My only regret is that I didn’t find this healer years ago

My only regret is that I didn’t find this healer years ago.

My life as an author is going ahead in leaps and bounds. I am experiencing that satisfying feeling when that perfect cake is rising in the oven or when the finishing line in a marathon is a mere crawl away. The word gratitude is now coming out of my mouth more often than it ever did.

My whole life has been about growing and achieving driven by a need to constantly discover new and innovative ways of doing things.

Today, in particular, many years ago, I became a mother for the first time. I, like many others, was torn between juggling a career and motherhood. As someone with a creative mind that races faster than a whirlwind at times, I struggled with keeping it from spinning out of control. Keeping my mind in check and in tune with the rest of me was hard to maintain. The challenge to keep my mind from spinning out of control with projects, travel, and personal development caused chaos in my personal life. This imbalance, more often led to repeating the same experiences.

Eventually all this took a toll on my nervous system. My anxiety and panic disorder went through the roof. I became depressed when I wasn’t everything.

I am semi-retired, whatever that means because I haven’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. A year ago, I started paying attention to my out of control emotions. I started feeling this deep searing pain and a rising discomfort with myself and started questioning who I am. I struggled to listen to those close to me who cared about my wellbeing. I thought they were being overly critical and that I could work it out.

It soon dawned on me that I couldn’t do it on my own. When that realisation took over, I came unstuck to the point where I could not leave our home. When I finally accepted that this is not normal and not something that I could work through on my own, I felt a complete failure. At that low point, I sought professional help.

I was fortunate to find a healer. His life changing work led to significant changes in my thought pattern. My brain remains super creative but the spinning, the critical over-thinking and the mental anguish has been replaced with an inner stillness and a deeper appreciation for who I am.

My new book, Behind my Smile: a True Story of an Author, a Broken Spirit and a Healer will detail the full story of my road to recovery. Prepare yourselves for a bumpy ride!

My healing journey allowed me for the first time in a long time to feel at peace, and to settle the mental anguish about my future. My future definitely looks very bright.




Healing the wounds

In this blog post I’m subjecting myself to a possible barrage of attack. But hey,  I have the wisdom of healed wounds spurring me on.

When I ponder on how we can get closure about our oppressive the past, the reality hits that the closure we are seeking is the curse that shaped the life we were born into.

What I’d really like to see, in my life time, is for the privileged who constructed their white identities during apartheid, the white Australia policy and other monstrous regimes, that have become so deeply embedded into their psyches, to stop defending this privilege.

Born into oppression, and having this privilege shoved in my face by white identities created many wounds that need healing.

So when I speak to you about your privilege and the damage done to my people, there is no need, on your part, to become so defensive. That will only blind you to the wrongdoing. With the result you will only see the injury to yourself in this process. I am calling out the injustice served by your privilege and not an individual attack on you.

It will serve a greater purpose if you admit to the injustice even if you, the current privilege, are not responsible as many claim. Admitting that you are living under the legacy of the identity created for you by your ancestors is a vital step towards healing our wounds. Don’t be selective about what you gained from it. For one, change the language you are using and acknowledge what you’ve gained and how good it was while it lasted. Articulate your regrets about relinquishing the power, or if you hated the process you were ‘forced’ to live under. Explain your abhorrence to a legacy that you benefitted from. Help me out here to understand and trust your sincerity.

Fighting for a better world includes honesty and compassion.  You can’t have one without the other. Don’t go running around protesting about climate change while you are oblivious to the wounded walking right next to you.. Be concerned with your fellow human-beings who are still suffering the trauma of your privilege.

Let’s heal our wounds. Our scars can become the wisdom that’ll lead future generations into a life of true equality. You owe it to yourselves and to us to make retribution.

A Moment in Time

It was on top of that mountain of my childhood home town where Oprah Winfrey’s words resonated with me: “When you educate a woman, you set her free. Had I not had books and education in Mississippi, I would have believed that’s all there was.”

On my last visit to South Africa, the country of my birth, I stood on the slopes of the mountain near Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town, much to the surprise of passers-by, and screamed: “This is my book, my book!” When the mountain echoed, I was reminded of a specific humiliating incident on this very mountain when police officers enforced the degrading Immorality Act. A law legislated under the apartheid system that was so humiliating and repulsive, ruled that we were only to have relations with our own race. That incident still haunts me to this very day. This time though, it was a different echo to when, as a young woman on a date, the sound reverberating was that of the cries of injustice.

I had never set foot on that part of the mountain after that incident many years ago. That day the reality of the injustices of the laws of the country stared me in the face. Until that day in early 1970s, I had heard about these laws but it did not make sense and where I grew up it had no real meaning in my life. After living in Australia for many years, life had changed. For the past 31 years, I have lived as an ordinary citizen free of the political tangles that so many South Africans are still unravelling.

In this centenary year of Nelson Mandela’s life, my life had changed forever. Nothing could have prepared me for this long-held dream coming true.

This feeling of euphoria runs so deep, most days it swirls around in the pit of my stomach and fills my being with so much joy. It’s been nine months since my book A Darker Shade of Pale’s world-wide release. There were many special moments in the lead up to seeing my debut book listed as a bestseller next to acclaimed and respected writers I deeply admire. The excitement of my first publishing contract, the first glimpse of my book cover, the layout of my book, and even the look of the font consumed my waking moments. I won’t lie, many times I’ve felt the urge to whip out a copy of my book on the train to show it to the stranger sitting next to me. But, of course, I stopped myself.

My writing journey has not been easy. It started with a dream in an ill-equipped township high school on the Cape Flats of South Africa. Classified as coloured, and rated as a second-class citizen, we were banished to live among the sand dunes and blocks of concrete flats in council housing estates. The setting reeked of depravation and failure. But among the dusty roads and overcrowded houses, rose many pillars of strength that prepared us for a better future. Parents who grappled with hardship through menial jobs were the drivers of our path to a better future.

After many years of starting and stopping, the task seemed impossible. It was fraught with fallen rocks and winding paths leading to nowhere.

Standing on the mountain, near the spot where I was vilified and humiliated as a young woman, I thought of the many people who experienced my pain and humiliation. As a citizen in this country I was born into a life of injustice and inequality. I knew no other life. All I had to aspire to was to be like those who revelled in a privileged classification.  But, that was impossible, in the eyes of the law my skin was too dark. In South Africa through my mixed heritage I was doomed to a life of hardship and injustice. Born at the wrong time on this soil, the odds were stacked against me. Along with many others, we endured a revolting abuse of our human rights. An ordinary life in a country going through an extra ordinary time in its history.

When I looked across the slopes, at the vast landscape I felt at peace with having grown up in this unequal society. My footsteps, once forbidden, was now welcomed everywhere. After a life changing decision, I devoted two whole years to full-time writing. There were many early mornings and late nights, bottomless coffees, writing classes, the dreaded red pen edits and endless feedback, until I did it. I told my story, with honesty and integrity.

At that moment more than the excitement of my book launches, the praise and admiration, I prayed that somewhere in this town, a girl who looks like me, with a dream like I had, will overcome her fear and pick up a pen and write. Not just write, but that she will follow her dreams and achieve it much sooner in her life than I did. I hoped that she in turn will lead others to write about their adventures.

Today, my achievement is also dedicated to the young girls and boys, to women and men who have dreams and those who need encouragement to achieve it. I hope that as they run towards their dreams, that courage will stem their fears and that the words in their souls will find a way out onto the pages of their books. I know fear, it has gripped me for most of my life, but when that moment arrives where fear gives way to a greater purpose, then they must be ready.

I felt overcome by the realisation that my mother was our saviour, despite the odds stacked against us, she was steadfast in her belief that education would save us. Her extraordinary foresight in that overcrowded environment, did not overwhelm her nor did it fill her with despair, instead it spurred her on to tackle that long road on a bicycle every morning and night to earn her wages. She had her plan for our future and devoted her life to fulfilling it. She felt no greater joy than to see us dressed for school with satchels filled with books and pens. Our report cards and book prizes were her reward.

For a few moments I turned my face to the mountain and wept. My dream realised is also her dream fulfilled.

In our township, among the overcrowded conditions and lack of facilities, the small library was our source of entertainment, it opened our world to life in other parts of the universe.  It was there that I escaped to and read the books that made me dream about writing my own adventures.

There is no better feeling than achieving your dream. Be that writing a book or baking a special cake or buying your first home. To feel your dream come true is like dancing with wildness on a mountain to a song in your head, watching your cake rise in the oven or carried over the threshold of your new home. And, how can I forget that exhilarating feeling in the tips of my fingers when I typed The End on my manuscript.

I salute the many fallen souls who fought that brutal regime to bring freedom in South Africa.

Our history, our stories must be heard.