Tag Archive | experience

My Unplanned Sabbatical Year

2016 turned out to be, what I now call, my unplanned sabbatical year. A year that was by far one of my best years yet.

After relocating to Cape Town from Johannesburg at the end of 2015, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life. The two things that I did know was, 1) I do not want to get back into the corporate world and 2) I want to be a housewife (very ambitious, I know). The housewifery wasn’t my long-term plan, but I figured what better way to start the new year in a new city.

So how did I spend my year?

Doing the things that I love.

The Kitchen
The one room in my home that makes me completely happy. I’ve spent day in and day out cooking up a storm and experimenting with new tastes and flavours. I must admit that it didn’t always work out, but at least I’ve tried it by putting it through the test. Over the years, I’ve developed a love for cooking and it to be the most therapeutic “chore”.

Spiritual Enhancement
2017-02-17_12-45-52For many people spirituality does not coexist with religion. I consider myself to be quite fortunate as I was able to explore my spirituality through religion. Last year, I’ve experienced the best Ramadaan ever. Even though we were nowhere close to family, the whole experience was moving. I looked forward mostly to Taraweeh (special evening prayers are conducted in Ramadaan, during which long portions of the Qur’aan are recited) and I longed for it most when Ramadaan bade farewell. The highlight for me however, was a ladies programme I attended, where I was in an audience of 4000 women! Let’s just say that once I’ve left the veils from my eyes were lifted!

Me, Myself and I
When you’ve been married for as long as I have been, you never really have reason to do things alone. Besides, I was never really comfortable with it anyway. With Mr. M at work, I didn’t have a choice but to do things alone. There was no one around to grab a coffee with or take up yoga classes. I’ve learnt to enjoy my own company. When I had weekends to myself, I would meander through markets by myself, as if it was the most normal thing for me to do.

Stop, Drop and Yoga
I’ve always had a keen interest in yoga practice. I’ve just never had the time to take it seriously. I’ve started under a yogi while in Johannesburg, but the enthusiasm soon fizzled out.

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With all the time I had on my hands, I decided to take up classes, which I’m pleased to say is still part of my life. In the beginning, yoga was just about the poses and trying to fold myself into pretzels. Until I realised that the goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil the layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. But mostly, it was about going to my mat and feeling, not accomplishing.

A Book or Three
My deep love for books stems from when I was a child. The first book I’ve ever owned was “The Gingerbread Man”, which was gifted to me at my pre-school graduation. My favourite book would have to be the children’s classic “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri. I still sometimes dream about living in the Swiss Alps.
I’ve spent so much time reading last year, that at one point, I felt like the characters in my books were my friends. I’ve made a little reading nook in my bedroom, and winter afternoons became my most treasured moments when I was lost in a book.

Take me to Nature
There is a wealth of natural wonders to see and experience in this city. From hiking up mountains, chasing waterfalls, swimming in dams, long walks on the beach, Cape Town is definitely a city worth showing off its natural beauty. I’ve always been in touch with nature, but my first year in Cape Town really connected me to nature.2017-02-17_12-49-00

I’ve had to deal with many frustrations. Not knowing what I really wanted to do with my life. Doubting whether or not we made the right decision to move. In hindsight, I should have savored every minute of that time, as I now believe that I was exactly where I needed to be. My unplanned sabbatical year prepped me for my new journey, even though I had no idea at the time what that was…..

Am I Who I Am?

QuestionI like listening to music and watching certain tv programs. I love being around my immediate family. I enjoy great company, and the outdoors. I hate being wrong. I value honesty, loyalty and kindness. These are hard and true facts, but there is a lot I do not know about myself.

I don’t know how I feel about abortions, I have mixed feelings about religion, and I don’t know what I think about the current political situation of our country. I have no stock answer to offer about a life-changing experience or a moment of enlightenment, and it is hard for me to give a comprehensive proclamation of who I am, for my identity unfolds more every day as my experiences grow. At almost 30, I believe there’s still a lot to be unfolded.

I dislike the saying “I am trying to find myself” because my identity is not lost, it just needs more uncovering. Luckily for me, what I love to do helps me uncover more about myself. I really do enjoy writing, even if I am the only one interested in my work. Writing is my self-reflection.

Am I who I am? Or am I what I’ve been told I am and taught to be?

Growing up, I’ve always been told that I’m stuck-up, and I believed it, and yes I was, but is that who I was, or was I that because of what I’ve been told? I’ve recently made this discovery, and the truth is; I’m not stuck – up! No, I am just not comfortable around people I don’t know very well.

I’m embarking on this journey of uncovering me…….one experience at a time.

Collect Memories Not Things

As an adult, I sit back and reflect on my past years, from childhood, to being a teenager, to growing into an adult. The one valuable lesson I have learnt over the past years, is that memories hold so much more value than that of things, the things I so badly wanted, and had to have because it was the trend, or because everyone had it.

Thinking back to my childhood, the memory that immediately comes to mind is playing; house with my sisters, hide and seek until after dark, hopscotch, and cricket on the road. We played school, marbles, yoyo and monkey in the middle. These are just a few of the things that come to mind. Nowhere in the memories I hold on to, is the any association with specific things.I want more

As a young adult, things became very important to me; a part of me I’d say. I used things to fill up what was missing inside me; contentment! Branded clothing became a necessity, it was essential to have the latest phone (something we can’t keep up with in this era of technology). Branded sneakers and sunglasses, to name a few “things”! I remember a time in my life when “buying” gave me instant satisfaction, from the things I’ll never use to the fancy gadgets I had no need for or clue how to use.

We’re now in a time where culture, society, television ads and every magazine encourages us or makes us believe that we “need” more. We all, at some point feel the pressure of having to please ourselves, by satisfying our thirst for more. It makes us feel good (for short periods of time). We find our “ego” voices inside us justifying why we need “that new thing” and if we don’t get it, we throw a pity party! (I’m so guilty of that, I feel terrible right now just thinking of some of  the occasions where i actually got my way!) I have given into these lies, and just like everyone else, it’s a difficult battle to fight.Colour

I have since learnt that there are so many meaningful experiences that will last in memory so much longer than the things I so desire. My pursuit of things takes away the time and energy I have from my family and from living!

I want to collect memories……Not things
Memories that will inspire joy in my heart, ignite passion for my family and remind me that some of the smallest experiences in life have the greatest impact such as;

– Movie / series marathons with friends

– Walks in the garden with Mr M

– Playing with my niece and nephews

– Staying up until the early hours of the morning with my parents and sisters when visiting

– Waking up late on the weekend, having coffee prepared by Mr M and planning the day ahead.

There are so many ways to collect memories that will last a lifetime, memories that will remind us of God’s goodness. Memories that will unify families as you reminisce with your children someday. I have entered this world with no material possessions, and will leave it in the exact some way…….Only with a heart full of memories.

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions” Anthony J.D’Angelo

I Heart Change

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” — John F. Kennedy

 
Here’s the reality of it; you can love change  or hate it, fight it or embrace it, it’s going to happen with or without your approval.
Simply put, change is the “process of becoming different” it can be in the form of a new baby, changing careers, moving to a new city, the loss of a loved one, just to name a few. Be it positive or negative, there will always be the sense of unknown.

 
It’s been said that the only constant in our world today is change! Most of us resist it, because we are comfortable and secure in our world as we know it. And yet, if change is an inevitable reality of life (and it is), then we’d better be prepared to respond when the unexpected comes knocking on our door.

 
Not every person has the same tolerance to risk. Some adventurous souls actually relish the adventure of new situations. Others like their life exactly as it is: nice and predictable. For these people, the idea of change produces fear.

I recall having a conversation with an acquaintance about a month before I married my soul mate, Mr. M (that’s what I’ll refer hubby to on my blog). He heard I was getting married the following month after dating Mr. M for just nine months! (Yip nine months) And he said to me, (words I’ll never forget) “You never miss an opportunity, do you?” And I looked at him and said, “No, I don’t, and I am not afraid of change!” But after growing up in a small town, getting married would mean having to move to Jo’burg, (Mr. M’s hometown) 180km from home! It was exciting, but at the same time scary, would I find a job? Would I make new friends? And it was then I realized that I heart change! It keeps me alive, fueled, and ready for anything and everything!

From past experiences involving change, this is what I’ve observed;
It always seems bigger than it really is. We’re human, (and worse women!) We tend to over-think, over-analyze, and almost always expect the worse, and once we’ve passed the particular “stage” we look back and say “Oh? That wasn’t as bad as I thought”. Best way to deal with it; take it one day at a time, step by step

 
Change creates unwanted stress. That’s a known fact. And no two people deals with stress the same way. So now you not only have to deal with this “change” but also the stress that comes with it. If you’re in a marriage or relationship, you need to understand one another’s stress reactions and this will enable you to work together more effectively. Times of intense pressure can either pull you together or push you apart. Stress will come, and you need to ensure that it does not divide and conquer.

 
Life doesn’t always follow the plan that you may have had laid out for yourself. However, opportunities often present themselves in unexpected ways—learn to recognize and take advantage of these opportunities even if they were not part of your initial plan.

Focus is the next principle on dealing with change. When a transition in your life occurs, be sure to keep your thoughts on what you can control. Certain aspects of your life may operate outside of your control.
You have the opportunity to choose a perspective about change; is it overwhelming and stressful, or exciting and fun?

 
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr

images: Google.com

Facing the Fear of Death with Eyes Wide Open

If there exists one experience that, throughout history, around the world, generation after generation, binds mankind together, it is death. Death is something we all must face — no exercise or diet regimen, no meditation techniques, no amount of money can avoid it. It is the great equalizer.

 
To me, this is a topic I choose to not think about too often. The one thing I do think about though, is not dying. I don’t want to die! At least not now! I still want to have kids, put them through school, play soccer with them, watch them on their first dates. I want to grow as a person. I still have so much to do. I’m not ready – But then, who is?

 
Death forces us to let go of everything. We must accept this and go peacefully. If we cling to people, or to things, or to our hopes and dreams, then death will be a moment of agony. We don’t know what will happen next, but it makes sense to accept the inevitable, and let death be a peaceful letting go.

 
We fear death because we spend our lives clinging to things of this world. We strive for more money, we bond with friends, and most of all, we become attached to that voice in our head that we call “me”. We see our happiness as being dependent on these things, and conveniently ignore the grim reality that it could all end in an instant, for death can come at any time.

Seeing that no one knows how much time we have left, it’s best to start living, today, if you have just been alive all this time. DO NOT take people or TIME for granted. It can be snatched away from us at any given time.