It’s been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster for all of us, but definitely for me the past six months and hence the radio silence. I’m working on being better at expressing myself and posting more frequently. As such, subsequent posts will go into more detail about my depression, but give some context, in October 2021, I finally realized I’ve been living with depression for a couple of years. Depression has given me some beautiful gifts – one of which sparked a meaningful journey of self-discovery.
Part of that journey reconnected me with my purpose of expressing myself freely, without reservation or fear of “what others may say.” That’s not to say I’m absolving myself of responsibility to be intentional with my words or ignore how my words are received. As Retired Navy SEAL Rep. Dan Crenshaw says, “Try not to offend others – try even harder not to be offended.”
I’ve been struggling with this, but I believe intention is everything. My intention is about building community and getting people to think differently about how we feel about ourselves and how that impacts the world. To believe in our power to build community.
Honestly? I’m tired of constantly seeing division (especially being based in the USA now) and what irks me in most cases: the very thing people accuse others of is behavior they themselves demonstrate.
Seeing that has helped me constantly question my own shortcomings and blind spots. Do I treat others with the same respect I’m asking for? I’m doing my best, but I’m learning that being conscious of something tends to result in deeper thinking around what I say and do.
Ask – And Be Given An Opportunity to Practice
I’ll never forget this quote I read as a teenager:
When you pray to God and ask for patience, He doesn’t just give you patience – He gives you opportunities to practice patience.
I wish I knew the author to credit them.
We live in unprecedented times with extreme levels of stress. Stress doesn’t build character – it reveals it. Social media is a pressure cooker, and almost like a wild horse: it’s unpredictable and a little scary (can even harm us if we are not careful), but with patience and a willingness to understand, it has untold opportunities for us.
It’s the same old story of what we focus on is what we create. If you dispute that, give me a call – I have an entire year climbing a mountain with the sole purpose of building community around what we can do to prove it. I was only surrounded by incredible human beings that year.
My shortcomings have been a lack of confidence in my beliefs. Without faith in my own voice, I’ve relied on others to tell me how many words I should write, when to post, how frequently to post, and every other metric under the sun.
In December, it took an intense vision quest in Kaapsehoop to realize there’s nothing more powerful than speaking my truth in service of building community. The reality is it’s not the time of the message, but the message itself that’s important. I learned that when I posted for the first time on Facebook this past Saturday, sharing Rudy Van Dieman’s story of climbing Table Mountain every day in 2022 for his community in Mitchells Plain. Usually I would’ve tried to post at the “best” time and yet – it’s currently got a record 43 shares.
Coming to terms with realizing the power behind speaking my truth and being safe to do so, is obliterating my depression. My depression was caused by my inability to speak freely and feel comfortable telling you things like I’m very spiritual. I’m a round peg, and I’ve been adjusting my message to a square world – and the more I did that, the deeper I fell into depression. No more.
What can YOU take from this?
Start thinking about what inner desires you suppress and feel apprehensive about sharing with the world. Ever since I was a little boy, I felt different and unable to express how or why I felt different, and I became angry. So much so my parents bought me a punching bag to unleash the anger inside. Considering they were parenting in the ’80s without Google’s help – a phenomenal bit of intuitive parenting. Perhaps one of their most significant accomplishments in guiding me to become the man I am today.
I’ve been inactive, not just here, but on social media too. Purely because I’ve felt inept and devoid of anything worthwhile to say. Which fueled the depression in an out-of-control negative spiral. It’s as if I placed a ridiculous weight on my shoulders that I must become a sage to be of value, saying something new or coming up with revolutionary ideas to save mankind.
But we don’t need revolutionary ideas – we need people to stop living in fear and act in ways that respect themselves, others, and our beautiful planet. So simple – but oh not so easy. We’re all on a journey of exploration to understand how complex life is and embrace the sacredness of life.
Spirituality isn’t about being right – it’s about moving past the container of our mind to discover our soul’s potential in service to others.
There’s an excellent chance one of you may unsubscribe while reading this. But there’s also a good chance I might get an extra 2 subscribers by becoming more forthright. Perhaps 1,000. But that’s not important.
The point is, writing has nothing to do with how many subscribers I have – that’s just my ego demanding validation. The real value lies in living my truth and no longer suffocating my souls’ voice, which means I’d rather have 1 meaningful connection that creates change than 1 million shares and views. Case in point; what Rudy is currently doing for his community.
Where to from here?
As a South African living in the USA now, it’s abundantly clear what a phenomenal country South Africa is for one reason: The People.
Don’t believe me? Feel free to confirm with Jerry, President: North America, South Africa Tourism.
The number one reason tourists tick for enjoying their visit to South Africa is the people.
One of my plan with this platform and my voice are to learn more about and share South Africa’s rich stories of our resilience. THAT we have in abundance and need to start recognizing in each other and ourselves.
It’s easy to complain about what’s wrong. Heck, I even throw my hands up now and again – but I always have this little voice saying, “Yeah? So what are you going to do about it?”
Take action. Become a problem solver and figure it out – whatever it takes.
I believe we’ve been stripped of the belief in what we can achieve when we work together. We don’t need corporations or governments for tremendous change to occur. Imagine each person on earth deciding to never harm another person. A small commitment with untold worldwide repercussions.
Sooooooo – 2022 is shaping up to become one helluva ride. The question is: are you going to get into the driver’s seat? Or sit in the back?
It’s a hard pill to swallow – but my greatest teachers have all been times of challenge.
‘Challenge’ could be supplanted by the word ‘test’, and I like to think of life challenges as going to university. I chose my degree (life path) with specific classes (life lessons) and then teachers test my knowledge on those subjects at the end of each semester (challenges).
In life, the tests don’t come so ‘neatly’ though as I make choices affecting where I live, what I spend time doing, who I spend time with – all of which inform my thoughts helping shape ideas which ultimately inspire action – if they resonate with my highest values.
One of the most profound lines I ever read was:
When you pray for patience, God doesn’t just hand it to you, He gives you opportunities to practice it.
That means I can’t ask to be better without invoking the test associated with that. This profoundly shapes my mindset, instead of seeing wisdom as the ability to download information like Neo in the matrix – my skills are crafted through time and practice. There are no shortcuts in life and as Carl Jung so eloquently warned us: “Beware of unearned wisdom”
Wanting to be a better human being is noble – but am I prepared to do the work that makes that a reality? Am I prepared to journey into the underworld on a quest that tests my fortitude?
Understanding How my highest Values Inform my Actions
I’m drawn to reflect on any number of conferences, workshops and talks where experts share strategies and tips to be healthy. I’m struck by how simple all the strategies actually are. The wisdom is there – but nobody ever said simple meant easy.
I’ve come to learn an important (albeit simplistic) understanding: people who place a high value on health will invest time working on it.
The pursuit of happiness and a desire to feel fulfilled helped create a new metaphor recently: Follow my own treasure map, otherwise how can I be surprised when there’s no treasure because it’s already been picked up?
The real trick is to learn how to look inside and read my own map. What we can learn and teach each other are the key elements to follow through on our hero’s journey: Patience, Commitment, Discipline, Perseverance, and Confidence.
The ‘secret’ is making what we want a priority – and embracing the journey.
Look at the plethora of diets and exercise gurus selling ‘the next greatest pill/book/workout/diet/food/piece of exercise equipment’. After 22 years in the fitness world I’ve come across a handful of trustworthy people honestly laying it out from the beginning in simple terms: It takes hard work, discipline and consistency.
Being healthy and fit has always been a priority for me, so I make time for it. I’ve only just discovered that one of my driving forces is not ‘how successful can I be’ but rather ‘what am I capable of?’ – I’m now translating that physical knowledge into all the other areas of my life knowing my capabilities are limited only by how far I’m prepared to push myself.
Coupled with a deep curiosity about the gorgeous world we live in helps me say “yes” to things instead of “no.” Saying “yes” creates opportunities for new experiences and allows me to explore those capabilities.
All that culminated when I had the idea to climb Table Mountain every day for an entire year. I found my treasure map and if ever there was a challenge to face – THIS WAS IT!
Breaking Down Challenges into Core Components
I love solving problems because I enjoy figuring out the process of how to do things. Below is my attempt to break down challenges into their core components to see their benefits:
They’re Bigger than anything experienced before (if at all) – tests/reveals character.
Clear Problem – tests ability to solve and collaborate.
Time based – test resilience and perseverance.
All-encompassing and inescapable – requires mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual work.
Unlocks wisdom – tests true desire.
Challenge implies I will experience discomfort, requiring innovative solution-based thinking that uses my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual prowess within a certain time frame – the reward being a sense of accomplishment coupled with deeper understandings about life, relationships and who I am.
Let’s see how I can write that out using my yearly climb up Table Mountain expressed in a ‘formula’ of the core components:
Having never committed to anything remotely audacious as this, I had to commit to no days off climbing through all elements, testing my physical strength, my mental fortitude to persevere on the same route and maintain enthusiasm, my emotional strength to cope with no days off or respite, combined with the spiritual purpose to understand myself and how to build community around my beliefs and contribute to society. My reward was wisdom gained from committing whole-heartedly to self-belief and discovering a repeatable template of what I’m capable of. 366 days of experiences shaped into one deep profound realization: I’m supposed to be having fun along the way as much as I know I’ll feel at the end.
Filling each day with gratitude and searching for it’s uniqueness (even when doing the exact same thing every day) showed me how much beauty there is. Even in repetition.
My experience with COVID-19:
While initially it looked like a six week struggle, that’s turned into a year (and could possibly be longer before things return to some form of normalcy) The major challenges within it have been maintaining a healthy lifestyle while overcoming the mental challenges forced isolation brings with it (I’m fortunate though that I have Jessie to share it with). It’s testing my physicality to stay fit in unusual ways, mentally as I’m unable to build new relationships in a city I’ve just moved to, emotionally as I deal with the strain of isolation and conflicting news reports mashed in with the uncertainty of how much longer there is to go. The spiritual challenge is the deepest one, how to connect with others struggling in these times and build a community to empower those being devastated by the effects of lockdown. The reward is a shared humanity as we all reach the other side of a once in a 100-year event touching all seven billion of us. Hopefully we come out of it with a deeper sense of gratitude for what we have, an understanding of what and who is important to us, and a deeper knowing of how connected we all are and a renewed sense of vigor on strengthening our society.
Difference Between Selecting a Challenge – and Life Throwing us One
Two things stand out from the examples above:
Choosing a challenge gives the advantage of knowing how long it is.
Just because life throws a challenge we haven’t experienced before, doesn’t mean we don’t have the tools to face it. Past experiences provide a way to adapt our mindset on how to tackle the new one.
Mindset. A word I hear almost daily. What I don’t hear as often – is Heartset.
I believe they work in conjunction and just like a muscle at gym – can be trained.
Mindset is developing the skills to overcome the urge to give up, or surrender to challenges. Mindset is an opportunity in the good times to prepare for the bad times. We can build habits we know work during good times to mimic when we feel out of sorts. We can recognize that we are a coin with two sides that constantly flips from one side to the other. It’s how we manage each flip and absorb the lesson from each experience to grow and level up for the next challenge that lies in wait – and it’s always there. This governs what we can control mentally and physically.
Heartset is developing the ability to listen to our intuition, realizing that out inner guidance system speaks to us putting a spotlight on the correct path to follow – even when our rational mind or society says ‘no ways! You gotta go this way!’ It’s about developing a more compassionate approach to ourselves which will ultimately translate into how we engage with the world around us. This is the seat of our emotions and soul keeping us aligned with our highest purpose and values.
Next Question – So What?
It means there’s hope! We’ve all made it this far and instead of feeling overwhelmed we can take heart from our resiliency. It means we can take time to analyze our past to build templates of success for future challenges and if nothing else – know that whatever is thrown at us we’re capable of overcoming it. I don’t know if this template is helpful, but it’s a starting place to focus on what you have accomplished and overcome already.
I love the line We will never be given anything we can’t handle – that alone has helped me through some rough times.
It also means that the more challenges I seek out with the clear intention of discovering who I am and what I’m capable of – the better equipped I become for future challenges which I can’t stress enough – are always there.
Knowing they’re there waiting for us like a hurdle in a race isn’t any reason to get disheartened – it just means the better we train the better our race will be. More importantly, the better equipped we become to assist others fresh on their journey of self-discovery.
Next to the tragic loss of life, one of the most devastating things about COVID-19 is the separation. We’re not meant to endure challenges on our own. While we always need to do the work ourselves – of course – it doesn’t mean we have to do it alone.
Never underestimate the power your kind gesture has on the person receiving it.
Knowing what help you need takes self-reflection.
Asking for it takes courage.
Applying it builds wisdom.
Would you like to apply what you’ve just taken in? Has this been helpful? I’d love to hear from you – reach out and let’s set up a call (Click here) and see how to analyze the challenges you’ve experienced and better yet:
Create one that helps you discover what you’re really capable of.
I believe we have an opportunity to build one of the most powerful communities rooted in compassion, love, and perspective.
And that starts by building strong individuals – like you.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” – World Health Organization.
This post is challenging because I know how emotionally charged COVID-19 is, primarily due to the devastation felt by so many. It’s difficult to separate noise from the truth these days – so I listen to my gut as I evaluate what people say and how their actions speak to that. What does someone stand to gain from what they’re sharing? Is there any conflict of interest?
We’re over a year into the pandemic now – which allows us to examine data to remove uncertainty around ‘what ifs.’ This is critical to take emotion out of our thinking as we make informed decisions on how to move forward.
This article serves to expand the scope of understanding and alleviate any fear built up around this virus and ‘opening up.’
Setting the Stage with Context
I’m saddened by the breakdown of “trusted” sources incapable of exploring all the possibilities, especially with anything contrary to the main narrative of COVID-19. I admit, being at the epicenter in New York as it turned into a ghost of its usual self last year, I was gravely concerned. For loved ones, and humanity at large. It immediately spilled into my behavior, cleaning every item from the grocery store before packing it away.
At that stage with fear circulating about the potential death rate of COVID-19, my biggest fear grew: what about people living in shacks where social distancing isn’t an option?
As it stands, 2.9* million souls have died. That’s 2.9 million families, friends, colleagues, partners mourning a loved one. My deepest sympathies go out to each of them – especially as funerals and gatherings have been stripped from them too.
Death is deeply personal, painful, and tragic. Never in history has our mortality been forced onto our radar simultaneously around the world. In most western culture’s death is taboo, not spoken about, never mind thought of as part of our journey.
That’s another topic entirely – but necessary to put context into our fear currently.
I applaud everyone’s genuine concern and desire to reduce deaths; however, taking a meta-view around what the lockdowns are doing has created one wish:
Can the care we exhibit to save people’s lives, be equally shown for the quality of people’s lives?
Growing up in South Africa exposed me to the reality of poverty. It’s heartbreaking. The exposure has entrenched a deeper perspective to evaluate decisions made in society more broadly and to think about its impact.
This is where it starts getting a bit uncomfortable, maybe even heated for some. As it should! These are tough conversations to wrap our minds around, but it’s necessary to evaluate all sides, after all – isn’t that how we come to the best solutions?
Possibly the most sacred word that encapsulates this precious gift our experience on this gorgeous planet truly is. This interview comes from someone that values it deeply – I don’t feel the same from mainstream media or governments. Shouldn’t we gladly embrace anything (no matter how simple it may appear) that saves lives?
I do wonder whether the heightened fear-based reactions to this pandemic has a deeper meaning, is it less about dying – and rather the confrontation about how we’re living? What we’re notdoing with our life now?
The fear of a life unlived?
I certainly haven’t done everything I should’ve at this point in my life. I’m not immune to the human condition of failing to live up to my capabilities. Death is a reminder about why it’s necessary to work through blockages and live according to my beliefs and values. Knowing I will die – is why my focus is measuring how many people get an opportunity to use their life to express their talents?
I’ve always had a fatalistic view of life from as young as I can remember, but one traumatic event cemented this way of thinking.
At 23, armed robbers stormed the store I was working in and robbed us. I couldn’t help notice his hand holding the gun shaking.
The first accidental shot fires off – ricocheting off the floor into my colleague’s leg. Moments later, the second shot fires off – bouncing off the floor and passing through my trouser material, narrowly missing my leg.
Next, he raised the gun – I didn’t wait to see if it was aimed at my head. I lifted my arms and bowed my head in submission – waiting for the third gunshot, wondering where it could hit me and survive.
It never came.
I could just as easily have been killed that day.
That day showed me how little control I have over what happens to me, and I started saying ‘yes’ to life more than I said ‘no.’ That created 18 years’ worth of ‘bonus’ experiences: the opportunity to experience living in the U.K. and USA, live in major cities like London, Cape Town, San Francisco, and New York; countless friends made, love shared & found with my wife, beauty felt. Almost gone in one moment.
Building an Awareness around our Outrage
Since then, my journey has incrementally developed my understanding of the lack of equal opportunities in South Africa, and frankly, throughout the world. This brings me to my wish: the quality of people’s lives.
Why does this matter?
Well – I see rage and judgment expressed about masks but is that rage expressed about people living in poverty?
We need to be honest with ourselves – In February, at the peak of the pandemic, the daily deaths worldwide were 17,704 – compare that to 10,000 children dying from starvation every day.
25,000 if you include adults.
Please read that again.
UNICEF estimates an additional 130 million people threatened by starvation through lockdowns, with an additional 150 million people pushed into extreme poverty.
I understand why the outrage is unequal – if I don’t experience it, why would it be a priority?
The reality is we have as much inequality in outrage – as we do in wealth.
I have no issue with outrage – as long as it’s not just focused on what affects your privileges. It’s easy to be outraged when we have the bandwidth to contemplate it; most people impacted by the decisions being made have no bandwidth – they’re just trying to survive and feed their families.
We are not responsible for a human being’s suffering – but we can be part of the solution to change their life once today.
We mustn’t get bogged down in comparing life’s challenges – but being aware is essential to provide context to our outrage and think about what we choose to chastise others over publicly. Is [insert outrage topic] really the standards we should hold ourselves accountable to? I understand how complicated it is to teach children on Zoom – I’ve seen it. Yet there are families without books, never mind laptops, for their children to learn.
There are 1.6 billion children out of school because of worldwide lockdowns. I imagine the quality for the majority of children learning online dropped dramatically too. Having spoken to my friend that teaches – the quantity of work just to get by is staggering.
I wonder how many ‘thank yous’ they’ve received? If you’re reading this take this as my highest gratitude for your service.
I also have the utmost respect for parents juggling work, homeschooling, stress, emotions, partners, and more. I can understand, too, if parents’ outrage is fueled by having no bandwidth to process the current circumstances. Life is unbelievably complex at the moment.
It’s an unbelievably tough situation we find ourselves in; everyone deserves our respect as we collectively mourn the loss of loved ones.
Let’s start thinking about how we honor their memories and the sacrifice these souls have made going forward. It’s time for compassion.
How do we honor those that have died from COVID-19?
“Life is something much greater than human. Life is a gift. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of the loss, and get better at acknowledging the gain of a life well-lived. This was a person that loved, it’s a person that has created in their lifetime. ….. a state of being that is free of fear, let them be part of the message that this virus is trying to teach us. Let them know that it is not in vain, that we will learn from this, that we have taken too many steps away from our purpose, our real nature, our real potential. Let them know that they are part of the rise of consciousness on the planet and not the collapse of biology.
Yes, this disease is killing people. Yes, we want to protect as many people as possible – but there are alternatives that aren’t born from fear.
Let’s stop trying to box everything as right or wrong. We can simultaneously hold two opposing views: this virus creates suffering through death, and it causes suffering through lockdowns. There are over 40 million new jobless claims as thousands of small businesses close and people’s ability to earn a living is shattered.
The speed at which this virus spread across the world has shown us how connected we truly are – we can use that to spread positivity just as quickly.
Let’s break down lockdowns, asymptomatic spreading, and our own immune systemas a start.
If lockdowns worked – the truth is we wouldn’t be in this position today. A detailed open letter to the FBI has been put together from ten prominent figures regarding lockdowns’ validity (and criminality).
We are writing this letter to request that a federal investigation be commenced and/or expedited regarding the scientific debate on major policy decisions during the COVID-19 crisis. In the course of our work, we have identified issues of a potentially criminal nature and believe this investigation necessary to ensure the interests of the public have been properly represented by those promoting certain pandemic policies.
Evidence about the origin and historical precedent of lockdowns;
The scientific literature and debate behind them;
The provenance and quality of predominant COVID-19 testing protocols and models;
The motivations, biases, and qualifications of confident prominent lockdown supporters; and
The source of public-facing communications surrounding these policies.
Re lockdowns, they say:
“Not only are lockdowns historically unprecedented in response to any previous epidemic or pandemic in American history, but they are not so much as mentioned in recent guidance offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). Judge Stickman continues:
“Indeed, even for a ‘Very High Severity’ pandemic (defined as one comparable to the Spanish Flu), the guidelines provide only that ‘CDC recommends voluntary home isolation of ill persons,’ and ‘CDC might recommend voluntary home quarantine of exposed household members in areas where novel influenza circulates.’ This is a far, far cry from a statewide lockdown”
This begs the question as to why all governments have been so quick to implement this?
One of my biggest worries (and I imagine all of ours) was this notion that we could feel fine, have the virus, and spread it to loved ones and possibly those that are elderly or immune-compromised. Not only has this never been the case with any virus in history, but ALL the data ‘supporting’ this comes from China. No other country has been able to replicate this scientific analysis.
DATA ON CONSEQUENCES OF LOCKDOWNS
“Data from the website yelp.com has shown that over 60% of business closures during the COVID-19 crisis are now permanent, amounting to more than 97,000 businesses lost in the U.S. Nearly half of black-owned small businesses have been wiped out. Unemployment in the United States reached as high as 14.7% and highways jammed with thousands of vehicles awaiting their turn at food banks. Nearly 5% of the United Kingdom population went hungry during the first three weeks of lockdown.”
If governments are so concerned about helping minorities – enforcing prolonged lockdowns is clearly counterintuitive.
INCREASE IN SUICIDE
“In Japan, government statistics show suicide claimed more lives in October than Covid-19 has over the entire year to date.
And, despite being at virtually no risk from COVID-19, as a result of lockdowns, children have suffered the most of all. Nearly one in four children living under COVID-19 lockdowns, social restrictions, and school closures are dealing with feelings of anxiety, with many at risk of lasting psychological distress. In recent surveys of children and parents in the U.S., Germany, Finland, Spain, and the U.K. by Save the Children, up to 65% of the children struggled with feelings of isolation.
Children’s health and intellectual development have regressed.”
We are going to have to work very hard with our youth to manage their mental well-being.
Their conclusion finishes with a chilling understanding about why we all go along with it:
“For the general public, the idea that anyone might accept some outside incentive to support such devastating policies while knowing them to be ineffective — needlessly bankrupting millions of families and depriving millions of children of education and food — is, quite simply, too dark. Thus, the public supports lockdowns because the alternative — that they might have been implemented without good cause — is a possibility too evil for most to contemplate. But those who know history know that others with superficially excellent credentials have done even worse for even less.”
This is why it’s incumbent of us to speak up and share these facts with people still scared by a narrative that stands behind ‘back the science’ – but has failed to provide a report what that science is as this.
I am not a medical doctor. In no way am I giving medical advice – I’m a concerned citizen who researches this information to share. It’s for you to ask your doctor and make your own decision.
I posted the link to the video on Vitamin C and how anything on Facebook or YouTube related to natural remedies was hidden, suppressed, censored. Why?
Why would something cheap, easy to do, and SAVES LIVES be suppressed like this??
Sadly, the main driver looks like money. What has a more significant margin – a vaccine or a box of vitamin C?
$40 for a new vaccine that hasn’t been tested against all strains, OR
$20 for 250 doses of immune support? (a daily cost of 8c)
One is man-made – the other produced by all animals naturally as a defense mechanism. Even though we lived in the epicenter in New York for a couple months, I was never fearful. I believe in the power of our immune system – after all, ours is the product of thousands of years of evolution, tweaking, adapting, and allowing the human race to still be around.
So why isn’t there a focus on the impact lifestyle has on our immune system?
I only know about this because I benefitted from my formative years being a wasteland of infections: whooping cough, mumps (which took the last of my hearing in my left ear), tonsilitis, ear infections by the dozen, chickenpox – all cast indescribable trauma on my parents spending endless days and nights worrying about me in hospital. In a heartbreaking moment enduring another whooping cough episode, I declared, ‘I don’t want to be Andrew anymore.’ I can’t imagine what that did to my parents.
Little did I know this was my immune systems Navy SEAL training to become an elite force against infections. I haven’t had a flu shot since leaving school – and might have had flu once?
Being Careful Doesn’t Make Me “Anti”
The vaccine story becomes even trickier because there are loads of factors to evaluate the risk factor. Age bracket; Health, pre-existing conditions, diet. the current number of deaths in my age group (the US only) is 0.04% – that’s without looking at any other health factors. If you have pre-existing conditions, are worried for your health or life, or in an age bracket where you feel concerned – I genuinely hope you’re able to be vaccinated soonest and feel comforted with added protection.
Again – I’m perplexed how much emphasis has been given to vaccines as THE support for our immune systems.
I understand why masks and vaccines have become people’s savior. Our immune system is complex, and also our responsibility to manage.
Society is only as strong as our weakest link. Imagine how different this past year would’ve been if we had a healthier population? There are many reasons for disease, and I hope a spotlight is shed on the importance of food being a source of medicine for our bodies. I’ve been saddened by the lack of communication in media and government about what people can do to strengthen their immune systems.
There’s a wonderful article by Harvard Medical School with 9 simple ways to build a healthy lifestyle that supports a robust immune system. There’s no silver bullet, and it’s up to each of us to decide what a healthy lifestyle looks like and means to us.
Worst of all: fear switches off the immune system.
It’s a fascinating evolutionary development. Think of your immune system as an army; when an army is at war, they need additional food and resources to defeat an enemy. That means whatever energy we have is dedicated to the effort of defeating them. Now imagine suffering from an infection and coming across a tiger. The body recognizes the tiger is a more immediate lethal threat, thus diverting all energy resources to the flight receptors (your legs, lungs, and heart) to speedily escape!
It can’t do both.
Engaging in endless hours of fear-driven media, YouTube or T.V, listening to how many new cases and deaths is the equivalent of coming across a tiger. We’re literally cutting off our own supply chain to the army designed to defeat the enemy. That’s like living in fear of being burgled and constantly leaving your front door wide open.
What we feed our minds, is as important as what we feed our bodies.
How do we build a more engaged, conscious community?
I hope understanding the complexity of health is the start.
Becoming armed with as many facts to remove emotional bias eliminates fear-based irrational responses. Commit to listening to all sides of a discussion with an open mind – like people at The Great Barrington Declaration, which say:
As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.
Coming from both the left and right and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health – leading to more significant excess mortality in years to come. The working class and younger members of society are carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.
My dad sent me a well-constructed video by actuaries articulating all these points. This was shared by a Biz news – one of the few media outlets with this assertion: their community’s intelligence should never be underestimated and they never overestimate their knowledge on a topic.
I love that. This is essentially what this article is all about.
Right on cue – YouTube has taken down the video citing “….removed for violating Community Guidelines” – utter RUBBISH. Thankfully, PANDA has a backup so you can visit their website (Pandemic – Data & Analytics) and see what they’re doing for yourself and peek behind the curtain of the digital dystopia YouTube are busy creating through censorship.
PANDA’s response to being de-platformed is
“After half a million views, an outpouring of emotional positive responses, no complaints about veracity & 100 likes for every dislike, BizNews presentation, “The Ugly Truth about the COVID-19 Lockdowns” was de-platformed by YouTube.”
These are reputable sources providing facts and data to support their position. It’s worth taking the time to investigate them all.
The most impactful word I heard Nick Hudson use in his presentation succinctly captures the fear being generated:
Homosapienophobia – everyone is dangerous until proven healthy.
I am glad to confirm that asymptomatic (otherwise known as healthy people) cannot spread the virus.
I am not dismissing the disease or the deaths – simply that the methods being used are not based on reality and are doing severe damage. We can no longer ignore the other side of this coin.
How do we move forward?
With compassion. Towards everyone.
Share this information with as many people as possible to reduce the amount of unnecessary fear being circulated. There’s a reason for concern; yes. Concern is healthy – fear is excessive and detrimental.
Lift all Covid-19 specific restrictions and mandates
Offer protection to vulnerable individuals
End mass testing, contact tracing, quarantining, and lockdowns
Ensure public transparency of all efficacy and safety data of vaccines
Reassert open scientific debate and freedom of speech, opinion, and choice.
This will ease the pressure, but by no means relieve it.
Next, we need to ramp up how we think about building our communities again, incorporating the quality of people’s lives as a priority.
Evaluate our Health
We need to share as many podcasts and information about our micro gut biome (Dr. Zach Bush talks about it but check out his website too!) Spend time learning about how food can fuel and nourish your body to naturally assist your immunity. Watch that Vitamin C discussion!
Get Fit & Build Community at the same time.
Let’s honor the lives lost in the best possible way – and work together to build ubuntu into every act we take moving forward. I’ve created the 50in50 challenge to stay fit, challenge my mind, and build community by raising funds for education and housing – I’m nine weeks in. It has two aspects:
Recreate each American State’s outline using my sports tracker,
Climb the equivalent of every state’s elevation by the end – roughly 365 Empire State buildings, an average of nearly 2km of vertical climbing (1,2 miles) every Saturday morning.
This isn’t about how much – it’s about participating and getting support in the process. If you think the numbers above are out of reach – note that I started with 103 flights a year ago (44 minutes) creating a 12-week plan to incrementally built up my fitness, taking a further eight weeks to reach 660 flights (my current capabilities). We’re talking about building a healthy sustainable lifestyle.
It’s not about how much we do – it’s about committing to building the practice. Pledge to join whenever your state comes up (see list for each week below) while using it as a way to invite people to make investments in building communities again. No amount is too small and there’s strength in numbers, after all – for someone with nothing, our something – means everything.
All while creating a healthy lifestyle that contributes to a robust immune system.
I’m committed to demonstrating there are no quick fixes, but we can develop sustainable healthy habitats filled with purpose aligned to our true values. We can create a world where we grow and use resources to support those without hope and opportunity with a hand up. Who’s with me?
Please share with someone you know is feeling overwhelmed by everything, and if that’s you – reach out to me and let’s chat.
Covids new world has forced me to go within. Usually when I’m faced with uncertainty my first instinct is to examine my past and explore learning’s that helped me get to where I am. I’m accustomed to sitting at the feet of my most painful moments and learn.
“Never” immediately jumps out at me. I’ve had three massive ‘nevers’ that all turned into life altering experiences.
I’m NEVER going to live in London…I’m NEVER going to live in Cape Town…I’m absolutely NEVER going to live in the USA…
The universe heard me and yelled ‘hold my beer’.
The very things I denounced – wrote off even – became my greatest teachers, ushering in a host of memories to last lifetimes.
These 3 ‘nevers’ have become core pillars in my life creating memories spanning 17 years. Things I never dreamed possible as a teenager; each one of them (if given the chance) would do again in a heartbeat.
Maybe you’re currently being poked with opportunities but ‘never’ is holding you back? Maybe this will help you rethink it.
Why would I want to leave South Africa’s perfect climate to live somewhere grey and miserable? I had zero desire to be like my cousins living in the UK, even though my gran is English giving me the opportunity to get an ancestral visa to live and work there for 5 years. My ‘never’ was based on limited knowledge – and yet I fiercely defended that I’d hate it.
Then my sister met Terence and I listened to his stories, in particular his travels around Europe.
Hmmmm – I did want to see Europe and earning £ not only trumps the Rand, but shaves 10 hours off a flight too!
Early in 2003 two months changed it all, I met a woman ‘fresh off the boat’ from the UK reinforcing Terence’s positive experiences immediately followed by my friend Jono deciding to move to London.
‘Why don’t you come across when you finish your degree? What do you have to lose?’
What did I have to lose?
This called for a weekend away in Mpumalanga driving four and a half hours to spend one night in an old train cabin. I loved long drives alone contemplating ‘the big life decisions’ of a 23 year old like this. The gorgeous scenery and music the perfect companions. Just quiet opportunity to experience my emotional reaction to this decision. Driving home I was leaning towards taking the leap, and the longer I thought about it my excitement grew.
‘I’m moving to London’
My two years not only turned me into a man, it built a bridge across the chasm ‘what if’ for all future instances.
‘Cape Town is where you go when you retire!’ I proclaimed nonchalantly.
Spoken like a true Joburger with zero experience of Cape Town. I lie – I spent a week there as a 10 year old. Fate introduced me to a woman from Cape Town while living in London. Suddenly it looked a whole lot more interesting than a retirement option. I didn’t want to be 80 years old in a rocking chair wondering ‘what if’… so once again I abandoned my ‘never’.
While that relationship ended painfully, the experience in a city with hardly any support revealed my inner strength and resilience.
13 years showed the value patience and time brings. Especially in building quality networks of friends. Cape Town is my spiritual home – with mountains, water and plenty of wine it has everything but skiing to be my perfect place on earth. Living in London made me think about what lifestyle I wanted to live. I thought I’d found it.
The iconic Table Mountain provided a life changing opportunity – it sparked an idea to become the first person to climb it every day for a year: testing me physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually. It also became a platform to raise money and awareness for housing, literacy and health. This experience became everything I needed to confront my self-doubt and understand what I’m capable of – all while creating a community around making a difference in others lives.
Cape Town taught me how to be patient while relentlessly creating a world of purpose and meaning, while in service to others – the essence of ‘Ubuntu’.
AND it led me to another treasure – my wife.
Having visited the US in 2013 for my dear friend’s wedding, I was able to tick my 3rd ‘must see’ city before I die: New York. (the others were Paris & Rome)
On this trip, while enamoured, felt no pull to ever emigrate to the US.
Enter Jessie in 2017 (then living in San Francisco) and after hitting it off, experienced her support for my climbs up Table Mountain all year (including 3 trips out totaling 2 months in South Africa) – learned first hand what her definition of commitment means through difficult times. It’s like voting between a politician that talks about what they’ll do – versus watching one with their sleeves rolled up doing what they say they’ll do.
Being in San Francisco with her and having opportunities to explore this incredible land has been mind blowing. Now we live in New York, with more opportunities to build networks to teach the power of ubuntu and the impact of following our intuition.
The US has shown me how global our village truly is, and that no matter our background – we all need help learning to navigate the challenges of life.
Why is ‘Never’ my most interesting teacher?
Never was a word I hid behind to avoid leaving my comfort zone.
17 years of memories and experiences from travel, friendships, work, personal growth, exercise, music, weather, world records, love, food, perspective, and cultures wouldn’t have happened by staying within my safety zone back in Johannesburg.
Never showed me what seems bad today, might be exactly what I need for beauty tomorrow.
I’ve stopped looking at things in isolation and search for the lessons instead. There are opportunities I cannot even fathom yet by being in New York – pandemic and lockdown aside – just being here creates avenues of potential I could only read about back in Cape Town.
Never has shown me the value in being present in my experience, but forward thinking enough to explore my challenge at a deeper level.
In a nutshell – behind ‘Never’ stands some of the greatest experiences of my life. If I listened to those nevers? I wouldn’t be the man I am today.
Those 17 years being pushed have taught me how much we need each other. I haven’t been able to accomplish anything without the support of others. Not everyone has the tools for deep introspection to really understand what drives them – and that’s why I’m grateful I studied numerology to provide those insights. It’s not the be all and end all; but from personal experience its acted as a tremendous rudder.
I interestingly came across this realisation from Rebel Wisdom in the UK on their website – We have to do the work ourselves, but we don’t have to do it alone.
They’ve arrived at their own version of an African proverb if you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
That’s Ubuntu right there.
No matter how much we think we progress, we keep coming back to ancient principles of togetherness. And that’s my next challenge: building a community of support. As we each journey inward re-imagining a new vision for our lives discovering what we’re capable of, we become living examples on how best to navigate the outside world in harmony with the planet – and each other.
Are you ready to discover what you’re made of? Why not start the conversation with the first person that comes to mind…
2021 is upon us and – no doubt – many think it hasn’t arrived soon enough.
I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve been through in 2020. My friend Astrid said it best; ‘We’re all in the same storm, we just have different boats’. Sums it up perfectly.
The new year brings with it optimism for new opportunities. A whopping 74% of Americans made resolutions. No surprise after the year we’ve had, 45.59% of the resolutions are improving health; while family as a category makes its debut with 24.7% (I also suspect due to the year we’ve had). I highly recommend reading Catherine Choi’s full article here which breaks down:
Resolutions by generations
Likelihood they’ll be achieved (broken down by segments above)
Reasons for not achieving them.
It’s a great summary.
A dose of Reality
On average, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. And only 8% will achieve them (Ref: www.thetimestribune.com)
So why is this still a thing?
I believe because we’ve been lied to. We’re told setting lofty goals is what will ‘change our lives’ (as if we need to wait until the new year starts too, to make that happen)
Stop waiting for a new year. Stop waiting for next week. Stop waiting for a better time.
Just. Stop. Waiting.
Without creating a clear understanding of what to do today, most attempts fail because the end point is made out to be the most important.
I’ll be happy when…. I’ll be successful when… I’ll be healthy when….(feel free to insert your relevant health, relationship, career, money, exercise goals appropriately)
My most valuable lesson learned while becoming the first person to climb Table Mountain every single day for a year:
The process ISthe goal. Fall in love with the process, and you’ll enjoy the process as much as reaching your goal.
If the goal is to lose weight – falling in love with a healthy lifestyle will create that as a natural by-product. Much like plants don’t aim to make oxygen – they just want to grow using their inputs sunshine, water and carbon dioxide.
Practical steps to turn NY resolutions into Daily actions
Firstly, one of the most debilitating ruts – is being sucked in by technology. I think we can all agree the lock-downs have worsened this. Whether endless scrolling on social media or binging Netflix and YouTube videos, we’re left feeling unsatisfied and drained. The scary thing is we’ve been purposefully sucked in by companies competing for our attention because we’ve become the commodity. One of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself is learning how to use my phone – instead of it using me.
Becoming intentional means knowing what my problem is and who can solve my problem – that’s where NourishX’s Digital Balanceonline course comes in. Taking me through a step-by-step approach highlighting what the issues are (most of which I didn’t even realise!) and then providing simple solutions to take back control of my phone and ultimately my time – is a game changer. It’s helping me build healthy habits to lose that sinking feeling in my stomach about not having enough hours in the day. Instead of distracted I now feel nourished.
One of their greatest tools is how they work with me to build the habit gradually, which brings me to the next important point:
Sustainability. If one word sticks out in this piece, I hope that’s it. Defined as being able to maintain at a certain rate or level.
Therein lies the key: maintain.
Designing a lifestyle that fulfills you and leaves you energised and full of purpose each day is the goal yes? By focusing on what we love and wish we did more of, will naturally improve how we feel.
Losing weight has a finite point; but then what? That is an infinite challenge, which explains how you can reach it and still be unhappy (or not as happy as you’d hoped) and then what? Step 1 is making sure we match an infinite challenge (mindset) with an infinite approach (actions).
It’s a simple concept. But who ever said simple was easy? Step 2 is having the awareness and deep introspection to understand what drives and engages us to pursue infinite actions. Another reality dose: Even when you know exactly what you love doing and pursue it – there will be challenges and it’s hard.
It’s why falling in love with the process is critical. Mindset trick: To keep that internal flame burning infinitely, start seeing challenges as fuel for the fire, instead of an anchor.
Create your perfect day which is sustainable as you move through life and grow. Building discipline with sustainable habits means you can progressively increase your effort.
Some questions I constantly use to help me:
What am I capable of?
What am I made of?
What are my philosophies that act as my guiding principles?
When do I want to be filled with joy, now or sometime in the future?
What did I learn from my last challenge?
Our life is a journey – fall in love with exploring your process today.
Final reality check: if you thought the answer to your problems lay at the end of this post, NOPE, this is the first step in building your awareness. Now you need to decide what lifestyle you want and start actively pursuing it every day injecting purpose into your actions and being relentless in your execution.
Take today to reflect on all the challenges you’ve overcome to make it this far. Doesn’t that fill you with pride? That same strength exists to tackle what sets your soul on fire. Now is the time to pursue that with passion and relentless energy.
Do you need help creating what that looks like? Reach out to me here and let’s chat.
Almost half the worlds population is under some form of ‘stay at home’ order. By definition, anytime we’re ‘forced’ to do something, it’s harder than if we’d chosen it. We do have a secret weapon though to defeat any obstacle in our path: the ability to learn.
Why not learn from the best then? Listening to an interview with retired Navy Seal Andy Stumpf recently, he shared some insights into Navy Seal training new to me. As trainee and trainer, he’s uniquely positioned to understand what it takes to make it through.
Navy Seal training or BUDs (Basic Underwater Demolition) is some of the most grueling in the world – it’s difficult to find definitive numbers but it looks like only 6% of men that enter this training complete it. Considering there’s only about a 3% difference in physical capabilities, there’s clearly something else that separates those that complete the training – from those that drop out.
I’m immediately drawn in by his humility as, while trying to make sense of the corona situation, he states:
‘I’m not an expert at all, uh – probably on anything in my life. But one thing I have experience in, is surviving and thriving in high risk situations with high stress… the most dangerous thing you can do, is lose control of your emotions or let your emotions take over your decision making cycle’
‘We need to start talking about we more than me’
That is the sentence that perked me up and primed me for the wisdom that followed.
Here are the 4 biggest lessons I took away from his chat
Focus on what’s in your control
The training’s designed to teach recruits to let go of things outside of their control and to focus on what’s within their control.
Things outside my control right now is the virus and government responses. Which is probably why you reading this at home. No real choice there; but we do have choice over how we decide to view staying at home.
‘I’m being forced to stay home’ versus ‘I can stay safe at home’ is a vastly different mindset.
Did you notice the title? I used ‘Sacred Seclusion’ instead of Lock down. Language is important and I loved that term I heard yesterday.
While at home we have the choice to consume 4000 extra calories or find innovative new ways to exercise at home. It’s easy to sit on the couch and watch movies all day, but it’s just as easy to choose to learn a new language, start researching how to build an online business – write that book you’ve always wanted to. It’s in your control.
I suggest using the time you’d normally commute to work as your time to build a new habit.
As Mandela lived – ‘use your time wisely, you have a limited time on earth’
PRO TIP: Break the ‘difficult’ goal into the simplest action it takes to start. The scary prospect of writing a whole book becomes easy when starting with ‘write a sentence’. Starting an exercise regime becomes ‘get dressed in active wear and do 1 sit up’.
2. Keep your world small
This resonated with me because it’s what I used to complete my challenge to climb Table Mountain in Cape Town every day for a year. I was forced to think of a way that didn’t overwhelm me. A whole year?? Yeah that can freak me out a bit. One day at a time – step by step? I can manage that.
Put yourself in the shoes of a student in BUDs. You’re in a constant world of pain with no idea of what’s coming next. I can only imagine how debilitating that must be when day one is hell – and there’s another 179 days ahead. You’re just trying to survive.
It was as an instructor that Andy saw the story arc of what was happening and why they did this – it’s a physical test for sure: but they’re using the body to test the mind.
When guys quit as a student they disappear. As an instructor he was able to question them.
‘Why? You said this was your lifelong goal it’s all you ever wanted to do. Why?’
‘I got overwhelmed’
They did the opposite of keeping their world small.
There’s two ways to look at BUDs: it’s 180 days; or a sunrise and a sunset – 180 times. Think about how quickly our world changed and how many weeks have passed already. At the time of writing this its April already. You can keep your mind strong by adopting this principle.
The ultimate test in BUD’s is ‘hell week’ and this is where that principle gets drilled down even further. Already four weeks into training, it starts on Sunday evening and ends Friday afternoon with only 2 hours sleep on Wednesday. Most guys who quit, do so before Tuesday.
‘Don’t look at it as five days. Just make it to your next meal – they have to feed you every six hours.’
Stacking six hours on another six hours and focusing on the next meal – no matter how much pain or cold you’re in – gets you to that next meal which is a reprieve and mental reset to continue.
Makes sacred seclusion look like Christmas every day!
Stressed, tired, hungry, hypothermia, exhaustion induced hallucinations – these extreme conditions allow the instructors to strip away all the layers of ego, revealing who has one important quality.
3. We over Me
This is tested immediately, everyone’s assigned a swim buddy you can’t be more than six feet away from at any time. Suddenly, you’re ordered ‘go swim!’ and forget about the buddy dashing off. That inevitably leads to being punished for leaving him behind and the buddy gets punished too.
They’re being taught there’s penalties for forgetting him and other people suffer consequences by the way you act.
Slowly but surely – two weeks builds ‘we’ and not me until it becomes ingrained. BUD’s is not about finding the fittest men alive; it’s about finding the ones that can work together as a team. You don’t want to be in the most high pressure stressed environment second guessing the person next to you.
Right now we’re in a ‘we instead of me’ training camp – only we’re separated in our homes. We’re seeing how important our own actions can be, when collectively done together. Imagine what other social challenges we can collectively tackle when combining forces like this? Some people want to put out petitions to government to open up alcohol sales again while others are turning their homes or businesses into factories to make protective gear for health care workers.
Do they feed the Navy Seals alcohol? Here’s another important component about staying home we must learn from them:
The BEST Me, Empowers We
I agree that the training is set up to ingrain a ‘We’ mentality – but the truth is it’s done in conjunction with developing the best me. They’re not mutually exclusive.
This is the philosophy I follow – How do I develop the best Me to serve We?
No matter how we feel – we’re all in this uncertain time together. Some only allowed to leave home for groceries. Some at home but allowed to move freely, some are terrifies about where their next meals coming from not being able to work but essentially our home has become our world. We’ve all just entered our own BUD’s training, except it’s not voluntary.
So what if you flip it round to pretend this is voluntary?
Next, let’s be positive expecting the best but preparing for the worst. Say this ‘home time’ lasts until June 30 – that’s 77 days away at the time of writing – or sunrise and sunset; 77 times. The days wrack up just as quickly whether we do something – or nothing.
Great news though – all you have to think about is today.
Meditation, Exercise, Learning, Researching, whatever your new habit. All it takes is a decision to start and incorporate it into your daily life. Then suddenly you’ll find yourself 22 days into a habit of meditating five minutes every day; exercising three weeks in a row – and feeling better equipped to handle stress.
Resilience is your ability to get bent and come back better than before. What a wonderful opportunity this is to apply that resilience to your goal from a digestible perspective – and you’ll be well on your way to achieve an insane amount.
Can you ignore the big and focus on the small? And not get overwhelmed no matter what the news says? The best you is exactly what We need.
4. Make it a Priority
A habit you prioritize is kept through consistency. Even the fittest Navy Seals can go off the rails once their service ends.
It’s far easier to build smaller daily consistent actions than try a couple big sessions a week. Just think about the reverse – we pick up weight at a rate unnoticeable because we slowly but surely do less and less, and eat more and more.
Our lifestyles pre coronavirus have been put under a microscope. We have the time now to objectively evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Then the plan we put in place should be for a sustainable lifestyle, so if you’re training during your usual commute to the office – don’t give it up when you start again. You’ve built the habit, now keep making it a priority.
While many of us will experience the pain of losing a loved one and cannot be ignored – the rest of us are being given the gift of using our homes as a cocoon.
Do you often feel dejected
because you know there’s something inside holding you back from living the life
you want? Maybe you just don’t feel good enough?
This past weekend I attended a
Tony Robbins’ immersion called ‘Unleash the Power Within’.
I’ve been a big fan and known about him for 20 years, but being in South Africa meant I was always on the other side of the world for his events.
Then I lived in London and he came! But timing was off as I had the pleasure of being visited by my parents for the first visit. Some of my housemates went and later I’d see them coming back with an ignited soul and eyes ablaze with passion.
That was 15 years ago; and how my
life has changed since.
Sounds like a long wait for his
transformative experience, but the value in my experiences leading up to the
past weekend are what made it deeply rewarding.
A tough few months
365 ubuntu climbs was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Achieving something that no one’s ever done was taxing both physically and mentally; with the equal reward upon completion.
Here’s the thing though, I thought
completing it would change old habits – specifically around not feeling good
I was wrong.
Feeling not good enough is like
thinking ‘I’ll be happy when…’ – it never arrives. You need to be happy now –
and I need to feel good enough now.
On my hill training after gym
today I realised something profound.
If you think achieving something monumental will give you confidence going forward – you already possess the strength to accomplish it. Which means its already inside you. The strength comes from INSIDE to finish the challenge – not suddenly rewarded at the end.
Which means no more excuses.
What does this have to do with Tony Robbins?
With 42 years experience and a PHD in results, there’s nowhere to hide
when he speaks to you. My girlfriend had gifted me a ticket and was right
alongside challenging her own inner monologues through the experience too.
By his own admission he’s not your guru. This is important because he’s creating a platform for sustainable change.
It’s not about what he says – its how he gets you to challenge the limiting beliefs that’d been holding you back.
Four days of intense twelve hour plus sessions with minimal breaks (if and) is specifically designed to push us beyond what we believe we can achieve. Day one ended with a fire walk across coals reaching temperatures of 1200° (Fahrenheit – about 600° Celsius)
I came into the event knowing we
were doing this. And even though as a South African that loves a braai
(barbeque for my international friends) I’ve never ever thought afterwards, ‘hey,
let’s throw these bad boys on the ground and do a quick fire walk’. With all
this knowledge, for some reason I wasn’t phased about it.
That was until Tony started getting real with us about what can happen if you lose focus and the injuries that have happened before. ‘About 1-1.5% of you will probably experience burns under your feet like a really bad sunburn and get blisters’
When presenting numbers, I know from
my corporate days to always use the bigger number (or in this case lesser) between
absolute numbers and percentages to convey your message.
1% doesn’t sound bad at all – but
80 to 120 people?? My stomach lets me
know apprehension has arrived.
My mind quickly darts to ‘what if
I get burned? Will my travel insurance cover fire walking??!!?’
I highly doubt it!
The voice of fear was desperately
trying to find a just reason to pull out.
But I didn’t come here to watch
others obliterate fear.
I’m here to let go of what no
longer serves me.
Walking on Fire
I believe I’ll be fine. I believe
Tony wouldn’t do this haphazardly (especially in a country where suing has
become a national sport)
No matter what – I’m doing this.
I listen intently to the instructions,
and visualise myself at the other end of the walk exploding in ecstasy having
Shoes off, we exit the stadium and
head to the parking lot focusing on our breathing and keeping our energy up. I’m
secretly hoping I’ll be close to the front with less wait time, the perfect
crack fear likes to exploit.
Anticipation is always worse than
Alas, I’m 2/3rds of the way back.
A sea of humans in the dark floating towards a waterfall.
I remember being told ‘GO!’
I remember doing my last move to
get fired up.
I remember the heat of the first
I remember being caught on the
other side by volunteers saying, ‘Wipe your feet!’ (sometimes pieces of coal
can get lodged under your feet or between your toes)
I remember the incredible
soothing the water being sprayed on my feet brought.
I’d done something so
…. And that feeling changed
something deep inside.
Why it changed my Life
Before the strut, my focus was successfully reaching the other side unscathed.
As I waited on the other side for
Jessie to snap a photo, my brain raced. I realised that in everyday circumstances
I’d find reasons to justify why others were more capable or better than I was
to achieve something.
This time, I saw those that went
before me as justification why I COULD do it.
The excuses evaporated like water
above the coals.
Intellectually I’ve known this
since my early twenties but understanding something and deeply knowing a
principle are two different things.
It’s why there’s no substitute
Walking across those coals forced
me to look at fear and deal with it immediately. Seeing how it used to dictate
my mental aspirations, like whether I’m good enough to teach the practices I learned
from climbing Table Mountain every day, means I know choose to focus on
pursuing what I know to be right.
Will there be people that think I’m
ill equipped for the job? I have no doubt.
Will there be negativity toward
my aspirations to empower others through teaching? Probably.
The detractors had no impact on
whether I succeeded in 2018, and so why would they be going forward? The great
thing about moving forward is detractors are stationery so soon enough; they’ll
be out of earshot.
I never doubted I was physically
capable of climbing Table Mountain every day for a calendar year. Time for that
clarity to apply in all other areas in my life as well.
As with everything in life, the real value is putting this into practice.
What fears are holding you back? If you’d be happy to share I’d love to
hear from you and see how we can take consistent steps together to overcome
Just like on those hot coals – that first step commits you to a new path of building momentum. I hope you’ll join me.
I’ve been procrastinating on my writing like you cannot believe since finishing my challenge – I think I’ve finally found a groove.
In many ways the past three months have shaped this first post of 2019, of which more will be coming your way as I ground my learning into tangible insights to share.
Coming to San Francisco is like becoming a child; I see and experience everything for the first time.
Fresh city smells as winter rains falls; sweeping views transformed as nights veil descends and the new sounds of their famous cable cars bustling down Washington Street. An overload for the five senses but more importantly: another opportunity to learn.
I forgot how many day to day decisions have become second nature that I take for granted:
Knowing where the grocery stores are, how long it takes to walk there. What food they have! How its laid out, what it costs, and even just what the difference in taste between 2 products is.
Then there’s figuring out how the city fits together like a jigsaw; how different our words are for the same thing – traffic lights not robots. Cilantro not coriander. People not understanding my accent on the phone. Finding a barber to cut my hair decently (that serves beer believe it or not!)
Which gym to choose?? I think you get the idea
In primary school, a Greek boy arrived age 6 speaking no English. The teachers encouraged us to be patient and be teachers ourselves.
Thankfully, I have an amazingly supportive partner that’s helping me (together with her friends) to learn and settle in quicker than doing it alone. Now I’m the Greek boy
Learning from others
One thing I’ve been blessed with, is having the opportunity to sit with, speak to and learn from inspirational people.
Today’s post is dedicated to Joyce – our blind neighbour.
A Japanese American, Joyce has lived in San Francisco since the age of 22 in 1972. As an artistic woman, she expressed herself through dance and painting.
Her sight was always poor requiring her to wear glasses. As a ballerina she was unable to wear them during shows. She was never worried though because in practice, she learned to understand spatial awareness – not needing to see the edge of the stage, but rather operated in a finite piece of space.
As a painter, she constantly pushed herself to look at every day items from another perspective. To learn to see things differently. She loved the challenge and enjoyed it.
When she speaks to you about that, you feel her joy about that.
Fast forward to 1992 and she meets the love of her life. Wayne. Three years later she moves in with him – and hasn’t moved since.
Tragically, he died in 2011 and she was devastated. This is when I heard something I perhaps wouldn’t believe if it wasn’t first hand.
‘I lost the rest of my sight soon after that, and thankfully too. Having to learn the city all over again from a new perspective kept me away from the debilitating grief.’
Learning to ‘see’ again saved her life.
Watching and talking as we walk to dinner, she shares her knowledge of ‘seeing’ this way. Her spatial awareness is incredible – hitting a knobbled patch of pavement asked ‘is there an alley?’
There certainly was. She was spot on.
Sitting at the feet of Teachers
Okay – we were at a restaurant so it wasn’t exactly her feet, but it felt like I should be. Hearing her talk about catching the bus, buying groceries, going to her favourite restaurant and how cooking takes four hours were bringing learning a ‘new’ city into perspective.
Imagine going blind aged 61?
I don’t want to use the word terrified, but just closing my eyes trying to feed myself is a scary thought.
Not Joyce though, to escape her pain she threw herself into learning how to ‘see’ the world with this new experience.
She’d taught herself from an early age to be excited to learn new ways of experiencing things – and this was just another opportunity.
We were celebrating the Japanese tradition always done on 3rd of March (3) – Hinamatsuri or Girls Day. It’s interesting to note that Japanese do not celebrate Mothers or Fathers Day; they choose to celebrate what will come (the children) versus what has come (the parents)
She shared her knowledge about the fact Japan only opened its borders in 1853 – not by choice – but because an American Commodore demanded they open ports by sailing into it.
See from Others Perspectives.
Its not always what we do that’s harmful – but how we do it.
I learned that the hard way in my twenties; when I saw how I spoke to friends and family. How I spoke bordered on abuse.
Seeing Joyce in the streets perhaps you’d feel compelled to help, no? First thinking from our own perspective that it’s impossible to get around without someone helping.
Joyce gives some advice we can all learn from.
Ask – instead of assuming someone needs help ask first. In many cases its more difficult being led by someone you don’t know or trust compared to walking with your cane. If someone was really in trouble, they’d cry out for help.
Listen – when someone accepts help listen to how they need it. She prefers someone walking behind with hands on her shoulders and NOT in the middle of the sidewalk. When she walks alone, bright vest and cane, the curb provides her a straight edge compared with the middle. Like walking with your hand along a cliff face. As she says ‘close your eyes and tell me where straight is’ – a frequent command given to her.
Respect – one woman yelled at her to get off the streets because its dangerous. Some people tug at her to walk with them. As you can imagine this can be quite distressing and more importantly – breaks her concentration. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. If you are curious, set an intention to find out just what life is like for someone living with a disability (as most people call it) or their gift.
Change behaviour – Its one thing to change our own behaviour, but we can all do more to teach others how to stop feeling awkward when we meet or see someone with a disability. Just with most things in life – when in doubt speak up and I’ve never heard of someone being upset with someone that respectfully and genuinely wants to learn about another person’s circumstances.
Walking around San Francisco, I pay much more attention to sidewalk cracks, how fire hydrants, lamp posts, signage, trees and post boxes are Joyce’s daily obstacle course. I’m more aware of colours, textures – and the ease and speed with which my five-minute walk up a nine-storey hill takes to get to our neighbourhood grocery store – a store that makes their own honey on the roof I might add!
Joyce is one of those people that radiates; with her smile, her words – and her heart.
She reminded me why one of my daily things I express gratitude for – is my five senses, to experience this incredible planet we live on.
Today would’ve been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, it coincides with my 199th hike up Table Mountain joined by Elliot (from Langa) and Raquel (Switzerland) – this makes it 100 days that I’ve been joined by people this year. My gran was Swiss and if she were alive – would’ve also been 100 today.
Life’s synchronicity is beautiful.
His first seed planted with me
I was thirteen years old when Nelson Mandela visited our school and spoke to us. The youngest boys always stood in front which that day, was our blessing.
I was too young to fully take in the message he gave us, but thankfully able to go back into our school’s magazines archives the sentence ‘his message to the young boys was that the privilege they enjoy carries responsibility.’ Reminds me 25 years on.
Being a white male in South Africa means there’s a dark past attached to you. My journey to come to terms with that and what it means hasn’t been an easy one. As recently as five years ago, I thought ‘I didn’t personally benefit from Apartheid.’ And thought I was kind of ‘in the clear’ if you will.
This was an uneducated thought rooted in ignorance.
It took a woman by the name of Dr Jackie Naude (author of Finding the Rainbow) to come to Distell and provide a transformation workshop to begin to change this. She provided and open forum discussing a painful past from an objective point of view in a safe environment. The first time I had a detailed explanation of our past in this manner.
Understanding what the British did to the Boers (Afrikaners) by putting women and children in concentration camps (yes that’s right, the British invented this); The Afrikaners rule and desire to never be subjugated again, creating apartheid through to the release of Nelson Mandela and how he, somehow, managed to stave off a full blown civil war – a horror I can’t even begin to comprehend.
I wasn’t just understanding how we got to the present day, I started to understand how Ibenefitted from a system purely because of the colour of my skin.
I started to understand I was privileged.
My Journey with Privilege
I understood that one of the biggest problems with BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) was the communication around it and that it wasn’t a call to immediately thrust previously disadvantaged people in to high positions; but rather an opportunity for business to understand the previous injustices and to work together with government to rectify this over a period of time.
This is a contentious issue but effectively, business buried its head in the sand not truly understanding the requirements.
White privilege is a phrase that makes most people feel guilt or shame. I know I felt very uncomfortable so avoided public talks about it and if it came up, tried to defend myself that I personally hadn’t done anything wrong.
This is not something to defend.
It led to a profound understanding I live with today and where one of 365 Ubuntu Climbs pillars was born:
Just because I’m not personally responsible for someone else’s suffering; doesn’t mean I can’t be part of the solution to help them.
Mandela’s Deaths Impact
I was driving on the highway past the airport, a profound sadness came over me as I heard it on the news. A quick gaze right and my eyes were met with a sight I’d seen every day twice a day for two years: shacks.
We’re not doing enough…I thought.
I started thinking about the 5 000 staff at Distell and I imagined every staff member donating R10 a month – that’s R50 000… then I realised our Southern Africa offices pay R50 per person for parking; not exactly an amount that hurts your pocket. Using that amount it quickly rises to R225 000! In one year: that’s R2.7 million.
And we think we can’t do more to help others?
On the rest of my drive took questions like who builds homes? How do I find them? And who do I speak to? All rolled around in my head.
Simply sharing this idea with colleagues over coffee’s where I got my first break – ‘you should contact Habitat for Humanity’. And so, my relationship with them was born. Distell human resources department didn’t bite, but the Corporate Social Responsibility department, with whom I’d built up a relationship thanks to my work with the Sunflower Fund – did.
They got involved and built two houses which, both times, I was away on business unfortunately.
Opportunities to Think Differently
The Jacob Zuma protests in 2016 made me question how the protests were being conducted, because I saw them creating more of a divide in our country. I asked (didn’t assume) why weren’t black people joining in? A quick response around a tragedy here called Marikana, a mine where 14 miners were shot (unarmed and running away) in the back, again opened my thinking.
There were no protests organised then.
It hit home the hypocrisy around what marches were organised and that the marches against JZ were only because whites were affected by his actions.
I was seeing how its not always what we say, but sometimes what we don’t say that can be as damaging. This made me realise another painful truth on my part.
I’d never spoken to any black person (friends or colleagues) about what life was like under apartheid.
To understand today you must understand your past. “YOUR” as in country not personal. That means talking to people with alternate views and experiences to your own.
Those were some of the most heart breaking and difficult conversations I’ve ever had in my life. I appreciated all of them taking the time to go back and open wounds to share the madness and atrocities they experienced. Its why I wrote ‘South Africans – It’s time to Wake Up’
It wasn’t about trying to make things better for them; it was about opening my eyes to understand why certain protests happen now.
You might not condone an action like burning tyres on highways, but you can understand where its coming from. Instead of replying in ignorance, I now have a conversation with compassion.
None of us are in control of the privileges we are born into.
Was everything easy for my parents? Definitely not. But this is where my false sense of entitlement came from – I compared struggles without fully understanding the varying degrees of struggle.
Struggles of life are vastly different to the struggle against oppression.
Privileges come in many forms and I’ll never forget driving with my mom as a youngster and a man was in a wheelchair working tirelessly up a long hill. He was grimacing, and my mother pointed out how grateful we should be. That, as well as his determination, have stuck with me to this day.
It’s another form of privilege I have and why before every walk I take a moment to be grateful for what I have – my legs that work and are strong enough to hike Table Mountain every day.
Privilege is a word that makes people feel uncomfortable. It’s a word that today implies guilt and shame.
I used to say: ‘can’t we all just stop living in the past and move forwards together’ and now I try put myself in the shoes of those that have been oppressed. How would I feel 24 years on and nothing changed?
Its easy to want to ‘just move on’ when you’re on the right side of privilege.
Instead of feeling guilty or uncomfortable that I have privilege – I now think about how I can use it to empower others.
I can’t change the past; but I can change how I think today to make a better future for all.
It’s not about taking responsibility for Apartheid. Its about taking responsibility for the privileges it afforded me.
It’s amazing what can happen when you decide to stop carrying around negative baggage and decide to recycle it into something useful instead.
His Legacy’s gift to Us All
Together with all the freedom fighters, they gave us a South Africa to be proud of. We almost had a civil war – and came through peacefully. That should be celebrated every day.
We have the most amazing constitution in the world. Be proud of that.
The people of this country have endured some of the biggest atrocities in the world – and their spirit was never broken and are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met on three continents. Just look at how we blew the world away in 2010. The smiles in this country are unparalleled.
You don’t believe we can make a difference? Go to www.365climbs.com and make a R50 donation and challenge everyone you know to do the same – and I promise – I will show you how wrong you are. Your contribution is invaluable.
If this project changes 8 000 peoples lives and each of those go forward and changes another 10 people, and then those people another 10 and another 10 then in 5 generations we have the power to empower 800 million people. That’s fourteen times our current population. You think you can’t impact 10 lives? Join us and be a part of that.
I want a phenomenal country for all that live here. Not just a few.
Imagine if you were living in poverty and got a helping hand out of it.
Asking questions is one of the most powerful forces for long lasting change. I speak from experience.
Instead of making social commentary about what happens in this country – I invite you to ask better questions and then: seek out those who can answer from their experience and not from their opinion.
First up – special thanks to Wings Herbal Synergy for sponsoring me with supplements to keep my legs and body in the best health possible. Amazing because they didn’t want a big announcement about it, they are doing it simply because they believe in what I’m doing and want to help. Huge respect to them for that.
Whether hiking or living; you’ll experience highs and lows. The only difference between the two: hiking generally starts at the bottom for you to climb up.
Some days though, you can start extremely high. Recently though, my day started as close to the bottom as you can get with the news of my dear friend Joshua’s death.
Week begins with high and low
Monday the 18th is my grans 94th birthday and Joshua’s funeral in Melbourne. It’s one of those crazy days where you feel two opposite emotions simultaneously.
My gran and family still live in Johannesburg and this is now the longest I’ve gone without seeing her. She’s unable to travel so I’ll only see her again when I’m finished with climbing Table Mountain 365 times this year. I miss her.
Speaking to her before my hike, I can hear the sparkle in her voice as she sat comfortably in her new chair that had arrived earlier. A comfy lazy boy with massage function. Its great to hear her voice and it always leaves me incredibly grateful that at age 38, I have the privilege to speak to her still. Especially on a hard day like this.
I promised Joshua’s mom and brother I’d hike at the same time his funeral and wake took place so in some small way, I could be ‘present’ from across the oceans. Fittingly, the weather is glum and overcast, almost as if the weather was mourning with us. I took a candle with me to light and sit with his rock. I picked up one on the day of his death to honour him. High winds meant the cable car wasn’t working and I hiked back down.
I chose to sit quietly on Ubuntu rock with the candle fluttering next to ‘Josh’. Amazingly – Ubuntu rock had not a breath of wind for the candle to burn uninterrupted. There we sat. As if inside a cloud, on one of the most recognised mountains in the world. Honouring a beautiful soul that now lives inside all of us that knew him.
He had endured such tragedy this year and I will forever be grateful for his incredible support for my project. I take solace knowing that he found some peace.
With the last quarter of the hike left, the biggest rain drops I can remember since running around in our garden as a child, descended on me. I tried to capture it in a photo to no avail. Felt like the last perfect send off to Josh. Lifting my face up, I felt rain against my face for the first time. Usually the peak of my cap and hood of my jacket serve to shield my face. It was the type of experience I would have jumped on to Whatsapp to tell him about because I knew he’d appreciate that.
Fittingly, the 365 Ubuntu Climbs shirt he wore with such pride went with him.
We all miss you my friend.
A break in the weather
In 34 days I’ve only had a view from the top 13 times. In the past 11 days, once. One of the greatest lessons to date is understanding that there’s no bad weather; just bad preparation. Thanks to Cape Union Mart and their brand K-Way – I’m prepared, and I’m kept warm and dry which translates into safe.
The rain pants in particular, are amazing. The day Josh passed I made the mistake of not wearing them and a serious downpour happened in the first twenty minutes. Now they’re on even if there’s a remote chance of rain.
Rain is glorious news and I get excited every time for it. We’re in the grips of one of the worst droughts Cape Towns had in a century. Our dams collectively, have just squeaked past the 40% full mark. This is why I said at the beginning of the year I hope to hike in rain for 200 days.
You’re probably thinking “Whaaaaaaaaat?!?! Hiking in the rain is dangerous surely??” I think the mountain is more dangerous on clear warm days than on windy rainy days; because people think it’s a playground and don’t pay enough attention and respect to the mountain. Many rocks are slippery even without being rained on. Being in nature requires presence, in every moment and step. I believe injuries come from two things: fatigue and lack of respect.
Even today as I start my 176th hike this year, I pretend it’s my very first one. Every step is closely monitored, and I even check to see what rocks have changed position, look loose and are cracking open/off.
It’s a gift being on the mountain around the time of these storms passing through. To see the mountainside alive and water flowing in the most unexpected places is phenomenal. Summer hikers would walk past without ever thinking twice about a waterfall. What a privilege to get to experience it in every way.
My latest understanding
I was given an opportunity to speak to the South African Property Investors Network (SAPIN) again on day 171 having spoke on day 73. This gave me a unique opportunity to gauge who’d heard me speak then and whether they thought I’d be back having not missed a day on my quest to complete 365.
I admire their honesty, pretty much all of them said no.
I always knew most people would think that way and the only way to build trust is to keep doing what I’m doing. People watch your actions more closely than your words – and rightly so.
I’ve come across many talkers proclaiming to support, and they disappear into the distance like a tumbleweed blown across the desert floor.
These talks give me a great opportunity to share the purpose of climbing a mountain daily: to show the power we have as individuals and collectively when we stand together.
Why donate money at all? Well – having been involved in various projects since my high school days with King Edwards and their KESFAM drives, I can tell you there’s nothing like seeing the gratitude in the eyes of those you empower.
Just because we’re not responsible for others suffering, doesn’t mean we can’t be part of the solution to help them.
I don’t believe in charity – that involves keeping people out of their own power. Working with Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund means we collectively empower those we help to take ownership of their lives.
Empowering those without the means to empower themselves now.
Speaking on Wednesday I realised that most people look at themselves as a Mt Everest of donating. In other words, it must be large sums of money to be meaningful. What they don’t realise is that even Mt Everest isn’t just one mountain: its made up of thousands of individual stairs from base to summit; each stair as important as the next.
Think of yourself as a stair to someone else’s Everest.
If every South African gave me R1 – we’d raise R56 million.
If 50 000 Capetonians donated R30 a month (not even 2 coffees) we’d raise R1.5 million a month
Ask the 2.5 million people in the UK that didn’t bother voting on the Brexit issue if they still feel their vote wasn’t important.
Our power lies in our collective efforts. Don’t ever say “I can only give….” Because your act of giving has the potential to change another human beings’ life.
Just ask each of 365 Ubuntu Climbs donors whether they thought they’d:
Add 20 people to the donor registry and potentially save 20 fathers, 20 mothers, 20 friends lives impacting all their families, friends and colleagues;
Help two of the largest primary schools in the country teach thousands of children to read and track the children’s progress
Help 10 families improve their living conditions to feel safer, warmer and drier.
And we not even half way yet.
Final thought for the week
My 300th climber to join me was Iona this past Saturday and her takeaway was Ubuntu rock and the accumulation of love that makes the walk into a prayer of love, hope and connection.
It was the first time I’ve asked for feedback like that and what an incredible answer to get first up.
Why? Because its what this is all about summed up perfectly. Life’s shorter than you imagine, don’t waste it living in fear. I promise you – I’ve never been more inspired by how much good there is in this world with all the people I’ve met thus far and through all the donations received.
I’m grateful to each and every one of you. Creating a better world requires active citizenry. As Gandi said – be the change you wish to see in the world.
Try it – I’ve never been more fulfilled in my life.
See you on the mountain
Andrew Patterson is hiking Table Mountain every day in 2018 (175/365 completed thus far) to build homes; teach children to read and build a database for Leukaemia. To become part of the Ubuntu Family (ubuntu is the spirit of humanity and compassion towards one another) head over to http://www.365climbs.com share your contribution.