Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Come on over!

So, we have moved back to the Lowveld. My BH is still commuting back and forth from Nelspruit to Johannesburg, but we are hoping that soon he wouldn't need to. We have a vision for what we'd like to do here, but whether it's a vision that God has given or steering is not exactly clear yet - but I am of the belief that we can't always just wait for God to do everything, sometimes we have to take initiative to put the desires of our hearts out there and see if it lines up with God's plan...which is why I started a Crowdfunding Campaign on Indiegogo (The Sharing Shed).

I realise that Crowdfunding isn't yet a big thing in South Africa and maybe because we see poverty on the street everyday and somebody asking for a handout at every traffic light, it makes it so much less likely for South Africans to actually 'give' to something like this. The Sharing Shed is such a worthwhile idea though - it's an opportunity for the local community to help raise up those that are lesser privileged. Sometimes we don't really see other people, all we see is the effort it will take for us to help. The Sharing Shed aims to not only teach locals new skills in creating, building or just learning a worthwhile skill that can help them to earn money, but we aim to display their works of art or carpentry skills. And it's not limited to the "poor" or the previously disadvantaged, it's aimed at all artists or worksmen or skilled people that would like to contribute or learn a new skill.
The idea is to have a building that is self-sufficient in that it uses solar and wind energy, has it's own veggie patch to supply the on-site Bistro, that will feature local chefs making turns every other day with their own creations, as well as have everything inside for sale. If you like the chair you're sitting on inside the Bistro, you can buy it and take it home with you. If you like the workbench in the carpentry room you can buy it, if you like the lounging chair on the veranda it can be yours!
A photography studio where we can teach Photography will be set up, a music class to learn music and a carpentry shop to learn, well...carpentry!!
We will do workshops on how to grow your own vegetables, and cooking classes to show you which ingredients to use and how to use it! It will be a one-stop "how-to" shop, where you'd be able to display your creations and earn some cash from doing so!
Personally, I think it's a wondeful way for the community to become a self-sustaining community and give people the opportunity to help each other without asking for a hand-out.
The biggest hurdle is the finances to buy the building and to set it up so it can accommodate all these areas of expertise!
If you feel led to support this cause, please have a look at our Crowdfunding campaign The Sharing Shed and share it with your friends. Don't look at the end amount, just contribute what you feel comfortable with, select a perk, and know that you are busy helping make history!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

All about parenting....

Parenting is one of the hardest things you'll ever do. It's also one of the most rewarding things you'll ever experience. How many times have you heard that? Every parent I've ever met has had some story to scare the child-less to vow to never have children and those same parents have had some story to tell to make you wish you could have a child just like theirs! Parenthood is a constant battle and reward. I know no mother who hasn't at some point of her children's lives felt guilty about something. As mothers' we constantly judging other parents by their kids' behavior. Some parents say that other are "lucky" because they have "easy" children...and yet some say other parents are "lazy" because they have "difficult" children. I tend to disagree with all these labels we put on each other and try and purely look at children from a stand-point of being well-behaved or rude. Children are all unique individuals with specific character traits and if we try and box them into easy or difficult children we are going to run into a problem at some stage when an "easy" child suddenly stands her ground on an issue or a difficult child suddenly just "gives in" to a request. To me, the biggest standard of measure when it comes to parenting is manners and kindness. I have three daughters, two of whom are "easy" children and one which is "difficult". I call her strong willed, because she is always trying to get her way, push our buttons or our boundaries, does not easily take 'no' for an answer and will persevere with whatever it is she feels she needs at a specific time. She is however well mannered and kind. She is respectful, sometimes with a bit of a reminder, she is sometimes kind beyond belief (sometimes not so much) and she is well mannered mostly. She is only four....and she wasn't always like that. I still struggle to figure out how to parent her and most of the time, as soon as I think I got her figured out she'll go and switch the tables on me and come forth with a new way of testing the boundaries and my patience. In most people's eyes, she's considered and "easy" child - most people don't know the battles we have. I have to consciously
be aware of the state she is in - hungry, thirsty, tired, happy, sad, missing someone, ill, full of sugar or just bored. If I know what her state of mind and body is, I can more easily parent her because I've learnt what effect all of the above have on her demeanor. She might even have a mild case of tactile sensitivity...being aware of all these things helps me to parent her better - it's what I call conscientious parenting. I try to be constantly aware of what is going on in my children's heads and hearts, and although it might not always be easy or possible to know, open communication is key. My two year old knows that when she starts acting up and being grumpy it's most likely that she is tired or hungry, so she'll often come to me and ask me for something to eat or ask if it's nap-time yet. She knows that she's not a grumpy person but that being hungry or tired can make her feel grumpy because through the span of the two years of her life we've communicated with her and tried things when she feels grumpy and when she feels better we've let her realise what she's done to feel better. My four year old, who is a bit tactile sensitive, have learnt that certain behaviors evoke certain emotions or reactions and that by speaking in a well mannered way, rather than nagging or whining or crying, she can communicate her needs without evoking unwanted emotional reactions from others. She has by no means perfected it, but she has started to switch over to talking instead of crying and screaming. She has started asking for things rather than demanding them. It's a long and tedious process, but it's worth teaching your children about being conscious about why they are feeling the way they are and working through it with them, teaching them what would make them feel better and encouraging them to work towards positive reactions rather than negative ones.

When we just parent our children all the same, without any regards for their individual emotions, ways of dealing with situations or character we are not consciously parenting, but if we take an extra couple of seconds to think why our child is reacting a certain way, and we try and apply that knowledge in how we react, it not only builds a better understanding between us and our children, it builds trust and it teaches our kids how to deal with situations better. Yes, sometimes kids are just being kids and are just pushing the limits because that is how they learn where the boundaries are, and then we have to keep those boundaries firmly in place and discipline accordingly and persistently - we cannot swop and change our disciplinary standards for bad behavior from day to day. We have to be aware of what message that would send our kids. If we want consistent good behavior from our kids we have to apply consistent parenting, and that includes consistent discipline. There's nothing than confuses a kid more than not being allowed to do something one day and being punished for it and the next time they display the same kind of behavior the punishment is less severe or none existent. We cannot tire of being a parent, it's a full time job and the responsibility of it can be overwhelming, but we are raising the future. Be aware of what your behavior, your attitude, your language, your standards, your morals and your love affect. It affects your children's whole being. My father use to say to me that a parent who loves their children, discipline their children and to me rude children are undisciplined.....

Monday, September 8, 2014

Death: The final chapter

The funny thing about death is that you never know when it's coming for you or someone you love. Even if someone has been sick for months or years, that final breath is never known before it's breathed out. None of us really know what our final chapter here on earth will be...I stand amazed at the strength people show when death comes knocking on the door of a loved one. I truly do not think I possess that power to continue on...to breathe...to get up...to do...to be....
No one ever knows what to say to those who are left behind, surprised at the momentum with which their lives has forever changed. There's nothing to say. We can't help the grieving to breathe easier, to feel less pain, to get rid of that hollow feeling, to come out of the bubble....we can't force the world to stop turning and just stand still so they can catch their breathe and wrap their minds around the finality of death. If only there was a pause button...or a rewind button. To be able to know that today is the last day you will see each other. To know it's the last time you will hold hands, hug or kiss....
I am saddened by the loss of a life, too young to have lived to it's fullest. I am sad for the wife and children and unborn baby that's left behind....I wish that somehow I could take some of that pain away, because even just the imagined pain I can summon hurts too much to bear...
Grieving is strength, it shows the depth of love, it proofs the existence of a relationship, it cements your memories forever.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The black hole that is depression.

Due to the passing of Robin Williams, depression and suicide is hitting the headlines. I've seen many videos and links going back and forth on the internet, on Facebook and Twitter, explaining what it feels like to be depressed, or what depression is or how many people it affects etc etc...and I find myself amazed that there are so, so many people out there suffering from this disease, needing to talk about it. And I think even more so, there are millions of people not suffering from it but that need to understand how real and dangerous a disease it is.

It's a strange disease. It comes and goes with no warning, sometimes with no trigger. I could be living the perfect life, in the perfect moment, and yet it feels like I have nothing worth living for. It could feel like dying might be a bigger adventure than living. When I'm 'up', I don't understand how I can feel so low. I don't understand how someone can take their own life. I don't understand how gratefulness does not come into the picture. But then I hit a low and suddenly it all makes complete sense. I know how someone just no longer can face that feeling, can face that emptiness, can face that loneliness, even with all the people that love you surrounding you. Nothing feels real.
Your confidence in who you are is gone. Your belief in the love of your family is gone, and somehow you can convince yourself that they will be better off without you. I always believed suicide is one of the most selfish acts a person can do. Yes, I still think so, but it's because that's what depression does to a person. All that you can think about is what to do to get away from yourself, from what you've become, from the feeling that's eating you alive. And because of who you think you've become you convince yourself that the world would be a better place without you. That your children and wife/husband, your siblings and parents would have a happier life if they didn't have to deal with you and the darkness you carry inside of you. There's nothing than any of them could do to convince you otherwise. It's not their fault. But suicide is not the answer. Many many people overcome depression. You need to learn how to handle it, how to deal with it, how to control it.You can do that by seeking professional help. South African Suicide Hot line: 0800567567

 Suicide ruins more lives than not. It is an inherent selfish act as you don't consider the consequence and affect it will have on those left behind, on those who love you, even though you find it hard to believe that anyone does...Suicide is a cop-out. I empathize with those who could not find it in themselves to just live one more day, to just ask for help, or talk to someone rather than end their life.
I sympathize more with the families and friends that gets left behind. There was nothing you could've done. Someone set on taking their own life will not let you know. It's hard to explain how void and cold you start to feel when you suffer from depression, and how unloved and un-cared for you feel, even when you're being told a million times a day that you are loved.
My heart aches that people fall into the pit and cannot see themselves get out....if you're reading this, and death looks more attractive than life - get help! Talk to someone, anyone. Just put your feelings out there and believe that you are loved. South African Suicide Hot line:0800 567 567
 You want to wallow, but you want to be happy. You want to lock yourself in a small room, but you want to interact with the people you love. You want to never get out of bed, but you want to have someone just hug you. You're at constant battle with yourself and the darkness within you.

I think that depression affects more people than we realize, and I think that each person deals with it in a very different way.
The mom dropping her kids of at school, smiling and waving at everyone, yes, she suffers from depression. The pastor preaching on the pulpit every Sunday, giving wonderful messages and encouraging words, yes, he suffers from depression. The little girl, playing on the jungle gym, giggling when you tickle her, yes, she suffers from depression. The teller ringing up your groceries, smiling at your children, yes, she suffers from depression.
It affects anyone, no matter your income or social standing.
 It's not a 'situational' disease, although there are certain situations that can dump an otherwise cheerful person into a state of depression.
But mostly those bouts of depression gets worked through and people move on.
 People who suffer from depression as a lifelong struggle though, are a little bit different. You don't have any sad situation or reason to be down - but you are. Constantly. As perfectly illustrated by Robin Williams, you can have all the money you could need, a loving family and a whole world thinking you're a great human being, and depression can drive you to not see any of it as worth living for. A funny man, who probably also realized that it's easier to make light of depression than to talk seriously about it. Most people don't really know what to do or how to react to depressed people...and why would they? So, making light of it is easier.

When I was very young I had a 'low curve' in my depression/happiness cycle, as my doc explained, and I was not completely suicidal, but I had a death-wish. I would walk into oncoming traffic with no care whether I got knocked over, and just in general do things that wasn't looking after myself. I got onto medication and started feeling better, and then went off the medication. I've been without medication for 13 years!
I thought to myself that I have only had an episode, and that the doc who told me I would have up and down curves throughout my life was ridiculous. I was fine. Until I hit another low curve....and there I was. How long would it last this time? Before, I was young and single and I really didn't have to deal with my depression affecting anyone but me. Now...well, I am a mother of three little girls and I have a husband. I have to check myself, I have to not just take care of me but take care of my children. I guess it helps having little ones that I feel responsible for, that I love and that I want to grow up into healthy human beings. I am grateful that I have an understanding of depression and how it affects me and how I need to act and what I need to do to make myself get better, without always grabbing a bottle of medication.
I am grateful that I am a believer and that I can look to Christ as my Saviour and rely on Him to give me strenght when I feel like I have none.
It doesn't mean that I am immune to feeling those black hole days. Those days that it feels like even God doesn't care, that He has forgotten me. And then I have to remember a statement I read a while ago that kinda helped me without me realising it at the time. Faith isn't about feeling, it's about knowing. I know God loves me, even when I don't feel like He does. I know that God gives me joy, even when I don't feel like He does. I know that my family loves me, even when it feels like they don't. It's difficult to believe these things when all you feel is darkness and emptiness and loneliness, but you have to convince yourself, because no-one else can. I haven't yet found anyone or anything that can cure my depression. Only I am in some kind of control over it, when I stand up and say that I WILL admit when I struggle, that I WILL NOT be ashamed to admit that I struggle, that I will accept help when it is offered and that I WILL strive to carry on living a happy life! Thought about death is always prevalent, and my sister commented that I always talk about my funeral, and that it seems that I'd rather be dead than alive. Perhaps, at times dying seems a better option than living, but I will always try and envision a future life - with me in it!

Talking about what you feel helps! Even if it's just to a friend or family member.
 I keep putting it off to go talk to a professional, maybe I'm just too scared to get myself officially labeled again...but it's on my to-do list.
Happiness is all we want. I struggle with just grabbing a bottle of medication to help me feel "happy".
I feel better for a day or two or three, and then I think - oh, why do I need help, it's over now...and then I wake up and I can't convince myself of any reason to be happy....

Anyone that struggles with depression will tell you that there are good times and bad times....when the bad times start outweighing the good times, well that's when we need help...different help for different people...but help. It's not a joke, even if we make it off to be...

South African Suicide Hot line: 0800 567 567

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Music Monday - maybe I should move it to Tuesday...Josh Kaufman

We are running a bit behind with The Voice here in Africa, so I'm sure everyone but me knows who the final winner of this years' The Voice was, but I'm choosing not to spoil it for myself and actually just follow the show as it progresses, and this week's favourite performance for me was Josh Kaufman's "Stay with me"....
I really do hope that he makes it far, far into this competition....I love the range of his voice, the fact that he looks nothing like he sounds like, the passion that just oozes out of his singing....I could go on and on...but maybe you should just have a listen for yourself...enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Music Monday - The Fray

Ok, so I'm a day late, but in all fairness, it's Monday somewhere in the world right?
We just happened to be listening to some music last night on DMX Adult contemporary channel on DSTV and whilst chatting this song started playing and we couldn't help but tap our feet and bump our heads...I love it when a song just kinda surprise you and even though the song is already a couple of months old, this is the first time we heard it and the first time I even seen the name of the band....so here's THE FRAY - LOVE DON'T DIE - the end of the video is worth a giggle, and I'm not one to promote violence, but this video makes a bar-fight look like fun ;-)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Music Monday - Bria Kelly

It's season 6 of The Voice over here, which seems to be quite a couple of months behind the States, but nonetheless, so much talent! I've seen The Voice maybe once before, and only half an episode, but now I'm completely stuck on this show! So much better than having to sit through the deafening horrendousness that Idols can deliver....and since it was Father's Day yesterday I thought I'd give this weeks Music Monday to my husbands favourite on the show thus far: Bria Kelly!! I loved her powerful voice, her raspyness and her control, and so here's another song she did a cover for...I don't know how far she makes it on the show, but I do hope that regardless of winning the competition she makes it far as a musician! Go Bria!!

But first her audition of "Steamroller Blues" on The Voice: