Give someone a #BagofLife

So Bad Ass

Which would you choose?

colostomy association bag of life

The Colostomy Association are launching a crowdfunding campaign for Stoma Aid.  You can change the lives of thousands of people with a stoma across the world by helping spread the word about Stoma Aid by pledging a Facebook post or Tweet in our Thunderclap campaign.

Millions of people worldwide have a stoma – where an opening has been made on their abdomen which allows waste to pass out of their body. For these people, a stoma bag is necessary to securely, conveniently and safely collect output from their stoma.

However, thousands of people with a stoma across the world are forced to use tin cans, carrier bags and bits of cloth because they are unable to afford the cost of a stoma bag. In Papua New Guinea there are only two stoma care nurses in the entire country; in the Philippines a single bag costs a week’s wages.

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What life has taught me . . .

View from 34th Floor(1)

In my journey called life, I’ve learned . . .

• The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

• When you’re in love, it shows!

• Just one person saying to me, “you’ve made my day!” makes my day.

• Being kind is more important than being right.

• You should never say “no” to a gift from a child.

• I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help in some other way.

View from 34th Floor(3)

• No matter how serious your life needs to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

• Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

• Simple walks with a good friend on summer days or nights does wonders.

• Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

• We should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.

• Money doesn’t buy class.

View from 34th Floor

• It’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

• Under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

• God did not do everything in one day. What makes me think I can?

• To ignore the facts does not change the facts.

• When you plan to get even with someone, you are allowing that person to continue hurting you.

• Love, not time, heals all wounds.

• The easiest way for me to grow is to surround myself with people smarter that I am.

• Everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

View of Cape Town Stadium(1)

• No one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

• Life is tough, but I am tougher.

• Opportunities are never lost, someone will take the ones you miss.

• When you harbour bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

• Telling my mom (more than once) that I love her before she died, left me at peace with her death.

• We should keep our words both soft and tender, because tomorrow we may have to eat them.

Life_Hand releasing butterfly

• A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

• I can’t choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

• That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

• It is best to give advice in only two circumstances:
– When it is requested
– When it is a life threatening situation

• The less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Caped in Cape Town, finding my tribe…

From one super woman to another

Fiona Juan -Author and Coach

When I was little, I wanted to be a boy more than anything in the whole world. They had more freedom and more opportunity. They did more interesting stuff, and most of all, they got to be superheros. All the superheros I knew of were male. They were hardcore, ripped and insanely cool. The female supes were not as cool, always cast as the villain , favouring tiny outfits and weapons that could be thrown from a safe distance, usually providing mere back up to the guys. I grew up with Marvel, Judge Dread and Eagle, living my dreams between their pages, travelling the universe and wishing that life had more opportunity for brown girls.

Not much has changed 30 years later. Now instead of sprawling on the floor with my brothers and their comic books, I get to watch real life heros in action. My understanding of heroism has…

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How to find the balance between work and home life

Life is not about waiting for storms to pass

Throughout my fourteen month journey of being primary caregiver to my dying mom and even now through the last five months of grief/mourning, I have not (yet) asked the question “why?”

When someone you love dies – especially when you were so closely and deeply connected throughout the whole process, it is natural to ask questions like “why me?”, “Why did he/she have to die?”, or “Why now?” I have not questioned what I previously believed about life and death and even about God.

Life not about finding yourself

What I would like and know that I can never get again, is my old life with mom – sharing jokes, going for coffee, the arguments, the difference of opinion, sharing the box of chocolates or slab of chocolate, going for a scenic drive, learning new things together, sitting at the beach eating ice cream . . .

Bereavement and mourning is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. Someone once said:

“Tears are how our heart speaks when our lips cannot describe how much we have been hurt.”

The question I have been asking up to now has been “What is the meaning of life? What really matters?”

Life_Calvin and Hobbs

The answer that I have come up with is that I want more of a life/work balance. I want to work smarter and not harder. I don’t want to be rich, I just want to live comfortably, able to enjoy what life I have left on this mortal earth. Watching my mom on her journey to eternity made me realise that all that matters is having your loved ones around to support you through your journey – something money cannot buy.

The last nineteen months has therefore taken me on a journey to discover “who am I really and what exactly do I want out of life?” The answer for me has been that I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk for eight or nine hours per day. I want to earn an honest living to survive but I also want time to enjoy moments sitting on the beach or in the park watching children play.

Life_Hand releasing butterfly

While preparing to write this blog I came across the writings of David Whyte on How to Break the Tyranny of Work/Life: Three marriages work/life balance he mentions the following quote:

“We are each a river with a particular abiding character, but we show totally different aspects of our self according to the territory through which we travel”

Life_John Lennon

I also came across the following quote by Dave Hedges asking the question: What is life really about? And the quote goes like this . . .

“Life’s not about the things you’ve bought, it’s about the things you’ve built.
Life’s not about what you’ve got, it’s about what you’ve shared with others.
Life’s not about your successes, it’s about the lessons learned along the way.”

What lessons have you learned along this “Journey called life”?

Meaning of Life_Peanuts Cartoon

Recommended reading:
• The Three Marriages Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship Find it here
• How we grow by John Emmerson: Find it here
• Glorious Meditation on Solitude: Find it here
• The Importance of Excess in Creative Work by Anais Nin: Find it here
• Letting your life Speak by Parker Palmer: Find it here
• Floundering to find his purpose: Van Gogh: Find it here

Advantages of Being a Quadriplegic

Although I’m not in a wheelchair I can identify with most of what’s listed here. Thank you Tracy for writing this.

Tracy Todd – Brave Lotus Flower

It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong in your life and most people would think that it’s inconceivable to find anything positive about being a quadriplegic. But when I started writing a list of advantages of being paralysed from the neck down, I was surprised by how much I could come up with. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section.

  • Time is a gift to us all. Most people prefer to use it up doing menial tasks. I’ll sit with you for hours without getting up to do the dishes, not even once. Just bring along some stimulating conversation and don’t forget the wine.
  • My manicures last, because I don’t have to do the dishes. Ever.
  • The best thing about ordering prawns in a restaurant is that I don’t have to peel them, and if we eat them at home, I’m not the one responsible…

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More Than Meets The Eye – Campaign for Invisible Disabilities Awareness

I’m so glad Sam got the ball rolling on this one!

So Bad Ass

After my post on using accessible toilets with an invisible disability went viral with over 2 million views, I knew I had to harness this amazing audience and do something good with it and so after spending the week talking to people with disabilities all over the world and also Disability Charity Scope, I am over the moon to launch More Than Meets The Eye, a campaign for invisible disability awareness.

In the open letter to the woman who judged me for using accessible toilets, I wrote “I know you saw me running in, with my able bodied legs and all. You saw me opening the door with my two working arms. Without any visible sign of disability.  My lack of wheelchair may have suggested to you that I was some lazy cow who didn’t care. You may have seen my face blushing as I caught your eye and assumed I was…

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How to help a grieving friend

I recently wrote a post about grief, mourning and bereavement and the difference between them. You will find the post here:


I am finding my experience of grief and mourning very strange. To allow myself time to grieve and mourn I have pushed those closest to me away to give myself the space to grieve and mourn without having the pressure of “getting on with life” from others. Generally people (society in general) have the perception that now that the funeral/memorial service is over, you should be okay and ready to “get on with life”.

I have now reached the stage where I’m missing that contact with my friends and family and want them to “come back” to me but at the same time I’m not ready to have people sitting in my lounge drinking tea and coffee for hours. I’m at the stage where a quick pop-in visit or quick telephone call to say “how are you doing?” or “is there anything I can do for you?” would be welcome but it seems like people are waiting for me to make the first move.


Ocassionally, especially after a busy week, I sometimes wish I can get a call from someone asking if they can bring me a meal or a sweet treat, but at the same time not expect to be invited in to sit and talk for hours. The idea of calling first before coming is also good because I may not be in the mood to see people. I may want to just walk around in my pyjamas (or even naked for that matter).

My best friend of more than 30 years has not even tried to make contact with me since the end of January. She did not even make contact to wish me for my birthday. I had a missed call on my phone from her on 6 February and I have deliberately not called her back to see how long it would take for her to try again. At the time of writing this post, there’s still been no contact. I do understand that it is probably difficult to wish someone a “happy birthday” when you know they are grieving/mourning. There is nothing wrong with changing that to “Hi, thinking of you on your birthday. Hope you manage/managed to enjoy the day?” An alternative to this would be “hi, can we come around to bring you your gift?” and then surprise me by insisting I sit down and making me a cup of tea instead of expecting me to make you a cup just because you are visiting?


Today while writing this post I was watching a movie on television about the life of actress (who also married a Prince and became a Princess) Grace Kelly. There was a scene in the movie, just before Grace Kelly was going to board the ship to leave her family home, where her father told her he loved her. This brought me to tears again. I am obviously still very volatile emotionally and is probably why I’m having this want/don’t want relationship with contact with the outside world. One minute I want people to come visit but within a few minutes I wish they don’t come.

What I’m also experiencing at the moment is that my attention span is very short. I find that I can’t focus on one particular thing for longer than five or ten minutes then I move on to do something else. I also lose my train of thought in mid sentence and forget what I wanted to say. My mind just goes blank all of a sudden and I cannot remember what I wanted to say. Maybe that’s also why I’m reluctant to have visitors at this stage? Maybe I’m scared that I will be bored with their conversation after five or ten minutes and that they will misunderstand or misinterpret my behaviour and think that I’m being rude?

Birthday milkshake_Cheers

Will my visitors understand when I suddenly burst into tears for no apparent reason? Will they panic and try to make me feel better by saying “don’t worry everything will be alright”? or “it’s ok. Mom is in a better place now”? when all I need is a loving hug or someone to hold my hand, without saying anything at all.

This behaviour is all new to me and I’m finding it very strange. Is this a temporary change in my behaviour or is this taking me to another level of maturity i.e. where trivial things no longer matter to me?

View from our table

As a child I’ve always heard adults say “you are never really grown up until you have lost both your parents”. Is that what’s happening to me now? Am I now finally becoming a “grown up”/an adult?

. . . but I still like Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse? Just saying . . .

To the woman who tutted at me using the disabled toilets…

Oh my word. This is such an eye opener 😱

So Bad Ass

Dear lady who loudly tutted at me using the disabled loos,

I know you saw me running in, with my able bodied legs and all. You saw me opening the door with my two working arms. You saw me without a wheelchair. Without any visible sign of disability.

You tutted loudly as I rattled the handle with my hands that work perfectly and my able voice call to my kids that I’d be out in just a minute.

My lack of wheelchair may have suggested to you that I was some lazy cow who didn’t care. Some inconsiderate bitch who was using something I wasn’t entitled too. (I actually carry a card to explain that I’m entitled to and have a disability key if you’d have cared to ask). You may have seen my face blushing as I caught your eye and assumed I was showing guilt at blagging the…

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