Friday, 19 November 2021

Finding value in joy


There was a time in my life when I measured the value of my life by my work. Even though I felt valued at school and in the classroom, the system didn't bring me joy. I had the opportunity in the past to climb the ladder but chose not to. In retrospect, I realize that my decision saved my life.

I know many people who live by their status and reputation. They live by comparison. As a consequence, they are governed by status, brands, and competitive living styles, and walk around with an enormous "should" on their shoulders. I've come to realize, for me, it's okay to not always do what I think I should or what others expect of me. It's okay to say no without having regrets. It's okay if I don't drive the car I can afford. It's okay to retire early if something steals my sanity, peace, or joy. And it's okay to rest and to be alone.

Since the day I was diagnosed with my irreversible illness, I have allowed myself to adopt an “I can’t ... anymore” mentality. And then my brother died. Yes! On 25 October 2021, my brother (51) who lived with us collapsed and died. Over the course of two profound weeks, we packed up his things and then my mother's. My mother went to Langebaan to stay with my sister. My husband, daughter, and I sold their furniture and painted their flat, which left me bent and filled with sorrow.

Despite my apparent unhappiness, my brain was rewiring itself. During this time, regardless of what I thought I was doing, I was getting back on my feet again (figuratively)! I didn't plan it. It just happened. 

I don’t have to question it because it’s natural for me to be resilient. I've always had the ability to get up once life has knocked me down. Instinctively, I know that the only way forward is for me to keep on moving (figuratively)!

I’ve had five days of debilitating pain, including today! Yet, with the rewiring, I seem to be on a different wavelength. I'm recognizing all the little things and moments that bring joy to my heart.

And even while I say this, everything is changing. Nothing stays the same. My husband is selling his business and we are packing up as a family. Soon, we will be moving to Langebaan to start a new chapter of our lives. This is causing a lot of stress.

Reflecting on what has happened, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the past two weeks is this: Joy can be found when we stop living a life of negativity, criticizing and complaining and hating life, feeling sorry for ourselves, or focusing on everything that is bad, ugly, and cruel. 

This lesson gives me renewed hope for tomorrow.


Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Virtual Book Launch


My virtual book launch for Implicitly was a great success. I'd like to thank everyone who ordered an autographed book. I received a few photos from family and friends, which I thought I'd share. 


I want to thank Elpida Hohenberger for taking my book on her trip from Ohio, USA, to Greece. Here are some photos she sent.

 

And thank you Janet Haines who took my book on her road trip from Amanzimtoti, KZN, to Kimberley in the Northern Cape. 


Another photo piece of the launch puzzle has arrived. Thank you Kirsten who travelled all the way from Gauteng to KZN to collect her book (LOL!). May you also enjoy travelling through the pages! 




Friday, 27 August 2021

Implicitly - my latest novel

Synopsis

Implicitly is a love story about learning who to trust. Gwendolyn (Gwen) Zowitsky’s twin sister, Annie, has met a new guy. Ryan Vorsatz invites Annie to spend a weekend with him fishing in a forest on the outskirts of the city. Annie asks Gwen to go with her because she doesn’t know Ryan at all – they had only met twice. Gwen tags along unwillingly but soon feels uneasy about Ryan especially when she sees his three hooded companions. When Annie takes a nap, Gwen follows Ryan into the forest. Strange things happen and Ryan is forced to flee with Gwen to a shack on higher ground. He sends a radio message to Eddie, the supervisor of the private property to look after Annie. 

Gwen falls in love with Ryan, but he manipulates her through deception and lies in his attempt to find a syndicate leader known as Stealth Strider. Gwen meets his brother, Daniel, and an army of Russians in the forest, which makes her more aware of the danger she and Annie are in. Gwen loves Ryan and lands in situations where she has to make a choice to leave or support him. She keeps choosing him even though she doesn’t trust him, and he leads her further into danger in his search for Stealth Strider. Daniel warns Gwen to be wary of Ryan. Daniel tells her that he is the only person she will learn to trust. Gwen soon discovers that Stealth Strider was Ryan’s mother, Sofia Vorsatz who was killed by one of the syndicates. Stealth Strider has been activated again two years after the shooting and because her body was never found, Gwen is convinced Sofia is still alive. But Sofia wouldn’t have activated Stealth Strider and throw herself in the spotlight? Who then was pretending to be Stealth Strider and why? 

Gwen meets Daniel and Ryan’s father, Nick Vorsatz, who makes her even more afraid. Ryan takes Gwen to a glade in the forest to a sunken shipping container. Here Gwen discovers a Russian prisoner, Yelena Babanin, who gives her a memory stick with evidence to destroy Ryan’s maternal grandmother, Khristina Engelhardt. Yelena tells Gwen to only trust Ryan with the information, but Gwen is confused and hides the memory stick. What is the connection between Sofia Vorsatz and Yelena Babanin? When Ryan is shot, Sofia returns home. Her story coincides with Yelena Babanin’s and describes her mother, Khristina Engelhardt, as a blood-thirsty narcissist. When Gwen finally gives the memory stick to Ryan, they find the much-needed evidence against Khristina Engelhardt to have her listed as a number one traitor for many of the syndicates Nick Vorsatz had been working for. The truth starts to unfold. Daniel and Ryan leave for Russia to find Khristina and invite Gwen and Annie to go with them. Here Gwen and Annie discover who the real enemy is.     

Blurb

In a matter of one day, a stranger takes control of Gwen’s freedom. She has to trust Ryan or die. After all the games, deceit, and lies, she keeps choosing to go with him in his search for a dangerous enemy: Stealth Strider. His brother makes her more aware of the danger she is in. Gwen is given the evidence Ryan needs to find the person who killed his mother. But her trust falters when it least should. Throughout the story, trust subtly builds a track record and Gwen learns to love the man she trusts the least. 


Available at: Groep 7 Boekwinkel

E-book: click here



Chapter 1

I closed my eyes and saw Ryan lying in a pool of blood. I had bludgeoned him to death with my millionth side glance. I faced the tragic reality as the ill-fated engine sputtered and gasped for the last time, and a benumbing silence filled the air.

Perched on the edge of the back seat like an anxious child, I leaned forward and craned my neck as far to the front as possible. It was the moment of reckoning: I knew where I was going to die.

In wide-eyed bewilderment, I stared at the car’s bonnet knowing that beneath it was a dead engine. My anxiety grew in proportion to the scene of desolation. Not one vehicle had passed us since we left the main road. Not one! We were in an ominous forest devoid of humans, which to my mind meant only one thing. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere, exposed and vulnerable.

Everything was grim inside the stillness of the car, but outside, where the road and trees were engulfed in deep and somber darkness, it was worse. A quiver of unease ran through me.

I turned my head slowly to look at the driver and then at the passenger in the front seat, my sister, Anne Zowitsky. She was the reason why we were in this predicament, and why I bristled when I saw her sitting in passive politeness chewing her gum.

“Annie!” My voice ruptured the silence in the car, and both Annie and Ryan jumped.

Her hand shot up in the air, palm facing forwards and fingers splayed, in an attempt to stop my hysteria from escaping.

“Don’t!” she said vehemently, gawping almost in my direction into the dark.

Being ever the rebel, I shifted forward between the seats and twisted my torso to face her. It wasn’t a comfortable position half suspended between the car’s roof and handbrake, but I needed to make myself visible to her.

“You must at least let me say what I’m thinking!” I was being ruthless because I wanted her to acknowledge and accept full responsibility for everything that would go wrong over the weekend.

“No!” she said between clenched teeth.

“Honestly, I need to say it! You’ve got to be kidding me, right?”

“Not now, Gwen! Not now!”

“Then when? When can I be hysterical because this looks like the perfect time for me to lose it?”

Annie’s seat belt snapped open, and she scrambled out of the car. I admired her courage in that irrational moment but was horrified to see her jeopardize her own safety outside in the dark.

Meanwhile, Ryan remained frozen in his seat. I couldn’t believe it! I shifted to look at him and then lost it.

“Ryan!” I yelled frantically. “Get out of the car and do something!”

Within seconds he was outside the car, more for wanting to avoid my near-hysteria than for knowing what to do. He swaggered to the front of the car where Annie was and fidgeted endlessly in his attempt to open the bonnet.

I stared at them, knowing exactly what was going to happen. Annie and Ryan would look brainlessly in at the engine and send a desperate prayer into the universe. They were in dire need of a miracle or a telepathic step-by-step guide on how to fix it because what did they know about engines? Nothing! He didn’t even know how to open the bonnet.

Let me backtrack because the breakdown was not the cause of my frustration. It was merely the last straw for me. First, we lost our GPS signal and then lost our way! It was bad enough leaving home so late in the afternoon and driving into the night, but losing signal was more than I could bear. I told Ryan and Annie quite emphatically we shouldn’t continue our journey to the cottage. I pleaded for them to turn back to the main road. Did they listen? No! My reasoning fell on deaf ears. Ryan continued to drive onward into oblivion and let me make it clear: I don’t like obliviousness.

When we came to a fork in the road, Ryan hesitated before choosing to keep to the left. He argued the river was to our left, and the cottage was near the river.

At that particular point, I couldn’t roll my eyes anymore. I would’ve pulled an eye muscle and forever regretted spending the weekend squint-eyed and unfocused!

My foul mood had been brewing since Thursday. I didn’t want to come on this trip, but Annie didn’t want to come without me because she didn’t know Ryan at all. Now I ask: Who in their right mind goes off with a stranger for a weekend break? Annie does because she’s naive.

Don’t think for one minute I didn’t try to prevent this weekend from happening. I did! I argued the subject to utter decay, but Annie wouldn’t take no for an answer. It’ll be nice, she said. It’ll do you the world of good, she argued. Just come for my sake, she pleaded. The grave consequence: My fate was held in abeyance as I sat in the dark with no one to turn to for support.

With an impatience born of desperation, I switched on my cell phone’s flashlight, opened the door, and reluctantly stepped out of the car. I was tired, stiff, and upset, and needed to pee. In fact, I needed to pee more than an hour ago when we passed through the last town before turning off onto this desolate piece of hell road. Ryan had mumbled something about us being near our destination and not wanting to make another pit stop. So I was subjected to bobbing up and down in the car on the pitiful excuse of a bumpy road, sitting with my knees clamped together and praying for the preservation of my dignity and strength for my bladder to hold.

Standing outside the car was a daunting experience. I looked around at the absolute darkness. The wind in the trees gave the illusion we were near the sea, but we weren’t! The last thing I was experiencing was a relaxing weekend break. My mind was filled with images of corpses and ghosts and devils and demons … and death! The eeriness filled me with ominous foreboding and, to make it plausible, an unwelcome shiver ran down my spine. Perforce, I was led to a deep and reverential respect for whatever was writhing out there and hastened to the front of the car.

There I found the two star-crossed lovers sitting on the edge of the car, at leisure, with their backs to the engine. It didn’t take them long to realize opening the bonnet had been a waste of time and energy.

I stepped forward with feigned temerity. My hands rested on my hips.

Ryan looked at me and said ever so friendly, “The cottage isn’t too far off. Let’s grab our things and start walking.”

Was I the only frantic person standing at Death’s door? My eyebrows shot up, and I looked at him in disbelief. But Annie glared at me. So I kept quiet. After all, this was her new boyfriend. It was his trip and his need to fish and rest. Everything revolved around Ryan. I was nothing more than a compliant chaperone and needed to shut up!

I was deeply stung by her lack of compassion for what I was going through. But, with no alternative options, what could I do? So I took my bags and followed Ryan and Annie deeper into the devastatingly dark forest.

There were no celestial lights to shine down on us beneath the leafy canopy. We only had our cell phone flashlights, with batteries near depletion.

Let me take this opportunity to tell you about Annie. She’s a 28-year-old hairdresser who loves her work. She’s clever, creative, and a passive observer of life. Annie loves reading, eating, binge-watching Netflix, and eating. Oh, did I mention that? Then let me emphasize, she never picks up weight. She can eat the metaphoric elephant one bite at a time and still have the figure of a catwalk model, all skin and bones. Being a typical Libra, she’s tactful, kind, and charming. She’s the epitome of beauty with her long dark hair and blue eyes.

Few people know Annie and I are fraternal twins. Whenever we mention it, people look at us in disbelief. They would say, “Twins?” scrunching up their faces, adding, “Really? Wow! Twins? Who’d have thought?” They say it with so much conviction! You would swear our parents had conspired against us and we were condemned to live a perfect lie.

Even though I share the same Zodiac sign as Annie, we differ in more ways than one. One of the few things we have in common is our creative talent.

My name is Gwendolyn Zowitsky, and I’m a graphic designer. Unlike Annie, I hate sitting still for long intervals unless I’m designing. So I’m disinclined to read or watch movies. The only time I make an effort is when Annie is overwhelmed by a story and annoys me to no end.

I pick up weight quite easily. So I starve myself more than I should and practically live in the gym. My hair is lighter than Annie’s and is cut in a less than perfect bob. My blue eyes are frustratingly four-eyed. Yes! Annie is the avid reader, but I’m the one burdened with glasses.

I don’t care much about fashion. I’m good at running my mouth and standing up for myself, and I’m the one to take action when we find ourselves in a difficult situation.

I always think of Annie as a colourful cosmos on a long, slender stem. She attracts people like the cosmos attracts birds and bees and butterflies. Annie is easy-going, thrives in the worst of conditions when she has company, and doesn’t need a lot of preparation to be beautiful.

I’m more like the sunflower. I’m slightly bigger and taller than Annie. My head is always heavy with unnecessary thoughts and because I tend to dip into negativity, it’s a constant challenge to face the light and be positive. But I always turn to the light!

It’s perhaps here I need to emphasize, I hate the outdoors and so does Annie. So understandably, she wouldn’t have survived the weekend with Ryan on her own. We’ve never hiked, camped, or gone fishing.

Why she thought a weekend in the middle of nowhere in the company of a stranger would be okay, as long as I was with her, eluded me. She was convinced it would be fun. We could read, and play cards, or board games, and … Yawn!

Her sudden infatuation with Ryan Vorsatz was nauseating.


 


Monday, 19 July 2021

Covid-19: my mind at different times today

What if we could take a shower and wash away every trace of this illness. Wouldn't it be great to go back to normal and pretend we never tested positive? We wouldn't have to live in isolation and listen to each other cough in another room.

 ...

Our symptoms started late Sunday afternoon, 11 July. We didn't know, though. I mean, I've had sinusitis, a basic cold, and flu this year. On Tuesday, Nick tested positive. On Wednesday, I tested false-negative and on Friday the results came back positive.

My worst day was Thursday. The physical, emotional, and mental experience of knowing we have the virus and the reality of moving through the various phases of the illness brought fear closer to home. Suddenly nothing seemed to matter except following all instructions religiously to get better. 

Everyone that's been through it has their own story to tell. And now, we are just another two of them. Not more, not less. Just sick. Fighting. Unfocused. Praying. Waiting. 

...

I think the hardest part of it all was seeing Jana risk her own health to take care of us, while maintaining order in the house and working as a lawyer remotely, doing pre-trials online. She remained positive, cheerful, and committed. We ate healthy food. Drank medicine. Steamed. She made jokes and tended to our every need. Doors divided us, but our voices were alive with love.

Today, I have hope. We're okay. We're going to beat this. We're sick. Tired. Out of breath. Coughing. But, we're doing okay and before long we'll be just fine.

...

During my week of absolute illness and fatigue, my mind wandered along new avenues.

Today, I must be feeling much better because I am writing again. And even saying this, I cannot know for sure whether I am focused or not. What I do remember thinking about is the reality of loss. My mind wandered closer to the shadow of death, not because I believed I was dying. I feared hospitalization for perhaps one long night of difficult breathing. 

It wasn't my death that filled me with absolute sorrow. I was reminded of death. My mother-in-law passed away on 13 April and my cousin's wife on 11 July. Knowing how one memory of death leads on to another, it is quite normal that I thought of my father and my cousin, Nico. I was also reminded of my aunt who died last year. 
Then, I started to fear new loss. I started to consider my mother's age and her state of health. 

Fear reduces me and I do not care for self-reduction. That is why I find it comforting to know we are living “in a day of salvation”​ - a time when God extends a warm invitation to all people to draw close to him and be saved (2 Corinthians 6:2). To be saved does not mean recovery from Covid-19 and continuity of my imperfect life. For me, the difference between life and death is the breath I have to breathe with my imperfect body. This imperfection can lead to illness with imperfect consequences: recovery or death. 

To sit down and pray for life would mean I would have to pray for the healing of imperfection. Some would refer to it as a miracle. I cannot do this because, while I discriminate regularly on an imperfect level, I do not believe in a god of discrimination that allows one imperfect person to heal and another to die. If indeed God shows favour, how then did Christ die for all? 

Quite simply, I believe the imperfection of the body determines life or death. Better for me then, it is to pray for calmness during trials and tribulation. More importantly, I pray for forgiveness of my shortcoming to draw closer to God during the "day of salvation". Salvation means the deliverance of sin and its consequences. Hence, for me, it is more than merely praying to save an imperfect body. It is about praying for endurance to live this imperfect life of mine while aiming for perfection. It is about an imperfect attempt to save an imperfect heart, mind, and soul. In other words: I pray for wisdom and humility to recognize my flaws, and to keep on trying to do better and to be better. Drawing closer to God (James 4:8) does not guarantee imperfect life on earth, but it does determine a future.

As far as life is concerned, no one is perfect or has it perfectly. So, I imagine we have not arrived yet. We are still on our way.

 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

It's merely an opinion!

 

I’m probably the only person who thinks like this and really it’s okay.

I believe that God has put people in my life so that I can make a difference in their lives. They don’t have to make a difference in mine. It’s my life. It’s my purpose.

I believe that God has put people in my life so that they can make a difference in my life. I don’t have to make a difference in theirs. It’s their life. It’s their purpose.

I believe that God has put people in my life so that I can make a difference in their life and they can make a difference in my life. It’s my life. It’s their life. It’s not “our” life. It’s my purpose. It’s their purpose. It’s not “our” purpose.

1)    I don’t live in expectation.

I accept reality. There's no standard reward system for social relationships or social interaction. When there's no expectation, there's no resentment or frustration. Relationships and interaction aren’t forced. Life flows.

2)    I have a purpose on earth.

My purpose is always to try and do what is good. That's it! I give 100% and expect 0% in return. It equates to happiness. Doing good involves acts of kindness like helping or listening to people, thinking of a specific person, or praying for someone.

My purpose is to take ownership of my life and to take care of myself. I can’t pour from an empty cup. There’s nothing wholesome in trying to please others and putting unnecessary pressure on myself when I’m not feeling okay. So, if I don’t want to extend myself to help someone and I give 0%, it’s not the end of the world! I’m allowed to rest.

3)    I can't control others, but I can control myself.

I can't control how other people think or behave or react. I don’t share their perspectives and I don’t walk in their shoes. Because I experience life in a unique way, I accept the fact that others also experience life in a unique way. No-one has the right to dictate who I am and what I should do. So, I don’t do it either. I accept ME for who and what I am, and I accept OTHERS for who and what they are. I'm allowed to give my opinion, but it's merely an opinion – not the law. What people do with my opinion is their choice. The same can be said about the opinion of others. Their opinion is merely an opinion – not the law. What I do with their opinion is my choice.

Life is not perfect. It’s emphatically hard. Because life is hard, I can't judge people. All I can do is live each day to the full and control how I'm going to respond to what happens during each day.

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
Alexander Pope

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Trapped in a home spiral

I think the spiral began when I forgot that I can actually leave my house. I only left it once during January, and that was to go and see the doctor. This has made me more negative than usual.

Dealing with normal waves of negativity is hard, but that’s what life is all about: the good, the bad, and the in-between. Ultimately, we learn to cope when we’ve been dealt a bad hand. I’ve always had the ability to be resilient, to bounce back when life has slapped me to the ground.

What usually keeps me going is the fact that everything changes; nothing stays the same. This motivates me because I know that, whatever hits me, “it too shall pass”. Sadly, things are different now. Since my visit to the neurologist in September 2020, I can’t anticipate a change regarding my neuropathy. It’s very clear that “it shall not pass”. 

The waves of negativity that I’m experiencing at the moment aren’t normal. It’s as if I’m trying to survive a tsunami every day. What I need to do is to prevent the negativity from spiraling out of control. Consequently, I need to start thinking of things I can do rather than bemoan my inability to teach. Yes, this year I would have been a teacher, teaching English to Grade 12 students. Instead of focusing on what I would have been, I need to move on. 

Living with constant neuropathic pain is difficult. I can’t always manage the pain. I’m not taking any medication because it doesn’t ease the pain. It just makes me feel groggy and then I move around with a “Nope, not now” attitude, which doesn’t serve a purpose for anyone – not even for myself. The reality is that just one nerve on its own is extremely complex. Trying to treat all the peripheral nerves with a painkiller is futile because there is no way of knowing which specific nerve needs the treatment. My strength and courage aren't found in my ability to stifle the pain. It's found in my ability to feel, understand and accept the pain. I refuse to be a victim! 

I’m not trapped inside my house because of COVID-19. I’m stuck because of the pain. If ever I do go bonkers, this is why: pain isolation. (Not that I’ll ever lose my mind. I write. It’s the only antidepressant that works for me.)

I’ve been living in denial for far too long. Living in “rest mode” is fine, but I need to do two very important things. 1) I need to get out more. 2) I need to find ways to enjoy each day to the hilt. I have a few ideas running around in my head and as soon as they settle down, I’m sure I'll find some perspective. Perhaps I should copy my daughter and start my own vision board. This is hers for a perfect day:

Learning is a lifelong process. Eventually, I’ll know how to live with the pain and stay positive. In the meantime, I need to be patient and wait for my brain to climb on board and believe what my heart keeps telling me: Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve (Napoleon Hill).

 

Friday, 8 January 2021

Oh, dear God (apostrophe!) ... the vaccine!

 

I have so much to say about man and his mind, but let me not bore you beyond frustration. If you are taking time to read this, then I’m convinced you have the ability to infer and understand a lot of what I’m not saying. Spoiler alert: this article is not all about Covid-19 and the vaccine.

I hear a lot of people talking about the vaccine as a means a) to continue life or b) to promote death. Those who are for or against the vaccine are throwing around their opinions based on more opinions, selected facts, and not-so-thorough research. The divided reactions of people are quite natural because even qualified scientists and doctors are in disagreement regarding the vaccine and the research that has been done to date. We learn, however, to respect all pioneers in the field of medicine.

I mentioned the following in a comment on Facebook more recently: Smallpox ravaged our world for centuries. On average, three people out of ten died because of it. How much did the scientists or doctors know back then? Yet, a vaccine was made. As a baby, my mother allowed me to get the vaccine without any questions. She didn’t have access to the world’s opinion via the internet (more specifically, social media). She did what all mothers did. The smallpox vaccine is what the clinic gave to all new babies and she just fell in line. She walked in faith. Read about smallpox. Learn about the history of it and the vaccine. Were the governments of those times any better than the governments of today? How many years have passed and how has smallpox fared in general over time since the introduction of the vaccine? Meanwhile, while there are governments, there will always be conspiracies. While people have more time to spend online during the various levels of lockdown, there will be more conspiracy “infections”. Conspiracy theories seem to breed on the internet and, thus, spread more easily. Regardless the theory, God is our refuge and strength. He wants to bless us, surround us with goodwill, and protect us (Psalm 5:12).

The vaccine, in my mind, should not be a political or religious problem unless we make it one. Our problem today isn’t really about a Covid-19 vaccine or our concerns about prolonged life and unnecessary death. Covid-19, like the flu virus, mutates. Even if you spend time reading about viruses and the evolution of viruses, and "educate" yourself, you will soon discover that no matter how much you learn, you will still not have enough knowledge to satisfy your curious mind. Why? The answer is simple: your mind is set. Appropriate revisions were never made to what you have learnt to believe during the course of your life. Hence, your biased opinion weighs heavily on how you interpret what you read. Our biggest influence is the media, which is available 24/7. For each one of us, regardless whether right or wrong, there is someone out there that shares our perspective. This gives us fuel to continue arguing for or against the vaccine. Honestly, our problem lies in our pre-set beliefs, our lack of mental flexibility to correct our own fixed and incorrect perspectives, our inability to accept another's perspective (right or wrong), and our lack of faith. 

We have the ability to hear what people say and we have the freedom to choose whether to believe what has been said or not. We choose to believe whether what we hear is part of a conspiracy and we choose to believe whether the information is beneficial to us. Some of us even choose to believe that God thinks and feels the same as we do, condemn others who proclaim to be Christians (because they think differently), and then provide Bible verses to support our perspectives (even though the context differs completely). 

We flow with everything within the boundaries of personal comfort. We flow with everything that suits our beliefs. When people swim against this stream, we become emotional. We exert ourselves and become the spokesman of our personal thoughts, wishes and inclinations in order to convince them that we are right.

Faith for so many means that we do what we feel is right for us, according to our belief – with or without prejudice. Truthfully, our trust, assurance, and confidence needs to be in God and not in ourselves.

Now I will talk about myself, instead of generalizing, because this is what I believe. God doesn’t protect me through what I eat or don’t eat, what I think or don’t think, or what I do or don’t do. Perhaps today I will refuse to take the vaccine, but at the same time eat junk food and drink coca cola. Tomorrow I might just take the vaccine and drink a healthy protein shake. What is my judgment? Am I keeping a diary of my personal daily behaviour and choices? Within me there seems to be a percentage of hypocrisy with regard to what I think and do. I am imperfect. I will, at times, fail to see my own mistakes. However, through all my efforts of living my life, I’m comforted to know that God protects me through a) His grace and b) through my faith. Yes, that means I have faith and believe in a flu injection and the vaccine. It doesn’t mean I will take one or the other. I have never had a flu injection, but I don’t judge people who go for an annual injection. Depending on their immune reaction, some will become sick once they receive the flu injection, but there are many who won’t. In my opinion, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all vaccine or opinion on this planet.

With reference to the idea that the world is going to get worse, I wholeheartedly agree. It’s what the Bible has informed us. Are we prepared for worse conditions? Again, each one of us has an opinion with regard to “worse” conditions. Right now, someone is fighting to breathe because of Covid-19; someone is receiving chemotherapy in an attempt to fight cancer; someone is trying to sleep with the pain of an empty stomach; someone is being tortured; someone is being trafficked; and someone is dying. What exactly is the definition of “worse”? Needless to say, even knowing that things will get worse, we don’t improve. Our lifestyle, immune system, relationships, education, attitude, beliefs, etc. remain compromised.

I have security and peace, and relative health, but that can all change within a few seconds. I believe in God. I believe that if I walk in faith, I will be protected. If I get Covid-19, even after I have done everything necessary to protect myself (and honestly, I can do only so much), or if any other negative thing strikes me, I will still walk in faith. If I live, I will be grateful. If I die, I will have peace. The devil and evil (man or virus) will always attack. All I can do is continue to walk in faith. I’m not perfect. I have moments when I become scared. I falter. I fall. But, I get up. I look to Him and I believe. God gives me strength to endure.

This virus is going to be here for a while. Accept it and live in such a way that you are able to protect your health (physical, mental, spiritual …). Live and let live. Respect people and their opinions. Keep busy with people and activities within your social sphere. You don’t need social media to make or break your day! You don’t need social media to teach or preach. Why argue with a stranger? Arguments on social media are not conducive of another’s well-being. If I must add a Bible verse, for effect, here's one that feeds my mind on social media every day! Proverbs 15:4: A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…(KJV).

Finding value in joy

There was a time in my life when I measured the value of my life by my work. Even though I felt valued at school and in the classroom, the ...