Stepping into a new awareness.

​It is part of the human condition that when we are deeply hurt by another person we intrinsically look inwards to find reason within ourselves. We try to take responsibility and in so doing somehow validate the other person’s actions and ease the pain of that betrayal. 

Based on who we are, we have expectations of the other person that they will treat us the way we treat them. 

But actually we can never take responsibility for somebody else’s hurtful and self motivated behaviour. It is hard to understand that other people are not like us. And that they might cognitively do things to cause pain.  
Most often that is their own pain and unhappiness coming out in actions. 

It is inexcusable and something we can never say that we deserved. But perhaps we allowed it to happen… 

Like many people I have experienced relationships that have become toxic. I have been hurt badly and have looked inward owning it all, thinking that I was somehow to blame. That if I could just change enough and become enough I could be loved in return. 

In a relationship within which you’re told that you are loved, whilst the person consciously withholds love, there is an automatic tendency to assume that you’re not good enough. It is a common pattern particularly in people with a low self esteem. It is a dangerous cycle and one that is difficult to escape.

I ended up depleted emotionally, mentally and spiritually… and was blamed for my own pain. 

I wasn’t a victim. I had a choice. That’s the most important realization… choice. 

I chose to stay where I was. I cannot blame anybody but myself for the hurt that ensued. I was to blame for that.  

It takes two. I had to consent to another person breaking parts of me.

I desperately craved for that person to see what she was doing, take responsibility and change towards me. And so I held onto that idea. My own self destructive behaviour.  

I’ve been working hard at the issues within myself that would allow me to give my power to somebody who hurts me continuously. 

Deep wounds stemming back to childhood.  

Of course I own responsibility for my part in the narrative.  Intellectually I knew it all along. What was lacking within. It was healing I needed. My own brokenness. 

Cancer forced me to confront so much with myself. My self worth, value, the indomitable spirit within and how it relates to my relationships with the people I allow within an intimate distance. 

Realising that time is precious, and that I deserve better. 

I have changed so much and grown. I still have hurts, and will for some time. But I have made huge ground over time and most importantly have identified the patterns I have to avoid. When you refuse to face the circumstances that present the lesson to you, you will continue to suffer the pattern. It was my own fault. 

The only thing that can change….is you. 

Growth hurts. A lot. 

Lessons taken from pain are the scars we carry that make up the rich tapestry of the human condition.  

Each of us is worthy to be loved exactly as we are…in all our fallibility, and strength, our weakness and our authenticity.  

Never ever settle for less. What you allow…will continue. 

Let 2017 be a year of change within you first and foremost.  Change starts with…you! 

On giving and receiving.

I love spoiling people, but don’t ask me what I would like for xmas…

I have a problem asking for help, but yet I’m so good at giving it…

Receiving is genuinely hard for me, even allowing somebody to make me a cup of coffee and bring it to me in bed is hard. That’s my job, and you’ll get your favourite beverage, in your favourite mug, made just the way you like it.  Every single morning.

I know the root of the problem, it exists in the ego. A deep insecurity, actually a fear, and somehow having to ask for help makes me feel insecure about myself. Giving empowers me and makes me feel fabulous inside.

My occupation allows me to pour myself out and give everything of me, a big reason I love what I do so much. I arrive home exhausted and depleted, but deeply happy.

On April the 15th this year I took an Uber to go for a lumbar puncture, and after discovering that my tumor was in fact a carcinoma, I was immediately admitted to hospital for a brain operation. I took an Uber home too, despite offers of help.

It was an extremely traumatic time for me.

The closest people to me were angry and horrified.  Deeply disappointed that I had robbed them of an opportunity to love me. That’s just one example of what I did at that time, determined that I wasn’t going to put anybody out.

In my defense, as a single person, one learns to be independent, but perhaps there is a limit.

My mother has always called me fiercely independent. Somehow, I have loved that term.

At times during the subsequent recovery, and the seven weeks and 35 sessions of radiation, close friends delivered things to my house by contacting my housekeeper on the days she was at home. It was the only way that they could give me what they wanted to.

I didn’t want to feel pathetic, a victim, needy, or worse…dependant.  I don’t believe that anybody fighting cancer does.

I went to every session and appointment alone, despite the many offers of help.

I was showered with love and support, care, concern and more food than I could possibly eat. I was sent supplements and health products from somebody I hardly know.

Eight months later, and I have learnt some good lessons. Due to a very recent armed robbery wherein I lost a massive number of my belongings, and having made a call in May, between household insurance or paying off medical debts, I chose the debt.

It was a good call at that time when the prognosis was negative. There was an urgency to settle affairs.

But it left me financially unable to replace clothes, shoes, and even some basic belongings necessary to go to work. I lost so much, and am still discovering things that are gone. In the photo above, every single item I had on me besides the waistcoat was stolen.

Without my knowledge a special friend rallied support from another friend and together they started a crowdfunding project. I was perplexed to discover this splashed all over social media, it was incredibly hard to read the kind words and the plea for help. To sit back and allow this to unfold.

And worse still….it was shared over and over again. In the face of colleagues, family, distant friends, and people I have never met.

My colleagues started initiatives of their own, even sharing my bank account details obtained from the HR department..

I have been the recipient of an outpouring of love and giving I could never have imagined possible. It has been quite staggering. I’ve had to deal with my ego, put my pride in my pocket, and handle the fear of facing the people who have reached out in so many remarkable ways.

“how can I now stand in front of these people and deliver, inspire and motivate. Teach, and impart knowledge?”

I asked myself that question over and over.  It seemed deeply uncomfortable to me.

But yet I have discovered that it isn’t at all.  In my vulnerability I realise I have merely become more human.

Many many of the beautiful people whom have reached out have said how fortunate they feel to be able to give something back to me.  How grateful they are to have been enriched by me at some point.

And then I realised how selfish I have been at times to prohibit people from experiencing the delightful feeling that giving brings. That feeling that I adore, the one that motivates me to do what I do.

I am so humbled, and so hugely grateful to each and every person who has given in any way to me over the past eight months. From the messages, the calls, the visits and the gifts…to the amazing help I have received.

Thank you for teaching me to receive, and thank you for all that you’ve given to me!

From Richard the receiver… xxx

The deadly pre-dawn attack

I woke in a sweat, not sure why. Peering blurrily through one eye I checked the time on my phone, 02:34. As I rolled over, hoping to quickly fall asleep again, I heard the intruder.

The high pitched whine could mean only one thing, I was under attack by the world’s most deadly predator.

I pulled the duvet up over my body until only my head remained exposed to the danger. Lying motionless on my side, my breathing slowed and I listened intently.  A bead of sweat ran from my armpit and over my chest as I waited for the impending assault – nervousness, or the heat of duvet in the muggy Joburg night, I wasn’t sure which.

I was well aware that the intruder that had dared to encroach the sanctity of my bedroom is responsible for over 725 000 human deaths every year, Bill Gates said so.  A massive 724 990 deaths more than the monstrous great white shark. They kill more people in four minutes than sharks kill in a year.

Had four minutes gone by?

The whine grew louder as the creature flew stealthily closer and closer towards the side of my face. Diving in for an exploratory foray of my naked, juicy, blood filled flesh.

The noise from the female beast stopped. A dreadful silence. I felt a feather light touch on my cheek.

With lightning speed my hand whipped out from under the duvet, delivering a blinding slap to my face. I ignored the stinging pain and a twitching eye as I slid my hand over my cheek, desperately hoping to feel a tiny flattened body and an accompanying slimy trail of blood.

An end to the dramatic encounter.

But alas, I felt nothing.

By now I was wide awake, all my senses fully alert, a finely tuned 46 year old insect killer with a throbbing face. Blood coursing through my body, the blood she was after.

I knew that it was only a matter of time before the merciless predator regrouped for another violent attack.

But I wasn’t prepared for what I heard next. Craning my head away from the pillow to make quite sure, I clearly heard two whining sounds. The little monster had called for backup. Women always stick together.

Abandoning all thought of sleep I realised that I was going to have to take the attack to the enemy.

I switched on the bedside light, and reached for my thick, black rimmed glasses, I was prepared to fight one mosquito whilst half blind, but not two.

20161107_164955_1Standing on the bed I reached for my weapon; a polyester, hollow fiber blend pillow.

Gripping the pillow with both hands I stood poised for action in my watermelon sleep shorts.

By now I stood alone, deserted by my cowardly cats. The same cats who had engaged in a ‘sharp claw on aging skin’ contest for duvet supremacy earlier that night. They had won, as usual.

But now they had slunk off into a dark corner of the bedroom, meowing with fear or laughter, I’m not certain which.

As the tiny but deadly predators circled I watched, my eyes attuned to the slightest movement,waiting for one of them to land on a surface. Any surface would do. Except the bedside lamp. Previous battle disasters had taught me that.

Two whines became one. I searched the walls, the cornices, and finally saw nature’s most deadly animal self-confidently poised for attack, upside-down on the ceiling.

Without hesitation I swung the pillow with all the speed and force I could muster. Only to watch as the ensuing wind from my seemingly deadly blow brushed the cunning insect away.

Minutes passed. Silence. And then a more distant drone. Silence again.

The prick to my calf came without warning.mosquito

I whirled around, slapping simultaneously at my leg, one silky smooth, beautiful human movement. I was convinced I had been successful.  Practically celebrating.

As the blood oozed out of my leg at approximately one litre per 236 days, I searched the duvet frantically for a corpse.  I couldn’t find one.

Failure is not my middle name.

It was time to step up the intensity of my attack. I strode purposely down the dark passage to the kitchen, groping in the dark for the light switch.

As my toes felt beneath them a cold, soft object on the floor, I jumped sideways, letting out an inadvertent shout as my spine shuddered.

Curse the damn cats!

A dead, tail-less, lizard-gift lay on the tiles. Thoughtfully left there by either Bart or Bella for me to find as proof of their hunting prowess.  Suffering severe sense of humour failure, and growling through gritted teeth I marched back to the bedroom battle scene, armed with weapons of mass insect destruction to end my own hunt.

I was no longer to be trifled with.

I laid out my arsenal of vastly superior firepower on the bedside table.

Then I plugged the Raid insect repellent into the socket beside my bed. Sprayed every millimetre of my exposed skin with Peaceful Sleep, and standing on the bed again, I covered the room in a thick cloud of Doom.

No matter the wheezing chest, burning eyes, and prevailing stench, I felt deeply satisfied albeit slightly poisoned.

This was not my time. I was no longer under threat to become a statistic, number 725 001.

I had waged a bedroom war against the planet’s most deadly predator. Not one, but two…and had emerged victorious.

03:12 and all is well.

Well not for the 52.4 people that had died somewhere on the planet in those 38 minutes.

Death to mosquitoes.

All or nothing – a blessing or a curse?

I’m sure that you’ve met them, those single minded freaks who seem consumed by one passion or another. Hell-bent on being the world’s best at whatever it is that they do.

Slow down buddy, take a chill pill. You’ll burn out before you hit 40.

Can you relate? Know one? Or maybe, just maybe it’s you.d3910-11244616_841332609284410_860039340_n

Hi, my name is Richard and I’m an all or nothing guy. It’s been 45 years now.

There’s no in-between for me, it’s either full speed ahead, or no speed. There are times when I wish I had an in-between switch, an idle mode; it can be frustrating when the turbos aren’t all charged and the engine is not racing full throttle.  But then I remember that every person who achieved a significant milestone in this world did it because that one thing consumed them to the core.

We are taught at an early age to try our best at everything, and to improve on the things that we are poor at. Ultimately, that way of thinking produces people that are just average at everything. I’d far rather espouse the idea of focusing all our time and energy on the things that we’re already good at, thereby making us brilliant at them.

And yes, I do understand that we only know what we are good at once we have tried many things. But if you try, and it’s not for you, stop! Just don’t ever stop trying new things.

Passionate people have an ability to trust their intuition, to follow their internal GPS. They understand that logic isn’t always superior. They are growth oriented, and continually strive to become better. Everything happens at high speed. They are not afraid to take risks, and let’s face it, nothing comes without a risk.

So there is the blessing, and it truly is. Embrace your passions and become obsessed. Obsession is a powerful thing, and all too often seen as a negative trait. Yes, there is a negative component to the word, so be careful what you obsess about. There is a fine line between blissful ignorance and being positively realistic.

all-or-nothingThe wonderful thing about people who are naturally obsessive, is that the same passionate energy spills over into everything else, including their relationships. I know that it’s possible to be obsessive in relation to my two girls – to the point that I become reclusive as a single dad when I get time with them – and to be obsessive about my work and also my sport. All at once.

We do what excites us.
It’s about being in that moment, that at that very moment the only thing that matters in your world is that singular thing. I can stand up in front of a crowd of people with many other things on my mind, I could be sick, I could be taking strain in other areas of my life, but for that moment, the obsession consumes me, and the people in front of me get ALL of me. I don’t think about it, it just happens.  And the excitement boils over, it becomes contagious.

There is another side to the gift of passion though.

Knowing when to let go is extremely hard for those who give everything that they have to every situation. We are so used to making things work. Being tenacious and enduring discomfort are all part and parcel of the trait. We don’t know when to give up or when the obsession becomes detrimental, or when it has merely become time to move on.

We are all too aware that giving up might mean the difference between becoming extraordinary or just plain normal. What if Thomas Edison given up on his 999th try at the light bulb?  Although I’d like to believe that he knew that he was close enough at that point.

A great example of the healthy obsession. I’ll bet there were many people telling him to give up.

f3259b3ebd9f1e4d9ed01a471bdabe93We are courageous and determined and therefore we tend to see giving up or walking away as failure, when in truth there are times when our actual failure is the inability to stop or channel our energies elsewhere. It’s a fine line.

All or nothing people can sometimes become self-destructive too. I know that if I have an athletic goal that I’m working towards, and I am training full speed ahead, the world is rosy and life is good. The minute that I have a hiccup and am unable to train for a couple of days, I find it hard to pick up and finish the week. My week was a failure, full stop.

And so I end up doing nothing for that week.  We tend to be particularly self-critical. It is unfortunately self-defeatist, but all too real. We are idealists.

It is hard for us to understand that not everybody is internally wired the way that we are. Please don’t expect us to be patient.

Passionate people give all of themselves to the people who matter to them, and don’t cope well when they get less in return. We commit, boots and all, and would like your boots to be committed too.

Weighing up the pros and cons, I will take being passionate any day of the week … as if I really have a choice. J

Letting go is the hardest part.

There is a recurring theme in my life; holding on for one reason or another to things, stuff, and relationships. It’s been difficult to get to the bottom of this tendency because more often than not, emotion clouds good judgement. c1f29933689797316b69e3ccc2a502c2

I have moved home 6 times in the past 8 years, chasing my 2 daughters cross country and trying to keep up with the tumultuous changes that have marked this period of my life. Each time I have carried a large household of possessions and pieces of furniture around with me, notwithstanding the bonsai collection. At times I put my overflow of belongings into storage if the property I lived in was too small.

I tried to manufacture space or find places for things that didn’t necessarily fit. I squeezed it in, and in so doing couldn’t create a space that ultimately made me happy. There was always a feeling that I was split, and that somehow Richard couldn’t be Richard. But I didn’t seem to be able to let go of anything.

Living alone for 6 years, I still have never let go of the idea of sharing a home with a special person in my future.

I held onto the past as a basis for a future that I yearned for. Thus losing the present.

Somehow Richard became defined by the things and the circumstances.

I hung on for varied but all emotive reasons; sentimental value, the scarcity of the belonging – like an antique, the potential use of an item, or poverty consciousness – will I ever be able to replace it. The most important reason however was that I had already lost so much in my life.

It all weighs me down and costs me energy, let alone the financial cost of moving and storage. The ‘stuff’ is better described as a burden and as baggage.964052482435194502gULUvVrc

At times I guess it has been challenging to have to admit that I have become a hoarder. And because of that I have spent much time attempting to understand the emotional and intellectual reasoning for this tendency.

I have come to understand that it is simply this; I have a fear of loss.

A fear that prevents me from moving forward unencumbered. What if I need that one thing that I let go of?  What if I cannot replace it? What if I never find it again?

And so too, I have come to realise that I have that very same tendency with relationships. To the point that I damage myself by hanging on.  And the reasons are identical; a fear of loss and all that that manifests within me.

The certainty of what I have is a lesser evil than the uncertainty of something that I don’t have. And so I hold on.  Loss seems to be an unbearable option.

But if I am not happy, I have nothing anyway.

The emotion that is inextricably linked to the relationship is the greatest problem. Love of that person no matter how my love is returned or isn’t, and the inability to love myself enough to let go once I have recognized the destructive weight of the relationship, all make it extremely hard to let go. Fear controls me.

I am about to move again, hopefully my last in a long time. I intend to get rid of anything that I do not have a use for right now, as well as all those things that serve no positive purpose in my life. No matter how much I might love them.

out of clutter find simplicity from discord find harmony in the middle of difficulty find opportunityHolding on is a destructive energy, and it prevents us from moving forward. It keeps us stuck in the past, and holds us in a limbo that resists freedom.

I am moving forward alone and free. Scared, but free. I choose to make myself a priority by not holding onto the things that negatively impact my life. I choose to let go, and face my fears head on.

Keeping up with the Joneses

I find it hard enough to keep up with myself, let alone the Joneses or the Molefe’s or even the Gupta’s –  in fact especially the Gupta’s, those guys seem to be everywhere. Just the other day I read a New Age newspaper and there they were again, go figure.. All I have is this WordPress site.

I seem to run from plane to plane and back again, and when I look back, I can’t seem to remember who the Joneses even are, let alone which town they call home.

Thank god I still recognize my kids, but I could swear that they had more teeth the last time I saw them.

Who has time or energy for Mr and Mrs Jones.

Mrs Jones just got the latest Land Rover for her birthday. That’s lovely, but I spend more days in a rental car than my own, and can’t remember on which level I parked at the airport. You tell me which is more important to me.

I do think that Mr Molefe has a gorgeous new home in that estate in Joburg with the sewerage pipe running through it.

I’m just grateful to count the number of nights that my girls share my house with me in a month.

I keep planning for the future. I keep endless mails. The ones I fully intend to revisit, because I need time to digest them, and act on their contents.
I mail myself website pages too, to read later, you know…when I have the time. I make notes on the books I need to read, and have kept more recipes than I have days left on this earth.

But I already have a pile of books on my bedside table, and a pile of laundry in the wash basket. Quite frankly I reckon it should be more important to read the books than do the laundry. Tell that to my boss when I pitch up at work in front of an auditorium full of people wearing nothing but Cry The Beloved Country.

Yes I still haven’t read that one!

You see it’s all relative, this keeping up thing. I don’t have the time nor energy to care about other things, because I’m busy surviving my own chock-a-block life.

13581236346445762_2pxiLodn_cI get up each morning and marvel that I get paid to do what I do. And actually, that’s more than enough.
I know who my best friends are, and don’t give a hoot where they live nor what they drive. But I do know what it sounds like when they laugh or cry.

I’ll get to read the books one day or maybe not.
But right now I need to get home in time to prepare for the arrival of the tooth fairy tonight, and that’s more important than anything.

Keeping up with the kids.

The Birthday Test, age plays no favorites.

Many years ago I started an annual personal birthday test. The idea was that if I could get out of bed on the 29th of July in the middle of the South African winter, and run a half marathon on my own, life must be good. Despite any evidence to the contrary.

It gave me a wonderful sense of achievement and dare I say it, a smug satisfaction.

As the saying goes…’whatever floats your boat.”

I guess all things are relative.Copy of

Stupidly one year I stretched out my goal after suffering a splendid brainfart. Why not run the corresponding distance to my age every year…what a stupendous, (in retrospect; childishly idealistic) idea.

And so, after my 30th birthday, the inevitable occurred.The chances of me attaining my yearly goal became as strong as my chances of winning an argument with a woman.

Perhaps I should have aimed at 42km, and then subtracted a kilometer each year after that to work back down.

I’ll have to save that idea for my next lifetime. You know, the one where I return as a gazelle.

And so I failed the test for a number of years. In fact I didn’t even pitch up at the start line.

This year however was different. Being more determined than ever to regain some running fitness, I completed the 21km before work on my birthday.

To some it might not be a significant achievement, but to me it was.

That was until I remembered the ego-obliterating words of a colleague on the eve of my birthday, “I suppose it’s better than some other tests you might have to put yourself through at your age.”A+healthcare+provider+donning+a+pair+of+latex+gloves

On my 44th birthday she might be depressingly correct. So next year I will forgo the half marathon test in favor of the prostate exam… Ouch. Age is a bitch who wears latex gloves.