My dearest daughter…

I know your heart and I hear your thoughts.

You are precious to me. You are my little princess. Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you.

You are the apple of my eye. I delight in you. I am pleased with you. I will give men for you and people in exchange for your life. Whoever touches you, touches the apple of my eye. Nothing can separate you from my love, because you are mine. Though you walk through the fire, you will not get burned; though you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you, because I am the Lord, your God, your Everlasting Father. I am yours and you are mine.

Wait patiently, my child. The best is yet to come. I will supply all your needs. When the right time comes, you will receive the promise. Your inheritance, I have not forgotten. The promise, I will fulfil, because I am faithful.

Just hang onto my word. My word is the lamp upon your feet and a light to your path.

My sweet daughter, there is nothing I will deprive from you, because you are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you. My love for you is deeper than the sea and wider than the ocean. I have loved you with an everlasting love. There are wonderful things that are yet to come – the gift I have promised you; just stay close to me and never let go.

Remember my child, I am with you always. When my glory is revealed, you will be overwhelmed beyond your imagination. Because nothing is impossible with the Lord, your God. I have created all the heavens and all the earths, there is nothing too hard for me to do. Just for you, because you’re my daughter.

My precious one, I have seen your sufferings. And I have seen your heart and I am well-pleased. Your reward awaits. Come and join your Father’s happiness. Well done, my good and faithful daughter. You have proven yourself worthy to be trusted of small things, I will entrust you with greater things.

I love you, my child. My heart belongs to you. You will be known to the world. Many people will come to me because of your life. Stay close to my heart for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.

Stay with me and hide under the shadow of my love – and I will always be with you until the very end of age.

I need you to understand that I did not create you to be enough for this world. I did not create you even for this world. I created you for something more important than you could ever fathom. I created you to be in a relationship with me. I created you to find joy and happiness in your purpose.

I intricately designed you, and I made you exactly how I wanted you to be. You are altogether beautiful, my love. There is no flaw in you. The world may tell you that life is better if you look like a model, but the reality is you find more joy in this life when you walk with me. The truth is, you are beautiful, and created the way you were for an incredibly unique reason. You are my masterpiece, my greatest artwork and my most prized creation. Every inch of you is beautiful, and your ability to walk with me is your greatest and most beautiful gift.

I hung the stars and painted the sea and made you in the image of me, and that is beautiful.

Your loving Father

 

I am who He says I am…

Being a girly girl, I have never been an avid viewer (or any type of viewer) of boxing. I never understood who would make a sport out of two people hitting each other? And so God, and His “never ceases to amaze me” sense of humour led my path to cross that of Chris van Heerden’s, and along the way I learnt a lot more about boxing and God (who knew).

Christopher van Heerden is a current IBF International Champion and former IBO World Champion, who has had 28 pro-fights, with 25 of them being wins, two losses and one draw.

And that is about as knowledgeable as I will sound about boxing, because, besides the general knowledge that everyone who can read News24 has, I know very little. I am a sucker for a good old Sylvester Stallone boxing movie though, for one main reason – the mental aspect behind boxing that is highlighted in the movies. This led curious me to pick Chris’s brain and here is what I learnt:

1. Set Aside Your Preconceived Ideas

Many people are under the impression that boxing is about who can throw the biggest punch, but Chris shared with me that boxing is like a chess match or like poker: you have two to three rounds to figure out your opponent, see  what he has to bring to the table and identify his weaknesses. The remaining rounds are about making him pay for his weaknesses. In other words ,you have six minutes to figure someone out, who is figuring you out at the same time, all while concentrating on what is happening at that exact moment (and they say men can’t multitask).

In faith, like in boxing, we have an enemy who knows us as much as we allow him to. The devil knows your weaknesses and your fears, but just in the same way, you know his greatest fear: the light. Every single day we get into the ring with an enemy trying to kill, steal and destroy, yet we have something our opponent does not have and we bring something to the table that makes him cower in fear: the way, the truth and the life.

2. If it’s good for your soul, it’s good for you

Chris isn’t ignorant about the risk that he takes by committing himself to boxing, but he describes it as his happy place. “The adrenalin, the rush and the pride that comes with pushing yourself to the limit is worth it all.” I asked Chris, as a mother, what I should do if my son ever comes to me and says he wants to become a boxer and his answer was that boxing can change your life, it can provide you with a purpose and a foundation for so many great things. Chris assured me that he does not feel anything when he is in the ring – every blow, every challenge pales in comparison to the satisfaction of living out your purpose.

When there is someone close to you who is happy doing what they do, who becomes a better person as a result, and thereby lives out their purpose: support them and realise that God’s purpose is greater than our limited vision. Which brings me to the next lesson…

3. God does not see what it is about, but rather what it can become

Chris van Heerden did not aspire to become a boxer, instead, his dad (Danie van Heerden) who was also a boxer, saw in Chris what no one else saw, not even Chris himself. Chris never intended on becoming a boxer but, at 18 (eighteen), his father’s many years of developing Chris’s talent and investing in his son paid off.

One of the most amazing things that can happen is finding someone who sees everything you are and won’t allow you to be anything less. They see the potential in you, they see endless possibilities and through their eyes you start to see yourself in the same way.

I love thinking that this is the way God sees us. God does not merely see who we are, but who we can be and develops our character through each situation so that we may become all He has intended us to be.

4. If your faith is all you have, you have more than enough

“I found myself in a situation where I sustained an injury to my temple in the second round of a fight, by the fourth round I could only see out of one eye due to my other eye being swollen shut. I was winning the fight, round for round, but just before the twelfth round the Doctor said that it wasn’t looking good. The referee informed me that if it comes to a situation where it is getting too dangerous, he would stop the fight. I remember sitting in the corner and telling God, “God, I need you. I’m winning this fight, but I need you”, and at the start of the twelfth round, I knocked out my opponent.”

Chris confesses that he is not shy or silent about his faith. “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. And that is what this man is all about. He seems fearless, not because of his own capabilities, but because he knows the one to whom he belongs. Chris lives out his faith, is open about his faith and lives with confidence and rooted in what and who God says he is.

5. Set goals, have a vision and don’t put love aside

Chris is turning 30 today.

When I asked him if he has achieved everything he has wanted to achieve by the age of 30 his answer was an emphatic “mostly”.

He set clear goals for himself: world champion by 24; fighting in Madison Square Garden; headlining a main event in Las Vegas; being trained by legendary Freddie Roach; sparring and competing against big names – and he has achieved all this and more.

Chris envisioned where he wants his path to lead and committed his plans to the Lord and has, as a result, achieved so much more than many of us could in a 100 lifetimes.

As for his personal life – let’s just say there is a vacancy for a Mrs van Heerden. Which leads me to Chris’s advice that he would have given his 18-year-old self: breathe and don’t act immediately; listen more and talk less; and remember to appreciate love when you have it, don’t set it aside because the most important thing at the end of the day is love.

Boxing, I have realised in my exchanges with Chris, is not just a contact sport, but rather a connection sport. You need to be connected to who you are, to what you are capable of, to your opponent, to his weaknesses and to what you stand for. It is quite clear that Chris stands in the truth that he is a child of a King, who is not moved by the world.

On this, your 30th birthday, Mr Chris van Heerden, I hope that you will hold onto the following motivational speech that reminds me of everything you stand for both in your professional career and your faith:

Who am I? I am a champion…

I will conquer what has not been conquered. Defeat will not be in my creed.

 I will believe what others have doubted.

I have trained my mind and my body will follow.

Who am I? I am a champion!

I will acknowledge the fact that my opponent does not expect me to win, but, I will never surrender.

Weakness will not be in my heart.

I will look to those who are part of me and those who have trained me, and I will draw strength from them.

Who am I? I am a champion!

I will gladly go out into the field of battle. And I will move in everything I can do. And I will reach my field of battle by any means at my disposal. I will rip the heart of my enemy, because he cannot stop me.

Who am I? I am a champion!

To my side I have comrades, comrades that have been with me through thick and thin, who have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears. Never will I let them down and I will never leave an enemy behind. Because my opponent does not know my heart.

Who am I? I am a champion!

No one will deny me, no one will define me. And no one will tell me who and what I am and can be.

Belief will change my world. It has moved continents, it has moved countries and it has put men on the moon.  And it will carry me through this battle.

Who am I? I am a champion!

Defeat, retreat: those are not in my vocabulary. I don’t understand those definitions. I don’t understand when things go wrong, I don’t understand mistakes. But I do understand this:

I understand victory and I understand never surrendering. No matter how bad things go, my heart and my mind will carry my body through limits and weakness.

Who am I? I am a champion!

Today will be that day…not tomorrow, not next week, but right now, right here. In your house and in your homes.

Who am I? I am a champion!

History will remember me.

I will not let worrying affect my cause. I will define myself, I will write my own pages and no one will tell me what I cannot be.

I will never give up – not until I have given everything I got.

Because who am I?

I am a champion.

And that has made all the difference…

I have spent most of my life caring about what other people think. 

I have been led to believe that “blondes do it better”. Blonde is sexy, blondes turn heads, blondes are the epitome of sex appeal. And so, for the past eight years I have been blonde: platinum blonde, beige blonde, dark blonde, any shade of light blonde. For quite some time now I have been playing around with the idea of going darker. I have had every possible shade of hair colour (natural and unnatural) on this mane of mine, and I’ve always thought darker hair is too harsh on my light skin and, anyway, blonde is sexier.

My husband met me as a blonde and, as any wife would know, men aren’t so great at dealing with change and therefore I have always been hesitant to go back to my roots (as I am, actually, a natural brunette). Yet, lately I have felt that a change is needed and I am so tired of being placed in the “blonde box”, especially since I am a lawyer.

The blonde box is the preconceived notion that most people have about blonde women who have acceptable physiques: something pretty to look at, but not there to make an intellectual contribution to any conversation; a threat to relationships and more likely to be the other woman; easy to get into bed and not likely to succeed by way of brain matter, but rather by way of manipulation and flirtation. This is obviously an exaggerated stereotype, and I am not saying that every single person perceives every single blonde the same way, but there are varying degrees of discrimination that blondes receive.

Needless to say, despite the stereotypes and having to work harder to be taken seriously, I loved my blonde hair, I loved the way it looked and the fact that it made me look more approachable than black hair ever did.

I have pinterested every possible type of balayage and I have played around with so many different ideas with my hair, all in the name of making a change without committing to moving too far away from the blonde. When the big day came last week Friday, I kind of felt it’s now or never, I can’t just threaten to change it up, I need to go all the way. And all the way we went. Chocolate brown with my old blonde as highlights here and there. The difference is huge and sometimes I forget I am now a brunette and not a blonde anymore.

The mental change it has made is quite something. I feel like I’m not living for society’s approval anymore. I know there are people who preferred me blonde and when I am ready I will definitely go blonde again, but for now I am making decisions for me. I was in the mood to be a brunette and I couldn’t care less what other people thought about the change. I feel like I’m not being put in a box by other people anymore and that there are no preconceived ideas by strangers about who I am as soon as they meet me. I feel like when I meet new men I don’t see a flicker of consideration of “trying their luck” in their eyes anymore. I feel like I am on neutral playing ground. I determine who and what I am and not society’s idea of what is beautiful, sexy or attractive. I determine whether I should be taken seriously or not, and not my hair colour. I feel, with the dark hair, I’ve become more ballsy. I am less likely to cower away from what I may think is wrong or unacceptable and more inclined to speaking my mind and maybe even, in a sense, more demanding.

So now, I am walking around, feeling liberated.

Do I care whether people like my hair or not? Not at all.

Do I care what other people think of me? Less than a week ago.

Do I feel like now my personality can outshine my appearance? Abso-effing-lutely!!

 

 

Taste your words…

As I sit here in front of my laptop I am disappointed in the human race, and more importantly the “keyboard warriors”, as my husband refers to them. They are the people who sit on their phones or behind their laptops and find their opinion about other people’s looks, decisions and career-paths as being relevant.

As I have shared with all of you in previous blogs, as well as on my About page – my husband is an Afrikaans Music Promoter, and therefore he and, as a result, we have many friends and acquaintances that are considered as “celebrities”. They are well-aware that due to the fact that they are in the limelight and therefore have a wider audience reach than you and I may have, that they will receive a lot of criticism, but it has seemed to me that social media commentary and the negative nature thereof is escalating.

A popular Afrikaans musician who lost a child a while back was told that she deserved to have a miscarriage and has even been referred to as a bad mother and horrible wife. One of my husband’s best friends was referred to as being “arrogant”. My husband’s mother was a popular and well-respected Afrikaans singer, and many people questioned whether her car accident was suicide. And one of my close friends was recently referred to as looking like a man. I won’t even go into all the other horrible things that have been commented on their posts, TV-shows, careers and looks. It’s easy to say water off a duck’s back, or take it from where it comes, or they’re just jealous. But, it hurts. Because even though from your point of view they may have amazing lives, with minimal financial stress and sponsors for days, they also have daily battles they have to fight.

Without going into detail or disclosing any personal information about the people I have intimate relationships with, I just want to ask you to put yourself in their shoes:

  1. Imagine going through a divorce and having strangers add fuel to the fire of an already painful situation?
  2. Imagine going through a miscarriage, which is a pain that no one else will be able to understand, having to hold your baby that you know is not going to make it, and then be told that you deserved that pain?
  3. Imagine being questioned about your parent’s death and have someone suggest that your parent intentionally took their own life?
  4. Imagine being severely scrutinised about the way you look or lead your life or the work that you do?

There are several groups on Facebook where people ask an innocent question regarding their children, or where to eat or what to do, and all of a sudden, at the post of a comment, the entire thread turns into an opinion about the person’s parenting skills, personal life and / or looks. I have read posts about how people voice their opinions about how the citizens of certain African countries deserve to die and not have any resources given to them, and it ended in a dispute between an American and a Mexican arguing about who has a right to live in the States. Really?!?!?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death of people aged 10- to 29-years old (4400 per year), with cyber bullying creating a greater suicide ideation than normal bullying. 38% of frequent bully victims report having attempted to commit suicide, and yet, not all who attempt suicide actually die: so many people have to live brain-damaged, paralyzed or forever affected by their attempt.

What if you were the reason?

What if your opinion about the way someone looked or lived their life or did their job caused them to consider taking their own life, impacting not only their life, but also that of their parents, children, friends and colleagues?

Just a disclaimer, before someone climbs onto the bandwagon and completely misinterprets what I said: not one of the celebrities or people referred to above have or are even close to contemplating suicide. I am more hurt by what was said than what they are, but my point remains: what if your “heat-of-the-moment” opinion caused someone else to question their self-worth and decide that the world is a better place without them?

What if it was you?

As a young girl I was bullied for so many pathetic reasons, and it affects me till today. I always thought, as soon as I’m out of school then the bullying will stop. Yet, I could go home after school and have a break from mean girls. Lately, with technology there is no break. Any day, any time, on any forum people have access to emotional and verbal abuse.

Now, almost 30 years old, it seems that high school never ends and the level of bullying is worse than ever.

It seems that because almost everyone is on social media, and can hide behind their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram Profile they possess “technological courage”. What if you had to hear how ugly someone else thought you were (in looks or in character)? What if you had to be told how you deserved anything bad that happened to you? Or that you’re a bad parent? Or that you’re arrogant? By people who have not even made the effort to spend five (5) minutes in your company. And just because someone did it to you, does not mean that you should “return the proverbial favour”.

I can defend each and everyone that I have met or spent time with, but it’s not worth it. No one actually deserves an explanation of the type of people they actually are. I can, however, say that they have hearts, like me and you, and that they are all fighting their own battles that you know nothing about and that no one besides them are entitled to know.

It’s easier to listen to the critics and doubt yourself than to listen to the positive things people say and focus on that.

I urge you, the next time you read something that you don’t agree with, or the next time you see someone that you may not consider to be beautiful, or even if you just have an opinion about what may suit them better, use three guards between yourself and your mouth or your fingers:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it kind?

If it isn’t one of the above, leave it and know that even though you may be entitled to your own opinion, you aren’t entitled to breaking someone else down.

Let’s use social media to connect to others and not to break each other down.

The thief of joy

My best friend has the most beautiful hair, is so well-respected, looks beautiful with minimal make up and always sounds so well-spoken and informed when she opens her mouth.

I spoke to one of my close friends today, who had her baby in November and her body looks better than mine – I want her body and her tan, and while we’re at it her outgoing personality and closet.

The Doctor I saw today has absolutely stunning lips, fillers of course, but I wish I could afford to have mine done.

This morning on Instagram I saw a girl post a #transformationtuesday post and I wished my body could look like hers. Oh, and so by the way, she has like 4 000 followers, and I’m not even on 500 yet? And she has sponsorships for her hair (extensions) and nails – like???

This is what I have been exposed to between the hours of 07h00 and 13h00. In just six hours I have compared myself to (at least) four different people and have completely disregarded my own strengths, ignored what makes me beautiful and special and display absolute ingratitude for everything I do have. It’s like being given a gift and complaining about the fact that you would have rather wanted something else or something more.

Uuuuh…I’m glad I’m not God, because I would take that gift back at the drop of the first complaint or comparison.

I’m not beautiful like you, I’m beautiful like me

In today’s society we are surrounded by everyone posting highlight reels on their social media.

I for one am not going to post an unedited, unfiltered, make-up free photo of myself on my Facebook or Instagram, and I can promise you 99% of people won’t either (and the people who do are rich celebrities and they couldn’t care less – they have money).

People tend to not describe their fears, latest disappointments or failures on Instagram and neither will they be disclosing their hopes or dreams for fear of judgment. Instagram (or Facebook) isn’t a goal list (and no, sipping cocktails on a beach is not the #goals I’m referring to); it’s a mood board, a “best version of my life that has been edited and tweaked to perfection” – not a behind-the-scenes, let’s get real about what I actually look like, or have, or don’t have.

Yet, on a daily basis I compare my barefaced, need to go to the hairdresser, bloated self with the pretty version of that one girl who is constantly wearing Forever New dresses and who has her hair picture perfect the whole freaking time. (Who even takes her photos? Or does she have a photo shoot day once a month with ten different outfits and randomly post them to seem like she looks that way everyday? No one looks that good all the time, do they?) I went completely off topic there, apologies; but we have grown so accustomed to seeing the best versions of other people and their lives posted all over social media, and then comparing that picture with the us we know we are on our average or bad days.

 

“Humans are thought to possess a fundamental drive to compare themselves with others, which serves a variety of functions such as self-evaluation, inspiration and regulating your emotions and well-being. Upward social comparison happens when we compare ourselves to someone thought to be superior to us, whereas, downward comparison occurs when we compare ourselves to someone who may be inferior or have negative characteristics. Upward social comparison is healthy when it inspires us, but can, more often than not, lead to feelings of inadequacy. Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Learn to admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own

Most of us need to walk the path of appreciating what other people have, or have to offer, without it being a reflection on what we lack or where we differ. When you get to a stage where you feel overwhelmed, I urge you to put down your phone or the magazine and possibly take a (social) media fast for a day or two, a week, a month, or even 40 days? Spend that time identifying what makes you you, what makes you beautiful, what attracts people to you. Make a list of things to be grateful for and focus on that.

It’s necessary to look for the beauty in others, but I urge you to look for the beauty in yourself. The unfiltered, unedited, unhashtagged you.

Find beauty in the ordinary…

 

Gaymunye – we are one…

It is not our differences that divide us, it is, instead, our inability to accept, recognise and celebrate those differences. 

Excuse my ignorance, but I was not aware what Priscilla – Queen of the Desert was about. Not that it would have affected whether I would go see it or not. I honestly thought it was just a musical with no real story-line.

So, Saturday night, when we arrived at Monte Casino to watch Priscilla, imagine my absolute surprise (and consequent ecstatic-ism – that is officially a word) when I saw cross-dressers galore.

These ladies wore heels that I would never be able to stand in, let alone parade elegantly in down Monte Casino’s cobblestones.

So, there we were, experiencing a community of LGBT in the heart of Fourways, Johannesburg, realising that there is such a large movement that we were not aware of. Some more ignorance on my part? Or maybe it just doesn’t matter to me as much that there are so many different people, with so many different ways of life and manners of loving and expressions of self.

There is a scene in Priscilla where, after a night out on the town, the ladies return to the caravan where hate slurs targeted at gay people were spray-painted. There was deafening silence in the audience and in the row in front of me one of the ladies / cross-dressers started to cry: uncontrollably and inconsolably. In that moment it hit me and I felt the hurt deep, deep, deep in my heart: there is so much hatred out there, so much judgment and so little tolerance for people that are not according to our definition of “normal”.

The song that was sung during that scene was “True Colours”, and it will never sound the same to me again:

“You with the sad eyes don’t be discouraged,
oh I realize It’s hard to take courage,
In a world full of people you can lose sight of it all
The darkness inside you can make you feel so small
Show me a smile then, don’t be unhappy
Can’t remember when I last saw you laughing
This world makes you crazy and you’ve taken all you can bear
Just, call me up ’cause I will always be there
And I see your true colors shining through,
I see your true colors and that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show your true colors, true colors are beautiful
I see your true colors shining through,
I see your true colors and that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show your true colors, true colors are beautiful like a rainbow.”

I think the world needs less of “us and them” and more of “us all”.

We are all people. We all love and want to be loved. We have our quirks, our issues, our tendencies and habits that could annoy another person. I have aspects about myself that I am shy about or don’t necessarily want to hang out in the open for everyone to criticize or have an opinion about. We all have our true colours that we may not always find as beautiful or may seem a bit messy, faded or mixed.

Whatever your religion’s stance may be of what is right and wrong or whatever opinion you may have about what is okay and what is not, remember that it is our responsibility as human-beings to have at least an ounce of humanity, and to love and accept even if we don’t understand or agree.

Let’s live and let live.

And remember what your mom taught you: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all…

 

 

STFUP

When you complain about a situation you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation or accept the situation. All else is madness. 

I know that I can be an absolute control-freak and, being an introvert, I like to have things planned and then go according to plan. I, however, am proud to say that I have developed a skill for accepting things that I cannot change. It probably comes with being a parent, or a wife, or an attorney, or too tired to change everything I would have wanted to, or a combination of all of the above.

This week I have been surrounded by people who have been whining and complaining about all that is going on in their lives, minor inconveniences or things that just don’t go according to their plan and their schedule.

Okay, you may have an asshole of a boss? Well, maybe you haven’t been working the way you should and maybe you should be grateful that you have a job. So you’re bloated and feel fat? Drink more water and for heaven’s sake woman, put down the burger. Or, the electricity is out? Be grateful – it could have been your permanent living condition.

If we decided to, instead of complaining about everything that happens around us: stop, assess (can I change it? is it that big of a deal? will this matter in one month / one year / five years? can I learn something from this? or can I identify something to be grateful for through this inconvenience or setback?) and then act accordingly, life would be a lot less stressful and we would be a lot less negative.

If you’re unhappy in a situation: move, you aren’t a tree. If you want something, go for it. If you need something to go a different way, see what you can do about it. If you can’t do change it or make it better, make peace with it and make the best of a bad situation

Our society has become so used to complaining that it has become a way of life. There are call centres dedicated to handling complaints. Take a look at any FaceBook Community Page and you will read threads of complaints. Be in any conversation long enough and people will find something to complain about.

I am aware that I am complaining about people who complain – the irony is not lost on me, but, let’s look for reasons to be grateful. Let’s celebrate the roses instead of focusing on the thorns. And let’s be nicer people (your vibe attracts your tribe, right?).

Let’s not complain as much – don’t be a complaining negative asshole, no one likes a complaining, negative asshole.