{Sponsor:Food & Trees for Africa} Carol Milner’s project me story

Feb - 28 2011 | 15 comments | By

The problem with humans is that when we have opportunities we in most instances don’t grab them.  By nature we procrastinate and when it’s too late, we come with the “if only” syndrome.

So I have been watching and reading my cousin by marriage’s blogs for exactly 416 days (with a little bit of envy).  Honestly, if you ask me, I think to bare your soul to humankind every day of your life is not only cathartic but is also truly remarkable.  So Jodene, thank you for inviting me to blog on your blog.

But life is about lessons and the lessons of life.  My own life is a true Danielle Steele novel.  I have not for more than 10 years found anyone to bare most of my soul too.  Until this week, that is.  And suddenly he has taken my life and turned it upside down and inside out.

I grew up in a very disparate home, spending many years being used as the proverbial football between my now absentee mother and a father whose hang-ups are founded on the tragedy of a concentration camp and his suffering.  Nowhere is there any remedy for these hang-ups.  So he found what he thought was the best way to deal with them.  He now lectures tolerance to students all over Europe.  Except I believe he opens the can of worms every time he gives a lecture.

My father lives in France with his wife of many years, has two daughters who live in Belgium with their partners and three young grandchildren.  It is easier for him to have a normal relationship with his children and grandchildren on his doorstep than with the three of us 12 000 km’s away.

In my heart, I cry for his pain.  Maybe I shed a tear for our relationship too.  I suppose as the next generation of a survivor, you relationship is sacrificed on the horrors of Hitler.  I promised myself though that I would not perpetuate the pain through my own children.  Instead I hope I have raised them in our new democracy to embrace life, embrace challenges, embrace diversity, embrace culture and religion and very importantly to never look back over their shoulders.

My mother’s pain was more about being forced to marry my father.  So you can ask yourself when did my relationship with my mother finally implode?  It was after I realised and said it out loud, that every time she looked at me she saw the man she hated so much.  Sad but true.

And so I suppose it was expected that would marry the first man who asked me.  Maybe my fear was that no one would love me for me.  That he happened to be Jewish was a bonus.  We married really young and my oldest was born when I was 25.

But happiness is what you make of it.  Part of being happy is realising that your own life is integrally part of others lives.  When Mervyn became sick he could not understand this.  His anger and bitterness was taken out on those he was supposed to love and the revolution began.  Napoleon move over.  Through a decade of anger came 17 doctors and a constant reminder to me that I was to blame for his sickness.

As the local government elections dawn, I am finally after 15 years of being a city councillor and working two jobs to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, able to “feel it”.  It’s an ayobaness I just cannot explain.  Suddenly I can feel an energy and spirit inside that I thought I had lost along the way.  To the people who have taught me  – thank you.  To the people who voted for me along the way – thank you.  To the people who have been kind and grateful – thank you.  To those who have stuck knives in me, who have gone out of their way to hurt me – only you can ask for forgiveness.  Ask and you will receive because you have not understood the secret.

Now I suppose the next logical question would be why I am able to put some of my life on paper.  Four days before Mervyn I was accepted at Wits Plus.  This for me was the most frightening step of the next two years.  I didn’t even get to tell him I had been accepted.

So there I was this crazy chick walking into my first lecture with 120 students and when asked to tell the class, by rotation, how old I was, there was this deafening silence.  But I have truly made awesome friends.  One friend in particular, my dearest Joe, comes from central Africa.  His love for his wife and child and for Africa is so deeply touching that just saying his name brings a lump in my throat.  And all the craziness of studying has given me a new perspective on life, love and relationships.  This week our year end 2010 marks were finally formalised and this old crazy woman had the highest year end mark at 96%.  So the “young ones” will now have to bow in awe of the old lady.

As the academic year begins again this week, my heart cannot help but murmur its grateful thanks to my most awesome lecturers for their patience (I am really and truly a mad Gemini) and guidance.  For showing me the light and being tough on me because I sure needed it.

And so after 15 months, my wings have spread and I have soared about a childhood of pain and misery and a decade of issues of blame, anger and a whole host of other stuff to finally understanding why G-d put me on this earth.  It is so easy when you are in the thick of things to ask why me.  Why did I have a vindictive stepfather who abused my mother?  Why did my parents spend so much time fighting through lawyers?  Why did G-d let me carry a child to give it back to him?  Why did my late husband become a total stranger?  The why’s now just don’t matter.

Today I am woman.  Today I am a vessel of love and understanding.  I have watched and understood the secret.  I have watched and understood the concept of paying it forward.   I have this week opened my heart and have suddenly developed terrible side effects that I can laugh at.  Where it will go I don’t know.  I only know that one’s fate lies within one’s own hands.  If life gives you a chance at happiness, only a fool would let it pass by.

Finally to my son Russell, my daughter Brenda and whole host of friends and some family who have shown constant toughness to me as an act of kindness and have bitten their tongues on occasion, thank you for letting me now go.  I love you from the tips of my toes.

Sponsor’s Information: Food and Trees for Africa

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With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour

The King and I – project me day 424

Feb - 28 2011 | 4 comments | By

In the ten or so years of having a very special bond with my bipolar friend, she has never had an extremely bad episode. While I was recovering from my back injury, she was in her space. We have such a treasured understanding that I know she needs to hide away from the world (or certain parts of the world) while she is trying to survive it all.

On Saturday I posted a song about suicide and expressed my relief that she has come out on the other side, alive and well.
I’m tough, but the story she shared with me over breakfast knocked the wind right out of my sails. She knows me well and knew I would handle all the gory details of choosing the best method of suicide. Doing internet searches as then walking through the house to see it that was at all possible.
At least I was conscious of the fact that I was still a little light-headed from the sugar crisis I threw my body into, otherwise I would have been convinced that I was going to pass out from the shock of it all.

She decided that hanging herself would be best and practiced tying the knot around a pencil so she wouldn’t forget. She picked her day, her moment and the ideal place. Wrote letters to everyone (a letter I am thrilled not to have received) and went about the very planned and very determined mission of committing suicide.
What do you say in between those pauses of sipping tea? If she got that far then how come she was having breakfast with me yesterday. Not that I’m complaining! But what went wrong.

She began to giggle. Of all things … giggle! She giggled at the fact that not being the most logical of woman, she saved her own life. She stood on the table, tied the rope around her neck … and jumped! My dear friend attempted suicided!
When her feet touched the ground she knew she had done something horribly wrong … well two things actually … 1. She had bought the wrong rope (there’s the illogical girl I love so much) and 2. She had been silent for too long.

I had a brief called from Inked who took the edge off the conversation but it went back to the reality of bipolar, depression, mania and suicide all over again. I don’t care … I was having tea with my friend who was very alive and very well.

I met here when I was a Reiki therapist and I ended up guiding her through many meditations and healing processes. Of all of them she told me she never forgot me teaching her about the procession of the equinox … that no matter what you do or don’t do, you will always wake up a little wiser each day. She did that and turned so much around and I had breakfast with a very calm, healing and determined to be happy, friend.

It was still horrific to have to deal with. It was worse for me to know that another friend knew about the suicide attempt and she didn’t tell me. Even if she wanted to keep our friends secret then at least have some kind of conversation with me that spurs on a phone call on my part. I know I could have made the call at any time, but bipolar always reminds me that she will call when she’s ready.

That threw my day and I got home to noise and cartoon. I love my family dearly, but I have my way of processing things and in the current living space I can’t do anything about it. The longing to not be alone then kicked in and I wanted to call just about anyone to distract me from my thoughts, but for whatever reason I decided to fight it out on my own.

It was the Oscars last night and I wanted to see The King’s Speech before the day was through. Going alone made me realise that I am alone. I know there is a difference between alone and lonely … and yesterday I felt as though I were both.

The upside of going to movies on my own is that I can be as punctual as I like and I was there to witness the majority of the movie-goers filtering in. A couple, another couple, a crowd of friends, a single man, a family, a single woman, another single woman … another single man. I wasn’t so lonely after all. Before the movie even started I was smiling and it so happened that all of us singles somehow hovered to the one corner of the theater as it we were a little family of single. The girl next to me kicked off her shoes, another put her shopping bags on the seat. The single man moved to another seat with less crowds around him as the movie started and I took up both arm rests to the full.

I’m sorry to ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, but there were messages screaming their lessons at me. I couldn’t relate to the King, except for the girlie wish to find a man as charming as Colin Firth, stutter and all. But I could relate to his tutor. To his unconventional methods and fighting to stand alone in the collective. The turning point and the moment when I shed a tear for my own life choices was when it was revealed that a man with no credentials at all was the one who was helping the king. Never studied, no degree, no plaque with a doctorate on the wall. Just a man who knew he could make a difference.
That’s me … the girl without the degree! The one with no plaque on the wall and no certificate because the Universe doesn’t dish one out.
That message was for me too … both messages … Bipolar’s account of what I shared with her that helped (even in the tiniest way) to breathe life into her second chance and the King’s account when he told everyone to back off and leave his teacher alone.

I feel totally ungrounded today. I want to do things like go to a park, go to another movie, sit by a lake and blow bubble … the chewing and the soapy kind. Maybe it’s not a bad things because we never do enough of those things … I might just have to hold my ungrounded day for the weekend and put stones in my shoes to not float away from today.

With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour
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More than just an afternoon nap – project me day 423

Feb - 27 2011 | 6 comments | By

Admittedly, I’ve felt crappy for days.

Damn, now I have to explain myself!
There is a line of diabetes in my family, so I really shouldn’t be messing around with how I eat considering I’ve been diagnosed with a pretty high level of something. I don’t know how it all works but I do know that I need to keep my sugar levels as stable as possible.

Everyone always assumes that means cutting out all the carbs and keeping the sugar to almost non existent (including the good ones) and sometimes I get into total idiot space and act like ‘everyone’. No offence to anyone who is reading this and knows they aren’t being kind to their bodies, but the truth first hurts and then sets you straight.

On Tuesday night when Greggie, my mom and myself get together for our little dose of self healing and honesty I am going to have to deal with the consequences of what I’m about to tell you.
Before my sister’s wedding I began to worry that I wouldn’t look great in what I was wearing. I know I said that a few times. The truth is that I did the one thing that I thought was the only thing I could do and cut my carbs right down. I mean right down. The most I would have was an odd bowl of all bran every few days. I had no fruit and I listened to some of the worst advice I have ever been fed. Actually, I’ve been fed it for years and I tapped back into in a total space of fear.
After the wedding I felt great and so I carried on keeping my carbs low. Not completely gone, but I know it’s too low.

Then Hustler Girl and I went on that sugar binge and I was sick almost halfway through my carbo loaded lunch. With each crash I had to fuel myself with more sugar and I have been faint and dizzy since Wednesday.

Yesterday was so bad that I literally had to put myself to bed after a lunch that goes against anything screaming balance.
You know I have voices in my head, so I’m not going to go into explaining myself about that. I am going to explain what the voices were screaming at me about though.

Friends, I love you … but my word, do you mess with my mind and my choices for my own health. I can’t believe how everyone has an opinion and I watch your Facebook status’s saying you were at gym for 2 hours and you are surviving fine on a tomato smoothie. Here I am trying to learn to listen to my own body and it’s screaming for me to eat carbs at every meal. The good carbs of course … but carbs one the less. It’s protein overload all around me and that’s not the wisest thing to do for a body.

At this point my best friend, Greggie, is reading this post and rolling his eyes or mumbling ‘I told you so’ under his breathe, but for some reason I did choose a lifetime of learning things my own way.

Since I was a little girl I never just believed anything that I was told and that has carried on through my whole life. Why would I make it any different when learning how to eat. NOT being told how to eat or following a diet or a plan … but learning for myself what I need to balance my own body.

With the room spinning around me and my blood levels wavering from high to low, the voices reminded me that I know what I’m doing. I know that there is no one under the sun who can tell me what to eat and how to take care of my own body. Shit, that’s a lot of self trust. No one goes inwards at a time like this and the craving to google the perfect diet is haunting me.

I’m not 13! I’m a 37 year old woman who is trying to show the world that we have the power within us to do and be anything. The truth does remain though … I have an erratic sugar issue and I should NOT be messing around with it. The only way to do that is grow the hell up and start listening to myself.

So, you can hear I’m being mean to myself and I’m going to have to take some time to turn that around, but in the meantime I have to stop the light-headedness and the room from spinning. I have to trust in myself to balance my sugars myself and take yet another massive ‘project me’ step.

First things first though … I admitted it! I told you and me the truth … I didn’t want an afternoon nap, I needed it! Desperately!

With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour
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Why? – project me day 422

Feb - 26 2011 | 15 comments | By

I don’t know if you’ve ever woken up in excruciating pain from a calf that’s decided to go into spasm. That was my wake up call this morning and I did everything in my power not to burst out cry and start screaming in agony … it was that sore. After it settled, the reality must have hit and remembered the pain of waking up on the morning when my disk in my lower back had ruptured. I managed to fall back asleep but the damage was done and with an aching calf came a little trigger of fears and anxiety. For whatever reason it’s left me feeling depressed and anxious and I’m kinda forcing a blog. Actually, I’m forging everything.

Bless my family for rallying around me. Breakfast was made, my mom is reminding me that my back is never going to go back to what is was and my brother-in-law is obsessively trying to tickle me to get a laugh.
My Uncle and Aunt who came from overseas to see my little sis get married leave today. My uncle is lost without my dad and so we have all decided to take him curry, (just like he would have done with my dad) so the pressure is on to snap out of the is mood.

I’m on my 3rd cup of tea and that hasn’t helped.
I’m listening to all my favourite country songs and that hasn’t worked yet.
I’ve played with Saphirah and not even her purring and cuddling has worked yet.
The wacky statements of my Facebook friends don’t seem as funny, so that hasn’t worked yet either.
My stats weren’t as cheery as I thought the would be, so that hasn’t worked particularly well.
Little sis and brother-in-law said they will treat me to lunch but nothing seems to excite me enough to work.

But … then I realised …
Tomorrow I am going to breakfast with one of my dearest friends. I haven’t seen her since June last year and haven’t spoken to her since our brief call on the day of my birthday in September. The call yesterday was part of her healing process and a sign that she is going to make it through. She suffers from Manic bipolar and there are days, when I haven’t heard from her in a few months, when I wonder if she didn’t surrender to it.
She likes it that way … she vanishes out of sight for a while because she can’t cope with life at all. She knows when it’s time to come but and I hold my breath for the months while I wait to hear from her. This was one of the worst in about 15 years, she told me yesterday. But tomorrow we are going out to celebrate her coming out on the other side of it … a little braver, a little wiser, but still wondering why?

There are more stories that just my BP friend. I am surrounded by incredible people who survive each day with more than just a fleeting moment of anxiety or a bout of depression.
Then there are those who we will spend the rest of our lives asking … why?

This one’s for you …

With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour
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{Sponsor: MyScoop SA Aggregator} Nick Duncan’s project me story

Feb - 25 2011 | 2 comments | By

It is with bursting excitement and gratitude that I launch the interview section of ‘Your Project Me Story’ by introducing you to the creator of MyScoop SA Blog Aggregator, Nick Duncan.

When I began the ‘project me’ blog, I knew nothing of stats, google rankings and aggregators, but I caught on soon enough and the personal challenge began. I am registered on countless blogging communities and blog aggregators, but none has been more impactful for my blog than MyScoop. It is one of the few aggregators where I can track my blogging progress daily. I have targets and challenges and am thrilled to announce that ‘project me’ has finally made it into the top 100 blogs on this massively popular site. My user engaged ranking is now happily floating in the top 5 and the challenges are only pushing me further.

Thanks to the power of Twitter and my gushing over MyScoop, I had the honour of chatting to Nick. He reminded me of a part of myself when I said how much I admired him for his brilliant concept and his excitement bubbled over. I clap my hands with joy every time I have an unexpected compliment from a stranger, because it doesn’t matter what the rankings or the stats show … it’s the unexpected voice that makes it all worth while.

Nick, thank you for taking the time to chat to me and for your creating that is part of my daily growth and motivation.

Meet Nick Duncan and here his project me story through the official introduction of my 10 project me questions:

Nick is the co-owner and creator of myScoop, a local blog aggregator as well as the senior online marketing professional. As a dad of 3, Nick tries to balance work and play as much as he can but tends to spend most of his time in front of the computer, something his better half is not so keen about.  Apart from going into the steel industry straight after school, Nick kept his passion for the online world at his finger tips. He soon realised that like HTML and CSS, computers and steel don’t really go together. In 2009 Nick decided to put it all out there (so to speak) and joined Talooma as an online marketer.

Nick started programming from the age of 12 where he developed the well known (m)IRC game, All-Out-War, which is still being played today. He started playing around in many different programming languages and later realised that PHP was the way forward and started developing online applications. Nick has learnt to mix his passions for both online marketing and programming and use them to ignite his innovative mindset to create new online applications that are a first in South Africa.

1. What is your definition of happiness?
Spending time with my family. Family is what makes us all tick, without them we cannot define ourselves.

2. If you could have everyone say one thing to themselves every day, what would it be?
“I’m going to get there” as cliché as that sounds – saying it will make you believe it.

3. We all need someone to believe in us. Who is that person for you and why?
My fiancé Tamerah. Tam has pushed me in the right direction time and time again. Without her I would never have been strong enough to follow my dreams.

4. What quality do you believe we can never be taught because it is our birth right?

5. Describe the moment when you realised that you could achieve anything?
I was 12 years old when my dad came home with my first computer. That night I spent 6 hours programming my own game in Edit in Dos which consisted of a few hundred batch files. From that moment on I knew that if I try hard enough and not give up, I could create almost anything I wanted and that the possibilities were endless.

6. What have you always dreamed of being or doing and have you reached that dream?
Inventing something that will change the way we all see the world. I have realised that the only way I can contribute to the world is through developing innovative websites. I have a great idea in mind and will be starting development of it in the near future.

7. When life gets in the way, what do you always remind yourself of?
Life is short – make the most of it. Take it by the horns.

8. We all have something unique to offer the world, what is yours?
A mix of ambition, passion, innovation and crazy ideas. Watch this space.

9. How do you deal with the fears that could potentially hold you back?
Cut them off. Your mind is a powerful thing. With practise, choosing to ignore a fear or worry can eventually be as easy as flipping a switch.

10. What do you believe we have lost sight of in the world as a whole?

Sponsor’s information: MyScoop South African Real-Time Aggregator and Blogging Community
MyScoop is a real-time South African blog aggregator with limitless possibility and the ability to add multiple blogs to a profile.
It is a very user-friendly social platform that makes bookmarking, connecting and sharing your blog simple, yet impactful.

With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour

Jodene is the co-founder of:


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