Log out and prosper!

So I decided to spend my Friday afternoon sitting leisurely with a couple of my new found lady friends over wine and intimate talks about this and that. The session started out very dull, almost resembling prolonged small talk with a person that is having difficulty understanding your language. But as the sun slowly disappeared and made way for the moon, the conversation got better until we reached a point of total openness and surrender with each other.

One could argue that it was the alcohol talking, but I have a different theory.
We had more to share and were willing to listen to each other because we had no choice. Our cellphones had lost battery power.

I’m a moderately introverted young lady who just so happens to have a very strong affection for instant messaging. Platforms like WhatsApp have given people like me the opportunity to say the things we normally wouldn’t say in person without the stress of having to make long, awkward pauses in a desperate attempt to find the right words to articulate our feelings.

I have recently discovered that the reason why I generally would much rather say as little as possible (in the shortest amount of time) around people I am not particularly familiar with isn’t because of autism or communication apprehension. It is because I usually already have about five other “interesting” conversations going on in my phone. I don’t have the mental capacity to actively participate in any more verbal exchanges and make valid contributions.

Okay. My parents have been complaining about it. And I have read articles about how we are becoming a social anti-social generation bla bla bla. The knowledge isn’t new, but it has finally sunk in.

We know so much about so many people in our lives, but we have not experienced much with them. And when we finally do, we never really seize the moment and take it all in. We’re so concerned with pausing to take instagram pictures, getting a few moments to ourselves to sneak in a text or two to our other friends or taking unexpected calls. It is so difficult to be fully present and unaffected by external happenings.

Looking back, I must admit I don’t think I truly knew any of my ex partners / friends and vice versa. We were consumed with having the most mind blowing conversations over text messages and on the phone that we missed the essence of being in a relationship. Being in a relationship, of any nature, requires both parties to spend time with each other in real time.

Getting to know me in this digital era means switching our phones off and having an actual conversation with each other. No emoticons or exaggerated punctuation marks to amplify and embellish meaning. Just good old fashioned chatting.

Sure, I will not be deleting WhatsApp anytime soon. But I have vowed to never again ruin the beauty of bonding with someone in person by giving them a summary of my life in edited paragraphs and heavily filtered photos over the phone in a space of three weeks. I have also vowed to be intentional and decisive about where I want to be by choosing to partake in one experience at a go. But the biggest lesson here is this; People are better experienced offline.

Glen Eagles road was goodbye

So my nephew is just over two years old now. Even though he makes me break a sweat almost everyday single day, without failure to improve at the craft, every moment spent with him is special to me. Every hour is happy hour…except when its time for me or anyone in the house to go.

Before embarking on any journey that entails leaving him behind, special precautionary measures are taken. You either wait for him to fall asleep or you find a way to exit the compound, without him knowing. Of course, this all used to be effective when he was a few months younger. Today I realised, its actually the worst thing you can do to him, or any human with a heart.

Imagine spending quality time with the one person you adore the most. You sit with them for hours, exchanging kisses and laughs over good food and drinks. You watch your favourite movie together until you eventually doze off. Absolute bliss.

A few hours later, you get out of bed and look for them. You ask whoever you think can assist you to help you find that person, only to realize that he/ she has left you without saying goodbye.

The way my nephew lamented made me regret all those times I did that to him. I couldn’t console him. We tried to call the person he was crying for, but he refused to speak with them over the phone and , with tears in his eyes, he mumbled “ke a mo nyaka” , meaning, I want him/ her.

Have you also been left by a loved one unexpectedly? Without a proper goodbye? One minute you’re all happy and the next, they just disappear on you and expect you to pick up the pieces.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no longer angry. Sometimes, we run away instead of saying goodbye because we think it saves our loved ones the pain of watching us leave. Or it saves us the emotional stress of turning our backs and walking away from love. The intention is not always to hurt. I mean, the person who leaves also hurts. I have learnt to understand. So forgiveness is important. It heals us both.

Unfortunately, not all of us are lucky enough to hear the words “I’m sorry” over the phone. Not all of us will get explanations as to why we were left. Some of us are lucky enough to have the apology followed by a reunion to make up for the pain. Some of us just aren’t. All we have are memories.

So in an attempt to alleviate the sharp pain of reality that pierced through my heart one morning when I realized that he is just a memory now, I decided to remember my last beautiful memory with him. Here goes.

Sunday afternoon. June 29. We were driving to a restaurant a colleague of his had recommended to him and as usual, he was doing most of the talking while I listened attentively for hidden messages of who this amazing human being really is. He was always fascinating to hear and learn from. Driving behind us, was one of his friends, who was going to be joining us for our late lunch.

Even if I knew he was saying goodbye, I still would not have done Sunday any differently. But I would have said more to him. During our meal, our last meal together, when I accidently found out that he was never really going to give up on soccer, I should have smiled and told him to go for it. Life’s too short to not do the things you love with the people you care the most about. While we were walking back to where he was parked, when he turned back to tell his friend that he doesn’t want to ruin this memory, I should have told him that its being recorded in my psyche. When we got to the car, where I told him I had an amazing time, I should have told him I was looking forward to many more. I should have told you that you looked and smelled so good. Just like the guy I had previously only ever imagined. The last time you kissed me goodbye, I should have kissed you for a bit longer.

The last time our bodies made music, while my right leg shook to the beat of your warmth and I hummed to the sweet melody of the tune you were breathing into me, the lyrics to our last song were being carved into my heart.
But I had no idea. I didn’t know that Glen Eagles road was goodbye.

http://mp3skull.com/mp3/sunday_morning_maroon_five.html

Will anyone catch me?

I recently watched the movie Diana, a biography that highlights some of the late Princess’s much publicized romantic involvements post her failed marriage to Prince Charles. I found it to be fairly sincere and careful in depicting these parts of her journey. The softness in her character and her subtle yet striking beauty was pulling.  Needless to say, she effortlessly swallowed the entire cast and commanded affective commitment from the viewer throughout.

Very early in the movie, during the fourth scene if I remember correctly, there is a dialogue I couldn’t help but listen to over and over again. It is a beautifully orchestrated exchange between Diana and an old woman who, for all intents and purposes of writing this piece, I’ll refer to as the maid. Not to take away from the beauty of this film, but given the events that follow, I feel that this scene should have been moved towards the ending. The part where we gasp in awe and shortly afterwards, clap our hands as we wait for the curtain to cover the stage.

Nonetheless, I was particularly captured by this heart to heart, because it also happens to speak to what I’m currently going through. It takes a lot of courage to start a new, healthy relationship with someone else after a traumatic separation. It takes an even deeper sense of courage to give that new someone your very best. To treat them like you don’t know hurt. To love them like its your very first time. Like you’ve heard nothing but good reports about the dynamics of relating. Like you’ve only ever witnessed happily ever afters. So when you finally conjure up the strength to work hard enough to achieve all of this, only to wind up with unmerited, but intentionally inflicted hurt brought upon by that same new person you tried for and held in such high regard? It drove Diana crazy, to say the least.

I, on the other hand, am still struggling to interpret the feeling without tearing up. But the energy throughout the aforementioned dialogue is closely married to mine during my quest to making sense of what’s in my heart. I hope you too can relate.

dianablog

Diana: Keeps coming back. That dream I told you about.

Maid: Falling into darkness?

Diana:  Its not falling. Its being dropped. Someone’s doing it to me.

Maid: I think perhaps you’re afraid of letting go.

Diana: No. I hang on to things. Like my marriage.

Maid: You’re a cancerian. You hang on to the idea of love. So you keep on giving. The hard part is receiving love,

Diana: But if I can’t receive it, I’m back where I started.

Maid: And where is that?

Diana:On the door step. Little girl waiting…

Maid: (finishing Diana’s sentence) ..for her mother to return.

Perhaps that little girl should stand up and walk into the garden. Its been 30 years. In your dream, who’s pushing you?

Diana: That’s not the point, Jonah (sp). The point is, will anyone catch me?

 

Its not just sourworms!

My eyes and mouth were tightly closed, interrupted by the occasional wet slurp, as an attempt to alleviate the stinging sensation on my tongue. The bitter taste eventually disappeared and the amazing burst of playful sweetness tickled my oral senses as I proclaimed, “Yum!”. That’s what I can remember from my first sour gummy worm experience. Its been me and them against the world ever since.

From naming the folder that contains all my favourite series and movies after the deliciously sugary and citric-acid-coated sweets, to adding them to my list of solutions for life’s biggest problems during very serious conversations, my obsession has been made known to those dear to me.

But there’s a bit more to that than what meets the eye. You see, its not just ordinary candy to me.

My journey to discovering this dates back to the year 2012. Arguably one of the toughest years in my life. The one thing that could possibly top disappointing your parents by changing your course of study a year later, is actually changing courses and moving on to studying your “passion”, only to fail a major module six months down the line. Well, I’m the child that did both.

I remember sitting in my bedroom in a trance, reassessing my decision and going through the constant reminders of how I wasted a whole year of my life. (Being doubted and not having anyone believe in you can make you question your entire existence. It will have you questioning why you tied your hair in a bun the other day and why you wrote your exam in blue ink instead of black. You’ll start concluding that God is punishing you for swearing at your neighbor’s loud dog the other night and for littering in your own bedroom all these years). I digress.

Deep down I knew I made a great decision, but unfortunately, my big plan of action sounded better in my head than it did when it was articulated to the rest of the world. It was one hard road that thankfully resulted to a dead end later in 2013.

Where do sour worms fit in? You might ask. Its simple really. I have taught myself to stay blind to negatives and to keep silent during the sour moments. I find relief from the occasional slurp, I mean pause, to look back and see how far I’ve come before squeezing my eyes and sealing my lips again. Blind and deaf to the harsh and pessimistic distractions. Because the sweet stage approaches. Of course, only I know it because only I can already taste its emerging dominance over the bitter citric acid inside of me.

You want to know something else I learnt from sour worms? Thankfully, the lengthy pleasure that’s worth waiting for is coated in bitter, short-lived displeasure, and not vice-versa.

So suck it all up, slurp and suck it up some more, champ! The best is yet to come.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

I’m not scared to dance in the dark anymore

It all creeped up on me during my awkwardly slow drive to the local grocery store with her. I don’t usually allow my thoughts to get a tight grip of my concentration during our religious attempts to bond, simply because I feel obliged to always be present enough to respond to the occasional questions about my life away from home. But during this particular ride, I couldn’t fight the urge to entertain the circus in my mind.

After coming across one of the essays I had bookmarked earlier on in the year, I began to wonder if I had read enough books in my days of solitude to prepare me for the phase I’m in. It really bothered me why I couldn’t find any relevant references to draw ideas from when I was in need of it the most. All those blog posts, magazine articles and talk shows? Surely they need to start proving to be assets at some point, preferably now.

Heaven knows I had memorised every single one of Shannon Y Tanner’s pieces. I had found a pattern in @RealTalkKim’s tweets. No sermon on relationships at my disposal went unplayed and I swear I tripled checked that I was ready for anything before taking my heart out for a walk into the world again.

As it turns out it, it was all to no avail. Apparently, no amount of education and waiting was able to make my personal life encounters readable.

Common sense should have long stepped in and whispered in my ear: Every single encounter is unique. No perfect combination of hundreds of journals from renowned “experts” can ever completely ready you for anything or anyone.

Come to think of it. My profession has taught me how to plan for all events, expected and unexpected, to the most minute detail. I’ve been trained to document what follows given this event and when that happens. It is no wonder why I tend to over calculate the end.

I can imagine how I’d lose my mind if I had it all figured out from the get go. No challenges? No surprises? Just “I read that this is how it goes” moments followed by expected results? In the world of Business Analysis, that is great. Surely the same can’t be said for life as a whole.

So for the first time in a long time, I’m accepting that its okay to be clueless. Its okay to not know how to get it right the third time. I’m extremely happy. I’m not afraid of trying out new things. I’m throwing away the subliminal methods to life and relating. I’m unsure, nervous and excited as hell, but in between all of that, I’m not scared to dance in the dark anymore. I’m discarding all the “maps”. I get to decide where I go and how I get there. Its MY journey!

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Before Virgin Active

A friend of mine got into an unfortunate accident while he was playing soccer for a local club back in his neighbourhood just recently, which resulted in him spraining his right wrist. As if that wasn’t enough, just a week later, he got into another unlucky accident that saw him crack one of the bones in his left foot.

So now, walking up and down a flight of stairs with him is a little frustrating and watching him perform stunts that could potentially worsen the damage makes my blood boil. But minus all of that and his obvious struggle to adjust to walking with the aid of crutches and his failure to do some of the everyday basic activities efficiently, he seems to have accepted the temporary inconvenience. I must admit though, our last conversation got me feeling a little sad? I actually feel more sorry for him now.

“Just got off the phone with my team. They won. Seems they do better without me”, he said, just after getting off the phone with one of his team mates. I could almost feel he felt a little left out. As if he wished he could be a part of it.

Me: I’m sorry
Him: It’s ok, I couldn’t play even if I wanted to
Me: But knowing you, you might go back when you’re ok
Him: Last thing I need is to injure myself before the hackathon again. I won’t, I’m going to go to gym.

That’s when it all came to me. During one of our previous conversations, I remember him mentioning that he needed to exercise to get rid of the unwanted weight, but because gym was “anti-social” and he was “too lazy”, he opted for something less tiring as a substitute.

I do this quite a lot. Whenever I’m faced with multiple choices, I usually put a cross next to the one that gives me maximum reward for minimum effort. Why run on a treadmill next to better looking bodies when you can play your favourite sport with your friends after work instead?

Two hospital visits later, we can conclude that sometimes, the hardest option turns out to be the safest option and the cheaper option ends up costing you the most. There really is no easy way out of anything.

No matter how hard we try to duck and dive situations that we have to go through, destiny or fate (whatever you want to call it) somehow leads us right back to them.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Why I stopped writing

I’m quite certain that the emotion behind most of the good life lessons that we read all over the internet is being under-played. In retrospect, I’m completely persuaded that a large sum of us are shallow in our interpretation of the online content we casually browse past on a daily.

I attribute this distant reading to the fact that usually, our brains are switched on, ready to learn or critique while our closed hearts peek through from outside the process. I mean, an article is an article is an article, right? Who cares what it took the author to piece it together? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

But here is the truth. Sometimes the word “situation” is code for… I just lost a five year long friendship and I’m struggling to come to terms with it. I sometimes walk around ready to burst into tears until something hilarious happens and I giggle and smile unwillingly before I realise I’m not overwhelmed anymore. I wake up to the reality of the possibility of ending my day without any warm embrace because my real support structure is far away. I miss my family. I need columbian coffee. Sour worms don’t heal me anymore and I can’t find my favourite eyeliner. I’m not okay”.

Words like “wonder” are sometimes followed by the thoughts “..if you’re hurting too? I wonder if those things we prayed about are starting to materialise. Ko kgona byang o se teng? Do I throw away the gift I said I got you? The first train stop from Pretoria station to Johannesburg Park station is never easy. How is your ba…”, then I drift back into reality and hold the delete button before retyping diluted feelings. When the sentence is just about neutral enough to complement the rest of the essay, I soldier on to the next paragraph.

Some full stops represent one hour long pauses to relive the story behind the lesson. Some commas are tissue breaks to wipe the tears away. “Not cool” sometimes means heart breaking.

So when one person from within the crowd reads beyond simplistic words and awkward punctuation to decipher my heart and intent? That is special. And a bit unsettling because I am literally stripped nude.

I have found this to be the reality of other writers, regardless of the writing style or topic. Your favourite magazine’s witty but wise relationship advice? That could be a comical interpretation of what someone wishes he/ she could have done. That poet you admire so much? He is a creative genius online when in reality, he bleeds to give you something to bookmark.

Here’s today’s lesson.

Everything I’ve touched on reflects some of our everyday interactions. We scroll past real life conversations too. Sometimes we do stop to read and actually comment..only to go back and scroll down to the next one.

Do you know how the people in your inner circle are REALLY doing?

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

My pain smells like Paco Robanne

I happen to be one of those unlucky ladies that develop a keloid on their ear lobe from a piercing gone wrong/ wearing earrings that aren’t made from real gold or stainless steal. I don’t know. The medical reasons behind this abnormal tissue growth are endless. Anyway, mine gave me a beautiful lesson to share, thanks to a comment my brother made a few minutes ago.

So I went to our family doctor to get advice as to how to remove this bump safely. Because of the complex nature of this… thing, she told me to tie a string around it to cut off blood supply until it falls off instead of undergoing surgery. This keloid is a part of my body, so you can imagine how painful it would feel following her advice. But I did.

The pain is almost unbearable. No pain killer in the world can help you escape it, let alone weaken it. Tears in my eyes, restlessly moving around and moaning, I literally lay wide awake for the first 2 days with a biological cooler held to the affected ear. I got better, but instead of waiting for it to fall off naturally, I just cut it off when it got dried up about 12 days later. The decision to remove it was unwise because it grew back. So here I am. Re-doing the string process again.

Anyway, my brother was responsible for tying this keloid up last time, so he did it again today, and to his surprise (mine too) I wasn’t kicking and screaming like I was the first time.

Be patient. I’m getting to lesson.

The string is tied around this keloid so hard my skin is turning purple. There’s tingling in my ear lobe as I type this post, so believe me when I say it really does ache. I’m just not outwardly expressing the discomfort like I’m naturally supposed to, hence his comment: “You don’t look like you’re in pain. We must have tied that piece of skin a bit too loosely. Should I tighten it?”

“Heck no!”, I exclaimed. “Just because I’m not tearing up and jumping around like last time, doesn’t mean I’m not in pain”.

And this is when I paused to smile at myself, because it hit me.

This is exactly what is happening in my life right this instant, and I’m proud of myself for it.

I walk around with this tingling in my heart from the discomfort brought on to it by quite a few of the circumstances that I’m in, but for some odd reason, I’m not flooding in tears and throwing tantrums like I used to. The few people that I’ve been blessed to talk all say similar things in response my stories.

To paraphrase these individuals, each responding to different problems:
Mom- I love that you kept quiet and have never complained for all these years until now.
School mate- You don’t look like you’re going through what you’ve just told me.

Moral of the story? We are bigger than the lemons that life throws at us. The string might be so tightly tied around you that you’re turning purple. The long sleepless nights might feel like decades, but don’t you dare kick and scream! Don’t.You.Dare! The world doesn’t need to see you breaking down.

I can’t deny that this won’t make us feel any less sore and I do know for certain that we just HAVE TO endure it, but in the meantime, can we just live life like everything is alright while we “wear fine clothes with a splash of cologne” as king Solomon suggests in Ecclesiastes 9:8. Yes? Okay good. Cause right now, my pain smells like Paco Robanne.

Rinse. Cover up. Heal

So there I was, humming to my newest “feel good” play-list as I was passively chopping vegetables for our traditional Sunday family lunch. Halfway through the rapid chopping, I accidentally cut through one of my fingers. This wasn’t a first so I just walked to bathroom, almost indifferent to what had happened, and rinsed the blood off before applying band aid to the cut.
Although I carried on with my task, my chopping pace slowed down a bit. Keep in mind that this is all happening on a Saturday night.

I decided to remove the plaster on Monday morning, even though the cut hadn’t closed up/ healed completely because it felt a bit irritating.

Big mistake.

For starters, I spent my day trying not to expose the cut to whoever sat next to me in class. Simple activities that involved using my hands were difficult to carry out because of my exaggerated sensitivity to the uncovered wound.

Things got worse. That evening, as I was peeling potatoes, I had my exposed and hurt finger positioned awkwardly, away from the rest, in fear of hurting it again, only to cut myself AGAIN on that exact same spot! My immediate reaction was not as moderate as the one on Saturday. It stung way more this time. In addition to that, I was angry with myself for not protecting finger immediately when I got back from campus. That’s when it hit me!

This is exactly what most of us go through/ are going through.

We have been cut so many times by similar events, that we’ve gotten accustomed to the pain. We chop, get hurt, rinse it off, apply band aid and go about our daily routine like nothing happened. This is okay. The problem with the select few (myself included) is that sometimes, we remove the band aid too quickly. We try very hard to carry on as we were before the accident without allowing the cut to close up.

This hinders our ability to live freely because we walk around with this unnecessary pain that’s caused by a cut that just needs to be closed. We become uneasy and act unnatural when people get close to us because we are scared they’ll see our open wound. We’re reluctant to get intimate because we can’t afford to have this finger exposed and then have to answer questions about how it happened.

Open cuts on fingers have a greater chance of being worsened when they’re not covered, as opposed to when they have been covered because they are always active. The same principal applies to broken hearts. Your heart is always involved when you relate to people regardless of the level of intimacy. So would it not be risky to relate un-healed?

No matter how deep or shallow the cut is, cover it up! Let it heal. Which one of us wants to get close to torn, bloody flesh anyway? Be fair on the people that are subjected to being around you and yourself. Always remember to rinse, cover up and heal.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Too purposed to be needy!

Think long and hard about the most important people in your life and then move on to choosing one significant person or group of people from all those names that are running through your mind. Use them to fill this next gap. As long as you have _____ (enter name) then you don’t need anything/ anyone else.

Who’s name did you pick? Was it your mom? Dad? Sibling? Closest friend? Lover?

I’ll assume that for most of you the name that was filled in was not yours. My biggest mistake to date.

All these years I’ve had every form of support structure you can possibly think of. The shoulder to cry on team, people to party with team, financial support team, academic inspiration team, praying team, etc. My dependency was spread across people and things.

And then it hit me. Not suddenly, but in steps. People are not meant to be our greatest needs, but our purpose partners. In other cases, people aren’t supposed to be your source of provision forever. As you begin to lose loved ones and things, you are forced to grasp this and almost immediately start learning how to be that specific team you once thought you couldn’t go without. I don’t mean to depress you, but I’d like to speak the truth. All these teams will fall away eventually. Your teacher won’t be there to explain that maths problem 59 times to you in tertiary level. Your parents won’t always be around to give you grocery money. Your best friend won’t always be on the phone at 2am to listen to you cry. You are going to have to be all these teams in one eventually.

Learn and strive to depend on yourself fully as if you have nobody else while you still have multitudes of external support waiting to carry you.

And if the multitudes have long passed already in your life, stand firm in your lone state. Find and perfect your strength in in-dependency so that whoever enters your life finds you whole. Ready to love and relate from a place God given purpose.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Remember to give up!

The title of this post sounds discouraging, doesn’t it? Well its that hard truth that nobody has had the guts to tell me. At least, not without adding the famous “I’m just kidding” line at the end. So I’m here to save whoever might be in need of a release of some sort. I’m here to announce that its okay to give up.

Disclaimer: The following does not and should not apply to every single difficult situation you face. In fact, this advice is to be taken ONLY in cases where the gut feel in the pit of your stomach keeps pushing you to change course.

Right, I’m not going to waste your time beating around the bush and telling you short soppy stories to prepare you for what I have to share today.

Its simple really. I’m learning that as important as it may be, not every conversation should be had. I’m learning that not everyone who calls you friend has your best interests at heart. I’m learning that no matter how much you’ve progressed, you can’t escape the after effects of the mistakes you’ve made. I’m learning that even the very things I feel I deserve don’t necessarily have to be obtained. I’m learning that everyone’s behaviour towards you will change (for the better or the opposite). I’m learning that not everything in your heart should be mentioned, even to your closest friends.

There’s probably no correlation that can be spotted in my personal learning curves. But all of these things have one solution in common: Give up! Give up trying to change things you can’t. Give up trying to understand why some things are the way they are. Seriously, quit it!

We spend too much of our time “working hard” to make the clock run anti-clockwise. We waste a lot of our years waiting to see if the sun will maybe rise in the west and set in east someday. We’re not even at the frustrating part about our un-intelligent wishful thinking. The worse part is, we do all these useless things with absolute enthusiasm and unshakeable belief that “You can do it if you put your mind to it”.

Look. Give up! Retire from whatever it is that you’re doing that feels like the above mentioned activities.

Life begins at the end of your attempts to fix what was intended to be broken. I pray that in your journey of life and relating, you are able to discern what’s worth fighting for and what needs to be left to die.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

…Or forever hold your peace

I just woke up from a strange dream literally 5 minutes ago. In my dream, I was with one of my close friends, her best friend and a fourth girl I was seeing for the first time. The setting was at an unfamiliar place as well. In fact most of my surroundings and the clothes I wore were new to me, but I was refreshingly comfortable regardless.

This has very little to do with this post, but I feel I must mention the weirdest part of my dream. Instead of chit-chatting over ice-cream or snacks we had crushed pap and milk, packaged in a fancy red milkshake box that we had seemingly ordered from a local restaurant. I thought that was pretty cool? I absolutely love that meal!

Anyway. We were having the usual “girl talk”. We took turns to share our individual stories but when it was my turn to speak, I woke up.

You can imagine the disappointment I felt when I couldn’t force myself back to sleep. I was really hoping to hear my own tale.

Then I remembered. I think I had a similar dream a few nights ago. All my friends and I were again taking turns to pour our hearts out to each other, but just as I was about to start my first sentence, I became conscious again. Its like my mind was saying: “I can only repeat what I have heard and up until now, you have not given me anything to work with.”

Back to now. Unlike the previous instance, this time I decided to sit up, close my eyes, imagine those friends and tell my story..wide awake. And for the first time in a long time, I not only comprehended what I was feeling, but I understood exactly why.

I reckon that sometimes, we suffocate our souls because we sit for too long without unpacking what is in our hearts due to our unknown and unique reasons.

Yes, Its good to pray, cry and cry some more, but the process towards getting better requires that you open up your mouth and speak.

That’s all I wanted to tell you. The process towards total healing only kick starts when you separate those lips and breath out! Okay?

Don’t ever be scared to exhale. Speak now! Or forever lose your peace.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

The road less travelled

A few of my friends know just how angry I was when I woke up this morning. They’re probably rubbing their heads hoping I won’t speak from the mixture of emotions I’m feeling. Fortunately for them (and myself), this piece isn’t inspired by my fury. Its inspired by one of the many epiphanies I received during my personal time alone. I hope this helps you too.

I’ve decided to go on a little journey back to where my life really started. Only up to a certain point though (I can’t picture myself living in reverse mode for too long). I’m nowhere near arrival and already, I’ve made a few stops (both pleasant and unpleasant) that have uprooted some of the thoughts I’ve been refusing to think about.

Its unsettling for me to see all these road signs that I’m cruising past. I gasp at some as I mumble: “Was this sign this big the last time I was here?”. The other day I saw one that read: “Roadworks ahead”. I wondered why I had missed it. I bombarded myself with questions like: “was I driving too fast to notice it? Was I on the phone when I drove past it? No seriously! How on earth does one miss that?”.

Its even more unsettling to think that maybe I did read this road sign, passively so, and then decided to go on with my journey because in my mind, this was a regular road. I’ve driven past here before. These new signs are probably not going to affect my journey at all. If so, barely!

What’s most unsettling is the fact that maybe I read the sign actively? And I decided, actively, to drive on because I was under the impression that I could handle it.

I remembered that a few KMs down the line I threw tantrums and swore away as I absorbed how I was being inconvenienced. I expressed violent hand signs in the air like I had no choice but to take that very road.

The point of this post is to remind myself and whoever is reading to always take warning signs seriously. No matter how subtle. Stop giving excuses and adding your own fine text below boldly printed “OFF RAMP HERE” signs. Its less disappointing as it is embarrassing to be those rare weirdos that take a dramatic u-turn to spare themselves.

If you do decide to be brave and take that bumpy road regardless of the warnings, take time to note that it is late for you.

I’m kidding.

Sometimes, in order to get to where you want to be, you will have no choice but to take that e-toll infested route or that rea vaya construction ruined street. Whatever the obstacle, finish that journey with absolute grace and honour. Take the many stop and go points like the champ that you are. Bump up the music, call a friend, reflect back, take in the fresh air or read a book as you patiently sit through the heavy delays.

Safe trip!

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Can we just forget about the customer???

“The customer is always right”, they said. “Build customer-centric enterprises to stay relevant”, they said. I’m of the opinion that this whole “customers are your god” mantra is the reason why most of us are more trendy and popular with the crowd (temporarily so) than we are with ourselves. Recipe for disaster.

Move away from the business world as you read on. Have you taken time to really think about what the customer wants? The customer can be your friend, lover, colleague, boss or a family member. Anyone who has any sort of relationship with you is a customer. If you reflect back, you’ll find that people’s wants have been extremely inconsistent.

We spend a lot of our time trying to mould ourselves into products that are customer focused. This is good. Considering the fact that to an extent, we have to try and meet the needs of the people we relate with (and vice versa) to give meaning and strength to the communion. The downside to this approach is that we constantly need to keep up with what is in demand and boy is demand volatile! We have to be on our toes half our lives because when the product evolves around what the customer wants, like it or not we are driven by the fear that our competitors might just be a step ahead.

Sounds taxing doesn’t it? This explains why most of us labour so hard to keep relationships flowing, only to end up too spent to reap the long term benefits. Worse still, our work will inevitably amount to the customer finding a better product.

And this is why I am being shifted towards the idea that the customer should be the least of your worries! When you focus on making yourself, the product, the best quality there is to find, you end up with a more holistic YOU. By paying attention to detail, you capture and master what most people fail to notice about themselves while they’re busy reviewing surveys and opinions on who they need to be. You won’t need to spend your time mass marketing yourself to anyone.

When the aim is to constantly fight to be a more quality-oriented make, your customers will not need to be bribed to stay. You won’t need to validate your relevance by referring to “what’s hot and what’s not”. Life becomes a whole lot easier and you attract people who don’t mind paying double the price of what you’re actually worth.

Doesn’t this sound a bit more attractive and less daunting to live out? Challenge yourself today. Forget about the customer. Improve YOU daily.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Common mistake #4 : Stopping the clock

We all get caught up in unfortunate situations that tune us out of unashamedly waking up for tomorrow and leave us feeling a little hesitant to breath out. You know what I mean? For one, my life seems to be one big roller coaster ride lately. The transition from feeling scared, to feeling like batman, to feeling annoyed, to feeling excited, to needing a hug takes about 10.25 seconds (at most).

But, to make typing this lesson easier for myself, I’ll speak from events that involved emotions that actually correlate.

I’ve spotted a pattern in my behaviour whenever I experience disappointment or heartbreak. I go into a state of fasting. Yes, the whole going without food for religious purposes, except in this case, the object that is being temporarily sacrificed/ compromised is myself and the purpose is “dealing with it”. Explicitly put, I stop living.

We spend too much time concentrating on our pain, only to intensify it and miss out on the other side to life in the process. We do this for several days, sometimes weeks and in extreme cases, months. Then dare to call it “taking time out to heal”.

Don’t get me wrong. It is imperative that we give ourselves time to mourn over a loss, whatever the nature. I just want to open your eyes to this; STOPPING THE CLOCK DOES NOT EQUATE TO HEALING, and vice versa. If you find yourself subtracting from the quality of your life for the sake of “getting better”, you are NOT getting better.

Think of any of the toddlers you’ve had the privilege to observe. Those people go out of their way to do the unthinkable. From banging doors to throwing shoes at the TV screen? One would hope a full-to-capacity nappy would slow them down, but oh no no! They run around in their faeces like it ain’t a thing! In fact, my nephew seems to demand physical contact even more when his diaper needs to be changed, and confidently so. If you decide to change his nappy, great! If you don’t, great! I eventually surrender to the odour and perform my auntie duties, of course.

And this is how its supposed to be with our burdens. We shouldn’t stop having fun because of a boo boo! Even with all that hurt weighing us down, the show must go on! Healing might come quickly. It might be delayed. Either way, its coming. Until then, let’s live.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Common mistake #3 : Rushing the process

Although this blog is themed around making you feel less uncomfortable about the bloopers you make by indirectly saying its okay, I’m your partner in crime at failing to be perfect, you’ve probably noticed how I don’t really talk about experiences that hit home and how I felt about any of them.

Truth be told. The heart of this specific post made it really difficult for me to write exactly what I’m thinking without getting emotional and exposing too much about myself, but at the same time staying completely honest. Read on to see if I pulled the neutral front off ;-).

I don’t know what triggers it. I seem to make this specific mistake more when the stakes are high.

Much like a gardener who goes through the lengthy process of planting flowers, patiently waiting for them to grow, only to pick them as soon as he/ she sees GREEN. That’s how I lost out on the eventual beauty of.. a few things.

This is probably the reason why you lost out on what could have eventually been yours, or enjoyed barely half the pleasure of something, right?

For one, I’ll never forget the incident that happened during one of the soccer matches we played in high school (yes, I used to play soccer and I sort of rocked at it). Here I was, one on one against the last defender in front of the goal keeper. I only struggled for about 3 seconds to get passed her and next thing I knew, I was in the middle of the field, running to the goal post all alone. Now, at this stage, I could do one of two things. 1. I could run with the ball until I get very close to the keeper before shooting. 2. Try my luck and shoot now (the goalie was a weakling). The whole school was there cheering and I saw an opportunity to be great so, yep you guessed it, I aimed for glory right there and then.

I missed!

I KNOW! I KNOOOOW!

And this is the sad thing about this particular flaw I’m working on fixing. You have to live with the everyday what ifs. Thoughts like “I almost had it”, “I was so close” or “Maybe I should have added another month to the year long wait”.

Its almost like we do things scared. We’re scared of something possibly crushing the flower before it blossoms. We’re scared of falling very close to the goal post. We’re scared of losing to people we don’t even know. Figments of our imagination, really.

In other cases, we see progress after waiting for what feels like “too long” and end up mistaking that progress with the end.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of losing close to the finish line. Never mind the leaves, I’m tired of picking flowers and missing out on the pleasure of ripe fruit. So, This is what I want you to whisper to yourself whenever you feel the need to rush into things: Keep your composure. No matter how close you are to the end. Three days away. Three seconds away. WAIT for it.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Unmentioned mistake #3: Working hard.

Oh, definitely! You read right. Working hard is one of the common, unmentioned mistakes we make on a daily. I know this goes against popular belief, but allow me to walk you through the principal behind it.

January 2011. I had just discovered that the 1st choice course I had applied to study was too full. Half of my high school career was dedicated to working towards my dream field of study and I had applied on time, so the disappointment was beyond heart breaking. But knowing “Nolo the toughie” , I decided I was going to make do with the options I have on the table and study my 2nd choice, Financial Accounting.

BIG MISTAKE!

The next few months were dedicated to hard work. I’m talking illegal sweat shop, hardcore labour! I studied more than most of my peers, only to wind up with a 50% final mark for one of my majors. I did well in other subjects, so that gave me strength to soldier on to the next semester. From then on, things got worse! I worked harder, only to fail both my majors (financial accounting and cost accounting) as though I had slept through classes.

Please Note: For the intent and purpose of reassuring you of my intelligence, my academic record is attached below this article. Hahaha, I’m kidding!

Anyway, Then it hit me. We have been taught to try and overcome every hurdle that comes in the way of our plans. This is good. But sometimes, this training deceives us into seeing warning signs as opportunities to fight and conquer, instead genuine advice to turn back for our own good.

Working hard is unnecessary torture that we put ourselves through when we try to do things we’re not supposed to be doing (or doing things the wrong way maybe?). Things that are outside of our capabilities, personality or nature.

There’s a fine line between working towards excellence and working hard. The former is about doing something that you love and understand and pushing yourself towards doing it better than most people. It feels less like work and more like an adventure/ learning curve/ FUN. The latter comes from a fabricated, depleting source and only leads to a burn out or giving up.

Its really true what they say.
Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Two years into studying Information Technology and I have not at one point considered quitting. Yes, I fail to reach my targets every now and then, and programming makes my head spin, but my source always fuels me up and gets me right back into the swing of things. That source is passion.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Unmentioned Mistake #2 Tapping out.

Imagine a homeless little girl child waiting on your doorstep everyday of the week, begging for accommodation in your already packed house. Sounds a bit absurd right? I mean, this child should be seeking refuge at an orphanage or public shelter of some sort. Try and visualise the story in your head anyway.

So this juvenile continues pestering you. Every single morning, you find her at the exact same spot and you yell “No, go elsewhere” religiously. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months and months into years and she maintains that she wants to be a part of your family.

This child’s relentless spirit ultimately captures you and you decide to extend your house to make room especially for her. Fast forward. After all the renovations have been done, you lie awake all night, anticipating the look on the homeless girl’s face when you say “Come inside” for the first time. Morning comes. You wait outside and…she’s a no show. This goes on for several months until you accept she has gone elsewhere.

What an anti-climax! You growing attached to a complete stranger and being emotionally persuaded to sacrifice your irreplaceable time, hard earned money and efforts to build an extra room in your house.. and heart, all for nothing. We have all been that child.

We have this tendency to court something consistently and diligently until we are close to acquiring it and then suddenly walking away because of ONE negative thought or situation. In more dramatic scenarios, we end up acquiring that thing we have been building on towards, but stand right at the door and say “I appreciate the room, but I think I made a mistake”.

Please don’t miss my intentions. This post is not just about relationships. Its about everything you have ever gone after, full force, and then gave up on without even looking back at the blood, sweat and tears you gave up along the way.

Can’t we all just get into the habit of finishing what we’ve started? Seriously. Giving up is never fair on yourself and the person/ dream you’ve been investing in.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Common mistake #2: Throwing stones at your fraternal twin.

As a chronic sufferer of both fair and unfair negative commentary about my personality and an equally constant receiver of the same commentary about other people, I have heard lots of people throw nasty comments about others out of jealousy, disgust and sometimes, too few times, pure concern. Whatever the motive, it is awkwardly uncomfortable to hear someone bash another for something that they themselves are doing.

Do you have that one person in your life who is always going on about how badly dressed that person is? Meanwhile, everyone knows that if they were to be judged by the local fashion police, they would never make the best dressed list? Or that person who is forever bragging and placing bets on how good they are at something, but fail to prove themselves, time and time again while still proclaiming RUTHLESSLY that they are the business? It gets worse.

There are more upsetting and nipple shrinking scenarios where people insist on highlighting the mistakes of people they don’t even know, crimes that they themselves, the almighty judges, commit better.

A fraction of the people who make these mistakes don’t even know what they’re doing, while others make them out of insecurity and silent attempts to scream “hey, I suck at this, but look at her, she’s worse”. Whichever one of these offenders you have been/ are being, you’re advised to take a short ride to the local supermarket, park your high horse and shop around for that missing piece of furniture in your room; a mirror.

If all of us actually cared to look deeply into who we really are and what we do openly and secretly before we dare to mention how someone is lacking in certain areas, our everyday conversations would be a lot less about others’ weak points.

I’m just saying. Don’t be that blonde who tells blonde jokes to a brunette crowd..or that turtle who has become skilled laughing at others’ paces. Check yourself. Get familiar with you. When looking down on other people, make sure you aren’t looking down at your own reflection.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Unmentioned Mistake #1 : Doubting the obvious

Oh and this is very common. Too common, actually! How does it happen that thee most striking people feel inadequate from time to time when they look in the mirror? Why do toddlers repeat something they recognise over and over again? We all need reassurance. But why? Why is it that we seem to grow apart from our self-awareness the longer we stay without being somewhat “confirmed” by someone apart from ourselves? That’s the question that has been clouding my thoughts for years now, but I finally have the answer.

As much as the most confident of people amongst us seem to know just how much of a big deal they are, I can bet you a packet of sour worms that if someone else, someone who is far more advanced/better looking/ more prominent than they are in whatever field they’re in confirms it, they will be wowed and baffled! This was me a few hours ago.

I recently got an invite, on LinkedIn, from a big shot CEO who is running an organisation that I would love to be a part of. Boy was I elated. Although I do think my profile is pretty okay for a 2nd year student who is still working her way up, I definitely did NOT measure it up to worthy of being viewed and add requested by….(This is me taking a moment to stare into space and drop a slow moving tear) …by an internationally certified Business Analyst -He is one amongst the only 34 in our country, I might add-. What? Why me? This must be a mistake! Those were my thoughts.

Another example. I have an incredibly beautiful best friend. I’m not saying that because she’s my friend, it is very true. She sometimes knows it, but some of her actions say she is not 100% sure of it. A few years back she was overly flattered to hear a white guy from high school say it, she announces it when people pay her unexpected compliments and she might not admit to it, but this blog post will make her think “Woah, So I’m really that pretty”.

The answer to the last question asked.

The knowledge that you are simply awesome? The certainty that you are one of a kind in your field? The absolute understanding that nobody does that thing like you do it? It was weaved into your being when you were being carefully formed in your mother’s womb. We were made in the image of a God who has Himself and nature to testify that there is nobody like Him, but just loves and deserves to hear it from us.

I won’t stress this opinion and belief on anyone, so I’ll say; if you don’t have anyone to tell you what you already know, create something that will say it to you each time you look at it. If you’re an excellent cook, cook. If you’re a good leader, lead someone into greatness. Whatever obvious thing it is that you doubt, conceptualize it. Create it. Let it verify you.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Photo: Lebogang Phahlamohlaka, my besty (@Bubbles_Mimzy)

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Common mistake #1: I saw, so its true.

We live in the era of “see it to believe it”, where making judgements based on rock hard, tangible evidence is the sensible thing to do because let’s face it, logic is safety. But what if I told you that everything that has been proved correct is only half correct or worse, completely incorrect?

Check this out.

My bedroom back in Bronkhorstspruit (my hometown) has two doors. One that leads me to the passage and another that leads me to my bathroom. Let’s call the door that leads me to the loo “door X”. My bathroom also happens to have two doors, door X, as I’ve already mentioned, and another door that leads to my brother’s bedroom. Now, from my bedroom, all evidence says door X is a door to the bathroom. Correct. From where my brother is, door X is a shortcut to my room. Also correct, in fact, instead of him using his own door to the passage, he chooses to pass through my room first! Its soooo annoying! Anyway.

Door X is defined and used for different purposes, depending on where you’re standing. Neither one of us (my brother and I) are wrong about that door.
We get similar situations in real life. You watch a person’s actions, hear what others have to say, and form an opinion that is logically correct from where you’re standing, not caring to know if there’s an explanation that is equally accurate from a different spectrum.

Evidence, no matter how certain it may seem, isn’t completely correct if it hasn’t been tested from different angles. Its time we stopped running with one-sided stories and actually dared to view things from all other perspectives. Don’t be that cousin of mine who has only seen door X from inside the bathroom and refuses to use it as a shortcut, out of fear, because I ONCE yelled “Use the long way around, asi double up ya lena ka mo”.

God gave us two eyes to see. Luckily for us, He didn’t stop there. He added brains and intuition to allow for better vision. Use EVERYTHING you have, enquire from different sources and most importantly, observe people and situations from every angle possible.
This “I heard and saw, thus” sense nonsense needs to retire!

Test it to believe it 😉

*************************************

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Flawed, thanks and you?

Hi, I’m Lehlogonolo and I … *sighs*. Please don’t make this feel any weirder than it already is? The topics I’ll be writing about in the next coming weeks are plain, un-edited truths coming straight from my heart. I only ask for one thing from everyone: before you judge or coach from the spectator stands, be still and know that I’m only human!

Why the sudden change of heart, you may ask? Well, I’ve been getting a lot of vast opinions about my first two blog posts. All positive. Uhm wait, I’m not finished yet. A lot of people were impressed by the “articulate” reads I managed to piece together while others were concerned about the minimal interpretation I gave to the old, already mention facts. The latter feedback screamed “hey, its okay to wear shorts and let your stretch marks breath…in full view of the entire world”. That’s what I am going to be doing from now on.

So, allow me to reintroduce myself.

Hi, I’m Nolo and I do make mistakes.

To read more about uncommon, taboo, neglected and disguised mistakes we make or see around us on a daily, stay glued.

Until next week then.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Defining Consciousness

A friend of mine requested that I give him my personal opinion on consciousness, literally 15 minutes ago, and since I’m still excited about my newest, favourite way of sharing my thoughts with the public, I’ve decided to paste my answer here.

A quick heads up before I compute my response.

In the book of ecclesiastes, King Solomon states repeatedly that there is nothing new under the sun. I’m forced to agree. Every one of my opinions and thoughts stem from exposing my mind to literature, biblical studies and academic reads, amongst many other things. All I’ll be doing here is organising my knowledge in a coherent structure, with aims to refresh and maybe add on to what has already been said.

Back to the topic at hand.

Wikipedia defines consciousness as the quality or state
of being aware of an external object or
something within oneself. It further elaborates it as sentience, awareness,
subjectivity, the ability to experience or
to feel, wakefulness and having a sense of
self hood.

My friend is probably wondering when I’ll cut to the chase and start excreting personalised understanding from my own brain.

Here goes.

Consciousness, according to me, is your unique understanding of how you feel/ react in certain situations / encounters with other people. It is continuously shaped by the ever-increasing sum of all the events that have occurred in your life, good and bad. This means, consciousness is not constant. It can be forfeited when we’re faced with predicaments that we feel are beyond comprehension or overcoming. When this goes on for long , too long, it matures to become a phenomenon that may be referred to as “losing yourself” or “letting yourself go”.

Just as it is possible for us to forget or become unconscious of our winning abilities that have assisted us in arriving at our current positions, it is also possible to gain revival or exponential increase in consciousness. We usually say things like “I’ve just received fresh revelation” or “and then it hit me” when this happens.

In short, consciousness is the belief and knowledge of the tangible and non-tangible powers you possess to do exceedingly well in everything you take part in. It can be challenged, it can be doubted, it can be sidelined and it can be lost! Read, think and most importantly, LIVE to maintain consciousness.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Hole in the whole

We’ve all been in those dreadful situations where we were grouped with total strangers or our friends, to complete an assignment that had an immense impact on how our predicate/ year mark would turn out, right? Right. If you haven’t tackled such a task in your life then, you have not lived!

Based on my personal experiences, I have found the dynamics of combined efforts to make up one whole truly fascinating. I’ll be analysing this intricate relationship, in a dualistic attempt to introduce myself and finally, plant a seed in your mind. No preaching, no lecturing. Just thought transplanting.

From most of the teams I’ve had the pleasure of being part of, I’ve observed three types of members. The first type is the type that does absolutely nothing. I will refrain from sharing my personal thoughts on their unfair ways. Then, there’s the slick type. The type that “tries” to contribute, but brings in bits and pieces of incomplete work all.the.time! The third type, formally disguised as “the group leader”, is type that does most of the work, if not all of it. I am part of the unfortunate few who ultimately end up assuming the position of the latter.

Now, its easy for the person who is doing most of the work to privately view themselves as the group itself, I mean, your members’ looks of admiration at your unmerited, over-cooperation validates the assumption. I know I’m guilty. Most times, more often than not, this is where we miss the initial purpose of forming part of a team.

This won’t be comforting to read at first glance, but it has to be said. Every member (the borderline lazy member included, undoubtedly) is equally important. After all, a whole without one of its tiniest, microscopic pieces, does not make up a whole. This principle applies in all other spheres of human relations as well. Every single person -no matter how limited in use- is necessary to complete the overall structure.

Lehlogonolo Sathekge
@NoleyNols

Pack Lightly

wasangamehana

Stretching across white bed sheets, limp limbs, yearning for another electrified touch.

My essence is awake, vivid images play across my heart, a black & white movie theater for romantic tales that stretch all boundaries and the eternal galaxy of the minds eye. Much like when I stretched deep into you, there was no sound, but I tasted your soul as your body erupted like thunder. When I smell the rain meeting the soil, I close my eyes and think of you.

What is a big heart? An expansive mansion that must be occupied by celestial streams of sunlight pouring in & dancing in wide corridors to the music of life?? What happens when the music stops? Do you pick up the strings & bows to pluck out a new song?
A musical heart & mechanical mind. Two worlds apart the being must train

Pack lightly & take off your…

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