I’m blogging on a Friday night. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I’m too tired to continue sorting the flat I’m renting out after moving in and I feel like I need to use my voice again. I blog too little these days, but there seems to be no time for it. I prioritize other things in hope of one day it paying off so I can get to write whatever I want, whenever I want. That said, I don’t feel like myself if I don’t put my thoughts on paper. And I enjoy sharing my thoughts with the world.
Since I came back to South Africa I have finalized companies, visas, moved into a new place (conveniently owned by a traveler who is away when I’m here and vice versa), led the youth program at Little Angels, teaching pretty much every night, been to meetings with businesses and organizations for Little Angels, spent time with the twins and in general tried to get my head around the fact that in a few days time I will be the one looking after them full-time.
You know I always dreamed of an adventurous life and if I look at my life now I can positively say I’m living that kind of life in many ways. I chose the path less traveled. I also got into a hell of a lot of trouble because of it. It’s like they say: the life you aren’t living is the one you romanticize. I couldn’t live another life though. I could do with the investment I need for my businesses and getting married if I ever meet a man who I feel so inclined to marry (I have certain problems with that, or so it seems) and who doesn’t mind a jet setting workaholic with god only knows how many kids attached. I never thought it would take so long for me to find my real path: to actually live my dreams not just be on the search for them. Never thought it would take the time it did to get my companies straightened out to exactly how I visualize them and make decent money. I’m getting there, but I’m not exactly living the high life. To pay for my travels other things are sacrificed – I just rented a one bedroom flat. The kids get the bedroom; I get the sofa bed.
There are many things in my life I thought would never be the way they are. I never thought I’d raise kids on my own, although I never kind of thought it very strange either. My role model number one as a kid was Dr Quinn and she started with the kids. And the woman I always liked because she lived the lifestyle I was striving for was Jolie and she started with the kids too. But I sort of still always saw a family in my head. I also never realized what South Africa is like in some ways before I came here. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the fact that you have to live behind bars. That you buy pepper spray in the local hardware store. That my very poor martial arts skill feel like they should be topped up (hey I was doing that in LA only a few months ago!). I never thought I’d come here as a volunteer – I thought my company would bring me here. As it is, being here brought me my companies. I also thought I’d have three homes: US, Africa and France. I never thought I’d decide to travel between the three before I had those homes. And I definitively never thought I’d be living in the living room when I had kids, but somehow I think it’s the love that matters and some of my happiest days were spent in a sofa bed in LA, looking out over the city below. The city I still call home. The hills I still love more than any other hills. Two cities make me look like a mad woman in love, tears in my eyes or a silly grin covering my face: LA and Paris. I never knew you could fall in love with cities either. Not until I did, age nineteen, when I moved to Paris.
I was at Little Angels today. Well, I’m there most every day with the youth, but today I was there earlier during the day when the little ones are there. Actually, so I was the day before yesterday and ended up spending hours sitting at the doctors with Miss Queen of the World – my extra daughter as Liezl calls her – she had a tooth infection so bad half her face was like a football. She wasn’t at crèche, but when I found out I went and picked her up and took her to the doctors. I’ve done that with other kids in the past as well. See, another thing I thought would be different as a kid: I thought I’d be the doctor.
Anyway, I was at Little Angels today and I so happened to walk in just as they were talking about a kid who had lost her temper twice today and hit other kids badly. A four-year old. So they were having a meeting with the mom. The kid recently lost a sibling She also witnessed her mom being beaten by her dad. Now that’s all over, but obviously, she’s still adjusting to an abuse free environment. So I went up and talked to her. Asked her name, told her mine, asked if she was gonna build sand castles, discussed the colors on our clothes, and so on. She wouldn’t speak. Nodded a few times. Her brother came up to “protect her.” I got him to speak. Tell me their names. Then I went back to the adults. Before I left I went back to the siblings to say goodbye. The girl now waved her goodbye enthusiastically. I went and got my car and as I was driving I saw these two run out from crèche to stand by the road waving at me in my car, saying goodbye. I think it’s moments like these I live for. Those precious, precious moments of seeing kids and youth opening up to me. Of knowing that what we all need is love and a bit of direction. To reach a kid you just have to be there with them. Know they are wonderful and gifted somewhere inside. Wait. Wait. Wait. Till they trust you and open up to you. Love them. Tell them what’s right and wrong and why. Love them some more. Make them believe in themselves. Wait for their gifts to unravel, because each kid is gifted. In their own way.
I find this easier with the young ones. With the older ones it’s the same process, but they are teenagers. It’s a different level. Yet, when they tell me their stories (often gruesome ones), or I get the shy and moody one to light up like the sun when seeing me, I know, even if it is small steps, that they have faith in me. And by believing in me I hope I can make them believe in themselves.
Africa has changed me in ways I never knew it would. The kids’ love have opened me up. I always felt lonely, ever since mom died when I was six. As a kid I was bullied (feeling lonely I withdrew and that was the result in school and at home my step-mom had a go at me), but as an adult I’ve made a lot of friends. I guess because I was determined to change my life around since my early teens. As a result I know people all over the world today. But I’m still learning not to feel lonely. To actually open my heart in a way where I’m vulnerable and accepting love and not just hiding behind looking after everyone else all the time. The kids made me see the beauty in me. Believe in me. Liezl helped with that as well. The woman thinks I’m a walking miracle. Don’t ask me why. Or well, I guess it’s because I love Little Angels so much. I’m not always here, I’m the traveler, always will be, but I always know what my purpose is. With my businesses and my travels I bring everything I can to Little Angels. Not always as fast as I can; not always in time to protect the kids I want to protect right now and sometimes that’s scarred me, but I do what I can. I think I went through post-traumatic stress or something in LA. What I had seen in Africa and the stories Liezl was still telling me on the phone somehow caught up with me. A long time ago I read Angelina Jolie had problems eating after seeing starvation. At the time I couldn’t understand it. Now I can. It takes a hell of a stamina to be happy in the face of adversity, but that’s our goal. I’m here, not to teach misery, but to teach happiness. I’m here to show how to live your dreams, not to deny myself mine.
When you are following your heart and living your dreams, the kind of dreams that come from your heart, not your ego, you are faced with a lot of obstacles and you see sides of yourself you’d rather not see. It’s what makes you grow; makes you a better person. That means overcoming the not so great sides of you. It means learning to love yourself. Stand up for yourself. Build your skills and your strengths. It means a lot of things. A lot more than most people first think when they set out to follow their heart. Life is not easy, but it is filled with a lot of marvelous things too and I think we must all learn to celebrate them, without for that matter avoiding what we are scared of. We have to face our demons, but live in the sun. As they say – you are dealt your cards, but it’s up to you how you play them. Striptease poker anyone? Time to up the odds? Live the adventure? After all, you gotta get naked with this thing called life and bare your heart and soul…naked indeed.
Image source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/507780926709579399/