The truth shall set you free…or send you to a hot tub…

To acknowledge everything you feel every instant of the day, without trying to fix it, or getting lost in it, is hard. It’s a matter of awareness without political correctness and without fear of pain. No one wants to acknowledge they think their best friend’s husband is hot, or that they feel a vast pain within their heart after someone’s passed.

No one wants to acknowledge it, but it happens to most of us at some point or another. Pain, guilt, fear…

There are plenty of aversion tactics available – from getting lost in work, or food, to denying the emotions were there to start with.

To see it and set it free is the only thing that works. You face the pain of someone passing. You let it hit you. You accept it. Then you let it go.

You don’t get stuck reveling in the pain as you want to feel just something…anything…that reminds you of the person whom used to be part of your life. You don’t get stuck in pain because you feel guilty to still be alive. You don’t allow yourself to get stuck in pain because it hurts so much you want to die with them. That’s when you actually need to force yourself to change your focus. And slowly, but surely, you will come alive again. You will start appreciating the taste of hot chocolate. You will get a rush of happiness after running to get away from the rain and then soaking in a hot tub to get the cold out of your bones. You will smile at things. Eventually you will laugh. And you’ll start to love life again. You’ll appreciate and love other people again. And that’s OK. You’re allowed to. It’s your gift – your life.

You look at your best friend’s husband and acknowledge that the dude is hot. It won’t change yours, or your best friend’s life. It’s just a fact. A subjective fact, but a fact nonetheless. Why feel guilty about a fact that’s no more strange than chocolate tasting good? That doesn’t mean you’ll go rob a chocolate store.

I’ve said before that my life changed one night in a hot tub. And no, it wasn’t in the way that life usually changes in hot tubs. There was no man in the hot tub. There was just me. And the stars, the moon, the moving silhouettes of palm trees. I was in the Hollywood Hills, telling God I was giving up – I couldn’t figure out life and asking for help, as I felt like a complete loser. In this instance I had an epiphany. I realized my life was my own. And I didn’t have to accomplish anything. I could sit on a rock in the woods singing to myself if I wanted to. It was my gift to unwrap, this life. Mine and mine alone.

I wasn’t a failure, because I didn’t have to accomplish anything. All I had to do was explore life – that was happiness. To have a moment and explore it. To see what would unfold. Of course, I still wanted to do what I love, or work towards that, but I didn’t have to accomplish anything.

That didn’t mean I figured life out. I still didn’t acknowledge all of my emotions. Those I wasn’t always happy to explore. I fought them. Being in love meant embarrassment as they might not like me back. Having to stand up against someone was petrifying because I hated acknowledging they didn’t like me, or my opinion. Seeing how much pain there can be in life – pain caused by human beings themselves – and accepting that wasn’t even on my radar yet. Or I guess it was on the radar going to Africa, I just didn’t know what it meant to see Africa.

I’ve fought a lot of my emotions over the years. After mom died I fought the pain. I was petrified of the pain. On the flip side of the coin, I also fought the guilt of being alive and feeling happiness, whilst she was dead. For various outside reasons I also ended up withdrawing and thinking people didn’t like me, so I ended up feeling ashamed of myself 24/7. It’s taken me about 30 years to come out of that “ashamedness.”

The worst two triggers to feeling ashamed of myself were attraction/falling in love and standing up for myself when I felt there was a conflict of interest, or someone plain didn’t like me.

I’ve played various aversion tactics – from being half open, to trying to convince people of my worth (whilst feeling unworthy, hence why needing their approval) – all to avoid what is.

Facing what is, is freedom. Liberation from your worst enemy – your controlling ego. That thing inside of you that was taught, due to different experiences, what was right and wrong. That thing that is not the ultimate truth, but the made up truth in your mind. That thing that controls your life and controls you right into hell.

Sometimes your emotions, your reactions to things, are controlled by that thing as well. They are a reaction to various beliefs you have. Made up beliefs. So even emotions aren’t always real.

To see emotions – to see beyond emotions – is liberating. Just as liberating as realizing your life is yours to live. You were given the gift to explore this life. You can explore your emotions too. Just don’t act till you’ve seen if they’re true, or a result of beliefs. You don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying life after someone died. That guilt is false. And hey, I became friends with my best friend because we realized we had a crush on the same guy. None of us intended to rob the other person’s chocolate factory – we just intended to explore and see what happened. None of us got the guy, but we got each other.

The truth doesn’t often hurt us – it’s what we make up about the truth that hurt us. Likewise, your emotions won’t hurt you if you face them and let go of what you’ve made up about them. That first reaction of guilt, pain, fear…it will soon pass if you only let it.

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Blonde politics…

I don’t normally express political views in my blogs. Why? I don’t think I’m informed enough as I often avoid listening too much to the news as the focus is usually on the problems. I would love to stay informed, but only when the debate is centered around solutions (as opposed to just repeating shocking tragedies). So instead I tend to focus on creating change in the way that makes sense to me: social entrepreneurship, education and the arts. However, Brexit and a recent Trump speech shook me to the core and made question when one should start standing up for what one believes in. Such as international collaboration and the right to live where one chooses, so long as one serves that country and local community.

The world is currently having a lot of issues surrounding immigration and trumpeting (quite literally in some instances) on about closing borders, as opposed to solving the real problems surrounding immigration. Having applied for several visas in my day and currently working to get a permanent residency visa to SA so as to be able to adopt some kids who know me and love me (you can only adopt kids you don’t know as a foreigner unless you have a permanent residency visa because of reasons that are incomprehensible in their idiocy), I know that immigration can be a perplexing matter. It’s all about ticking boxes, which are often neither fair, nor comprehensible.

For example, in South Africa you won’t get a visa if you have tuberculosis, even if you got tuberculosis whilst in South Africa on the visa you’re now renewing, whilst still in South Africa. Is that fair?

In many countries you can save millions of people’s lives in the country, but still be left without a visa, because it’s not about the lives you saved, but about whether you tick a box on a paper or not. You can also raise millions in investment for that country, but unless the investment went via your bank account, you aren’t granted a visa. When you combine visa laws with adoption laws, it gets even more perplexing, but let’s leave that topic for another day.

In a similar manner, it seems people don’t check what people’s intentions are for immigration, so long as they check the box(es) (which sometimes simply means checking the box “running from a war torn country”). You end up with immigrants who wreak havoc and don’t do anything for the country, but causing pain. That’s not fair either. Nor is the way integration work always fair, neither for immigrants, nor for tax payers.

Lately some things floating around the media, most notoriously Trump’s speech after the Orlando shooting, shocked me. It reminded me of just before WWII when people wanted to shut borders to “protect” their citizens and blame the problems on a scapegoat. These days immigrants and muslim extremists (and I dislike calling the terrorists muslims, because they are only using the religion as an excuse to do what it is they wish to do and have nothing to do with the muslims who respectfully practice their religion) are ranked pretty high up there as scapegoats.

There’s so much said in the media in the US about islam terrorists being the root of all evil. Has anyone checked the statistics? “There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker.”(1) This included 64 school shootings.(2) In the same year there were 4 possibly islam terrorist attacks in the US, resulting in 27 people being injured and 30 casualties (there were also two right wing terrorist attacks resulting in 12 people being injured and 10 casualties).(3) As far as I can see it seems Americans pose a greater threat to themselves than the islamist extremists.

Of course the threat of terrorism can lead to a lot bigger attacks, killing a lot more people. It’s a very real threat worldwide at the moment and has to be dealt with, but how?  Closing borders and refusing to help people who will serve a country and the world, seems a bad solution, not to mention it creates fear and tension between different nationalities and religions.

In a similar manner, I find it peculiar listening to certain debates about the EU. Some people have pointed out that there are problems within the EU, the way legislation is dealt with is potentially dangerous as it leaves the power in too few hands and, especially conspiracy theorists, talk about EU being a “Big Brother.” Their solution? Disband the EU. (However, they think their own government is part of the illuminati too, so whether they leave or stay seem to matter little as all politicians are puppets to the illuminati anyway.)

Is that really the solution though? Wouldn’t it be better to transform the EU? It seems people in general are pretty keen on collaboration, peace and the ability to live and work anywhere within the EU. Don’t tear down the bridges we’ve built, rather work to make them into bridges supported by democracy and great legislation.

Today I saw someone posting on Facebook that because one Romanian stole something from their father and Romania is in the EU, it’s great that Britain is leaving because Romania does nothing for them. So you will let one Romanian decide what you think about Romania and the EU? That’s exactly how politicians use events too – they focus on one event, or one aspect of an event, and forget the rest. Trump’s recent tweet about Brexit in Scotland is a great example of focusing on one side of an event and forgetting about the rest. The reaction that followed on Twitter was priceless though (I personally suggest he goes for a swim in Loch Ness, maybe he’ll realize he’s got more imagined monsters than Nessie in his head). Which is another good point: there’s an open source of knowledge (the internet) and a chance to make your voice heard (social media), so it’s not all up to the media for us to interpret events these days.

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Image source: http://qz.com/716915/donald-trumps-visit-to-scotland-inspired-some-very-creative-british-profanity/ 

When it comes to political debate, emotions and facts are manipulated. Happens all the time. Yet people seem blind to it all the same. Like kids wanting to be tricked by magicians, we lap up the facts and figures served to us on silver platters, thinking it’s an excellent show. Rarely do we discover the tricks behind it. Some people still think the EU is all about straightening cucumbers.

I’m not a politician. I don’t read the papers or follow the news religiously. I haven’t made it my business to fight gun violence, or terrorism on a global scale. My business is to help educate kids in a township in South Africa and create marvelous experiences for people through my business and my creative work. So maybe I should keep schtum when it comes to politics, but this fear mongering and immigration business is starting to get to me pretty badly. I’m afraid of having an uneducated voice, but here’s the deal: before I vote I’ll educate myself and I hope you will too. And, if you’re passionate enough, maybe you’ll decide to make your mark in politics instead of thinking all politicians are bad.

Solve the issues instead of pointing fingers. It’s not “them” versus “us.” It’s about creating a world in which we can all live peacefully.

That’s it. Rant over. I shall go back to writing potentially funny posts about hot men, life lessons in the form of sexual metaphors and other blonde matters.

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Image source:  Twitter. So long as there’s humor, there’s hope. No matter what the currency, nationality, or religion. Hopefully humor and love will overcome it all.

1 & 2) Guns in the US: The statistics behind the violence, Jan 5, 2016, BBC.com

3) www.johnstonsarchive.net

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Midsummer – fertility madness, schnapps or sadness???

Yesterday when looking into my crystal bowl I predicted love affairs across Europe – a very effective weapon in the war on Brexit. Today I have another prediction to make for you. Can you feel the magic of my crystal ball? Great. Ready for it? I predict that you are partially blind, or about to become so, unless you change your glasses.

No, I’m not talking about your eyes. I’m talking about how you view the world. You see, yesterday was Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden. Midsummer’s Eve used to be a celebration of fertility, which is why the Vikings, or their ancestors, decided to create a giant penis dressed in flowers and dance around it. You’re also supposed to roll naked in the morning dew, but most people have forgotten about that, just as they’ve forgotten that the Maypole is a symbol for a penis. Instead they focus on making flower garlands for the Maypole and dancing around it, eating pickled herring, drinking schnapps and celebrating summer.

When you’ve done, or seen, something for long enough you tend to forget why it came to be in the first place. It wasn’t till my teens that I started wondering why we celebrate the things we do. And not until my twenties that I realized that certain words have the same meaning, like “vind” (meaning both “wind” and “attic”) and “gift” (meaning both “married” and “poison,” but not because marriage is poison, but because both stems from “giving”).

Taking things for granted, or getting so used to them you don’t question them, is probably part of survival – you can’t constantly question your thoughts, or your judgment. However, there are times when we do need to question what we say, do and experience.

I celebrated Midsummer’s Eve with my family this year, which a rare occurrence as I’m usually in either London, L.A. or Cape Town. Being home brings back memories. And spending the evening with family friends, many who have known me since I was a few days old, made me reflect on a few things. Mainly how I used to see the world and how I see it now.

As a child I was petrified of big celebrations and parties, because I was petrified of what people thought of me. Whilst most people would look forward to parties, I was so ashamed of myself, thinking people didn’t like me (a combination of mom dying, bullies and a step-mom I didn’t get along with, twisted my perception of self), that I thought them gruesome. I never knew what to say, or do.

Yesterday, being back with the same people, in the same place, made me reflect on how differently I see things today, but also how my brain sometimes goes into autopilot and start fretting about something that has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with perception.

The truth is, perceptions are often misleading. We have one bad experience in a town and we judge the whole town as bad. We meet someone once and because they behave a certain way that one time, we write them off as always being that way. And once we have a perception of something, we let it color our experiences moving forward, just like my wonky perception of self colored my entire childhood and still colors some of my life today.

In a similar manner we tend to take the people in our life for granted and assume they are still the same people they were yesterday. Relationships fall apart because we don’t pay attention.

If we don’t watch out we simply become blind to reality.

You choose what color glasses you view the world through – opportunity, love, understanding – all those things can add beautiful color to your life, whilst presuming negative things can have a lot of not-so-good consequences for your life.

Personally I vow to ask myself why I feel the way I do more often, to prevent my own prediction of coming true. After all, I’d rather see than be a seer…but if I am a seer, I predict…let’s see…a lot of chocolate cake on the horizon. With a medium to high chance of whipped cream.

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Sunny with a Chance of Love Affairs – Why Brexit Won’t Lead to (Only) Break-Ups

Home is not where you were born – home is where the heart is. As someone who has lived abroad since I was 19 and fought several visa battles, I’m sure of it. And in the wake of Brexit I predict a wave of love across Europe. Why? There’s nothing like people determined to get visas to set the scene for international romance. If you weren’t certain whether to marry your girlfriend or boyfriend before, the idea of being separated by borders will soon get you in the spirit. It might even make you fall in love with someone new if you’re single, because suddenly your time in a place could be limited. And a lack of time always leads to an opening of the heart, for some peculiar reason.

Today I see tumult in my Facebook feed. I see anger and disappointment. I see panic. And I see a great deal of humor and people fighting to keep the international love going. What possibly cracked me up the most (as serious as the matter is) was people wanting London to become an independent state so they could stay in the EU – having lived in London on and off for 14 years I recognize the international spirit that binds Londoners together. And as sad as I am with the outcome, I am certain that Brexit isn’t going to break the spirit of London. The Londoners won’t let it.

There are serious issues within Britain that made people vote for Brexit. Those issues have to be addressed. There are also serious issues within the EU that need to be resolved. And there will be serious consequences because of the vote. I’m Swedish and have a business in Britain. Today wasn’t a good day for me. But tomorrow might be, because no one knows what something will lead to. Besides, I always did say that the best thing about London is its proximity to Paris, so today I told the director for my business we might just have to pack up the company (together with our brollies and wellies) and catch the Eurostar. He remains British though and I Swedish. It’s still an international affair. And there are so many more such affairs that won’t be broken because of this vote. If anything, some people will fight even harder to remain in international waters.

Currently I’m fighting to get a permanent residency visa in South Africa to be able to adopt the kids who call me mom (it’s a long story) and I can’t begin to describe how I feel about certain man made borders. I woke up feeling like I walked into a wall this morning, but I don’t think today should be a day for mourning. I think today should be a day to step into the spirit of working across borders even better than before and address the problems that make people want to close their borders. I think it should be a day where, no matter what the government says, people decide to keep the borders in their hearts open. Because it’s never a matter of closing borders: it’s about keeping problems away and solving the problems at hand. Sadly, many confuse the two.

So yes, my prediction is a wave of love spreading across Europe. All the Brits who have fallen in love with French cuisine will soon end up falling in love with the French too. Not to mention the Brits who have got caught up in linguine and rolling Tuscan hills – there will be Italian weddings! And all those EU citizens in Britain and the Brits swarming around them…in this summer heat there will be more romances than there are brollies in Britain.

Keep calm and love on.

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Zlatan Ibrahimović and I…

Zlatan is kicking a ball. Right now that means a lot to me. Not because I’m into soccer, but because of what it symbolizes.

I was raised in Malmö and so was Zlatan. We went to high school together (the same high school Anita Ekberg went to, but that was before our time…). I can’t remember ever seeing him, though I must have seen him many times. It was a large high school and we attended different programs – he attended the soccer program and I did the International Baccalaureate.

Zlatan used to play for Malmö FF. Three of grandma’s brothers once upon a time played for Malmö FF too. They made quite a name for themselves – the Hjertsson brothers. Sven, one of them, notoriously pulled his shorts down during a game in Brazil, as he felt it would take too long to walk off the field to change to a new pair. I suspect that only fueled their fame. Kjell, on the other hand, ended up training a young Zlatan at some point or other.

I’m on “workcation” in Sweden for a couple of months and was staying with my gran this week as she’s recovering from cancer surgery. Zlatan’s dad lives in an apartment opposite of hers, which she reminded me about when I was there.

I ran into a guy in Morocco, outside Marrakech, who, once he found out I was Swedish, told me that Zlatan always passed by when in town. I bumped into someone else recently as well that had a story about Zlatan, but I forget what country I was in. I think it was in the UK.

Of course, if you open the sports pages of a magazine, again, there’s Zlatan. Right now, my dad is watching Sweden play Italy and, well, there’s Zlatan on the screen.

Wherever I go, there’s Zlatan.

I don’t care much about soccer. I never understood the pleasure of chasing a ball and, even less, watching others chase it. Of course, it can be fun for the sake of the atmosphere where you watch the game though and some goals are spectacular. Especially Zlatan’s.

The thing is, in so many places around the world right now there’s fear. In some countries it’s because neighboring countries don’t get along. In other countries, it’s because different groups within the country don’t get along. There was a mass shooting in Orlando that wasted so many people’s lives for no comprehensible reason. At least no comprehensible reason to me. It makes me scared to think there are people out there capable of murdering like that. Yet, I look at the images from Paris and thousands of people have gathered to watch people kick ball. They’ve stood up against the threat of terrorists and as different as they all are, they’re united in the pleasure of watching a game. A simple game of kicking ball has removed borders and barriers and made people come together in joy.

It gives me hope. I work in a township in South Africa and many times I’m so bothered by what I see and experience it feels like a part of me gives up, because I don’t understand how man could create such a cruel world. Then I see one man, by kicking a ball, uniting people all over the world in their admiration for how he kicks that ball. It’s such a simple thing – the love of sports. The love of playing a game. The love of team spirit.

One day I hope that team spirit encompasses the world and what we fight for is not our way, but the best way for the earth and all who live upon it. I know it’s not that simple. But look how far we can get just by kicking a ball.

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The dream, the life…

I’m in Dubai. A few hours ago I was in Cape Town. In  few more hours, God and whatever powers may be, be willing I’ll be in Copenhagen. A little later in Sweden.

I just finished off a mocha from Paul, one of my fav coffee chains. It’s French. I’m in Dubai. I paid with a British card, but could have chosen from any number of international cards. My bag is from America. My coat from the UK. My scarves from Sweden. My shoes from Cape Town. Me? I’m an Angeleno, though technically I’m Swedish and I live in Cape Town and work in the UK and Cape Town, with a business in the US too.

Sometimes I get tired. I wake up and I don’t know if it’s spring, winter, summer, or fall. I don’t know what time zone I am in or where I am. Mostly though, I just don’t know what season it is.

I get out of bed to write for clients, do everything I do for Little Angels, work on Magique, write movies and raise the twins. There are days when there is too little time to sleep and even less time to relax.

Yesterday when I had to leave the twins to get on a plane to renew my visa and raise funds for Little Angels in Europe I thought my heart would break. When we shot the documentary for Little Angels last week I felt like I relived three and a half years of trauma and bliss. It was like walking through an emotional shit storm. The fight for the twins and the people at Little Angels can get overwhelming to say the least. The fight to set up Magique has been a whirlwind of fighting against time and money constraints, working for free and willing myself to move beyond my fears to launch the business of my dreams.

Yet, I know with every heartbeat that when I let go of the suffering, of the things I can’t help alleviate, that this is my path. I got the first product samples for Magique yesterday (only the labels and a few bits and bobs missing) and as I looked at it, it was…my dream alive and well. Right there. Idea. Reality. A hell of a long journey from one to the other, but through the journey the brand grew into something much better than I first envisioned. Or maybe, it simply grew into what I envisioned but didn’t know how to create.

I built a website I didn’t know how to build. I designed products I didn’t know how to design. I found people I didn’t know how to find. I battled questions I didn’t know how to answer. I ran into walls and climbed them. I’m still not done, but I’m getting there even though I sometimes was so tired I didn’t know how to find strength for the next step. Not with everything else I was juggling.

I would like a home in the Hollywood Hills again, but I will never be me without Africa. Without Little Angels. Without the twins. Maybe I didn’t take the straight path to where I wanted to go. Maybe I acted impulsively. For sure I made mistakes. I’ve seen the best and worst in me. I’ve been down and out more times than I care to remember. But as I’ve learnt to let go and look up more and more, I know that this is me. The traveler. The gypsy. The filmmaker. The entrepreneur. The charity worker. The dreamer. With the insane desire to make her dreams reality. I can only pray I’ve learnt how to make the path a little bit easier.

And so another journey has started. One where dreams come true. Because I have to raise R5m to invest in Little Angels so I can get a permanent residency visa and the right to adopt.

Let’s go. ‘Cause I’m a gypsy…

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Jesters and the night…

Night flutters by and leaves a blanket of comforting darkness to hide in. Sounds fade and the lonely feel lonelier, whilst those content find themselves listening to their own heart and the faded sounds of nature. They discover in the muted darkness what was hidden in the blurred technicolor events of the day. Strong winds are sometimes heard, blocking out all other noises. On such nights restless souls find themselves wondering, worrying, or maybe dreaming of possibilities to come. As dust is stirred imagination is awakened.

With dawn possibilities arise. The night feels far away, almost like a dream hidden in the clouds of consciousness. You aren’t really sure if the thoughts that were awakened were your true heart’s desire, or folly. It seems but a vague memory now, maybe with some bits of clarity attached to it. Other times you feel thankful for sunrise as what you faced was not your heart, but your demons. As morning arrive you feel cleansed. Reborn.

Daylight tugs at you. Pulling you to create what night whispered in your ear, or to create something new to avoid returning to that which you heard in the night. You move into action, heralded by the thunder of your heart and the promise of life. One more day. One more chance.

It is funny what night does to you.

Just another little piece of The Jester.

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