The Truth About Grief

I love this thought on what grief is by the internet’s boyfriend, Keanu Reeves. Probably the most accurate definition I’ve ever read on grief. It never truly leaves, it changes form and you learn to cope better. Sending hugs to anyone currently grieving the loss of a loved one, whether it’s been 2 weeks or 2 years.

Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better.’ They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you’re alone. I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here—what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be. Damn it! It’s not fair! It’s absurd. All you can do is hope that grief will be transformed and, instead of feeling pain and confusion, you will be together again in memory, that there will be solace and pleasure there, not just loss.

Keanu Reeves

Wonderfully Made

My sister got so many cute shots of me fake-eating ice cream 🍦 that I MUST use them all. So here we go, adding some depth to a picture that does not have much to do with the content of this post. A couple of years ago, you would have had to pay me good money…who am I kidding? You’d be able to bribe me with ice-cream to wear my natural hair out in its unaltered texture. Fast forward to 2019 and I am on a journey of embracing who I am becoming, and I like that girl! In the black community, hair can be seen as a political statement. In fact if I had just one rand for each time my mom asked me when I’m doing my hair, I would have enough money for a new pair of Nike leggings, and maybe a sports bra in these trying financial times 😂 One of the things I have learnt through this ongoing natural hair journey is greater acceptance of not just my hair but all the features that make me, me. I used to hate my nose because I remember a friend once saying it looked like a teddy bear’s 🧸 nose, and I know this goes against popular verses in the Bible that speak about us being fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image (Psalm 139) and being uniquely formed in my mother’s womb. I did not believe that. It felt like God had done me dirty 😂 now I have a greater understanding of what He was thinking when He made me. Firstly I’m hilarious 😂, I’m also very strong, intelligent, witty, can eat ice-cream really quickly and also ready to kill for my loved ones, I guess that means I’m protective of my family, and not a serial killer 😂

Be proud of who you are and how you have gotten to where you are today. The caveat of course is if you had to kill, steal and betray to get to where you are because then not only should you make the jailhouse your home 😂 but pray that the LORD washes your sins away (p.s. forgiveness does not always equate to absolution of punishment, one day I’ll write on that). I have been through enough grimy situations to know that life does not always reflect the beauty of God, but I have also been through enough grimy situations to know that there is always a purpose to most of what happens in life.

You are wonderfully made. You are badass, beautiful, strong, breathtaking, ridiculously funny and smart. Don’t believe it yet? Keep repeating it to yourself until your physical life wakes up to who you are, to who you’ve always been spiritually! Happpppy Mondaaay!!!!

I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my souls knows it very well

Psalm 139:14 (Amplified version)

My prayer for you today is that your soul would begin to know and believe that you are wonderfully made!

You Grow Girl!

We’ve all heard the saying ‘build the kind of life that you don’t need a holiday from.’ There is an aspect of truth to it, however just because I love my job, it doesn’t mean I don’t want another holiday…or two! I am 4 days into what seems to be the longest week ever already dreaming about my next escape! I took my laptop with me on holiday but spending time with the love of my life was a lot more fun than keeping tabs on things that I wouldn’t be able to physically change should an emergency have cropped up. The night before my first day back at work, I had to physically stop myself from checking my emails because what exactly would I be able to achieve at midnight when most people were already sleeping? I got to work on Monday not particularly jazzed about checking my emails, with damn good reason. Ninety-seven emails, TOO MUCH! Do you know what’s never too much? Seaside sunsets!

Luckily in just over a week, I have a mini-escape coming up in the form of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. This is my first marathon and to say I’m excited is an understatement. I started training for this marathon while I was in recovery from a terribly injured knee (do not start training for a CrossFit competition 2 days after a 25 kilometre race. IT IS STUPID!!!) The sudden increase in training volume all while I was meant to be recovering after the 25k, was detrimental and too much for my knee to keep up with. Nevertheless I continued training until the final hour when I got to a point where the simple action of bending to tie my shoe lace left me in pure agony. Training when you’re injured applies a considerable amount of pressure to your body and if you’re not careful, this kind of pressure can be detrimental. Did I learn from that? Not really, because a mere four weeks into recovery, I signed up for a marathon…this will go down in history as one of my finer ‘how could I be so stupid?’ moments.

After having many of them, I have since learnt to laugh at my stupid moments.

In the same way, living life with open wounds from pain that you haven’t dealt with or sought help, applies unnecessary and detrimental pressure. In the 29 years that I have been alive, there are a few moments that stick out when I think about wounds that I left to get unnecessarily infected before God and a few loving friends and one hunk of a man, brought me to an awakening. Being sexually abused at the age of 6, the death of my uncle, the death of my nephews that I never got to physically hold in their short time on Earth, the sudden and unexpected death of my sister. It took me a long time to get to a place where I realised that shutting people out or getting angry at the world…at God, didn’t achieve anything. We should never trivialise any painful experience we’ve gone through, but we need to awaken to a new dawn where we want better for ourselves, don’t attach an end date to our healing and don’t allow ourselves to be swayed to and fro by our valid, but also sometimes silly + erratic emotions.

To be someone who is mentally healthy has nothing to do with having a perfect life or in lieu of the world not being perfect, being a perfect human. Perfection is unattainable, and chasing it can leave us feeling inadequate, obsessive and annoying to be around. Excellence is what we should be chasing. Excellence in character, in action. Excellence in dedication to our personal, and oh so beautiful journeys to growth. The smallest increments of improvement in our everyday lives, is what we should be living for. Always do one thing a little bit better than you did previously, that is how growth happens. Growth is not linear. There are days where you will mess up but instead of dwelling on your mistake, acknowledge that it happened, recognize those feelings for what they are and then get your (metaphoric) spade and dig yourself (or get some really great friends to help you) out of the hole you’re in.

Growth is painful but if you embrace it for what it is, a process to strengthen & better you, it can also be the most beautiful journey that you will ever go on!

SOME PERIODS OF OUR GROWTH ARE SO CONFUSING THAT WE DON’T EVEN RECOGNIZE THAT GROWTH IS HAPPENING. WE MAY FEEL HOSTILE OR ANGRY OR WEEPY AND HYSTERICAL, OR WE MAY FEEL DEPRESSED. IT WOULD NEVER OCCUR TO US, UNLESS WE STUMBLED ON A BOOK OR A PERSON WHO EXPLAINED TO US, THAT WE WERE IN FACT IN THE PROCESS OF CHANGE, OF ACTUALLY BECOMING LARGER, SPIRITUALLY, THAN WE WERE BEFORE. WHENEVER WE GROW, WE TEND TO FEEL IT, AS A YOUNG SEED MUST FEEL THE WEIGHT AND INERTIA OF THE EARTH AS IT SEEKS TO BREAK OUT OF ITS SHELL ON ITS WAY TO BECOMING A PLANT. OFTEN THE FEELING IS ANYTHING BUT PLEASANT. BUT WHAT IS MOST UNPLEASANT IS THE NOT KNOWING WHAT IS HAPPENING. THOSE LONG PERIODS WHEN SOMETHING INSIDE OURSELVES SEEMS TO BE WAITING, HOLDING ITS BREATH, UNSURE ABOUT WHAT THE NEXT STEP SHOULD BE, EVENTUALLY BECOME THE PERIODS WE WAIT FOR, FOR IT IS IN THOSE PERIODS THAT WE REALIZE THAT WE ARE BEING PREPARED FOR THE NEXT PHASE OF OUR LIFE AND THAT, IN ALL PROBABILITY, A NEW LEVEL OF THE PERSONALITY IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED.

Alice Walker

We live in an age fit for heroes. No time has ever offered such perils or prizes. Man can provide a full life for humanity – or he can destroy himself with the problems he has created. The test of this century will be whether man confuses the growth of wealth and power with the growth of spirit and character.

Vince Lombardi

It’s All Good

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.
I cried because it was too late.
I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn’t know
that my soul knew everything that I needed to know.
I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.
In the midst of my crying,
I felt my freedom coming,
Because…

Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda.

Iyanla Vanzant

It’s getting closer and closer to the time of the year that my sister passed away almost two years ago. During this time of the year, I am a hot mess. During this time of the year my body seems to give into stress, anxiety and nervousness a lot easier. During this time of the year, my body gravitates towards chaos and the collapse that ensues. As I write this I am seated at TreeHouse Juicery patiently (but not really) waiting for my connecting flight to the UK. I am EXHAUSTED. I haven’t slept in hours and the only thing keeping the crazy in, is the fact that I’ve eaten. No sleep & no food is a recipe for disaster that nobody is ready for.

I have felt a mixture of emotions these last few days.. I think about a time in life when my older sister was the only one who believed that I’d be going to the UK again soon. This was after having my first visa application being rejected because LUSH weren’t paying me enough as their product trainer. I remember my manager making it seem as though it was my fault that I hadn’t obtained the visa and then my sister very clearly giving me a pep talk and reminding me that LUSH were to blame, not I. In any case there were a lot of things I was going through at the time that my sister just seemed to know how to take care of. I am trying to celebrate her each year as opposed to mourning her, and this year I am celebrating her life by running a marathon. I don’t know that she would have done it with me but I like to think of her resilient spirit spurring me on through the discomfort and pain that long distance runs bring, her resilient spirit telling me ‘baby girl, it’s all good!’

(Bathtime) Friends With Benefits

As I took the picture for this post, a few thoughts went through my mind:

1. I hope I don’t drop my book in the water. The cover kinda looks waterproof though 😂 should be fine.

2. I’ve already got a bath bomb in the water, can’t drop this one in! Plus it’s ‘Golden Wonder’ this only comes out once a year for Christmas. It’s not the special day that I’ve been saving it for.

3. I had better not drop my phone in the water. When was the last time I ran a back up 🤔 I’m gonna lose everything if I drop my phone…

Back to the intent of this post. In 2016, I started working as the regional product trainer for LUSH Cosmetics and I loved it. The best part for me was reading up on the ingredients, the buying stories behind how products are manufactured (hello!!! where else do you get a cosmetic company that has an ethical buying team?) and lastly, the beautiful videos that show you how their products are made!

When my sister passed away, I was a wreck, most days I still am. This led to me resigning, which I’ll write about one day, pinky promise! In the aftermath of my resignation, I think about just how supportive my parents, siblings and my oh soooo yummy man, have been. He probably bears the brunt of my 18.1 million mood variations, I don’t want to say that I’m like a grizzly 🐻 but I’m also not refuting that statement. He takes it all in his stride, I love that man 😍 But as wonderful as this dreamy man is, this post isn’t about him, it’s about my love for taking baths.

In prehistoric times, as far back as 3000BC, you’d be forgiven for indecent exposure because in those days, seas and rivers were nature’s version of a bathtub. Archaeologists have listed the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro located in Sindh, Pakistan, as one of the earliest public baths. The Ancient Egyptians placed a lot of value in their bathing rituals and would wash themselves several times a day. I don’t know how credible the source to this fact is, but apparently they believed that the cleaner and more well-oiled you were (they too knew about the problem-solving powers of coconut 🥥 oil!) the closer you were to God, and I am all the way down for that!

I needed some convincing though. Baths weren’t quick enough, showers could be over in five minutes…okay maybe longer if you’re solving the worlds’ problems while you’re in there but my schedule was too busy to indulge in a bath. My alarm rang at 4am to get ready for CrossFit and then afterwards it would be getting in the right headspace for work. By the time I’d get home, it would be close to 19h. There was no room for indulgence. It was a race to make dinner, get cleaned up and pack my bag for the next day…all before 21h.

It was when I injured my back that I was forced to rethink laying in the bath. This was suggested by my physiotherapist to aid in alleviating the pain and insane level of discomfort that I felt. On severely painful days, it was a struggle to stand up. I got home that day and poured in half a packet (250g) of Epsom salts, known to detoxify and cleanse the body, into my bathtub and sat there for ten minutes. It was the longest ten minutes of my life.

From there I began to experiment with different bath products, mostly LUSH because I worked there. Those 10 minutes that I spent in the bathtub seemed to wash away the stress and grime of the day and replaced it with peace, a clearer mind and a very delectable smelling body.

Bath Benefits Laying in the bath is beneficial to your mental and physical psyche due to the fact that it can ease strain and tension that you might be feeling. Warm water stimulates blood circulation which means that your body is getting oxygen rich blood carried to areas that might need it the most. This came in super handy for me in my first few weeks back at training after my sister passed away. I felt like I might as well have been crawling, that’s how sore I was. Jeepers I had forgotten how painful training can be 😅

If you’re struggling to sleep, taking a bath at least half an hour or right before bedtime, can aid in better sleep and if you’ve caught some of what’s going around, a bath can improve cold/flu symptoms through the steam inhalation that occurs.

What you’ll notice is that all my favourite products are from LUSH 🤷🏾‍♀️ can’t help it, I worked there and I’m OBSESSED!!!! It’s the only brand I love to use in my bath and on my body. #LushSnob

Bathtime friends with benefits

Lavender: Whether you get the oil, or pick fresh leaves from your garden, this herb has been around for centuries due to the balancing and calming effect that it has on the nervous system. This positively affects your wellbeing and is great for relaxing trouble minds. It can enhance blood circulation, relieve pain and in some cases has been used to treat respiratory problems. Insomniacs you’ll love this herb because while it isn’t a cure to insomnia, it does help in alleviating it and getting you one step closer to that peaceful night of sleep.

Products I swear by: lavender essential oil (I add 4 drops in my bath water,) fresh lavender!!!! So worth getting a plant, nothing beats a sprig of this on your pillow, Twilight bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, Sex Bomb bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, and Sleepy body lotion by LUSH Cosmetics

Peppermint: In my injured state, I needed something that would ease the tension I felt in my lower back. Luckily the type of back injury that I have is one that I was born with…don’t actually know if that’s lucky? The ridiculously popular bath bomb by LUSH called ‘Intergalactic.’ is great for easing tension. It boasts fun and environmentally friendly. ingredients such as popping candy, biodegradable glitter and peppermint oil. This bath bomb is out of this world and the best for warming and soothing those achy muscles. It stimulates blood circulation to that area, delivering fresh oxygenated blood and in turn easing the tension and pain in that area.

Products I swear by: Intergalactic bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, Pink Peppermint foot lotion by LUSH Cosmetics, peppermint essential oil.

Geranium: This is an essential oil that shares similar aromatic properties to that of rose oil. The first thing I noticed when I opened my bottle of geranium essential oil was how beautiful floral it smelt. I could not get enough of it!!! The smell instantly perked my mood up and while I am not opposed to using medication to alleviate mood swings, I like using homeopathic remedies too. Geranium oil is also helpful in fading of scars, promoting an even skin tone, minimising inflammation, balancing hormones (I need ALL of that,) and also helpful in treating stress and depression. I’m particularly fond of the Dis-Chem and SoiL brand for all my essential oils.

Products I swear by: Rose Jam bubbleroon 😍😍😍 by LUSH Cosmetics, Ro’s Argan body conditioner by LUSH Cosmetics and Pearl massage bar by LUSH Cosmetics

I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to share what you love to add to your bathtime ritual and how you make it special! I’m always open to suggestions…even if it’s not LUSH 😉

So Will I

One of my dear friends Eunice, sent me the link to the song ‘So Will I,’ by Hillsong worship. I had seen this on social media, a lot of my friends go to Hillsong so the title was not a surprise to me. I was standing in front of my workplace, waiting for the video to load, and even before the song started playing, I had already decided that I wasn’t going to be moved. I’ve shared in previous posts about the passing of my sister, and everyday has been a wave of emotions that range mostly from sadness, despair, disbelief, anger and then whatever other mix of emotions that are floating around in the atmosphere.

Today was my day to be numb. No crying, no internal angry outbursts, no reaction to anything.

For about a minute…maybe even less, I was okay. I’m watching the video, listening to the words, my heart silently agreeing and as with all things heavenly anointed, my spirit moved by His spirit, tears start to well up in my eyes at this line ‘if creation still obeys You, so will I.’

This past month, I have found it incredibly difficult to sing to the LORD. I have found it hard to declare the good things because right now, I feel enveloped by the pain that grief so abundantly brings. What has been interesting for me is that while I have been sad and angry in regards to the way that my sister lost her life, I haven’t in my heart of hearts felt angry at Jesus. I’ve been battling dark thoughts in my head, biting my tongue from what it truly wants to say to well meaning friends who say that it’ll get better.

Yet in this season that hurts like hell, there is a hallelujah (הללויה) in me. The word ‘hallelujah’ is the amalgamation of two Hebrew words ‘hallelu’ (הללו) which is an exhortation to praise someone, and ‘Yah’ (יה) which is a version of Yahweh (יהוה) the English transliteration of the covenant name of God. Hallelujah therefore means praise Yahweh. My hallelujah song is not the strongest right now. I can barely get it out, and on the days that I manage to sing, those rare days that my voice somehow finds its way out of my mouth, my singing sounds off-key. The pain masking the beautiful melody that should be there, making me feel as though I’m singing along to a song that I wasn’t given the lyrics to.

In these moments, there is an awkwardness and stumbling in His presence, but I think what God wants me to learn, what God wants us to learn is that there are no pre-written lyrics to my/our hallelujah song. If there was, then it would mean that the individual and personal relationship we have with God is not unique, and is simply a copy and paste of what previous generations experienced with Him. Sometimes the melody to your hallelujah song will sound off-key. Sometimes the melody to your hallelujah song won’t be beautiful because the season you’re going through, is anything but beautiful. These are the highs and lows of life. These are the highs and lows of our walk with God. I am starting to realise that this season of pain is all the same lovely and dare I say a very scandalous thing! Precious, because in this I now get to experience a different facet of this loving God who remains kind, gentle and true even when life does not seem kind, gentle and true.

As I go through this season of a weak hallelujah song, this is what I have to tell myself, this is what you have to tell yourself if you’re going through a season of indescribable pain. It will not last forever.

Do I believe it? No

But do I believe in God, that He is able to turn this season of being covered in ashes into one of beauty*? Yes

This is the God who created the universe from nothing. This is the God who turned water into wine. This is the God who could not be defeated by death.

There are more days to come where I will feel utter confusion at what has happened, and circumstances in the future will probably bring me to a point where the strength of my hallelujah song will be tested again. It’ll happen to you too, and each time though it might not seem like it, though it might not feel like it, your hallelujah song will be strengthened. That is the nugget to hold onto, that Jesus who sustains you, is also able to strengthen you.

I am reminded of a resolve that I made 10 years ago, to follow Jesus. Some seasons are easier to follow and understand than others, but I won’t stop following. If the stars were made to worship, SO WILL I.

If the stars were made to worship so will I

If the mountains bow in reverence so will I

If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I

For if everything exists to lift You high so will I

If the wind goes where You send it so will I

If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

If the sum of all our praises still falls shy

Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

*’to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.’

Isaiah 61:3 (ESV)

Other songs getting me by:

‘Even when it hurts.’ Hillsong Worship

‘God I look to You.’ Bethel Music

‘Holding my world.’ Kristian Stanfill

‘He’s been good.’ Ron Kenoly

‘Desert song.’ Hillsong

Wilt, fall, root, rise, bloom

My sister passed away on the 30th of October. It is a date that I won’t soon forget. The painful part of this grieving process is far from over. In fact, I am starting to believe that grieving never truly ends, you just learn to push back thoughts of your loved one and for a small part of the day, it is as though you have forgotten that they are no longer here.

Death of a loved one whether expected or unexpected is painful. There is no way to prepare your heart for the painful reminder that lives in every old message, every item of clothing, every single belonging, that they are not coming back. It’s a tear in the heart.

A book that I have been reading as a sort of escapism is ‘the sun and her flowers,’ by Rupi Kaur. It is a straightforward read, explores grief, self-abandonment and honouring your roots, more than anything it is a book about being raw and as honest as possible with yourself. The book is divided in sections that reflect the cycles of life that we go through; wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. The days following my sister’s passing, I would re-read every single poem in the wilting section because that is how I felt without my sunflower. Slowly losing a piece of myself each day. Wilting.

The resiliency and graceful strength that my sister had is unmatched by any other human that I have the pleasure of knowing. Reading this book, I am slowly starting to accept the fact that my sister is no longer here. It is a painful acceptance because there is a part of me (perhaps brainwashed by childhood dreams) that believes she’s going to come back, the belief rooted in what we’re fed in superhero movies that our heroes never truly die. The heroine that makes a miraculous return, unscathed and stronger.

The recipe of life doesn’t play out like that script where your hero/heroine comes back. It doesn’t play out like the script where you’re woken up and it is a bad dream. The recipe of life isn’t always sweet or soothing. The recipe of life is filled with moments where like the seedling that develops into a sunflower, you have to push through the dirt in order to grow. The recipe of life is wilt, fall, root, rise, and bloom.

this is the recipe of life

said my mother

as she held me in her arms as i wept

think of those flowers you plant

in the garden each year

they will teach you

that people too

must wilt

fall

root

rise

in order to bloom

~ rupi kaur

GIVEAWAY: Two copies of ‘the sun and her flowers,’ are up for grabs. It’s pretty easy, all you have to do is leave a number, (any number) between 1-30 as a comment underneath this blog post or on my other social media pages, and the people closest to my two favourite numbers win!

P.s. this is an international giveaway.

Grief. It comes in shades of black

It’s been 16 days since my sister passed away. We’ve received flowers, messages from people we hadn’t spoken to in years, all relaying their condolences. Each person saying how sorry they are and that if we need anything, they’re there. I’ve been mulling over that phrase for a while now. What exactly is there that people can offer at this stage?

It’s a season of pain. A season of unanswered questions. A season of shock, none of us saw this coming. It’s a season of wondering how to go on with life without someone that was a permanent fixture in your life. The common thing I’ve heard is that it gets easier after the funeral, and also that eventually in time this hollow feeling, becomes bearable. Well I’m waiting for those days. I’m waiting to wake up from this dream. I’m waiting to receive a reply from the WhatsApp messages that I’ve sent my sister. I can’t even think of her as deceased. It’s not something I would have ever thought I’d be saying.

She is in every second of my day. On Monday morning, I tried to go back to training and instead I ended up watching my bestie wod. I had moments where my heart felt the pain of being at a place where my sister encouraged me so much. When I started CrossFit she would drive me to classes and give me pep talks in her car. Throughout my life, she has always been there to motivate, encourage and offer me home truths, some of them uncomfortable but done as only an older sister can. I’ve had a few setbacks in my Crossfit journey, but my sister believed that I had what it took to become a top athlete in South Africa. After recovering from a nasty back injury, the rehab and the grind to being better in 2018, had already begun. Now I feel lost. Derailed. Seeing everything in black or variations of it. Being anywhere that isn’t my room, feels like a slap in the face. A reality that I hate to face. A reality that I have to face. A reality that I am forced to face. It’s a reality that means I have to function. It means I have to do something other than think about her. It means I have to go on with my life. It means I have to go on with my life without her.

I haven’t yet had any days that have felt easier or better than the previous one. Each passing day adds to the number of days that we’ve been without my sister. Each passing day adds to the number of days that we are in shock of having so suddenly lost our sunflower. The toughest person you could have ever met. She had a true warrior spirit that seemed to have been what held me together. She was my best friend, a protective older sister, and even though this is generally a tough one, she understood me.

I went for a run on Monday evening, there were heavy rain clouds which afforded some comfort to me that perhaps nature seemed to be grieving too. I ran in silence: fast and hard thinking of my sister who would find my starting pace a bit too fast to be sustained. I thought about all the times that I could have slowed down to accommodate her. I thought about how even with my grumpiness at having to slow down, she treated each run with me as though she were running with her best friend for the first time.

I think of her final words to me a lot. I think of how I didn’t even know that those were her final words. It feels as though there is a tear in my heart.

So when people say ‘I’m here if you need anything.’ Here is the ‘anything,’ that I would like and that I need: I would like for you to piece my heart back together. I would like for you to tell me how one goes on with a ‘normal’ routine when life has thrown in a situation that wasn’t supposed to be part of your normal. I need time to sit. Time to heal. Time to understand and time to grieve. Now is a good time to press the pause button on life. The remote must be hidden.

Grief.

It comes in shades of black.

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

C.S Lewis

The Problem of Pain

Integrity: doing what you say you’ll do 

This morning (and every morning for the past two months,) I have made it a daily habit to listen to podcasts that start my day off with either laughter, (Russell Brand on Radio X) or aligns my focus so that I can get the maximum benefit from tasks that I get to complete. I’ll be honest, when you wake up at 4:15 every single morning to make it in time for the 5am class, you have to coax you brain into deciding that you will apply the same (if not greater,) level of focus, determination and joy that early, as you would for a later time when you’re slightly more awake and pleasant to be around without the need of caffeine. 
When you train that early, you have to be mindful in every single thing that you get to do. In previous posts, I’ve touched on how practicing mindfulness, (i.e. changing my mindset) has helped in improving my performance as an athlete and recently my quality of life. As I progress on this journey, developing a healthy mindset (not just for sports performance,) is becoming increasingly important. This morning I was listening to a podcast by Brute Strength on ‘mindsets and gaining the edge,’ with 2nd fittest woman in the world, Kara Webb and there was so much gold in this podcast that I found myself having to do more reining in than I typically do, to my ridiculously ADHD brain that wants to spew out everything all at once! 

A word that came up in this podcast, and stuck with me, is the word  ‘integrity.’

integrity

– The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. 

– The state of being whole and undivided. 

It’s a word we use to describe people that we respect, admire or simply want to be like! I am very blessed to have coaches (and people,) who are loaded with this trait, and I’ve learnt (and continue to learn,) so much from them. If you have people like these in your life, treasure them. These people are great! These people are important, make sure to high 5 them next time you see them! Do you know what else is great & even more important? Personal integrity to yourself (comes in at about 35:02 minutes in the podcast…I’m on my third listen of this 🙈)
What you tell yourself you’re going to do AND then carrying out that action, speaks volumes about the person that you are to yourself. Are you undivided, honest and steadfast to the word or promises that you make to yourself? Are you a person of integrity to yourself? Do you honor the promises you make to yourself whether health wise or (for me especially,) in your faith walk? 

When you honor the promises that you make to yourself, and do them CONSISTENTLY, you begin to build personal trust in yourself, in your efforts, in your entirety as a living being. 

I had to ask myself this question: 

‘Do you trust yourself? Are you a person of integrity to Aurélie?’



Here’s the thing that I discovered as I attempted to answer this question; I couldn’t come up with a solid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. In my head these two answers were swirling around : ‘sometimes when I know I’m good at something, yeah then I definitely trust myself’ or ‘yeah when things are going well and usually when I feel like it, I’d say I have good personal integrity to myself.’  The goal is to get to a place where you can say: ‘YES I am a person of integrity to [insert your name over here] all the damn time!’ 

Life will offer you a multitude of situations (and people too haha,) to test the mettle of your character. Who is the person that rises up when demands are made on the moral fabric that ties you together? A great question to ask yourself when these situations (or people crop up,) occur: ‘is this true to the person that I want to be to myself? Will this enhance the relationship that I have with myself as a person of integrity?’ If it doesn’t fulfill that criteria, don’t compromise, no dilly dallying over here, say no! 

I am at a beautiful stage in my life where (slowly…slow doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,) I’m cutting off all the things that don’t align with the person I want to be (firstly) to myself, and then to others. I’m learning to match every moment of my existence to the purposes that I would most like to pursue. It’s what we all need to do, not the purposes that have been assigned to us based on gender, race and/or socio-economic status, not the purposes that people would like you to pursue. You have to be the one that decides these purposes. 
I’ll be honest, I don’t always get it right, habits take time to change (don’t make that your excuse/crutch though,) but I’m chasing greater personal integrity & excellence to myself and that’s something that should never stop. 
Not for me. Definitely not for you! 

The aftermath of listening to this podcast was a 5K run that I had half-heartedly planned 🙃, hence the post- run image for this post. Only subscribe to the Brute Strength podcast if you’re serious about bettering yourself; you just might end up going for a 10K run 😉 

Recommended reading: ‘Getting things done: the art of stress-free productivity.’ David Allen 

‘A champion is not the winner. A champion is a person who comes through in the final hour.’

Skinny vegan

Very early on, at the start of my vegan journey, I remember someone asking me how come I wasn’t a skinny vegan…almost three years down the line, I still haven’t figured out how all this kale and broccoli can be so disrespectful to me, and hasn’t yet caused my butt to whittle down at least a size down. I must be honest, one of the (very selfish,) motivating factors for me about becoming vegan was the success stories I had read about people who had lost a ton of weight simply by cutting out animal products, and if you read my previous post (barbells & eating disorders,) you’ll know that for the bulimic girl that I was, to lose weight while embarking on a path that would reduce cruelty to animals and to the environment, was one that I was more than ready for! I’ll admit that it wasn’t the healthiest start. I was more fixated on being skinny than any other factor. A skinny me, imagine that! A me that would be able to find jeans that would finally get over my thunder thighs, and my butt. Imagine that; a me that would wear jeans, that was completely unheard of! 

In my first year of veganism, I dropped 4kg (my cheeks held all my chubbyness,) and I started to feel a lot more confident and comfortable in my body, I started to run more. I started to run in shorts. I bought crop tops. I wore crop tops… I was obsessed with crop tops. I became a lot more body confident and wanted to get stronger. 
Enter the beautiful sport of CrossFit. In September of 2014, when I started CrossFit, I felt that this (CrossFit,) would galvanize me to the pulpit where I would gain the title of hottest vegan the world had ever seen, and the bonus… my butt would shrink. My butt goal was Kylie Minogue in “spinning around.” I may or may not have wanted to buy myself a pair of gold hot pants…

Well a month or so later, my arms getting a lot more defined, my stomach even flatter; during a session of back squats, I decide to do as Beyoncé tells you to do in “get me bodied,” drop down almost hit the floor with it (aka ass to grass,) and my body naturally being too bootylicious for the world, I hear a rip. Yup, I had just ripped my tights, I had to think of very strategic ways to squat without exposing anything. Let’s just say that on that day, I did not break 90 😂 It was on that day that I realized that I would never be a skinny vegan. To be fair I still have days where I’m convinced that if I just eat a little bit less, I’ll drop more weight, but then I get hungry and forget that resolution. This plantbased diet of mine has allowed to put on weight when I feel like I look too lean, which by normal definition of the word, isn’t even what a true lean looks like…whatever a true lean is anyway. This plant based diet has also allowed me to lose weight when I feel like I look too heavy; that’s when I cut down on pasta, bread and potatoes. 

I have to be honest, I was mildly devastated when 1 year later I was still the same size I was when I first became a vegan. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that God obviously wants me to have a booty and that no matter how hard I pray, my weight gain will always be booty first before it travels up to my pancake chest. I have had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you’re just always going to be that girl with the “big, big booty, what you got a big booty” 🎶 and that’s okay, because let’s face it, and we know this; no one ever writes songs about small bottoms. I’ve had to choose strength over aesthetics every single day because 9 times out of 10, when you have suffered with an eating disorder, you battle body dysmorphia every single day. You have to choose to see your body differently, see yourself as a racehorse, not just looking like one but being one. This has meant that I have had to learn to prioritize my body performing well, over aesthetics. I will be honest, there are days when I want to cry at how my body looks like. Crying is next level isn’t it haha, but on some days, particularly my hot pink shorts days that I do love so much, I look at my bum and I feel like a pink elephant and I adore elephants 🐘 but on some days you do wish that you were a lithe gazelle. It’s not gonna happen for me though and I think I’m FINALLY truly okay with that. My goal is strength, speed and better gymnastic ability. My goal is no longer a size that has been stitched on a label. There are days when I try on clothing and I have to do some deep belly breathing to not go into a panic attack about now having to try size L. Once I get over that I am able to appreciate how strong and ready for life my body looks. I look rock steady and even if I have my emotionally charged days where I feel like the wheels are coming off my train; at least my body fools people into thinking “hey this girl has it together!” It must also be the highlighter that I apply, it makes me look alive even on my insanely dead feeling days. 

I thought I’d end this post with an example of what I eat in a daily basis. As much as I adore my doughnuts and French fries, 🍟 I am 9 times out of 10; a very healthy eating vegan. I love my kale smoothies, my freshly pressed green apple and pepper juices (try it, it’s yum!) I don’t believe in the starving vegan misconception. There is so much to eat and I eat a lot of it. The only supplement I have to take is a vitamin B complex, other than that, my iron levels are normal (even donate blood regularly,) I’m as fit as a fiddle and my blood pressure is also within the healthy range. Eating vegan helps with my depression too but we’ll talk about that in another post. 
Breakfast: massive bowl of oats, I’m assuming that I measure out roughly 500g. I’m a little bit of a 🐷 To my oats I add cocoa powder, a vegan protein powder (currently using the vanilla ice cream flavored one by Biogen,) chia seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds. I sometimes add brown sugar if I have a sweet craving. Sugar is probably my biggest weakness.
Snacks throughout the day: fruit (apples are my faves,) and grapes. 
Lunch: I usually have a sandwich with a stir fry mix inside,( peppers, kale & Frys chunky strips.) Depending on what I made for meal prep, I have that too. Usually pasta with a tomato based sauce. 

Dinner: this also depends on what I’ve made for the week. Sometimes I’m not even that hungry to have a full meal. What I have noticed though is that I am always hungry. Sometimes that’s the biggest struggle as a vegan; always being hungry but having to travel 6 million kilometers to find a place that hasn’t caused harm to animals in order to feed you. 
What saves me is meal prepping, in my early and inexperienced days as a vegan, I would be lazy with my meal prep and I would not only starve, but my energy levels were deathly low. When life gets busy, I sometimes forget this and then I have to give myself a swift kick in the booty and prep. 
The point that I am trying to make through this post is that being vegan (especially if you’re an athlete,) will not result in you losing your gains. Look at my butt and arms for proof. It is possible to be ripped and shredded even more than a grater, without causing harm to animals. Being vegan is one of the best decisions I could have ever made not just for myself, but for the animals too. I do not at all see myself ever turning back because that to me would be a massive step backwards. I proudly wear my vegan badge and will ensure all the vegan jokes, I’ll endure my bum seemingly getting bigger because it isn’t about the size of the vegan, but the size of the heart in the vegan and while I will never be that girl who picks up worms and takes them home 😂 I just can’t stand slimy creatures, they scare me 🙈 I am however that girl who wants to see the end of animal cruelty. Vegan and proud of it!