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My Jobless Life

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CREATIVITY

And life keeps moving on

So at the beginning of 2016 the resolution I made was to never be broke ever again in my whole life, ever. So I started a home-baking business which has been going very well. I also took up jogging because life is far more fun when you’re fit.

I have been supported in my business by my community in a way I really didn’t expect and I truly appreciate it, and for me this carries through one of my prior posts about the future of business. I really think business is going smaller and everything that is happening in my life right now is showing that it’s true. But then again, we make our thoughts our experience, so it is because of my belief that my life reflects my opinions as reality.

My objective of never being broke again might seem shallow and insignificant to the rest of the world, but I was heartily sick of wondering where the next buck would come from, so I decided to make a buck instead on wondering about it. It might be a self-serving goal, but it’s ensuring that many people enjoy some damn good baking at a very reasonable price.

Next time we meet I’ll tell you more about the jogging and how that’s going for me.

To all my blog friends out there, I hope 2016  is treating you as kindly is it’s treating me.

Love, Netta

 

 

 

 

Humans of the future

It’s a given that humanity will always grow and discover more over time. The general leaning is apparently that we will grow and discover more technologically, scientifically and even physiologically, but it doesn’t seem to me as if we apply that same thinking to our growth as people. The same humanitarian efforts, fund raising and establishment of organisations that are supposed to uplift humanity fall flat and seem to be less effective as we progress on our journey.
Are we still actively exploring what makes a human being tick or are happy with the definitions and understandings that we have come to thus far? It seems to me that what Freud and Jung and others of their time have been replaced by drugs that are meant to medicate us into being a certain way. We don’t pursue the understanding and knowledge of what we are with the same zeal as we do with things external to ourselves. Our understanding of our human nature and its challenges now lag centuries behind where we are technologically and even medically. We don’t understand these entities whom we are making smarter machines, better medicines, newer information for; no wonder these entities don’t become any happier or any more advanced by things that are meant to make them so.
To me there always seems to be one fatal error futuristic people make, ignoring the force of our inclination to be human. Humanity is an intangible thing, like instinct and emotions. We know it is there but you can’t bottle it and sell it at the shops, and because of that fact our materialistic society has been trained to ignore or downplay it existence and significance.

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I remember as a young girl watching programs like Star Trek and Buck Rogers that were all about how life would be in the future. I don’t remember the people on Star Trek ever sitting down to a meal, sleeping under nice soft blankets, playing with children or animals, chatting with each other or doing anything that was just too human to be exciting. I remember warp speed, being beamed from here to there, the crew meeting strange creatures and I especially remember Mr. Spock’s ears. I remember Buck Rogers doing some amazing things, but he never went home to just relax and see his family or friends like my father did. I remember movies or episodes of these space/future programes showing how we would pop a pill and all our nutritional needs would be met for a long period of time. I remember the holo-deck where you could go to any place or time you like, but everyone always went into the holo-deck alone. No shared experiences.
Today we have technology that makes Star Trek and Buck Rogers look ridiculously crude. The machines that we use in our daily lives are mind-blowing and I think only the really dull of mind fail to marvel at it. For us the marvelous has become common-place, and behind it all the human condition persists. Technological advances has not affected us as much as we thought it would. We still eat and we love food as much as we ever did. No pill is going to replace the awesome feel, smell and taste of food and I never foresee a time when it will. We still laugh, act silly and do stupid things, no matter how much we discover that is supposed to make us smarter or how easily accessible that information is. We will never become cold and technical creatures who only look at the facts and act rationally and sensibly. We enjoy our stupidity too much. We even employ people to create laughable situations when none occur naturally. Some of these people are called comedians, others are called politicians. We like silliness. No matter how wonderful a holo-deck there is, nothing will beat the experience of actually being there. We all see from a different perspective, our eyes are drawn to different things, we each remember our experiences our own way and having someone we care about sharing those experiences make them all the more vivid.
We understand so little about ourselves and I wonder why we are so disinterested or maybe distracted from doing research and development of the human entity to the extent that we focus on other areas. Is it because humanity cannot be quantified and broken down to a specific formula like mathematics, science and electronics? Maybe there is a formula or a system to humanity that we can find and use for our betterment but we haven’t been looking for it. Maybe there isn’t a formula and it is just chaos and random action, but who better to understand the chaos and randomness of being human than another human being?
Are we always going to react the way we do to the same situations? Will we always disappoint ourselves and fall short of our intentions? Will we always assume the worst about ourselves and be surprised when one of us perform a noble and caring act? Will we always need laws and rules and restrictions to protect ourselves from each other? Will we keep clinging to the definitions of humanity and how to manage it when those definitions have proven ineffective over and over again?
In one of my favourite movies, The Matrix, the machines that have taken over the world have managed to figure out what it is that would keep humanity happy enough for them to get the required amount of electricity from each in their vast human farms. Too idyllic a life and the human mind revolts, too hard a life with too little reward and the human turns on a kind of kill-switch in their body. A balance between sorrow and joy, and you get optimum performance. The film may also just be another flight of fantasy, but it holds up the hope of getting the optimum human formula right someday. The machines in the movie did it through trial and error before getting the perfect balance. We have millions of years of trials and errors, it’s about time we get down to synthesizing the right formula from all our experiments.
The technology and true science we need to expand on is that of being human. The concept excites me and it’s one of the things that keeps me hopeful about humanity, that somewhere in-between our silliness, eating, fighting, sleeping, chatting, working, loving we will stumble upon a clue and that clue will take us forward in leaps and bounds.
Who better to put a formula to the chaotic mess we are than our very human selves?

Black Souls in White Skins?

steve bikoThis is a title borrowed from Steve Biko, the father of black consciousness. In his piece he questions the assumptions white liberals made when dealing with black students in the organisations he was involved in those dry, hopeless, repressed and downright crazy years of apartheid in the 70’s. And in it he raises the question that always begs an answer in my mind as well. Is there something so inherently wrong with being black that we need white people to rectify us, civilise us, and educate us to be like them?

Many white people will tell you that they suffer discrimination too, and I can honestly say that when a black person hears that we think: Bullshit!

Such a statement goes out from the premise that a white person has any idea of the non-stop barrage of negative assumptions black people live under. It also says, in a very subtle way, that every time a person is judged as inferior or ostracised they are degraded to the level of a black person. Blackness being naturally inferior and deserving of ostracism.

I am always very wary of non-blacks trying to fight causes on behalf of black people. I treat them in a very circumspect way and never quite respond to their rah-rah bullshit about how badly black people are being treated. At the end of the day they go back to their big houses in the suburbs, with 2-3 cars, pools and dogs that eat gourmet kibble of the same cost as a black family’s weekly grocery budget. So like a good black person I just smile and listen, comment little and hit the delete button in my mind right after they leave. My head need not be filled with the prattle of people looking for an audience to their undeserved and often unappreciated privilege.

Then there are those who are fighting their own demons under the guise of empathising with the horrendous condition of being black. Because when you feel like shit about yourself you now know exactly how it feels to be black. Every time a black person sings they hear the pain in her voice, the suffering she had to go through, the hardship is palpable; her loving, happy upbringing notwithstanding. Being black is painful and the suffering they hear is not theirs, but hers of course. By siding with the lower level forms of humanity, masses of them to be sure, they have a big army and worthy cause to hide their insecurities behind.  Their questions about their worthiness and their issues of self-rejection couldn’t find a better home than with a group of unworthy people who face rejection as part of their daily existence. The perfect fit.

There are those smart white people who are quick to describe black people as illiterate and uninformed and form arrogant little theories about how black people can be educated to know all the wonderful things up to know destined only for the fair skinned. Never do they stop and ask if there is anything black people know that might enlighten whites. They know it all and you are a savage until you allow them to teach it all to you. They say that being a white woman is equal to being a black person. Blacks are thought of as dumb and incapable of complex intellectual functioning, so are women. Blacks are being paid less for the same work than whites, such is the case between white men and women. Blacks are often first to be picked and limited to performing servant-like tasks such as cleaning, housekeeping, child-rearing etc.; just like the white women of this world. Black are considered prone to responding emotionally rather than logically to situations, and women too. So being white woman whose husband thinks she doesn’t have to work, expect her to take care of her own home and children and don’t pay her as much as he does her male counterpart is equal to treating her like a black person. The poor, poor darling. How will she cope with all this free time while the real black people of world are busy in her house and garden and she only has to do the hard work of giving orders? We blacks really feel for her.

The rebels of the white world want to wipe their lily-hued behinds on the unfair advantage they grew up with by using darky slang and listening to rap music. They want to show up their mommies and daddies by consorting with undesirable types. They want to stand out, they want to be the only one. The only one in their circle who actually knows how to get to the nearest township. The only one of their friends who’s had a fling with a black chick. The one who says “Siyabonga, sisi”; the one white guy who spoke your language even though the language in your town is Tswana, not Zulu. They want to be the only white dude in a black crew. That will really give daddy some serious palpitations and have mommy panicking to calm him down while trying to untangle the huge knot in her expensive lingerie.

We know most white people smile to our faces and use derogatory terms to refer to us at home and with their friends. We know the best pranks are pulled on darkies. We know all the stupid jokes have either a Sipho or a Gatiep in them. We know that when there is a dirty bit of hard labour to be done us blacks spring to mind first. We know that you think singing and dancing are about the only things we do well besides everything you are too white for. The only people who are stupid enough to think all that escapes us are the ones doing it because they’re scared of being found out.

I can’t say I am 100% non-racist, the differences between races are too blatant for me to ignore. I do avoid anyone who wants to improve or change me for their own reasons. As stated before, such desires are based on a belief of inherent sub-humanness. I have some white friends, believe it or not. One of the most amazing people I have ever met is white and some of the people I like best and enjoy being with most are white too. I consider them my friends, a title not lightly given. They don’t try to make me into anything other than what I am. They accept that I might be looking at the world differently than they do and my viewpoint is no better or worse than theirs just because of the colour of my skin. They realise that I might just know more about being black than they do and that I never have and never will consider it a condition to be cured of.

Black people don’t feel inferior to whites or any other race, but we do feel black; because we are. We know however that being black earns us the label of inferiority in the minds of white people. There is a delicately nuanced distinction between feeling inferior and being treated as inferior. We suffer from the latter not the former. We love our black selves, ask any black you know. We don’t want to be rescued from being black. We don’t want to be civilised out of being black. We don’t want to educate away from being black. Black works for us; in ways no white person could ever imagine.

So a black soul in a white skin? I haven’t met one yet.

Naysayers & Dream killers

I recently had an incident that should have made me feel bad, it should have made me angry, it should have made me doubt myself, but I decided not to give in to the usual drama. I decided not to give the dream killers of the world the satisfaction of allowing their slights and jealousy to threaten the good thing I have going for myself.

When I say I want my life to live and not to answer to someone else’s agenda, people assume a lot about me. Some of it true, yet mostly they couldn’t fathom the pressure that comes with taking as much responsibility for your life as you can. People think that when I say that I don’t want a job because I don’t want to work, it must mean that I, childishly, only want to do what I like. The latter part would be the part that’s true. Yet, living life beyond other people’s definition of what it should be and having to draw meaning and purpose from yourself instead of a societal role, is damn hard and anything but childish

The naysayers of this world are also known as family and friends, well-meaning, but the worst kind of people to have around you when you decide not to conform.  They presume to know you, so family have already painted a picture of who you are and they will cling to that image stubbornly. What kind of love and care measures the image of who you think a person is as greater than who the person themselves desires to be? It’s easy to gather the criticisms, doubts and opposition of those closest to you under the heading ‘Love and concern’, but I don’t swallow it that easily anymore. I have 3 children and I don’t understand why I should stand in the way of their desires for their lives. I don’t understand that brand of love and care at all.

 

Family and friends are there to comfort you when things go wrong. They help you through the tough times and they encourage you in their own way. But people on the whole have a smaller dream planned for you than you have for yourself. The more dependent a person becomes on the support, opinions and approval of others the smaller your dreams have to be. Has no one ever wondered why so many success stories start out with dire family situations which the person has to rise above? I’m not discounting the value of close friends and family wholesale, but in some ways their love and support is an insidious motivation for failure or at least an unremarkable life.

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Those who are step above you, or at least feel that they are, I’ve found to be the best dream killers the world can produce. I seem to run into them all the time. They make the mistake everyone seems to make about everyone else, they think I want what they now have. Well, hello, how did you figure that one out? Dream killers have an intense desire to keep you beneath their station in life. When some people recognise your abilities they mostly do one of two things; or if they’re really slick, both. One they try to use it to their own benefit. Or they try to sabotage your progress to minimize or eliminate you as a threat.

Some dream killers don’t want you to have what they know they can’t. They have their ways and means of making you think you don’t have what it takes, but the truth is they’re talking about themselves. They are the ones who blatantly say that going after your dream is attempting to be superior to who you’re meant to be. They tell to you stop thinking you’re more intelligent than anyone else, when all you were thinking is that you’re intelligent. They ask why you hang around reading books from the library when you can have a secure job that pays slave wages. “Young women like you should be working; especially when you have children,” they say. They tell you to stop doing things that are meant for people much better than you, like being a writer. They try to guilt you into being as small as they are, anything else is hogging the limelight according to them. They’re also the first ones to start sucking up to you when they think you have bit of power or influence that could benefit them. They’re the ones who give medical diagnoses because someone in their family is a doctor. The very ones who told the doctor to become a mechanic or a plumber; the dream killers.

I’m not an adversarial person, I generally don’t get caught up in moaning about how difficult life is and how I need to be cut some slack. Yet, every so often one cannot help but conclude that some people seem to have a vested interest in seeing you fail. Some people appear to derive some strange pleasure from your misfortunes, especially if they’re the reason for those misfortunes.

I’m not one to waste much of my time on those who don’t like me, but it doesn’t mean I’m unaware of them or that my silence means they are getting the better of me. You don’t have to agree with me; just stand aside and do your own thing. You can be sure that I will be.

 

DON’T BE AFRAID OF GROWING SLOWLY

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The Harvest

I recently learnt a saying from a member of my blog family,

Be not afraid of growing slowly, only of standing still.

That’s where I am at now, I’m growing very slowly and many times a day I ask myself whether my efforts will ever give me the rewards I seek. What carries me through all these days of doubt is my garden. Gardeners are patient and persistent. We don’t give up, we keep going even when nothing appears to be happening. Especially then.

March 2015 - Finally tiny plants have appeared
The Journey Begins March 2015 – Finally tiny plants have appeared

I now think of my blogs as my little on-line gardens. I’m constantly digging, pulling out weeds, adding compost, mulching and definitely sowing seeds. I know that the quality of the crop depends entirely on soil preparation so I keep on doing what has to be done each day while getting little or no feedback. It’s ok, I know somewhere under the soil little roots are sprouting and coming to life. A gardener doesn’t get a day off and my tiny little plants ( blog posts) call for my attention daily. Even if no one else cares about them, I hear their tiny little voices.

Abundant Blooms: All the love and care makes little flowers grow
Abundant Blooms: All the love and care makes little flowers grow

I’ve committed the next 15 years to growing my own publishing company into life and I think of all the things I’m doing now as preparing the soil and selecting the crops I wish to plant. I’m in no hurry to see great things happen overnight, but I want to be prepared enough to cash in on favourable weather. What’s the use of having good rains when there’s no seed in the soil?

A Bumper Crop of the Finest Produce
A Bumper Crop of the Finest Produce

So when I get discouraged and when I feel like giving-up, I remember that my little on-line garden will only produce as long as I lavish it with care and attention. So I come back the next day and dig a little here, weed a little there, water carefully and fertilise as best I can and leave the rest to Nature and the World Wide Web

I’m positive that with each harvesting my little garden will give back more and more rewards and I in turn will give more love and care. Fifteen years is not that long, by then I should have a fully fledged farm.

About That Side Hustle…

If were sharing a cup of tea right now, I’d start off by saying:

So, I have to make ends meet right, but the plan doesn’t always go according to plan. So what’s the alternative? A side hustle, right? NO!

First of all I know hustlers and I hate being associated with that word. Hustlers can’t be relied on, they’re only as loyal as the amount of cash they can get right now. I’m not even talking about street hustlers, many people who call themselves entrepreneurs are just running an extended, constantly refreshed hustle.  A hustle has a very short life span, so hustles need to be re-invented every day. It leaves you nothing to build on. That’s not for me.

I know that many successful people got to where they are by working a job to pay the bills and pushing their dreams forward in their spare time. I’ve done that too many times in the past to be fooled by that again. I’m just not capable of looking in two directions at the same time. For me the main thing has got to be the main thing.

I’ve been a reporter for a local newspaper, I’m freelancing/subcontracting with a professional content producer right now and I belong to a citizen journalism group. I’ve got my blogs and books and they are the main thing. My side hustles are off-shoots of the main thing and I prefer it that way even if I don’t make much money from it now.

I’ve committed the next 15 years to make this work and I will not be distracted. I’m a creative person very skilled in various crafts and I have a 16 year career as a bookkeeper behind me, so I got skills. But like I tell everyone else who keeps advising me to get a side hustle, just stand aside and watch me do this.  This right here, is The One. I don’t have a back-up plan, I don’t have an emergency parachute, I’m doing this full-force.

Getting a job on the side says to me that I don’t trust in the process, it says that I am not fully committed. It says that I’m building a quick escape into my dream. The only side hustle I’m interested in is the one that enhances the main thing. I know that if I give my writing 100% of my energy and focus, something’s going to come off it. I just know. Nobody else has to believe in me, it’s ok. I believe in myself enough for all of us.

So about that office job. No thanks, been there.

About that bookkeeping service. No, never again.

Selling jewellery part-time. I’d love to, in a different life time.

Running some organisation.  I’m to disorganised for that, sorry.

Writing a report. Writing a letter. Writing a blog post. Writing your life story. Writing anything, anywhere, anytime. I’m there.

And if we were sharing a cup of tea right now, there had better be some cake too.

I KNOW WHAT I WANT TO WRITE

I want to write about who I’d be if I wasn’t me. I want to write about what I’d see if I didn’t stand where I do. I want to write about the pain I was dumb enough to miss out on, the pleasure I was smart enough to allow myself to feel. I want to write the lives I’m not going to get a chance to live this time around. I want to write that girl, I want to explain that man, that day, that moment when they just knew.

I don’t want to write boring dialogue of the “he-said, she-said” variety. Who the hell remembers conversations verbatim, anyway? I don’t care what colour the leaves were, I don’t want to know what time of day it was. I want to know how they felt, what they thought, how it lifted them, twisted them, broke them apart, and put them back together again.

I don’t care what his mother’s name was; fuck the back-story tell me the story playing out right now. Don’t tell me how her dress swishes around. Why should I care? Get me in her head. Let me see her heart. I want to get to know her better with the turning of every page. Who the hell is this woman? Why is she bothering me with her story?

Don’t give me big words, give me true words. Don’t give me adjectives, give me life. If he’s an asshole, tell me about it. If he’s a prince, prove it. Don’t give me twists in a plot, make me feel how fucked-up the world really can be. Make me believe that a happy ending might exist for me too.

I’m your closest confidant who’d never, ever tell on you. Live in these pages you create. Breathe here, love here, dream here, believe, question and learn here. Tell the story from your heart. Tell the story for real.

I know what I want to write, Netta. Don’t stand in my way.

Planned Procrastination

Having recently written between 3 and 4 thousand words per day doing product descriptions I definitely think that hovering between writing and running away from it both helps and hurts creativity.

I wanted to write those words because at the end of it all I could say, as I already did, I’d been writing thousands of words for weeks. I wanted the badge. I wanted to have a go at it. I wanted to rush to my laptop and start banging away like a professional. But I didn’t. It didn’t turn out that way.

I also felt overwhelmed when thinking how writing 200 words would leave a minimum of 2800 to go. I didn’t know whether my writing was good enough. Would they smile and say thank you, then edit with a heavy-duty chainsaw? Would I repeat myself and make my writing stale to the reader? Would my descriptions sell anything? I avoided my laptop because I didn’t want to be confronted by all the words I wasn’t writing. I was never going to get anything done, I just knew it. I would miss the deadline and mess up everything for everyone attached to the project. But I didn’t. It didn’t turn out that way.

In the end I made the deadline and got great feedback. I made it by loafing and working hard alternately. I walk a fine line between doing and thinking about doing. The doing would be pointless without time away. The thinking would be pointless without the act.

I have decided that I have a limit of 2000 words in me per day.  Two days spent writing 3000 deserves a day of writing nothing. Days of writing nothing at all should never follow each other. Planned procrastination works.

To create is great. To prepare to create, equally so.

Thinking as a Profession

A good window to stare through
A good window to stare through

As I child I could never quite explain what I wanted to be when I got older. Nothing really seemed good enough or interesting enough, but I knew there was something I was made for. If I had to put it into adult words now, I would say I want to Think for a living.

I wanted to know everything as a child. I remember looking at the covers of the stacks and stacks of books my father owned and wishing deeply to know what was on the inside. I taught myself how to read better English than that taught at school and set off on a journey to find the things my mind was hungry for.

I don’t remember many of the books I read as I child because I don’t think I need to. Those words, those stories, those ideas, journeys, fantasies are written on the inside of my skin and I take them with me wherever I go. So when you ask me about I about a book I own I might not always be able to give you an insightful answer. But I know that if you stare deeply into my eyes you’d see a page being turned each time I blink. I become my books.

There are only two things I believe I can do well enough to make the world a better place. One is being myself and the other is to Think. Thinking requires that all other things be put aside to focus on the Mind and I believe that every society needs those who do the Thinking. Thinking doesn’t produce many tangible results, and when ideas are your end-product the shelves in the shop will remain empty. The highest payment a Thinker receives is a remark like: “I’ve never thought of it like that”, when offering a new point of view. To apprehend an idea, however old or new it might be, is the work of those who are willing to be quiet, keep still and send homing pigeons into the realm of Mind.

I don’t need much to do my work well. Give me book, a comfy seat, a pen and paper and good window to stare through and it’s another productive day at the office.

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