Eating in silence.

Posted: July 11, 2014 in Family, Friends, Random

Sitting at a restaurant for dinner last night, it was hard not to notice the apparent over usage of mobile devices in a social environment. I have always advocated social media and the use of technology, I am in fact an addict and find it very difficult to sit and do nothing when there is a Facebook news feed to be read. That said, I know where to draw the line and one of those lines is drawn at dinner where I choose to have actual human contact and engage in conversation – Surely that is common sense? Alas, it is less common to interact with your dinner partner and more acceptable to eat with your fork in one hand and your other hand scrolling through your Twitter updates.

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Out with the girls, we had our phones out, obviously. We spent some time playing with the camera’s and taking selfies, air brushing our skin after a long day at work and accidentally taking pictures of the diners at the next table which prompted some friendly conversation and quite a few laughs. It was easy to see that we were the most social table in the section, surrounded by human beings devoid of any human interaction or emotion. The saddest part of it all – a young couple behind us having dinner that I spent much time ogling (In a non stalker way – I hope). They sat down shortly after we did, each with their phones on the table, one hand scrolling and the other hand being used for refreshment. The couple did not share one word, not one look, not a nod or a grin for the entire time they sat there. It was obvious they were scrolling through their Facebook and Instagram accounts from the time they sat down, pausing to order from the waiter and not so much as looking up when the food arrived. They continued to peruse their mobile devices as they ate and after they were done, all the attention was once again devoted to their social media.

Excuse me, but when did it become acceptable to leave the house with someone but not say two words to them because whatever is happening on your phone is far more important (For over two hours!). I ask you, with tears in my eyes, what is the actual point in leaving the house? You are probably better off ordering take away dinner, staying in doors and giving each other the silent treatment in the comfort of your own home – Without all of the restaurants patrons judging you?

I have said this many times before – I love social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. I do update my Facebook status at least once a day, I have occasionally tweeted about bad service I have received, I have Instagrammed a pic or two of dinner, I have a Pinterest board for my cats and like to update LinkedIn on more business related topics. I do it all and I am proud of it – I am just as proud, if not more so, of the fact that I understand when enough is enough. I know that when what is happening on my phone is more interesting or important than what is happening in my life, a change needs to be made. Life was not made to live through a device – By all means, share what you do with those you love but as my good friend mentioned in his recent blog:

In my opinion you should be posting about experiences with friends, not experiencing posts with “friends”! – Chris Huntingford

(Click here to read Chris Huntingford’s full blog on Social Media)

This brings me to another sore but pertinent point, social networking and gaming – the destroyer of relationships.

When Candy Crush came out, we all downloaded it. We played it until we were ill. We sent numerous requests on Facebook for extra lives and bonus sweets to see how far we could get. Candy Crush morphed into Pet rescue, despite how much we all moaned and groaned about Farmville. Then, if you’re like me, you went and blocked every game app on Facebook to stop receiving requests and invites and made sure that all the games had been deleted from your devices… The phase was over. I realized that I was spending far too much time ‘playing’ these online games that it was actually taking away from my day to day human interaction. Hours would pass in the quest to build my Ice Age Village (Which I was mighty proud of after many hours of hard work) and it was only a matter of time before my dragons were levelling up in Dragon City – Then I sat back and realized how absolutely absurd that all sounds when I have far more important things to do like spend time with my family, converse with my husband or get my chunky ass to gym (Like I am always complaining about).

In a world where we already battle to separate home from work, where we constantly struggle with living to work versus working to live, how did we think that we were so evolved and mature to incorporate yet another split to struggle with – Quality time versus Game time. Well, that is exactly my point. Unless your life is perfect and you can balance every aspect without fail, stress or anxiety… unless your family gets enough quality time and you give your all in everything you do (lacking nothing), the last thing you should be doing is spending hours each night on your phone levelling up. When are you giving life a chance to happen?

I have had to ban the use of mobile devices for game purposes in my home from Monday to Friday. Though my husband will not admit it, he is addicted to social gaming (The latest being Hearthstone or something like it). When did I realize he had a problem? When he got up and walked to the kitchen to make me some hot chocolate and took his laptop with him – he continued playing while the kettle boiled, while he poured the mug and after bringing it to me he quickly raced back to the kitchen to see what was happening. The tell should have been the fact that he upgraded from his cell phone to his laptop… that’s commitment.  While annoyed with me for the ban, he will eventually see the point when we are interacting as a family more and worrying about the games less. When instead of coming home to him couch bound in front of his laptop gaming, perhaps a conversation will take place instead.  He wont get snippy retorts over the work or personal work he cannot get to at the expense of his gaming habit and he will value the weekend game time he has more so than the brief interludes he was getting midweek – The love affair with online gaming. The social mistress.

I have only one request… consideration. Be considerate of those around you when you are staring at your phone or device. Be considerate of your family when it is interaction time and you’re fiddling on your phone. Have some consideration for yourself and the valuable things you could be missing out on – Life is short. Too short. Don’t be remembered for the amount of time you spent online, be remembered for the amount of time you didn’t…

It is all about balance, balance takes practice and practice makes perfect. Don’t be upset with those of us implementing bans, we only want more of your time.

(PS. Thank you to my husband for inspiring a portion of this blog)

(PPS. Here is hoping that somehow, that couple at the restaurant gets to read it).

 

I wrote a blog a little while back on my journey to living a Rockabilly lifestyle. What I neglected to mention was my influences and how I got there… (Refer back to The Road to Rockabilly)

My first taste of Rockabilly was my attendance to a themed ten year anniversary that encouraged us to dress up – Never one to turn down a dress up, I donned my skinny turned up reds with a pair of heels and a cut off plaid shirt. I pulled it off, I loved it! Shortly thereafter I had become interested in the lifestyle and started asking questions, googling and finding Facebook pages to follow… This merged with me choosing to do a 50′s dress up for my Dad’s 50th which I mentioned in my Road to Rockabilly blog, after which I decided it was no longer just about ‘dressing up’.
 
Who better to have turned to than The Tattooed Lady. In the short time I have known her, I have admired her style and her opinion and when the time came to find someone through which to purchase some Rockabilly / Pin-up accessories she was the only person to ask. She immediately referred me to Miss Happ, our local Rockabilly clothing and accessories provider, the rest is history… I have ordered and received some beautiful goodies from Miss Happ in the past year and find Mandy and her team truly amazing people to do business with. Not only have I bought accessories from them but I have learnt so much about the Rockabilly culture on my journey… I don’t think Mandy has a day when she is not on point, dressed to the nine’s in her own threads and make up perfectly in tune. Though a fairly new face to the culture, Mandy offered me an opportunity I could not resist! The chance for me and my readers to get to know Mandy and her business, Miss Happ a little bit better…
 
I penned a few questions to Mandy to find out a little bit more about her, the culture, her brand and of course her baby – Miss Happ.
 
Who is Mandy Milne?

Somebody with a passion for what she gets to do everyday, a voice of doom at times, a cat lover, a shoe collector, a cardigan wearer, an Apple Mac fan. A passionate, impatient pink haired, green eyed, tattooed betty. A Rockabilly girl, a nail polish addict, a perfectionist who procrastinates, a teacup in a storm. A sushi addict, a vodka drinker. A dreamer, a romantic, a creative. Born in the wrong era. I Should have listened to my history teacher and studied history and not Geography.  A fairly descent cook, but an awful baker (I have NO patience for all that measuring!)

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What exactly is Miss Happ?

Miss Happ is a Rockabilly and Pin-up clothing & accessory brand designed and manufactured locally in Cape Town, South Africa. The Miss Happ girl loves to cuff her jeans with heels, belt her fitted tops, and especially loves wearing her flirty sundresses or embroidered pencil skirts for a night out. Many a Miss Happ girl is tattooed – thus embracing that rebellious Rockabilly/Betty page element.

The Miss Happ range of clothing is specifically designed to celebrate pin up girl curves and caters to a woman’s independent spirit with timeless, vintage inspired styles with a modern Rockabilly twist at competitive prices.

The Miss Happ range has now branched out into a Rockabilly & Vintage inspired accessory range which compliments the Miss Happ clothing range. The range offered includes hair accessories, necklaces, broaches, hair clips, hair flowers, scarves, gloves, bags, belts, hats and cat’s eye sunglasses. Miss Happ now also has a small range of retro inspired cushions in selection of unique, fun prints to suit the home of any modern Rockabilly girl.

 - I own these cushions, they are amazing!

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Before Miss Happ was born, what did you spend your time on?

I worked full time in the commercial fashion industry on both the manufacturing side, and on the retail side, but always as a designer. Over the years I have designed for many of the big chain stores from Woolworths to Edgards, Jet, Ackermans, Mr Price, with my final job being as a Senior Designer for the Foschini Group designing ladieswear for Sportscene, Due South & Total Sports for their in-house brands. It was during this time that I attended the Magic Show in Vegas and first encountered some of the more alternative lifestyle brands including many of the Pinup clothing brands.

What made you start the Miss Happ brand (And associated brands)?

At the end of 2007 I had left the commercial fashion industry and in 2008 I started lecturing part-time at a local fashion design college in Stellenbosch. While there I also decided to get my first tattoo and from there my interest was peaked. I have always been passionate about the forties, fifties & sixties but by researching old school tattoos my interest in the Rockabilly & Pinup culture grew. Finally I could put a name to the look and culture that I had always loved! This was back in 2008 – it was early days for the scene here in SA and only a few girls were beginning to experiment in the look.

Around this time I decided to enter the YDE Young Designer Competition. I came in the top 8 out of all the entries in SA, and although I didn’t go any further, by putting my ideas onto paper, into storyboards and garments Miss Happ was born and grew. I wanted clothing that I would wear – I was so tired of designing clothing that I personally wouldn’t have in my wardrobe. I was dying to design a range that inspired me to be comfortable in my own skin.

In January 2009 Miss Happ was launched at the Cape Town annual International Tattoo convention. A year later I started our men’s brand Boot Hill and even did a few printed T-shirts for kids under the same label. The guys were feeling left out and kept telling me they wanted something too!

Since we started our brands, we have gone on to exhibit at every Cape Town Tattoo convention since it’s inception in 2009 as well as, Cool Inc Tattoo Expo (Joburg) SA Hotrods Street festival, SA fashion week 2009 (Joburg), Horror Fest, Ink and Iron Cape Town, Toffie, Inner City Muscle show, Detroit Vintage Car show Cape Town. Dusty Rebels & the bombshells Festival, and the Harley Davidson rockabilly Day to name but a few.

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What do you believe makes Miss Happ so successful?

I would say that our No 1 is that Miss Happ is locally designed and produced brand. We have stood the test of time. When I started the brand it was during the recession – so many people said I was mad and would never last! I have hung in there and grown the brand and it’s product offering since then. I am passionate about not only my brands but the lifestyle and try and give it my all in every aspect of the business & my personal life. I work hard at being true to the culture, while trying to also stay grounded. We have had our ups and downs of course – as any small business would have, but 6 years later we are still here!

What is the ‘must have’ in every Rockabilly girls wardrobe?

Red lipstick, red nail polish, hairspray, and a bandana. With regards to clothing I would say, fishnet stockings, a net underskirt, one pretty Miss Happ swing dress, a pencil skirt in black, a check shirt, a Miss Happ embroidered Cardigan, and if you want that Greaser Gal look you can finish off any look with a black biker jacket!

Who is your biggest fan / supporter and why?

My husband and business partner, Murray. Having a good support system that encourages you every step of the way is so important – especially during the tough times. I can definitely say that he is one of the most passionate and positive people I know. I would not have had the courage to take that next step in so many of the business decisions I have had to make if it wasn’t for Murray pushing me HARD from behind!

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Who is your favourite pin up girl and why?

Oooh that’s tough! There are so many ladies that I love and follow, but I would have to say that with regards to the modern pinup Bernie Dexter & Michaline Pitt were two of my very first influences, and still are. I was lucky enough to have met Miss Cherry Doll Face, Kandy K, Dorris Mayday and the adorably petite Lisa Love recently at VLV and they were all so sweet and humble. Real gals! You always look at these lovely ladies is being so far away, and like celebrities, but when you meet them they are all just regular ladies like you and me!

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You recently spent some time in Las Vegas, tell us about the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly weekend?

We actually went for our honeymoon – the timing was perfect. VLV has always been on my wish list and finally I got to go. I have always loved the States and the Rockabilly culture is so alive there, so it was an absolute must for me to do at least once in my life!

The VLV Rockabilly week end runs for four days and is always held over the Easter week end in Las Vegas – This year was it’s 17th year. We had the high roller tickets which were so worth paying the extra for. You then have access to all sorts of extra events and also a pre-shop with the vendors on the Thursday night (most of them are also at the car show on Sat too but you are with all the crowds, so pre-shopping is so much more pleasant) as well as events in the Ballrooms. The great thing is that your ticket includes everything, so literally you are only paying for your drinks/food and any products you may buy.

We got to go to the Fashion Show – a must for anybody who loves vintage inspired clothing – this is something for the guys and girls, as well as the Burlesque showcase which really was an absolute treat! It was so awesome to see such amazing talent entertaining a very appreciative & interactive audience – The crowds went mad! The burlesque show was a 90 minute show that featured world-renowned burlesque stars, many of them are past winners of the Miss Exotic world, and are of the highest international standard. We loved it all!

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On the Saturday we attended the Car show, held in an outside car park with the equivalent of at least 2 full rugby fields filled with vintage cars (the organizers quote 800 cars!) all pre 1963. But the cherry on the top for me was shopping with the vendors within the car show area. Not just one or two but ROWS of vendors selling everything from Hair Pomade to custom designed parasols, clothing, accessories, artwork, patches, stickers and just about anything else related to the custom culture scene! Throughout the day (and week end) there are tons of awesome bands that play. We got to see quite a few this year with the highlight for us being Imelda May (below).

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The car show was so big we had take a break half way through the day to have lunch back in our hotel room. The other thing nobody realizes is that VLV is held during summer – and with the Vegas desert heat temperatures really soar, so having your own parasol that you (and your poor guy) can share is a big MUST!

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What are your hopes for the Rockabilly culture in South Africa?

I only hope to see it grow! Since starting my brand I have definitely noticed that people’s understanding of the culture has shifted. My hope is that people learn about it in the right ways and express themselves in a way and style that is true to the culture without loosing it’s essence. I also feel it’s important to stand together and support each other, be it at events or by simply buying products that are proudly, and uniquely South African.

In your own words, what do you believe the Rockabilly culture to be?

Rockabilly has it true roots in the rock n’ roll culture of the 50’s, but today girls and guys around the world have taken it to a new level. The look is edgy with strong tattoo influences and is very visible within the custom culture community. Many a Rockabilly girl is tattooed or has bright coloured hair which only highlights their need to be an individual – it’s a way to stand out from the crowd and is very reminiscent of the rebellious attitudes of icons from the era such as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and the notorious Bettie Page among others.

In South Africa we are seeing the scene slowly gaining popularity and awareness, and for many it’s a natural progression from other small, niche subcultures such as Goth or punk.

For me the rockabilly culture is not only about being influenced by times gone by, but really about taking those influences and eras and mixing it up into a more modern, updated look all while keeping those classic roots. It’s about drawing inspirations from many different sources be it classic cars, music, old school tattoos, to the stars of the silver screen, retro hairstyles or the fashion!

Is there an event you are looking forward to attending and why?

I am hoping to attend Speed Week this year in my personal capacity. We are currently building two ’58 Chev Apache trucks and just bought a ’68 Pontiac Firebird, so if things work out we might be able to take one of them with us which will be very exciting!

With regards to my business, we have our Miss Happ Spring/Summer Range launch happening beginning Sept as well as quite a few events that we are vending at with both Miss Happ & Boot Hill such a Cool Inc (Joburg) the VTwin Camdeboo Rally end Sept (Graaf Reinet, Western Cape), and the Dusty Rebels & The bombshells Rockabilly festival in Nov (Cape Town)….and then it’s big plans for 2014…watch this space!

What do we see happening next for Miss Happ?

I am currently designing and planning our Spring/Summer 2014/15 range. There are so many pretty colours and prints that I am working with it’s so exciting! Think ice-cream pastels, crazy comic book prints, tropical pinup girls, and so much rockabilly goodness! Our ladies will also be pleased to know that our classic wiggle dresses are also making a come back in our range as well as some old favourites such as our swing dresses and high waist pencil skirts.

We are currently scouting for locations for our launch which for the first time will include a fashion show. We are very excited! Anybody with awesome ideas of locations give us a shout!

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So if you did not know before – NOW you know! Miss Happ are based in Cape Town and deliver their goodies worldwide. You can order online from the Etsy Store or mail the sales team to place an order – Head on over to the Facebook page to get more information and keep up to date with the new looks coming in for Spring as Mandy mentioned as well as the gorgeous, one of a kind handbags in stock (That’s right, ONE of a kind – I own one and I absolutely love mine). You can also get over to The Tattooed Lady’s Facebook page to enter an awesome competition to win a Miss Happ hamper! Remember that if you are in Jozi/Pretoria area you can get a select range of Miss Happ clothing & accessories from Retrospective Fashion recreated.

Shevy out :)

 

 

 

The theme of the month is change, ongoing and never ending change.

“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” – Robert Kennedy

Embracing change is a difficult thing for all, no matter if you are willing to admit it or won’t. For example, I am extremely open to change and yet every time I go to a particular restaurant I will order the same meal on the menu. I know that I like that particular meal and I know that I will not be disappointed, therefore have no need to change the meal I order. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it right? Heaven forbid that restaurant take that meal off of the menu, the change would be quite an upset. That said, there are changes that are a lot less important than others. Some change is necessary, the biggest changes are the most important.

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In life, changes occur whether we initiate those changes or not. Some changes, though our own choice, can be just as stressful if not more so than the change we do not foresee or expect. With my current stress levels at an all-time high, I have been reading up on the interesting ‘Holmes and Rahe stress scale’ which I found extremely interesting and understandable – It helps put a lot of changes into perspective.

The Holmes and Rahe scale looks at various life events / changes and ranks them in terms of Life change units (ie. Death of a spouse is ranked at 100 units whereas Christmas ranks at 12 units) These events are then ranked in order of most stressful to least and the scale was then used to determine the link between stress and illness, dating back to issues that were noticeable stress factors in the 1960’s and 1970’s. (Why not take a look at the scale at the end of this blog and access your own stress / illness levels?)

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So why all the change, stress and blogging silence?

In April I made a rather big decision to change jobs… In our personal lives, circumstances meant that my own stress levels were at a very high level. The decision to change jobs partially stemmed from that but partially because I needed to be selfish, I needed to support my family while going back to my roots. I needed to make a change to re-evaluate what I am doing in my career and why. So in the beginning of June I started my new job in a new place with new people and a very different way of doing things. It has been the hardest and most humbling experience in my career so far, I have made a change that has truly challenged me and put me to the ground running. I realize that I had become complacent, I thought I knew all there was to know. I received awards and was nominated for others, I was revered by my colleagues and managers and I felt like I was truly needed but I had no idea that it was actually me needing them to fuel my complacency, to allow me to believe that I knew everything when I barely knew anything. What an amazing change it has been so far and I am certain will continue to be… I am learning so much about business and people but more importantly I am learning so much about myself. Learning that I am still willing to learn, learning that I am willing to change and learning that I am willing to share everything I have been taught with anyone willing to listen.

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In the midst of my career move, I have been experiencing a fair amount of change in my personal life as well. Finally, an ongoing issue that has been in our lives for over 4 years has come to an end. In all the time that I have been with my husband, we have had a matter hanging over us which has finally been resolved. What this means is that we can finally live freely without worry and uncertainty, a weight of anxiety has been lifted and we can change the way we live because of our emotional freedom. It is an amazing feeling…

With emotional freedom and stress caused by change, comes a time of re-evaluation. Who am I? Where have I been and where do I want to be? What do I want for my family, my children, for myself? Very important questions that we should be asking ourselves regularly, constantly changing and evolving with our priorities and responsibilities. I am confidently able to answer these questions, I have plans for our future and I am motivated. I want to work hard and do my utmost to excel in my career, in turn allowing me to be successful and fulfilled at home, being able to provide for my family and for myself. I no longer enjoy the drama that comes with certain weekend socializing and honestly could not be bothered to find a babysitter to go out to a pub, instead I would prefer to spend time with my husband and with my children. I want to get to know these people, my family, more than anything in the world. This does not mean that I want to become socially inept and turn into a hermit, far from it actually. What it means is that I am learning that there is a time and a place for everything. I can enjoy a ladies day every now and then free from familial responsibilities, my husband and I will go on our date nights, I may enjoy a sporadic night out on the dance floor, all of these healthy social activities. The beauty in my mindset change is that I understand there is a time and a place for everything, I understand what I like and what I don’t like and I know what I want to be around and what I don’t want to be around. With these realizations come social upsets, people that may no longer agree with your plans, people that may no longer fit into your plans. Sadly, this is natural – As we grow, we change, we learn that we want to be surrounded by people who can stimulate and motivate us towards the goals we set for ourselves, there is no room for naysayers and those that will bring you down. Those people do not belong in your life, you do not belong in theirs.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

There are so many changes apparent and occurring day in and day out in all of our lives. Some of them suck, royally. Others make us nervous and anxious, some allow us freedom and relief… other changes are as insignificant as the colour change of a traffic light. No matter the change, know that the only constant is change. We live in a world where we cannot sit still or we get left behind, instead we need to make the choice to constantly change for our own good and the good of others.

Good luck to you and all of your change, know that when the changes end, it is time to start making your own change.

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The Holmes and Rahe scale

Life event

Life change units

Death of a spouse

100

Divorce

73

Marital separation

65

Imprisonment

63

Death of a close family member

63

Personal injury or illness

53

Marriage

50

Dismissal from work

47

Marital reconciliation

45

Retirement

45

Change in health of family member

44

Pregnancy

40

Sexual difficulties

39

Gain a new family member

39

Business readjustment

39

Change in financial state

38

Death of a close friend

37

Change to different line of work

36

Change in frequency of arguments

35

Major mortgage

32

Foreclosure of mortgage or loan

30

Change in responsibilities at work

29

Child leaving home

29

Trouble with in-laws

29

Outstanding personal achievement

28

Spouse starts or stops work

26

Beginning or end school

26

Change in living conditions

25

Revision of personal habits

24

Trouble with boss

23

Change in working hours or conditions

20

Change in residence

20

Change in schools

20

Change in recreation

19

Change in church activities

19

Change in social activities

18

Minor mortgage or loan

17

Change in sleeping habits

16

Change in number of family reunions

15

Change in eating habits

15

Vacation

13

Christmas

12

Minor violation of law

11

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.

Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).

Score <150: Only have a slight risk of illness.

Cherubs

Posted: May 30, 2014 in Friends, Personal, Writings
Tags: , , , , , ,

A poem for my friends…
Their loss so great, their presence not forgotten.

(Permission granted to post)

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Mother of dragons you aren’t
Beauty and wonder far more you own
Sometimes you shan’t ever understand
Why you feel so incredibly alone

Such a gift you were given
As swiftly taken away
To walk among the living
Was for them a few weeks of play

Destined for greatness elsewhere
You were the perfect host
How cruel and unfair
You out of all will miss them most

The truth to their existence
We shall never understand
More important lifetimes they face
In spirit, always hold their hands

The pain now
Far too much to bear
In time it will hurt a little less
For a lifetime you will care

The twins of your womb
Enjoyed their brief yet loved stay
You were specifically chosen
To face this devastating day

Only you are as strong
For with this sadness to deal
No other mother on the planet
Could make their lives more real

They know how much you loved them
They know how much you cared
I’m certain that they’re sad for leaving
But know that you’re prepared

Their absence swallows many
Their presence always missed
We love the twins intensely
A soul your soul has kissed

I hold your hand, head and heart
Through this trying time
My friend I’m so sorry
My favorite, mine.

***

Shevy

Look up.

Watching ‘Look Up‘, the latest YouTube sensation by Gary Turk, I’m reminded of just how much our lives are influenced by technology. Not only technology, but the hundreds of thousands of little people that live in our devices, our social media networks. Over 39 million views were received by this video so perhaps we are all identifying with the same issue, the ongoing battle of balance between real life and living in the interwebz.

I remember getting my first MySpace page, jazzing it up and for the first time putting myself out there on the internet. Keeping up with my favorite musicians online and finally bridging the gap between my insignificant life and the rest of the world. Global society was so close, I could almost reach out and touch it. Friends were mouse clicks away. MySpace truly was my little spot on the internet, my tiny little 10011011 on the worldwide web.

That’s the beauty of the internet. On MySpace, you could be anyone you wanted to be. Perhaps a shy, antisocial female in the outcast circles of reality but online, a beautiful girl with popularity matched by none and great tastes in everything. Welcome to the internet, welcome to your new life, enter the world of the digital alter ego… Dum dum dum.

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We now live in a world where MySpace was the tip of a Titanic iceberg. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare have all become part of our daily routines, to name but a few. The fact that you’re reading this means you clicked on my blog link from my share on Facebook or Twitter. Possibly searching key words on Google or scrolling through your followed bloggers on WordPress, a blogger yourself. Each one of the 39 million views of the Look Up video were online, through any of the above social media sites or YouTube directly. The internet and social media does not make it possible to live, they do however make it possible for me to live as I do now. Openly, in view of social network eyes and public scrutiny. I choose this, I created all of these profiles.

Unfortunately, along with freedom of speech and public living, social media came with a very long list of negatives. Privacy? Non existent (though, you’re not forced to have public profiles). Dissociation. Because, why would anyone need real people when the ones in your phone make so much more sense? Crime. Sadly, criminals will always find a way in and so the internet opened up thousands of doors. The list continues and we could be here discussing negatives all day, sadly the one negative bothering me today is not as serious as any of the minuses listed above… It delves a little deeper in to the human condition.

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It’s saddening to me that social media is used in the fake ways they’re used today. You’d think that with the access we’ve been given and opportunities available to us through social media, we’d be using them in more of a truthful way? Alas, no. In fact, isn’t it frustrating how every friend on your Facebook page has the perfect life and relationship. Every Twitter handle a positive one (barring the anonymous ones). Every Instagram picture beautifully manicured and posed and every meal posted, a gourmet one. While being as active as I am online, I do have friends and relationships in real life. Like everyone, I have concerns and hang ups and problems. For every good day, there is a bad day. For every posed #nomakeupselfie, there is a bad acne day. I am human. What is sad to me is that people, society, friends and family choose to portray another life online, a life of perfection.

I am not one who enjoys breeding negativity, I really am not. I’d also probably complain if everyone on my timeline was constantly negative and pessimistic however, I’d like to see a little bit more realism online. I wish people would be more honest.

I know people in real life that constantly whine and fuss, in fact nothing in their life ever goes right in their books and anything more than a grimace is fake. I struggle to understand how those people are the ones posting positive meme’s, poems and updates online. Who are they fooling?
I know individuals that hate their spouse, hate reality. These are the people posting hundreds of happy photos with their partners and overly compensating on their Facebook walls.
I haven’t seen friends in reality for years and yet year in and year out, we wish each other for our birthdays and continue to stalk each other without actually having to see each other… This is sad to me, in fact it’s disappointing.

There is nothing wrong with spending a quality amount of time online, update your status three times a day or tweet a thousand times this year. Update all three meals of the day or check in online at the office if you must. We are all guilty of trying to portray our real lives in the best and most positive light but again I must remind you that we are all human. If you’re having a bad day, don’t be afraid to say so. It’s only natural, isn’t that what social media is about? Sharing?

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Recently, I decided to take a chance and put two of my controversial blogs onto News24. Why did I do this? The truth is, though you’d hope people closest to you would be honest with you, this is not always the case. Friends and family may not agree with your opinions, but to keep the peace these views won’t be aired (Not saying this is true in my case or speaking for anyone, this is a general observation). I thought the best scrutiny to receive was from those who didn’t know me, who could judge me on my honesty and opinion alone. This exercise was a pretty disheartening one, I received over 7000 views online and yet between them maybe 5-7 positive comments and the rest were nasty, angry opinions. At first, this upset me. On a closer read and given more thought, it occurred to me that a lot of these people are those that portray happy fulfilling lives online but perhaps experience repression in reality, everyone needs a release right and their lambasting of my blog was exactly that. Or perhaps they’re going against everything I’ve said in this piece, they’re negative online and off and I’ve just chosen to befriend the correct people. Who knows..?

Back to the point. It’s not enough to be digitally social for me. While I am notoriously active on social media (having received criticism for this in the past), I have a life offline. It’s not perfect. I go through challenges just as frequently as everyone else, but I’m honest about that life (read my previous blogs if you’re unsure of my honesty). I’m not asking anyone to be negative unnecessarily. All I ask is that you be mindful of hypocrisy, chances are if I know how you act in real life, I’ll see straight through your online facade… As will others.. Or maybe that’s what you were hoping?

Shevy

I am not a a South African.

Keep calm, I’m not an illegal immigrant either. I moved to South Africa when I was 6 years old and legally obtained permanent residence here. This means I’m allowed to work, bank and reside in South Africa without having citizenship. I am permitted to apply for citizenship since I’ve naturalized in this country but sadly, South Africa, I decline your offer. I’ve not been denied citizenship, I just don’t want it.

My ID book reads NON SA CITIZEN… This means I can do everything a citizen of a South Africa can do except the one thing the country needs me to do. Vote. Yes, if I applied for citizenship and took the time and opportunity to call myself a South African, I would be able to offer that one additional vote but sadly, it’s just not worth it for me.

I never completely understood why I didn’t develop a desire to become a citizen of the country. I was so young when I moved here and remembered little of my birth country. Fortunately, I’ve been afforded a few travel opportunities which have, in my travels, led me back to the United Kingdom. I cannot begin to describe the feelings I experience when I travel to London, it’s as if I know in my heart and my head know that I’m home. Suddenly my solitary vote doesn’t seem too important.

So why am I still here? Well, once roots are planted its difficult to pull them from the ground. I have a husband, I have two children and I have family and friends, all here in a South Africa. For now it is my home, yet I’ve made it popular knowledge that I have a desire to relocate my family to England and somewhere in the not too distant future I hope to do this.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate South Africa. I’m not clambering at the embassy doors for a way out, it’s my home after all. What we have here for the most part is a beautiful country, great weather (if you like the weather, though my Anglo Saxon blood tends to favor the cool rainy seasons), good opportunities (I’ve never had a problem career wise, despite my skin color and the same goes for many I know of all races), unity (when a rugby match is on, not football, just rugby) and social media access (the same cannot be said for China). As I write this though, I battle to churn out the positives to be seen in South Africa because based on the recent ‘free and fair’ elections, I struggle to see freedom or fairness.

Of course, I encourage anyone allowed to vote to do so. It is imperative that your voice be heard as a citizen of this country. It is your valuable choice that adds up to a thousand valuable choices and hopefully an intelligent outcome… So, as someone who doesn’t (and can’t) vote, what gives me the right to complain when I cannot provide a contribution to the system that decides our countries fate? Truth is, I don’t generally complain. In fact, I’m still here, as affected by this countries bad decisions as ever. The time is coming for me to make my decision though, shall I apply for citizenship or shan’t I? My resolve remains a resounding no, sadly, I shan’t.

I refuse to be tarnished by the same brush of a country that fairly allows for the lynching of rural residents who choose to break the mould and vote against the existing government. How disgusting that a video of a woman being savagely beaten to death goes viral and shows nothing more than the backwards nature of our political freedom. How free she was as she lay grounded by the axe blows to her forehead, how free and fair was her election? It’s definitely a fair election when parties are going out of there way and taking time from their busy schedules to offer the impoverished communities money (R50) and clothing (branded t-shifts) to entice the masses into a vote. Of course, the illiterate and uneducated understand that R50 will feed their family that day but the bigger picture is in shadow, another vote won by shameless bribery, that’s fair surely but for the tax payer, definitely not free. How sad that the most valuable piece of paper you can mark for the government gets left uncounted, that boxes upon boxes of discarded ballots are being used as fire fuel to the poor, I’d say that’s a pretty free and fair election. The icing on the cake would be the theft of my mobile number to punt your criminal party to me days before and days after the election without my permission, but I guess you assumed you didn’t need this permission did you? Free and fair? Free. Fair. My arse.

So if I was a citizen, posting my thumb selfie, post voting day, would I be truly confident that the elections were free and fair and I can sleep better knowing all that could have been done was in fact done? Hardly, in fact they were probably rigged from the start and Nelson Mandela is churning in his grave at the disgusting behavior of our government and total shambles that is our backwards voting system. It can’t be that bad though right? Because google our elections and ten websites will pop up reiterating how great they actually were, going off without a hitch. Too few links come up with the truth, the anguish and the murder behind elections 2014 and what’s being done to rectify it.

I constantly say ‘our’ when referring to South Africa. The petrol price sucks but I have petrol. eTolls suck but I drive on roads. Internet prices suck but I have a modem. Food prices disgust me but I eat. Traffic is disgusting but I drive to work daily. Education is in the toilet but at least my children have schools to go to. Racism is rife but I’m free to befriend all colors and creeds. Water is dirty, but I can drink it. Eskom goes out more than an old man’s back but I have a power source. So many things here to upset me South Africa, yet I don’t complain. This time, I’m afraid you’ve pushed the boundaries and I’m no murderer nor will I be an accomplice to one. I’m sorry South Africa, citizenship denied.

Shevy

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Dear Solange.

Posted: May 13, 2014 in Random
Tags: , , , , , ,

Dearest Solange,

I must thank you for the laughing fit that ensued after watching the brief video clip that was released of you attacking Jay Z. You’ve reiterated once again that celebrities are human as well and we all have our dodgy family dramas, even you. I must admit, I’m intrigued as to why you went at your brother in law like a street hooligan and can’t understand the desire to throw the the first punch in that rather small elevator. For future information, decent space is required to get good air to your kicks and therefore an elevator is not recommended.

I’m as human as the next person, for that reason I understand the motive of jealousy (If that was your MO at all). Yes, your sister is undoubtedly one of the most successful pop stars of all time (A career you’re trying to develop) and she’s married to one of the wealthiest music moguls of present times. I get that you may have been a little upset but can’t possibly understand why you chose that particular time and place to have a physical go… It probably was not a smart idea to beat your family member in full camera view for the public to see, causing much upset at the use of your expensive handbag (tragedy!)

The funniest articles are saying it was a ferocious attack, though I’m uncertain as to what was feral about it. You were pissed off (obviously) and the guy probably needed a smack. I’m sure he has to pay people not to hit him a lot of the time, but I don’t believe it’s good practice to be beating your sisters husband. No doubt future family lunches may be a little awkward after this debacle.

The hotel is shocked at your behavior, what’s even more shocking is the free publicity they’re receiving after the Knowles vs Carter lift showdown. They’re so perplexed they’re releasing statements, well done on giving them 100% occupancy from now until well, forever. Rather strategic of them, releasing that ever so private video footage and not laying claim to the ‘leak’.

Whatever the reason, well done for being human.
Keep us smiling
Shevy