He was sitting on the roof of the house, like a madman, with no sound reason. I was home, with no place to go. Inside the four walls, of our suburban house lay the comfort of my own bed, mingled with fear and dread, it was better not to be home when he came down. I walked that night, alone in the dark, down the road, around the corner, not knowing where to go, I am afraid of the dark. Somehow though I had strength, hard to explain really, I now know God was always with me, but at the time I wasn’t reaching out.
Exhaustion was easy to find, and I found a building site, one lonely tree stood amidst a mass of rubble. The tree provided protection in the dark from lurking shadows, I remember curling under it and escaping my reality to sleep.
The dread and fear came from previous encounters with the demons that lurk within someone who is consumed with substance abuse, desire and anger. It was 8am, the day offered opportunity but again it was greeted with disdain and fury. I carried on anyway. Getting swept up in being away from him, and being greeted by friends and strangers at work, my optimism was often my downfall.
Night fell, he was not home, a momentary blessing, foolish to not be on guard as sleep crept in, as the day closed. A door slammed far in the distance, footsteps closing in, in an instant I found myself flying with the bed into the wall, then being dragged by my hair into the middle of the room, wardrobe door flung, clothes dumped on top of me, more dragging, not so thankful for hair long, through the hall into the kitchen and out into the driveway. He was strong, I was small, not too difficult, I could feel the kicking but most importantly I felt my car keys being thrown onto me. Always a blessing in the midst of the confusion.
I drove that night to my Mom, she was staying that year with a partner, and there was not really space for me. I slept in a rather large mohair blanket on the floor, it was warm and safe. It was not home though. The next morning I went back.
Judgement clouded by tears of remorse, and endless apologies. Threats and bruises, dark black surreal bruises that hid easily under my clothes. My head was always tender, I was always tired, not a physical tiredness more am internal exhaustion.
I turned 22, I love my birthday I had friends over, I can’t remember who they were exactly or if I ever saw them again. My family came, I think it was a good night, it was no longer relevant.
We remained in the lounge, after everyone had left, he and I and his friend and his friends girlfriend. I remember her, red hair, leopard mini skirt, we would probably never have been friends. They just got up and left the room, left the house, the friend and I followed a few minutes later, walking in the dark to a field at the end of the road. There they were kissing, I had never punched anyone nor have I since but I landed my small fist into his face, it felt good to fight back. I left them there, I don’t remember much of that walk back to the house, but somewhere in the darkness my soul decided it could not continue and my body decided to follow. Entering the house in the darkness I could not find a light switch, but I could find the cupboard where I kept all the medicine. It was too dark to read the bottles and boxes but I could feel the tablets and remove them from the packaging. All I needed was water and my bed. The last thing I remember was wanting to go to sleep and never wake up.
One afternoon, I walked eight kilometres then took a bus to some random hotel, slept for most of the day and night and then took a taxi home at midnight. This was just a normal day.
It was afternoon, I do not remember the circumstance around my second attempt to kill myself. I just remember lying on my bathroom floor clinging to the toilet, feeling as if I should have been dead already, with a will to live even though I thought I may be too late. A trip to casualty after a desperate call to my Mom, proved that I had the strength to go on. There was not going to be an easy way out of this.
We moved house, it was perfect, fireplace in the bedroom, beautiful pool, river running through the garden, a momentary lapse, a romantic delusion. The nightmare continued. every blow to my head, every pinch under the table when we were with friends, every squeeze and twisting of the clothes on my upper arms, ensuring bruises were left but could be hidden, chipped away at my confidence, every word spoken even though I cannot remember them now resonated somewhere in my depths, every time I was punished for sins I had not committed I was filled with self-doubt, and self-loathing. Every day I woke to tears and apologies and remorse, and I pitied him more and more and each day I chose to stay.
One morning my sister called, I was busy having my face ground into my carpet when the phone rang. She offered a lifeline, a place to stay, finally a new home, somewhere else I could go. I packed a bag that Sunday, and did not return for two weeks. There it is, two weeks later I went back and I spent a month with him, trying to help me, help him. At the end of it I was depleted, and I moved in with my beautiful sister, my angel. She is no longer with us, she passed away in 2018 after a heart transplant, I am busy writing her story it intermingles with mine, her life and my life, a story worth telling, but in short she saved me from certain failure, possible death. She was home to me – she will always be home for me.
I remember falling in love at 15, he was like a compliment, beautiful, irresistible. Long walks on the beach, confessions of a future together mingled with plans to run away. My sister and I stayed in caravans in the garden. It was easier to sleep there than listen to all the arguing. When I was sixteen we moved house and he went to the army. He wrote me 90 letters which my parents never gave me, so I was never able to write to him. He was killed that year when the ‘Buffel’ army vehicle, he was in, hit a landmine. He was nineteen. At sixteen grief has no boundaries.
We moved into a bachelor flat, my parents on the sleeper couch, my sister and I on the floor. People are adaptable, we can go from three bedrooms to one bedroom and still keep our sanity, we can tolerate change and we can even fake it and mask the pain. My stepfather confessed his sins over dinner, one evening. Announcing his façade as the perfect husband, arrive home at the same time every evening from work and no one questions what you did in-between leaving and arriving. It was a long year after that, confessions of prostitutes, hypnotherapy admittance of molesting a child,and finally when all options were depleted divorce. I was writing my standard nine exams at the time.
I have moved close to 60 times, maybe more I lost count somewhere along the way. It all started when I was four and a half years old when I went to boarding school after my parents got divorced, but even in the midst of confusion there is stability, and my sister and I both have many happy memories.
2018 was my hardest year, losing my sister after journeying with her for 10 long months prior to her heart transplant has been like losing the best part of myself. The last three years have been a roller coaster of high’s and low’s and life remains bitter- sweet. She lives on with me like a best friend that I carry with me, as I move forward in my new normal.
There is so much to say, so much that still needs to be shared, I have had conversations with God, in which I realise that if we are resilient enough then we can go through it, and I realise that if one person can benefit from my story, my testimony, my experience, my loss, my pain, my grief then it is all worth it, because people need to know that there is hope, and love and above all grace, we need to be the light that shines so that other people believe that there is fullness of life, even in misery and pain and loss.
Today I have a beautiful family, and I focus on being positive. It is important that we as adults remember where we have been, remember that childhood, remember the good and the bad, it is part of who you are today. When you look at young people don’t judge them, they are going through the same stages, you have lived but forgotten. I am definitely not saying live in the past, the past is exactly where it is supposed to be, behind us. Hey after all, we survived it.
I hate it when people tell you, that your experiences have made you stronger. Let’s get real how strong does one person have to be, it is not the fear, the rejection or the pain that has made me a strong woman. it is because I am strong that I have endured, my circumstance has not made me stronger it has made me grateful, it has filled me with empathy and compassion for other people and it has shown me that no matter the circumstances the world can throw at us, we can choose love and happiness, and we can take the bad, and use it to help other people.
Today I am grateful to have a family and friends, and while I am not close to being my perfect self, and I still have days, where I realise that my life is fragile, and I feel like I am clinging on by a thread. But I have a choice, and I choose gratitude.
I choose life.
For someone who has never tried to take theirs, this may seem almost strange, but it is a choice I have had to make When I gave my testimony to 300 women a few years back, someone said to me, “Justine, you can only share your story because you have overcome.”
This really resonated with me, because overcoming is a journey, a process of self- recovery, finding one’s identity, not in others but in oneself, and in our Creator. I have had to learn that I am not defined by other people’s opinions of me, or by the belief system of my parents, or by their circumstance. I understand that I too was a victim, of circumstances as well as bad choices.
I have realised that I need to embrace that, I need to be thankful for all I have endured and all that I have overcome, because there is life and there is purpose, and it is good. We can only help others when we have overcome, and believe me it is a journey. It is a choice, I can remain a victim or I can embrace it and use it to encourage and help others.
All human beings are vibrant and colourful and we are designed to live out a fullness of life. Whether it be for one day or 100 years, we all have a purpose and we are all essential cogs in the wheel of life.
We impact each other, we often only realise the impact of one human being in our lives or the lives of others when they are no longer with us, and often it is in death that new life, new opportunity is created.
I do not believe that we have all become so insular and disconnected that people no longer think that a sense of belonging is important, a knowing that we have a place to go, that we have a purpose.
We did not arrive in the world without an identity, and we definitely should not end it that way. There is home in community, in kindness, in compassion, there is home in being part of humanity.
#Alllivesmatter #shareyourstory #strongwomanmatter #chooselife
When I use the expression, Life is Art, I realise that people sometimes have no clue what it is that I am actually saying.
People think that if they do not draw, dance, sing, play an instrument or write, then they are not creative. They think of the word Art as a painting hanging on the wall, and an artist as a very special creative bohemian (socially unconventional) being.
Not everyone wants to be this person, definitely not accountants, administrators, lawyers and doctors, there is no time for this airy fairy life that has the stigma of lingering on the outskirts of real ‘jobs’. Hence the adage ‘struggling writer’ and art being promoted as a hobby.
Art is - sitting at your desk, and someone walks into your office, and you notice the light from your window catch a lock of their hair. Art is the smell of coffee as it is placed on your desk, and the warm steam circles into your nostrils and your senses become alerted. Art is remembering the warm embrace of your wife or husband, that morning, before you left for work, or the butterfly kiss of your child as they skipped off to school, and the feel of that little kiss as it lingers ever so lightly on the side of your face, a gentle reminder that you are Dad/Mom.
Art is you after a long day at work, standing in the kitchen, selecting a bottle of wine to share with your loved one, or pouring a large glass of coke, listening to the popping of the ice as you place it into the glass of cold liquid, and the bubbles crackle and the faint spray tickles your face.
Art is the stirring of the pot, as you place ingredients into it, and aroma’s bring people from the far corners of the house, as they sense supper is ready.
Art is the placing of flowers in a vase to brighten your house, choosing the colour, enjoying the simple fragrance, it's the reason some of us enjoy the heady fragrance of fuchsia and others the more elegant gentle fragrance of the delicate rose.
The simplicity of everyday life is filled with captured creative moments, even in the midst of the mundane. When you dress in the morning, your artist decides which shirt goes with which pants or which skirt.
Have you noticed how we all wear the same jeans differently, how each one of us takes the same things and makes them look completely different to the person next to us. Consider those in uniform, one has tighter pants than the other, one wears them slightly shorter, one has red lipstick to go, one has no make up at all.
If you want to wear heels and everyone else is wearing flats, be that person, let your own creativity flow, every day, allowing it, to allow you, to be the very essence of yourself.
Art is not sandals and maxi dresses, Art is individual style, carefully considered for each occasion, so today it can be a long dress and tomorrow it may be a black power suit, that is the beauty of your life in its creativity.
Your life, even when it appears tiresome remains art, it is then that I encourage you to take a moment to consider the gentle fall of the rain and how the smell of it on the earth inspires or returns a memory.
Take note of the pictures you see in the clouds, or the faces you may see in the pattern of the tiled floor you may be treading on.
Be cognisant of the smile that lingers on the corners of mouths, and the twinkle of eyes, be aware enough to notice the shadows, or the lights that cross people's faces as you talk to them.
Take note of the body language that surrounds you, the folding of arms, the uncrossing of legs, the twirling of hair, all these are signals, all these moments have stories behind them, all are part of our lives in their raw artistic form.
We do not and never will see ourselves in the same way that others see us, or in the same way that God sees us. Herein lies the most valuable lesson of all -
We create because God created us first, we create because God gave us creative talents, our creations are our gift to God. Using our talents, whether they be in scales, notes, tones, numbers, words, or in the practical evaluation of your chosen skill, each is valuable, each is necessary,each is creative in its own right, in its own place.
Your Life is Art.
The Adventures of Keagan & Nala - Midnight Fishing!
It was late at night, the moon was high up in the sky and the stars were blinking. Keagan stood at the window, the house was very quiet. He could see the shape of Nala snuggled up at the foot of his bed, and he could hear her snoring, just like the old lady she was now becoming.
He wondered how many more adventures him and Nala would have and he silently hoped that they would be many; he loved her so very much. Nala is a cross long-legged Jack Russel with Staffordshire, she has soft gold fur, warm brown eyes and a dogged persistence that is natural for her type. She is a most courageous and intelligent dog and you would definitely not meet one more special.
Keagan woke up Nala, which he did by pushing her off the bed, she snarled at him and then laughed in her talking voice that only Keagan could understand. “Why did you have to do that?” said Nala. Stretching her back legs first and then her front legs, Keagan bent down and kissed her, “Just keeping you young old girl,” he said, with a gentle smile.
Keagan has one of those open faces with brown eyes and long dark lashes that outline the perfect almond shape of his eyes. Nala sighed, “What time is it?” “Eleven,” said Keagan. “Well best we get on with it,” said Nala, stepping out into the darkness of the passage.
Keagan joined her, looking right towards the bedroom at the end of the passage. “Quietly,” said Keagan and together him and Nala tiptoed to the end of the passage. They both froze in their tracks as the loudest snore came roaring down the passage. “Hells teeth,” said Nala. “I almost jumped out of my fur, was that Mom?” Keagan laughed. “No, that’s Luke,” he said, Mom sounds more like a cat purring.” “Grrrrrrr, said Nala, where is that cat Sanura, is she coming tonight?” “No,” said Keagan. “She takes too many detours and makes too much noise, she is in there with them,” he said, pointing at his parent’s bedroom.
“Food, said Nala, do we have any?” “Yes, “said Keagan patting the pack on his back. Sneaking out of the house seemed to take forever, and getting into the Landrover was another story all together, for once, they got there Sanura was waiting for them.
She stood very regal, her skinny tabby like frame and small sharp face was not happy. “Where are you going without me?” she said in a steely voice. “Sanura, you can’t come with tonight,” said Keagan. “I will scream,” said Sanura. “I will sharpen my claws all the way down the front of this vehicle, that will bring them running,” she said lengthening her claws. “We thought you were sleeping,” said Nala. “I am a cat,” said Sanura, rolling her green eyes. “I do not sleep at night; I have been waiting for you two, where have you been anyway?” “Sleeping,” said Nala, yawning, “now buzz off and if you are a good kitty you can come with tomorrow.” Sanura was livid and did not leave without threatening revenge of all kinds.
The night sky was truly amazing, the African bush is was one part of the world where there are so many stars you could never count them, they seem to blend together in one long stream of light as you raced by them in the vehicle. Keagan loved putting his head back and staring into the sky, bit difficult when you are driving though, as he found out, as he turned a corner at the same time as putting his head back, and Nala flew off the front seat onto the bonnet. They both laughed as it was pretty funny. Keagan and Nala were infectious together, and she sat near to him, both finding a necessary comfort in the warmth of the other as they drove through the game reserve in the darkness; with only the stars and moon to guide the way to the waterhole.
Once they arrived, Keagan parked the vehicle to face the waterhole so that the headlights flood-lit the entire length of the dark water. He then grabbed the search light, the one they used to find animals on the game drive, and placed it on the bonnet of the car.
Taking a blanket off the vehicle he placed this on the ground, and then grabbed wood and matches from the back, making a fire was essential to keep the predators away. He made a big fire, all the while Nala was skirting the surroundings and checking nothing was close by. There was a white rhino bull on the far side of the waterhole but Keagan and Nala knew him, and he was pretty gentle, he would not stay long now that they had arrived.
Keagan got out the fishing tackle, line and hooks and bugs they had collected earlier that day and once they had each thrown a line in the water he and Nala lay on the blanket next to the fire and they waited. Midnight fishing had become a bit of a habit for Keagan he loved the peacefulness of the night sky, the gentle sounds of the bushveld as animals lingered in and out of the bushes, avoiding each other and moving from one place to the next to find food and rest.
Over the years, growing up in the bushveld he had become used to the sounds of the night, the call of the Scops owl, the wide-eyed stare of the bush babies, as they watched quietly, and then without caution they would wildly jump from one tree to another swinging away into the darkness. The flames flickered high, red and yellow curling into orange and blue, the heat was warm on his face and Nala’s fur shone. The fire ensured no predators dared to come close and they had never had an encounter yet.
Keagan pulled out the sandwiches, and Nala did not hesitate to quaff her portion of cheese and ham. Nala loved cheese even more than Keagan so Mom had to buy an endless supply of it for them both and of course Luke and Cora.
Cora was Keagans little sister that was still too young to enjoy these adventures but she was growing. Keagan decided not to give Mom a heart attack too early in life, if she saw him now that would be the end of it. Mom was very protective and had no idea that Luke had taught him how to drive at the age of eight, and that he borrowed the vehicle at least two nights out of every week.
He often wondered if his step-dad knew, as he was sure they never left the vehicle exactly as they found it, and Luke often gave him that look that boys have, that women will never understand.
Keagan was also becoming a pretty good fisherman he could catch them without a rod and far quicker than any of the men on the reserve. Seeing he had been sneaking out and fishing twice a week for over a year now he was not surprised.
Keagan sat up quickly and Nala’s hair raised ever so slightly on her collar, there was a stir in the bushes to the left of them. At the same time Keagan felt a tug on his line, typical he thought and he gave it a hard jerk. As he did this he saw his fish with a flash in the dark water, and then to his dismay he saw something dark with a flash of white, dive into the water, grab his fish and then scuttle out of the water running, there seemed to be something running slower behind it, and the two creatures ran together along the edge of the bank before heading into the bushes on the far side.
Keagan jumped up and shouted, and Nala ran to the water’s edge, and tore round the side of the waterhole ready to take revenge, she knew not too chase too far though, as it was not safe to be out of the light and away from the fire at this time of night.
Nala was furious, “There goes dinner,” she snarled. Keagan was amazed, “Now that is a first,” he said.
Time passed quickly, they normally stayed out for two hours, this way they still got some sleep. He looked at his watch it was now one ‘o clock in the morning, and he thought they should get going home, when he felt another tug on his line. “Hey, Nala I have a fish,” he said. “Cool, said Nala, lets sup before we go.” Keagan smiled at this reference to the nursery rhymes Mom had been telling him since he was little. Nala was not only a good listener with a tremendous memory for a dog but a real – Greedy Nan.
Keagan jumped up ready to pull in his fish, when suddenly there was another flash of white and a splash as something as fast as lightening this time grabbed his fish, once again ran onto the bank and cleared the side of the waterhole in a fast run with a dark strange shaped creature hobbling behind it. Nala was furious and she jumped up and down, her hind legs way above the ground as she barked angrily, with teeth snarling. “Shush,” said Keagan to Nala, “We better go.” He was disappointed but also curious as to what creature in the bush could be so brave and so cheeky. “Better Luck next time Nala Noo,” he said, stroking her head. She looked forlorn and Keagan dug in the bag for a treat of chocolate before they left. Nala seemed to brighten a little, and she kept furious guard while Keagan packed up and put out the fire.
The drive home seemed longer tonight and they eventually snuck back into the house, they could not wait to crawl into the bed which seemed much warmer than normal, it also came with a loud screech as Nala lay on top of Sanura who had strategically spent the last few hours sleeping in her spot. “You will give me hayfever,” Nala snarled at Sanura, who grimaced as she stretched out her legs that were almost crushed. “You are a beast of an old lady, and you eat too much,” said Sanura as she walked out of the room with her nose in the air.
Then there was a loud noise as she half tripped up Luke who had woken up from the screeching sound. “What is going on Sanura?” said Luke, picking her up at taking her back to the bedroom with him. Keagan and Nala giggled as they could hear her purring her head off, as if she had won a triumphant battle. “That was close,” said Keagan, before nodding off to sleep.
A week passed, before Keagan and Nala where once again able to escape the house and go fishing. Mom had been working late the whole week, sitting at her computer typing away late into the night. Keagan and Nala stayed up one or two of the nights listening to her tick, ticking on the keyboard, once they even thought she had gone to bed, and almost got caught sneaking out of the house.
They were incredibly excited, and they anxiously awaited Sanura, she walked into the room and told them, it was safe. They had agreed to take her with as she had threatened to expose them. So there they were; Keagan driving; Nala in the passenger seat licking the wind; and Sanura in the middle curled up as if ready to sleep.
She did not need to see the view; she was after all only interested in the warm blanket, the fire and the promised fish. Arriving at the waterhole, Keagan unpacked the vehicle; Nala ran around and chased her tail before skirting the surroundings for predators; Sanura waited until the fire was lit and the blanket was laid out before alighting from the vehicle and settling herself next to the bright flames.
Keagan cast his line into the water and waited, tonight he was certain he would catch lots of fish. After all no one had been fishing for a week, or so he thought. The sky darkened and the moon glistened a little brighter, as a cloud moved from in-front of it. Nala thought she saw something on the otherside of the waterhole, and she let out a small warning bark. “What is it, Nala?” said Keagan. Keagan stood up and slowly started pulling in his line, he could see the silver fish glistening on the hook and as he pulled it up and it broke the water’s surface. Suddenly out of nowhere a large mongoose was flying through the air into the water, snatching the fish into its jaws. At this exact moment, Nala jumped into the air, and with one single bound landed on the mongoose, sending mongoose and fish straight back under the water.
There was a commotion on land as well, as Keagan screamed when a porcupine jumped out of the bushes, (the largest one Keagan had ever seen) and started shouting from the water’s edge. “It’s okay white-tailed mongoose,” he said, with a rasping voice, and as he said this dog, mongoose and fish landed with a great big splash in a pile at Keagan’s feet. “What’s okay?” said Keagan, looking at the porcupine, “You are,” said Mr Porcupine. “Oh”, said Keagan. Looking at Nala, he said,” I am talking to a Porcupine!” Sanura laughed and said, “You spend most of your time, speaking to a dog so why not a Porcupine?” “Not just any dog,” retorted Keagan, looking at Nala. “Am I going crazy?” he said. “Stupid question,” said Sanura defiantly, she was bitterly jealous of Nala.
She looked away and started licking her paws, pretending that she was not in the least bit interested in the fat porcupine and his friend, who was now stretching himself out and shaking the water off his body. A fine specimen she thought as she peered out of one eye, he was tall with a shiny black coat and a beautiful white tail. He walked on two legs over to Keagan, and held out a paw, “I am white-tailed mongoose, and this is my friend Mr Porcupine,” he said looking at the fat Porcupine. “Pleased to meet you,” said Keagan, I am Keagan and this is my dog Nala, and that is my cat Sanura.” White tailed mongoose, gave her a large smile, “Pleased to meet you all.”
“Why were you stealing my fish?” said Keagan. “Was it you last week?” he asked remembering. “We were hungry said White tailed Mongoose, matter of factly. Infact we still are!”
“Where are you from?” asked Keagan. “We are from the Kruger National Park; one night we were following a potential Mrs Porcupine,” he said frowning at his friend. “We snuck through a hole in the fence and followed her tracks and found ourselves here, and we have been here catching fish ever since.”
“My fish, said Keagan sitting down on the blanket; he invited the others to sit with him. Sanura, Keagan, Nala, White Tailed Mongoose and Mr Porcupine sat on the blanket by the fire for what seemed a very long time, and it was only when the first ray of sunlight glinted on the horizon that Keagan hurriedly said goodbye, and Sanura and Nala jumped onto the vehicle for the drive home.
Waving, Keagan yawned and said to them all, “I think this is the beginning of a long friendship.”
Early in the morning before the birds awoke, Keagan and Nala crept into the kitchen, Daddy was there drinking coffee, he took a sip before he spoke.
‘Today is a big day,’ he said. ’ You must dress warmly as it is cold, and you and Nala and Magic must listen and do as you are told.
We are going to catch and Microchip the Rhinoceros and it can be dangerous. They left the house and were soon on the Land Cruiser They picked up Abel and Magic and were ready for an adventure.
It was always such fun and they called out with delight when they saw the sun. They arrived at a place where there was a helicopter and a large truck parked in the bush. Daddy told the children to stay in the vehicle, he seemed in a rush.
Daddy was talking to a lot of other men, a pilot, and co-pilot, a driver, a ranger and a Vet, all together they were ten. All of them were excited and the helicopter took flight With a roar of its engine and a huge gust of wind, soon it was out of sight.
Only a few minutes went by and the pilot called on the radio Daddy jumped into the vehicle and called out, ‘Hurry, we must go!’
There in a clearing was the Rhinoceros above they heard the engine of the helicopter The rhino was afraid and began to run; the co-pilot leaned out of the helicopter Shot a dart into him with his dart-gun He fell to the ground with a dull thud, the earth shook around him and covered him with mud.
The helicopter flew away. They all went to see the sleeping Rhino Keagan touched his skin which was a dark grey.
He seemed to look so sad, Keagan said, ‘Don’t worry Mr Rhino, now you will be safe from anyone bad.’
The vet put a microchip into the Rhinoceros’s ear and now we can track him and he has nothing to fear.
Daddy, smiled a big smile and gave Keagan a hug It was late in the day, they had taken a while.
Time to go home and eat some food, Mom was there with a big plate and it tasted good.
Good night Mr Rhino, sweet dreams tonight, See you tomorrow when it is light.
Early in the morning before the sun was in the sky Daddy came to Keagan’s bed ‘Wake up’, he said, ‘wake up,’ rubbing keagan’s head.
Keagan opened his eyes and asked Daddy, Why? Today we are going to capture the Lioness called ‘Bula.’ Keagan laughed and smiled and said, ‘What about Magic and Nala?’ Yes, they can come too, said Daddy, but now time is short and we must hurry.
Not minutes later they were in the Land Cruiser The air was cold. Daddy stopped to pick up his friend Glen, Abel, Magic and a man called Andre’, To whom the Lioness had been sold.
The bush was so thick. They stopped to listen, and not a sound could be heard not even the call of a morning bird. Then suddenly at first light, as the sun began to rise There was a sound in the stillness that gave them such a fright, Daddy even jumped in surprise.
With much excitement they followed the roar; Magic and Keagan were as still as mice, Nala sat quietly with her head on her paws. Out of the bush Bula arrived, her coat was shining in the light her yellow eyes were burning bright, a gasp could be heard and the click of the gun, a dart hit her side and the other Lions began to run.
With smiles on the their faces, the Lioness asleep, Magic and Nala and Keagan sat on the vehicle with the lioness lying under their feet.
Mommy arrived to take Keagan and his friend home What fun it had been to help Daddy with the lioness.
Soon she would be on a new farm with lots of space for her and her babies to roam.
Keagan woke up and looked out of the window there was not a cloud in sight. Keagan was so happy, he jumped up with delight.
Keagan was so excited he could hardly talk, Nala was running to keep up with his walk, Daddy and Mommy were calling her back, they had kissed and hugged Keagan and were wishing him luck.
Shannon and Ryan were waiting in the chopper, Keagan had the biggest smile on his face, A pilot lifted him up, in the middle seat he sat, looking the picture of grace
With ear muffs bigger than his head, Shannon and Ryan held onto their little friend tight. With doors shut tight and seatbelts right, The roar of the engine, the wind in the grass Off they went up and up and around the sky they flew, It was the most exciting thing in the world to do.
Looking down at the bushveld below With animals running from the helicopter noise above Keagan was so enthralled he did not move.
Ten minutes was all it took, the children were hooked. ‘Can’t we go again’, they cried! The pilot smiled, and Nala barked at the wind.
The children ran from the helicopter and they all laughed and thanked the pilot for the great ride.
Keagan went to tell Magic, he had been in the sky, Magic asked him, ‘What is it like to fly? They laughed and laughed and promised that tomorrow they would play as Keagan had to go home for what was left of the day.
Early morning sunshine rose with pinks and red, ‘Shepherds warning’ Keagan shouted as he jumped out of bed. Come on Nala, let us leave before the animals go and hide, I want to see the lions this morning, before they return to the pride.
Nala leapt up with a lick and a promise, wagging her tail ten dozen to a mile. With a quick hi to Mom, and a kiss on the nose, Keagan grabs a banana, as he goes.
Daddy is waiting, with a great big smile.
They fire up the Game drive vehicle, and it leaps to life, they are on their way to the workshop to start a very busy day. Keagan and Nala are ready for an adventure, but they have an hour to play.
They are lucky; Daddy needs to check the fences which means they will drive a long way, Keagan and Nala are happy as Abel, Daddy’s tracker, and his son Magic are coming with”Hip hip hooray!”
Magic and Keagan and Nala are truly great friends, they have had many fun times. They have caught butterflies, and chased rabbits and helped microchip a rhinoceros, and watched with awe at the elephants habits.
This morning they saw Mr Giraffe, he was so tall it made them laugh. Nala barked and a black backed Jackal came to see, Good Morning! they shouted as a vervet monkey jumped out of the tree.
It was such fun driving in the bush, Impala scampering and jumping further than you can see, and warthogs with funny little wiry aerials for tails always in such a rush.
Magic and Keagan and Nala called out with glee. . Good Morning! Good Morning!, Mr Sun and Mr Sky. Good Morning, Mr Lion with your great roar; hello Mrs Fish Eagle will you show us how you fly.
Hello, Mr Crocodile with your very wide smile hello, Mr Zebra and Ms Blue crane you look so regal...
Do you think it is going to rain?
The first drops fell from the now grey skies ahead and Daddy looked disappointed.
Keagan and Nala waved Magic and Abel goodbye with a smile, as Daddy dropped them at home to stay with Mommy for a while.
“Today a new sun rises in me, everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it.” Anne de Lencois
This morning I woke up, as on a typical Monday, with the intention of getting ready and settling in at my computer to work. Then I received a Whats App message which reminded me that it was Freedom day. I love that even though we all see the sense of irony at this time, we do still have the freedom to choose.
This day celebrates freedom and commemorates the first democratic post-apartheid non racial elections in our country, that were held on April 27th 1994. These elections saw Nelson Mandela elected as President. I have always been excited by change, positive change, and the dawn of democracy was a positive step for all South Africans.
Today, 26 years later, here we are in lockdown, being 'forced' to stay home in the ‘comfort’ of our own homes,however we remain in a country of inequalities. We need to be thoughtful of the fact that while this time may well be a respite for some, it is a nightmare for others, where access to food and water is limited, and work is non existent or jeopardised. On the one hand there are people in this country, right now, saving money, as expenditure on entertainment is non existent, and there are people starving. We have the freedom to choose to be considerate of the disparity this disease highlights.
So, how do we help? This is a question that is being asked by many of us. Sometimes we feel as if our hands are tied. I used to believe that if I couldn’t help financially in a big and meaningful way then I couldn’t help.
This always kept me asking for more, to do more and be more, so I could give more. And then God revealed to me that while money makes a difference in some ways, the world is also in need of people with integrity - and I realised that I can make a difference.
Here are some traits of integrity, HUMILITY - not always understanding their own true worth, but always striving to be better, GOODNESS - finding joy in enriching the lives of those around them, AUTHENTICITY - sticking to what they believe no matter what, HONESTY - taking pride in the truth, TRUSTWORTHY - always being someone who can be relied upon, GIVE CREDIT - they give credit where credit is due, and never call it their own, VALUE TIME - sticking to deadlines, schedules and arrangements, ARE NOT RUDE - not allowing irrational emotional reactions to define how they interact with the world, GIVE SECOND CHANCES - giving others the benefit of the doubt, EMOTIONALLY INTUITIVE - attuned with the world and those around them, APOLOGETIC - prefer to create peace instead of tension, ACCOUNTABILITY - their word and their bond is crucial, GENUINE - their values and truths define them, PATIENCE - pay attention to how someone treats others and this will be a good indicator as to how much integrity they have.
So while I do not have it all together, God showed me that being trustworthy, honest and kind to people is sometimes enough. So when you feel that your hands are tied, or you simply don't know if what you can do to help will be enough - be kind, be honest and be someone others can trust.
The message that keeps coming to us during this lockdown is such a simple one, to Pray, but yet the most profound of all - So I would like to leave you with this quote.
“The eagle does not fight the snake on the ground, it picks it up into the sky and changes the battle ground, and then it releases the snake into the sky. The snake has no stamina, no power, no balance in the air, it is useless, weak and vulnerable. On the ground it is powerful, wise and deadly. Take your fight into the spiritual realm, by praying God will take over your battles. Don’t fight the enemy in his comfort zone, change the battle ground like the eagle, and let God make change through your earnest prayer."
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, in the Passion Version ‘Make your life a prayer’ I love this, and in the ESV it says 'Pray without ceasing'.
‘Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves” James M Barrie
Let us bring sunshine into the lives of others, and let us never cease praying.
Day 9 of lock-down,sounds almost surreal, and as I listen to and watch the torrential rain filling up my courtyard, it almost feels that way as well.
There are days when I have no words, this is one of those moments, how do you put into the words and truly capture the immensity of where we are at the moment. With the rand weakening dramatically against the dollar, the country in junk status, while in lock-down, SME's grappling for new innovative ways to do digital business, we are sitting in a time of uncertainty.
I feel as if when we do step out into the world to resume life as normal, it will be like dipping your toes into a cool pool, before jumping in. We may need to ease ourselves in gently, as we resume a new normal.
This week has been filled with many emotions, yesterday we heard we lost a friend who has been ill, and once again I was reminded that it is not death that frightens us most as believers, it is living. Living without someone I love, is the hardest thing I have and will ever have to do.
My heart is with that precious family, another beautiful soul gone from the world too soon, but today there is rejoicing in heaven.
As a Creative Coach, I am incredibly excited when I hear how this lock-down is getting people’s creative juices flowing. Two of my friends have created blogs, one has even published her book, another is starting to write her story, and I am just thrilled to be part of these incredible women’s lives. I am the first person to encourage you to unearth and unleash that which lies within.
I have three beautiful ladies I am coaching at the moment, they are all at different parts of their creative journey and I am truly excited about what God has in store for them.
Yes, as I mentioned, we are living on the one hand in a time of uncertainty, but on the other I believe we are moving into a new era. When before in our lifetime has time literally stood still? That the birds of the sky can fly without restraint, and the fish in the sea can see the clarity of the water around them. Take Venice for example, the water runs clear and dolphins and swans have returned. Is that what this is all about, clarity?
Do we love better, more or less during lock-down. Are we confined to our own emotions, are we being forced to face that which we are most afraid of - ourselves?
Are we stopping to even think, or are we being caught up in the business of our designated roles as mothers, fathers, siblings, workers, writers, CEO’s - we are the same - each of us - my husband would quote the ‘polystyrene cup theory’ - we only receive the privileges we have because of the positions we hold - when our positions change our privileges change.
I for one am aware of this more than most, as the Editor of TravelmagSA for seven years, when I changed my stripes, as I call it, my entire world changed. Privileges which were a part of my world, VIP status and media privileges disappeared overnight, it was replaced with humility, and self sacrifice and grace - how much richer am I now for the opportunity to receive discipline when I was looking for favour.
I am going to leave you with this Ann Quindlen quote - it could not reflect the opportunity of this time we are in more aptly.
“I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life, it never crossed my mind that that person could be me.”
Till next time…
Love Justine (Jay)
For some people staying home the whole week-end may have been difficult, but for my family it really was a fabulous weekend.
You see we are all introverted extroverts or what is lesser known as an ambivert? An ambivert is someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion, and can flip into either depending on their mood, context, and goals, whether we are outgoing introverts or potentially anti social extroverts, some one who needs to recharge before socialising, may vary between the four of us.
So let's start with Saturday, it did have a rather rocky beginning. I get coffee in bed every day of the week, and most days breakfast as well, so I normally like to reciprocate on the week-ends. Everyone was asleep, I was already chatting with two out of town friends on WhatsApp, I don't do phone calls, unless I have absolutely no choice, especially not in the morning, and because I was busy with this, and not focussing, as my husband would tell me, I overflowed my coffee pod, and then knocked my coffee all over the kitchen counter. Second last coffee pod for lockdown, well until one of us goes to the shops anyway. So,I sadly drank my last pod after mopping the other one up, of course.
I then went back to bed with my laptop, my favourite home office, and proceeded to knock my water over on the bedside table. If this wasn't enough I endeavoured to add the COVID LOGO onto my website, unsuccessfuly mind you, so I added a link, and then somehow in the process deleted, or thought I deleted my entire blog since 2017. It kind of went MIA.
So in the last 48 hours, I have learnt that no two people use the same exercise App, there are quiz games out of emoji's, people bake a lot, and we are so busy filling our days with other people that when we are alone with our families apparently all we want to do is 'Zoom'.
We are not an old fashioned family by any means, but inbetween, Gaming and Netflix series, we watched church together and then movies, played cards, and a family game of scrabble, its our thing, and I started painting my long awaited canvas.
Something I have been acutely aware of in the last two days is the quiet, I spent 10 years living in the Bushveld, and many more by the sea in Cape Town, or the lagoon in Sedgefield, so I love the quiet, I love the noises that only nature can make. I can actually here the birds, not a car, not a plane, just the birds in my garden. Its beautiful really. Everything is still at the moment. I always say that it is in the quiet still corners of our lives that we hear Gods voice.
What remains on my heart, is people living alone during this time, people need to know that their value is not in other people, it is within the person God created you to be, we need to be the very best versions of how God sees us.
The verse that came to me to share with you at this time was 1 Corinthians 10.13,' "We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature and timing of every test or trial you face, so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust Him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape, that will bring you out of it victoriously."
Wishing you a blessed and productive week-ahead. Many people are going to be out getting their social grants this week, so banks/malls are going to be busy. My opinion, is stay home if you can, unless you need provisions.
Keep safe. Keep Praying.