Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Glorious Wins Part 3

It was somewhere in between feeling weak, shaky in my limbs, dizzy and nauseated, with shivers running down my body, that I reached a unique and remarkable clarity with regard to 2013, and then to the spanking new New Year ahead -2014. Also, did I say 'was somewhere in between'? I mean 'is'. It's 3:30 a.m where I am in the world, and on New Years Day (ahem, New Years Very Early Morning) I happen to be feeling like, oh how do my native Afrikaaners put it? Right, like kak. Feel free to look that one up. 

Petite Dynamite ain't feeling brill, folks.  So, in an attempt to push through each wave of yuckiness, I am typing this on my iPhone at this ungodly hour, while holding the blankets up to my ears which cover my curled up, poor little body.

* * * 

It's late evening now, and it goes without saying (though I'll put it in anyway) that my New Years early hours were not the most fabulous, nor have I been feeling tres fantastico throughout the day. In fact I've been feeling tres weak-limbed, so I have been forced today to sl-o-w d-o-w-n majorly and act with great gentleness with myself. Quite an interesting practice considering what day it is. 

Anyway, friends, as I said on my previous post and above, I have taken a magnifying glass, or rather, zoomed out on 2013 and my great victories so as to firmly set in the steps of my success ladder -my Greatness Ladder. 

As a New Years exercise, I greatly urge you all to write down somewhere (anywhere) your triumphs of 2013. Now a triumph may come in the form of an extremely difficult or troublesome situation that you have risen above -it most likely did- or it may be a great leap of faith or risk you took. You may not be able to immediately think of your wins, but I promise you, they are there, and there are many. I am sharing my top Yes! moments of 2013 here today. I hope they shift loose the murky memories of your own moments, and inspire you to start climbing step by step. 

My Glorious Wins of 2013 a.k.a 
My Greatness Ladder

1. Summiting Mount Kilimamjaro for the second time and meeting all the incredible people I did through it
2. Cultivating new friendships and relationships by allowing my authentic Self to emerge and play
3. Hiking the Otter Trail with my dad, brother and dearest friend Anasofia, her family, and other wonderfully interesting individuals 
4. Being elected as a prefect 
5. My aha! moment from reading a book called Women, Food and God. 
6. Reading Eat, Pray, Love and the subsequent aha!
7. My second term drama practical performance which wowed and struck the audience -and even us- into a state of awe
8. My introduction to slam poetry by attending my friend Ruby-Anne's POP Poetry Competition
9. The subsequent slam poem You Think You Know Me that I wrote in true Self-expression
10. Growing greatly as a writer with an authentic mission. Wrote some of my best writing yet and officially launched Petite Dynamite
11. Becoming a 1st Violinist in my Youth Orchestra. Playing my Grade 7 violin exam and being awarded a Merit!
12. Dancing my Intermediate Foundation Royal Ballet Academy exam 
 -and also getting a Merit
13. Stood up for my beliefs and Authenticity when I became a debutante
14. Being awarded the Top Award for History and Biology for Grade 11
15.Nabbing 10 As out of my 11 subjects for my final Grade 11 term
16. Planting the seeds of growth that have culminated with my Being that I am now
17. Going to the Grahamstown Fedtival with my Youth Orchestra 
18. Putting together and performing an Adele Medley with my singing group for a prestigious school choir festival 
19. Had great fun (why not put this one in?)

Fabulous friends

Grahamstown Music Festival and playing as part of my youth orchestra

Composing my slam poem You Think You Know Me with my mom by firelight

Elected as a prefect!

Macbeth: Three Witches performance for Drama Practicals

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with my dad and brother

When I made the decision to acknowledge these successes, I began with a long, unedited list of every act, moment, epic occurrence that I considered to be a tick on my Yes! list, regardless of how tiny as it may appear. Then I slowly filtered through the last and pinpointed the biggies, finally resulting in the list above. 

Happy. That's what I am. 2013 is done and dusted and I've come out it all with greater wisdom, knowledge and knowing. I've had really highs, and really lows, ups, wins, successes, and then downs, crosses and oopsies, but all in all, it has been a fantastic year. I will take from last year all my lessons, joys, inspirations and ideas, new friendships and greater grasping of my Self. The rest, I will release into the ethos as experience and put simply, it's in the past. 

So let's throw a celebratory carnival for ourselves, our family, friends and the planet! Let us dance and cajole on the streets for who we are today and how far we have come. 

I wish you all great magic, flow and WOWness in your year ahead. 

Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Celebratory Carnival Part 2

The year has almost come to its end, and I find myself somewhat short of time to share with you all my grand plans. So here I sit, cramming in this post while I'm being shouted at to hurry up, writing this.

See, I'm actually off on yet another adventure this morning for the next eight days with little to no Internet connection (just how I like it on these occasions); four days in Cintsa, a gorgeous beach-y town at the coast, and then four more in Hogsback. I am doubly excited about Hogsback, see, because the last time I was there I was 12, and I have been fighting to go back ever since. I found it absolutely magical and entrancing. 

Most of you may not know this, but J.R.R Tolkien actually based the setting of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit on Hogsback, where he spent many childhood holidays. Yep, for those who don't know, Tolkien was born and bred in good old Bloemfontein, South Africa.

But back to the point, my grand plans. I have spent the last few weeks since my grade 11 year came to an end in deep thought and reflection. My holidays are usually a time of self-nourishment, and recovery considering how hard I push during exam time. I rest, read, write, watch good movies, eat well, exercise, spend time with family and friends, but my off-time is also a treasured period in which I formulate plans and am in a space of greater self-growth, learning and insight. 

The end of 2013 has come and I find myself in this space, but before I share the fruit, I must reveal to you the tree that holds them, through what I call:

Letting it all land

It’s a very important practice, letting your yearly victories land. We so often do not acknowledge ourselves for our achievements, and what comes of that is that we have a step in our ladder missing. As we climb up the ladder that is our journey through life- whether it be within ourselves, with our family, our work- we must remember that we cannot scale two parallel rods. The triumphs we allow to land are the triumphs set into our ladder on which we may then step. 

The year has come to its final days; It’s time to wish 2013 arrivederci! and it’s time to also cash up on our lessons, experiences, feats, defeats and who we are, now having gone through it all. I believe many of us feel we have not won enough battles this year, feel we have inadequately lived this year. I’ll share with you all that I have many a moment where I shrink my existence into the value of a golf ball. 

There are days when I fall into a chasm of self-loathing –the equivalent of a solid kick from a Dock Martin. Days where I am horrified by my lack of knowledge of Einstein’s string theory, the absence of Simon and Garfunkel albums on my iPod and the non-existence of War and Peace on my bookshelf. Days where that incessant voice runs laps around my cranium, hollering at the top of its lungs, “Anthea, you are not doing enough! You haven’t read this book, watched that life-changing movie, practiced enough violin and composition, written enough writing pieces and poems, paid enough attention to your blog, seen this place, tried that out, done enough community service –um, hello? You want to be a humanitarian among other things. How are you ever going to realise your dreams, and how are you ever going to change the world if you are ignorant, sheltered and unproductive?” 

Eventually, the voice’s venomous words make me feel so flustered and anxious that I become a leaf in the middle of a ceaseless whirlpool, trapped in the spiralling tornado of H20, seeing no exit other than to be engulfed by the depths, never to surface again. Yet, amidst the stormy high seas of my cognitive coagulation, lies my Self beneath the surface, serene.
You are amazing, Anthea. Take a deep breath. You are amazing.

How do we not feel like we have amounted to nothing after an entire year of brilliant work? Well, we have to point out the brilliant work to ourselves! 

Which is exactly what I am going to do. This is a four (or five, possibly) part blog post series, and I greatly hope that you all will take from them ways to excel and go abundantly forward this 2014.


Friday, December 27, 2013

One last Xmas flash mob for you all

The following flash mob must be one of the most famous of all time. It was my first flash mob video I ever watched, and I still go back to it every festive season to share with others not acquainted with the sheer brilliance of its beautiful creative expression. 

May you all enjoy the video as much as I do.

I absolutely adore the man who sang the second hallelujah, right after the girl "on the phone" starts. He is like a young Pavarotti! I wish I could find out his name, but alas, no such luck in my internet search.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

You are Stars!

It was Christmas day and the time had come for family annual traditions to be lovingly carried out. The tradition being handing out cookies to hospital staff at our local hospital to thank them for working and to wish them a Merry Christmas. It's a tradition my mom started a few years ago, and since then I've become the driving force for us to keep going. Christmas and charity are tied and the combination blesses us all with the gift that is joy, the joy of generosity and the joy of receiving.

This year I decided on Donna Hay's vanilla sugar-cookies, and they turned out so beautifully!

The final result, and a special message for the fantastic human beings.

We arrived at the hospital for the late shift and we began handing out the cookies to all the staff; paramedics, secretaries, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, cleaners and even security guards.

The ER guys were the first we went to, and they were so happy! 
One of them said that nobody had ever done something like that for them. Wow. I am so blessed to be the first.

I'd visited the same ward last year, and the ladies remembered me! I'm so glad!

(Chuckles) These ladies were sitting with their feet up on the table, bored out of their minds when I knocked on their door. 
It was such a treat to see them light up when I gave them our thanks and Christmas wishes -not to mention the cookies!

We finished our rounds and the wonderfulness of giving and kindness to others just filled me with warmth only a holiday could hold. 

Each smile brightened the world a little more, because they are stars. 

I am so grateful to my mother for starting the tradition. 
It is such a special part of Christmas that my mom and I do together. 

What would our world be like if every person went out and gave their thanks to their local hospital on Christmas day? The general manager thanked us for taking time out of our day to do something special for them. I invite all of you to find some way to make a difference in someone's day next year -it is really a rewarding practice.

"Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself." 
— Og Mandino


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Zest, Warmth and a Holiday Aglow

"Happy Commercialismas everyone!" was the Facebook status posted by a friend of mine on the 25th December last yearI laughed I'll be frank, but then I felt a twang of melancholy for that Big Business perception of my favourite holiday. Christmas has always been a magical and beautiful time of the year for me, authentic in all its jolliness. 

As a child, I grew up with wonderful family gatherings every Christmas; lots of family around, good food, presents, Santa visits (my dad, and then just to fool us for a little longer, my uncle) and pine cones dotting our house for decoration. Now, going into my 18th year of life, I still treasure Christmas with all my heart. I adore the merry atmosphere in which the very air just oozes richness and joy. 

This year, my aunt and I have banded together yet again to put together the ultimate Christmas Eve dinner on the planet. 
Our plan: Tessa Kiros' red pepper soup, chili prawns, Gordon Ramsay's lemon-y-sage turkey with apple-cranberry sauce and gravy, apple-hazelnut stuffing, crisp potatoes, green beans and then, Donna Hay's raspberry trifle (wow). 

I'm always in charge of the apple-cranberry sauce and the dessert -if I was on Masterchef, I'd be the dessert queen. Though I rarely eat dessert, I am an ace when it comes to making the most mouthwatering coagulations. Today I think I perfected the apple-cranberry sauce -it's to die for, friends. I am very intrigued to see how the trifle turns out. The base is jelly -jelly! 

I haven't had jelly since I was 9, and this time it's homemade with raspberries floating at the top. I'm actually rather excited. My inner child is so gladdened to be acquainted with the ruby-red jubilance of wobbly sweetness again. Yay! See. 
Pure glee (which is entirely dependant on whether it sets or not...)

I think Christmas' real purpose is to create a time where people feel they can be generous (sadly, without feeling like their own happiness will be taken away by the act). I think it's a time for us to learn to be kinder to one another, to appreciate our family and people more, to be giving and to let loose. 

Admit it. Home Alone is the best Christmas movie ever made. 
I just love that movie! I really feel like it captures the wonderful spirit of Christmas. It's about bunching all together and having a great time, being kinder to one another, growing kinder to one another, having wondrous bouts of laughter from Christmas feast storytelling, and joy. Most of all, joy. 

May you all have a celebration like no other before. May the scent of cinnamon and ginger and oranges waft through your homes and fill your hearts with merriness and love. 

May you all have a Merry Christmas. 


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Goosebumps and a Proudly South African Flash Mob

As a South African, and a writer, and myself, I am fascinated by what people in other countries, specifically outside of Africa, perceive our country to be like. I am a Cypriot-Afrikaans South African, as well as a friend of many multi-cultural individuals, so I am exposed to many different heritages outside of the country. And let's not forget the Internet. 

I've heard the bizarre, weird and completely ridiculous when it comes to overseas beliefs about South Africa and Africa. Dear great scott, have I... I think the most common of the bunch is if lions, hyenas or elephants roam our streets, and to that I say hell no (!) and that we are a modern society -our animals live in zoos or nature reserves like the Kruger National Park. 
A friend of mine while on a trip to Greece was asked if she had a pet lion, and deciding to have a little fun, she said yes. The person apparently completely believed her! 
To that I just shake my head.
In the words of our favourite local comedian, gone international recently, Trevor Noah, 'You know what we have in our backyards? Dogs.'

My worst by far though is when I asked my one friend's cousin from England what people there thought about SA. She replied in that beautiful British accent of hers with, 'I'm so sorry, but the people in England think you live in mud huts' 

I am under no illusion that the whole world is as ignorant as these few Tom, Dick and Harrys, and I acknowledge all the people who genuinely are more world knowledgeable; but, I also cannot put aside the wide-spread oblivion to the real nature of the world that seems to be so widespread.

Now, onto the point here; I have a feeling that people overseas wouldn't think that happenings like flash mobs happen in SA. I am so glad to share that they do friends! We have lots of singing ones -many a time for proposals- dance and then also acting from drama students and thespians. Most recently though, with the passing of Nelson Mandela, the most absolutely outstanding flash mob occurred in a Johannesburg Woolworths outlet, SA's most upmarket, wonderfully fresh and innovative national supermarket, by the one and only Soweto Gospel Choir. I saw the video yesterday, and I was utterly awestruck. 

I have goosebumps every time I watch it.

Goosebumps, goosebumps...


Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Sunset of Many Part 1

It was two days before we were to leave our magnificent environment in Mauritius that I was gifted by the sight of a sunset, this sunset. It became more and more beautiful as the molten globe of fire slowly descended from its perch in the sky, finally meeting with the sea. 

I began to think about, well, everything; what had ended, what had sprouted into growth, what had screeched to a halt, what had been made or muddied up; within my own spirit, my own habitat of home, and then the sometimes-chaotic culmination of the rest of the world -what had happened in such a short space of time, and what I had taken from it all. 

I've decided I shall start from the most recent sunset, as all my South African comrades, our fellow citizens of the rest of the world, and then also me, still hold their hearts aglow with the memory of Nelson Mandela and the legacy of compassion and humanity that has been so poignantly put into focus since his passing. 

Madiba's funeral procession went forth on Sunday 15th December, and the next day my dad and I decided we were going to go to the street of Mandela's house where people had gathered to lay flowers, candles, pictures and drawings and give their thanks and silent (or not so silent) message to Mandela. We went to see these tributes, but also to express our own honouring of the awe-inspiring human being that he was. 

The bundles of flowers, candles and childrens' drawings garnishing the street was overwhelmingly beautiful and heart-warming to see.

South Africans in Joburg flocked to the street of Mandela's house, carrying SA flags, or wearing Mandela tshirts or pins. What I found so wonderful was that that culmination was the epitome of our country's 'Rainbow Nation" and what Mandela had aimed to create; a joining of South Africans regardless of race, religion, gender, age, etc. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, whites, blacks, indians, gays, students, couples, babies, old people, just people, businessmen/women, hordes of journalists and photographers, and friends all gathered in that place of union in our honouring of Tata Madiba.

I found it so touching to see a group of Jewish men standing together, reading from the Torah and then giving a few words for Mandela. Their humility and authenticity gathered a small crowd of others, interested in what they had to say. What I loved was at one point a man from Nigeria came up to them with a Bible and introduced himself and he and the one Jewish man then read from the Torah and the Bible, alternating.

A chapter has closed in our magnificent country, but we will not be plunged into darkness with the setting of this sun. Our nation is strong and our people are determined. There will be more suns, and we are ready for the new day; one where government works in servitude for the people and the people unite to build a better land. The time has come for change, great change, in South Africa. I can not say what will happen in this transitional period, but I have faith that we will all be the better for it in the end.

We have been so far.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

A deep ease and a blissful sigh

Holidays, especially holidays in which I am away from home and left to my own accord, are some of my most cherished times. I am leaving in 20 minutes for the airport where I will eventually be leaving for Mauritius, and let me just be frank and say that I am SO EXCITED! 

I've been to Mauritius before when I was 13 and I absolutely loved it. I intend on enjoying myself to the fullest while I am there this time, and I hope to meet a new array of interesting people! The last time I was there I made very good friends with teenagers from all over the world, and we planned to all become pen pals (yes, as in letter writing), but I never ended up writing to them for some odd reason. This time, I am going to participate fully and try to make as many global friends as possible. 

Also, something about beach holidays seems to soothe me. I have what some would call 'insanely high expectations' for myself and I feel twinges of guilt when I am not serving others or being productive. Last year, I completely burnt out and I spent 5 days on a beach on the Eastern Cape lying under an umbrella, reading National Geographic magazines and writing my first blog post for Petite Dynamite

We are always so quick to wish others a happy and relaxing holiday, but today I think I'm going to wish myself a fantastic holiday. 

I wish for myself that I release all my pent up stress from exams and that I embrace the laid-back vibes of Mauritius. I wish for myself that I can go on my soul searching journey I plan on doing while I am away and that I will come back an even more radiant being. I wish for myself that the creative juices flow like the Amazon river while I'm away and that I will be pumped up and uncontrollably passionate about my Calling when I arrive back. 
I wish for myself that I am kind and nurture myself with beautiful rest and food and spend time with my family and wonderful new friends. I wish for a deep relaxation to permeate through me and take me into these holidays with a splendor of ease and calm.

And may you all have a fabulous holiday!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Hamba Kahle, Tata Madiba

The hearts of South Africans ache for the passing of Nelson Mandela, Madiba, our former president who brought about the transformation of a harsh, political-racial environment into the South Africa we so dearly love today. His Long Walk to Freedom leading up to 1994 was indeed challenging and arduous, one in which he himself grew from man into leader, and one in which he grew South Africa from country into nation. 

I was not alive when the first democratic elections took place in 1994. I was born in 1996, two years into Mandela's presidency. Many thought our country would become a civil war ground before peace would come, yet no such events occurred. By the year of my birth, South Africa had won the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the wound that had cut so deeply through the souls of South Africans, regardless of race, had begun to heal. Forgiveness and relief permeated through our country. 

I don't know what it was like before 1994, not really, though I've grown up with the history of Apartheid as a blaring reminder in my curriculum throughout my school career. However, I know what it has been like afterwards. I know that my best friend is a Mozambican, and that I have grown up without the racial prejudice that held citizens apart in the past. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." This is one of Mandela's most famous quotes. He effectuated a change of dogma and attitude in SA that has ultimately brought together so many good friends, partners and leaders, and for that I thank him bountifully. 

I am part of a Youth Orchestra in which the race of our musicians is mixed and varied, yet we still play the same music, still love making music together. Our players of African roots embrace Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, and I can joyously say that I adore the earthy beat of African drums and the happy-snappy tune of Kwela. The different cultures and ethnicities in our country now blend and we grow and celebrate life in our togetherness. 

"Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future"

Nelson Mandela was a human being that brought about great love and the fellowship of man, not just in SA but throughout the world. Our country is not perfect -I mean whose is?- but though he is gone we will continue to strive each day for a better and greater South Africa. We are still on a journey of transformation, one which will take a long time, but I hold my truth that I am a South African. I am a South African and I am proud to be part of what Nelson Mandela helped achieve. 

I have been watching videos documenting our nation's reaction to his passing. I wish to share with you my favourite words from a young man, probably in his early twenties, who said this heart-warming message, "Madiba will always be Madiba, and wherever he is now, we love him. Thank you"

This is a video I put together for Tata Madiba in gratitude for who he was and what he means to me, to our country, and to the world.


Our national anthem performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir. They are excellent.

Thank you, Madiba.


P.S For those of you who wish to know more about Madiba and his journey, this is a link that is quite thourough, yet readable.