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Thursday, 7 November 2013

I went to Parys...the one in the Free State

I love to travel; so when my bestie suggested that we take a girls weekend away to Parys of all places, I jumped at the opportunity even though we both had no idea what the supposedly sleepy town had in store for us. We were both pleasantly surprised. Not only does Parys, Vredefort have the quaintest BnB's and hotels, but it also has lovely antique shops, spas and restaurants. 
We didn't have a big budget for the weekend, because the main aim of our trip was some good 'ol girly fun and catching up. We did a little more than just catch up though; we went quad biking, got full body massages, ate black squid bread and even lunched by the river. Craziest of all was Kiki's foto studio in town. You get to dress up in Gatsby era or princess costumes and get professional photographs taken just because you can. Afterall when all is said and done, all we really have are memories!

Now I tell everyone about Parys and its only an hour and half away from Joburg, so you dont even have to stay the night.

"Don't wait for extra ordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them." Orison Swett Marden


Dear Fear

Without good health we have nothing... The past 6 months have seen me have one health adventure after another. Of course my use of the word adventure in this context does not denote fun, thrills or excitement- quite the contrary. Lying in hospital for the third time earlier this year fighting a strange and almost fatal infection, I remember thinking that perhaps there really is something to be said about 'near-death experiences' and how they almost force you to change the cause of your life or at least re-adjust your priorities.

I took time off work to rest, sleep, play in the park with my daughter, travel and re-discover what it is that makes me truly happy. I also stopped saying that I will start yoga one day, and I actually signed up for classes. I even signed up at a music school because I have always wanted to learn how to play the drums, and now I am doing it. I have taken three short holidays in the space of four weeks; and I unashamedly enjoyed more spa treatments than a housewife from Sandhurst!

I have heard it said that near-death experiences make good people better and bad people worse. With that said I am determined not fall into the later category. So I am making a lot of little changes in my life now. I am more decisive, my pursuits are more robust, I care more and give more. Ideas that used to terrify me no longer have that hold on me.  

I remembered a quote I once read that goes; "We gain strength and courage and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face..."

On that note; Dear Fear; You and I met once too many times. I am walking away from you now. I am letting you go. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The girls in my life

'...some friends are more equal than others.'

It has always fascinated me to look at the friendships that I have made over the years, those friendships that I nurture because they really add value to my life, the light anf fluffy ones, those that drain me, and suprisingly enough, I have even given a lot of thought to the ones that have brought me a lot of heart ache. I guess one could say, wherever two or more women are; there is bound to be some fireworks, whether it will be the spectacularly beautiful kind, or the kind that destroys things, is left entirely up to your own interpretation.

Women have different types of friends. We have our besties, who get us in all ways, they have either been around us forever or there are those friends that we meet later in life when we have been there and done that, and therefore have learnt enough to know better. I like to say that our besties are those girls that have seen us before we put on our make-up and we are quite comfortable for them to see us in our 'feed-the-dog-tracksuit pants'. Over the years I have less and less of these type of friends, so I am pretty sure that the 'best cream has risen to the top'.

Of course I also have another batch of friends, and by batch I mean three or four, these are my 'going-out and letting my hair down' type of friends. We can have fun together and I have probably had some of my best laughs with them. Sadly, I have also learnt that there are not on my speed dial when my geyser bursts and i need a place to bath for a couple of days. I cannot rely on them to drop everything for me, as they often have 'long-standing engagements' when one really needs them. If there is ever a lesson to be learnt in friendship, it is this one. Learn it quickly.

Not all the 'good' friends I made in my 20's are still in life. I have learnt the hard way that; its not always those that you love the most, that will love you back in the same way. And that's okay. That cliche about some people only being in your life for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime comes to my mind here. I made some of my biggest life mistakes in this area of my life, but thankfully they were not fatal.

There is no great point to this post, just me reflecting on the interesting, sometimes maddening, but mostly beautiful women that I have had the pleasure of calling 'friends'. A shout out to the ones that have carried me on their shoulders, a shout out to the strong women who have stuck around! I hope I have been as good a friend to you, as some of you have been to me!

To my girls!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

'There's hope'- chance encounter with a homeless man

Walking in Company Gardens, close to St George's mall in Cape Town today; I met a man with the saddest eyes I have ever seen. Yet it wasn't his sad eyes that made me stop to listen to what he had to say, it was his spirit. Listening to his life story I was reminded of one of my favourite India Arie's songs; 'There's hope'.

"There's hope it doesn't cost a thing to smile, you don't have to pay to laugh- you better thank God for that, there's hope."

While taking a quiet walk in the park, I turned to the pleasant voice that asked from just behind me; why I looked so familiar. Now this is one of those strange questions that people on TV always get, and each time its a difficult one to answer. I politely said I'm not sure why I look familiar to him and I carried on with my walk. He kept walking behind me, and within a minute, he said; "I think you are an actress." I laughed and told him that I think he's right. All hope of a quiet walk with just my thoughts to keep me company, quickly dissipated then.

Michael Sasin (yes, I actually asked him to spell it for me), has been living in Cape Town for five years now. He is a well-spoken, tall, African man with a hard face that has been ravaged by the streets on which he sleeps; as well as the pain and turmoil that he has seen in his life. He says his Father was of Jamaican descent and his Mother was a Tswana woman from Mafikeng. He is an orphan whose mother died soon after child birth and whose Father died when he was just two. His grandmother couldn't care for him, so he was adopted illegally by a friend of his father. This meant that he spent a few years of young life living in Czechoslovakia. It was the last formally schooling he had, before he was deported back to South Africa.

The few years of his life in Mafikeng included living in abject poverty and caring for sick relatives who died because of AIDS. He says he was a slave, and his mother's family did not allow him to go to school, and lived in perpetual fear of the bullying he endured as a result of his only speaking English. He cried himself to sleep for many years, and learnt to grow a thick skin. He suffered a mental breakdown, which he described to me as brain damage. God stepped in just in time, and his foster father from the Czech republic came looking for him again. This time they moved to France and Michael joined the military; it is here where he learnt to read and write, and also learnt all sort of interesting things that have to do with weaponery, intelligence and warfare. He was too young to be deployed to any war zones, but I could tell from the way he spoke that those were the best years of his life.

I saw the light in eyes when he told me stories; and although I saw that he was hurting; what stood out was that he was positive, his stomach was empty but he had a strong will to survive. Pain was etched into his features, yet I still saw a light there that can only come from hope. India Arie's song played in my head the whole time I walked beside Mike and listened to him speak.

On our walk, we passed by a McDonalds and I walked inside. I only had a R10 note in my pocket because I had planned to buy myself a can of colddrink on my way back to the flat. I offered to buy him coffee, but I didn't have enough. Very embarrased about bringing him inside and not being able to buy him anything, I sheepishly looked at him and said. "I don't suppose you have like R3 to buy some tea?" As it turned out he had R7. We paid for his cappucino and he asked me if I had the time to sit with him while he drank his coffee, and so we did.

We sat for another hour in the warm restaurant shielded for a minute from the harsh Cape Town wind. I am so glad I spoke to him, because although he made my heart bleed when I heard all that he had gone through; I know that he was my reminder to appreciate even the little things that are so easy to take for granted. It was quite obvious to me that Mike just needed someone to talk to, cynics may even say that he saw a soft target in me and he was guilting me into giving him some money. What I choose to remember about this chance encounter is that when I asked him how it felt to live in the streets, Michael's response was one of the most thought provoking answers I have ever heard. He said; " It is like being a bird in a birdcage crying out for freedom, thrashing against the sides of the cage, not realising that the door has been open all along.

"...That's when I learned a lesson
That it's all about your perception
Hey-are you a pauper or a superstar
So you act, so you feel, so you are
It ain't about the size of your car
It's about the size of the faith in your heart...There's hope."

Thank you, Mike.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Approaching 30's- 'Name dropping twenties'

Many would say being an actress and presenter on TV is a really glamourous job, and although I often stop to explain that my job is really hard work and is really not as glamourous as it looks, when I sat down to actually pen this post, I realised that perhaps I have been far too modest in my explanations.

In this last instalment of my 'Approaching 30's series', I will be dropping some serious names. No rolling your eyes, I promise there will be no embellishments. It was as a Soul City actress & ambassador and later as a Top Billing presenter that I got to meet and interview some of the most amazing people in the world and I enjoyed every minute of it. Jealous down please!

Two interviews really stand out in my mind. I was flown business class to London to cover the red-carpet and junket for the movie 'Did you hear about the Morgans?' Freezing my little touche off dressed in a fabulous JJ Schoeman number, I interviewed the stars of the film and they just so happened to be, Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant. Fun as that was, it didn't compare to the next day when I got to actually sit with them and chat like old friends. Take it from me, Sarah is actually more stunning in person, and she didn't stop gushing about how much she loves South Africa. Hugh on the other hand is very serious but in a very polite, professional way.

The other Hollywood star that really knocked my socks off was Cameron Diaz. She is as bubbly and as effervescent as you see her in some of her comedies. If I wasn't her biggest fan before, after meeting her while I was covering the Los Angeles junket for the movie, 'My sisters keeper', I became her biggest fan. She burst into the room and it quite literally felt like the sun came in with her.

Over the next year I also got to interview Ben Stiller, Rachel McAdams, Emily Blunt and the uber hot Eric Bana. Ben was a bore, Rachel is drop-dead gorgeous but so fake, Emily is a real lady and Eric is oh so charming. What a gentleman. I also met and interviewed the cast and producers of 'Avatar'. Zoe Saldana called me beautiful and Titanic Director, James Cameron said he will remember me when he comes to SA one day, hahahah!

Besides rubbing shoulders with the who's who's in film, I also made a meal with the 'naked chef, Jamie Oliver and he even named a pasta dish after me; I shook Bill Clinton's hand and even flirted with Chris Tucker. I slept in castles around Ireland and I got to see houses that I thought I'd only ever see in my dreams.

I absoultely LOVED my twenties, warts and all. The bar has been set very high for my 30's, but I have no doubt that there will still be lots more adventure, intrigue and fulfilment. God willing!

Thanks to JJ Schoeman!!

look, that's my head in the foreground there! lol

Friday, 1 February 2013

Approaching 30's- Part 2: Hair-raising twenties!

If you missed part 1 of my 'Approaching 30's saga', this will help you to catch up.

I had a bucket list of sorts when I turned 21. I titled it "Things to do before 30". Now with this big milestone approaching, I have been thinking a lot about what I've achieved and what I've experienced; most importantly its gotten me thinking about what I'd like the next 30 years of my life to look like. So in order to do the later, I'm taking a trip down memory lane.

In case you are wondering what hair-raising twenties is all about, the explanation is simple. It is all the things I did in my twenties that gave me goosebumps and literally made my hair stand up. 

Growing up I remember my friends always saying that I had white tendencies because my bucket list included items such as sky dive with a loved one and jump on stage at a rock concert. Mind you I got to do both, but with a nice twist. The first time I went for a tandem sky-dive I got to jump out of the airplane with members of my favourite local rock band- The Parlotones. To say those boys are a good mixture of fun and crazy would be an understatement. My day got even better later when I got to literally jump on to the stage and jam with them at one of their concerts at the Dome. Two items checked off my bucket list in one day, it was a great day.

Shark diving was next. When one hears shark diving, naturally you assume that it will be in a relatively controlled environment and safely behind a steel cage. That is not what my experience was like. In fact my so-called 'cage' looked more like a flimsy little basketball-hoop looking net contraption. I have no idea what still made me get into the water after I saw it.

Setting: Beautiful day, Umkomaas, KZN. We road out into the wide open sea, they dropped a barrel of sardines soaked in oil into the sea to call the sharks. Then we waited. First we saw a school of Dolphins and then things got real for me. I swear I could hear the music from the movie 'Jaws' playing. There were over 15 fins circling the boat, and even more approaching. It was in this moment that I was suddenly glad that I didn't explain to my Mom what I was actually going to do, and boy was I glad that I could pray!

Needless to say, I got out of the boat and dangling there in the water with my 'cage-thingy' not even tied to the boat, I put on my snorkeling gear and looked beneath the waters surface. What I saw defies any logic. There were sharks everywhere, and oh what majestic and awe-inspiring creatures they are. I've never felt closer to God than I did in those moments. Now seeing as the other crazy boys I was with were swimming in amongst the sharks, and being one to never shy away from a challenge, I eventually got out of the little cage, and joined them. I will admit, everytime a shark brushed past my leg, I would hold my breath in fear. I still get goosebumps thinking about it now.

Yes, I played russian roulette with my life...and even convinced my sensible husband to do the same. We went bungee jumping for our first wedding anniversary and then river rafting and sky-diving for our second anniversary. Good times!!

Part 3...Name-dropping twenties, dont miss it!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Approaching 30's- part 1: 'An adventurer is born'

I had a bucket list of sorts when I turned 21. I titled it "Things to do before 30". Now with this big milestone approaching, I have been thinking a lot about what I've achieved and what I've experienced; most importantly its gotten me thinking about what I'd like the next 30 years of my life to look like.

I have often heard people say in order to know where you are going, you need to know where you have been. So, allow me to delve into my past in a small way, so that I can really take stock.

One of my favourite things to do is to travel and I am so blessed that I got to do a lot of travelling in my twenties. Some of my highlights include a spur-of-the-moment Contiki trip around Europe. I was all alone, heartbroken and in desperate need of some adventure. To-date I don't think I have ever felt more free or more alone than I felt on this trip- and I loved it! (In hindsight, I'd say, thank God for break-ups! hahaha)

16 days, 8 countries, and unforgettable memories made. For adrenalin-loving adventurers like myself, few things come close to getting lost in the middle of a snowy Paris, with no more than four measly phrases of French at one's disposal. Paris was my last city before returning to London for the last leg of my trip, so I only had 25 Euros to my name. I was so scared in those two hours of my life that the romance of Paris was quickly lost on me...now all I think is, Oh, what an adventure!

The art lover in me revels in the memories of standing only a few feet away from one of the world's most famous paintings, 'The Mona Lisa' housed under the equally impressive Louvre museum. Then there was Rome and the Vatican city. This is definitely another thing that I was glad to have ticked off my bucket list. I remember standing in the Sistine Chapel, with the work of MichaelAngelo on the ceiling, and thinking that this must be what it feels like to catch a glimpse of Heaven itself.

Ofcourse I didn't just visit churches and museums, I also went clubbing in Munich with some stunning Japanese girls and  we almost missed the Contiki bus the next morning. I ate delectable choclate in Switzerland, went down the Red-light district in Amsterdam and even made my own perfume in France.

To more happy times to come. This is just part one- Stay tuned for more madness in my twenties!