Words are delicious.

Category: Johannesburg

Practical Advice For Stressful Days

You’re having one of those days. Everyone wants a piece of you right now. No matter what you do, or how fast you do it, you feel like you’re rearranging furniture on the Titanic.

What to do? This, do this:

On Vulnerability.

What scares you most in your life? Not spiders, or natural disasters or all-you-can-eat buffets. Think internal, base level fears. Do you fear being lonely? Being rejected? Being poor? How honest can you get with yourself, and others, about deep fear and have you ever tried?

Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is and speaker/teacher on self-inquiry, says there are no new and unique thoughts (and it’s our thoughts that perpetuate our fears). Any thought you have – ‘I don’t think she/he loves me’, ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I can’t do that’, is not exclusive to you.

When it comes to personal struggle especially, humans are not unique in the slightest. My fears are your fears. We may express and cope with them differently but peer behind the façade we play out for the world and we’re all the same. Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted but we’re scared.

The solution? Vulnerability.

Read the rest here.


Hong Kong Haikus

In December of 2014 I found myself on a ferry in Honk Kong Harbour. My cellphone, which was also my camera for the trip, was too low on battery for me to take pictures of the city kaleidoscope that is Hong Kong by night. I’m glad because I wrote these haikus about what I saw and felt instead. The place is magic – a colouring-in book for adults.

Night Lights

City rainbow sparks

making dark water twinkle

lights move like heartbeats

Electric Disposition

A colour palette

The endless spring, made by us

Energy exhales

Writersbootcampza #8 A love letter to a pet hate

Dear apathy,


Stop stopping me.

I can’t not do the doables anymore. It doesn’t work for me. I feel like your motto is ‘don’t put off for tomorrow what you can put off indefinitely’. Trouble is, there’s a lot of double negatives and not doing happening here. It’s confusing and exhausting. Back up already.

I’m grumpy and stressed because I didn’t meditate this morning because I had to wash my hair instead. I didn’t wash it last night because I rewatched four episodes of Game of Thrones (when we promised it’d just be one), while eating popcorn for dinner because I didn’t go food shopping on the weekend.

You got me to skip exercise and the shopping on Saturday and Sunday, remember? All in favour of nothing. Stroking the cat, scrolling through Twitter, looking at my face in that awful magnified mirror that lies.

Why do I always listen to you? Some insightful being said ‘we must suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of regret’. The latter is worse, obviously. What am I, a masochist?

The one thing I will give you credit for is your consistency. You make it equally hard to apply face cream and organise my finances, make dinner and plan my work for the week. There’s something to that equality but mostly it just makes low-level living bloody hard.

I’d say I’m going to try go it without you for a while but we both know that’s a hilarious proposition. You’re even making it hard to finish this paragraph. I kind of want to stop writi

Writersbootcampza #7 A piece inspired by art

[Disclaimer: I know nothing about art. I only know what moves me and what doesn’t. This piece of writing is subjective, uninformed. It’s what I understand from a striking image.]

Naomi Okubo’s work always inspires reaction in me.

In Buddhism and Hinduism, mandalas – intricate, spherical artworks and symbols, represent the universe. They tend toward having a radial balance, with symmetry being significant.
I find them meditative (which is the point), peaceful and pretty.

With anything trying to exhibit universal symbolism, the themes of opposites, balance and creativity are imperative.

I see all of these in this image of Naomi’s.

The lack of a horizon line speaks to forever, the infinity of the universe and how endless time is (most especially because it’s not real).

The colour contrast between the playful yellow and greens and the dense, stagnant blues and greys of the branches says a lot to me about opposites. The inner and outer worlds. The different sides of the self. The conscious and unconscious. Fantasy and reality. Struggle and peace. I could go on but ultimately, the representation of two means acknowledgment of other. And maybe even acceptance.

The rainbow ribbons hanging in feminine loops from ascetic branches pretty much sums up one of the greatest lessons learned in my life so far. About rigidity and softness. About bracing yourself and acceptance.

I thought the greater the winds of life, the stronger I should stand. But, no. I’ve learned to bend so that I don’t break. To soften, accept and move with the storms and in doing so remain in tact.

‘Have a party forever’ is the name of this artwork. And you know what? I think we should.

Writersbootcampza #6 – Doors and windows

A haiku


Windows for strangers
Doors for the recognised ones
Keep those far, these dear

Writersbootcampza #4 – One thing I can’t live without

A decent share of the travelling that I have done in my life, I have done alone. My happiest travel memories all involve other people. A lack of association means thin, watery memories. Connection widens, deepens life. Like an enthusiastic river speeding its way through dull earth. Creating significance where there was nothing.

I don’t want to live without connectedness.

It’s a universal longing but it’s one that’s as personal as it is collective. It’s also layered.

I have this memory from years ago. I was watching a goldfish in a small tank. Watching and watching – a kind of unintentional open-eye meditation. There’s nothing remarkable about what I am describing but at some point something happened. For the smallest amount of time everything that existed was the same thing. I had the thought: I am the fish.

Are you laughing? It’s to be expected. It’s a humorous anecdote but it points to one of the layers of connectedness I enjoy experiencing in this life. A connectedness to the whatever-it-is that makes everything anything.

Simple recognition is as considerable but in an entirely different way. When you and a stranger share a smile of acknowledgment as you overhear a two-year-old asking their mother inappropriate questions in the queue at Woolworths. It light but worthy.

Life is fun and meaningful because of other people. We allow them to make us feel happy and safe. And we are. If we’re all weaving ourselves into the same web of authentic, vulnerable, unsullied connectedness.

Writersbootcampza #3 – One of my greatest fears

The thing I fear most is fear itself. It halts my living and nourishes my overthinking. It makes me second guess everything.

There’s a paradox to fear (one that’s only implied here). If I think about it in terms of benefits – say, preventing one from jumping off a second-floor balcony (which, I’ve done – but that’s a detour we’re not taking right now) then fine, it has a purpose. But it’s not all that deterring or preventative. Like I said, I jumped.

That base-level, adrenalin munching, reptilian brain fear is the least of my hurdles in this life.

The fear that gets me is the fear that’s fake. The self-created fear that I’ve raised and nurtured and hold on dearly to because of an intrinsic belief that it will stop me from combusting.

Didn’t you know? If you tell a near-stranger you’re still acquainting how much you like them. Or hug a friend for an inappropriately long time because for some reason it feels like every cell in your body is craving their affection. Or quit your job and let your life’s small-change savings take you on an adventure. Didn’t you know that doing any of these things means instant combustion? Poof! Player one, dead.

Ridiculous, right?

I fight against this everyday. It’s one of the reasons I welcome getting older. The fight doesn’t become easier, no, but you become easier with it.

My whole life I’ve given fear just enough power for it to stop me doing things that would be beneficial for my happiness. What a masochist.

At least with age my brain is learning an autonomy of second guessing my incessant second guessing. It’s learning to writhe its way through the acrid jungle of inner turmoil.

Writhing until I arrive where I began and begin to act. I feel the fear and do the bloody thing anyway.

I know nothing for sure but if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that most often the right thing to do and the scary thing to do are the same thing.


A separate, unrestrained thought on the subject:

All fears are the same. If you dig deep enough. We label them for control’s sake. Fear of rejection, success, commitment, power, responsibility, being alone, being trapped. There are as many fears as our internal dialogues allow – infinite.

Thing is, they’re like a bunch of balloons. Each fear is its own balloon and each is unique in shape, colour and how long or short its string is. But they’re all filled with, and exist because of, the same helium.

Writersbootcampza #1 – Even if you know me well, you don’t know this

I Don’t Know Why I’m Telling You This

Young and creepy

I’ve always been mature for my age. My first love/crush/infatuation was in nursery school. I was three. He was eight. I don’t remember his name but he was my teacher’s son and I loved him. I was going to marry him.

I never said one word to him (I get anxious thinking what would three-year old me would have said). He didn’t know that I existed. He never will.

The thief, the hippy

Tiny parts of my childhood were very Hollywood. I was ten. The neighbourhood gang and I would cycle, walk, rollerblade (shout-out to the 90s!) through Stepford-esque suburb streets. One day, on the farthest end of our suburb, in the last cul-de-sac, I picked a flower.

It was a face-brick house (boo, the 70s!) with no gate. You could just walk into the yard. Bubblegum pink geraniums congregated in clay pots on either side of a dehydrated wooden front door. I wanted one for my hair or to give to my mom. I can’t remember which.

After a transitory gang dialogue I decided to go for it. I marched down the not-yellow brick driveway, right up to the front door. I plucked a flower with the same vigour and resolve one does a rogue grey hair. Then things got kak.

As I was walking back to my cronies the front door opened and a wrinkled man came to castigate me. I was petrified and the more he spoke, the more I disassociated from the situation. I returned to the undesirable moment in time to give him my parent’s telephone number. 794-1482. I changed the last digit. It should have been a 1. And then I ran. I still feel guilty about lying.


I’ll keep this one short because I’m not keen on reliving the embarrassment for a prolonged amount of time.

I was obsessed with the Hanson brothers and Leonardo DiCaprio. At the same time.

I cut large, rotund letters out of newspaper and stuck them to my bedroom door at an angle. They read: Leo + Hanson = love. My door was always open unless I was in my bedroom alone, so no one else ever saw my formula.

Maybe there is a God.






Hi, my name is Roxana, and I’m a…

This is a confession. You’re going to judge me, but I’m okay with that. Now, before I tell you what it is, allow me to spare you any unnecessary angst by telling you what it isn’t. It’s not a skeleton in my closet that’s ready to be freed, it’s not me coming out of the closet, and it’s not about me being a closet Satanist, stripper, or suicide bomber. That said, the fact that we’re now on the topic of closets, makes the irony of this piece unavoidable.

I have a closet, and I know it well. It’s that pretty-but-functional piece of furniture in a corner of my bedroom. It’s storage space, a clothing cabin, and, most importantly, it’s a shove-everything-in-here-to-fool-people-into-thinking-you’re-a-neat-person device (especially useful when you’ve got unexpected guests).

So, as you can see, I’m aware of my closet’s use. But, should you ever happen to be standing in the doorway of my bedroom, you’ll also see that I don’t use it. At all. I may well be the only young lass I know that can always see the back of their wardrobe. This is not due to a lack of clothing. Don’t be silly, I’m a girl, I have more than enough clothes. It’s because, brace yourself now, I have a floordrobe.

There, I said it. (Cue exhalation of relief.)

I’m not a dirty girl, but I sure am a messy one. And I can’t seem to pack the habit in (pun intended). There’s only one instance when I try to calm the sea of fabric that spreads across my bedroom floor. It is when I read about and am reminded of how the state of your immediate environment is a reflection of your current state of mind.

Hmm. What would Freud say? I imagine quite a lot. But he’d be throwing pearls before swine because I’ve done my own floordrobe autopsy. Not literally. I mean I didn’t go all CSI on my bedroom floor (I don’t have Horatio’s fancy sunglasses or his knack for unintentional humour). But intellectually, I’ve wrestled my disposition for disarray black and blue.

It was a heartfelt analysis, and after hours and hours of purposeful pondering I came up with two hypotheses. They’re conflicting notions, and not altogether positive, but then again, most honest criticisms aren’t.

Basically, there’s one of two options: Either I just couldn’t care less, or, and this one’s slightly more ominous, I’m failing at life.

The thing is, when I come home after a day of careering it up I always have better things to do. And a multitude of things at that. ‘Pack clothes away’ never makes it onto my to-do list. The problem is, I’m so used to the explosion of clothing that is my bedroom floor that the only time I notice it is when I’m looking for a specific piece of garb. Chances are, if it isn’t in the washing machine, or on the clean washing pile, it’s on my floor.

I’m not bothered if this is all there is to my floordrobe misfortune. But every now and then, when I’m in a how-does-my-life-compare-to-everyone-else’s funk, I start to worry a little. “How do other people do it?” I think. Help or no help, most people I know can always see their bedroom floor. Why is it so hard for me to keep mine visible? Am I limited in my capacity to do life right? Is launching myself from the threshold of my bedroom door to the comfort of my bed, over the mountain range of material, as good as it’s going get for me? God, I hope not.

So, where to from here, then? I’m no longer in denial. I’m owning my problem, what’s next? If this was rehab I’m pretty sure I would be detoxing. But because this is the real world, I can’t go cold turkey on clothing and walk around naked. Besides, that won’t really cure me of my quandary.

I’m dreading saying it, but there is a solution, and it’s twofold. Step one: I need to acknowledge that I’m not four anymore. Step two: I should probably (definitely) accept that the definition of being grown up is doing things that you don’t want to do, just because they have to get done.

Dammit. I hate it when that’s the answer.