what you want.

Just believe that it can get better and that you have the power to make it better.

I can vouch 100% for the fact that help will always come to those who put the effort in to help themselves.

Stay positive.

Most importantly, work hard and be nice to people.

I have no idea what is going to happen next for me and my little family.

But I have a good feeling about it all.

 

 

Knysna Fires Post 2 – Humans

Incredibly, it’s been almost 2 months since the house burnt down and we all ran for our lives in what I hope to fuck will be the most terrifying night of my life (I hope there is never one MORE terrifying than that was).

The kids and I are still homeless, in that we have somewhere to stay until November and then we need a new plan. Not sure yet what that will be. My Mum has managed to secure a permanent residence so that is one less thing to worry about – thankfully.

Humans

The most striking thing of all about the aftermath of this disaster, is the range of human reactions. Or should I say, the range of humans.

For many, the immediate reaction was to try and help in some way. Knysna witnessed an awesome outpouring (or in pouring) of human kindness. There have been clothes and food and all kinds of necessities flooding in to help the affected.

I personally have been taken shopping by total strangers and friends alike, and been bought things like underwear, a microwave, and deodorant! You can’t believe how many things you have in your house until it’s gone!

Friends have sent boxes of stuff for us from far and wide, money has come in to help us keep going, even couches (and wine!) have arrived from humans I know and humans I don’t know. One kind mother, having no other way she could help, but wanting to do something, has even offered to pack my son a lunch box and send it to school with her son, every day for the rest of the year!

For these people I am so filled with gratitude and emotion it’s hard to find the words for it. I have witnessed the enormity of the human spirit, and seen friends swallow their own pride and bury painful hatchets with each other in order to come together and help us.

Then there is another whole side of humanity.

There are those who jumped at the opportunity to make a profit out of the disasters. From insurance brokers and contractors to the guys who stole my stone bird bath and my ceramic fire place (the only things that were left standing in my home). There were people who unpacked my (misdelivered) boxes and stole things that were sent to me by dear friends.

There was also a middle of the range human that simply didn’t give a crap. The couriers who delivered my things to the wrong place because they couldn’t be bothered to drop them off with me specifically when the disaster had created a perfect excuse to be lax (this happened to me TWICE, the second time a fridge and bed I was sent were redistributed to who-knows-who).

There are other human people who really were just plain indifferent.

I realised two truths, through all of this, and I had one existing theory confirmed.

1. Not all people are good people.

I have always believed that humans are essentially good and that sometimes they go astray and do bad things. This is not actually the case. Some people just plain suck balls. 

2. The good people who are good people are fucking gems. 

If you find one, protect them, love them, be kind to them, because there are people whose hearts are selfless and pure and they are the shining lights among us. Never underestimate these people. It takes a lot more courage to be kind and gentle than it does to be a dick. They are strong, and they are the kind of people I hope my children will grow up to be.

3. The re-confirmed belief: You can choose which of these to focus on, and that will shape your reality.

After having experienced both the unsung angels and the dregs of humanity (sometimes wearing Prada jeans, sometimes in overalls) I have realised, yet again, that my experience on Earth is defined by which I choose to focus on.

Did  I get robbed and screwed over? Yes, a little bit.

But I am also abundantly blessed in ways great and small.

Often it is the littlest acts of kindness that really bring me to tears. The R500 in my account with the reference “get coffee”; the airtime and data sent by a clever friend who knew how many calls I’d be getting; the new hoodies we were given by my doctor – who insisted they were from a “friend”, but which happened to be our exact sizes; the flash drive full of TED talks and music sent by courier from an old friend; the trust set up my best friend; the cash deposits collected by my oldest friend; the duvet cover; the tupperware from the union of Jewish mothers in Oudtshoorn; the wine sent by a very wise friend! Donations from people I have never met and probably never will.

These are my heroes. All of them, all of you. 

So no, I don’t know yet where I will be in a few months time. But I do know it will be good. I do know that it will be better than I could have possibly hoped, it will be an exciting new adventure, and as much as I always think that I am alone – I never really will be.

I choose to focus on the beautiful side of humanity.

Thanks guys, for being so awesome.

I look forward to paying it forward some day soon.

Old Fashioned

 

 

 

 

Knysna Fires – Post One

Knysna Fires Amy's house

(Warning: This is not a happiness post, this is my experience of the Knysna Fires. There will be a follow-up post or two which will be happier)

I woke up to the smell of smoke on June 7th, 2017.

I instinctively felt unsettled. I got up and looked out the window and noticed that the sky was slightly orange tinted. The sun was coming up through the smoke on the horizon. Still, it wasn’t cause for major alarm. So something somewhere was burning.

The Kids were to spend the day at home, because the department of education had been told that there were big storm warnings for Cape Town, so the entire province closed school for the day.

I wasn’t too concerned. Cape Town is 500 KM away and Knysna didn’t even have rain forecast, nevermind storms.

So once the nanny arrived I went to work.

I sent a text to my Mum (who lived next door to me) telling her there was a fire somewhere and she should keep an eye on it, because the smoke was in the wrong direction for rubbish burning.

When I hit the Lagoon road I saw smoke on the other side of town. Two fires. But that one WAS on the right side of town for rubbish burning, no biggy, off to work.

I work at a digital marketing agency, so we spend a lot of time online (okay, ALL our work is online, we live inside our computers). At about 10:00 AM I noticed a post on Social Media that said Knysna had large fires on the hills alongside the town. We all traipsed out of the office and looked about. Lots of smoke in the West.

Still, no real sense of panic. Concern for the wildlife, yes, but I still had no idea of what was to come.

Throughout the day I kept an eye on the news.

At about 3 PM my Mom called to say she was worried, would I please come home. I thought she was being overly concerned but I went and excused myself from the boss and went home to check up on things.

The fire was raging on the western hills, but it was still on the other side of the river. Away from town. Away from my home. Rivers don’t generally burn that well, so it seemed ok.

I didn’t factor in the gale force winds.

Instead I told my nanny I would take her back to catch a taxi in town, so that she could go home and check on her house. By this time we knew that there was more than one fire burning and I didn’t know if her area was okay.

My kids usually like to stay at home if I just pop to town quickly. It’s not far and my daughter is a young teen. But for some reason, I said, “just jump in the car like that, come with me”. (My daughter was in pajamas, my son in white Bermuda shorts).

That was the last time I ever saw my house. I even left two bags of groceries still packed in bags on the kitchen floor.

I distinctly remember the moment I locked the kitchen gate. I was thinking “I wonder where Delilah (my cat) is. Probably hiding under the bed”.

After dropping the nanny I popped into the office to pick up my phone charger. While I was there I got a call from a neighbour:

“I can’t get hold of your mom! We’re evacuating, everything is burning and her phone is off, I don’t know if she got out!”

I try to phone my mom. Nothing.

I didn’t have time to panic, I just reacted.

I grabbed my kids and ran to the car. We drove for home. We had to get to my mom and her 78-year-old husband and make sure they were evacuating!

Half way home I got a call from my office. Luckily I told my daughter to answer it. It was the office finance manager. He has a really calm voice. He’s a really even tempered guy. He says “Your mom is here. She says don’t go home. The garage was already burning when they left”.

By pure dumb luck they had heard a gas bottle explode up the road and decided to get in the car with their cat in a box.

There had been no evacuation by the authorities, no warning bells ringing, it all happened too fast.

I still wanted to go home though, to find my cat.

But half way down the road we had to turn around. There were too many houses burning too close to the road. We could not get through.

I haven’t seen Delilah since, but we are still looking for her. Many cats got out and were found later. We hope she is one of them, just hiding out somewhere.

The gale force wind had taken floating, burning debris across the river, and the fire had raged on.

My biggest immediate concern was to find my mother and make sure she was okay.

When I found her we went, shell-shocked, to my bosses house because he kindly said so, and we were too dumb stuck and incoherent to think of anything other than getting away from the flames.

The wind was pumping and the fire raged. A neighbour of a friend watched their timber house burn to ash in three minutes. There was no time to get anything out. And it was spreading like, well, wild fire.

The fire burned a route from suburb to suburb faster than one could have driven it. We had to evacuate again.

By 11Pm I was among thousands of people standing at Loerie Park. We had our cars. We were parked on a the sports field. We went to find the Rotary Hall pub behind the field where the barman had put all the bottles on the table and told everyone to help themselves. I poured a stiff whiskey (that didn’t touch my head in the circumstances) and felt like I was in Shawn of the Dead, or something similar.

I found myself standing in the doorway, my kids trying to sleep on the floor with blankets near me, talking on the phone to my best friend (in Cape Town) for what I thought would be the very last time.

I have never been more terrified in my life. And yet I had curiously no fear for myself. I was afraid for my children and my ageing parents. I was afraid my kids would never grow up. I was afraid I would fail them and break my promise to keep them safe no matter what.

We stood in the dark watching the fire getting closer and the dramatic flares as gas bottles exploded into the night sky. There were no stars. Just thick, choking smoke and an eerie orange glow.

Then the ambulances arrived. They had up to fourteen patients in each ambulance, slotted in widthways. They carried them in on blankets. The Shawn of the Dead vibe disappeared and things became (unbelievably) even more terrifying. The hall became a makeshift hospital as the real one had been evacuated (part of it burnt). We retreated to our cars.

As the flames ate across the landscape towards us, I got a call from a friend who lives on the island. She said if I could get down the road I should come to her. So my kids and I in my ancient little green golf, and my Mom and her husband in her car, braved the road and headed for the island. None of the adults slept. We lay with blankets on the floor and we watched the windows.

That’s how I saw in my 33rd birthday.

The next morning was the most un-birthday, birthday ever. It was worse than the one where my car was stolen, or the next one where I was really sick. It was a non-birthday. So much so that I have decided it didn’t count, and I get to be 32 for another year.

The fires raged for days. We moved from place to place looking for somewhere safe. I have never been so scared, for so long.

I managed to get my mom and husband in with a friend of hers in a safe area.

Eventually, by the Friday night, I was so tired, I ended up taking an offer to take the kids and go sleep on the lounge floor of someone who was in a safe place. The two kids and I all bundled up together. (Thanks to my good friend, who’s mother-in-law’s lounge we slept in).

That was two weeks ago and still the fires keep flaring up. We are all pretty tired of our vigil. Even now I am watching the small plumes of smoke every day. Right now I am listening to the wind knowing I will have another night dreaming of fire, if and when I finally manage to fall asleep.

It will be a long time before Knysna sleeps a peaceful sleep again.

 

The greatest tragedy is the heartbreaking loss of life.

I don’t feel that I have the authority to speak about the fire victims. It’s too fresh in our hearts and too personal. Knysna will not ever forget them. I will be haunted by their stories for the rest of my life.

More information is available here. 

Only click if you have a strong stomach.

The Knysna Fires Resulted in the Largest Deployment of Firefighters in South African history. Fire troops and army helicopters were sent from around the country.

Knysna Fires Amy's house
What was once my home

 

My greatest Gratitude is that my family and I are safe and alive, even though we lost our homes, and even though my Delilah kitty is still missing. I am holding out hope for her, yet.

Look out for my next post, Knysna Fires Part 2, in which I will tell you all about suddenly being homeless, kindness and life choices.

Love and Light.

 

Music makes it better

Music. Like coffee, I can’t live without it.

And it’s not just me. Fascinated by the way the right music will soothe me when I’m broken and picks me up when I’m feeling hopeless – I started reading up on the subject.

(for me) There’s nothing quite like “The Fray” when I need a good cry. And let’s face it sometimes you need a good cry. Nirvana, Bush and all my favourite old 90’s Grunge when I want to reminisce (and am feeling the angst). To this day I listen to Rage against the machine when I’m pissed off (especially if it’s with someone at the office).

All of this music taps into something that I’m feeling and helps to make it tangible, controllable, even. It puts the power of how I’m feeling into my hands.

But there is more to music than just reflecting how you’re feeling in the moment.

Music for Healing

According to the Harvard Health Publications,  music is an important part stress reduction and the treatment of depression. No surprises there, right?

Listening to uplifting music does just what it says on the box. It lifts you up. So much so that it can actually speed up your physical healing and reduce pain. Talk about groovy, baby.

Music for Memory

Another really interesting thing I discovered recently is that playing a musical instrument can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s and old-aged dementia/forgetfulness.

My Ouma (grandmother) had Alzheimer’s, and my entire family has lived in fear of what will happen to us (and our mom and aunts) when we get older. Luckily my mother and her three sisters all play musical instruments. Turns out that your musical memory never really fades, and that if you pick up an instrument even after years without playing, and you give it aa bit of practice, you can get right back to where you were before, and playing music will help you hold onto your marbles! Yay!

Make my Day  foolproof Music Make Better Recipe

So, what to listen to?

Well, obviously we all have different musical tastes. I love music from a huge range of genres, myself. So we won’t all want to listen to the same thing. But we do all have similar emotional ranges, and that is what you can use to craft your DYI music therapy. (please note this is not a substitution for real therapy)

I have a three step program that works for me. It goes like this:

Music for Sadness 

  1. Sad music. Stuff that lets me get it all out. feel free to cry. Best listened to in the car while driving (I find).
  2. From here I start to feed in gentle, less sad tunes.
  3. Mild happy music, hopeful tunes that make me feel brave.

Music for Angry moments

  1. Rage against the machine, Skunk Anansie (or similar)
  2. Upbeat but not ridiculously over happy music (old school punk works here)
  3. Regular happy vibes stuff ( A good opportunity for the happy grunge of the 90s).

Music for Long Hours

(I work looooooong hours at a PC. Without music I would DIE of boredom and never get any work done)

  1. Chillstep / dubstep – minimal words, good for long hours
  2. feel good indie music
  3. make use of 8tracks

Music for Exercise

listening to energetic music while you exercise will make working out a thousand million times easier. promise.

  1. upbeat, cheesy happy energy music
  2. all the upbeat remixes
  3. Power tunes

Music for Depression

  1. 90’s alternative rock/grunge – you may have exactly half an hour (or less)
  2. Happy music. Whatever lifts your spirits.
  3. DO NOT give in to the temptation to listen to depro stuff for extended periods of time. A song or two for the sake of giving in to your inner sulky child – sure. But it will only make you sick and sad in the long run.
  4. Pop Music. Yup, I said it. If you’re too depressed to find a happy song put the damn radio on and let yourself go. It’s okay. We won’t judge.

Music for RANDOM

  1. Give in to your musical whims.
  2. Look up old school stuff like this.
  3. Don’t allow yourself to be put into a music box – you can listen to whatever the hell makes you feel good.

Music Every Day

In my house, we have a little thing that we do pretty often. In the afternoons (evenings) after work, My daughter brings out her collection of happy pop songs and she puts them on. Then – we dance. We dance like silly moronic divas. We dance in our socks. We check ourselves out in the mirror. We use wooden spoons/brooms/whatever as microphones. We play air guitar. We get down.  This is something that doesn’t happen every day. It’s a spontaneous type thing, usually. But we do it, together, me and the kids. It works as exercise, and it makes us feel silly all together which makes us closer. It lifts the tired, end of the day blues and reduces stress and minimises family arguments.

That’s not why we do it though – we do it because it’s fun.

So go – get your groove on.

Little by little we go far – or “How to Change the World”

Make the world better, any way you can. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. If you don’t, who will. If you do, maybe you will inspire someone else to do something, too. Maybe if we all just do what little we can, the world will change.

I live in South Africa, it’s a bloody country. South Africa, is sitting on beautiful green and blue globe, called Earth. It’s a bloody planet. I am part of a race – called humanity. It’s a bloody race.

Every time I look out from my own little bubble I see pain, and suffering. I see cruelty. I see humans hurting other humans, hurting animals, hurting the planet. I see us hurting. And it hurts to look at.

Sometimes the world hurts so much to look at that I can understand, fully, how people become addicts, and depressive, and suicidal. I look at why people are so bloody and it always come back to one thing -fear.

Some are afraid because they have suffered already and all because they are afraid that they will suffer in the future. It’s quite a mess – humanity.

And when I look at the world and it shows me this face – I feel it like a great weight in my chest. And I think to myself – why even bother? Why even try? How can I bring two beautiful souls up into this world that is going to break them down and hurt them? Where security is an illusion. It’s terrifying.

And then I remember. I remember the one thing that I can do to make it better. I can be a better person. I can be kind. Even if I can’t solve the problems of the world – I can start where I am, I can use what I have and I can do what I can.

If I can find any small way to make the world a kinder place – then the world will be that tiny little bit better. A little bit less scary. We want people to stop being scared, and start being kind instead.

And when I start to think about it – there is a new feeling that grows in my chest. a large feeling. I feel brave. I feel huge. Because I realize that  I can do something. AND, just maybe, If I do something kind, or helpful, or somehow find a way to make things a tiny bit better for someone else, it might just inspire them to do the same. Or it might inspire someone else. And if we all start to do whatever small things we can, we might just change the world.

Then I remember that I have a voice. I have voice and I can be heard. Even if my voice is not very loud, if I can speak up for what I believe to be right, and good – then someone might hear me. If someone hears me, just maybe, they will speak the words with me. And if we can start a ripple effect, then perhaps together we can sing. AND if we all sing together – we will be heard.We can make a difference – just by being true to what we believe to be good, and right.

An army of ants can take down a forest, even though each one is tiny on its own. AND never forget the old saying about the mosquito, “Anyone who thinks they are too small to be make a difference, has never been trapped in a room with a mosquito”.

Please don’t give up.

Even if all humanity fails you – if you are still standing – don’t give up on yourself, and your own ability to make the world a more beautiful place.

Like the kind man who gave my sister a packet of chips on the train when her phone got stolen. He had nothing else to give her. She had lost the only thing of value on her person and had no way to contact anyone. He didn’t have airtime for her to phone her partner with, and she had nothing in her pocket to even buy him some. But he gave her the packet of chips from his bag and he spoke to her kindly and he managed to avert a major panic attack. Sure – you could look at this story and think “There are shitty, horrible people who knocked her over and stole her phone” or you could look at this story and realize, “there are people in this world who will give you their last packet of crisps and be kind to a total stranger”. There are also those who stand by and do neither.

I know what kind of person I want to be. What kind will you be?

 

 

 

An open letter of Gratitude…

Dear Virtual Community, co-workers (or as we call them, magfam), family and beloved friends…

Thank you.

Thank you to my wonderful boss who took it upon himself to try and help me out with improved security and to try and recover some of what I lost.

Thank you to my wonderful co-workers (both here and in the US) who didn’t hesitate to get on board with his project.

Thank you to my friends and family who supported it whole-heartedly, without question.

And thank you to the haters on Facebook who called it a scam and question my existence.

This is me! I’m real! Earth to Facebook land, here I am.

When this thing started it was not the first time I was robbed at home. I lost my car two years ago. I wasn’t ensured because I couldn’t afford the premiums. When that happened my (same) boss stepped in and lent me the office car until I was able to scrape together enough to buy another (major downgrade) car.

When I was robbed again two years later the buggers actually got into my house. This was next level – and scary. I realized that my security was (and still is) pretty lacking. I rent a small place from SANRAL – the South African national roads board – yes they own lots of property. However they are not the greatest land lords when it comes to things like upkeep, maintenance and security. The up side is they are cheap. They also have no problem with tenants taking an initiative and improving the buildings. I have no issue with them at all – I understand that the tenants are not their major concern – the roads are. no problem – I am just happy to have a place to stay.

Anyway, I digress.

So I got robbed again. And my boss decided he is not going to sit and wait for a third incident. He started a crowd funding project for me, to help pay for a security system and new locks, and maybe even to replace some of what was lost over the two years.

When he told me what he wanted to do my knee-jerk reaction was “oh hell no”. I am not someone who is comfortable accepting charity. I don’t easily take anything I don’t feel I earned and deserve. I have been through many things and I have always maintained that by having a strong positive attitude I have overcome them. It’s not always easy. not at all. But I have known too many people who allowed themselves to become victims and take no responsibility for their lives. They behave as if life is something that happened to them. That is not me. I am responsible for the decisions I make and I dictate my own future – through hard work and faith. I have a happiness sharing blog because I want to share HAPPINESS and LIGHT. Not doom and gloom.

But then I realized something in the moment when I was about to say “No, you don’t have to help”. I realized that I always try to help people where I can – and that if my employer wants to help me – who am I to stop him? I realized that I don’t want my kids and I to be unsafe. I realized that I am tired of being too scared to go to sleep at night. I realized that, just this once, maybe I should just say thank you. Because that is what I would want anyone else to do if I was helping them. Because the love and kindness that make me so proud of humanity can’t be given if the recipients can’t be humble enough to accept it graciously.

I realized that I have to learn to accept kindness graciously – I have to be humble.

I can’t always be proud and strong. Sometimes it takes more strength to be humble. If not for myself, then for my children, because goodness knows they are two of the best kids you will ever find. They are kind, good humored, conscientious and downright bloody brilliant, to boot. So I said “Yes, thank you”.

Since then I have been avoiding the post online because I am not entirely sure how to react to it. The words written there are so kind. The words in the campaign and the comments left behind. People have been so kind, so sweet, so generous. Anyone who knows me will know that I am not good with public displays of emotion. I could go into why but I fear the men in white coats would come for me (that was a joke, BTW).

Today, though, I received a Whatsapp message from a friend telling me to go look at the post. So I did. Wouldn’t you know it – I have a troll!

A stranger (let’s call him Mr Banks – just for fun) posted comments about how this was clearly a scam. How South Africans are used to being raped and burgled – and why should the world “help some privileged white woman who’s TV has been stolen”. Why indeed?

Well – first up, Mr  Banks , my TV wasn’t stolen. It isn’t valuable enough (I still have an old tube type for DVDs only). Secondly – I am not privileged in the way  you think I am – but I am privileged.

I may not have had the opportunity to go to University or had rich parents to buy me a nice safe house or a fancy car. I may not have a husband who is alive, or who even had a life insurance policy. But you are right. I am privileged. I am privileged to have been shown endless kindness. I am privileged to have good friends and a loving family – including two healthy children. I am privileged to have the ability to read and write and to have been able to put those skills to good use – to continuously study and educate myself while I work and raise a family. I am privileged to have been given the gift of a sunny disposition which has seen me through more hardship and heartache than I care to elaborate on. I am privileged to have been given a copy of “The Secret” to watch 6 years ago which changed my life. I am privileged to have been brought up with a religious background and to know the value of morals – including the  belief that all religions, and all people – matter. I am privileged to have been given a chance at a job which it turned out I loved. I am privileged to have employers who saw my potential and my tenacity and helped me to grow.

I am privileged to be South African – I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the most beautiful country in the world. I am privileged to have internet access to be able to write this blog right now.

I am Immensely Privileged to have known enough kindness and goodness to still have hope that people like you will someday feel the love the universe has to offer. Because there is so much goodness and love. There are so many kind people.

Thank you, Mr Banks, because you have actually reminded me that I am privileged, in so many ways, every day of my life – down to the able body I walk around in and the health I experience. I am privileged to have been spared becoming cynical, cruel,  or cold-hearted.

I am privileged enough to still be enough of a believer to help the guy watching my car outside. Maybe I am weak. Maybe I am gullible. Maybe I am just a whiny little shit, after all, who can’t shut up about the good things in life. Maybe I have just seen enough darkness to cherish the light that I do see – and celebrate it.

Thank you, also, Mr Banks, for drawing attention to how South African women are “used to being raped and burgled”. I don’t think it’s something we should be used to. I don’t think that I can accept that it should just be the norm.

For the last few years I have been involved with collecting clothing for the “Rape-Room” at the local hospital, so that the ladies will have something to go home in. It is a big issue on my heart. You have brought it up here again – as if it was normal. It shouldn’t be.

So, if I have the permission of those wonderful people who designed the crowd funding post for me, I would like to give the “tithes” from that project to the local FAMSA, who deal with counselling all kinds of South Africans in need. So, Mr Banks, thank you for reminding me that no matter my situation – I can always share the kindness I receive, because there will always be enough to go around, if we all do.

Thank you – all of you – for reading this.

I love you guys, all of you, even you Mr Banks. I hope you find the light inside yourself.