What I wish I knew: Finding your passion

what i wish i knew, finding your passion, passion finding, school, balance, talents, perspective, growing up, life, personalAfter my last post, I tossed around the idea of in what order I should tackle the topics. Should they follow a chronological pattern where, after I dealt with curly hair, maybe I should tackle make up next.

This idea held absolutely no appeal to me because, heaven knows if I start heading in that direction, someone may think I’m trying to style myself as a beauty blogger. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are beauty bloggers, but as someone with a 2 product make up routine, I don’t think I would ever manage to keep that one going ;).

But there are so many topics I want to cover in this “What I wish I knew” series and, the topics are so diverse, that no real pattern is evident. So you know what, let’s just deal with one subject at a time and maybe there will be some sort of order, by the end of it.

Passion Finding

How much time did you spend trying to find your passion when you were a kid? I spent most of my time avoiding confrontation in a corner, because I faced teasing on a daily basis, both at home and at school. This meant that no matter how tempted I was to try something new, I didn’t because no one wants to become a target for bullies at that age.

Fortunately, after gaining some perspective, I shrugged off that fear over the last 15 years because, now I know that, LIFE IS TOO SHORT. Let me offer up an example, my primary school started offering Chess lessons after school when I was about 12. After asking around, I established that while a handful of boys had signed up, no girls were interested. Despite being very tempted, the last thing a pre teen girl wants to be is “different”. The fact that I was short and chubby had made my life, sufficiently hellish. And so, I never learned to play chess.

After 12 years at school, I seriously had no idea what I was good at. Which meant that when I chose what to study, I had to pick from what I wasn’t bad at. Too many daydreaming sessions in Maths meant I dropped the subject when I reached Grade 10. And what happens when you drop Maths (and Science)? Well, your channels of study trickle to basically nothing. At least they seemed to back in 1996.

To make up sufficient credits to qualify for a Matric Exemption, I then completed my schooling with English, Afrikaans, Geography, Fine Art, Graphic Art and Biology. I didn’t excel in anything except maybe Afrikaans. I ended up completing a 2 year Diploma in Multimedia Design before realizing that the course was too general and, since I didn’t specialize in any one of the subjects, didn’t have employers lining up at the door.

Maybe if I had realized that my passion actually lay in the writing arena, I would have studied Journalism at Rhodes. I know I was tempted at some point before I finished school but my broken self esteem didn’t recognize my writing skills, as a passion.

My daughter took ballet lessons from the age of 3 until she turned 7. She is a wonderful dancer and she loved it. However, 2 things made me think twice about placing too much emphasis in her future dance career. For one thing, I was sitting in the waiting area while she was at her dance class, and I heard a handful of older dancers talk about their eating plan…in detail. These girls were 10 years old. I’m sorry but 10 year olds shouldn’t be counting calories, when their bodies aren’t even properly formed yet. These were the same girls that I had watched dancing in 6-8 categories in the ballet eisteddfod, where their first dance was at 9am and their last dance took place at 7pm. They practically lived at Sea Point Civic Centre, for that month.

Which brings me to the second thing. They gave up everything to pursue their passion. Literally everything. They didn’t seem to have much of a life outside of dance class, it sounded like they didn’t socialize with anyone outside their close knit group of fellow dancers and they focused their entire lives on becoming a prima ballerina, when they finished school.

Now, in principal, I have no issue with following your passion to this extent. But what happens when something gets in the way of your dream. If you spent your life dancing 6 hours a day for 16 years, and then suddenly you get injured, how to you recover from that? Or you grow up and find that you don’t enjoy living from one audition to the next, where there is always someone younger and more talented than you, nipping at your heels. What do you have to fall back on? If you’ve given up everything so that you can be a ballerina, what happens when, for some reason, you can’t?

I’m not writing this post as a criticism of the arts. I adore the theatre and I would have spent my entire life singing on stage, if I was good enough to make a living from it. My concern is about finding your obsession, to the detriment of everything else.

Every single on of us, has 5 or 6 things we are talented at. Whether it is singing and dancing or just making beds with perfect, hospital corners. What we need is to have the time to explore our passions, and find a way of turning it into something we can earn a living from. This needs to be done in a balanced way though. Forget career guidance, what we actually need is talent scouts at schools. No, obviously not the ones who work for modelling agencies. We need someone who can look at what we’re interested in, channel us into the appropriate extra mural activities so that we can improve our skills, and help us choose a career that we would actually enjoy.

Am I asking for Utopia or do you think I’m on to something here? I’d love to know what you think.

What I wish I knew: Managing fine, curly hair

Every time a birthday comes and goes, it leaves me feeling reflective about what I know now, in contrast to what I knew 20 years ago. I felt like maybe it was something that I should start documenting, because the memory isn’t what it used to be, and it would give me something to look back on, when I’m 58.

Instead of this just being a mind dump, it may turn into a series, but I’m not sure whether this would be something you’d like to read about. However, in order to know that, I’m going to start by putting it out there, and waiting for your feedback.

What I wish I knew: Curly Hair

As a coloured woman with very fine hair, I spent my first 25 years, trying to find out how to work with it. I would wash it over the weekend, let it dry naturally and then spend the rest of the week, fighting frizz, after I brushed it (which ultimately led to a LOT of breakage). Growing up in a house with very little money and even less knowledge about hair products, I was absolutely clueless about what to do.

It is only after the internet and Google came around 18 years ago, that I started to learn. I now know that my hair needs to be fed everyday. What this looks like in reality is, I condition it after I wash it twice a week.

Managing fine, curly hair

Every day after that, I apply a mask to my dry hair, just before I shower and then rinse it out, after leaving it on for as long as possible. After towel drying my hair (or doing a rough dry with a hair dryer, if I’m feeling energetic) I apply a leave in cream to moisturise my curls, for the rest of the day. You pretty much can’t go wrong by moisturising curly hair, too much.

Oh, and NEVER BRUSH out your hair. Only use a wide toothed comb while it’s wet. Throw away the brush.

Disclaimer: My hair is very fine. It has never been relaxed because it isn’t coarse. I tried the Brazilian treatment twice and, while it helped, I chose to embrace my curls rather than chemical the hell out of them.

Straight hair isn’t the “best” hair. Curls can be beautiful too. No matter what the shampoo ads seem to imply.

Common Courtesy

humanity, common courtesy, perspective, manners, human behaviour, stress, frustration, kindnessMaybe it’s just me but when someone has to ask me to quiet down, I am mortified that I’ve disturbed someone’s environment. The last thing I’d do is respond with a zap sign and some choice words.  That doesn’t seem to be the case when you interact with people today.

Common Courtesy

The more in the wrong someone seems to be, the more likely you are to get told to “eff off”. Someone cut you off in traffic? They’ll flip you the bird as an added bonus. Someone accidentally ram into you with a trolley, you’ll get glared at like, “how dare you shop where I am shopping” as you try and apologize. Common courtesy? What the hell is that? If you slow down to allow someone to merge into your lane, you’re unlikely to even get a thank you gesture.

People are so highly strung and it’s making them aggressive. Somewhere along the line, people have adopted the belief that their life sucks, and everyone else must pay for it. What they don’t seem to acknowledge is that everyone is struggling. Sometimes you can see it, in their appearance or the state of the car that they drive, but more often than not, you can’t.

No one knows who is being given a hard time by their boss or is facing retrenchment. What if it’s someone who is being physically, mentally or emotionally being abused somewhere? What about those who are grieving or coping with a sick family member?

Is it so hard to be kind? When you dash around the grocery store with your trolley, no one is having any fun. Most of us are wondering how we’re going to pay for our basic necessities. We’re all in this together. Take a deep breath and force some perspective on yourself.

Stop believing the lies you’re being fed by the media. Only 0.1% can afford to live the Top Billing lifestyle. They aren’t shopping at your grocery store. The people you are rubbing shoulders with are also tired, stressed and overwhelmed. Get over yourself.

Mainstream school issues

parent, parenting, Mainstream school issues, mainstream, school, schooling, homeschool, ADD, ADHD, Ritalin, occupational therapy, there's something wrong with your child, physical therapy, why mainstream school didn't work for us, south africa, family, kidsI was chatting to a mom the other day who, after finding out that I home school, had a number of questions about who, what, why, when, where and how. After a fairly lengthy discussion, she expressed interest in investigating further, as her son is currently struggling in mainstream school.

Mainstream school issues

One of the issues that I could relate to was the endless correspondence that she received from the teacher, about the “problem child”. I could relate to this straight away. The year before I removed Zac from school, I used to receive a note from his teacher at least 3 times a week. We got to the point where I dreaded receiving an email from her, as it would inevitably end in tears when I got home.

Zac started worrying about what he would be in trouble for when he got home, and anxiously started asking me if I’d receive an email from his teacher. When I didn’t receive an email and he asked this question, I would then lovingly ask (interrogate) him about what had happened at school.

Want to know what kinds of emails I was receiving? Was my child trashing the bathroom or hitting other kids? No, it was “Dear Mrs Magnin, Zac was playing with his pencils and I don’t think he was learning anything. Regards, Miss #######”.

parent, parenting, Mainstream school issues, mainstream, school, schooling, homeschool, ADD, ADHD, Ritalin, occupational therapy, there's something wrong with your child, physical therapy, why mainstream school didn't work for us, south africa, family, kidsNow, as any good parent knows, the parent-teacher relationship means that you will then chat to your child about “the problem” and persuade him as to why his behaviour was bad, and why he had to change. Every second day, I received a note about my “bad child” and obviously, it started affecting my relationship with him. If I was a perfect parent, it wouldn’t have affected my relationship, but I’m anything but a perfect parent.

Since school stretches over a period of 12 years, I decided that I wasn’t happy with the way things were going and, after an emotional discussion with his teachers, the head of the phase and his occupational, speech, physical therapists and his psychologist, I couldn’t handle it any more.

My child is awesome. These people that spent 6 hours with him per day were trying to turn him into a mindless robot who conformed to “the norm”. That wasn’t okay with me. This was a school that specialized in working with children who had “learning disabilities” like ADD, ADHD and dyslexia. In theory, it was a great school. It wasn’t for my kid though.

There is a lot more to developing a person than just their school life. You can suck at school in terms of grades and turn out to be an awesome human being anyway. In the same way, you can excel at school in terms of grades and turn out to be a jobless, homeless, direction less human being. I wasn’t willing to jeopardize my child’s emotional state of mind, in exchange for a “perfect student”.

It has taken us 9 months to get to the point where Zac has a self esteem again. After 5 years of emotional bullying by both his peers and his teachers, he honestly believed that he was stupid and that he “couldn’t do anything”. No matter how much he tried to conform, he wasn’t good enough according to his school and his teachers.

parent, parenting, Mainstream school issues, mainstream, school, schooling, homeschool, ADD, ADHD, Ritalin, occupational therapy, there's something wrong with your child, physical therapy, why mainstream school didn't work for us, south africa, family, kidsWhen you look at the school environment and the real life environment, there are very few similarities. But maybe I’m wrong. Do any of you have a job where you deal with one subject at a time and then have a bell ringing before you move on to the next one? Does your boss sit you down at a desk the whole day and expect you to sit still and be quiet while he or she speaks at you?

There are many different ways to learn and waving around a matric certificate hasn’t been the key to anyone’s success, for a long time. There is something very wrong with the curriculum when half the kids in your class are on Ritalin and the others have weekly appointments with occupational, speech, physical therapists and psychologists so that they can “cope”.

If mainstream school is working for you, then cool beans. I’m happy for you. It didn’t work for me and I got sick of being told that there was something wrong with my child. Just because your child learns differently, doesn’t mean that they need to be “fixed”. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

Disclaimer: I’m not writing this to judge. I’m writing this for parents who are equally frustrated and feel like they’re alone. Maybe this will assure you that you are not alone and many, many parents feel equally distraught. You are not alone.

I have nothing but appreciation for occupational, speech, physical therapists and child psychologists. Zac benefited from all the support he had access to in the Foundation Phase and, for a while there, we were fine. When we hit the Intermediate Phase, the therapies fell away and the mindless drone conformity began.

If you child needs support, get it for them. When it hinders rather than helps, reassess and decide for yourself how you feel.

Parenting: Tap Analogy

I’m setting aside my usual preference to not discuss details of my parenting ethos over here because, Murphy’s Law, right? Just when you think you have things waxed, it all goes for a ball of poop.

Parenting: Tap Analogy

What I’ve been thinking about lately, is the need to adjust how you parent each year, as the kids get older. I came up with this analogy of a tap and I thought I’d share it with you. I stand corrected though so, let me know what you think.

When I grew up, children were seen and not heard. This meant that I was never allowed in adult company while I was considered “a child” by the grown ups. Given that I was a laat lammetjie (late lamb), is that I never had an opportunity to learn how to converse with a grown up.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself ill equipped to address my concerns with teachers in high school. Move ahead a few more years and I’m clueless as to how to present myself in a job interview. To this day, I am still uncomfortable in the company of people who appear senior to me.

parenting, tap analogy, raising kids, children, mini adults, consequences, parent, mom tips, advice, learnThis is not what I want for my children. Why can kids not be exposed to micro bites of adult interaction in a fairly controlled environment? Why can’t they be exposed to adults engaging them in conversation and learning to find their own feet as they respond to questions. If they never have their childish beliefs challenged, will they ever learn about the real world and what it’s like to be an adult?

Which brings me to my tap analogy. What if you start with the tap tightly shut and each year, you open it just the tiniest amount? If you take it from a slow drip to a steady stream over the first 15 years, you can increase the flow a bit more as they approach their adult years. This would give them license to ask grown ups about their jobs, and how they chose what to study after school. Among other things, obviously.

You cannot treat a kid like a child until they turn 18 and then, overnight expect them to know everything there is to know, just because they hit the “correct age”. Kids should respect people who are older than them, not fear them. They should be able to hold their own in conversation and slowly come to terms with the reality of real life.

Maybe, by exposing them to what it’s like to be a grown up, you know the bills, the choices we have to make and the things we wish we knew when we were their age, it will help them to get to grips with what’s facing them when they need to be responsible for themselves. Especially when most kids so desperately long for the perceived freedom they’ll have when they are finally grown up.

I know that if I was exposed to some of the realities awaiting me, I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to grow up and I would have enjoyed my time as a child, for as long as possible.

Disclaimer: I know that parents don’t always have control of what their kids learn and when. Some kids are tossed into adulthood, long before they are meant to. I don’t right this post to judge others. I simply see too many kids who are treated as non entities. Patronized and left to their childish beliefs because grown ups are too busy to challenge them.

A kid who is never taught how to budget their pocket money, is the same person who will find themselves in debt, later in life. A kid who is never taught how to wait their turn or save up for what they really want, will go through life expecting everything to be handed to them on a silver platter.

What the world needs is children who are treated like mini grown ups. Responsible for their actions and held accountable for the consequences.

Buffet Olive Farm, Paarl

I learned so much today! What a lovely event #OliveDay

A photo posted by Tami (@rumtumtiggs) on

I was invited to tour the Buffet Olives Farm last week and I learned A LOT. I’m not a huge fan of olives, so I was a little outside my comfort zone but, as usual, that was where I found I grew the most.

I had no idea that Buffet Olives is the largest producer of table olives in South Africa. Did you know that they have been supplying us with olives for the last 48 years? This means that if you’re in a supermarket and you’re buying olives, you’re probably buying a olives grown on the Buffet Olive Farm.  No matter what the name on the packaging says.

I was under the impression that buying the store brand variety was just a matter of packaging, but this is not the case. Each brand has specified the finer details of what goes into their store brand products which, means that the recipe or processing differs.

So, if you think that you’re buying PnP brand olives, while you’re are getting olives from the Buffet farm,  the olives in the Buffet packaging are processed using a different recipe.

Buffet Olive Farm, Paarl

Buffet olives grows 4 different cultivars of olives namely, Mission, Manzanilla, Barouni and Kalamata. Mission olives are the most popular olive grown South Africa, because they can be turned into either table olives or olive oil. They can also be reliably processed under a wide range of conditions.

Manzanilla means “small apple” because of their symmetrical apple shape. Barouni is marketed as queen olives in South Africa and weighs in at around 9-10 grams, while the Kalamata olive weighs in at 3-6 grams per olive.

olive, Buffet Olive Farm, Paarl, Buffet olives, #oliveday, olive facts, south africa, farm tour, learn

Image source: Buffet Olives, Go4Word PR

I was glad to find out that I wasn’t the only one working under the incorrect assumption that you get green olive trees and black olive trees. All olives are green and they will all turn black eventually but it depends on how the farm processes them that makes the difference.

In terms of health benefits, olives are a great source of essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Eating 10 lives before a meal will reduce your appetite by up to 22%. Olives also contain vitamin A which is crucial for healthy eyes. If you’re looking to reduce your bad cholesterol and increase the production of good cholesterol, olives contain the healthy fat that does just that.

Do you love olives? Which kind is your favourite? Let me know in the comments box below.

Home School: 8 months later

#hopscotch on the #beach at #sunset 🌄 #homeschooling

A photo posted by Tami (@rumtumtiggs) on

A child cannot learn if he/she feels threatened. Someone said this to me a few months ago and I can’t forget it. Especially when I doubt my decision to home school.

A bullied child is riding the fight or flight wave. If this child is thinking about what the other kids will do to them when they are outside, they take nothing in. No medication will have any effect.

Home School: 8 months later

I honestly had NO IDEA what I was doing, when I started home schooling my kids this year. I had done my research, of course but that’s like reading books while you’re pregnant, to prepare for the baby. You have a false sense of security and you really don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for.

My first mistake, after my 12 years in school, was trying to replicate school at home. I may not have set up desks and ring the bell for break time, but I did try and squeeze 6 work book heavy subjects, into every day. But this was while the kids were adjusting to a fairly big change.

They had moved out of the only house they had ever known, the left mainstream school and they moved to an unfamiliar side of the city.  We were also making plans to road trip around South Africa, so you have kids who were overwhelmed and simply needed time.

I wish I could say it take 2 months for us to find our feet, but I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing. As I look back on the last 8 months, it looks like the only thing that we’ve accomplished is that both my kids can read. They also actually understand the maths they are working through.

Zac is 11 years old, and it is only after the last 8 months that he can actually read out loud. Winning! This is a child who believed that he couldn’t do anything who is now happy to complete his reading, maths and Afrikaans. So, we can confidently say, we’re getting there.

What I have learned

It has been anything but easy, but I’m learning. The hardest thing about home schooling is wrapping your mind around how your kids learn. Then customizing how you want to teach according to their needs and talents. After listening to Martie de Beer from Dynamis at the Home School Expo yesterday, I realized that if you focus on the head, heart and hand of the child, you will succeed.

At the end of the day, the world is not going to benefit from a mindless automaton who can sprout back meaningless facts. It will benefit from a mindful human being who can think for themselves. They can then use their ingenuity to create and invent. In the current economy, there is no point raising a child to be a job seeker one day. Rather raise a well rounded, sensible human being who can recognize what is needed and can work out how to fulfill that need.

I can see how my children are growing now that they are learning in a safe, (mostly) happy environment, despite all my failings and doubts. That has to be enough for now.


This was never part of the plan. Yes, I knew that there would be a strong chance of failure, but to end up like this?

As much as I hated working in a job that destroyed my soul everyday, it granted me some independence. While I hated the house I lived it, at least it was mine. Even though I had anxiety attacks every time I tried to make ends meet, I could depend on a consistent income every month.

I miss everything I left behind. My friends, my church, my life.

You know what I don’t miss though? My son coming home from school everyday, with no self esteem whatsoever. I don’t miss the daily emails from his teacher, single sentences, about Zac playing with his stationery. I don’t miss sitting down with him and trying to work out how to teach him enough, so that he could complete his homework. So that I didn’t receive another note the next day telling me that my son is failing at school, because I’m failing him as a parent.

Instead, I get to watch how he catalogs his extra Super Animals cards, by himself, after I showed him how to set up a tabulated list. He completed the task without any grown up input and, he did it well. THAT makes me proud. That makes me realize that, despite everything I miss, THIS, is worth it.

My hair may be gray and my eyebrows may be taking over my face, but my children are growing up. And I only have a limited time to make sure they are ready for the responsibilities of being an open minded, free thinking human being who, may or may not understand long division.

If you ask me whether I regret taking this chance, I would, depending on the day of the week, say yes. Yes, I do miss having a soul destroying job that pays the bills. I knew that trying to make ends meet by doing what I love was going to be harder, and take longer than I could ever plan for. But home schooling sets the scale right.

As much as I hate being a burden to my family, I feel like I can make this work. Maybe I just need a bit more time. I cannot go back to the way things were, but I can find a way of making a life for us.

I want to write for a living. No, not a novel…not yet anyway. If I can write for a living, I can still home school my kids. I can have the best of both worlds.

Empowerment: Woman’s Day 1956

 I was thinking about the women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 and wondering who they were. But details don’t matter, do they? It doesn’t matter what kind of job they had or how rich or poor they were. They were women just like you and me.

Empowerment: Woman’s Day 1956

Many of them probably had jobs and children and households to look after, yet they made a plan to come together en masse to stand up for what they believed in. The 10-20 000 women, some from as far as Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, met Pretoria before flocking to the Union Buildings, some with babies strapped to their backs. Information source

So what’s our excuse? Instead of standing together and supporting one another, we indulge in some back biting and gossip, when we get the chance. We make assumptions about the lives of other people, based on what they portray on social media.

We all have different ways of running a house, raising a child or making our choices but there are many ways to skin a cat. What gives us the right to judge our fellow woman?

No matter how well you know someone, you don’t know everything. There will always be a part of ourselves that we keep hidden and you will never know what someone else is going through. So, be kind. Always.

So, let’s stand together. We can choose to support and uplift one another.

Disclaimer: The post does not refer to specific event and there is no sub tweeting going on here. Any similarities to persons, living or dead are purely coincidental. 😉

Introvert Life

Thanks for reaching out to me after my last post. I didn’t post it to concern anyone, but I felt like hiding my feelings wasn’t helping anyone. Do I make more sense to you now? Great!

Introvert Life

I came across this image on Facebook a few weeks ago and I couldn’t believe how much I related to the column on the right. This is ME! So, let’s talk about my introvert life.

If you’ve ever been offended by me rejecting an invitation or my inability to make small talk, this is why. This is exactly how I feel, all the time.

introvert vs extrovert, introvert, extrovert, personal, this is me, small talk struggle, #CTmeetup, love, learn, live, be yourself

I am the one on the right. From https://www.facebook.com/TheMindOfAnIntrovert/

I have a visual represention of how I feel, at last. When I see everyone else chatting to each other, I feel like an alien. How do they do it?

As hard as I try to fake it and pretend to be the opposite I fail, because of my desire to not be a burden, or be caught in an awkward situation where I run out of things to say.

I am genuinely concerned about you, but I feel like any thing I say or do, will be prying. The column on the left is so unfamiliar to me that I can’t imagine ever being that person.

Does this post make me easier to understand and maybe, relate to? Any day of the week I would rather have my nose stuck in a book, than be out and about engaging with people face to face.

My head knows that I will have fun if I push myself to attend events and say yes to parties, but my heart is full of fear. In the light of the Cape Town meet up (#CTmeetUp) on Saturday, please make sure you connect with me. I’ll be the one looking awkward in the corner.