The Invisible Girl

Heartache has a way of making you fade and blur around the edges. There’s something about the black hole in your chest that swallows the sunshine wherever you may go.

You could walk on a bustling street or a busy supermarket and you see the faces and smiling people go by. You catch snippets of conversation and somewhere a woman laughs. A Man talks loudly into a cell phone and a boy bumps into you as he looks back over his shoulder. Physically you are here. The knock you just felt and the familiar faces that greeted you as they walked by remind you of that. They can see you. They just can’t see what you are feeling. And that’s what makes you invisible.

They say hello and hug you, the friends you join for drinks ask you how you are and you automatically reply that you are well. You chat about work and laugh about the things you did over the weekend. You fail to tell them about the Saturday that you cried yourself to sleep, about the nightmare that kept you awake all up until dawn. They order dinner and you politely decline because you’re not hungry, but you don’t mention that you haven’t been hungry for a week. They complement you on the weight you lost, but they don’t notice the shadows under your eyes or the hollowness of your cheeks. You say goodbye and you go home to your empty bed and you don’t bother getting undressed. You pull the covers over your head and pray for sleep to come swiftly and silently and hope that your demons may take the night off.

And then you wake up and it’s a new day and for the first few seconds after you wake, you forget that you are broken. You get up and as you hop to pull your tights on, the shattered pieces of your soul jingle in an eerie melody. You brush your teeth and skip breakfast. You grab an apple that will stay on your desk until you throw it away. You greet your colleagues and lie about how your evening was. And then you’re back on that bustling sidewalk or in that busy supermarket, and the people are still smiling and talking and laughing. And you are invisible, because you are hiding behind your own face. And you walk among them, but you are sheltered from them. A Shadow clings to you and the darkness in your heart dims the light where your footsteps fall.

But tonight, you will hurt for a second less than yesterday. And tomorrow, you will hurt two seconds less than today.

And one day soon, you will join your friends for drinks and you will mean it when you say that you are okay. You will order the crumbed chicken strips and enjoy every bite. You will smile when you tell them about the time you spent with your family over the weekend and they will complement you on the glow of your cheeks.

And then when you’re back on that bustling street or in that busy supermarket, the sun will follow you as you go, because the strongest survivors attract the most light.

And then when you’re back on that bustling street or in that busy supermarket, the sun will follow you as you go, because the strongest survives attracts the most light.

The Balance in Breaking

You reach a point in your life where you know, without a doubt, that you will never be able to go back to being the person you were before that time. You’ve reached rock-bottom and you’ve scraped your knees as you fell. Your palms are bleeding from the futile resistance you managed to conjure. And this is the moment when you start to wonder where you screwed up so bad that you deserved even a moment of this...

As I was walking through town today, running the same errands that I run everyday and taking the same route that I do every morning, I couldn’t help but notice how different it all felt. Not the view or the road or the people smiling behind the counter at the post office, but the ache inside of my own chest. I noticed how your mindset could cloud even the brightest of days and how hurt could make you shiver even in the sun. I looked up and saw an old woman, laboriously climbing the three worn steps that led to a hairdressing salon that was there as long as I could remember. I watched her face as she struggled to lift the very feet that carried her over paths that I may never see over decades of life on a journey that only she will ever know. I watched her and I tried to imagine how many heartaches and heartbreaks she lived through. I wondered how many hardships she had survived. How many tears and cries and calls for help that fell into empty rooms did she spill?

I looked at her and she smiled when she saw me staring. She had made it to the top of the stairs and turned away to have her hair done. And that’s when it hit me. It doesn’t matter how many nights you had to turn your pillow around because it was too soaked to sleep on, it doesn’t matter how many songs you have to skip because the sad ones make you cry. It’s ok to fall and it’s ok to break and it’s ok to fall to pieces at the feet of the ones you love, because that is what life is. a Roller coaster of emotions and adventures, a journey where not every stop is a happy one. This is how you pay your dues for the nights that you slept safe and warm in the arms of someone who adored you, for the times that someone held you hand when you were scared and for the times your friends made you laugh enough to make your tummy hurt. It’s about balance, about going through the night so that you may find new appreciation for the dawn of a new day. You need the loneliness to teach you how to enjoy your own company, you need the tears to value the smiles and you need the ones that got away to appreciate the one that will one day come to stay.

It’s not punishment or karma, it’s just the natural order of things. You win some and you lose some, some days are dark and some nights light up your life. Wounds heal and time makes even the harshest of memories fade. keep your head up and weather the storms, for they will calm again. Enjoy the good times – they pass also.

It’s ok to fall to pieces, as long as you pick them up and rearrange them into a stronger, better person. You’ll make it through this – I promise.

Dear High schoolers

Dear High schoolers

I know exactly what you’re thinking and I know that you think that what you are thinking is completely right and that you know everything that you need to know, but the truth is: it’s not and you don’t. To put it simply.

For four years of your life, high school is the place where nightmares are born. It’s a cold, evil castle with too many stairs and hormones floating in the air like the common cold. Friends stab you in the back and teachers show their dislike for you by piling up the homework. There’s not enough time for everything you want to do over the weekends and too many hours spent wasted in a classroom with people that you don’t ever want to see again. You wish the time by, hoping that you would wake up a grown-up that never has to go to school again and that doesn’t have to get up in the icy cold and put on a uniform that doesn’t keep you warm, no matter how many layers you put on. Can’t wear make-up, but you get teased for having a spot on your forehead that makes you look like a recording camera. Can’t have bangs in your eyes, but your fringe is too short to stay tied back. You carry a backpack that weighs about as much as a new-born hippo and yet you still manage to be slightly chubby. It’s a cruel and heartless place that only the strongest survive without extreme emotional scarring.

And yet, here we all are – the adults wishing we could go back to school. Why? Because that was easier than this.

I spent my entire school career believing that as soon as I finished my grade 12, I would never have to get up before the crack of dawn ever again. How I never took into account that I would have to go to work at an ungodly hour anyway, I have no idea. I thought I would get to wear whatever I wanted, dye my hair fire engine red, have all the piercings my heart desired and get a bad-ass tattoo on my rib-cage. Instead I stand in my underwear every morning, trying to figure out what I’m going to wear to simultaneously keep me dry, warm and looking like someone who might actually have a bright future in the corporate work. The piercings had to be removed and forgotten the day I had my first interview and my hair stays a respectable shade of brown. As for that tattoo – I can’t imagine what it would look like after carrying the babies I hope to have one day. The weekends I thought I’d spend day-drinking with friends, I spend cleaning and sorting laundry instead. I watch movies with my boyfriends on the nights I thought I’d be dancing in clubs and I cook for my family on the evenings I thought I would be having sushi dates with the girls.

I was convinced that I’d have all the free time in the world when I could legally decide what to do with my do, and yet I have to be at work the entire day, every day. I go to bed at 9 because I’m exhausted and don’t watch horror movies because I’m terrified of the dark. I’ve had meaningful conversations with the people I couldn’t stand three years ago and have very little respect left for some of the people I used to look up to. I long for conversations with the teachers that always picked on me, because I now know that they saw potential in me, even when I didn’t know it was there myself. I yearn for projects that can be finished the night before the due date when I sit behind a desk covered in files that take weeks to sort through.

Point is, things change. Your perception changes and you as a person will change so much that you wouldn’t recognize yourself. The things and people you loved will lose it’s flavor or disappoint you, the people you dislike may become your best friends and you may never be able to go to the bathroom at night without switching all the lights on. You will learn to admire the ones that pushed you and encouraged you way past your comfort zone. You will change your goals and your ambitions, you will do the things you’ve always wanted to do and realize that you don’t actually like doing it. You will spent hours doing the things that you thought to be too boring for words and end up falling in love with the simplicity. You will accidentally bite down on some veggies and actually find yourself enjoying it and you will learn that you don’t actually like the feeling of waking up with a headache weekend after weekend.

This is the one thing you can count on that never changes – and that is that everything is always changing. Enjoy the now, before it’s gone beyond reach. You might look back and find that these were the best years of your life. I know it seems hard. Gosh, it can be downright horrible. But it can also be the most careless fun you will ever have. Go home, do your homework and hug the person ironing your clothes and buying the bills. There’s not a lot of time left and it’s about to get a whole lot harder.

Enjoy every moment of it.

Honey, I accidentally bought everything I saw… again.

I am currently in the extremely fortunate position of working at a local law firm and sharing a house with the love of my life – expense free. I am lucky and so very blessed, of this I am more than aware. But it wasn’t always this easy…

Like most teenagers, my first job was inevitably as a waitress – Running up and down, dealing with complaints and compliments in almost equal shares, working double shifts and earning minimum wage on a good day. After school, during what I called an ‘educational gap-year’ I worked at a bar for the most bittersweet year and a half of my short life. I fell in love with the vibe and stories, the music and the constant feel-good environment, but the late nights, the struggle with the overly-friendly folks that drank enough Tequila to swim in and the working weekends while everyone else were either at home watching movies or standing on the other side of the bar, screaming for brandy specials… Not so much.

In all fairness, the long hours paid for the little flat that I learned to call home and put food (or take-away’s) on the table when my mom took a night off from feeding her constantly tired, almost-adult daughter. It was a struggle, one that every person has to face at some point, the place where everyone has to start. You learn to buy the things that seemed to always just be there (yes, you actually have to buy toilet paper and spices) and you learn to survive on a budget when you don’t have any budget. You appreciate the random lifts, the warm meals and the late-night visits from friend and family alike more than you would’ve ever thought possible. It’s hard and fun and lonely and great and an adventure all at once.

When I finally moved in with my boyfriend and his amazing family, it was like going home after a long holiday; warm and friendly and familiar. No rent to pay, home-cooked suppers and soup on rainy days. And that is exactly what made it so hard…

Pay Day comes, you pay any accounts you may have, settle any debts and there you are with surpluss. Who knew that was even possible? So, the obvious solution is to spend it all. As quickly as possible and preferably on clothes and shoes that you will hardly wear but are just oh-so-pretty. At least, that’s what I do. Every. Single. Time. I go home with bags full of make-up and tops and do puppy-eyes when my boyfriend sees them. The excuse is always the same, “Honey, I accidentally bought everything I saw.”  Being the hero that he is, he always chuckles good-naturedly and kisses my forehead and I got away with impulse shopping. Again. And for the rest of the month I accidentally can’t even buy a sandwich at lunch time because I am totally broke. Again. And just a tip, Puppy eyes don’t work at supermarkets.

So, next month I vow to commence shopping only from the 20th on and only with any money that I might still have left after I have put away some saving and bought all the things I need, not just what I want. It doesn’t sound easy or fun, but maybe learning some responsible spending habits might not be such a bad idea in the long run.

And if I do happen to slip up and accidentallly buy those pretty shoes that I just happened to spot on my morning errands… Well, recovery takes time.

Champagne on Tuesdays

I recently spotted an image on facebook with a wide-eyed poodle in the backseat of a car with the featured qoute, “Adulthood is like the vet, and we’re all the dogs that were excited for the car ride until we realized where we’re going.”

And that, my friend, sums up everything I have learned about adulthood so far pretty damn well.

If you asked your 10-year old self what he or she thought you would be doing right about now, the answer would probably involve ice-cream for dinner and sleeping in until noon everyday. And maybe a little something about not wearing pants and only bathing occasionally. I bet I would’ve thrown in a very intelligent comment about wearing high heels all the time.

But the reality – and this is the part that your shouldn’t read to your children – is that none of those things happen and we have a very good reason for not doing it: Ice-cream makes you fat and fat means you have to exercise which means not sleeping late. And the things you do eat cost money which means work which means no time for either exercise or sleeping. Or reading. Or TV or friends or plucking your eyebrows, but alas… I digress. Pants are required by society and bathing is recommended daily if you want someone to love and hug you. Which, you do. Because life is hard and hugs make you fell better when the wine dries up.

And those high heels? They make it really hard to run away from your responsibilities.

Truth is, you grew up. You learned what is right and what is needed to live a happy, healthy, financially stable life. You work and you eat your veggies and you run occasionally and you only have champagne on special occasions. You don’t dance when you’re sober and you take a shower before getting into bed every night.

And to that I say screw itIt’s a trap. Growing up is necessary for survival, yes, and to feed yourself and to be a decent human being. But growing up does NOT mean growing old. Being an adult does NOT mean being serious and determined ALL the time – it merely means you get to decide for yourself when and where you feel like letting your hair down. So, live it up, have champagne on Tuesdays and eat donuts for breakfast every now and then – even if it is just to comfort your inner 10-year old. Order ice-cream with sparklers in it and dance like your love-handles are sexy. Wave out of car windows and blow bubbles. Jump in puddles and watch Finding Nemo until you know all the words by heart, not just the ‘just keep swimming’ part.

Make being an adult fun. Because this is what we’re going to be for the rest of our lives. This, here and now, is the only chance.

Make it count.

Cathy the Cleaning lady

In the beautiful old house where our offices are situated, we have an equally beautiful fairy godmother that magically keeps our coffee cups clean and our desks acceptable, if not organized – Cathy, the cleaning lady from Zimbabwe.

Cathy comes to work every morning dressed for the corporate world and looking like she could easily do any of the admin jobs that I rely on for an income. Soon, she trades her jersey for an apron and she’s off making sure that our lavatory smells like lilies of the valley and that we can see the bottom of the kitchen sink every once in a while. When the work is relatively little or when we grow ashamed of our animalistic ways and decide to rinse off our own lunch plates, Cathy joins us in the office for a while and lights up the room with a radiant smile, witty remarks and jokes that has us all grinning at our screens.

We all love Cathy and as a way of showing her our appreciation, we do the kindest thing possible; we share our food with her. When I get a hamburgers and chips, Cathy gets the chips. When we have take-out, Cathy gets a share off everyone’s plates. When we have meetings and order food, Cathy is counted along with the rest of us to be catered for. Recently, a bunch of us were in the kitchen, warming up our food and sharing it among ourselves and loading up a plate for Cathy. We all stood around, mouths full, chatting casually and remarking that we probably should eat less and work more. And that is exactly when I got to have the immense pleasure of hearing Cathy tell this story…

“When I go back to Zimbabwe and grow old, I will tell my grandchildren about the company that I worked for in South-Africa where they gave me all this food. I won’t remember the name, because I will be old, but I will remember you. And the food. Growing up, there was an old lady in Zimbabwe that used to tell us all these stories about when she was in Cape-Town. She’d tell us about the ocean and the beaches – something we’ve never seen before. She’d say the ocean is like a biiiiiig river that never ends, no matter which way you looked.”

We all stood around, captivated by the story that is so foreign and unimaginable to us. And then, Cathy broke into a huge smile…

“I used to listen to these stories about this great river, and then whisper to my friend, “This woman – haibo. This woman lies.” and we’d both laugh and shake our heads, walking home, sure that the woman was telling stories. And then one day she told us that this giant river was filled with salt water and I stopped believing anything she said. I looked at my friend, shaking my head, and thought, ‘Yoh, this crazy woman. Salt water. Haibo, impossible.’ ”

“But if I tell stories, I’d also tell one that the children won’t believe. a Story where all the white people shared their food…”

Carbless and content.

The weight debate is everywhere and offensive and flattering terms alike are being thrown around like they don’t have the power to make or break a person. Skinny girls are dying for curves while the curvy girls are starving for collar bones. It’s a war, girls, and we are all a part of it.

Every diet, every ignored craving, every late night when you ate the entire tub of ice-cream because you had a bad day – it’s all part of the fight for perfection. My opinion? Screw it.

Eat right and work-out because you love your body, NOT because you hate your body. I am currently on mission to go carbless and teach my body to once again grow accustomed to using fat as an energy source and thus use excess fat for fuel as a way of burning fat. Where your body now uses the glucose in all things carbs as energy and saving the abundance as fat, this protein and fat diet re-calibrates your body to run on the fat in food (and the bit stored in your thighs) and use the protein for muscle maintenance.Of course, every individual’s dietary needs differ as we all have different goals. For instance, after resistance training or a strenuous workout, your muscles need the glucose in carbs to recover and grow.  But as a young woman with the goal of losing some body fat and toning, not growing, muscles – I firmly believe that you seldomly, if ever, need any extra carbs in your diet in addition to the carbs we get from eating veggies and the sugar found in the fruits we occasionally eat. I love this lifestyle as it allows me to keep eating the things I love – Meat and cheese and full-cream milk, creamy casseroles and endless green veggies while abstaining from everything that makes you feel bloated and uncomfortable – fizzy drinks, oily chips, processed grains such as white bread and heavy pastas that make you so full that you can’t move.

Going carbless is hard – especially when you’re used to living on noodles and cheese burgers on an almost non-existent budget. My solution is to just eat less of whatever carbohydrates are part of the meal, and more of the fatty protein. I eat my burger patties with cheese and a fried egg on top, minus the bun. I load up on veggies and salad and avoid the chips and potatoes. I avoid snacking on sugary fruits and eat cheese cubes and boiled eggs in-between meals. I pre-cook things like chicken pieces, meatballs and eggs to ensure that I always have some sort of protein to munch on when I feel like reaching for the cream-doughnuts. Make sure you always have a cold bottle of water to wash it all down with, and you’re golden.

I’m not a dietitian nor a doctor and I’m sure there are many people who would disagree with me, but this is the lifestyle that I find suits my personal needs and tastes, keeps me at my goal weight and feeling great!

I wake up every morning full of energy and 100% content with what I see in the mirror (curves, love-handles and booty included) and if I could inspire just one other girl to feel this way – I would have reached another goal.

(Visit realmealrevolution.com/real-food-lists for lists of which foods are great for this lifestyle and which should be avoided. Also search Banting diet for more information about the science behind this theory and why it works.)