Thursday, 13 October 2016

My Phenomenal African Woman Nomination (PAWAfrica)

PAW stands for the Phenomenal African Woman. It is an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)for the African Woman across all spheres and strata i.e. business, academia, government and other sectors] intended to ensure she takes her pride of place in nation building, enterprise and the furtherance of peace in the Continent.
To read my feature interview, click on here .

Friday, 7 October 2016

When She Cuts Her Hair - Flash Fiction

Spiwe entered Clementine’s bedroom and found her standing in front of the mirror, examining the short strands of hair above her ears.
     ‘I want to cut it even shorter. What do you think?’ Clementine said, turning her head sideways.
     Spiwe shrugged and regarded her. ‘Not sure. You know what they say. When a woman cuts her hair, there’s no going back,’ she said.
     Clementine gave a soft laugh. Through the mirror, her eyes darted from her head to the maid. ‘Don’t believe everything you hear,’ she said.
‘Everything?’ Spiwe positioned the broom she had in her hand on the floor, a few centimetres from Clementine, and began to sweep slowly and methodically.
     ‘That’s what I said,’ Clementine said pulling a tiny chunk of hair from the back of her head.
     Spiwe began to hum a tune, ‘Take it to the Lord in prayer.’
     Clementine stopped what she was doing.
     ‘If you have something to say Spiwe, just say it.’
     Spiwe’s mouth contorted to one side. ‘I have nothing to say.’
     ‘That’s not true and you know it. Each time you sing one of those church songs you always have something to say.’
     ‘It’s none of my business.’
     ‘Well, it is mine now.’
     Spiwe hesitated. ‘Okay, I don’t want you to get cross with me, ma’am. I just head th…’
     ‘First of all, do not call me ma’am. I’m not my mother. Second, I won’t get cross. We’re friends, remember?’ Clementine interrupted her.
     ‘Okay.’ Spiwe placed the broom against the wall and walked over to Clementine. ‘Is everything okay with you, child?’ She reached and touched her shoulder. ‘Only I heard ma’am say something over tell the phone.’
     Clementine arched her brow. ‘What did she say?’
     ‘That things ain’t right with you.’ Spiwe lowered her voice.
Clementine cleared her throat. ‘What things?’
     Spiwe shrugged. ‘I don’t know. It just got me wondering, that’s all,’ she replied.
     Clementine snorted. She liked Spiwe and regarded her as the sister she never had, though much older. But, the realisation that she possessed intimate details about her ordeal disturbed Clementine. She had seen how maids liked to huddle in fences’ corners, whispering about their employers. The last thing she needed was rumours spreading about her sad life. At that moment, Clementine wished she had not cut her hair. She had only done it to spite her mother for the way she badgered her to go to the salon and to get out of the house. Now, it seemed, Spiwe had seen it as a symbol of a turning point in her life.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How To Fight For Love

I haven’t written about ‘lovethings’ for a while, so, I have decided to throw in a little blog for you today. My daughter calls these love blogs 'fluffy'. Well, who cares? Love makes the world go round, right? I’m afraid this piece is one of those lengthy ones, so, please, make yourself a brew and cuddle up on the sofa as you read. 

How to Fight for Love
Why won’t he/she hear me? Why is she/he shutting me out? What is happening to us? If you have ever found yourself on the brink of losing the love of your life, then you will know where I am going with this. You know you love him/her and yet for whatever reason, you cannot seem to agree on anything. It appears as if some kind of worm has penetrated your once solid relationship and all you have left are holes. Holes you cannot seem to fill no matter what you do or say. Have they fallen out of love? You wonder. So, what do you do when that happens? Do you just throw in the towel and hope that one day you will once again stumble upon another amazing love? Or do you stay and fight?

Someone once said, ‘There is value in the valley.’ I am inclined to agree. The reason being that when we find ourselves between a hard place and a rock, true value comes from the ability to sit back and reflect. Really reflect. No sugar-coating anything. Just being real with yourself as you try to understand and figure out where you went wrong. Once you’ve reflected, it is time to decide what you want. Do you want to fight or are you done? Most importantly, can you live with the end result, good or bad? The strength, energy, and skills you will need for this will make you a better person in the end.

This woman I know never knew what fighting for love meant until she met the love of her life. Here she was, nearly losing the man who had opened her eyes and her heart, her best friend. When she came to this place, she began to reflect on the good times. How it had all started.
She had loved him from the moment she laid my eyes on him. When he took her hand and twirled her on the dance floor in a club one night, and for the first time, her heart had pounded like it had never done before. As he had whispered in her ear, his voice serenading her, her heart had bubbled with joy. Her friends who had watched them from a distance had later told her what they had seen. ‘You are so good together. You look so happy.’ They hadn’t told her what the woman’s gut didn’t already know. She’d had already had an epiphany that she had met the one. If there’s such a thing.

Days, weeks and months followed and they soon arrived in ‘blissland’. Then life happened. The inevitable, that phase that every relationship goes through came.  Her partner became distant and emotionally shut down. The more she chased, the faster he ran. And, the harder she knocked, the tighter the hinge on his door became. They swiftly drifted apart and there was nothing she could do about it. Or was there?

Then, after she had spent many sleepless nights, she decided enough was enough. She was not going to just roll over and let her love die. So, she fought for her love.

If you’re going to fight, then fight for love. Another cliché I know. But, isn’t it true, though. If you cannot fight to preserve love, what else do you want to fight for? This love, I have to emphasise, does not have to be the romantic kind. It can be a friendship. A love between siblings or child and parent. Sometimes these relationships drift apart and people are left wondering, bewildered and confused. At times, because of pride or miscommunication, the love simply dies down and people spend the rest of their lives with scars. Scars they cannot get past.

So, how do you fight for love? Well, I reckon, in this kind of war, there are two crucial ingredients that need to be present.
1)       Both parties have to recognise what they have and what they have to lose.
2)       Both parties must be willing to get in the ring because it's a futile attempt to fight for someone who doesn't want you in the first place.

So, I am just going to expand on these two crucial points and break them down the best way I know how.

Common Cause
In the battle of love, you cannot win, unless both of you are on the same team and fighting for the same result. Broach the subject with patience, love, and understanding. If you are going to communicate then tell each other the truth. Holding back means you are willing your partner to fail. Because, how are they going to know how to proceed if you are not being real with them. Let them know where the holes in your relationship are and then give them the chance to fill them up. Be honest about your feelings and thoughts. That way, you are guiding and showing your partner how to love you. They will never know unless you’re honest with them. The truth will hurt but, if you are on the same team, it is easy to ride the tide.

Compassion suggests that you are able to place yourself in the other’s shoes. Getting to a place of understanding the other person and how your words and actions impact on their ability to love and understand you. When both of you are fighting for the same resolution, you find it to stop each other when you know a line is about to be crossed. You don’t stop them by pointing a finger, but by saying something which shows you’re operating from a place of compassion and understanding.

Trust/Respect/Honest Communication
Trust is earned and built through honest communication. Respect also comes in. so, resist the urge to entertain that negative voice which tells you not to believe anything they say. If you are ever in any doubt, now is the time to ask all the relevant questions. Even if you don’t like what you hear, be willing to tackle it with an open mind. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, let them know, but respect their opinion at the same time. After all, we are all individual beings entitled to our opinions according to how we view the world.

It is crucial that you reassure your partner of your devotion, commitment and love. Because you have found yourself in this painful, and uncertain place, the tendency is to entertain doubts. Do they love me at all? You may wonder from time to time. Know and realise that your partner needs to hear those words of reassurance, whatever they are. If it means reminding them why you love them in the first place, then, by all means, remind them. They need to hear that. It is hard right now, but as long as they know you love and appreciate them and have no intention of bolting on them, then you will be fine.

Change. Make amends. Do whatever you need to do to improve your relationship/friendship. As you work through your problems, lay your cards on the table. Specify what bothers you. If you both want to see an improvement, then the change should not be too difficult. This change will not happen overnight, so, exercise patience. Give the other person space and time to process everything. Reward positive change but not in a condescending and patronising manner. Show gratitude and be genuine in your thank yous. And when you change, be consistent. You will find that when you do this, nothing will seem like a chore because what you will get in return, will be ten times fold.

You will lose the fight if you don't learn to forgive. Forgive with all your heart and do not keep dragging up the past each time you have a disagreement because you cannot avoid conflict. It's part of life. What matters is how you fight. As you forgive, receive forgiveness, you are developing as a person. You learn to be humble, to love others unconditionally and to be accommodating. Overall, you develop resilience because as you tackle the challenge that comes with dealing with another human being, you discover your own strength and other qualities you never knew you had.


And, now, for that all important ingredient – love. I believe where there is love, real, genuine love, nothing is impossible to tackle. You are not afraid to lay bare your soul and to be really vulnerable. It may take a little while and the process may be emotionally taxing for both of you, but with the love that binds you, you will yield the results that you both want in the end. Talk, yell, cry, throw tantrums, break a cup or two even. As long as you do it for the right reasons, it will be alright. What you will end up with is a true acceptance of the other person - unconditional love.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Forgive And Set Yourself Free

"You set yourself free when you forgive." Great quote and I couldn't have said it better myself.

Have you ever felt so angry, hurt and disappointed that you lie awake at night, tossing and turning? Your heart races, your blood turns hot as it rushes through your veins the moment you hear their name or see them. You muster a frown or look away to prove a point. And, when they are finally out of your sight, you take a deep breath, feeling pleased and satisfied with yourself. You have, indeed, shown them just how displeased you are with them.

But lo and behold, the feeling does not last. It never does. Before long the anger comes rushing back. Your body goes into a frenzy as it slips back into another whirlwind of emotion. Their actions torment you. Their words keep ringing incessantly inside your head, gnawing away at your soul. Your body has become paralysed and you have been robbed of your creativity because all you can focus on is the object of your torment.

You are angry and you are hurting, it is understandable. But, I have news for you. More often than not, the person you are losing sleep over. The one who has dumped rubbish inside your heart and soul forgets all about you the moment they turn their back on you. They go on to lead their lives and on their terms whilst you are left there, broken and paralysed. 

Anger can be a necessary emotion at times. If alerts us to what we do not like forces us to reflect and, in some instances, motivates us to make some changes for improvement. But anger, if not well managed, is one of those emotions whose consequences are truly destructive. Anger leads to bitterness and holding on to grudges which are even stronger emotions.

When you are angry and bitter, you develop reckless tendencies. You spew words without thinking and/or make rash decisions. Often times the words uttered in anger are words best kept to oneself. And, we all know that once uttered, words can never be taken back. Some decisions made in anger once acted up cannot be reversed either. The consequences of these too can be far-reaching and leave a lasting dent. A dent that can be impossible to repair.

Forgiving someone who has wronged you can be the most trying thing one can ever do. More so if the person who has hurt you is unrelenting. They won’t acknowledge your pain and/or show the slightest bit of remorse. But holding on to anger or a grudge will not help you either. What you are doing is putting your body under a great deal of strain moving from one emotion to the other. Your body has to try and keep up with all the havoc going on inside of you. But the truth of the matter is it cannot. Sooner or later something will have to give. And, in this case, it is your own health. When you hold on to anger and/or a grudge, you do not hurt the other person. You destroy YOU!  

Science informs us that anger as a strong emotion triggers that fight and flight response. The body recognises that something isn't right and it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help it along. The gut is compromised as the brain shunts blood away from it and towards the muscles as it positions itself for a physical attack. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate soars, sweat oozes out of you and your temperature rises. And if this happens long enough your body gives way. Disease creeps in. Headaches, digestion problems, stress which leads to depression, heart attack, stroke; I could go on and on.  

So how do you liberate yourself? How do you combat this soul-destroying mission?

The short answer is you forgive. Yes, forgive them wholeheartedly. Exhale and let it all go. You don’t have to shake their hand or give them a friendly peck on the cheek. You don’t even have to let them know that you have made the conscious decision to forgive them. Forgiveness is about YOU, not them.

But, there are more steps you can take too, which are:

1)   Recognise and realise that you cannot control someone’s actions, thoughts and behaviour. But, you can control yours.

2)   Embrace your feelings and thoughts. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling because you are only human and there is nothing wrong with that.

3)   Think positive thoughts about yourself. This boosts your confidence and self-esteem. You will need this to tackle the next stage which is the hardest.

4)   Do not give value to hurtful words and actions. By now, they know which button to press and they know you go on a rampage each time they press that button. Why not? You have made it easy for them. You have become too predictable and they are probably being kept entertained at your expense. What you want to do is withdraw their power and you do that by not acknowledging their trivial pursuits. Which ties in with my next point;

5)   Modify how you react to things. Turn it around. If it means showing them kindness instead of retaliating, then do so. No mean feat, but doable. That will catch them off-guard and perhaps, just perhaps, it will make them stop to consider the consequences of their actions.

6)   Maybe now is the time to work on your negotiating skills. Talk things through and find a common ground if it is something you can agree on.

7)   You have a right to say NO to things which leave you feeling resentful. Say what you think and feel, firmly, calmly and clearly. Stand your ground without being aggressive and realise that in life you cannot always avoid conflict. You just got to develop skills to resolve it!

8)   Last, but not the least, consider the possibility that you could be wrong about them and their intentions. There are times when people hurt us unintentionally and it is only by approaching them and talking things through that you realise they never meant to hurt us. Sometimes they are not aware of the consequences of their words or actions at all!

As hard as it is, you can do it. It will be hard but recognize that the only person you have any power over is yourself. When you let go of anger and that grudge, you are taking back the reins of your life. They can no longer hurt you because their actions no longer affect you. Do not forget that no one is perfect and people will disappoint you. The most important thing to remember is that you hold the key!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Whose Dream Are You Chasing?

I saw this picture quote and it jogged something in me. In this modern world where everyone has something to say about everything, including what you should be doing with your life, it is so easy to get sidetracked and lose focus. You may find yourself being bombarded with information and ultimately end up answering to somebody else's calling and not your own. Before you know it, boom, you're chasing a dream that you shouldn't be chasing to begin with. A dream which does not benefit you, grow you or inspire you. The conundrum with that is that when you are not inspired, you will not and cannot inspire other people. This is the surest way of setting yourself up for failure. When you find yourself on such a slippery slope, you may need to take some time to retreat into a cocoon. Take time for silence and dig deep. Pray. Meditate. Do whatever you need to do so that you can have the revelation of where you need to be.
As you go through this process of self-discovery, ask yourself some questions. Who are you? What moves you as a person? What is that you want to achieve? Also, ask yourself where it is that you are headed and how you want to get there. Identify your real talents. List them if you have to. Know your value and your worth.
Half the time we sell ourselves short because we lack understanding of where our real talents lie and how valuable those talents are. We are dragged along and are willing to settle because we are constantly being told what we ought to be doing with our lives by people who do not even know us. No harm in listening to advice and reaching out for help. But, when we are constantly bombarded with advice on how we ought to be doing things a certain way and not taking the time to digest it for ourselves, we lose track and ourselves along the way. When we do not take the time to challenge what is fed to us, scrutinise information and sift, we are left confused and lost. We should be able to do things in the way which is comfortable for us and that which will see us succeeding.
When we take time out and really listen to our inner voice and our heart, we will realise that we may not always have to align ourselves with everybody who comes our way. There are times we may have to be selective and prune away certain associations. You may lose a few friends too and that's okay. If you align yourself with the wrong people you run the risk of deviating from your real purpose. What that means is that you run the risk of having to make a U-turn when you finally realise that you have been chasing somebody else's vision. So if you want to reach your destination then do not allow yourself to be dragged along. To be blown by the wind. Discover your real path and stay on the right road. Pursue your real calling and move at your own comfortable pace. If that means going it alone sometimes, so be it. Because it pays in the long run!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Which One Is The Salad Fork?

I for one believe that if you’re going to commit a faux pas, then do it with flair!

Have you ever been in an environment where you felt you were way out of your depth? When everything coming out of your mouth did not seem to resonate with those around you? When they appear savvier and more sophisticated than you are? If like me, you have, then you will know that it can be the most uncomfortable place to be.

Before I get to my point, let me give you a little scenario. You are invited to a part. For argument’s sake, let’s say by your rather ‘posh’ boyfriend or indeed friend. Then you start to socialise. You are introduced to the cream of the society. You discover that everyone around you seem to be well-travelled, well off, and well-educated. You are all speaking English, French, Shona, Ndebele (etc.) but your language is different, if you catch my drift. They are talking about stocks, their latest adventure in the Alps or Mt Everest, what they thought about Toni Morrison’s latest book, their corporate job, their favourite designer. I am sure you can think of many more examples. Then someone asks you a question – ‘What do you do?’ When is your next adventure? Or which countries have your travelled? What/who are you wearing?
So, how do you grace your way through the interaction? How do you remain classy and charming when you know you seem to be way out of your depth? When everyone around you seem to have it going on? Well, here are my suggestions:

1.    Always wear a cheerful, welcoming face. Make people want to come over and talk to you.

2.    Those oops moments? Laugh them off. Do not take things personally.

3.    Being social is about making others feel comfortable around you. People shouldn’t have to tip-toe around you just because you don’t feel confident about yourself. Remain charming and gracious. Embrace other people just as they are. Just be cool.

4.    It’s trite but I will say it anyway. Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. If you don’t know something, then you don’t know. No one is going to shoot you for it. Pretending to know while making a fool of yourself will make you look like a complete moron. Which brings me to my next point-

5.    Ask questions to show your interest. You will be surprised what you will come out knowing. If people see how genuine you are, they will respect you for it.

6.    Given the chance, show/tell them what you know. You may just be surprised by the reaction you get. You may even make new friends. You may not be well-read, not have travelled as much, but there are certain areas of life that you excel in. Highlight those, but not in an imposing manner.

7.    Compliment other people. Beware of that green-eyed monster. Enough said!

So there, you have it. If you ever find yourself in a tight spot, know that you have it within you to be classy, graceful, charming and beautiful. Both inside and out. You can still wow them, with the little that you think you know. You just have to know how to work it!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

To Err Is Human....

"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose." L.B Johnson.

What is done is done. No one is perfect. We all have flaws. Some more than others. We flounder. We fall. But it is in the way in which we rise that we are truly defined. As trite as that sounds, it is also very true. If you are like me then you've probably made a mistake or two in your life. You've hurt someone, erred in judgement, allowed a situation to drag on unnecessarily, perhaps taken a wrong turn in your journey. Whatever. Then one day it hits you. You realise what you've done. Perhaps, someone alerts you, gives you a little nudge or a kick in the you know what, to make you realise. To open your eyes. You finally come to your senses and realise the extent of your blunders.You messed up! Maybe by this time you've lost friends, family and all that you care about. Then panic, embarrassment, fear and contrition follow. You beat yourself up for it. It is only natural. No one is immune. And then there are those who won't let you forget it. They play on your weakened emotions, reminding you what a complete fool you've been. How wrong you've been. They thrive on your vulnerability and bring you further and further down into the doldrums. But I am here to tell you that it does not have to be like that. 

Take a step back. Take time for silence and reflection. Acknowledge that a mistake(s) was made. Embrace the ugliness of the situation if it is that ugly. It is the season you are in. You may even have to bear the consequences. That's okay. With every action comes consequences. Ride the tide with courage and dignity. 

We, as humans are not infallible. We are weak and can easily be influenced. We are prone to be led astray by our thoughts, our feelings or indeed by other forces beyond our comprehension. The consequences we have to bear are what grows us. Contribute to our understanding of self, others and the world around us. This way we become better, stronger and wiser beings. But only if we are willing to learn from our mistakes. To bounce back from this setback. Because that is all it is. A setback, though caused by you. Life doesn't have to end because you're having a bad day, a bad week or month.

So if you've ever made a mistake in your life, done something you shouldn't, said something or made a wrong turn, know that it is okay. What is done is done. You cannot undo your wrongs but you can work/improve to put things right. And if it’s too late to put things right, then deal with the consequences with grace and dignity. But most importantly, realise that you too, just like everyone else, deserve a second chance. To wipe the slate clean. Do not allow anyone or your past wrongs to hold you hostage. 

Forgive yourself and move on.