Option and the choice to be happy

Happiness is a choice, we have the option to live simply and happily, inside not outside ourselves. Looking at the Children from the townships so bright and cheerful with no materialistic values my realization of this becomes even clearer.

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After arriving in Swellendam and seeing some stunning sites and getting the feel of this lovely town I was ready to start what I had come here to do. And what a stream of emotions arrived! 

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A lot of my life I have always wanted to do charity work, but I have always said “when I have money ” “when I’m older” “after I have a family”. However since I made my little leap of faith out of my bubble,  the view I have on that changed. I can do it now, I don’t have to limit when I can help or try to help other people.

Looking back I see I was actually breaking free when I mixed up my life. Breaking free from everything that I worked towards and was encouraged to believe would give me a happy, secure, safe and fulfilling life.

I had become to feel and do now feel very strongly that I and everyone around me has a really privileged life. In many ways-health care,  education, financially,  environment and mostly because of the experiences and lifestyle we have grown up with and continue to live. Travel is normal, even if to other parts of your country, fresh food constantly available and new clothes and belongings when we fancy. What we have is choice. Choice and options. With choice we get to have the option to be happy, but with choice we already have a base line of happiness because we can decide how we live, which path we take.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this doesn’t come without a price for many…. long hours, estranged parents, living for the weekend or living for the wine after the kids are in bed or your home from work! All of this is obviously merely my opinion but…I feel we all live an outside in lifestyle, looking for the external to fulfil our happiness. A raw simple life doesn’t make sense to so many and the cliché of keeping up with the Joneses really does apply.

On my return from Hawaii to the UK I re packed for SA, I had a complete melt down, I was disgusted in all the stuff I had. The shoes worn once, tops with labels, the sheer volume of things! I realised I had accumulated all of this because in the moment I believed that “it” would make me happy! I had been living from a suitcase for 7 months, gifted a few dresses along the way but living frugally and happily, they were the most invigorating and inspiring and free months of my life. I was incredibly lucky too with the love people gave me but compared to my life before it was very simple. I have one suitcase with me in South Africa and my budget is incredibly tiny, allocated for food, communication and travel, I love living with out much, outfits may be less but who cares, the people, the sites, the experiences and the now is what is most important.


The reality kicked in seeing the poverty around me here. When I stand in the Township playing field for the second day looking at all the children walking from all over to join the Easter programme, 99% with no shoes, some wearing what they wore yesterday, items way too small, holes in tops and dirty items. BUT  what shone through was they all were happy, they all played together, ok some fought at times but that’s kids right! They all interacted and joined in the games and activities with a zest and complete enthusiasm.

It sticks in my head on the starting point of the relay stand where a ping-pong needed to be bounced on the table into the bucket, a boy, shirtless and in tartan boxers as shorts, was kissing the three balls in his hand and before every bounce he kissed then bounced. He was determined to win. His satisfaction in life coming not from what he was wearing or had in life but in the competition and fun of this busy bustling morning of fun! An equal playing field, his option along with the rest of the kids is to do or simply to sit back and miss out, they either join in with us or that is it. Two options, two choices, two paths.


I look today at my search of happiness and how I always looked outside of me to find it, the limitations I’ve put on myself because of what I thought I should have/do, the ungrateful person I have been at times and the ignorance of how blessed I truly am. I choose currently to live minimally but fully, to be rich in self-love & love for others than to be surrounded by material belongings and in search of the next new shiny thing that comes my way. I know I’ve made this choice, I have the choice to do this!

Life can be simple and while watching the children dance whenever a song blasts out gives the area such entertainment, energy and life! This makes them happy, they don’t know what new toys and clothes are like but they are still happy and smiling with a simple dance off! Maybe we should all take a moment to be grateful for the options we have, sometimes work and life may seem limiting but you have the choice to change or just tweek your life and be happy. And maybe when you think things are so bad, do a little dance, even if you feel silly and awkward,  I guarantee a moment away from your computer screen or phone, wiggling your hips will put a bigger smile on your face than your Facebook feed or working out what thing you’re going to buy or save for next…. maybe not for you but its worth a try surely!

(Worth a read-Inside Out Revolution, Michael Neill)

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Yes I’m trying to dance…

Road to Swellendam…https://bombshellsoulsearcher.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/Garden Route-to-Mossell bay-Swellendam

Garden route drive through Mossel Bay to the stunning town of Swellendam and Barrydale- route 62.

So i leave calm, free and openness at Surfari yesterday and head across to Swellendam. It’s a couple of hours drive from George and I managed to hop in with some guys who were heading to Cape Town, so much more of a fun trip than the bus again!

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(Map of Africa for sunset for my final night in Victoria Bay. Great company and even better views)

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The land changed again from lush to incredibly dry but always with mountains lining the horizon around us. We passed Mossel bay on the way and I was disappointed, seemed a cute fishing town but not much to look at and pretty much a complete tourist stop, i really do prefer the untouched areas and less commercial.

Service stations were the only place for coffee, we had a pit stop and filled up with fuel, over here you don’t have to get out of your car (dreamy) and you even get a screen wash… I had written in the dirt and the guy who cleaned the screen decided to leave my graffiti, humour in the middle of nowhere!

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Arriving is Swellendam it really felt like we had found a gem, stunning little town, bright white church with mountains behind it and cute restaurants. Before fidning my new “home” we went to a place called the Old Gaol for lunch, which happened to be one of the oldest buildings in town, it was a buzzy but calm place and pretty yummy food.

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Driving to Imangele guest house i reflected that 17 years ago I fled my high school as quickly as I could after a shit time! Fleeing to Australia to really have no contact with school memories again. However a positive influence and memory being my theatre studies teacher Mrs Shackley! And as luck or now we have decided fate would have it I’m about to knock on her door.

Amanda and Dave are opening their wonderful 1920″s home to me so I can stay in Swellendam and become apart of the numerous foundations and charity’s they have either set up or played/play a huge role in. I’m apprehensive and nervous but as soon as the door is open the beaming beautiful Mrs Shackley squeezes me tight and im swept into my room, wow, i was exepcting a dorm…  but no! In true theatrical style each room is themed, and I’m in the zebra room! I feel so lucky to have this huge, clean, cosy room and en suite. Rather like the little lady in the cave said to me last week…”I feel like queen if Sheba”  Quickly after we head to the vine-covered veranda for a glass of wine! I don’t think we have stopped chatting since!!!

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Next week is set to kick of my involvement with the Railton foundations Easter club! It’s packed full with activities from nature park visits to sports days! It’s going to be a wonderful way to get stuck in, explore where I can help most and  meet contacts to take this forward beyond the Easter break. My first night though is kicked off by going to the local bar, bands play there frequently and it really is the weekend hub of the town! I was going to stop drinking again once I came to SA but it’s proving rather easy to not….. oooopsie!!!!

My first full day in Swellendam we actually left and drove to Barryale- Route 62, which is a small but buzzing village on the border of the Overberg and Klein Karoo regions of the Western Cape. The drive was stunning (apart from our fuel gauge hitting super low half way across the winding mountain roads)

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We made it though and after lunch popped into an arts and education centre in a nearby township. The building a rustic shack but inside it was bustling with activity, even a computer room with about 15 kids all checking out arts ideas on pintrest. Music rooms, art rooms and more, it really was the place to be and so awesome to see everyone hanging out together rather than alone at home on their very own tablets on phones like we are so used to witnessing in the western world. So excited now ive been here to get stuck in next week, the kids are so happy and engaging, and a cheeky smile or two from them has put a serious spring in my step.

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Cape Town arrival!

Arriving in Cape Town as a lone traveller, off to volunteer at an up cycling, community project! First to test out the South African Uber drivers…

Landed after 22 hours of travel and got an Uber from Cape Town airport, I had been advised to get a SA number and ignore any taxi offers, wifi can be hooked up to while waiting in line at immigration, its pretty easy to go get a SIM card inside the airport and then book an Uber, would say easier to have the app on your phone already so with all your bags you are not standing around on your own trying to sort transport.

I arrived at night so instead of going out to the project at Gordons Bay I stayed in a hotel local to the airport, best decision, yummy wine, nice bath and great sleep!

My first day and I was excited to get going to the ‘Revival Project”! My Uber driver on this occasion was amazing, he was like a tour guide for me story telling of the shanty town areas lining the main highway. He talked of how so many races and religion live together and that causes constant conflict. That drugs were the main cause of issues, a new drug is being bought in from china and exchanged by fisherman for specific shell-fish and fish, people will scurry around after dark for anything to scrap to make money to get their next hit. These communities are places no one goes into! Especially a huge area we drove past of corrugated huts, this is famous for being the area where the most wound injuries and deaths come from, i.e stabbings and they are very particular that no witnesses are left so if its you and a friend your both going to be goners! IMG_5199

It was a real reality kick that life was going to be very different to what I have been living in Hawaii, the freedom, the trust, the lack of concern of leaving your house door open or possessions in your car all changes from now!

I arrive at the “Revival Project” a project I’ve been super excited about getting my teeth into, hands dirty and hopefully makings a difference going forward in this community.

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It’s a building site. It’s scrub dust land with shipping containers as the bathrooms, kitchen and living areas. I knew this but the fact of no hot water, minimal food and the concept of having four dogs which although soft to us were in fact there to guard the property was a real eye opener! My disappointment wasn’t the hard work and being grubby and hungry it was the lack of freedom, I want to be free to wander to the store or beach but you can’t!

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Safety is a real issue, you don’t go out alone and most defiantly not as the sun goes down, ironically the time that’s most dangerous is the time the ‘Rastas’ praise the sun going down and are grateful for the day and new one to begin. So actually when I did go to watch the sun set the vibe was awesome but that was because I was with a local who knew where to be and knew who to walk away from, although it would have been nice to be alone and reflect it was so nice to hear him talk story and explain why to him the sun is the thing in life he is most grateful for!

Sadly the project only had me at this time as a volunteer, the stage it is at is hard labour and also work online asking, begging and setting up fundraising platforms. I’ve spent my fist two days, painting primer onto the containers ( a graffiti artist arrives to add some art in a few weeks) , cooking, full on cleaning as a day before had been a dust storm and everything was insanely dirty! plus working online asking for copious amounts of pallets, barrels, soil and more!

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My works become basically all online now as other volunteers are not arriving for a while. So after a lot of self questioning I  decided to head to Vic Bay to a hostel, a 6 hour bus drive through was is promised to be some incredible views.

I can do the work I need for Revival as well as experience the Cape, and when more people give their time to the project I can get back to getting physical and get the outreach community projects going once the place is less of a building dust site.

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( Plus side of dust, dirt and cold water showers, I actually slept really well in the pods, can’t complain, cosy and kinda peaceful in the midst of chaos! )

I’m disappointed it hasn’t rolled out how imagined but maybe this is better. At first I felt like moving on for a period of time was failing but the ground work of sourcing seems more important and if I can do that looking at the surf not dust then why not!

I’ve got to say that the Cape has a calmness even with all that is going on in a negative way right on your door step. It has a peaceful energy and I can only imagine in the mountains and near the water this is heightened.

I’m looking forward to my journey through this mother land!!!!

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