Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Life in Full Colour

In the process of doing renovations to my house I repainted the master bedroom three times; three different shades of dark green.  Three days in a row.  Yes, it would have been easier to just make peace.  Or to paint it cream.  But my head would never allow that. 
And so instead of buying paint in one colour and painting the whole house, I try different colours and when say colour, I mean colour.  Colour like red, dark purple, golden yellows and green, not pale sand, light yellow, beige or cream.  I like to push the bounds a little and see what I can make work.  Yes, and change them regularly too.    

My friend still laughs and comments on how I painted my bedroom the ‘same colour’ three times.  And I suppose that is one side of the story, but definitely not the change addict’s perspective.  Those were very different colours. 

Were they green?   You’re thinking.
Were they dark green? You’re thinking.  
Conclusion: ‘the same colour.’

The other side of the story, my version, is that I needed to be able to walk into the room and appreciate the colour on the wall and I am very visual.  So anything that disturbs the eye, my brain is very quick to pick up on.     
Sometimes, I wonder if the tendency toward a neutral palette in décor is simply a result of the fear of ‘getting the colour wrong’ and having to redo it? 

And so my question is: Have you ever noticed just how many decisions we make are based on fear? 
We won’t speak up at work, lest we lose our jobs. 
We won’t go out at night lest we be attacked.
We won’t say no to someone afraid they won’t like us as a result.
We won’t change something because better the devil we know than the devil we don’t. 
We won’t try something new because we are afraid we might fail.
We won’t end a relationship...

The list goes on. 

The funny thing about fear is that it usually ends up creating exactly what we are afraid of.

We won’t speak up at work, lest we lose our jobs.  Silence creates an environment where injustice prospers which results in loss of productivity, economic recession and corruption, which are the main contributors to job losses.
Besides I tried it.  It’s true (was constructively dismissed).  But even that is not the end of God’s story for your life.     

We won’t go out at night lest we be attacked.  The less law abiding people on the streets creates an environment in which crime prospers and increases everyone’s chances of that being true.

How about making changes to your capabilities to defend yourself to manage your fear.  Besides, count the number of times you have made it safely home.  So how much of the fear is real, and how much of the fear is only in your mind?  The fear of fear?             
We won’t say no to someone afraid they won’t like us as a result.  Not saying ‘no’ to someone means you end up compromising yourself and so you lose your self-respect.  When you don’t respect yourself, others lose their respect for you too.

And so some of them won’t like you.  But what makes them so special that you need them to like you anyway?  When a life makes an impact, you will collect more enemies than alliances. 
We won’t change something because better the devil we know than the devil we don’t.  End result; still left with the devil. And the devil never makes peace.   

So why do you assume that there are only devils out there available to you?       
We won’t try something new because we are afraid we might fail.  Not trying something new also means you won’t succeed at it either. 

Let failure be an experience that is a result of something / circumstances other than you.  If it’s not you sabotaging your own future, failure can only be a process that teaches you something you must know if you are going to succeed.   
We won’t end the relationship for fear of... being alone, being hurt, being independent... to name but a few of the fears plaguing relationships. 

Relationships simply need to be worth holding on too.  When they depreciate your value as a human being, it’s time to change them or let them go.  When we hold on to relationships too tightly, we end up losing ourselves.    
So as far as I can see, decisions based on fear tend to be the wrong ones. And a life of colour requires a splash of courage.   

Mark Twain (paraphrased) once said: Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the decision to do something despite it.
If it’s any consolation, this is also my internal pep talk! I have a few big decisions to make.   

One thing is certain, fear has never changed anything.    

Monday, 28 October 2013

Alone in ‘The Act’

I recently heard a sermon on the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus to be stoned (the Law of Moses states that adultery was a sin that needed to be punished by stoning).  The bible is specific, she was “caught in the act” by the men who brought her to Jesus’ feet (John 8).  But what I would like to know, is how exactly she was “caught in the actalone?  What happened from the point of being caught, to being placed at Jesus’ feet without her partner in crime?

I mean, as far as I know ‘the act’ takes a minimum of two people.  These days... no... I won’t even go there.  But since no archaeologist that has unearthed an ancient equivalent of the vibrator, I imagine the other side of the story, not recorded, reads something like this: 

They were caught in the act and dragged out onto the street.  After a series of high fives amongst the men (some things do not change), out of the sight of the woman of course, a brief exchange of tips on ‘better locations’ to engage in activities such as these, these men were like, “get lost you fool and don’t be dumb enough to get caught again.” And thus, he was sent to run down the street in his ‘Mickey Mouse’ boxers.  (After all, it‘s difficult to judge someone for something we are also guilty of.)  It’s a classic male cover-up story.      

But being men of ‘upstanding public moral character,’ they needed to be seen to be doing something and so proceeded to take the woman before Jesus in an attempt to trap him too...         

The sermon missed that part of the story (probably because it’s not actually recorded) and focused only on the grace given to the woman.     

I love church.  It’s great fodder for humour.  There are so many rules, expectations, clichés and questions not asked.  Seldom do we look further other than just what is on the bible page.  And so such are the social norms that form the foundation for an enormous culture of pretence in the majority of churches.  Praise Jesus.  These things are not new.  I just think they are more a reflection of human’s attempt at perceived godliness than are a reflection of God at all.

Our understanding of God perhaps is somewhat incomplete.  I mean God is serious and so church should be serious...  Or perhaps, God is not so serious after all...

Ever wonder why there are so many health benefits that come from laughter?  If God is so serious, why, as beings created in His image, do we all laugh?  Or why do we learn to laugh before we learn to talk?  Laugher must be an enormous part of who God is.  I imagine that even He chuckled at the accuracy of ‘other side of these events’ recorded, a few thousand years after the affair... 

Well..., okay..., I concede; it may not have been ‘Mickey Mouse’ boxers.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

On Record Indefinitely...

The funny thing about starting a blog is that it requires a continuous level of commitment  and maintenance as there are expectations that have been raised and need to be met. 

Since my addiction to change, despite being scatter brained and having a mind that is always on the prowl, does require a certain level of seriousness while a blog entry, a certain level of humour and cunning, the challenge seems to be in striking the right voice and balance for the communications platform.   And so it would seem that this  process of blogging is becoming serious business.  Exactly the sort of activity that I try with absolute intention to avoid.  The serious business of being funny (my sister sent a few entries back to be filed in the “too serious” for blogging category).  A battle of wits between my ego and alter ego.     

I wonder if comedians suffer from the same sort of stress.  The stress of having to be funny on demand, at a particular time and place and sometimes, a story or joke just doesn’t reach with the intent  and impact it should.  Or magicians find out that sometimes the rabbit has actually disappeared in the hat. “Damn rabbit.”  Or the beautiful assistant accidentally gets stabbed ‘while cutting her in half’.  What were you doing still in the way of the sword?  Imagine that.  Eish (South Africanism for ‘oh crap’), got it wrong.  Would that be murder, man slaughter or would it be chalked up to ‘a work accident’?  Do magician’s assistants receive danger pay?  I wonder... 

At some level, blogging feels similar.  What if I comment on something that will haunt me when I run for political office twenty years from now (with me anything is possible and the internet holds information and makes it widely accessible like no other communications platform).  Or I end up dating one of my biggest cyber rivals who loves my ego but can’t stand my alter ego.  “You know the change addict, just cannot stand her” and I’ll be like, “yeah, I know, eh?  I mean..., where does she get that stuff...” 

It’s only been a few weeks, but I can feel the pressure mounting...         

Monday, 21 October 2013

On Stuffed Toys...

As a twenty year old, (yes - nine years back – I believe they call that new maths), I once received a stuffed bear as a Christmas present from my current boyfriend and wasn’t all that impressed with the gift (translation: Politically correct for insulted, irritated and annoyed). 
For starters, I figured that stuffed bears were for children.  And what exactly did the stuffed bear mean anyway?  Did this man figure I was like a child?  Or was he looking for parent-child relationship not a partner?   But liking this man, led me to pretend that I liked the gift and the relationship continued... for a while...  A short while.  Not even long enough for him to become the ex-husband.

 The bear lasted a little longer however, and my daughter dragged it around by its purple bow tie when she was little.
I wonder, why do men give women stuffed toys?  Who came up with that idea anyway?  Am I the only woman who finds the stuffed toys a little inappropriate or gets irritated come time for Valentine’s Day with all the mugs and stuffed bears on public display?  Maybe I am.  It could be a case of misguided gender specific interests; after all I can spend more time in a hardware store looking at tools than shopping for clothes.  So I seriously doubt I speak for all women.

So, since I am not out to write the ten commandments of dating, I will concede that under some circumstances the gift of a plush beast can work; as a reminder of an occasion or event, as a...  No, that’s about all I can think of. 
In any case, I must concede that the stuffed toy did work really well for me once.  I was sent flowers for Valentine’s Day; a huge bouquet of roses and lilies with a stuffed bear.  Actually, I was sent two huge bouquets of roses and lilies with stuffed animals thanks to a mixed up internet transaction, not an overzealous stalker.  Yes, at the office.  Yes, a lot of comments.  I had more flowers sent to me that day than will grace my coffin someday; so at least I got to experience that when I was alive. 

Sorry..., mental distraction..., back to the working of the stuffed toys.  You see, they worked because the flowers were for me and the stuffed animals were for my daughter (who was nine at the time). 

That’s when the stuffed bear became classy. 



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

On Electing Presidents...

I’ve been behaving really well these past few weeks.  But there is one topic that has been sitting on me, daring me to comment.  I’ve been fighting the urge, but alas, it appears that sometimes a dare, just needs to be taken up.  Even if that dare only exists in my mind. 

I read a news article recently about the Zwelinzima Vavi, Secretary General of COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions), about the sex scandal that has been hitting the news of late..., see it’s been a few weeks..., I have been trying to hold out on this one... 
Somehow, I think that perhaps South African concepts of democracy and freedom are as new as the democracy itself (?). 

After years of living in South Africa; here’s what we do know:  We cannot paint the President with his pants down (the country goes mad).*3  But he can go and make babies with his friend’s daughter and that doesn’t bring a reaction from the people.*1 (If my friends be eying my daughter, God help them, they had better be making right with Jesus).  Or the fact that he has fathered at least twenty children with women that are his wives and some that are not his wives, also does not seem to bring his character into question.*1  All justifiable in the name of culture; right?  Which culture?  Whose culture?  Is it even an accurate reflection of his own culture or is ‘culture’ merely the emotive word thrown into the mix to ensure that no one has the guts to question its authenticity?    
That brings me to another observation, in that particular article written about the alleged sex scandal regarding Vavi, it states “Vavi is presidential material: we can't afford to lose him:*2           

What I would like to know is: How did ‘sex scandals’ and ‘candidacy for President’ become so intertwined?  Shouldn’t that be the downfall of a leader, not his rite of passage into the highest office of the land?
I am very confused here and I understand that my status in South Africa is that of a mere ‘legal alien’, but I am prone to believe that if a man has no respect for the women in his own household, he has even less respect for me, a women, and the rest of the women and children in the nation.  Can we really entrust the future of women and children in South Africa to men like these?  Seriously, there are times when I am very thankful that I am not a registered voter in South Africa. 

Truly, voting in South Africa now is a difficult choice.  To place an ‘X’ on the merits of the lives lost during the fight for freedom and not what has been built and produced in the past nearly twenty years of democracy, seems like a desperate attempt to hang on to the idealism and illusions built under years of oppression. 
Yet on the other hand, to place an ‘X’ on the current leading opposition’s side, strikes me as an enormous leap of faith as we are asked to believe that the new, latest colour of the chameleon, is its truest colour and we should disregard the colours of its past.   
And the other parties at the moment seem somewhat inconsequential.
It’s a difficult choice; one that I truly do not envy.

In the spirit of democracy (my understanding), it is my hope that another party, one rooted in the history of the liberation struggle, that talks the language of inclusion, development and has the courage to develop the potential of all South Africans and ensure that colour and poverty are no longer the key determining factors to one’s access to opportunity, rises up. 
South Africa needs a party that has a clear VISION for the country, the courage to level the playing field in a very strategic way and build the country through a deliberate investment in the education of all South Africans.  A political party committed to developing a country that opens access to opportunity through a strategic investment in the potential of all South Africans.
If eighteen years ago, we had corrected the standard of one grade per year across the nation, the matriculates today would be performing at the same level.  We should not have children with music, athletic or other abilities and talents, undiscovered, undetected and undeveloped.  We should not have children with unequal access to education.  We should not still have children going to school under trees.  We should not have children born into this nation unable to develop their God given gifts and talents.
If a country develops the human potential of a nation, the economy will grow itself.  Jobs will be created.  Roads will build themselves.  Houses will build themselves...  Perhaps, we are not so interested in democracy after all?   
That is my hope for South Africa.  And God knows; the country needs it 

One thing is for sure, the inability of a man to chronically keep his zipper closed is not on my list of characteristics needed for Presidency. 

        iLIVE Kiekie Mboweni, Nkowankowa | 16 August, 2013 07:30

Monday, 14 October 2013

That Darn Dash

On the same trip to the Netherlands, we went to see the gravesite of my Oma and Opa (grandparents).  The funny thing about standing there was that everything they had done, worked on and built during their lifetime came down to a dash.  A birth date, ‘a dash’ and a date of death.  

Lives complete.  Totally summed up in a dash.    

The farm they built up and left behindwhich is no longer in the family “-“. 
The crops they planted and harvested “-“. 
The life they lived “-“. 

How many of the things that we do on a daily basis are going to leave something of value behind?  That ten million Dollars which cost every hour of everyday of a lifetime turns into a “-“ (which if that is all you have done becomes what the family fights over).  Incidentally it doesn’t even get you a longer dash, or a curvy one or one that says anything about what you accomplished.   

If I look at the contribution I made at a previous workplace, much of what was built has already been turned into something else or taken apart again.  I find it disturbing that despite all the effort and work that we do, how little of it actually has meaning and can continue contributing to the world.  Will the world know that I was in it and left it better than it would have been if I had not been here?  So when I leave, what will I have done that stayed beyond that darn dash? 

In tribute to those same grandparents are almost 100 (94 and counting) descendants of children and grandchildren still left behind (3 others have also subsequently passed including my father).  Additionally there are a number of other families that also survived the war as a result of the efforts of my grandparents.   

A well raised family goes beyond the dash.  So here’s to all you parents who take your commitment and roles as parents intentionally and seriously.  The efforts you are putting in right now in your families last beyond the dash.  So take heart and do it well and take note; it’s the people that count.    

So if there is going to be a birth date, a dash and a death date, I would like an additional phrase on my tombstone.  “She died at 29”.  At least, if nothing else, those who see it will look at the dates do the mathematics and scratch their heads asking; “Why 29”? 

At least let the ‘why’ continue...     


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Good Parenting - Miniskirts and Varicose Veins

The key to good parenting (consider the source) is to know that it is of paramount importance that your children think you have at least one screw loose... and the others well on their way!
Let’s face it; parenting in today’s world is much more difficult than twenty years ago.  So in a crazy world, I say, bring out the crazy parent. 

There are arguments that I simply do not engage in at my house.  Dressing modestly is simply an expectation.  So the rule of thumb is this; “you may wear whatever you like, provided your mother can pick you up from high school wearing the same outfit”. 
There is no negotiation here.  It is simply a threat I am willing to carry out and embarrassment is a two way street.   

Let’s face it; no teenager wants their Mom showing up at school in hot pants and bare midriff.  It may be more socially acceptable on a teenager, but let’s face it, after gravity has been pulling on the backside for a while, stretch marks and cellulite ... well..., I am sure you get the picture. 
That being said, it brings a whole other level of excitement about becoming a grandmother!    

Imagine the kids addressing my future grandson.  Hey... hey man.  Is that your Grandma wit’ a blue Mohawk?   
So here’s to miniskirts on droopy bottoms, hot pants and varicose veins and a daughter who will probably threaten her children with Grandma someday.  


Monday, 7 October 2013

'Biblical Lobola'

 On a recent trip to the Netherlands we took a tour of ‘Noah’s Ark’ (a replica anyways) and were impressed with the size and the construction of the boat.  I think it is one of the most well-known bible stories and so went to see for ourselves what Noah’s ark might have looked like.     
The funny thing I find about the bible is that as Christians, we have a strong desire to place God into a package that we can understand.  Thus, we often read some stories and use the ones we can relate to, to the neglect of others. 

There are stories in the bible that we simply never discuss lest they interfere with our attempts at piousness.  (Which incidentally I have made peace with – it’s just never quite going to happen anyway).  Except that in the attempt at piety we have sort of missed the point of God’s grace.  The bible is full of stories about people who simply fell far short of this ‘standard’ that so many Christians hold so dear.  Some of the stories in fact have enormous movie potential. 
In South Africa, many of the African cultures have a tradition of paying ‘lobola.’  Essentially Lobola is like a ‘bride price’.  The groom is meant to prove to the bride’s family that he is able to support a wife and the amount is negotiated between the families.  Traditionally it was like a gift to the bride’s family intended to show his commitment to providing for his family as reassurance their daughter would be well taken care of. 
And so ‘lobola’ negotiations are also referred to in the bible.  David because he was a poor man expresses his inability to pay bride price for one of King Saul’s daughters.  Culture at that time expected that a bride price be paid.  And so the terms are set in Philistine foreskins.  Not money, precious stones, cows or the like.  No.  Foreskins.  (I Samuel 18:25).  (Yeah, don’t take my word for it, go and dust off your bible.) 

Think about it for a minute; do you think David instructed his men in battle to collect foreskins?  Was there a whole battle field of dead warriors with their pants down left behind?  Were they carrying little foreskin pouches?  How long did it take?  What were they talking about? Did they dry them around the campfire; after all they needed to be presented to the king.   Did it take days?  Did David collect all of them himself?  Do you think he ever misplaced his foreskin pouch and was like, “hey guys, has anyone seen my foreskins?”     

Oh come on people.  After you have gotten past your shock and horror, seriously, “Was it like... so how’s the weather”?  “It looks like it is going to rain”? Or “Dude... wow... I have never seen one this small” ... “or big” for that matter? 
I mean this has movie potential.  It could be drama, horror or my personal favourite, comedy.  How about “The Battle of Clipped Penises”?  LOL  Or Clipped and Snipped?  Note to self: I must not blog late at night.
Alright, alright... but seriously... so how’s that for biblical ‘lobola’? 
And so no, the bible is not saying that we should be paying lobola in foreskins.  It is a recording of history that tells us God worked his plan for salvation (His relationship with humanity) through and despite circumstances, human weaknesses and wicked intentions.     

Incidentally I have never heard a sermon preached on this yet.  I will let you know if that ever changes...


Friday, 4 October 2013

My Change Addiction

 Addiction is defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”   (

If addiction is the state of being “enslaved to a habit or practice until cessation causes severe trauma;” apparently what I suffer from seems to be much more serious than a simple addiction.  Perhaps ‘obsession’ or ‘fixation’ may be a better description? 

Change is my passion.  A way of thinking and doing that regularly highlights my inability to mindlessly follow the crowd and finds me regularly going left when everyone else is going right.  I often stand alone in a crowd and as the opposition in the boardroom.  It has left me with a mind that is always looking for the ‘why’ and on the odd occasion when others are actively seeking why; mine is considering ‘why not’?

It is a mind that makes sure I stand at the edge of a crowd, lest the activities of the crowd carry me away with it.  A mind that has led to resignations from numerous jobs (I think that is part of the definition of addiction, known as the 'inability to keep a job') as I simply will not blindly do as told.  It’s a mind that has allowed me to sleep at night with a clear conscience but has interfered to a large extent on the lucrative potential of my pocket.  Sadly so.  It is a mind that has had me spit at and thrown out of places and a mind that tunes into the potential of so many things.  A mind that seems to be a curse and a blessing and will consider and defend a point of view that you may not always believe in.  You don’t have to.  It is not a requirement or even desirable for that matter.  Following should be optional.  A choice.  An act of deliberate participation.  

And so I am simply asking you to intellectually engage.  In a world that tells us what we want to hear in an effort to get us to depart with our income; I think as people we have become increasingly non-objective.  We buy into how society does things and seldom ask, “Is it working”?                 

Most human beings go through the ‘why’ stage while still toddlers and seem content to move on and consider other information.  I, on the other hand, am starting to wonder if perhaps my obsession might be an indication of stagnated development.   In any case, I’m the child trapped permanently in the ‘why’ stage.     

And so my love of change and obsession with why, have led me to start engaging other people’s minds (probably much to my daughter’s relief.  She is hoping that it will be an activity that will result in fewer discussions for her on why.)  And so quite frankly, if I am not sleeping, why should you? 

So the topics will vary from relationships, renovations, dreams, social development, politics, sociology, human rights etc., the theme will remain the same as most things that I am passionate about centre around change. 

That being said, there is one thing I have decided not to change; my age.  And so I will be turning 29 yet again next year...   (I have a few years experience being 29 already). 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Diplomatic Truths from a Change Addict

The art of publishing has changed over the years.  No longer are publishers willing to take the risk of publishing work without the guarantee of the author’s ability to pull an audience.  And so it has forced me to enter the world of blogging, a platform which I have deliberately avoided to date.  A decision that was based largely because I know myself and I seem to suffer from an uncanny ability to tell the truth, whether people would like to hear it or not and so somehow foresee myself in the middle of unnecessary intellectual debate. 
Now the bible says that “the truth will set you free,” and that is true when you are willing to hear it and receive it.  But every other time it simply seems to piss people off.  And so it would seem that I somehow need to balance the truth with a sprinkling of diplomacy.  I have a strong suspicion that I will not always succeed. 

The other challenge has been to identify a topic about which I would be able to blog about on a regular basis.  The problem is, I seem to suffer from another serious short-coming; a general lack of focus.  The only thing consistent in my head is its constant ability to consider something new.  I always tell people it’s hard living with my brain, a statement to which my sister responded, “try being your sister”.     
And so I reserve the right to change my opinion in the face of new information, change my mind as and where the wind blows,  change my topic when I feel like it, and change my strategy when I deem fit.        
So through all that, there is a theme however; change.
I view change as progress.  Change grows and develops.  Change can make things better than they are now.  Change is the one thing my brain always seems to be busy with. 
And so could I possibly be a change addict?