A quick reflection

As we approach the end of yet another year, I, as I normally do on most days, have taken time out to not only reflect on myself but also to look back at my life journey through 2017.

I no longer makes resolutions at the beginning of the year but instead focus on being a better me daily. I don’t always get it right but if I’ve at least grown in some way or some area of my life then I’ve at least achieved something.

This year, the growth has been in my spiritual life. As a man who grew up always wanting to be right or to have the last word, I’ve learnt the importance of being wrong and acknowledging the same. I’ve learnt the importance of being hurt but confronting it with grace. I’ve learnt the importance of being offended and more importantly, forgiveness.

Death has been on my mind a lot not in the sense of being obsessed with it but rather in the sense of leaving this world with minimal regret. On other words, if called from this Earth, would I be able to honestly say that I did my best to be my best? Did I live my life in a way that would make my Father, my God proud?

I keep thinking of The Lord’s prayer and how I used to take it for granted by merely saying it automatically without really giving thought to every word, every line until the day I stopped at “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If there’s one thing I can confess its that I was never quick to forgive. Sure it’s human nature but it’s exhausting. That very line gave me so much to think about and really got me thinking about little ways I could improve myself, strengthen my faith and be a beacon of love to all around me.

Anyone that knows me will know what a big part of my life my faith is and that I am unashamed of my beliefs. That same faith has taught me the importance of acceptance when necessary and forgiveness. It has taught me the importance of righting wrongs. It has taught me the importance of relationships and lifelong bonds and why it is important to sometimes humble myself, even when right, in order to be able to break down barriers and in turn, speak to the hearts of people.

This realisation has not been easy and at times is still a challenge but, the fact that I’ve overcome and can look past so much is an achievement that I would never have dreamt of years ago. The journey itself has required sacrifice and perseverance but not once did I feel alone. I chose to place my trust in God and I will be the first to admit that there were times whereby I wanted to give up but I’ve seen prayer after prayer answered. I’ve been blessed and with each blessing came the understanding that each would come with its own set of challenges for what’s the point of being blessed continuously if you cannot strengthen yourself to overcome challenges that will prepare you for the greater blessings that lay ahead?

I don’t claim to be perfect. I don’t claim to know everything but one thing I do know is that having grace does wonders to one’s soul. Grace helps you look beyond what is petty and understand that life is too short to waste emotions on issues that subconsciously control you instead of realising that you have the power to control those situations. You just need to accept the fact that it comes down to making a decision.

Apparently there’s not a single good woman in my life

Anybody that knows me well will know that I don’t take social networking sites very seriously or rather, I don’t take myself too seriously when it comes to such. However, every now and then, something that I feel strongly about hits home or crosses my mind and this is one such thing.

With Women’s Day about a month away – amongst other things – I came to the realisation that there are no good women in my life. I thought this through and it’s true, there just aren’t any.

Let’s go through the list, from birth I’ve known my mother, grandmothers and aunts. Growing up was not in isolation and I got to do so with my sisters, cousins and friends. Adulthood too has consisted of a wife, a child and colleagues to name a few. Looking back at the aforementioned, it’s become apparent that the only reason I don’t think that there’s a single good woman in my life is because most have chosen not to settle for being mediocre and have instead aspired to greatness.

Going as far back as my infancy and early childhood, in addition to mother, I was blessed to have numerous mother figures in the form of my grandmothers, aunts and mothers of close friends. They were the personification of unconditional love and displayed a strength that far surpasses that of any human being. My own personal experience, there is and always was my queen…my mother. Without her, I doubt I’d be half the man that I am today. Without her, there is no me. Without her, I never would have learnt what it means to honour, respect and love a woman in such a way that through good times and bad, she never doubts feeling appreciated and for that mom, I can’t thank you enough. I am privileged to have a mother who has always given so much and expected very little to nothing in return. Through life’s tribulations, she’s kept her head high, her heart open and her faith intact and for that mom, I salute you and every single mother out there – whether in the literal or metaphorical sense – you’re all the glue that keeps the world together.

Growing up, I was blessed with siblings, extended family and certain friends who have since become so much more. In a world that still has not shown women the respect they deserve, you constantly push yourselves to be and do so much more than the world gives you credit for. I can only imagine the strength and perseverance it takes to wake up every day finding yourselves have to prove that you have so much more to offer than perceived and for that, I salute you too. May you always realise that you make the best you. No other human being let alone man should ever make you believe less.

Now, the present. In addition to having the opportunity to interact with most of those referred to above on a daily basis, I’ve further been honoured over the last few years in having met some of the strongest and greatest women in the work place and on a more personal level. The likes of my (coolest) boss (ever)/colleague/next door neighbour at work as well as my other ‘honorary mother’ who is never short of fantastic advice on life, child care (and Rooi Laventel), along with some of my fellow colleagues/friends who time after time continue to rise above the limitations instilled by an environment dominated by men despite constantly (and incorrectly) being labelled as “emotional”. They have displayed the kind of ‘never-back-down’ character that has earned them by deepest respect and appreciation. I salute you too.

On a personal level, my darling wife and daughter. It is said that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and there’s no greater truth when I look back at not only the abovementioned but also the lessons I’ve taken from every situation in my life growing up. I look at you both every single day and all I see is the quintessence of greatness. You have both shown me what true love looks like, taught me what it means to be more than just a “good enough” man and accentuated what I’ve known about what it means to have and express unconditional love. Faith has gotten us this far and its faith, love and our unity as a family that I know will take us to even greater heights. To my wife, thank you for not only being a great role model to our daughter but for also living up to what I consider to be “greatness” whilst teaching me to appreciate the fact that within imperfections lies perfection.

To my mini-me, my rug-rat, my adorable baby girl. I hope that as you grow up, I will continue to remind you of all I’ve said thus far. That you continue to be blessed in such a way that you are a blessing to others. That any man worthy of your attention sees you in the same (or greater) light as I do. You’re my motivation, my inspiration, my purpose for wanting to be a better me and the best me I can be. I love you always.

So once again, with Women’s Day being about a month away, I thought that today was as good a day as any to let all the “great” women in my life know that you are an inspiration and are truly appreciated. Thank you for your many sacrifices, for your strength and undying love. Again, I salute you all.

From the heart. Read on…

Isn’t it ironic? We go through life always trying to be in control when in fact, we lose sight of the plot and end up in a situation whereby life controls us. I know it. I lived it.

Conversely, failed relationships, heartache, anger…I’m eternally grateful that they were and still are a part of my life. They’ve strengthened who I am inside and made me who and what I am today…nothing less than the best of what I can be and still getting better.

You get to a point whereby you realise that you’ve lost yourself somewhere along the way and for what? For the ex that screwed you over? The heartache that took you so long to overcome. I’m sorry but NONE of that is worth it. I’ve made a choice and that choice is to be 100% ME. Let my guard down but not be naïve, open my heart but not make it easy to abuse it…give love a chance without the false expectation of perfection.

It’s with that in mind that I now see that falling in and out of love/like is part of the beauty of life. I want to experience the joy and the pain, the laughter and the tears…are these not the things that make you cherish the happy moments with newfound love even more? Is it even fair to punish those that come into our lives because of the mistakes of those that left us in a world of hurt?

Between finding the ideal partner and simply just living life by taking (emotional) chances, I choose the latter for by not holding back, I open up my mind to new possibilities that I may have otherwise overlooked, new experiences that I may have otherwise deprived myself of, new memories to share with someone.

I’m done playing safe, I want the world and I want to offer it in return, I want the girl not because I need her but because I know that despite our ups and downs, likes and dislikes, there’s not a single man out there who will work harder and making her happy, even if it means screwing up along the way…after all, we do learn from our mistakes yes?

However, although I offer so much, I refuse to compromise what I am. I refuse to change who I am. I’ve always said that I would never settle for second best and as such, I want nothing less than to be accepted for what I am…the best at being me. If that’s not good enough for one, then room should be made for the one to whom the shoe fits. After all, we only live once, and life is one gift I intend to make the most of.

I am legend

I’m not Will Smith but I Am Legend…sturdy words, profound proclamation but oh so true. Today marks the evolution of ME. Today I see a paradigm shift…a shift from what I once was, to more that I can be.

I woke up this morning and finally realised that I am whole. I and the “man in the mirror” have finally become one…and everything’s so much clearer now. I’m no Superman but I will save the world. I’m no Saint but I will make a difference. I’m no Santa but I will infect every face with a smile. Today’s all about being a better me, an innovative me, a complete me.

No more beating myself up about what could have been. No more fearing what may become. As I sit here with a sound mind, I vow to make every millisecond of every moment count!

Was this the purpose to my countdown you might ask? Well that countdown was really anything you wanted it to be but so as to not make it all pointless, yes there was and still is a purpose and reason behind it all, but no, sadly this is not it.

This is simply me freeing myself from the shackles that have held me back for far too long. This is simply me taking control of what has always been mine from the start – my life. I will reconcile for nothing less than the best because I aspire not only to be the best but give the best. I’m only as derisorily frail as I make myself out to be and that’s something I cannot and will not stand for.

Today, the boy who became a man now becomes a living legend. Arrogant some might say but alas, it’s merely one individual finally believing in himself and on the road to discovering his full potential. Great potential I might add.

For the first time in what can only be described as “long overdue”, I feel so alive and nothing and no one can take that away from me. It’s time to start making a difference starting with me…and then you, her, him, them. This is the ripple effect, let’s execute it…let’s leave a legacy for future generations. Let’s all be legends in our own right.

A little self-inspiration

It used to be about a future that I almost felt so sure about, a feeling that had me thinking that maybe it’s not selfish to ask for more, but through broken dreams, and life’s lessons, it’s safe to say that I think I can finally make sense of it all :-).

Ever had that one song that would always put a smile on your face or at least bring a happy tear to your eye whenever you felt the world was against you? I think that’s what self-happiness feels like, or at least how it should.

We all go through life with so much in store yet never content with what we have or who we are. We spend so much time focused on how we’ve been hurt before and allow it to dictate how we live our lives. We always feel that our problems are far worse than anyone else’s. It’s sad but we’re a very selfish species…then again, selfish seems somewhat of an understatement.

Personally, I don’t know what the future holds but I’m thankful for every day, every night, those happy moments shared with family, the smile on the face of the one you love, having a really bad day and no matter how bad your mood is, that one true friend disregards it all and goes out of their way to get that one laugh out of you, no matter how ridiculous the situation may be. Lately I’ve learnt that we need to make the most of what we have because we could lose it all any day, in the end it will all feel like a distant dream, a reminiscence that never was.

This is a crazy world and unfortunately it’s the fanatical things that make the most sense. In our quest for normality and sanity, we only find more insanity but in accepting it all then, well, everything begins to fall into place and make sense. No doubt that we’d all like some sense of perfection in our lives – families free of rules and regulations, relationships free of arguments, friendships free of betrayal, careers free of heavy demands, academics free of stress but think about it, how boring would it all be? Does it not make sense that we experience the above with those we love the most and care for unconditionally?

As I’ve gotten older, a part of me has yearned for those years when parents were over-protective, felt and feels good to know that even if nobody else gave a damn, there were people out there who’d go to the ends of the earth for your sake.

I’ve learnt to take the positive out of arguments within a relationship for it’s those moments that teach us so much about our partners and teach us to bounce back so much stronger than before. Friendships have taught me that though you may feel betrayed at times, there will always be family and the handful of genuine friends who will always stick around when everybody else leave us feeling so alienated.

Maybe the overall apprehension here is that it’s high time we toughened up. Time we all stopped feeling so sorry for ourselves and realising that nobody has more influence over our happiness than ourselves. Yes we tend to attribute it to those that we love (at times) but does that now mean that you need to lose it all when they’re gone? I mean let’s be real, if we struggle to allow other people to have control over some of the material and physical things we hold dear, why do we allow them to dictate how happy we should be and when? Why do we always have to say that someone “makes us happy” as opposed to them making us happier? Should that be what we all strive for?

With all this inculcated within me, I feel that to some extent, I’ve become so much stronger and emotionally mature, so much more prepared for whatever awaits me. I may die tomorrow, I may no longer be with the one I love, and tomorrow may not even come at all. Until then though, I’ll make the most of the ‘hello, I love you, I miss you, I’m thinking of you and the goodbyes’, we never know when we’ll never have the chance to say them again or when it may be too late.

Maybe it’s not even selfish to ask for more. Correction, maybe it’s not always selfish…I mean more time to enjoy the moments that mean the world to us, more smiles, more love…I guess more of some things makes sense.

All in all, it’s fair to say that it’s time to have a better sense of appreciation for myself, for those in my life, for life itself and to not let anyone but myself control what I do or who I am. Just hope it has a ripple effect.