Category Archives: Freedom

My longstanding love affair with stress.

More than a two months ago, I was falling in love with a beautiful country – Kenya. She lured me in, made me feel like I was special, and boy was my guard down. Without my knowledge, a parasite entered my body and one increment at a time, it took over my digestive system and my sanity. I should have stayed away from the salads, but now that I know what I know, I’m glad I didn’t.

 

Cut to a week after arriving home from Kenya, and I was ill. Pain in my stomach and severe cramps. I was in a bad way.

Did I put two and two together straight away? Nope, I quickly and conveniently put it down to a bout of stress because of a particular project at work.

 

Cut to a week even later and I had an on-and-off symptoms mixed with the sweats.

Do I put two and one together? No, I put this bout purely down to stress because of a work colleague.

 

A week later and I was falling into bed at 19:00, exhausted with brain-ripping headaches, and what did I do? I calculated that three and one was still due to stress because of the intensity of bringing a Summit of international scale to South Africa.

 

Now, looking at my attitude of ‘shrug-off’ towards the severity of my situation, it is clear that I’m not the only one who just makes do with barely surviving through each day.  Some of the stats on stress online illustrate how it’s slowly crippled an entire generation as people don’t effectively cope, over long periods of time, with terrible symptoms. And the scary thing is that fright or flight is not a chosen response, it’s natural and out of our control.

 

Now, I believe that after the roller coaster of being in bed and in pjs for ten days, itchy from the welts of infection, and immensely dehydrated, I have some perspective of what a real threat to my survival is.

 

I’d like to launch out and state that I believe that it is my relationship with stress that is killing me, and not so much the stress itself. I think that perhaps for too long now, my stress has been shrouded in mysticism where it’s the big bad Medusa who will grow back another two heads as soon as I cut one off.  Because no matter how many articles I’ve read or how many pep talks I’ve been given by my folks, I didn’t quite get it… until I got it.

 

I finally can claim my belief statement:

 

Unless I’m the president of a developing country or of the USA; or the scientist responsible for the cure for Cancer; the next attorney to represent the state in a case where the husband is the wife’s suspected killer; I actually have no right what so ever to say that I am stressed because of work, more than three times a month.

 

This is not unrealistic as I’m not in any election campaigns, neither do I have a PHD nor have I written a bar exam. Here are the facts: No one has died because of a work decision that I’ve made. No one has been shot at on my watch (other than by a pretend gun on a video set for a corporate remake of the A-Team – pretty intense stuff, right?). Never has someone starved to death due to a late submission of my paperwork or my timesheets.

 

So with all of this extra insight into my own psyche, I wanted to assess what it was about stress that has had me twisted by the intestines for such a long time that I assumed a real threat was the same thing.

 

Perhaps I was using the idea of stress as a crutch?

This was my first hard thought about my relationship with the idea of being stressed. I figured that I was using one blanket to explain the general condition of my working days.

 

Perhaps, I needed to separate out a few things? Instead of being stressed because of another person’s lack of respect for a deadline – perhaps I should think about how a frustrated person deals with their frustration. Frustration and stress are two separate experiences. One is agreeing that I have capacity to change my reaction to it and the other one renders me powerless.

 

And yet again, perhaps I was ‘getting stressed’ because I was seeing the complications of other’s actions and instead of vocalizing my objectivity, I was getting swept up in having to do things the hard way or the long way, when I knew perfectly that there was an easier way of achieving the best outcome. One way celebrates my intuition and ability to communicate my concerns beforehand, the other renders me speechless.

 

And again, perhaps I was feeling stressed because I was taking other people’s notions of how to do business and reacting as if it had anything to with me. As an employee, the way that I do business is only apparent within my scope of work. The responsibility of entire departments and companies is not something that is directly connected to my emotions and therefore doesn’t require as much energy from me as one would think. Perhaps I was ‘getting stressed’ because I was handing over my emotions and reacting, instead of seeing the wood for the trees. All that need be my concern is my own output, my own reactions, my own emotions, and with any extra time or energy, I could ask a colleague if they need any assistance from a work output point of view.

 

And I hear you protest, “But Perrin, this sounds so airy fairy, what about the practical things like my bond repayments and children’s education and dealing with my interfering in-laws?”

 

The same applies: check your relationship with the stress. Once you understand the relationship and look at situations objectively, you’ll know that perhaps you need to chat to a financial advisor or get extra lessons for kids and chat to a psychologist in order to cope. I’m not saying that you need to figure it all out yourself – life’s not about that, I’m saying that you need to remember to carry around your yardstick for what it is that you are giving your power away to.

 

I’m also not saying that you can’t be stressed or (insert the name of your crutch you’re experiencing here). I’m saying that you owe it to yourself to embrace each day with an awareness of what it is that makes you tick and how you deal with stuff.  You owe it to yourself to check the signs, ask the questions, interrogate your conscious and give your unconscious time so that it too can check itself. There are a whole host of marching bands, advertising campaigns and support-your-crutch-causes that your crutch has signed you up to.

 

This is all in the name of ensuring that you carry on buying into your crutch’s apparent values. Mine was to always let something pop up that needed my ‘urgent attention’ when I’ve got to leave work on time in order to get to a family event. But not any more!

 

And if you have a crutch that you might need the universe to point out to you, I hope you find yourself in an African country, eating a salad – it might just save your life.

Thank you for this new perspective, Kenya!

 

 

 

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The future of legislature – reframed

With more and more households leaning toward a minimalist way of living, I’d like to acknowledge how we’re all going to have to make another reframe in our approach to living in society. You see – there is an urban, middle class trend of living in closed communities. This ensures safety and higher lifestyle standards, but it also almost secludes members of said community from being connected to, and accountable for anything outside of their lifestyle village.

With governments and municipalities also embracing a minimalist way of governing; they don’t replace balustrade around parks, they don’t attend to call outs to illegal tree felling; neither do they have sufficient staff to clear debris on the roads after flooding or heavy rains.

Now this might go by another name of neglect, but it really is a form of minimalism, if you use your imagination, and bear with me here. It is the responsibility of our government and municipalities to maintain standards, without spending too much money, or generating too much waste, and drawing on too many resources.

Maintaining standards is vital, what I’m saying is that maintenance is going to take a fair amount of creativity from the governors, which currently might not be something that they’ve figured out yet.

So, the ideal situation would be to have balustrades replaced, in a minimalist way that ensures resources are used sparingly, and the environment is impacted minimally and that the time of staff is efficiently used; all providing that the balustrades are in fact the best solution for an area.

But I believe that maintenance also needs input from the citizens (other than in the form of paying taxes and voting).  I believe it’s going to take a hefty step-up to the plate from citizens, where we’re going to have to give up our attitudes of existing in society at ‘arm’s length’. There’s no use in complaining about deterioration, if you actually don’t do anything for the prevention of deterioration.

The onus is on all of us, to be clearing away soil run-off in our intersections. The time for all of us to question people, on the spot, who are illegally dumping, is now. I’m not endorsing getting into fisticuffs with law breakers, I’m just saying, make time to gather other community members and hold the perps to task – as a team.

In order to truly be minimalists, we’ll need to spend a lot more time fixing, mending, assisting in areas that we never had to previously, when we were living lives of excess.

Not only do we have to figure out what to do with the waste we’ve made to date, but we have to engage with the nuances of how we’re going to make our new minimalist future work in society.

Our creativity extends to how to join forces with like-minded people from your areas and how to develop relationships with them so that they can be on your speed dial when you need back-up in an illegal dumping situation. I’m also talking about creative negotiation techniques and disaster management, so that you are properly equipped for any situation.

By being fully equipped, you are responsibly fulfilling a role that was previously occupied by an appointed authoritative figure. The point is not to try and understand why that authoritative figure is no longer doing their job (even though we feel they’re overpaid and not fulfilling their roles); nor is it to question whether the legislative position even exists anymore, I’m saying, step up to the plate.

Give, serve and utilise your time, skills, money, energy, resources all for the benefit of the community, even if it seems like you’re the only one giving and all the rest are taking. Get involved at municipality meetings, join a party and rally people, use your rake and spade on that piece of municipal land, be active in the movement for the cause for greater good.

Guaranteed, if you exemplify your desires for your neighbours, community, city and country; your deeds will have a ripple effect.  Let’s all be responsible for legislature – because if we aren’t, it means we might only be complaining about it from the comfort of our industrial-styled lounges.

 

 

 

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What I learned on a year-long Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner’s course

Last year, I attended a course to understand just how heavily entwined our language is to our behavior and how deeply we affect the people we surround, just with our thoughts.

No, we didn’t sit around listening to David Whyte tapes, eating deliciously decadent organic snacks and lighting intention candles… That was only part of it. We did a lot of crying and trying of new methods that are massively uncomfortable. We journeyed down our own timelines and discovered the vastness of our futures, and that was only the half of it.

 

I learned to appreciate my point of view.

The deep appreciation that I garnered for my point of view was surprising. Surprising because the NLP course only partly helped me define what that point of view is. The fact that I now unconditionally celebrate a point of view that I don’t fully understand, is liberating. It’s liberating because I showed myself that I love the very essence of myself, even though I don’t 100% get what that essence is. It’s pure magic – it’s my high, and it’s mine all mine, but I know how to share it because it’s abundant.

 

I learned to think thoughts that enrich my experience of the now.

If it doesn’t serve me, then it has to go. I still regularly find myself being mentally harsh on myself but I am now equipped on how to gently steer the conversation in a more productive direction. I’m elegant in the dealings of inner chatter and I’m very aware of external sources that lead me to fall into a mindset that is unfriendly toward myself.

 

I learned to be ok with not knowing what it is that makes me happy.

And isn’t it fun to explore, realizing that there’s pleasure at every turn and tumble?

I am the fun person that I’ve always been chasing, I just didn’t know that my particular brand of fun was so acceptable to me. Now I know that wearing pink and red every week day, accompanied by glitter lipstick, doesn’t make me a crappy product of the nineties, it simply makes me feel closer to the me that I am. And if someone doesn’t like it, then that’s not really my business. And on that note…

 

I learned where I’ve been allowing my energy to fizzle out.

All the things that I haven’t been able to control: colleagues that are rude by continuously handing over work late, thereby creating a knock-on effect; people who swear at me in traffic, even the ones that I want to swear at in traffic; worrying about all of the homeless kitties in squatter camps and business parks; anxiety over things that are not my business, because the whole world is important to me, but it’s not all MY business… these were the vampires that drained me and left me without energy to do what it is that I felt compelled to do.

I am only one me, the difference that I can make, is only the difference that I can make, and THAT IS ENOUGH, that is my business.

This lesson was particularly fierce in my relationship with my husband and his weight-, debt-, lack of self-respect-‘issues’ (and I use the inverted commas because I now know that there is no failure, only feedback). All of those things I previously perceived him to be struggling with, are not actually my business. I learned that I can be supportive of his causes, by preserving my energy to be the best wife that I can possibly be.

 

I learned that I make up the technicolour of my experiences.

It’s not about the people I’m hanging around with, it’s not about the car that I drive nor is it about my salary. It’s about having a bright and authentic idea and allowing my system the freedom to explode that idea into the manifestation that it needs to take in my life. It’s not about dreaming up something and then pinning pressure on myself in order to achieve. It’s more about allowing myself to be there now, and see if it still suits me as it does manifest in the physical.

 

I learned that I am made up of many parts and that those parts are seemingly in disagreement with each other, most of the time.

Sneakily though, all of my parts actually want the same thing – the most dazzling outcome for Perrin. Each and every single fibre of my being wants me to be ecstatic, and I realise now that I don’t need to be anxious about this sense of dissonance because I get to the Emerald City, no matter what. I get there because I celebrate the rhinestones on my clothing, the numerous disco balls in my home, I play with glitter and dabble in the semi-precious stones in a Zulu meat dish on my coffee-table – all of these little ways remind my neurons that this life of mine is shiny, shiny, shiny.

 

Thank you Universe for my dazzling life and thank you Sue Corbett for being an elegant NLP Sensei.

 

 

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It’s-a not so bad, it’s-a nice place…. shadupyourface!

My time spent in London seemed long and tedious.  I saw some awesome things I had never seen before, but it was without.  It was supposed to be the time of my life, the time I would forever look back on and marvel at my freedom/creativity/agility (and I’m not even that agile).

But it was long, and it was tedious.  Parts of it quite frankly sucked.

You see, leading up to my sojourn, my family and I had experienced some hard-core, life-altering, perception-modifying occurrences.  We were feeling jaded with our lives we seemed to be forced to live in South Africa. We were angry with our government, the state of our roads, the amount of non South Africans living here (the list really did go on and on).  So it was with anticipation that I journeyed to London to search out the perfect lifestyle that would parallel mine, only it would be better because it would be in the bustling city of London.

And off I went.  And so set in my misery.

Firstly, with that romantic notion of hustle and bustle came a heck of a lot of noise.  Not once (not even when I visited an old Anglican church) did I find some sort of peace.  If it was not a human voice (in any language you could think of), then it was massive machinery revamping some other man made thing.  Trains had speaker systems that blurted instructions I never could comprehend.  Noise from headphones from passer’s by offended my ears. A panorama of reverb from road, rail, water and AIR traffic continuously ensconced me.  Kids screamed at birds/squirrels/ each other. It was exhausting.

Another disturbing discovery was that I continually had the feeling that the ground was about to fall from beneath me.  It was macarb because my childhood was on the East Rand which was built on rickety mining tunnels and mine blasts went off every four hours.  Sometimes the windows shuddered so hard you thought they couldn’t possibly bounce back.  And yet, there I was, questioning the stability of the English ground. It was as if I had a seventh sense for the tubes that ran under the city.  It was as if I could feel the shakes and shudders of trains even when I was six floors up.  Edginess indeed.

Theatre in London was also NOT ALL THAT. From the ticketing to the venue to the performance – triple disappointment my friends.  I had to stand in a long queue in order to talk to someone who would phone another vendor, wait in a telephonic queue, and then negotiate my ticket where I had to agree to a seat that I was not really sure of.
Then, onto the theatre where the King’ mezzanine must have been for a play-play king because surely no one would want to sit at such an awkward angle, barely on the fabric of their chair, in order to view a tired performance.

The food seemed bland in comparison to even my mom’s overcooked meals.  My taste buds barely came into fruition during my period there, I think they died of boredom.  Only at the airport on my way home did I realise that our delicious Cadbury’s tasted a hellava more coco-nutty there, than in SA.  Sad state of affairs when a country demands change to a grand recipe.

What you must understand, I was not hanging out in dodgy London, and yet, the only friendly people I met were three Irish men at Heathrow (also on my way home).  The trio were a hoot because they purchased their pints at the bar and then brought them to the coffee shop to be merry with the ‘serious’ coffee drinkers.  Boy, did they cause a stir, it was lovely.

Other than my friend (originally from SA) and her immediate friends, too many people wore an air of anger and impatience.  I realised that Londoners were feeling depro at the state of the economy and due to the Olympics coming to an end.  I heard mutterings that the only way to cheer London up would be for Wills and Kate to conceive, but I mean really.  On the escalators, I saw ladies push other ladies out of the way.  I think I even saw a lady push a man out of her way.  I heard a bus driver sarcastically chirp a tourist for wasting his time.  Surely, anyone in the tourism industry would value a foreigner’s investment into their country and their public transport system, who indirectly paid their wages?  I cringed when an entire carriage of people sighed and moaned because the conductor announced that the train was running four minutes late.  It was obvious that people’s journeys were interrupted but I was unsure as to why people had such a negative response to something that was what it was – the train was stuck and there was no genie that could pop up and fix it.  It required a bit of time, and time, was clearly not what anyone had to spare for the laborers who ensured the system worked 99% of the time.  Talk of ungrateful!

I, on the other hand, started to feel extremely grateful for:

  • The vast and calming spaces we have here in SA.  Even the ever-growing Midrand allows one some sort of space to stretch the intercostal muscles in a big breath.
  • The comfortable theatres with magnificent sight-lines.  Where seats with ‘limited view’ do not exist. Where the stages provide an ample canvas from which our incredibly talented South African actors can flourish.
  • For Pieter Toerien and his endless time and effort that he pours into our culture, and how his efforts are already part of the fibre of SA.
  • The happiness with which South Africans greet each other everyday, where such a simple greeting can acknowledge another’s existence – “I see you and you are worthy.”

If we look from a loving perspective, speak with respect, and react peacefully, it isn’t so bad and it is a nice place.

I love SA!  It has the capability to bring me great ha’pea-ness.

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Clarens to Fouriesburg

When we were in Clarens, Free State, we decided to take a drive to Fouriesburg some 34 kms away to simply see the sights.  It was spectacular.  I took some snaps to try and capture the gloriousness.

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Clarens Revisited

Here is the sneak peek of our highlight in Clarens. Snow is not a regular sighting in Joburg so we were thrilled when we hit Clarens in the Free State and were welcomed by puffs of cold cottonwool. My friend and I were absolute kids and made snow angels. Reacting like a child has its benefits as we can now say that we got wet bums in a layer of snow that was so thin and yet still gave us maximum pleasure.

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Neighbourgoods Market

We recently ventured into the city of Joburg one Saturday morning.  It was spectacular as the weather was warm, our spirits were high and we had some bucks to blow at the market.

Destination Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein.

The Neighbourgoods Market started in Cape Town and, because of it’s success, was brought to Egoli and appears to have hit the ground running.  For more info go to http://www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za/

There is a vast amount of food on the lower level of this parking lot market and the clothing and homeware is on the upper level.

We were particularly interested in the food goods due to our own crafts in the pickling world of food.  Even though there were no pickles to speak of, there still was a lot of variety to accompany the pickles (who knows, maybe our little pickle store will be there next month).

Produce included fresh and dried mushrooms, cheeses, breads, meats, beers and wines, herbs ready to plant in your own garden and honey with its by-products.  The prepared foods were so delightful that we had more than one breakfast.  Prego rolls, hamburgers, choritzo bagettes, curries, prawn tempura, organic fried eggs, spanish paella, oysters finished off with ice and homemade cupcakes or raw chocolate bark with pistaccio.

I concluded that the mushrooms were grown and picked in a fashion that ensured that no fairys were harmed during the process.

Hooray for fairy friendly food.

We didn’t try the oysters and champagne even though the idea tickled us pink.

We did end up having biltong and beer for breakfast – wicked.

Here is the Bob’s Your Uncle Wine that we bought as an engagement gift for our friends Chantelle and Andre.

We ate ourselves into a country comma.  It was truely worth it as we were supporting fellow Joburgers in the renewed Braamfontein.

Will definately make a plan to go again to ensure I give the industrious designers from the second floor their chance to shine.

Happy P!

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A taste of our trip to Mabalingwe

The bush really does have a certain magic about it.

This image has not been touched up, there was something so pure about it that I simply could not take it into PS….

Hope that you enjoy this tiny taste of heaven.

P 🙂

Pretties from the little mountain engulfed Clarens