Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Losing well

It’s a new day,
It’s a new week,
The stadium lies empty
One nation is sad, the other is in jubilation,
Life will go on…

Last night, the better team, did win.
Just look at the stats, etc.
But how does one lose graciously?
How does one be positive instead of negative.
How does one change the narrative?

Makes me sad to hear and see scenes of disorderly swearing and stupid drunken behaviour.
I wonder what damage has happened to families last night, because of the misuse of alcohol?
People drinking their bad moods…
Football has mainly been a working class sport. But please show some class and NOT act like hooligans!

It was before the previous match, there was a brilliant build up promo video:
“Football is not important.”
But it’s about bringing people together.
After a tough 18 months of lockdown and a pandemic, it’s a welcome distraction and moving forward!!
(I can’t find that previous promo vid) but here, the Dutch said it well, (about their stadium) – the message of the video applies to all:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfEyWJ4UcpQ

England, for a few weeks, you came together.
Keep that spirit.
Keep that joy.

And stop being so darn negative!
We lost, but this is NOT history. THIS is the present.
This is a NEW team, with different players.
England will make semis and finals again.
Sooner than you think. Stop being so pessimistic!

the narrative needs to change…
Headlines like these need to stop:

England are masters at glorious failures – but they’ve given us nod to brighter future
(Why start so negatively?)

Stop succumbing to the negative!
That would be the best win!
Yes, be sad for a day or two.
But then remember that spirit of togetherness. Live with that!

We have done well.
That team played exactly like that.
Like a team and not individuals.
Football has come home. (Although, let’s think of another slogan, perhaps?)

To the young players, who missed their penalties.
That sucks. But that “failure” (miss) doesn’t define you.
Get up, practice more.
Enjoy your football career further.
So much more to come: victories, team spirit, more skill, and yes, more losses.
Remember why you started playing: FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME.

To society,
Please be respectful of any Italians that you may see in the next few days.
No name calling or anything.

It’s a new day,
It’s a new week,
The stadium lies empty.
But we are alive and our hearts are still full!


Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Festival Christians

“What?! You haven’t been to Soul Survivor or Spring Harvest?”
Earlier this week I thought about this (It’s strange how thoughts appear out of nowhere) – when I answered “no” (this question was asked of me soon after I arrived to the UK back in 2018) it was as if I told the person I don’t breathe oxygen or something?!

In Christian circles there are those who are known as “festival junkies” perhaps… or dare I say “those who live with mountain top faith experiences.”

One or two names come to mind of how people pushed these experiences upon me as if this is where God is ONLY.
A few years on, I think about how these people aren’t really “with God” anymore.
(Don’t read this in a judgemental way…)

But it just got me thinking about how one’s spiritual maturity doesn’t come from a festival.
It comes from meeting with God daily. Through the thick and thin of life. The stuff of life is where we live and meet with Jesus.
Yep, it’s great to go to a festival and be surrounded with like minded people of faith. (Although I have often felt so isolated there. “Those people are so weird!”)

In the big marquee, the pretty music, the atmospheric lights, the playing with moods. yep, God is there.
But is God not JUST there.
He is with you everyday. In your doubts. In a pandemic. In despair. In loneliness. He is with us, here and now.

Makes me sad to think of some young adults and adults alike have drifted from God. “I just don’t feel it.” they muse. But faith is not a feeling. It’s deeper than that.

I haven’t been to many festivals. But I am thankful that I still love Jesus through the up and downs of life.
(Thanks for reading my random thoughts.)



Posted in Faith & Church, People

Jesus and people.

(I was asked to write this. This is what I came up with.)

Jesus and people.

I have been mulling over the word, friendship, recently.  A friendship with Jesus.  So, it’s not a shallow friendship.  It’s not an irreverent one.  It’s one deeply moved by Him.  A friendship soaked in grace and wonder.  And as a Friend, Jesus makes time for us.  He gets us.

Are we able to flip that around, though?  And say we get Jesus.  We’re learning more about Him.  And beginning to understand and trust Him wholeheartedly.  I’d like to think that that is a great sign of spiritual maturity.

There are lots of unspoken things that Jesus does in the gospels that we need to use our imagination to work out, what happened.  I like that.  Leaves us with a sense of mystery.  There is just something about Jesus, that drew so many people in.

The two that I would like to look at are Zacchaeus and the woman who was caught in the act of adultery.  The one has a sort of curiosity if you will.  Who is this Jesus?  The other stumbles, literally at the feet of Jesus.  And is forever changed.

We meet Zacchaeus in Luke 19: 1 – 10 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2019%3A1-10&version=NIV

The rumours and news of Jesus had spread.  Zacchaeus being a short man, is rather resourceful and wants to see this Jesus.  So, he climbs a tree.  How many adults would do that, these days?  (Not many!)  I love his curiosity.  His interest.

    And then, I love Jesus’ reaction to him.  Zacchaeus, I am coming to your house.  A meal and some accommodation, please.  Jesus had noticed Zacchaeus.  (Do you know, He notices you and I too?).  Good ol’ Zac, will not miss out on this opportunity.  He opens his home to Him.

They no doubt must have had a great evening.  Good food, wine, laughter, things said and things unsaid.  Then in verse 8, Zac speaks up: “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Wait, where did that come from?  What made Zacchaeus have a change of heart and a wanting to change his ways.  Simply, it was Jesus.  Time with Him.  You see if you and I, spend time with Jesus, we too will be moved.  And want to change some things about ourselves.  You see, in the first seven verses, Jesus says nothing to Zac about his tax collecting ways.  There is definitely a “time gap” between verse 6 and 8.  Perhaps, two or three hours.  Who knows, but I always wondered what Zacchaeus saw in Jesus during that time, that moved him so dearly.

    Was it how Jesus passed the ketchup (or the equivalent of at that time)?  Was it how He smiled across that table at the other guests?  Was it His lovely laugh?  Did He really just Light up the room?  It may have just been how He shown genuine interest in the people around Him.  Some He knew already and others He hadn’t yet.  Luke doesn’t tell us.  I’d like to think, though, that’s how Jesus was.  The Light of the World was the life of the party too.  And once anyone spends time with Him, they change.  For the better.

You know that saying?  “Preach the gospel, use words if necessary.”  This is classic case of that!  Jesus didn’t preach at the meal.  He just hung out and enjoyed people.  I love that about Jesus.

    And when the time was right, He didn’t miss the opportunity either, to drop in a one line preach:

“Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Speaking of being lost… Let’s move to John 8: 1 – 11: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%208%3A1-11&version=NLT

A woman caught in adultery, is hurled at the feet of Jesus.  There she is stooped, broken, ashamed.  Embarrassed.  What does Jesus do?  He stoops down to.  To meet her.  I love that.  Jesus meets us, where we are at.  (He is definitely not condoning her actions.  But He definitely doesn’t bring any condemnation either.)

    So, what did He write on the ground?  Who knows?  Well, someone does.  It’s the woman who was caught in adultery.  What was written or drawn for her, there in sand, was just between them.  Have you been caught out?  What would Jesus write in the sand for you?  Jesus is personal.  We as, readers, won’t know what Jesus “said” in that sand.  But that’s not for us to know.  We each have our own sand; we each have our own conversation with Jesus.  We may be stooped down, for now.  But we will rise, changed.

Did you also notice the position of Jesus?  Where was He standing?  He was standing in the firing line with her.  I love His challenge.  “Those without sin, cast the first stone.”  Very clever!  We’re all sinners.  We best be careful with how easily we want to throw stones…

    Again, I reiterate, where was Jesus standing?  If some of the onlookers thought they had no sin and decided to toss a stone or two – it’s likely they would have hit Jesus too.  Interesting dilemma.  Again, I just love how intentional Jesus is.  Always.

The woman is spared.  And again, Jesus says the right words and the right time.  Such grace!

    “And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

He challenges her to live a different life.  But once we meet Jesus. Once He becomes our friend.  There is something about Him.  Our life is changed, for the better, for good.

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

“How to chat?”

Yesterday, I was taken aback by an advert for a TV show. “How to chat?” Is this for real?

Their slogan: Britain Get Talking.

https://www.itv.com/hub/the-how-to-chat-show/10a1381

This makes me sad, but ALSO excited! Finally, there is a generation, deciding that THIS NATION needs to talk again. To chat.

Essentially, to be human!

Too often, I have the locals say, “We’re British, it’s just the way it is.” BUT… that’s often an excuse, that I believe some hide behind…

So Britain – YES, YES, YES… let’s chat again!!!

We can start with smaller things:

1) Look up when approaching people.
2) Greet people.
3) Or greet them back!!
4) Ask questions.
5) Don’t need to be so apologetic all the time.
6) You are allowed to talk to strangers in public and in queues. Not every stranger is a criminal!

Let’s chat!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, short story

The Confessions of a Domestic Worker

To whom it may concern.

My name is Beauty.  (Well, that’s my English name.  Apparently, my birth name is too difficult for my employer to pronounce.)  So, I figured if I settled for a simple name, it would make things easier.  Besides, my name is quite fitting because my life is beautiful!  I have switched on Mr Avery’s computer to type out my story for you. I have two children.  Ayanda, my eldest; she is in Grade 10 at Klipspringer High School.  She loves dancing!  Often, in the evening, I will take a sneak peek into her room and see her practising some dance moves.  (I must be sneaky because she gets all shy in front of me.  You know how teenagers are.)

Kagiso started high school this year.  He loves soccer.  One of my favourite things is to see him and my husband supporting their favourite team: Ajax Cape Town.  They sit huddled together on a Saturday afternoon shouting at the TV.  (I keep telling them that the players can’t hear them through it.  That joke never gets old!)  They both just “shoo” me off with their cheeky smiles.
Solomon, my husband is a hard worker.  I am so proud of him.  For the last two years he has won Best Salesperson of the Year.  He works at the local nursery called Green Fingers.  He is knowledgeable with all things gardening and he is super friendly and helpful with every customer he deals with.  They even return to the store asking to be served by him.

I have been working for Mr and Mrs Avery for about seven years now.  I love their kids too.  Megan is in Grade 6 and she loves to sing, we often sing together after school.  Their son, Matthew is in Grade 8.  (Kagiso and he are friends.)  Matthew so desperately wants to play in the Under 14’s first team with Kagiso.  I think that will happen soon – I’ll tell you more about that later…
I’m no ordinary “maid.”  Oh wait, sorry: domestic worker (to be politically correct!).  Read on, and I think you will see why.  Most of us in this industry work from 8am to 3pm, our job responsibilities include vacuuming, mopping, doing the washing & ironing, washing the dishes and other general cleaning.  I work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I enjoy my job!  My responsibilities also include fetching Megan and Matthew from school at 1pm & 2pm respectively.  Oh, and I work till 4:30pm, but I don’t mind the extra hours.  Besides more pay, there is a lot more to my day than many realise. 
I am incredibly grateful to Mrs and Mrs Avery.  They have been particularly good to me and they even pay the full school fees for Ayanda.  (That really does help Solomon and I a lot.)  So, I return the favour to them in other ways…

Okay, okay, I will stop being all mysterious and get to the climax of my story.  (On that note: I have learnt, online, ‘how to present a story’… so I am trying it out with this confession.)
I honestly don’t know how all the other domestic workers take so long to do everything – they must really dawdle!  I get to the house around at 07:30, enjoy a cup of coffee, say a little prayer and then start my day at 8am.  I am usually done by 11am.  Maybe 11:30 max!  So, I know what your next question is: “What am I doing with the rest of my day?”

The Averys have internet at home.  And I didn’t want to waste that free resource, so I got creative.  Ayanda learnt how to connect to the Wi-Fi with a subject she does at school called CAT (Computers and Technology.)  She gave me a quick crash course and now I know how to use it too.  In the morning, one of the first things I do is put the SMART TV on.  (It really is smart!  You can browse the internet through the TV.)
I navigate to the TED talks on YouTube and while I am washing dishes and doing the ironing, I am learning some new things.  Why not?  There are a lot of interesting things out there that one can learn.  And it’s free!  I’ve learned how to have better conversations and that has helped me with Mrs Avery and our own neighbours back home.  I have also learned about the surprising habits of original thinkers.  I shared what I learnt with both Kagiso and Ayanda.  (They’re going to do great things one day, I believe it. #proudmom)

I also heard an inspiring talk about how to teach girls bravery rather than perfection.  Some of the knowledge there I have also shared with both Megan and Ayanda.  I would be thrilled to think that when Megan one day becomes a teenager, she won’t be sucked into all that unnecessary peer pressure that is so rife out there.  Social media is full of nonsense!  And I have seen over the years how it affects all cultures: Black, White and Indian.
I confess, I am sometimes very scared for the future of these four wonderful children I have the privilege of rearing.  There is so much unfair pressure on them, and the busyness of these modern times is swallowing them whole!!

So, I am convinced of my calling.  I am passionate about the mandate I have over these four young lives.  Because both our boys are at the same school, I asked Mrs Avery if Kagiso could come back to their house when I fetch her kids.  Thankfully, she obliged.  And she doesn’t know, but it has truly done Matthew the world of good. ‘How’, you may wonder?
When all three (Megan, Matthew and Kagiso) get home, I tell them to put their school bags down and put on some play clothes.  Then I take some old wood offcuts from the garage and make soccer posts at the one end of the yard.  Megan plays keeper.  (She is thrilled to even just be allowed to play with the “big boys.”)  Then Kagiso teaches Matthew how to dribble the ball.  He teaches him to shoot the ball correctly.  Matthew’s ball sense has grown a lot in the last two months – next week he is going to try out again for the Under 14’s first team.  Kagiso now believes he is ready.  I agree.  After half an hour of play I insist that they each go take a fifteen-minute power nap.  Then it’s homework time. 

However, before that we have a critical ritual that all four of us do.  The Averys have an extensive library with a wide range of books: stories for kids, teenagers and adults.  We each read for fifteen minutes.  At the start of the year, we all made our own bookmarks.  We used some cardboard, glue and glitter that I found in the crafts drawer.  I encourage the reading for two reasons: firstly, to expand our imagination.  (Sadly, this video game era has destroyed that for many kids.)  The second reason is to help each of us with our reading ability – Megan is now the second best in her grade.
While the kids are doing their homework, I read and learn online about how to write stories.  There are lots of free online courses.  (I hope to write a book one day.  That’s one of my own goals.)  If the kids need help with their homework, I gladly assist.  I am not stupid! (Contrary, to popular belief or stereotyping).  I choose to work as a domestic.  It’s very rewarding in many ways!

When it’s home time, Megan and Matthew always run to give me a tight squeeze which warms my heart.  Mrs Avery has offered to drop Kagiso and me off at the taxi rank but the walk there is not far.  Plus, I enjoy the quality time I have with my son on that walk.  He and I try to spot and identify various birds.  (The bird book at the Averys has been helpful.)  Our list numbers seventeen different species since the start of the year.

To save money, I negotiated with the taxi driver that Kagiso can sit on my lap and I buckle him in with me.  It’s quite fun in that taxi.  All the passengers and I sing together.  (I guess you could say, it’s in our culture.)  Kagiso has such a powerful voice.  I think when he’s a bit older, I will encourage him to audition for The Voice.
To save further money and to also prevent my legs from getting old too quickly, I ask the driver to drop us off about a kilometre away from our home.  Once, I met a wise old “umlungu” (white person) who told me that walking everyday will keep one healthy!  On that last stretch home, I encourage Kagiso’s imagination again and we try seeing interesting shapes and things in the clouds.   

6pm is my favourite time of day.  All four of us are together.  Solomon, Ayanda, Kagiso and I all congregate in the kitchen and work as a team.  Ayanda will peel and slice the potatoes.  My husband will prepare the chicken.  Kagiso and I prepare the vegetables.  (This entails taking them from our vegetable patch, washing them and cutting them up, ready to be cooked.)  Then whilst the food is on the go, we wash and dry the dishes and set the table too.  Before we eat and before we say Grace, each of us has a turn to say two things we are grateful (or want to celebrate) about that day.  I always want my family to be appreciative of the lives we live.  There is a lot to be thankful for!

Before Solomon and I head to bed, we make some tea, stand outside and look up at the stars in silence.  Okay, I lied previously – this part of the day is my favourite!  This handsome and kind man standing next to me.  Bliss!  I am the luckiest lady alive.  We may fall asleep with a corrugated sheet of iron over our heads, but we are happy.  This little place is our haven.  My children are going to make it big one day and they will become a lady and a gentleman and will not backstab anyone to be successful.  Not a chance! 

So, this is my world, and this is my life.  I am proud of it!  I’d like to believe I am a positive influence on Ayanda, Matthew, Kagiso and Megan.

By the way, it is no accident that you found this in your post box and that you are now reading this.  I walk past your home every day.  Again, I confess that I have sometimes heard the arguing.  I have seen how disobedient your kids can be.  (One can learn a lot from the after-work interaction of your family on your driveway.)

In conclusion, I’d like to end with a question for you:
I have Tuesdays and Thursdays free.  Would you like me to work for you?

Yours Sincerely,

Beauty
(My cell is 072 941 8036)

PS.  I did switch off Mr Avery’s computer and printer.

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, Poetry and Prose

An online community

I think I have been blogging with WordPress for over 10 years. In the background of my life. It’s been great, the people I have met along the way. Take for example, Charlotte from The 365 Poetry Project. You can find her blog here:

https://365poetryproject.wordpress.com/

A few years, I stumbled on her site. I don’t know how. That’s the think about the blogging world. Sometimes, you just stumble upon one another.

(Granted. My pet peeve is the spam followers and likers. They don’t care about what you write. They just want traffic to their sites. BUT that will always be. You learn to just filter them out.)

Charlotte’s daily poem inspired me so much that I decided a few years back that I would do a poem series during Lent. Here is where you can find the first one:

https://darrelhoff.wordpress.com/of-poetry/poem-1-flyer/

Charlotte even send me a poem of her books, once, a few years back. I believe I had won it somehow from her site.

We have never met in person, and we probably won’t meet, unless she visits the UK or I visit the US. But that’s really not the point. I am just impressed by the solidarity in the online world. (There is still some of that)

I got this comment from Charlotte, the other day, saying that she had purchased my book:

I was super chuffed! She ordered my book. I didn’t even ask her to. She just did. How nice! On that note, I wrote a book. You can find it on amazon here:

And you can watch the promo video here:

So, thank you Charlotte. And thank you to the online community. 🙂

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

Old and New

“All is quiet on New Year’s Day,” the soulful voice of Bono comes through the bluetooth speaker. They sit there, not wanting to fill the moment with their own words. The orange juice goes down well. The fried breakfast hits the spot after a heavy night. Two friends reunited after so many years. A new day, a new year.

Looking back on the night before. They stood on a balcony of a nondescript third floor apartment that overlooked the Berlin city skyline. The buildings’ shadows peering out into the horizon. They and the residents seemed to be waiting with baited breath. The clock strikes 12. The sky explodes in an array of colour and life! As far as the eye can see, the city skyline has been transformed. The fireworks welcome the new year. It’s cold out there on that balcony. 4 degrees. But they’re alive! They feel it!


The buckets balance on each end of the stick that she has carried over her shoulders. Her back and legs ache. Yes, she is young. But a 9-year-old should never have to carry that weight. She has walked 4km from her home to the nearby well. To draw some water. She notices how some bottles lay abandoned on the dirt road outside the many tin covered shacks. “Too much Phuza” gogo would say. A new day, a new year.

The fire has been made. Her brother, Amandla, has made it. He’s only 7 but he beams as the crackling would succumbs to the flames. The rocks have been laid with the awaiting kettle. He grabs the water from his sister and fills the kettle. Soon they can welcome the year with a cup of tea and some porridge. A goat bleats on a hill nearby. It’s going to be a warm day. They’re alive! They feel it!


The birdsong welcomes them to the new day. The warmth of the duvet invites them to stay in longer. He places his hand on her belly. He feels the little kick. Two more months. Then they won’t have the luxury of these lie ins. A new day, a new year. A new life on the way.

A mellow night in. Sitting on the sofa, holding hands as the trumpet of Miles Davis fills the room. He sips on a merlot, she on a cup of tea. A distant firework cracks in the sky. In this very big world, they feel alone. But it’s okay. They’re alive! They feel it.


Happy New Year, everyone!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, Travel & Explore

There’s something about London

There is something about London,
I never get tired of it.

It’s a Friday afternoon,
And I enter the city,
My windscreen, a cinema screen to a busy world:

I notice the sensory overload
But I am strangely calm
Because it’s the wonder and excitement that accompany me
These streets, this city is soooo busy
So full of life.

I notice the famous London buses
I see the delivery bikes whizzing through the hundreds of cars
I notice cyclists riding by in bike lanes or just on the side of the road
I see the pedestrians walking to and fro.
I notice some people sitting at the pub enjoying a pint and each other’s company (After all, the weekend has arrived)
I see a man sitting by himself by a (chain) coffee shop, having a smoke – accompanied by his latte.
I spot a resident peering out from his first floor apartment.
Runners, jog by as the traffic crawls
Those push scooters, seem popular and some folks scoot by…
I observe some venders on the pavements, with pop up stalls.
I drive by all sorts of shops and businesses:
Some shoddy looking ones.
Some classy ones.
London is an array of people
Locals and tourists.
People, trying to get by.
People, thriving.
Ordinary life.
And for some, an extraordinary one.
Some see the city with gloom in their souls,
Others see it with light in their eyes.
How do you see it?

There is just something about London,
This hive of activity
These millions of lives.
I am humbled.
I am marvelled.
I am thrilled.
I am a small fish in a very large ocean.

This picture doesn’t do justice (it was taken on a moody weathered Saturday):

20200815_145755

(However here (above) is a ‘sample’ of a London street.)
This one is in fact, not too busy…


Another random blog.
Have a good week!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, Poetry and Prose

A place over me

a country over me

the room seems bigger and small
as her words come out like daggers thrown in confusion
“you seem to be choosing a country over me”
And I sigh again
Yet another argument, that goes in circles

“One gets tired of having to translate their soul all the time”
Ironically, that was a post on her wall
A few weeks after we signed the papers
and I thought how fitting
Our demise in the perfect phrase

a country and a person
where never the options of
a multiple choice question
they were never supposed be considered that way

back up, to a beginning
when you met me, you met me
full of goals and dreams
and likewise – I to you…
My goal was to get back to the UK.
Because I loved that place.

It was there, the first time that so many things opened up for me
And I often battled to get the words out
You heard the “sinful” or “worldly” sides
and got stuck there, like a song on endless repeat

My God, My God, how I found You in a refreshing way
across the waters
Beyond borders
Knowing as the Psalmist said, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it

As I walked these streets of this new place.
There is a freedom, I can’t put in words
The woods, the fields, the sheep, the seasons
A wonderful picturesque beauty

The opportunities here
the way things work
A postcard that arrives
A these wonderful old and quirky and fascinating cities inviting me in
I never knew she would arrest my soul.

But oh God, He knew
Wanderlust walked in to my life and she changed everything
Made me realise how small I am
and how the world is so wonderful!

And how I can start a sentence with And
or I can start a line with a CapitAL
How life doesn’t have to be so linear
and that I am restless.
and that’s not a problem to solve
But a friend to journey with.

So i feel at home here.
I feel like the me I am supposed to be.
Yes, full of questions.
Still restless
Still learning a new society
And so thankful that God made me, me.

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

The October lady

I guess this piece is the Part II of THIS

So it’s a week later,
And I stand at the threshold
Holding the box of supplies
The smell of cigarettes lingers in the foyer of the council flat

The calendar greets me again
Still displaying October
But it’s only July?

I decide to bring up the topic
With our brief few seconds of exchange
So I ask about the calendar?

For a brief moment, you stare at me as if I have asked something very personal?
You shrug
Words battle to come out
Like the confidence to speak to another human being, has longed moved out

When did life get sapped out of you?
What is your story?
How is life so difficult for some people?
I place the box on the floor of your entrance way

And I walk out.
Wondering how why it takes so much effort to change a calendar?
Why it takes so much effort for people to even live?