Surrender to the Is-ness

Today was unfortunately another challenging start with a dreadful asthma attack at 1:30 am followed by 2 sets of nebulizers, oxygen and saline to try and get in top of the spasm in the bronchial area. To say that I am utterly exhausted is probably an understatement. Breathing and being able to breathe is something we all often take for granted I think and it’s only when it’s challenged constantly that it sinks in how necessary it is to life.

Part of what is occurring is that there is a lot of “stuff” that no longer serves my body making its way out after the surgery and in order to get better and get this out, it means coughing and clearing regularly. That all said I am definitely ALOT better than I was and less full of rubbish. (I suppose that remains a matter of opinion cos I am still full of shit)

It no longer feels like a family of 5O are living in my brain and sinuses. I also don’t feel like I am drowning all the time but chest is tight still so unfortunately I shall be in hospital for my birthday.

What I do appreciate is that I really have grown so much from living with this myriad of diseases I navigate on a daily basis. I have learnt the fine skill of Surrendering to what I call the “is-ness”. You see in reality once you let go and surrender to what will be will be you tend to just go with the flow a lot more.

So my mission today is to just surrender to being in the hospital, taking the medication and getting some rest. Birthdays for me are important as they are the celebration of the day you got to land on this beautiful earth and as my mom always says it’s the one day that’s all about you. Tomorrow for me will just be a different version of that and I shall just be in the “is-ness of it all.

I start today with this as my focus. I start my day with gratitude for another day of oxygen and life and I start my day today with my Mom and Sister keeping me company and bringing love, laughter and the most one on one girl time we’ve had in years. That in itself is such a blessing.

So today as you start your day find out what it is that makes your soul smile, what you need to surrender to in your life and just do it. If you don’t let it go it simply doesn’t flow.

Gratitude an essential ingredient to life

So today was the day when I had to go ahead put on my big girl panties and face the dreaded surgery. The anxiety was off the charts from the moment I woke up. And all sorts of things were running through my mind at 100kms an hour. The possibilities of complications for me are so high with what goes on in my body that it was gonna be a tough one it was just a matter of how I navigated the process.

Then my angels started arriving one by one to hold me in a space of love and care throughout the day. I have learnt that angels come in many forms in this world and while my health is a challenge on so many levels the blessings these challenges have brought me are so humbling and give me such great perspective of what true wealth and abundance is.

The love and care from my family And friends is remarkable and having my “Mommy Bear” fly down and be here to hold my hand through this has been incredible. Honestly my mom is really my hero and she just makes everything ok. I am truly blessed with sisters, a brother, nieces, nephews, aunts and all family and friends who love me with such intensity that I am definitely one of the richest people on the planet.

The hospital staff have been something beyond remarkable over the last week on every level with kind smiling people taking care of me at every turn. I have listened to how some people in the other rooms have spoken to these incredible selfless beings and wanted to literally get up and slap them for their rudeness . I have however chosen rather to just make sure I thanked each person who made my day more comfortable and helped me get through it.

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing and I don’t always get it right and can completely be a bitch at times so it is good for me to see what that looks like and be more mindful of my own behavior down the line. If I am to walk a journey of being the change I want to see in the world then I truly need to walk the talk.

The surgery landed up starting later than planned which of course naturally had my anxiety levels up and due to my last experience in a surgery that had very bad consequences I was understandably getting quite worked up. My chest was tight as it is still infected and my breathing was labored which had me worrying.

When the surgical porters came to fetch me they had a big smile on their faces and chatted to me having a gentle understanding nature all the way up. I then met my next angel. The wonderful anesthetist who immediately put me at ease. He was not happy that my chest was stable and made the nurses nebulise me straight away and get my chest open. He methodically listened to my medical challenges and checked everything over and over again and only after 30 more minutes when he was happy with my breathing did we move into theatre.

The next angel then arrived in the form of my surgeon. Again a soft, gentle kind man who put me at ease as he confidently explained what was going to be done and that he would take good care of me. Humble, quietly spoken, lovely man. The surgery turned out to be a lot longer and there was a lot more that needed to come out but all was taken out. What was supposed to be a 40 minute procedure overall landed up being nearly 3 hours

I was then moved to recovery where I met the next angel in my path. The lovely surgical recover nurse who had the job of getting me stabilized and back to the ward. With a surgery like this you have a lot bleeding so they need to slowly get your heart rate down and make sure all vitals are ok. Again juggling the myriad of stuff I have makes these things a little tougher on the medical team as it’s a tightrope of balancing but I had the best at hand I am thrilled to report.

I was very sore at this stage and thank goodness there were some great drugs on hand to take care of that little inconvenience as I then had to have some rather unpleasant plugs taken out and boy oh boy did the battle of blood river begin.

My lovely nurse however had such a great sense of humour that we both had a good laugh and got through it and I headed out of recovery looking a bit like a boxer but at ease and confident that I had truly been held , cared for and treated with complete professionalism.

When I got to my room waiting for me was my amazing mom and step sister with concerned yet relieved faces. They had been sitting waiting for 3 hours so I can only imagine how tough that must’ve have been for them. My other sister and brother who both had to work had been checking in constantly too throughout the day.

I was pretty drugged up at that time but all my OCD clean me wanted was out of the surgical gown into a shower and into a clean bed. Which was exactly what this stubborn headed being did, however for once I just let people help me.

One of my many little quirks in life is I MUST be clean! It is just how it is and that is not ever gonna change. My mom and step sister then let all my lovely friends and family know I was out of the woods and helped me to get the much needed ice packs onto my face and me into my bed.

I hit one challenge when coughed and started hemorrhaging which was pretty scary as it was pretty full on and we all got a fright but then my next angel in the form of my night nurse Mobi came to the rescue he got it under control and explained that we would probably have a few of these through the night but that he has me covered.

So after this rather long winded blog tonight I just wanted to say that Gratitude has been my greatest teaching today.

That the knowledge of how utterly blessed I am in my life has been shown to me at every turn and that kindness, care and love has surrounded me throughout the day. I end my night tonight at peace and with full confidence that I am a very very blessed human being and I am so thankful to every single person who helped me get through this day.

Tomorrow when you start your day and feel challenged in any way, all I can recommend is TRY to find whatever it is you can to be grateful for. It really does make a difference to the impact you have on the world.

Connection the Greatest Gift

Today I woke up extremely anxious and nervous about my impending surgery. But within minutes I was reminded by Great Spirit how utterly blessed and loved I am.

In this day and age we spend a lot of time NOT being physically connected with people due to how busy and cluttered our lives are. That being said the fact that we can connect with people all over the world through technology, FaceTime, Skype, What’s App, Facebook and of course Instagram means that people who are far away can at least touch base and be as present as possible in that moment.

I still believe that there is so much need for people to not be lazy and slip into thinking they are connecting by simply watching social media and seeing what’s going on their lives and assuming by doing that people know you are thinking of them. It’s a habit we have all slipped into at times and can be part of the reason that a lot of folk only portray the best version of their lives on these platforms.

Today however through reaching people on a real level and discussing my anxiety over what I am facing daily and the complexes I encounter with my body, I have discovered how many people really are in need of connection. They need to hear it’s ok to be sad or pissed off or scared.

Thank you to every single special person who has reached out, checked in, brought me healthy snacks, delivered flowers and given me hugs and love. I feel utterly blessed to know that you all have me in your prayers and hearts today and am definitely a lot less anxious for my day ahead.

So today as you start your day think about who maybe be going through something, who may need a hug and who might just need to know you care and reach out and connect with them. Love really does make the world go round and it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

Bring it on Baby Shark!

When you live with chronic illness and constant pain sometimes you find yourself looking deeply into searching for the lighter side of stuff and sometimes it’s just bloody hard.

Today was one of the days where I felt like I literally needed a bulldozer to dig deep. Yes I do always find the light and always will prevail with a positive outlook and will slap on my tap shoes and dance into the experience , but I also can’t and won’t pretend that somedays I get truly pissed off.

The journey of the illusive unrealiable sandshark vein raised its head again today and now I sit waiting for the next episode of “Hunt for the Red October”

Tonight I could not throw on some of my trusty tunes as to add insult to injury my computer decided to have an asshole collapse and go on strike and smack bang bandy koot went my internal hard drive. I mean come on REALLY!

My barrage of scans and tests today have uncovered a rather inconvenient mass in the top of my sinuses which now has to be removed. The toxic little shit is causing the challenge with my lungs and is all very annoying as it must now go.

On a serious note this is all a bit terrifying for me as I have a complicated case with weird infections so surgeries are not a walk in the park for me and come with a substantial amount of discussion and consideration between my team of ologists. (As I call the incredible team of doctors I am blessed to have)

So the journey to find humour in the situation began. What is it that I can do not to get sucked into the abyss of woe is me and why me and all that shit. Well I found the solution! I decided to tap into something that brought me great joy and lots of laughter during my past trip to china and that was “Baby Shark”. It seemed fitting to use the little cartoon song that was our anthem on the daily bus trips with little Koa King to each competition day at world champs to entertain him on the bus.

You see there is always somewhere to go with your mind to create the distraction you need and replace the dark scary moments with light uplifting ones. It really is the only way to get though the tough days. So now as I wait for them to put up the next drip I have my friends kindle playing Baby Shark and am laughing my head off thinking back to great nostalgic moments with special peeps.

So in those moments of your day when it all gets the better of you always try to find the humour even if you need a bulldozer. Bring in the joy and anything becomes manageable!

Music my trusty companion

Music is such a great blessing in the world. I don’t know about you but I always find there’s a song or a soundtrack for most situations. I have a collection of playlists that have a range of names for the mood I am in. My mates often laugh at what I name them but to this human being it all makes complete sense.

Today was another rather challenging day of interesting moments in hospital as I was engaging in what I call “The hunt for the Red October” or operation find a vein. I swear my veins are a bit like sand sharks they see a needle coming and they are like nope I am out of here. And they literally flatten and go into hiding.

This of course is not helpful when the docs are trying desperately to get meds into me to help open up my lungs. While it’s incredibly painful for me, I am kinda used it but I do feel for the poor nurses who have to try find the vein.

Today I thought I was just gonna plug in my earphones and listen to some great Rock music while they prodded and poked in search of the illusive vein. It was comforting to be listening with my eyes closed to one of my old favourites “Dolphins Cry” as they struck gold.

I did chuckle to myself as I opened my eyes to see the nurse having a giggle as during the process I had clearly been singing the song with a very raspy voice throughout the process.

So next time you feeling a bit overwhelmed or that something is more than you can handle, I recommend popping your earphones in and singing at the top of your voice! Why not turn an unpleasant situation into a laugh. I know it certainly made it a lot easier for me.

Embracing my Reality

Over the last 9’years since my diagnosis I have been down the path of research and discovery of every diet, treatment and “miracle” pill on the market in the hope to find some relief to the Chronic pain. I have even tapped into literature and techniques that work with Re channelling my brain wiring to get my pain receptors to communicate again and send my body the right messages.

Living with chronic pain and constant infections and illness is not something I find easy to do. Being a type A personality who likes to be in control of all things in my life this I must say has been my greatest challenge. The complete lack of control. I must admit however it has also been the greatest blessing as you learn to simply be in what I call the “Is-ness”.

The “Is-ness” is just that allowing yourself to be in what space you are in completely consciously. Part of doing this is when I am in excruciating pain instead of my normal habit of becoming angry and frustrated and basically pissed off, I simply greet the pain and welcome it in. I allow myself to feel it instead of fight it. I give it space to be what it needs to be in that moment. I don’t go into victim mode or woe is me mode as that honestly just annoys me further.

I have found that since I started working with this process and embracing and understanding the wiring of my body more, I understand how to deal with the pain better.

I have also learnt that unless you live with Auto Immune Diseases and Chronic Illnesses you just can’t rationalize what it means or the constant challenges that come with it.

I have discovered that there are two kinds of people in my life. The friends who have taken the time to try and understand it and who consciously realize that I have a disease that means I am often ill and often with the most insane left of centre infections and illnesses and they do their best to supportive. Then I have the friends who just simply don’t get it and make comments like “Are you sick AGAIN”.

Those comments I must say at times have been like red rag to a bull for me as I certainly don’t wish to be sick AGAIN and as irritating as it is for them I wish they could realise how irritating it is for me. That said I have reached a stage in this truly interesting journey I am on of acceptance. Acceptance of what will be will be with my health and that each person in my life is trying to understand it in the best way they can.

The last 18 days for me have been rather a missmash of emotions and a bit of an emotional roller coaster as struggling to breathe is one of the toughest things. One of the things that I get often due to my immune system is chest infections and pneumonia pretty quickly.

It’s one of my toughest things to work with as you feel claustrophobic and exhausted all at the same time. You have moments where you feel like screaming and shouting and having a good cry and then you just pray for sleep as you are just SO tired.

I normally try barter a deal with my Pulminologist to rather treat it at home as then I get to be in my happy place with my pooches, but I have learnt when I can’t do it on my own and need to come and be cared for. That again is a massive hurdle that I have overcome and I wish to acknowledge and honour myself for. I can be one stubborn cookie.

How I have changed the way I look at things has helped me to prepare myself better for these moments. I now know that in order for me to not lose my mind completely I need to just bring the stuff I need with to make the stay less annoying. I bring my own special pillows, my laptop (Netflix binge essential), my journal and my meditation music. Each of these simple things help me to pass the time better and distract me from then pain and frustration.

Everything we do in life is about how we look at it and how we give it perspective. I know that for now I just need to surrender to the treatment and allow my body to heal and that anger and frustration will not in any way help me to achieve that result.

So as you start your day today do so as the best version of you. Do it in a way that honors how you feel and what you personally need. Every day that will be different but as my Native American Teacher always says “Everything is exactly as it should be right now”

Energy Flows where Attention Goes!

Today I woke up after a truly tough night of coughing and struggling to breathe. The feeling of claustrophobia is terrifying and when you can’t get oxygen in it’s a real leveller. While I was struggling last night to get the air in, it made me so aware of how much we take for granted the greatest blessings in our life.

Air is essential to life of all forms on this planet and currently our irresponsible behaviour as human beings has put a lot of our much needed air at risk and filled it with pollution through our pure unconscious consumerism and excess production of “STUFF”.

It’s easy to point fingers play the blame game, however it’s actually easier to just do something about it and become the change you wish to see in the world.

I find that people are often daunted by the constant negative messaging about our climate, pollution, water shortages and natural disasters occurring. They go into anger and wars and debates and fear when actually all they need to do is play their part in making the change we need.

Change is an amazing thing , all you need to is become more responsible about how you consume, what packaging you use and how you recycle, up-cycle and dispose of your waste.

You need to be mindful of how you use your power and water efficiently. It’s not a bad thing that in Cape Town we have been tested by the water restrictions like we have. It’s a blessing as it has given us so much more knowledge and has made us resourceful and creative in how we consume. Well I can say it has for me and a lot of the people I choose to spend my time with.

We now have another challenge with power heading our way. Again we can blame and freak out corruption and the way this is all the governments fault, OR we can take it as another opportunity to grow and get prepared for the challenge. I personally choose to take it as an opportunity to learn more about power efficiency and how I can be part of the solution. Knowledge in life is a blessing and I choose to fill my time learning as much as I can so that I can be part of the change we seek.

There is a lot of awakening and focus in the world now on what we need to heal and fix our earth, our planet. The reality we really need to start with ourselves first. Start the changes there by becoming empowered and do the research, grow your mind and awareness so that you can step out of the fear based energy. The reality is that where Focus goes Energy flows. You have the beautiful choice to continue fear based reality or you can choose to shift your focus. It really is that simple.

Going with the Flow

Growing up I was blessed with a Mom who always said if you don’t let it go it doesn’t flow. The last 9 years of my life have been some of the most challenging years for my Health I have experienced. However I must say in the same breathe they have been the most rewarding years for personal growth I have ever had.

Being diagnosed with a myriad of autoimmune diseases and their constant challenges has been a true test of resilience and determination. I have moments where the pain and infections feel bigger than me and become all consuming. I however have worked hard not to let these moments define me or allow me to slip into victim mode.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not in any way a saint or some brilliant guru who easily is able to simply surrender and release to the process but I am getting a lot better at it over the years. There are some days where I feel completely pissed off and emotionally drained. It is on those days that I find myself digging the deepest into my faith and connection to Great Spirit and reminding my self that I am simply a Spiritual being having a human experience.

I know that there are a lot of folk who don’t get that part of my journey. Especially my Atheist or agnostic friends. And that’s ok really. You see the greatest part of being human and our greatest blessing in life is the right to choice and to believe what reasonates with us individually.

I truly do pray for the day that people in this world come to terms with acceptance and non judgment. This world desperately needs a bit of that. To sit in this place is to sit in complete acceptance of yourself and where you stand in the world. It is a place of complete self love and understanding and that is the foundation to a peaceful loving world.

If each and everyone of us could simply be in the “is ness” and accept that we were designed as humans to choose what made our souls smile and how we experience the world, we may stop trying to convince one another that “OUR” way is the right or only way and simply accept that what works for me may not work for you and that’s ok. It just is.

Over the last 18 days I have been challenged with a combination of excruciating infections. It started in my teeth, spread to my jaw, eye, ear, sinus and then the dreaded lungs! When these infections land up in my lungs it pretty quickly turns to pneumonia and that is never fun. It’s exhausting and it can really make me mad.

To be ill during the “festive” season definitely has allowed me to unpack a lot of how I have been using my energy and focus of late. It has given me quiet time to reflect on what and who I choose to move forward with into 2019 which in essence is a great blessing.

We as humans use SO much time and energy focusing on being what we think is needed of us by the guidelines set up through society and beliefs systems.

We consume media at a rapid rate daily as advertisers now specifically send targeted advertising to plug into our habits and algorithms. And so often we buy into the “guided and manipulatated” messaging thinking we need whatever they are selling us.

The reality however is that what we really need is more down time, more quality time, more self investment time. When you get ill a lot like I do you gain substantial insight into what it is you truly NEED in life. You connect with the people and things that add value to your world. The rest is just noise and drains your valuable energy.

So this year as I sit here in my hospital bed for the first time in 2019 I reflect on what I shall be focusing on for the year. I am mindful of where focus goes energy flows and with that in mind I am leaving behind all those things and people that drain me and am embracing all those things and people that I have a mutual, healthy energy exchange with.

I ask you to take the time out and do the same for yourself. Ask yourself if you are happy and If you are doing what makes your soul smile. And if not work out what will make your soul smile and take small (or big) changes to bring this into your reality.

Magnificent Hong Kong

I have never really thought about Hong Kong as a destination to travel to and I don’t know that I would ever have booked to come to here if I had not been heading via Hong Kong to the ISA World Championships and have good mates from South Africa living here.

I must however say I am thrilled I got to come to Hong Kong and highly recommend it to anyone considering visiting it. They say that New York is the city they never sleeps but I must say I recon Hong Kong may just be that City.

What is truly incredible about this City is the amazing Topography of the area. It is an eclectic combination of green lush jungle and City Skyscrapers.

With 300 kilometers of dedicated hiking trails, you can find everything from paved walking paths through lush forest to rugged mountain-top trails and hikes that will take you from one remote village to the next.

You can hike to beautiful stretches of lonely beaches, or find trails overlooking the forest of high-rises that dominates Central Hong Kong. I managed to get a fun early morning walk in with my mates along the scenic Victoria Peak and watched the sun come up over the beautiful city.

I was truly blessed to be able to stay with friends who have been living and working here for 5 years and they took time off to show me the city they call home. From a scenic drive to Shek O beach to a tram ride through Central and a MTR (Mass Transport Railway) ride under the sea from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, I truly got to experience a combination of what Hong Kong has to offer.

Hong Kong has over 9000 High Rise building in the City with 350 of them reach 150 meters high. The total built-up height (combined heights) of these skyscrapers is approximately 333.8 km (207 mi), making Hong Kong the world’s tallest urban agglomeration. Hong Kong has more inhabitants living at the 15th floor or higher, and more buildings of at least 100 m (328 ft) and 150 m (492 ft) height, than any other city in the world.

I was also treated to great gastronomic experiences throughout Hong Kong during my stay. Being someone who loves dim sim and Asian food I was in heaven with the selection of incredible cuisine available.

On my second night I was treated to the exquisite experience that is Hutong Restuarant. We enjoyed a 7 course set menu that was a combination of Northern Chinese flavour with a modern twist.

Part of this experience was being treated to a front seat view of the nightly Symphony of Lights. Each evening, 44 buildings on the shores of Victoria Harbour participate in A Symphony of Lights, a synchronized show named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest permanent light fixture in the world.

To sum up my experience of Hong Kong I would simply say utterly magnificent and truly surprising in every way. I loved the diversity and energy of the the city and the amazing scenery. A true gem that I would highly recommend visiting.

Thank you Hayden and Penny for sharing your beautiful home and city with me and giving me an utterly memorable experience.

Hard work and focus pays off

Today was another special day for the team and a testament to the commitment and training this team of athletes, coaches and management have put in.

Once again every member of the team put in their time and support to get behind the members participating and gave their all to deliver the best possible result.

Taking into consideration that each team member had to run fundraising campaigns to get to the worlds championships it really was an achievement to be here in the first place. Without the support of the SUP community, family, friends and the general public we would never have been able to do it. We really are truly grateful for the incredible support from everyone back home.

We unfortunately did not have a full team this year as we were short 1 Prone Paddle Board Women and 1 Long Distance Women due to funding challenges which all counts when it comes to Team points. That said South Africa still managed to move up 2 positions in the World rankings finishing 9th.

Every single Team member achieved amazing results and we are super proud to take home 3 medals for the country this year. Jadon Wessels got South Africa’s first medal when he got the copper medal in Prone Paddle-board Technical Racing, followed by Tarryn King getting the Gold Medal in the Women’s Sprint Racing and concluded by Jadon Wessels once again excelling and receiving a bronze medal in Prone Paddle-Board long distance.

Athlete Holly Henderson from Great Britain showed true sportsmanship by kindly lending Jadon her Prone board (Ruby) so that he could still compete when his board was held up in Hong Kong. This for any athlete can be their worst nightmare and thank goodness for athlete Holly and her Team Manager Dave.

Morning and evening bus trips to and from the venues were always filled with a combination of cheering laughter and a great vibe that we shared with our fellow athletes from Australia.

The ISA World Stand Up and Paddle-Board Championships has certainly been an experience to remember. I would also like to say that without our legend hostess @LeMeridian Shimei Beach Sally Su we would have been at a complete loss.

I know that each of us look forward to heading home in the morning and seeing all our family and friends. I shall stop off in Hong Kong for a small detour to see mates on route home but the rest of the team land in South Africa on Tuesday.