Le Féminin

On this International Women’s Day (8th March 2020) I think of what the Duchess of Sussex said on her visit to Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham on the 6th March 2020, ‘you have your mother’s, sisters, girlfriends, friends in your life, protect them.’ So often the directive for women empowerment is geared towards women. It’s time for this message of empowerment to shift towards men.

I live in South Africa, a country where being female has for many years felt like an extreme sport. Last year, University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana was brutally murdered and raped when she went to pick up a parcel at the post office. The fact that such a heinous crime was committed in broad daylight (around 14pm) in an area that many of us frequent, is what made her death even more shocking. Every rape in South Africa, to the women of this country, is more than just another statisitic. As women, we’re told not to walk alone late at night, we’re told not to wear revealing clothing, we’re told to have just the right level of sweetness combined with firmness when we’re catcalled. The message that we get is to be accommodating to men. What if men were taught to be feminists, advocating the rights of women without looking out for their own selfish gain.

I think of Jesus, so ahead of His time when He dared to speak to the woman at the well (John 4:1-42) during a period of time when speaking to women was taboo because of the second class citizens they were thought to be. A man who spoke to women the way He saw them; treasured, intelligent, valuable, and with as important of a role to play as man ever could. When Jesus rose from the dead, the first people to see Him were women. If it weren’t for the women in our lives who have made an impact, where would we be?

On this international women’s day, I hope that you are reminded of your strength and tenacity as a woman. I hope you are able to remember that regardless of how the world seeks to break you, it never will be able to extinguish the fiery flame in you. Happy international women’s day to all you lovely, strong, and breathtaking women.

C’est fort, une femme

Quand on nous blesse et nous accable, on n’se plaint pas

Quand on nous laisse, que tout l’monde part, on reste là

Avec les restes, on reconstruit, on est comme ça

C’est ça, une femme

Vitaa & Slimane- XY

Pregnant or Fat?

I’m going through a crappy period with my weight and it’s hard not to get down on myself, especially when everyone keeps asking if I’m pregnant 🤰🏽 I’m not, I’ve just gained weight. I’m on a solid reset plan that involves zero sugar and mostly veg. So far so good, BUT it’s tough. I looked at my body today and I wasn’t happy with what I saw. There’s the quiet voice from my bulimic days that sometimes taunts me. My plan is to see a nutritionist and find out how I can potentially do plant based eating alongside long distance running and CrossFit. Right now I am being as gentle as I can be with myself while on this new journey of bettering myself and shedding a few kilos. Choosing to go on a health kick during the festive season is probably not the best idea 🤦🏾‍♀️.

When Everything Looks Okay, But Isn’t

From the outset, I had already decided that 2017 would be amazing and it already is! My prayer for you today and for your 2017 is that God would pull you closer into Him, no matter what you have been through, I pray that He would restore joy, internal and external peace, as well as a heart of gratitude; whether that be through you hitting numerous clean & jerk PR’s (I’m hinting for myself to God here,) or through new promotions at work, may His love usher in so much goodness that it absolutely takes your breath away and all you’ll be able to say is “thank you, God that was totally you!”

No, it’s not a typo. I know we’re in 2019. This is an excerpt of a post I wrote two years ago.

I had a bit of a brain lapse at work and (God forgive me,) I went on my blog and started reading some of my blog posts. Listen if you can’t stand to read your own blog posts, then you my friend are doing something wrong. I landed on one that I had written when I bought my Metcon 3s on which I had scrawled on either side of them, Colossians 3:23 and Hebrews 12:11, pasted below.

‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,’

‘No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.’

At the end of this blogpost, I wrote about how my expectation for 2017, that it would be an amazing year. Prior to 2017, I had been heavily depressed and life did not fill me with joy. I partook in things but I got no joy from them. It was almost as though I was existing. My sister Nadège, my sunflower 🌻 , was instrumental in getting me out of that deep depression. I have often written that depression is like sticky tar, you can wipe it off you i.e. learn to manage it, but it always leaves a little bit of a residue. My sister understood this better than anyone else did. Coming from an African family, we were often taught to be strong and carry on. My sister made it her mission to remind me that I was not made to just survive, I needed to thrive.

I know these words have become rather popular this week with the release of the documentary covering the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s trip to South Africa, however Jesus said it first: ‘The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, until it overflows]’ John 10:10 (AMP) Paraphrased you could read it as ‘depression comes to steal, kill and destroy my life. Jesus fills me with strength and hope so that I may enjoy life to the full, and overflow with joy’. This does not negate the need for therapy and/or medication that one may need in order to manage anxiety and/or depression. In fact, I think it is foolish that there are STILL so many Christians that will say to someone who is battling depression to pray harder. I have heard that one before, and I cannot even tell y’all how much more it made me want to break that person’s jaw à la OG’s threats from Basketball Wives (it’s a trash show I know).

2017 was not a great year. It was the year that my sister passed away and as I write this blogpost, the second last week that she would be with us, I find myself battling to write what she meant to me. I find myself tearing up and crying as much as I did the day that she passed. When my sister passed away, it felt as if air had been knocked out of my lungs. My older sisters have always been my sounding boards and I never thought the day would come where I would have one less older sister. The pain is raw, at times crippling and always unbelievable. I have all our last messages saved and I message her frequently each time foolishly believing that I will see ‘Ya Dena is typing…’ I find myself haunted by questions of what more I could have done to reach out to her for those periods when she went off the radar for a day or two. I ask myself if I could have better spotted that she was sick and done something sooner.

I ask myself if I will ever find the acceptance my family is still so desperately searching for since her death. It doesn’t feel like we will. This past month has been difficult. I find myself always sitting on the periphery of breaking down. I find myself faced with things that remind me of her and the illness that took her everywhere I go. The reminders are on my phone when I get tagged as my sister, when I’m at home recounting memories and I realise that she will never be able to take part in new ones I make. The reminders at work are in everything I do because it is so heavily tied in to what took her from us so soon.

The sweetest girl ever!

On the surface, I look like I’m okay right. I’m smiling, glowing (all thanks to my highlighter and NOT the 2 hours of sleep that I’ve been getting). Inside I feel as though I am crumbling. I miss her so much, it is a pain that only those who have lost a loved one dear to them, will be able to comprehend. She was wonderful, and I shall always carry the memory of her with me.

What to do when things look okay but are not okay:

  1. Talk to someone. I tend to bottle things up until I explode. It is not healthy and I am working to change it. I want to thank my darling fiancé for being my safe place to come home to. He was the first person I spoke to when my sister passed and I am grateful for his beautiful spirit that knows mine so well.
  2. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. This one ties in with the first point. Sometime this week on Twitter, I posted that I had been struggling with my mental health and to my surprise Lovette Jallow reached out, and she even gave me a suggestion on what to ask from my doctor to help with the zero hours of sleep that I have been getting. Don’t get me wrong, I am transparent with my fiancé about how I’m doing mentally but there is a liberation I felt with being vulnerable on Twitter as I believe it was the catalyst I needed in order to make that contact again with my therapist.
  3. Keep calm… try to keep calm. It may feel like the world is going to end, or is ending but I have survived many dark storms to know that this too shall pass. I have also learnt that if it doesn’t pass, there are things that I can do to better manage my mental state of mind, which leads me to point four.
  4. Exercise and eat as healthily as you can. You do yourself a lot more damage if your diet is as crappy as you feel. Treats are okay in moderation but make sure that you are giving your body what it needs to physically function at an optimal level, exercise to release endorphins and be patient with yourself.

To anyone dealing with bereavement, I am sending you mega hugs right now. Things will never get back to normal and that is completely okay. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others. Understand that everyone deals with grief differently. Don’t be ashamed of needing to take time out if you need it. Life may not always feel beautiful, in fact, sometimes you’ll want to punch life in the face. In those moments remember that the person you have lost is always there with you, loving you as hard in heaven, as they did on earth.

Let’s Stay Together: 5 Tips on Loving the One You’re With

A couple of years ago while living in the UK, I was in a relationship with a sweet BUT just not right for me, man. He would say yes to everything I wanted, and I wanted to wear the pants. After a while it got tiring being the one who called the shots, what I wanted was a partner who was my equal. DISCLAIMER: We were both young and terribly emotionally immature, I had a very warped expectation of what a relationship should look like. Eventually that relationship ended and I carried on with my life very happily, perhaps too happily as a single woman for my mom’s liking. So accustomed to singleness did I become that I had already planned how I’d have children on my own, very much like J.Lo in ‘The Back-Up Plan’.

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I’d been single for 5 years when my paths crossed with the boy, (insert drool emoji here!) In their post engagement interview, Prince Harry said that he knew Meghan was the one due to the fact that he fell in love with her so quickly. While the cynics may roll their eyes at that, because it happened to me when I started speaking to the boy, I can honestly say that it’s true when people say you just know when you’ve met the person you intend to spend forever with. A lady that I follow on Twitter posted on how she viewed her marriage as a contract (in some aspects all marriages are I suppose.) She also stated that she did not marry her husband for love and that regardless of who her husband ended up being, she would have learnt to love him. I’m 50/50 with that comment, largely due to the fact that no matter how many times I told myself that I should try to make it work with my ex, I just couldn’t convince myself to love him truly, deeply and unconditionally.

Love, true unconditional love I should say, is a magic formula that shows such as ‘Married at First Sight’ (MAFS) have been unable to replicate. In fact, I think MAFS is the perfect example of what it looks like when a relationship is void of love and chemistry. Relationships like those while very exciting in the beginning soon hit a wall due to the lack of affinity that the people involved have for each other. I don’t believe that loving someone guarantees a relationship will work, you’ve gotta put in the grunt work and be as kind, compassionate, caring and loving as you want your partner to be. The 80/20 rule is absolute trash to live by on a daily basis as it means that one partner will always be picking up the slack. Yes, there are moments when we lean a little bit more on our partner BUT that should not be the norm. Not only can that be exhausting for the partner who constantly fills the 80% role, but it is also unhealthy and is not sustainable. In November it’ll be 2 years with the boy although it does feel like we’ve been together forever, and I can’t imagine being with anyone else. The secret to us still being together, (and in the future staying married) isn’t in occasionally wearing matching t-shirts, but in the tips listed below!

  • Be as honest as possible and don’t mince your words. The boy and I are never nasty to each other, in fact we’re still a touch awkward when it comes to calling out the other person on jerky/stressed/silly/etc. behaviour. Truth delivered to better and encourage your partner to grow is different to truth delivered to cut and belittle. To illustrate this, I have a little story, which I am hoping S will not mind that I have shared. The last six months have been incredibly stressful for me, personal issues coupled with not having a car, and the ridiculous amount of money being spent on transport, turned me into a bit of a grump. Add to that having not been able to train for a just under two months and you have the perfect recipe for one short-tempered, unhappy and borderline unpleasant girlfriend. One evening I was telling S how upset I was and imagine my surprise when he told me that lately all I’d been doing was talking about all the things that were going wrong in my life and not really focussing on any steps that I could take to change what is in my hand to influence. If the boy thought that would make me feel better, he was dead wrong! It upset me further and if I was the cussing kind, the boy would’ve gotten it. Once I had cooled down and looked at things with a clarity of mind, I realised that the boy was right. I was looking at all the things that were going wrong and dumping it all on him, which meant that our conversations where always tinged with the stress coloured brush that I felt was following me everywhere. The next day I told the boy of the things that I could control and what I’d be doing differently. Instantly the sun shone again on our relationship and I learnt the valuable art of listening to your partner even when those words of honesty seem too brutally honest.
  • Your partner is not your therapist. I veer on the side of caution with this point, and sometimes under-communicate because I never want to overwhelm the boy with the stress that could potentially come from whatever I am dealing with. I am grateful that I have a partner who is so good at reading when I am not okay. I struggle with admitting that I am not okay and I am working hard at reeling myself back in, and being at peace with myself. It is important to not get complacent and stop studying yourself. The more at peace you are with yourself, the more at peace you will be with other people. Don’t neglect the inner work that you should be doing to be whole/ok on your own.
  • Love yourself first. This is probably the most important one and one that I believe is often overlooked. Thankfully with things such as the body positivity movement, we’re all learning to be kinder to ourselves and not looking for completion or filling of whatever hole we’re dealing with, elsewhere. I’ve had countless conversations with the boy on health challenges I want to do, hairstyles I want to try, skincare products I want to try etc. Each time he is always incredibly supportive and tells me that I don’t need to change anything (aww). To which I’m sure I’ve replied more than once, ‘I know, but I want to.’ I think it’s important to be happy with who you are as a person, learn to cultivate happiness from within and as much as possible, refrain from treating your partner as a clown who is only there to make/keep you happy. Happiness is an inside job!
  • Listen, listen and listen again! This is the hardest especially when you’ve already decided (in your head), what your partner meant when he said whatever silly thing that men are very prone to saying. I try to remind myself that listening to understand and not listening to respond, pays much more dividends into our relationship piggy bank. I don’t have much else to add to this tip because I’m still learning haha!
  • Choose your partner on a daily basis. A couple of months (or maybe earlier in our relationship), S and I spoke about marriage, kids, a farm where I’d be able to keep pet pigs and neither of us flinched at the thought of forever with one person. I think there’s a real magic in having found the person that I am so sure of. There isn’t anything that could make me run…now I’m not talking about being silly and ignoring red flags because trust me if any toxic traits were exhibited in our relationship, I would RUN FOR THE HILLS. There aren’t any red flags, and while I look forward to calling him my husband and baby daddy in the future, I also know that until we cross that threshold, I am 110% committed to this man. Commitment is a word forgotten in today’s ‘try before you buy’, generation. I have zero interest in trying anyone else and feel rather pleased with myself for having been found by the person who I will be entertaining (for countless years) with very bad impressions of him and Southern American accents. It doesn’t get any better than that!

If you have any winning relationship tips, share in the comments!

Letters to All the (White) Boys I’ve Loved Before…

DISCLAIMER: I’ve used the featured image for this post in another post on this blog where I spoke about something else that girls with melanin often struggle with…hair. If you want that post click here and it’ll open in a new tab for your reading pleasure!

Growing up, I never thought much about race but when you’re growing up in post-apartheid South Africa, it doesn’t matter if you don’t think about race, other people will do that for you. My first 2 years of high school I had a massive crush on this guy called Paolo and as most crushes go, I didn’t say anything. It was simpler that way. Eventually, I grew in confidence and decided that this was it, sure he didn’t really know who I was, did he even know my name? There was enough time for us to become high school sweethearts and live happily ever after once we’d matriculated. Looking back on it I realize that I was a bat crazy teen. How had I constructed a future with someone I didn’t even know let alone had a conversation with? I’m twenty-eight now and while I wish the younger me had this sage wisdom, guess what? She didn’t! Fast forward to grade 10 and convincing myself that I had received enough signs from the universe that Paolo and I were meant to be, I decided to write him a 4-page letter. Just kidding, it wasn’t 4 pages, I just felt like putting in an Aaliyah reference. I wrote this boy (that I hardly knew) a letter chronically when I had first seen him. It was at prize-giving, I sat behind him and thought ‘wow he has a lovely head of curly hair. Gotta have him!’ Okay maybe that last phrase didn’t feature. I wouldn’t say I’m the smartest person in the world but I am a hard worker and in high school for a boy to have taken my attention away from the books, he had to be special.

He wasn’t special and neither were his friends. Teenage boys are not known for their maturity and Paolo and his friends were no different. He showed the letter I had written to him to all of his friends and they’d make comments here and there about my crush on Paolo. The more he behaved like a jerk, the easier it was to get over him. I would love to say teenage wisdom kicked in and I learned from that occasion BUT I didn’t. My next crush was on his friend Wayne. Wayne was different, I was convinced. For one I actually knew him properly and had exchanged more than just a word or two with him, in contrast to Paolo who was a lot more serious, Wayne was funny and made not just me, but the whole class laugh. He was different, and at a school where I wasn’t black enough for the black girls because I wasn’t South African black, and was too black for the white girls, he made me feel like I fitted in somewhere. It took a while for me to admit that I had a crush on him but when I was ready to, I was convinced it was reciprocal. I’d helped him with homework before, I had his number, who remembers the good old days of the pioneer to WhatsApp, Mxit? It never felt as though he was ashamed of being seen talking to me. I sometimes felt that way around certain people. I went back and forth with the decision to tell him how I felt, between that time he had a girlfriend, meanwhile, I waited in the shadows (…jk not really in the shadows because South Africa in summer will burn your skin off) for my turn. When he broke up with his girlfriend, we would speak a lot more frequently on Mxit, he would say that I meant a lot to him and that is all a teenage girl foolishly in love needs to hear to believe that her crush loves her too. I waited a couple more weeks before I made my move, after all, I didn’t want to be a rebound, rebounds are only cool when you’re doing ROMWOD.

I should have learnt from that incident with Paolo to stop with the letters BUT I didn’t. I wrote him a letter and gave it to him when school had ended. My friends and I watched as he read it, waited for a reaction and then watched in teenage shock and disbelief as he crumpled it and threw it in the bin Things were altered from that moment. We hardly spoke at school yet on Mxit, you’d swear we were the best of friends. I was happy to get anything from him but it felt as though I was living a lie (so many teenage dramatics). At least he hadn’t told his friends, right? WRONG! The fact that he didn’t show his friends the letter (mainly because I had salvaged the letter and tore it in a million pieces!) didn’t mean that he hadn’t told them about it. A couple of days later, the taunts began. The highlight was when my friends and I were walking past him and his friends and they threw banana peels at us. I am the biggest advocate of not using race as an excuse for my behavior or anyone else’s behavior. My last resort in any situation is to call someone racist and while my friends had warned me against Wayne. I didn’t want to believe them. I didn’t want to believe that in post-apartheid South Africa, there were people that existed who would draw closer to you, or keep away from you, based on the amount of melanin you had in your skin.

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Confession time: I’ve used this picture in a blog post before but it goes so well with the latest post on my blog (link in the bio,) so I have ZERO shame in recycling this pic. . . . A funny but serious post à la Taylor Swift’s popular method of naming & shaming 😂 to all the (white boys,) I’ve loved before, that didn’t think my melanin was magic 🤷🏾‍♀️ As we approach another year of elections in South Africa, I’ve noticed that racial tensions are heating up again 🔥🔥🔥. Globally it seems we’re living in a climate where for the most part the sentiment is anti-immigrant and/or anti-anyone who doesn’t look like me. I hope this post sheds just a little bit of light on the importance of honest & open racial conversations ALWAYS with the intent to unite. Let me know what you think or if you have any embarrassing romantic escapades that you desperately need to get off your chest! . . Can’t believe there are people who don’t believe black girls (or people of any other colour or race) rock. In my best Naija movie accent; foolish! Kick those people to the curb 👋🏽 . . #positivity #fitspo #fitspiration #lifestyle #fitnessblogger #bloggingcommunity #melaninmagic #blog #igdaily #community #inspiration #blackgirlsrock #fitnessblog #encouragement #motivation #loveWins #happiness #strong #bloggers #instadaily #race #melanin #blogger #Interracialrelationships #beYou #acceptance #relationships

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This incident opened my eyes to the reality of inter-race relations in South Africa. There was work yet to be done. On that day when the banana peels were thrown at my friends and me, it didn’t feel like a typical ‘stupid teenage boy’ thing to do. It felt racially motivated and an act that as I think of it now, sent the indirect message of who did I think I was? A black girl brave enough or perhaps in their eyes, foolish enough to think a white boy could ever be interested in her. I began to see things differently from that moment and thankfully it was my last year in South Africa before I started university in the UK.

London was different. There it felt as though while people saw my race, I wasn’t my race if that makes sense. Does it? I was lucky enough that for the most part when I encountered a rude person, it wasn’t because of my race that they were being rude to me, but because that person was honestly just a crummy person. The attention from the gorgeous Polish tennis players was also nice 😉 I could freely speak to people of all races and never once felt as though there were indirect/subtle jabs being made about my race and what anyone thought I deserved based on that. This time when I had a crush, I made sure that it was crystal clear that my crush was interested in me and I said goodbye to the letters. At that time, it felt as though my race didn’t matter and it was refreshing. Fast forward to 2019 and not too many other romantic or rather embarrassing escapades to write about, I find myself head over heels in love with the sweetest man who is not the same race as I am, yet makes an attempt at understanding and learning about the struggles of being a black foreigner…mostly because I rant a considerable but not unhealthy amount to him haha!

Globally, there is a wave of racism that is somewhat surging. The general sentiment is very much anti-immigrant/anti-foreigner/anti-anyone who is not like me. As someone who has never been a born & bred national of the countries I have lived in, it is something impossible for me to ignore. It is something that is painful to witness. On all sides, tensions are high and while we remain busy blaming the other side (whatever the other side looks like for you) for all the problems we have, we will never be able to see how we can move forward.

Through love, tribes have been intermixing colors to reveal a new rainbow world. And as more time passes, this racial and cultural blending will make it harder for humans to side with one race, nation or religion over another.


Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

I have often heard the phrase ‘I don’t see race’, to which I say don’t be stupid! It is impossible to ignore someone’s race and in my eyes, I think it foolish. Openly transparent conversations need to happen where we say ‘I see your race but I will not define you by your race. I am willing to learn about your experiences.’ There needs to be a greater acceptance that some experiences will be limited to race. There are things that I have and will experience as a black female that my boyfriend will never have to. Some of them funny things like detangling my afro hair, and others less funny like having to deal with the suspicious glances or conversation that arises when someone sees your passport.

Differences are not meant to divide us, they should unite us in common thinking resulting in action on how we can make things better for each other, where we all benefit. We have to open to learning, understanding and realizing that maybe, just maybe: WE DON’T KNOW IT ALL!

Live, laugh, cry, repeat.

There’s nothing that has changed my life more than the passing of my sister. She was my best friend, she was straightforward, had the best advice and when she hugged me, she would always go over my 5 second limit. I’m so glad that in her last days, I got to tell her that I love her and hug her for longer than my usual 5 seconds.

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There’s so much that I miss about her. Her warm (long) hugs, her calls and messages to tell me that she was thinking about me, that she loved me or that she was proud of me. One of these ‘I’m proud of you,’ messages came when I was straight out of uni, unable to find a job. I was like ‘gurrrrl, what are you seeing? There is nothing in my life that warrants being proud of.’  My sister then proceeded to remind me of the strength that I had in me, the strength I have in me. She was the one who would help me to see things rationally and with a new perspective. By nature, I am very emotional…just ask my CrossFit coach but somehow my sister Nadege would always remind me to not allow my emotions to lead me. Never make a decision when you’re angry or overly emotional. Whenever she said that, I did not always receive it well. It sometimes felt as though she was telling me to get over myself and sometimes when you want to sulk about life to your older sister, it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear. At times it would feel as though she wanted me to accept whatever situation I was facing and detach myself emotionally. I’ve come to realise that that wasn’t what she was saying. Emotions aren’t evil but being controlled by your emotions was a whole different ball game and potentially dangerous.

What she wanted me to learn was to stop allowing my emotions to control my reaction to every situation or to every annoying person haha. Sometimes you need to give yourself a time out to better assess a situation without the cloudiness of mind that being overly emotionally can bring. I will spend the rest of my life thinking and probably writing about all the lessons that I learnt from my beloved sister. Her life motto was to keep going even when you want to stop, she was relentless and the bravest person I knew.

Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you. The reason for that counsel is 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed . . . about those who are asleep” — about those who have died — “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” So, there’s real grieving, which he expects, and there’s hope. Grieving is real, losses are real, pain is real — really felt, really expressed — and hope is real that changes it profoundly. John Piper

It’s a year since she’s passed and we’re all still learning how to live, laugh, cry and repeat the whole cycle again without her. In the thick of it all, I am constantly being reminded that there is hope, and that as John Piper puts it, changes things profoundly.

Hold on to the bar

If you’re a CrossFitter you’ve probably been here, you’re halfway into a wod with heavy snatches (arch nemesis,) and let’s throw in muscle ups because this is a badass wod, and you hear your coach say ‘hold onto the bar!’ I don’t know about you but with my forearms burning, calluses daring to rip, the last thing I want to do is hold on. By some miracle, I hold on and survive another day at the box. I’ve had days, weeks… okay let’s keep it real, months where like at CrossFit I’ve had to teach myself to hold on.

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A season where I’ve wondered whether my faith will survive another day. The combination of still (almost one year on) having unanswered questions on my sister’s death, questions on my own life combined with an environment at home that on most days leaves me spiritually laying on my back, has altered my relationship with God. I’ve felt like a spiritual yo-yo. I’ve had my days where I believe in God with everything that’s in me, and then on some days I become so overwhelmed at the thought of all the things that need to be fixed. It’s a never ending question that I ask myself, is God truly in control? If He is, how has He allowed so many areas of not just my life but my family’s life to spiral out of control? There is a persistent faith though that has meant right now, in the haze and fog of it all, I have felt free enough to explore what this means to my walk with God. A couple of years ago when I lived in London, I was at Hillsong Church when I think it was Christine Caine…or maybe Lisa Bevere that said something that I’m remembering in this season, Jesus is truly not afraid of any questions or doubts that I may or may not have about Him.

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This has been a season fraught with questions on an almost daily basis where I’ve wondered sometimes aloud, just what is God up? I’ve felt myself being spiritually swayed to and fro. Nights where saying a short prayer seems to be the hardest thing to do because in my mind is a vicious vortex of unanswered questions. Questions that I will at some point have to accept that I may never in this lifetime get the answer to. As I write this I can’t help but think of the prophet Habakkuk who in Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) boldly wrote ‘even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!’ It is a faith that endures, persists and perseveres. A faith that in the thick of it all, when all seems lost can say; ‘So God, physically there isn’t much to sing about. You see that right? There literally isn’t anything going on here. Yet here I am with all I have left in me finding myself coming back to You for that peace that only You can give.’ It’s crazy that for as many questions as I’ve had, as many doubt-filled days where I’ve felt even further and further away from God, He’s still felt there, the anchor that I had forgotten had said would always be there. (See Hebrews 6:19 & 13:5)

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I consider myself very lucky that in the thick of it all, in this season where I have felt as though I’m hanging onto Jesus for dear life, just surviving, I have somehow managed to meet the love of my life. The unique way that this man seems to have been made for me does nothing but confirm the fact that somehow God is knitting together special and beautiful parts of my life that I am unaware of. I could gush about my man all day, in fact I think I will, grab a cup of coffee if you wish!

CaptureI was never one of those girls who prayed for her future husband. I inwardly and maybe sometimes outwardly rolled my eyes whenever anyone mentioned that. I remember a less wise and younger me, jokingly telling one of my friends that there were more important things to pray for, like an end to extreme poverty, world peace? When my boyfriend and I started speaking, things fell into place effortlessly. It didn’t feel forced; I didn’t feel an uneasiness in my stomach. It felt right, he felt right. The deal was sealed when two weeks after we’d started speaking, I confided in him that I had been sexually abused. Such trust doesn’t come easily and I’m sure doesn’t happen as frequently as Hollywood rom-coms would like for us to believe. In a couple of months, it’ll be a year since the boy and I started dating and I couldn’t be happier. I woke up early this morning and while there was a part of me that thought it a good idea to call him and wake him up because I was awake, the part of me that cares about him getting enough sleep, stopped me. Instead I spent that time reading messages that he had sent me and watching videos he had previously sent me. There are some pretty hilarious pictures, I haven’t yet found any messages to explain why I went through a short lived phase of sending my boy pictures of lambs, puppies and all other fur babies.

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This love is special, not just this morning but on a daily basis, I find myself experiencing an emotion that is akin to when I first fell in love with him. I’ve heard it said before that choosing the person you marry is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The wiser and older me agrees and is willing to go one step further; not only is it an important decision to make on who you marry but also on the person you choose to date. This is the person who will see you at your best and at your worst. For the first time in my life I understand what it means to be loved by someone who embodies the unconditional love that Christ has for us and will one day embody this verse when he becomes my husband: ‘love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,’ see Ephesians 5:25-33 (NIV)

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The only other love I’ve known this deep and pure is Christ’s love and to have my very own human that I would gladly do anything for kind of makes me feel like a very lucky girl. Does the boy get on my nerves? Yes…sometimes, when he doesn’t do things my way…I can be a brat sometimes! But I love him more than anything. He’s shown me more love than I could’ve ever expected for myself. I have my crazy moments, they’re few and far in between because I’m perfect remember 😉 and even then my boy is patient, understanding, kind and loving. This post is slightly longer than I planned but this is what love does to you, it reignites the parts of you that you thought were dead and fills you up with more of the goodness we all deserve from life and love.

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My tip for what to do when you’re in the thick of it all? Just keep holding on for dear life, darling it gets better!

Everything, Everything

I’ve been itching to write this post from the minute I left Cape Town. If ever there was a time I wish time machines were real, this trip is it! There isn’t a single moment of this trip that wasn’t perfect and filled with so many beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.

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This trip was the first to the Mother City that didn’t involve work. Previously I worked as the product and brand trainer for Lush SA, and my trips to the Cape involved lovely store visits but sadly very minimal beach time. So when my SO* and I planned this holiday about 3 months in advance, to say I was excited is a massive understatement. There isn’t much that can rival uninterrupted time with my heart’s best friend. I will gladly follow this man anywhere and luckily for me, he asked me to follow him to Cape Town. My dreamy man got there two days before I did which gave him time to do a little bit of exploring on his own, although I think he had heaps more fun when I got there.

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For accommodation, high up on my list of priorities was cleanliness. This was my/our first time using AirBnb and I was nervous as to whether what was advertised would be what was given to us.  The first apartment we stayed in was clean but bare in terms of how it had been decorated. We had to leave after a series of unfortunate, and maybe just unlucky incidents. The remainder of our stay was spent at a quirky studio at Holyrood, a bubblegum pink building that was built in 1939. I wish I had taken more pictures of the building but I was too busy staring at the boy. One thing that did make the boyfie and I chuckle was the description on the AirBnb page;Loved by travelers from United Kingdom · 100% of guests from United Kingdom who stayed here recently gave this home a 5-star rating.’ And as luck would have it, the boy (who is from the UK,) really loved it. 

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The apartment though quaint, quirky and with a few questionable paintings which we temporarily took down, was clean, cosy, and had ridiculously beautiful views of Table Mountain. The view (and the company,) made it worth it. It was also positioned not too far away from Long Street which is famous for its restaurants and cafés. Across the street was the Company Garden’s which again just added to the magic of this holiday.

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I am a simple girl; give me food, love, water and I’m okay. During this holiday, the boy gave me all of this and more. Being together is probably what has made Cape Town our favorite city. We did a lot of eating and while we had both planned to do some running while on holiday, only one of us managed a 4k run…SPOILER ALERT!!! It wasn’t him. The lack of exercise aside, this was thee most perfect holiday I have ever had and I’d gladly do it again. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m going to be a soppy, corny mess for the rest of my life because I’ve truly found the one that makes my heart happiest. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t wake up feeling like I’d won the jackpot…#blessed! I’ve never laughed as much as I did on this trip, smiled wholeheartedly and have been so relaxed. I don’t take it for granted that I’ve found the mirror image of my soul. He’s perfect for me in every single way.

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The boy and I had a great time in Cape Town getting to know each other and yes, as I mentioned before, a lot of eating! As much as we tried to keep our choice of restaurants varied, we kept going back to one place: Stacked Diner. This place is in my opinion Cape Town’s best kept secret. I’m giving myself full credit for having discovered it but I’m almost certain that it was the boy who found it. He has a knack for finding gems 😉 The only thing I was interested in was that they serve breakfast all day, what could be better than that?

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The first time we went, the boy ordered waffles with maple syrup and bananas, along with French toast. I ordered their buttermilk flapjacks with bananas and caramel sauce. Nine times out of ten, I much preferred what the boy had ordered. In fact, throughout this trip, everything that he ordered was way better than mine…except for the night that he had loads of garlic on his pizza. We went back to Stacked not once, not twice but three times. We definitely would have gone back if we had more time.

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The saddest part of this trip was of course the end of it. SO lives in the UK and to go from seeing him everyday to not being able to hold his hand sucks. The reason why long distance relationships are hard is because you’re so far away from the person your heart enjoys and loves best. It’s a bittersweet feeling to be so happy to have found the person I’m going to spend forever with, yet in the interim not being able to physically be with him is painful. The Uber ride to the airport was painful and while there’s the knowing that this isn’t the last time you’ll see each other, there’s also the pain of separation that taints that moment. I spent a good chunk of my time before flying back to Jo’burg crying like a baby. A couple of days later, I’m still not getting much sleep and I miss him terribly.

I sent this to the boy because I was bored…

Aside from Jesus (that’s an obvious one right,) there isn’t another soul that knows me as well as the boy does. He is the kindest, most funniest and caring person I have ever known. I intended to write this post about my trip to Cape Town but I honestly can’t help myself from gushing about this human who seems to have been so perfectly made for me. The bonus is that he is also ridiculously good looking, I could stare at him all day…does that sound creepy? After my sister passed away I didn’t think I’d ever be happy again. My sister was my best friend and the thought of doing life without her is still a painful thought. My SO did the best he could do to lift my spirits and even when I was snappy, unreasonable, PMS-ey, he was always understanding. As much as I felt my faith in God dwindling, somehow by having this yummy man in my life, I feel a wholeness being restored in my soul. A peace and calm that I haven’t felt in a long time. A peace and calm I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel again.

And then he sent this in return, I love this man so much!

There are so many songs that make me think of him but lately there’s one by Lianne La Havas that has been on repeat every single day.

I love you so much baby, your eyes hold everything.

*SO = significant other

Athletes’ Corner Part III: Adrian Conway

This final piece of athletes’ corner is the best…okay, I’m going to say that about every athlete that I interview because it’s the truth. Some of the athletes you’ll see in this growing feature, I have the honour of calling them my friends…real friends, not the imaginary kind that solely exists in my head haha! These are people that I hold up in the highest regard and they embody some of the best qualities that I think make them the best kind of people to have in your life. Hardworkers yes, but they’re also just really great at loving people and being great humans, some of them humans that I admire from afar. Hmm…that only sounds mildy creepy, I swear it isn’t.

The aim behind athletes’ corner is to encourage and give you beautiful readers a healthy dose of inspiration, sometimes a kick of motivation in the booty, and home truths (some old, some new,) that you can apply to your life in order to keep growing, and enable you to enjoy this journey that we’re on. There’s an old saying that says we can’t possibly have it all, and often times (especially as a woman,) I have had the thought that maybe I can’t have it all. I’m gonna have to choose the parts of life that I’m going to be good at, it’s one or the either. One cannot possibly pursue all of their passions, 1 or 2 will do. This last piece with Adrian taught me that I can absolutely have it all. The thing that will determine how well you handle everything that will inevitably land up on your plate, is the balance that you have with God, yourself, and the people that you allow to speak into your life.

I hope you’ll enjoy this and I’ll see you in a blogpost…or pretty soon a box near you!

Last part of athletes’ corner with Adrian Conway, LET’S GO!

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Adrian, his son Alijah and his wife Ashley.

  • You’re a family man, you have your own company, you’re a competitive athlete and you also coach. How do you find balance and what is it that you focus on to excel at being someone who in truth is  ‘all things to all people?’

AC: I put God first. There are certain times that you must draw the line with what you can do and what you won’t do. I don’t coach on Wednesday nights ever because I have church obligations, I won’t work more than 1-2 weekends a month for CrossFit HQ because it takes me from the body of Christ and the ability to serve and worship with like minded people too much. So for me, that looks like turning down work and more chances to make money, but it is always worth it. As I do this as a priority, it honestly helps me then balance everything else. In my marriage, when competing with friends with family, if I keep putting God first, he always provides the answers and the structure for me to be better and more present in each aspect. It is not easy.

  • Ambition and Christianity, is it okay to want more? Are we ‘allowed’ to want more?

AC: It is God’s desire for us to want more. It is not a sin to want more, it is a sin to love money. When the root of your desire is to serve, create influence, lead people to Christ then ambition is your friend. In fact I’d argue most Christians aren’t ambitious enough about their salvation and getting others to Christ. We need to be more ambitious in sharing the gift we have! Most people show up to church to serve themselves not to serve others, we use our relationship with God to serve our needs and wants and not to go seek and save the lost, LIKE WE ARE CALLED TO. I am as guilty as any. So first I want ALL OF US to have a greater ambition for the lost and getting them to know Christ. And another sad truth is that money makes the world go round. If you pursue your passions and work for everything as if you are working for God and you put your money and give your first fruits back into the Kingdom there is nothing wrong with having or wanting more.

As Christians we have to know that there is money to be had, who would we prefer to have control of it? Those who do with it what serves them? Or those who seek after God’s desires and visions and want to be able to put it to great use in aiding others or helping to fuel efforts to spread the Kingdom of God?

  • In light of this ambition, what is it that continues to drive you forward and what are some of the daily habits that you have implemented in order to keep growth sustainable and everything in the order that it should be in?

AC: I wear many hats professionally. My simple pursuit to want to be a Games Athlete has opened many, many doors for me. I am newly a gym owner “Live in Victory CrossFit”, I am an owner in FNXfit supplement line, I am a key aspect of the Brute strength training team, I teach L1’s for CrossFit Head Quarters and still help run and coach at Wasatch CrossFit. Almost each one of these avenues were opened due to my hard work and abilities as an athlete.

Because I pursue everything as I give it up to God with relentless effort, I was ready when opportunities presented themselves. Day to day right now it takes planning and organization to stay on task and be able to be successful in each aspect. As an athlete over the next year that will take a backseat. I’ll use the next 12 months to heal, rest and focus on the new business opportunities I have. I measure success only by my relationship with God and my family life. If I am ever losing in those aspects then I’m completely lost or very close to on my way. Again, I am a Christian, this is who I am, everything else is merely what I do. I hope to able to use every avenue that has been opened to me in order to lead people to a relationship with God or to help them strengthen it. If I can provide for my family, create an income that can support others, run companies that serve the community, then all of that stuff is simply icing on the cake.

  • In closing, Adrian what is the legacy that you want to leave behind?

AC: I want to be known as a man who loved God, and lived to the best of his ability to love others and lead others to him while I was here. I hope I can continue to find ways to use my talents and the abilities God has given me in order to that. And that I can lead a life so that my family and those others who know me closest would admire those qualities the most.

Catch up on our inaugural instalment of Athletes’ Corner with Adrian Conway by clicking on the links below:

Part I

Part II

I’ll be sharing the link on twitter for an article for BoxRox magazine that I wrote, where  Adrian shares advice for CrossFit athletes! You’ll know when I share it if you follow me 😉 tweet, tweet!

Athletes’ Corner part I: Adrian Conway

In light of what this blog covers (faith, fitness and everything else,) as a Christian first and athlete second, I can attest to the fact that 9 times out of 10, God has taught me the most when I am training. There exists a beautiful intersection between faith and fitness, one gleans the physical body, and the other gleans the spiritual body. If it wasn’t for God, I would be the sorest loser haha, and if it wasn’t for fitness, I would have a very unhealthy relationship with myself, others and food. I’ve always thought of fitness as the cheapest form of therapy. I love reading about other people’s faith and fitness walk and I cannot think of anyone better that I could have gotten to inaugurate this new feature on the blog than Adrian Conway!

Adrian wears many hats, as a competitive CrossFit athlete, he has won the affiliate cup with the Wasatch Brutes at the CrossFit Games 3 times. He is part of the Brute strength training team, and the CrossFit HQ L1 seminar staff. Adrian is an owner in the FNXfit supplement line,  recently became a gym owner ‘Live in Victory CrossFit’ , and if that wasn’t enough, he still helps run and coach at Wasatch CrossFit. The common thread in all of Adrian’s answers is this: hard work pays off but the way to have longevity is found in being consistent and being a person of integrity not just to others but to you. Massive thanks to Adrian for taking time out of his schedule to answer these questions. I was left inspired and motivated to do more and be more not just in my fitness, but also in my faith walk, which at the end of the day is what sustains it all. I am incredibly honoured and tickled pink to share this with y’all.

Welcome to the Athletes’ Corner!

  • So let’s start with a hash-tag that some of us will have seen on social media platforms, #Christianathlete. As spokesperson for the masses, I know that we’re all curious to find out your tips on what it takes to win the CrossFit Games, but before we delve into that,  let’s talk a little bit about your faith walk. What does it mean to you to be a Christian athlete, and how does that influence not just your training, but your life?

AC: I’m a Christian. That is what defines me, my actions, my words and my thoughts. An athlete isn’t a part of my identity, it is just something that I “do”. To answer your question directly, being a Christian man influences everything I do, so being an athlete is a very small part of that. It does reflect traits that carry well into my athletic pursuit however. I am a hard worker, always going to be THE hardest worker in the room or even in my field of current pursuit. I do this not because I want to be great but because as a disciple of Christ I’m called to “do all things as if doing them for the glory of God.” (Colossians 3:23).

I also know that how I win, how I lose, how I interact with my peers, the way I serve my community all have to be done in this way as well.

I tell people, and a lot of time I think they assume I’m being sarcastic and joking, that everything good you see in me comes from God. I mean it when I say it. My nature is not that of my actions, I have to make several internal decisions to be Christ like all the time, it doesn’t come easy, especially in the heat of a competition.

There’s a song called ‘One Sixteen’ by Trip Lee, that personally for me was a game changer. I recall being a young girl in church believing that the best place (the only place,) that I could honour God was there in church, but I couldn’t sing as well as the others and I wasn’t really a fan of people. So I said to myself perhaps I could volunteer somewhere in Africa…ironic seeing that I live in South Africa but it had to be somewhere more remote and more African…and then I heard this song. This was (as Oprah loves to say,) my ‘aha!’ moment, I realized that even in my training, I could honour God unashamed, fitness could be the way that I honoured Him and celebrated all the things that He had allowed this body to do and then by careful discipline, work on the things that it couldn’t yet do. This meant (and still means,) that anytime I want to have a stank attitude, I can almost audibly hear the Holy Spirit telling me ‘girrrlll is this really honouring me?’ and then the brat pipes down for a bit…

  • Can you pinpoint when you had your ‘aha!’ moment, how did that define your journey as an athlete then, and does it define/shape where you’re at as an athlete today?

AC: I’ve had a lot of ups and downs as a Christian athlete. When I first studied the Bible with a few men who were gracious and brave enough to invite me to, that changed my entire life. I grew up knowing of only hypocritical types of Christian worship which unfortunately is the majority of self-proclaimed Christian lifestyles out there. I saw men and women who claimed to know of Jesus not living anything like the Bible taught but showing up to church on Sunday and putting on the best front you could ever see. So as I studied with men that showed me on a day to day basis what it looked like to be a disciple of Christ, it strongly impacted me and encouraged me that I could do the same. Because becoming a Christian changed me so much, it changed how I competed. I often used rage, anger and fear as fuel on game day. I literally lined up against others with “hate” in my heart. In a violent sport line division like football in the US can be, it played to my advantage, but what it was doing to my heart and what I was reflecting wasn’t right. After I was baptized and my perspective on life and eternity really transformed I couldn’t pull on those “negative” emotions anymore. So much of my past that I had now forgiven or moved on from couldn’t be my fuel.

My passion took a shift from being self-focused, and hate filled to being the best instrument for Christ that I could be. He blessed me with gifts, it is my obligation to get the most potential from those gifts and allow them to be a tool to share his word and who he is with others. My aha moment was in 2007 at Weber State University.

In my faith/fitness walk, I have two central verses that I always go back to, Hebrews 12:11-12, paraphrased it reads ‘no discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it’s painful (yes!) take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.’ and Colossians 3:23, doing everything heartily as to the LORD. In a way it has strengthened my belief that through physical discomfort, there is a gleaning and strengthening of the spirit that happens, and whenever I come dangerously close to throwing an ugly tantrum, thankfully the part of my mind that remains under Christ’s control always goes to these verses.

  • What is the inner dialogue that you have whether it is during a wod or a competition, that keeps you centred and focused on giving it your all?

AC: I have always loved the verse Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I loved it even before I was a Christian, not fully understanding the meaning, I took it as God would give me the ability to do literally ANYTHING almost like a superman type of perspective. Now it means much more. I like to look at the verse in the full context. Prior to verse 13 Paul describes that through his walk with Christ he has both been in situations where he has had great needs and also where he has had plenty but that through Christ he knows he can do anything. So, from my perspective no matter what I must endure in order to improve or to seek victory, I know Christ provides that for me. I love many scriptures though, and I think about a few others while competing as well, but for life in general, and when competing that is my favourite as I rock that verse on my inner left wrist.

About two months ago, I injured my back and I remember my coach telling me to scale the wod, but we’ve all unfortunately at least once, listened to the egotistical voice inside of us telling us to keep going. I recall stopping mid-wod and crying because I was in so much pain. I very sheepishly realized that had I listened to my coach (sometimes they know better haha), I would not have ended up in tears, aggravating an existing injury, I’m sorry Bruno. I’d like to say that it was on that day that the stubborn streak died, but I went through a few more months of painful training sessions, back getting worse, for me to finally put to the grave… ok partially put to the grave my stubborn streak.

  • Have you ever had moments similar to mine, where against your better judgement, you pushed through pain, (maybe you didn’t cry like I did…or maybe you did,) and suffered a setback? What did you learn from that situation?

AC: Of course I’ve had moments where I don’t listen to my instincts and others advice, I’m a boy! Haha. I joke but it’s true. Pride is the fall of all men. And I battle with it daily. I have had a few instances, one specifically that led me to injuring myself prior to the 2014 regional days before the competition. I trained so much that I beat my body down, the week out instead of resting, trusting my training and de-loading, I trained hard and kept up my attack. I did this really out of insecurity. I was worried I wouldn’t win the regional, and that was my goal, crush everyone. (See I’m ruthless still in my own mind, dominance is always the goal, not mere OH HEY, let’s just do our best…..sounds again brutal but its quite cowardly for me to claim that’s all I want when it’s not true.) So out of my inability to trust the process, I trained on, and had to end my season very early. That year I was the fittest of my career and the programming at Regionals and at the CF Games was likely the best if I could have chosen the events, that I could have asked for. I look back thankful for the missed opportunity because again, I’m grateful for where God has put me. And what if I had made it? And then gotten top 5 at the Games? I think my life would have made several different turns, I’d rather be no where else than here, right now.

Part 2 drops like a hot potato on Monday