At the start of every new year, everybody is so eager for reinvention. New year, new you; New Year’s Resolutions that fade by February and making all sorts of promises to yourself and anyone willing to listen that are outrageously difficult to maintain.
Like many other people, I started this year with one goal that felt achievable: post one photo a day for 365 days of the year. While the school holidays were still going, it was easy. I had plenty of time to take photos, edit them, add captions and post daily. By February I was still taking photos daily, but posted them in batches of 3 or 4 days. By the time school closed in March, I had all but forgotten my daily post.
There are many reasons for slowing down and eventually giving up. Looking back, this is not a year that I want to have a lot of evidence of. In so many ways, this was a truly awful year. One that I do not wish to repeat and wouldn’t wish on my enemies – not that I have any. I was just existing for much of the year. Walking through the world in a haze of depression and anxiety, going through the motions.
By August, I realised I needed professional help. With the help of my psychologist, my Lupus was diagnosed and I started with treatment for it. At the same time I started treatment for my depression. I have spent the past four months healing and working through my depression with the help of medication, meditation, exercise and reading. I have made discoveries about myself and my life choices and actions that have helped me grow as a person and to love myself more.
It was not an easy or enjoyable journey. At times, more awkward and uncomfortable than I wanted to admit or go through, but it was necessary. The world I was trying to stay afloat in, wasn’t allowing me time to reflect and learn from past mistakes. Life was going at 100mph and I was always trying to play catch up.
I needed these last four months to take a few steps back, reflect on what was important and how to proceed in 2020. Next year will not see a new me, but a me that knows what I need to be fulfilled and happy.
I am a Grinch/Scrooge who always complains when the Christmas decorations go up at the end of October. I mean, seriously, why?!
Towards the middle of December there is usually a change in spirit. Right around the 16th normally. As a child, this was the first weekend the entire family were together to start the festive celebrations. And this is when the season starts for me.
My first memories of Christmas are of such nervous excitement that we had to stop on the N1 because of my nausea. As an only child, it was very exciting to be part of such a big family and have so many new cousins, aunts and uncles and people who made me feel like I belonged. A house crammed with so many people that nowadays many of us stand just outside the lounge to make sure everyone has a space to sit. More food than any of us can eat in a sitting,mid-morning naps on Christmas Day, walks to the river and park while we wait for lunch, or to walk off the lunch, and always laughter; long, loud laughing.
As an adult, I still love Christmas – at the appropriate time of course! I am a bit of a last-minute shopper. Almost always still buying and wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve, oops! I love decorating the tree and wrapping gifts, but since Avery decided to make a bed out of our tree, it has been in storage and we hide the gifts after wrapping.
We have not forgotten the true meaning of Christmas and on Christmas Eve, before gifts are handed out by our very own Mrs. Claus (Tannie Sanet) we read the story of Jesus’ birth and listen or sing a song or two.
Is it even Christmas without Boney M in the shopping centers or out of Tannie Daphna’s stereo?
What I dislike most about running is that sweatiness and RedFace is unavoidable. No matter how relaxed my run/walk is, I always look like I have been through the ringer.
With Lupus, I struggle to cope after sun exposure; which is unavoidable on a great, outdoor run. And depression makes me want to just be a couch potato and not do anything functional. The hardest part of getting out the door is to actually put my shoes on and tie the laces. The other parts are easy, but as soon as those laces are tied, the excuses dry up and I need to get myself out the door.
I love running. It IS my happy place.
Allow me to explain.
There is nothing quite like the fresh bite of an early morning breeze to rid your eyes and mind of yesterday’s cobwebs. Taking the first breath of crisp air when I step outside is an instant pick-me-up to my skin and organs, unlike any other! On the days where I push a little harder or further, the overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment in myself is enough to make me forget the steepest hills and the harshest sun!
During a run, I feel that I am part of nature. I can process my day without having to talk or explain it. I can practice mindfulness and how to be at peace with myself and my life. Running provides me with more clarity, productivity and energy, every single time.
As soon as I am out the door, I am happy I went. I listen to my body about whether we run immediately, or start with a bit of a walk first. Listening to my body and what it needs is a newly acquired skill and has helped me to get back into running much more successfully.
Every person; big or small, old or young has certain habits and rituals that we use to make ourselves and others feel better. These habits and rituals are as varied as the personalities of people on this earth.
There are different types of rituals that can be done and I will be sharing some of mine, and what it is about each of these that attracted me to it.
For me, coffee is essential to survival. I cannot start my day without a cup of coffee. I take mine black with a pinch of pink salt. Crazy! I know, but hear me out: the pinch of salt brings out the natural sweetness of the coffee and eliminates the need for sugar or sugar alternatives. I’ve also cut out most diary, partially due to diet and also to reduce phlegm. Let’s get back to the point of the post though, which is that 9 times out of 10, coffee is an instant pick-me-up for me. It can almost always make me feel better, more energised and happier. Just the first sniff of coffee in the morning puts a smile on my face.
• Lounging around
Sometimes you need more than just a coffee to bring you happiness, especially when you are feeling run down or at the end of your tether. At times like this, I find what I want most is to lounge around at home with my hubby and our cats in bed or in pjs all day. Sometimes this involves reading articles or books, but most often we are binge-watching our favourite shows or something new on Netflix. And you know what? It is perfectly okay to do that. As long as you know what will help you, do it and do it often!
I am not your average girl. I own make-up, but rarely wear it, as I don’t want to get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning to put it on. And I do NOT paint my own nails, as it ALWAYS chips on the same day, which makes me super upset! Therefore, I will pay good money to have Gelish done on my nails. Bonus: on your toes, it can last up to 3 months!! And the pedi is what makes it all worthwhile, especially at Sorbet. They do a mean foot and lower leg scrub and massage, that will melt all your problems away.
When I feel the need to just escape, I always find that colouring really helps me to clear my mind and focus on the task at hand. I especially love using my Sharpies to colour single pictures and have a variety of books in which I use pencils.
• Goody Two-Shoes Movies and TV shows:
If you are a movie buff , Goody Two-Shoes movies (dankie Marius) or light-hearted romcoms or comedies could help ease your tension or make you forget the problems you are facing. For me, I specifically enjoy Afrikaans romcoms, they always leave me with a warm glow. My favourite TV show is Grey’s Anatomy and no matter my mood, Greys will always make it better!
2. Engage your brain:
I do not enjoy reading to learn. My jam is reading to escape. Ever since I was little and could read proper books, I have loved escaping in to the worlds of my book characters. Whether it was a dusty town in Johannesburg with Saartjie, Anna and Lina or the magical world of Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione; I was in love. I spent many a Saturday morning walking to my local library to exchange books. I have an extensive Harry Potter collection that I am still expanding (much to the frustration of my husband, I am sure).
• Bullet Journal:
I recently discovered bullet journaling. I am still working on being consistent with it, but enjoy the freedom of making each day and week look exactly how I want it to look. It is also a good creative outlet that allows me to draw, colour and write with abandon.
This is another creative pursuit that I enjoy. It is easy to break away from everyday life with a crochet hook and a ball of wool. I use Youtube videos to learn new and different stitches and patterns.
3. Move more:
I love to run, especially in the early morning, crisp air. I enjoy seeing the world when many people are already headed to work or getting ready for work. I use the time to practice mindfulness and reconnect with nature. Running is a time when my mind is completely free, it clears my mind like nothing else ever has.
4. Be Social
My favourite people to be social with is definitely my husband, bestie and her hubby and my two amazing sisters. We laugh, play games, are silly together and through it all; love each other and take care of each other.
These people are my tribe and I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without them. They keep me grounded and sane and understand me in ways that I could never explain to anyone. Thank you for all you do and who you are!
Defined as “a small domesticated carnivorous mammal with soft fur, a short snout, and retractable claws. It is widely kept as a pet or for catching mice, and many breeds have been developed.”
We have two of these beautiful creatures who call us their slaves. Avery and Zoe – as different in nature as their appearances. These two (mainly unwilling) love-bugs have been with us for 2 years and 1 year 3 months respectively.
“Traditionally a last name derived from Alfred. It means “wise”: in French, “ruling with elf-wisdom”; in English, “counselor.”
Avery certainly has some elfish wisdom and she rules our house with a quiet, cautious curiosity. In true morning cat fashion, she believes the early cat catches the bird.
Her ideal day would include gallivanting outside all day and soaking up the sunshine. For safety reasons they have both been raised as indoor cats, so instead, she spends much of the day staring longingly out the window to the garden where she is frequently entertained by the birds who enjoy our flowers and plants.
She also loves to try and open windows when given the opportunity and will escape faster than you can say, “Avery”. When she does escape, she always manages to coerce Zoe into joining the fun.
When not escaping or daydreaming of birds, she prefers to rest on the couch with us or on her scratch-post.
“A Greek name meaning “life.” In the Greek translation of the Bible, Eve became Zoe.”
Zoe has very specific requirements for how she embodies life. This little cat is a firm believer in beauty sleep. She could give Garfield a run for his money in the Nap Department.
In the morning when I open their door for them, she will still be waking up and streeeetching before lazily walking out into the passage and sauntering to the lounge. Here she will jump on the couch or another bed, do a quick groom and go straight back to sleep.
The only thing that she will wake up for is her rattle mouse. She loves it so much that we have had to replace the string twice already as she keeps biting through it. Her other favourite pastime includes biting holes in any exposed cables around the house. She is not really too interested in the garden or birds, but if Avery were to find an escape route, she is always game!
These lovely ladies keep us on our toes and warm our hearts and laps. They complete our family unit and I would not trade them for all the money or any other animal!
“Love is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
These words are what Nathan is to me. He is a selfless, passionate man and will go to the ends of the Earth for me and his family. His name meaning couldn’t be any more appropriate for the person that he is.
“From the Hebrew name Natan, meaning “he gave”.
Urban Dictionary: “One of the greatest guys alive. He can be quiet and serious but suddenly turns into this chatty and bubbly person. Someone who understands how to act around different people, he takes other peoples thoughts into mind. He can spend hours thinking of something that means a lot to him. The best boyfriend/husband – he’s sweet, reliable, trustworthy, loving, caring etc.”
I met Nathan at a very difficult time in my life and over the next year we began to build a friendship in which I learned more about him, his family and the kind, caring man that he is. As selfless a friend as he is a husband, our friendship soon turned into a romantic relationship.
Nathan is a born problem-solver, always coming up with new ideas and improvements that can be made at home and in his profession. He enjoys having thought-provoking discussions about any topic you can think of. As he is a forward thinking, reserved and visionary introvert; you will only discover these traits when you are welcomed as a friend. An honour not bestowed upon many. Being an introvert myself, our friendship circle is small but powerful. It consists of lifelong friends, who know us very well and have seen us grow as individuals and as a couple.
Since the start of our relationship, I have always known I can trust and rely on Nathan. He is loyal to a fault and will not allow any harm to come to me, no matter what is at stake. I have never been fully able to trust a partner in a relationship as much as I can trust in him. I know that no matter what happens, he will always support me and my decisions and I will do the same for him. We choose the direction our life takes together, or not at all.
We enjoy adventures, whether big or small. One of our greatest adventures thus far include travelling to England together where we were engaged at my dream destination: the Harry Potter Studio! Another great adventure was of course planning our wedding and getting married. During weekends and holidays; we enjoy smaller road trips, wine tastings and visits to wine farms as well as visiting our local markets and sampling fresh produce from the suppliers.
I feel blessed to have a husband like Nathan. He has saved me in so many different ways that I cannot even begin to say. Nathan has provided us with an amazing life, two beautiful cats and he makes me love him more every day. One thing I look forward to in growing older, is knowing that I will have a wonderful companion with me for the rest of my days.
Sisters – all of the clichés and quotes are true. You cannot choose your sisters, but I believe I have been blessed with the best ones! Before I tell you about them, I will first tell you a bit about myself.
Michelle: ‘Michelle is a given name, originally the French feminine form of Michel, from the Hebrew name Michael meaning “Who is like God?”. It is now extensively used in English-speaking as well as French-speaking countries.’ I am very quiet and prefer to listen to other people’s opinions and discussions rather than join in myself. I am fiercely protective of my sisters and even though we are allowed to tease each other, will go full Mama-bear if someone else tries it. A true introvert, I love spending quality time with my husband, sisters and cats. Running, reading and writing are some other things that make me happy.
Marianne: In a book of French baby names Marianne is described as compound of Marie (wished-for child; rebellion) and Anne (favor or grace).
Marianne is the definition of “dynamite in a small package”. She looks very sweet and quiet, but should you make the mistake of wronging her or one of us; you will see the rebellion come out.The steadfastness with which she believes and lives her core values and beliefs are a motivation to me and all who cross her path. She enjoys running and is passionate about all fitness. She’s always willing to lend a helping hand to someone in need, and her beauty radiates through all of these endeavours.
Melissa: “honey bee” in Greek. This was the name of a nymph that cared for young Zeus in Greek mythology.
Melissa can seem very quiet and reserved, but she saves all her sparkle and bubbles for those who know her best. You will be in no doubt what her passions are as she’s sure to tell you all about them! She is a fashionista, lover of ALL shoes, bags and hats. A delightful, social butterfly who always has time to lend a ear or shoulder to a sister or friend in need and is an inspiration to all who know her.
We spend a lot of time together – growing up in the same house, all attending the same schools, doing things together on weekends and school holidays. Up until now, we have always been able to make plans during school holidays as I am a teacher, Marianne a student and Melissa a scholar. That may all change next year as Marianne finishes her studies and Melissa takes some time before continuing her studies. I worry that we won’t be seeing each other much now that they aren’t available during school holidays anymore, but I know that we will make a plan to spend quality time together.
The three of us have been through our share of crazy experiences together, but I think this has brought us closer together. We have spent many hours discussing everything from friends, boys, school and everything in between. It is not unheard of for one of us to say:”What happens in the car, stays in the car!”, before sharing a secret. This secret is usually shared whilst listening to a particular song at full volume, and after the secret is revealed and discussed all three of us would listen to the song again and sing it at the top of our lungs!
We are each other’s sounding boards and secret-keepers. When the going gets tough, we gravitate towards each other and hold each other up. I have watched them grow into two beautiful, compassionate young women, and as their older sister I cannot be prouder of them!
I have been called or referred to in variations of this name for 35 years, 1 month and 18 days.
It is probably one of the first words I learnt, yet what does it mean? Why is it so important?
‘Michelle is a given name, originally the French feminine form of Michel, from the Hebrew name Michael meaning “Who is like God?”. It is now extensively used in English-speaking as well as French-speaking countries. ‘
To discover a bit more of the personal motivation behind the name, I sent my mom a few messages over WhatsApp. In these messages, I asked her why she chose the name and when she decided it was the right name. Another question I was curious about and enquired was if there were ever any other options for who I would be.
She read an article in which the following statement was made: ‘If you ever name your daughter Michelle please tell her that the spelling of her name will always be hell.’
A truer word has never been spoken. I always spell my name out for someone new who has to write it. To me it is personally offensive to spell someone’s name wrong, or to assume the correct spelling of a name and be mistaken; and I don’t know if another name exists with so many varieties and different spellings as my moniker.
My mom had always liked the name and after I was born and we had met, she was sure it was the right name for me. She believes you should meet the baby before settling on a specific name as you will know what the baby should be called when you meet them and get to know them.
Michelle. Michele. Michell. Mishelle, Mishell, Michèl, Michèlle, Michellè, Michél. Michéll. These are what I remember off the top of my head, but there may be more. Such a versatile name and so many ways of writing it. As a Michelle myself, I have always been interested in the different variations of the name and why it exists. When searching the name, I realized how truly universal it is. Aside from the French, many other nationalities across the globe have their own variation and where it derives from.
From my research I also found that it was a very popular name in the seventies, I had mistakenly assumed that it was a popular name in the eighties. The reason for this assumption was the many Michelle’s that I had around me at school. Growing older, they became fewer and I less often had the conversation of how does one spell your name? As an adult, I find I do not know or have other Michelle’s in my life anymore. The ones I knew in school have all gone different ways and we were never close at the time.
My closest connection to Michelle now is my goddaughter who has my name as her middle name. The best definition of my name has to be from Urban Dictionary, as I feel parts of it is describing me and my goddaughter personally. ‘Michelle: A beautiful name for a (young) beautiful girl. She is outgoing, very funny (or tries to be), and has a unique style. She is also very lovable, but can be awkward at times. She is the type of person you can easily get along with. She will be there to comfort her friends when they need it. She has a gift of discernment, meaning she knows when something is up. She has a great voice, but is shy to show it to the world. She needs more confidence. Also, she can be very hyper at times. Even with her flaws, she is still perfect because the amount of flaws she has cannot compare to her flawlessness.’ If you know me well, you will know which parts of that description I attribute to myself.
Throughout my life I have asked to be known by some shortened versions of this name, currently going by MiSh. I feel a more secure connection to Michelle now that I have written this post. I have always loved my name, but now I feel that I can truly revel in the name and make a statement with it.