Sunday, October 23, 2016

The insanity of the past few weeks. Deep breathing.

Ok, so looking back on the past while (since I last posted) it is clear that life has been a bit much of late, and things need to chill out.

First. My mom ended up in hospital with hypertension and atrial fibrillation. Naturally, I and my sibling freaked out a fair amount until we were told that it's not necessarily the biggest deal - your heart beating out of sync is apparently a manageable condition. So that happened. We are all attempting to be healthier humans and I'll keep you posted on how that is going.

What happened after that? Oh yeah, a couple weeks ago, I ended up in the hospital too. Our family is getting well-acquainted with these places now. You see, when we do things we generally have a motto of go hard or go home. This was no different. My ailment, we had thought to be allergies (pretty chilled right, take some antihistamines and you're fine) were not allergies this time. When my chest got crazy tight unlike ever before and I woke up with the worst headache I've ever had, we figured that getting a doctor's opinion may be a good idea. And the next thing we knew, I was in a hospital bed getting tests done.

In this process, there had been a few misconceptions on my part. I was somewhat convinced that I had Meningitis or something like that but turns out I had a crazy drug-resistant infection. This was not part of my plan. I was also under the impression that I would be there overnight/two days max, but with this too, I was mistaken. Five days later I was discharged and so, I had to find something to fill my days with because hospitals have pretty limited entertainment options. I think I caught up on 4 years of sleep deprivation, so I guess that's a perk. Hospitals are also phenomenal places of undignified dignity.

I had a few good peeps visit me to alleviate some of my boredom. Thanks Stiney for the flowers, and props to Handke for sneaking in the cheesecake! You made my day. I think our conversations may have been a bit too loud/too noise standards = hushed tones. Oops. Sorry not sorry.

That was kind of void when you have a 90-year-old roommate with dementia. All I'll say is that he had some interesting conversations.

After getting out of the hospital, I had to take it a little bit slower (granted, this is 'Chaeli slow') just because antibiotics (three different types to try and kill this bug I had somehow acquired) tends to take their toll.

Then we get to last weekend, where I (without being on antibiotics) participated with Devon Coetzee in the 2016 Gun Run, and it was AWESOME! Got my PB - 2:10 - and it's always an epic event and I love how inclusive it is. Two wrists up for the organisers :) I did sleep for the majority of the day thereafter - I think I've rekindled my love affair with sleep quite sufficiently now.

In the last week, I finished my Honours degree in Social Policy & Management and it was crazy in the end, but I'm super excited about! I now need to keep myself occupied until next year when I get in at the deep end that is a Masters...I'll be helping out at The Chaeli Campaign though so there is plenty for me to do.

I'm hopeful that things will calm down to a manic pace, and that hospital visits do not become a norm for us. Only time will tell...


Monday, September 5, 2016

Training Dragons and Imperial Duck.

Good evening, everybody! All things considered, I have had quite a chilled week. Although, I think 'chilled' is a relative term. It's also been a week of reflection with it being a year since we made history when we reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

What's been happening?

MY BORNDAY! I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22...
Birthday celebrations are always great, and as I've mentioned before, I like to extend these celebrations beyond the usual 24-hour vibe. So, to keep up this tradition, I had a celebratory/reunion dinner with a few of the cast members from The Chaeli Campaign's productions and we went to Chef Pon's Asian Kitchen - go there, try the Imperial Duck. That's all.

When my birthday actually arrived, I woke up pretty early - as one does - and went with my mom to co-present at BNI (as one doesn't generally do on a birthday). Thereafter, my sister took me out for breakfast at Open Door. There were so many little people there, I actually couldn't contain myself. Toddlers are just the best version of a person - so much curiosity, with no inhibition. To end off my official birthday, we had the traditional Banana Jam dinner and it was wonderful. It's probably one of my favourite places in the world. The problem I've had with my birthday though, since getting to university, is that it generally falls in the midterm vacation, which means many of my friendles have gone home and can subsequently not celebrate with me on my actual birthday. This also gives us another reason to get together and have a good time. So, that works for me. I love that I'm able to surround myself with phenomenal human beings, who make me question things, appreciate things, and just have a great time on this life journey.

For my birthday, my sister got me a book called 'Thoughts & Reflections', it asks a question a day, and has space for 3 years worth of answers. I think this is awesome, because it is easy enough that it's totally doable and not time-consuming. I'm committed to this book - just like my blog - and keeping on with filling it in every day. We're seven days in and still on-track, so things are looking promising.

The most exciting thing (don't judge me) for the week before my birthday was that my Dragon arrived :)

I guess that needs some explanation, right. I ordered 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' which is voice recognition software, two weeks ago, and it has arrived! This may seem silly, but I can't explain how rad it is to be able to speak to your computer, with a speech issue, and have it not only understand what you're saying but also listen to you and do what you say. So legit. But in order for this to happen, it has to be trained. So, I've been training my Dragon for the last while and it's seemingly working quite well, and saving so much time.

Now, there's time for a quick university update. Last week, I once again, vastly underestimated the amount of time it takes to finish an Honours assignment. I'm having some serious procrastination struggles, you guys, but I'm working on it, at some point. I realised at 7pm, when I wasn't even halfway through it, that Friday night was going to be a long one, had a minor meltdown, and then continued walking the line between denial and hopeful success. I then contemplated at 4:43am whether it was worth my while to even make the mission to go to sleep or to just bite the bullet and simply stay awake. I got hysterical with laughter at basically nothing, and with that I realised that maybe the former would be a better life decision. Eventually, I only got like 35 minutes sleep (at the most) before waking up to do some last-minute edits. Please can we now acknowledge that me pulling an all-nighter on a FRIDAY means that this assignment was made due on a Saturday. Yeah, welcome to Postgrad studies, where work weeks are not a thing and other normal social understandings don't apply.

When I got to campus to submit my assignment and do my presentation (I was determined to be awake for my presentation), I got into the lift to go to Level 4, the doors closed, and the lift went nowhere. So, at that point, I was ready to admit that it wasn't going to be my day. I messaged my friend Lara that I was in the lift, but stuck. After a bit of a miscommunication it was determined that I actually required assistance to get out. After that everything was relatively chilled. But due to extreme exhaustion and not remembering what day it was, I (along with my mom) went - after my university commitments were sorted - off to Stellenbosch University to present leadership workshops that were actually scheduled for yesterday, that being Sunday (not Saturday). My mom was less than impressed, to say the least. There is a silver lining to this story however, because after realising that we were functioning on the wrong day we found a really cute cafe, and bought a lot of cheesecake because it looked amazing. And it was!

So, my advice for the week is that when you find yourself in a trying situation, go in search of CHEESECAKE and all will work out. Because you know, life is just better with cheesecake.

That's it for now.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Enter Silas Ramsbottom


Ok, I've only recently had a chance to realise that my birthday is on Tuesday, so I'm excited about it. I've never really understood why people don't like celebrating their birthdays. I mean, it's the day the world was gifted with your existence and that's totally something worth celebrating. Every time.

Now that I've got over that realisation, I can share some stories.

The unbelievably talented Daniel Mpilo Richards, has been a part of the Chaeli Campaign family for a while now because he's been a part of a few of our professional productions - most recently 'No Functional Language'. This is actually all just back story because the real reason I'm talking about him is because he has a new show that's on currently, 'PAY BACK THE CURRY', and errybody should go see this show. He's the only one in it, it's a one-man show, it's everything. *enter that guy from Despicable Me, Silas Ramsbottom* Hilarious. It's still on until 27 August sooo go do that! K, plug done.

Daniel and I, and some other pretty cool people are planning something LEGIT, but that's all you're getting for now because greatness takes time to develop. Keep your peepers peeled for that one.

Friday, I spoke at Due South because they were key supporters for the Comrades Marathon and Kilimanjaro. So I was asked to share some of the stories from those experiences. It was awesome to be able to do that and to have a company that wholeheartedly backs what we do is something really special. I also met some pretty cool people there who are keen to get involved in some future adventure plans. Yay!

Saturday was awesome because we had a surprise Kitchen Tea for Tarryn (co-founder of The Chaeli Campaign, as she's getting married in September! Exciting times...

I think now is a good time to chat about the whole "Kbye" declaration in my last post. Last year, along with a group of incredible people and activists in their own rights, started a society at UCT called IkeyAbility where we raise awareness for disability issues on our campus and hold the university accountable for the commitments it makes to differently-abled students. Throughout this process I've had the privilege of meeting and working with some epic humans, (Jess, Yuvini & Robyn) who happen to be Deaf (with a Capital "D", this is important), as well as some pretty legit able-bodied peeps.

I've learned so much over the past year about Deaf culture and how life as a Deaf person has its own challenges that are not properly understood because they're rarely seen/visible. I've also learned that it doesn't take all that much effort to sort out these challenges, all that is needed is some logic and the willingness to find a solution. Let's talk about communication for a bit, because we all know how important it is, but when people don't speak the same language as you it can be problematic. This is an ongoing problem for people who are Deaf, but there has been an increase in people wanting to learn Sign Language and have pursued it. I too, have been learning the language.

Granted, it's a smidgen difficult for me to actually do most of the signs, because of my hands being quite uncooperative, but I can still learn to understand what is being said, and we can work out the rest. So, I've been working with Yuvini & Robyn to somewhat adapt certain signs to make them Chaeli-friendly and it seems to be working out quite well, most of the time.

Robyn is one of the most unbelievable people I have the privilege of knowing. She is possibly the sassiest person I know and stands up for her rights but also advocates for the rights of other people, and constantly shatters people's concept of what Deaf people are able to achieve. There are so many things I've learned from her and it's always with a sense of humour.

Whenever you speak to Robyn - and she agrees with you, or disagrees, or doesn't care -  and you expect an in-depth response, all you get is "K". Don't worry though, it's always said with mostly love. So that's wonderful. And whenever Robyn is done with a conversation, you get "Kbye" and she walks away dramatically.

Tomorrow, IkeyAbility has its first AGM where we will elect a new committee and continue raising awareness and supporting students with disabilities in the year to come. I'll blog about it when things happen.

So, without further ado, Kbye.

Monday, August 15, 2016

I'm back and ready to blog!

Ok, I just signed in to this account for the first time in... *bows head in shame* I know, it's been over a year since I last posted. I apologise.

Since we last spoke, I climbed Kilimanjaro, graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Politics and Social Development (I dropped the 3rd major at some point in that journey...but I'm cool with it), I started my Honours in Social Policy & Management, and I 'ran' The Comrades Marathon. I think those are all the big things. Just doing this update makes me realise that my life is slightly insane.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

If you're wondering what gave me the urge to write this post, I can't tell you. I just feel like this is a great place to process life's happenings, and maybe share some insights I've gained and hopefully sometimes get some insight from you guys.

So, generally I would only post when I've had an epic event happen. I have decided that life is just as much about recording and taking notice of the small - some may say mundane - things as it is about the big moments. Often, those small moments and happenings are where we learn the most about life and ourselves. Here goes with the normal everyday life update...

Today, after going to bed at 3:something, and about 5 hours of sleep, I woke up to get back to the grind that is writing my Honours thesis. This is the beauty of having a first draft, you guys. It's ok to not get things right the first time and I'm expecting many adjustments and fixing to be done in this process. I'm looking forward to the guidance of our most-legit supervisor, Andre.

I worked on it for a good few hours yesterday and I quickly realised that I dramatically underestimated the amount of work I still had to do, and overestimated how much I had already done *self-righteous pose retracted as soon as the document is opened*

I did not move from my desk in my room from 08:00 (ish) until 3:45, when I left for uni to hand in my thesis. I had coffee, so that was a perk. This is where my friends get grumps with me because I apparently have a high turn-out rate when it comes to working under pressure. The problem with this mode is that motivation levels are relatively low until there is no more time to procrastinate, and then things get real for a second (or a few), and you have to get it together and get it done! I'm generally successful with this strategy, and the people around me are aware that this is how I work - so, that's cool. I'm trying to minimise the procrastination though, so I'll keep you posted.

Notice how writing my blog could possibly be viewed as procrastination too, but I'm claiming it as productive time.

With that declaration, I'm checking out for now. I'm recommitting to this blog and my plan is to post once a week, even if nothing particularly interesting is going on.

Kbye. (more on this later :P)


Monday, June 29, 2015

Kilimanjaro is coming!

I figured that my next adventure deserves its own blog post...even though I think I have written about it in previous posts, but here's a major update. Are you ready?

After doing various cycling and running events, I wanted to do something that was slightly more challenging, so the idea of summiting Kilimanjaro arose. And with the idea, planning began...

Mountains are challenging things and you need many people to become involved to make it possible. We had initially intended for the expedition to take place last year, in 2014, however there were a number of issues that made us reconsider and it was decided that we would postpone the trip to August this year (2015).

After many dilemmas and logistical challenges, we have overcome them and we are now, today, 9 weeks away!!

Our team consists of 7 amazing, and diverse people, each of whom will no doubt add value to the team with their own unique skills. Here's a quick overview of the team:

We have Adam, who is a ships captain, and he is a very practical, level-headed person which is going to be immensely important when we are climbing. Taylor, is a university student (studying politics and other stuff at UCT with me) so we will be able to argue about university gossip or management or whatever else as we make our way to the summit. He is also a musician, in his band Forefront, so he can sing our way out of the deep-blue-funk if we find ourselves there. Sally is an experienced climber having done a number of other mountains, but never Kili. Her experience as well as her training as a physio will be invaluable when the bodies start moaning at us. We also have some hardcore businesswomen :) So, Anne is the Managing Director at Nordex Energy South Africa and her quiet strength will be crucial in the tough moments. Thembi is the Managing Director at Global Business Solutions and supports many other organisations and companies with her expertise. Thembi is a beast on the mountain and is always ready to get involved and get the job done. Her determination and grit will help all of us get to the top of Kili. And finally, Carel, is leading our expedition and his role is keeping everybody in the team happy, healthy and most importantly, alive. No pressure.

So, with 9 weeks to go, there is so much excitement and much planning going on. Right now, we're working on things like getting gear sorted for the team, team hikes, sorting out the last issues with the wheelchair and doing some altitude training (just to see how everybody in the team feels at different altitudes). This has led to some very interesting team discussions... #maybelater

The other major aspect of our climb - aside from reaching the summit - is raising a good amount of money for The Chaeli Campaign's Inclusive Early Childhood Development/Enrichment Centre :) I feel so privileged that I get to witness these beautiful children learning and expressing such compassion, empathy and just love. Disability is not a thing for these kids and that's the attitude we hope to spread to every person that interacts with them.

As we grow older, we become so much more judgemental and we see difference and immediately think it's negative. What we need to do is focus on our similarities because that is where amazing things become possible and can be achieved. This, I think is something that our Kilimanjaro expedition expresses through the fact that we all have different skills and needs that have to be acknowledged and supported, but at the end of the day we all want to reach the top of that mountain. And we need each other to make it happen.

Til next time
Peace out

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

apologies and updates.

Ok, so I know that I haven't posted in almost a year... I realise that this is a major problem and I plan on rectifying this right now.

My life is clearly much more busy than I am willing to admit to myself - not that it's going to get any less hectic than it has been and I don't really want that to happen. Let's face it, I'm an adrenaline junkie of a different kind where I'm not jumping out of planes or running with the bulls, but I love having 5 different things to do in a day and not really knowing that they're all going to get done. And then, you do get them done and all of a sudden, you're a boss at life.

However, key to this plan is procrastination. It's important to procrastinate just enough, so that it is still humanly possible to achieve the goal. You have to have a good amount of pressure on getting it done (like a deadline in 20 minutes or a plane leaving in 30) because otherwise there's way too much time to get distracted by other things.

This is how I get through life. Admittedly, people do try and tell me that I need to plan better or have better time-management, but this system has proven pretty successful thus far.

I do appreciate sleeping though, but this is something that one says goodbye to when you enter university. And you only say 'hello' again during mid-year vacation (which is now, so I have been vegetating for the past week and it has been glorious). I have no real concrete plans for this vacation period because this last semester was the most insane one yet and I just need to detox from uni a bit.

Plan sorted.

Let's just do a quick run-through of my life - more important bits/what I remember - since my last post, so I don't feel like I'm leaving you guys out of the goes

Global Youth Peace Indaba
amazing collection of young people in Cape Town when the Nobel Peace Youth Summit was postponed and moved to Rome. I'm still in contact with many of the people who attended and the Indaba has led to many other opportunities too

my first service dog from SA Guide Dog Association; she is a yellow labrador (quarter retriever) and she's beautiful. No doubt there will be many a blog post about her and what she gets up to...

all the International Children's Peace Prize winners got together and we came up with the plan for the Youngsters - it's like the 'Elders' but with young people and our views because we are the ones who are going to shape the future :)

This was also the first time I went overseas (Netherlands & London) without my mom or a family member, I went with my PA, Nthabi, who lives with me in res. So that was also really exciting step in my journey.

UCT is an incredible university of diverse people from almost every walk of life and disability is included in this, but to a lesser extent it seems. So, along with a group of amazing ability activists (disabled and able-bodied) we have begun the process of establishing a society that focuses on raising awareness around disability - or ability rather - on our campus. We want to make disability a part of the mainstream discussions on campus and not just for certain ears to hear. Now, we're awaiting approval from the university after being monitored for the first semester of 2015...will keep you posted.

I think those are the more "public" things going on in my life. On a more personal level, I know I've shared about dancing before so I'm going to do it again...

World Cup 2015
Over Easter, we travelled to Cuijk, Netherlands to compete in the Wheelchair Dancing World Cup in the Amateur Class 1 section. This year was much more exciting for us because we went with our team mates, Chantelle and Mukkie and this made it so much more memorable. My mom came with us as 'Team Momma' :P This year we also had something to prove as we had placed last year. We went onto the floor determined to make a scene and show Europe how we do it in Africa - granted, our style is a bit different to Europe...

We succeeded at our mission, and we actually won both the Latin American and Ballroom section and we are now WORLD CHAMPIONS! So, that's amazing to us. What made that victory so much sweeter is that Chantelle and Mukkie competed in Class 2 (different levels of ability) and they also won both their sections, which means that they are also world champions. We came back to home soil double title holders. Africans showing the world how it's done. Yes, please.

Pressure is now on because when you win a section, you get promoted which means that we now have to compete in the Elite section (made up of pretty much professionals and now us).

Bring on 2016!

In other news...
my sister got married! To an incredible man, Warren, and they are the most beautiful couple and I'm so excited that I now have a big brother :) Couldn't have asked for a better one...

That's all.

Until next time - I promise it will not be in a year's time. Soon soon


Friday, September 12, 2014

Open Letter to President Zuma.

11 September 2014

Dear President Zuma

I am a Madiba baby – a child of freedom - born in August 1994. I have grown up in an era where every person in South Africa has the freedom of choice: I have the right to be who I wish to be and hold whatever views I have, even if they oppose the views of others. Even if they oppose your views, Mr President. I have learned throughout my life of the immense efforts made and the struggles faced by so many people to create the incredible country in which we live, a democracy for which people fought for so many years. I am a wheelchair user and an ability activist and I have dealt with my fair share of challenges and discrimination but this has never caused me to lose faith in the power of the South African people to be a society where we can say that our lives are shaped by Ubuntu.

Much of the fight for democracy was initiated by young people, passionate about the rights that ensure democracy, fairness and justice. The voices of the youth of South Africa need to be heard in each generation to continue a national dialogue that remains relevant and it is in this spirit that I add my voice today.

I’m confused. I find it difficult to understand why granting a visa to His Honourable Dalai Lama to attend the annual Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Cape Town in October, is seen as impossible.  The Dalai Lama is the global image for peace. Everywhere he goes a core message is spread – Peace. Peace for all people. Peace no matter your religious beliefs, your socio-economic standing, or your geographical location. Peace should not be determined by political alliances but by the power of people and an unwavering mission for equality in a society where everybody has a place. Is this not what the Struggle for a democratic South Africa was all about?

This occasion marks the third visa refusal in a period of five years whereby the Dalai Lama has been denied entry to SA. The reason often given for these refusals being that it is not in the best interest of the South African people. Or delay tactics are employed so that through unspoken means the ‘message’ is sent that he is unwelcome. How difficult is it to issue a visa? Ordinary people get theirs within a week or so – one would think that a world leader would not have to jump through hoops and wait this long for a visa to be issued. There has been a massive outcry from members of the public and prominent leaders, whom you profess to serve as President of our country. Is now not a time to take note of the voices of the people whom you represent?

As a member of the ‘Born-Free’ generation of South Africa I am so proud of how far our country has come and am so grateful that I was born in 1994 at the dawn of our democracy. But bearing witness to actions like the refusal of a visa to an iconic man of peace like the Dalai Lama, I have concerns about the future facing this beautiful place we call home. It makes me wonder how sincerely our leaders and you, Mr President, truly cherish freedom in general terms and more specifically freedom of speech, when a man of peace like the Dalai Lama is denied entry into South Africa.

What saddens me most about this visa application debacle is that it denies the South African people a chance to learn from The Dalai Lama’s peaceful leadership and to experience his wisdom. In denying the Dalai Lama, you are also creating the possibility of other Nobel Peace Laureates refusing to attend the Summit in solidarity with the Dalai Lama. And in doing this you deny all of us an opportunity to learn from these inspiring global heroes of Peace – right here on home soil. No winners – many losers.

I fail to see how His Honourable Dalai Lama poses a threat to our nation. How can he be considered an undesirable visitor to our shores? He is a world icon who holds strong views about the right to freedom of his own people. Is this not what our people fought so fearlessly against for so many years? Are these views not in line with the South African struggle for freedom from oppression and the right for self-determination?

I’m sad, given our proud fight for freedom, to think that our political leaders are creating the global perception that South Africa has become a submissive nation, bending the knee to foreign powers with their own political agendas. Struggle leaders, many of whom now sit in Parliament, along with you, Mr President, could not remain silent on the issue of human rights and freedom decades ago: the freedom gained through the struggle out of apartheid into what has now become a free and democratic South Africa. Is this not what the Dalai Lama wants for his country?

I implore you to fast track the process whereby a visa can be issued to His Honourable Dalai Lama and show South Africa and the world that as a country, and as a people, we still stand for the same ideals that you fought for twenty years ago. You fought for a country where every person has a voice that can be heard. You fought for a country of freedom, equality, self-determination, and ultimately peace. We want to learn from the Dalai Lama – we have a right to hear his voice.

Chaeli Mycroft
2011 International Children’s Peace Prize
2012 Nobel Peace Laureates’ Medal for Social Activism
2013 World of Children Youth Award