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Redress seems to have found its home comfortably in documents, government corridors and rhetoric. It has not become the significant healing and transforming action it is meant to be. As an apartheid survivor I find myself being constantly rewounded and wanting REDRESS.

Please don’t head for your wallets, lock up you homes and businesses, move your money offshore! Im not after any of your things. I want to give practical examples on turning redress into a verb and share some of my experiences.

I had the privilege to spa at Mount Grace recently and one of the wonderful staff talked to me about their products. I’ve had many women over the years try to sell me stuff, but this time I bought and I will always buy this product. The product is a Proudly South African Product range , Six Skincare and Spalicious. The young therapist waxed on about “Marisa” and what she teaches and how she treats the staff when she visits them. I don’t know Marisa Dimitriadis but I can see through her actions, that she  practices Redress everyday in a couple of ways. She treats staff that do not speak english as their first language, as the intelligent whole human beings they are. She treats all the staff in this way. She offers the use of her first name as equals. (You can allow people to use your first name as if they are saying “Missies”, you know!). Marisa has not given herself permission to treat others as less than, like they don’t matter because of the colour of their skin or their command of the english language or their accent.

Another great example of REDRESS is a remarkable young woman, Wiebke Toussaint of Engineers without Borders, who is turning an industry that has and continues to dehumanise each other, their employees and communities. It dehumanises by holding onto a belief that their particular qualification, entitles them to  make decisions that impact peoples lives (sometimes/most times negatively), without consulting them, without including them. To add insult to injury they respond to  those who speak out by saying that these people are “ignorant”, “ungrateful” and many other slurs. Wiebke and her Comrades are changing the industry  by making sure that big irresponsible companies, consult and include communities impacted in the decision making.

 I get rewounded  through language. Consistently white people  translate what I am saying. I am a South African with a great command of the english language(despite my Eldos accent).  I find myself in forums/meetings/conversation where through sheer carelessness (as my business partner Bongani accurately names this behaviour) people will say “What Ad is saying…..What Ad is trying to say is ……”. They don’t even realise that my command of the language might be superior. The  colour of my skin, my accent, my paradigm –  drives them to automatically hold onto their prejudice. They act out on preconceived notions that I am not equal, actually I’m less than and therefore constantly deficient. Hence they have every right to take away my power to speak for myself and in fact “know”, that they can represent me better.

 I get rewounded when my husband and I are out and about in the world. My husband gets many power points because he is a MAN and he is WHITE. When I am in a queue and he joins me, the teller will automatically asks if she can help him. Previously at work, my husbands’ word, opinion and assumed “know how” was sought after and my word, opinion and definite “know how” disregarded. Information from me was overlooked when my husband has given partial information with the justification “Why would he lie?” The assumption being that because I’m black or a woman or both: I lie.  My word is not be trusted, despite the fact that I show up everyday doing my part.

 I get rewounded when new legislation gets instituted with carelessness. The legislation I am referring to, is about being recorded without your knowledge. I assumed that based on our history, legislation would take into consideration, that many South Africans grew up in homes that were bugged, with phones that were tapped, with friends turned into spies, to record them even at play. The legislators forgot how these recordings were then used to torture us. I have recently been made a victim of being recorded without my knowing and the recording sent back to me in exactly the same manner as the security police, spliced to serve a foreign  agenda. In my trauma, I expected to have a legal framework which would guarantee REDRESS. Instead I found a cavalier law which questions why,” I “, would object to be being recorded. A law that assumes that the only objection to being recored is because “I am” doing something wrong?  I am traumatised by a fellow South African who has completely forgotten our history and violated me in a wound not yet healed, now compounded by a legal system that has failed me by forgetting.

 I get rewounded  by all media,  repeating and validating the constant, careless, complaints about “the” government. I hear you tell me all day, everyday, how your prejudice is true and real. I too, am  outraged by the individual actions of corrupt, irresponsible politicians and their patrons.  You in your constant, careless, complaints never or rarely talk about the money behind the individual actions assigning blame only to “the” government because “your” government “was better”.

 I get rewounded when you shame/beat/break down our beautiful, courageous, intelligent, hard working youth. Every careless or damning word against them negates the freedom we fought for. The freedom for our youth to act . When we said “Never Again”, we meant it! Fuelling the public space with your limited paradigm has ensured that our kids have been brutalised on our watch.

REDRESS is the action of making sure you see where others are coming from. It requires being careful with yourself and others. It is the action of detaching prejudice from skin colour, accents, gender, age, language, status, power (the list is endless) and showing up knowing that as human beings, we are all naturally intelligent, creative and whole.

Shap and Aweh!

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I wish is was easier to live everyday without creating regrets.

The difficulty is that in the moment of choice, you have to risk something. Its the very few that live with so much faith that they trust enough to risk whats in front of them.

I have been able to take risks a few times in my life and even though I have no regret, it has not protected me from judgement.

When you take risks please note that others are not out there waiting with a shiny trophy. A lot of the time you will be faced with hurtful judgements.

“You’re reckless”

“You’re irresponsible”

“You don’t know what you’re doing”

“Taking the risk was worthless because what you choose is impossible”

Before taking risks, you need to be ok with the reward being No Regrets. that’s the award. That’s the trophy. NOW CHOOSE.

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My parents had their challenges when deciding on my schooling and they acted in my best interests. It also seems that my parents had very good, real alternatives to their challenges. I would expect, so many years later, that I would have better and more alternatives. But it seems I don’t.

My son attends one of the best schools in Johannesburg. When I think of the alternatives, I would be getting more of the same. Environments that condone and cultivate racism, classicism, sexism and many other negative isms. These premium schools that promise top notch teaching often have teachers worse than the teachers I had and some of the teaching I have witnessed in many township schools.

Teachers who are incapable of teaching to all the learning styles and catering to multiple intelligences. So they send the kids off to all sorts of extra support (I am not making light of children who need extra support), which more than likely impacts on the childs’ self esteem to the extent that they believe that cant and wont ever learn. They pile the children with homework, which in effect means that they leave the teaching up to us, the parents.

Sending my children to anything but the best that’s available is not an option for me. My parents gave me the best and I will do even better for my kids. Schools who have more than 20 children in the class is not an option for me and my children. I realise that these environments might have really great teachers, but I know teachers cannot give their optimum to many children. So this option is off the table.

As a parent in 2015, I am consciously parenting differently from my parents. Firstly because I am an older parent, only starting this journey un my 30s,not my teens and twenties.  Secondly, education has afforded me the luxury to ponder the mistakes that were made with me and my finances afford me the privilege to parent consciously. If you troll numerous parenting websites, shows, articles, its evident that I am not an anomaly. Parents around the world have take the stance to parent their children in in this vain.

For me, it is therefore  imperative that I find schools that have also shifted their paradigm.Not enforcing corporal punishment, is not the definition of changing your paradigm on how you raise children (Yes, you are raising my children too!!!). Taking the cane away and strengthening emotional punishment and exerting unconscious adult power,  has become a norm in schools who are acclaimed for having “changed”.

My crisis/challenge: I am finding it difficult to find Education that is child-centric.

I want a curriculum and teaching methods that reflect what and how children learn right now and what this means for their future. I  require Teaching that is not an old fashioned static skill, but an ever evolving skill, based on the child in front of you, not the child that you were.

I demand that every teacher that is hired has the ability to see every child as an individual. They see their “bright eyes” for all their possibilities. I want every staff member supported to grow out of their paradigms to make space for the children they are working with.

I believe Child centric education is in its essence a “swim in loud chaos”, not as a means to silence and order it, but to unleash its greatness.

Education is consciousness. Education serves the agenda on unlocking dreams. Education is our one true gift to future generations. We need schools that reflect this and serve the children who are our tomorrow.  I will continue to try to find a school that can deliver on our mandate to our children and I will never allow my children to “Suck it Up”.

Their role is to grow into their lives and I will continue to search and agitate for environments to be their garden.

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I was confronted by this term a couple of years ago when the boy/man who raped me committed suicide, after he had been found guilty of the same crime with a different girl.

I had once again become unhinged when hearing this news and headed to my therapist to help me, put myself and keep myself together.

For those of you who are survivors, you know that we are constantly flirting with becoming unhinged. Everyday we are plagued by fleeting damaging thoughts.

“Did it really happen?”

“Did I provoke/ask for it?”

“Did I secretly want it?”

Simple human gestures of concern or love can be construed as attacks which lead me to spend hours in the shower. Flirty gestures can catapult me into thoughts such as:

“See, you did provoke him.”

“You do want it.”

“You are asking for it.”

These thoughts and interactions shape how I think about yourself, how I dress, how I constantly protect myself. From Everything and Everybody.

Last night I watched Downtown Abbey. All the help are sitting around the table and a seemingly innocuous conversation leads Mr Bates to realise that he is looking at the man who raped his wife. I cannot tell you the immense pleasure, joy, satisfaction I felt. Mr. Bates, a fictional character, was going to avenge his wife. He was going to avenge me.

I realise after all these years. It’s not only the revenge fantasy that I, the survivor am after. It’s that someone else believes and knows that it has indeed happened. That someone is looking out to find the perpetrator and that there will be payback.

The person who has altered my thoughts, my sense of safety, my sense of self – FOREVER – will pay for this crime. The crime of having altered me. I fantasise about who I would have been if  these heinous acts were not perpetrated against me.

And that is the ultimate fantasy.

RED MY LIPS!

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I come from Eldorado Park. I have made it to the place in my life where I am proudly from Eldos as opposed to being Proudly Eldos. Its the neighbourhood Im from not my primary identity. I have seen my friends and family struggling to not over identify with Eldos. Losing the struggle and settling to give up on their efforts towards their dreams. The fear of being without community, identity and being judged by that community  ensuring they stay small enough to continue to fit in.

How can you be big enough to withstand the rejection of your cimmunity while you still claim their identity? What does it take to live into your dreams, if they are indeed bigger than Eldos?

The best way I can describe it is by saying: “Be AWEH!”

This means being:

ABLE, WILLING, EQUIPPED with HEART.

Being ABLE, is about knowing yourself. Knowing your strengths, weaknesses and constantly working your blindspots. Working your blindspots means striving to know what others know about you, being aware of what you hide from others (don’t hide it from yourself as well) and work to know what you don’t know, consistently. This will ensure that you do not have the dream to be a Grammy winner when you are tone deaf, play no instrument and don’t write lyrics.

Living into your dreams means knowing your ABILITIES.

Then you have to WILLING to turn your ability into your fortune. You need to put in your 10 000 hours to turn your ABILITY into excellence. You have to be willing to put the work in even if your ability/talent is not “sexy”, “popular” and it not going to make you famous, particularly in this era where it seems we are all driven to want some sort of fame/notoriety. The “selfie” being a prime example of this. Taking various pictures of yourself but not delving deeper than the picture.

My abilities definitely don’t fall into the “sexy and popular” categories. My talents are to Care, to Communicate, to Mediate, to Innovate, to Drive. My talents often annoy and frustrate others particularly because I am a “woman” and I am “black”. I am not afraid to stand in my power, my status, my rank and my excellence and my failure.

I have been willing to be this annoying, frustrating person.

I found helpful metaphors for who I am and allowed myself to practise my abilities which are now my most marketable skills. Calling myself “an acquired taste” assisted in allowing me to become EQUIPPED for utilising my abilities to live into my dreams. My dream by no means articulates excellence in the way that you understand it. But it articulates excellence for me and my life. I have not shied away from conversations of “race”, not knowing that I would have lighted skinned children. Acknowledging my femininity and choosing to be feminist, has helped me become a strong, black, Female Social Innovator/business owner.

These are just two examples of my non sexy talents that are my excellence and I do these with “Heart”. Being a mom is something that I worked on. When I was in university and the others students asked me what I wanted to be, I always said “mother” first, much to their disgust. I instinctively knew that I needed to master excellence in myself to be in this role. I have taken on various challenges that have equipped me for this role, in which I continue to work on my 10 000 hours.

Equipping myself on the job to be a business owner has been one of my greatest challenges. I have yet a way to go to clock my hours. I started my first business in 1999, with only my talents and I was successful. I earned good money and did work that utilised my talents in line with my values and principles. My second iteration in business was contrary to my heart. Being a consultant employed for great money and quick fixes did not hold my heart and I did not succeed at this business. I am not saying that I did not make money. I was actually financially very successful, but I was betraying myself.

My third iteration combines my abilities, harnesses my willingness to becoming excellent, allows me to equip myself every day and holds my hearts’ intention for the work I want to do in this lifetime.

Fairexchange Pty and Trust is an iteration of my AWEHness.

I am proud to be from Eldos and some of Eldos is proud to claim me, but I do not fit in. I am living outside of my comfort zone and my comfort zone is no longer a comfort to me. This is the biggest risk. You have to be able, willing, equiped with heart to Being an outsider, because most of the time your dreams catapult from where you are to where you have yearned to be.

Living with my whole heart, makes my life excellent. What will your AWEHness bring into your life?

Shap and Aweh!

 

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One of my greatest frustrations as a coach, facilitator, mentor, teacher, student  is, people arriving at work, workshops, coaching sessions without SHOWING UP. They have many reasons for this:

  • My boss sent me
  • I don’t need this
  • I’m having a bad day

the list goes on. I’m frustrated because I see people living next to their lives. Their non presence is often a symptom for their non presence in their lives.

I know this because I can often default to this position myself.  My life like yours is filled with adversity and  opportunity. Waking up every morning to  over full to do lists, constant connection with the world on any number of our devices and my ever present self,  can be overwhelming. So overwhelming that I go into “auto-mode”. I do everything, connect with everything and numb myself  with the tasks, the connections, drink, drugs and many more.

Showing up is not only about being on time. Its also about bringing your whole self, participating fully and being open to how you will be changed by the moment. The best modern example I have seen of showing up, is the Haka. Have a look and share what bringing this energy does for you.

 

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