When last did you smile?

South Africa is so rich in diversity that we often tend to be too bright for the world. The rest of the world often need shades to view us properly. The only problem with this shades is that generally the good things as well as bad things tend to be overlooked.

What I mean is that when we look at political conflicts, murder cases, rape cases, etc. we tend to shake our heads and move on. This happens with the good things as well (except we nod our heads and move on). Often not a lot recognition is given to NGO projects that do good in the community. Well, today I’d like to give recognition to a specific NGO that helped me and millions of other kids and adults alike realise their full potential. This NGO is Life Choices.

I applied for this program on a whim in 2013, in my grade 11 year. I wasn’t sure I was going to be accepted for this specific course because the competition I was up against looked tough. Nevertheless, I got accepted and I was pretty amped up to be on the Leaders Quest journey with awesome people that believed in me and back me all the way. They gave me hope and encouraged me to be the best I can be.

I could go on and on about what they do, how they benefit people and all the lovely people that work there but I won’t because you can see that  for yourself. However, who I am today, what I’ve become? Has all been built up by the people that believed in me, that saw the potential in me and persevered with me until the very end and even at that very end they still are there for me.

Although, at times, the world looks gloomy and not appealing at all, you always get some people in the world that is willing to wipe away the grit from your lenses and open you up to newer, brighter possibilities. And that, is people you always want around you despite the circumstance.

I will leave you with this message; No matter what you do at any given time, no matter how small or insignificant you think it is, no matter the consequences that lead you to it, always remember you have the ability to change a persons life just by putting a smile on your face in a world where smiles are few and far between.

~Poppie Tee

*Image by Life Choices

And the Oscar goes to…

In relation to Leonardo DiCaprio finally getting that much awaited Oscar (aren’t we all just so happy for him, I mean he literally had to freeze his ass off in Titanic), I’ll be doing the same with awesome books that I keep on putting off reviewing.

So, without further ado… I give you Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:

I read this book when there wasn’t really much hype about it, which was good for me as a had time to form my thoughts and not be bombarded by societies irrational (and unnecessary) thoughts. When I finished this book, the first thing I did was recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in reading. It was that good. The story kept me enthralled, I was biting my nails on the edge of my seat. The story follows Nick and Amy Dunne’s aesthetically tragic relationship as Amy disappears on the day of their fifth anniversary. The story unfolds with all sorts of lies, deceit and inner turmoil that is perfectly captured by Flynn. Flynn has a knack for writing complex and highly interesting characters and Nick and Amy were no exception. Definitely, giving it five gruesome stars.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

So, what’s my obsession with the dark world, you ask? This. These gems that are so perfectly horrendous. Flynn does it once again with her beautiful, beautiful writing and ability to capture my scrutinizing gaze. This one centers around Libby Day, the only member to survive her brother’s massacre of the family. She meets up with the underworld to conjure up what really happened that fateful night. Everything is questioned and of course in sordid detail as only Flynn can do.

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult 

This is one of my first books of Jodi that I have read and that folks is how I became a fangirl of Jodi Picoult. This book had me so enthralled. I was young when this book happened upon my hands but I would never forget the lasting impact that it had on me. When an infant is found dead in an Amish community, the mother, an eighteen year old, unmarried, Amish girl is then arrested. A high-profile defense lawyer takes on the case, living there she becomes aware of some harsh realities and the value of family and the bond between mother and daughter.

There are many more books out there that are Oscar worthy but for now these are my old gems that are now finally getting their much deserved Oscar. What are your Oscar-worthy books?

~Poppie Tee

Time, you subtle creeper.

Let’s just be honest here, getting back into the swing of things can be a pain in the behind. I’m currently in my second year of university and let me tell you, it is no joke.

Some people say that university is supposed to be the best time of your life, that you should make the most of it and I agree. My only question to them is: where in the living hell do they find the time?  My nails are currently in a state of anarchy because I barely have time for them, my sleeping schedule is off the charts crazy and my room is in a constant state of disarray. 

As person that likes (some sort of) order, I like having my to-do list checked, my bag packed and my clothes laid out (even if it’s in my mind) at the end of the night but lately I’ve gotten so little time to do any of that. 

I know, university is supposed to make you feel tired, I mean, between the studying, work and a social life, you aren’t supposed have time for sleep. Although, that is the only thing that you want to do when you are in university; sleep.

So, having spent a short while in university already, I feel obligated to let any first years out there know what they are in for.

Travel arrangements. This can be a real pain in the backside, honestly, if you live within driving distance of campus then make sure your travel arrangements are sorted or better yet, get your own car.

Time management. Have this down to a tee (haha, see what I did there), it is crucial that you have a diary, calendar and a huge board on which you can write all your dates and times, so that you have enough time to plan to study, to actually study, for homework and whatever extra things you want to do.

Have everything handy in your bag. Seriously, you are going to need that tissue that is always in your bag that you never seem to use. Personally, I like to have my bag as light as possible especially since I travel in everyday and I have to lug my gym bag, textbooks and everything else around with me which hurts my shoulders and really it’s just extremely inconvenient and totally not fun. So, if you are a person that travels in then get a locker or an extremely friendly person who would allow you to park your stuff in their apartment or car since you don’t have any or better yet, get an apartment; more sleep time, yay!

Have your schedule worked out. I know this might be redundant because it can fall under time management but you need to have your schedule sorted. I have a very busy schedule this year and because of that I try and do all my work at university because it’s easier (all that gaps between classes is there for a purpose, utilize it) which allows me to have more sleeping time at home because… Well, it’s sleep, I like sleep.

Join things. I know this last one is totally unrelated but this is university and who said you can’t have fun because of a stupid schedule. So, if your schedule allows then have fun, join societies, do extra-mural activities, just do something for you.

Important things not to forget: hydrate, eat, sleep, study, go to your lectures and have fun. No matter what your schedule you can pencil in that me-time, it all just depends on the art of scheduling. You can do it!

“No matter how you feel. Get up, dress up, show up and never give up.”
~Regina Brett

~Poppie Tee

How about that summer fling?

I’ve done a lot of romanticizing over the summer break. Yip, you’ve guessed it, I have been reading. A lot.

There is nothing wrong with reading a lot, I do it all the time. Some might think that I am a nerd but in actual fact I’m not, not really anyway. It has been a while since I have written a book post so I suppose now is as good a time as any.

So here is the next edition of Poppie’s reading and biased, crappy, really bad but also oh-so good honest reviews:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perk.

Okay…? I don’t know, I think this book would have been an unbelievably awesome read if I had maybe been a teeny-tiny bit younger. The characters were sweet, normal, bitchy teenagers who are struggling to cope with school, love and life in Paris, first world problems. I got so irritated with the main characters, with the plot and with how they are both so fucking dense like honestly? I don’t even know. One thing is for sure this book reeks of teenage hormones that is subtly being romanticized. If I could give it less than one star on Goodreads, I actually would. 

Kyland by Mia Sheridan

I really love Mia Sheridan’s work. This book had me bawling my eyes out, I had so many emotions while reading this that I couldn’t immediately place them.The main characters are so raw and real, stuck in a life filled with poverty and their only way out is through a scholarship that is only given to one student in their rural town. Doomed by poverty and difficult circumstance, is love the only thing that can save them?

Lev by Aurora Belle

I was laughing, crying and just having a ball of a time reading this little treasure. Lev is different, he can’t process or understand emotion so when he literally catches Mina red handed he is caught in a whirlwind that he doesn’t understand. This was my first book that I really enjoyed that didn’t exactly have a twist. Lev’s character is so unintentionally adorable that he just makes you laugh. Geez, I was either in stitches or in tears whenever Lev said something in the book. This is honestly an awesome read. Definitely looking forward to the next few.

Consolation and Conviction by Corinne Michaels 

These are two different books about the same character. This was honestly a sweet story although it would’ve been better if it was one book. Natalie wants something she can’t have, she’s distraught having just lost her husband to war, a cute little new born and friends just wanting her to carry on with life, enter Liam, helpful, funny and caring. The cliffhanger was, WOW but it seems that having two books were unnecessary. I loved all the characters, especially the Navy SEALS, they were hilarious with their code names, inside jokes and witty comebacks. This is a nice beach read to totally get lost in but also stay grounded.

The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon 

My first book that I read of her was A different Blue that my friend over at Read and Seek wrote a review on a while back. Harmon has a particular style of writing that I love, she has got all these little bits and bobs of moral in her story. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. Moses was literally found in a basket, he is cracked, no one understands him and no one wants him, except Georgia. She understands him, his need to paint and she just wants to love him but he doesn’t want to let her in. Be prepared to have your heart broken a million times over.

Archer’s voice by Mia Sheridan 

And, we’ve got another one of Sheridan’s novels. Whoop, whoop! I’m really into this lady’s work. The lost Town boy that everyone forgot about, that is still stuck with a big wound that never healed. Bree Prescott has one horrifying night stuck on replay in her head and it’s only the love of Archer that can set her free. A story about love, loss, fate and the regaining of power. This is a tragically beautiful story that comes highly recommended.

For more reviews from me where my true emotions are not censored as much, follow me on Goodreads.

~Poppie Tee

Life ain’t no state of nirvana.

Summer is finally over. Well, for some of us anyway. University starts in a few short days for me and honestly, I’m really excited. This holiday has been a long one, I think a few of my brain cells have died.

Anyway, I am or rather was struggling with a ‘condition’ that is rather common among folks and is most often known as the “Who am I? What am I doing with my life phase?” Do not be fooled folks this can happen to anyone even the most self-assured person out there. It can happen.

It all started when I began having doubts about what I was doing with my degree course. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to pursue a career that would make the world a better place out there in whichever way I could. Hence, I chose something that I really liked and just pursued it.

The problem came when I tried really hard to get my head into what I was doing. Take the good with the bad, that sort of thing. I thought that if I just worked harder at it, I’d do better, like it more. Couple that with the first year jitters and I was probably the most freaked out person out there, practically a headless chicken running around.

As time wore on I began dreading going to classes because I hated it so much. However, I am such a stubborn person that I decided to see it through, I mean we are almost there, right? What’s another three more years?

Seasons passed, tests passed and life went on. I was becoming more restless and agitated. Why? Well, it turns out that I really liked studying just not specifically what I was studying. And, honestly, that scared the living crap out of me. What now? What am I to do going forward?

Let me tell you something. Life is an unpredictable little fudgestick. You are an unpredictable little fudgestick. There is no way of knowing what you are going to want three years from now, let alone tomorrow. School does nothing to prepare you for real life, for tough decisions, for anything that really matters in the end. Once you graduate from high school, you won’t only be thrown in the deep end of the ocean but in the middle of the shark infested waters while spiders are crawling all over you and a snake throttles your neck. 

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but it’s the truth. You’re eighteen, you have to get a job or apply to university and are expected to make life changing decisions that would let’s admit, kind of guarantee that you become stuck in a rut for the rest of your life unless you have some sort of epiphany. It can be overwhelming, you come from a place where they passively-aggressively make all your decisions for you and you go along with it because it’s all you know. Then you graduate and they’re like “Bye! Good luck with life.”

What happens next is that you will be forced to choose a career path which would ultimately be based on a scorecard and a subject that you liked or because that job looks like it’s guaranteed to bring in piles of money. So you study it for three years, get a mediocre job after and then you live life until you’re thirty and have another epiphany, only to realize you’re back at square one.

So, why did I start off so happy only to go off on a rant about life’s unfairness? Well, that’s how my first year out in the real world was like. I realized pretty quickly that life is not just roses and lavender but also weeds and bombed seeds. Now, I know a little something about expectations and dare I say experience of life and myself but one thing is certain, I’ve still got so much more to learn. 

~Poppie Tee

Book review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

nightingale
ˈnʌɪtɪŋˌɡeɪl/
noun
  1. a small migratory thrush with drab brownish plumage, noted for its rich melodious song which can often be heard at night.

The nightingale is a fascinating little creature, with a melodious voice that sings in the night keeping you from sleep, you just can’t help but want to listen. The nightingale is said to symbolize love and lost. Where there is love there is lost. 

Vianne Mauriac is sending her husband, Antoine off to war. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis would invade beautiful France but they do. Not only do they invade her country but they invade her home too. Low on food, money and with winter approaching, Vianne has to fight for her life and the life of her young daughter all under the watchful eye of the enemy.

Isabelle, Vianne’s sister,  as an eighteen-year old has every rebellious streak in her body. She needs a purpose and when she meets Gäetan, who believes that the French can fight the Nazis from within, she falls completely in love. But when he betrays her, she rebels in the only way a teenager can in a country that is war ridden. She seeks out danger, joins the resistance not caring about any of the deadly consequences.

And so an epic tale is conveyed of a story seldom told: the women’s war. Courage, bravery and grace is an evident theme beautifully woven into the storyline.

This book honestly floored me. I read this book a while ago but I just can’t seem to shake it and honestly, I don’t even want to. This book deserves a five star rating.

We often hear about war as men enduring hardship but war affects everyone. This story follows the women of the war; wives, sisters, mothers, daughters, it conveys their courage, sacrifice and strength in one of the darkest times of their lives. It does not just contain a love story but two. Be prepared to bawl your eyes out, I know I did.

The strong characters of not only the sisters but everyone in this book was beautifully portrayed by Hannah. Vianne and Isabelle both fought in different ways, they sacrificed, they portrayed courage and resistance, they loved and they lost.

This is a powerful story that conveys a powerful message. So, get that Kleenex box of tissues and tea ready, you’re going to need it.

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~Poppie Tee

It isn’t Enough

Dear mom and dad

Sometimes in life, you need a constant. It could mean different things to different people. And at the risk of sounding cliche, you guys are my constant, my rock. I doubt that’ll ever change for me.

All I want to say is thank you. But thank you doesn’t do justice to what you guys did and keep doing for me.

Thank you isn’t enough for the late nights spent up with me, thank you isn’t enough for the hard work, dedication, sweat and tears that went into raising a child like me.

Thank you isn’t enough for the band aids applied to scraped knees and bruised elbows. Thank you isn’t enough for the soft words uttered when repairing my bruised ego. Thank you isn’t enough for the gentle kisses that kissed my imaginary bruises as a child.

Thank you isn’t enough for the tireless hours spent working to put me through school, university and everything in between. Thank you isn’t enough for the hours spent at lame parent-teacher meetings just reminding you that you raised a good kid.

Thank you isn’t enough for the fun vacations that put a hole in your pocket. Thank you isn’t enough for the off days which turned into fun getaways. Thank you isn’t enough for the never ending adventures that never seized to amaze me.

Thank you isn’t enough for all the times we’ve had bread in the house, food in our tummies, never knowing what it is to go hungry. Thank you isn’t enough for the constant roof over our heads. Thank you isn’t enough for us always being clothed.

Thank you isn’t enough for your unwavering support. Thank you isn’t enough for believing in my dreams no matter how bizarre. Thank you isn’t enough for treating me like a queen and teaching me never to expect anything less.

Thank you isn’t enough for all the times I cried on your shoulders when my fragile heart shattered. Thank you isn’t enough for the beliefs that you passed on to me, making me who I am today. Thank you isn’t enough for being my first teacher, teaching me invaluable lessons that linger.

Thank you isn’t enough for teaching me to stand up for what I believe in. Thank you isn’t enough for the invaluable lesson of being firm. Thank you isn’t enough for teaching me that you don’t always have to blindly follow the masses.

Thank you isn’t enough for the late night teas and sweet somethings that was always constant. Thank you isn’t enough for the manners that is forever inculcated in me. Thank you isn’t enough for all the chores, lectures and reprimands that turned into lessons.

Thank you isn’t enough for showing me what pure love is. Thank you isn’t enough for raising me. Thank you isn’t enough for what I’ve become. Thank you isn’t enough for what I can still be. Thank you isn’t enough for the great job you did and are still doing.

You don’t deserve a simple thank you, it’s not enough. Thank you just simply isn’t enough. And because thank you just simply isn’t enough for all the times you were by side. I will try my best to prove to you guys how grateful I am to have you. Because I owe you a million times over and that still isn’t enough. But I’ll be damned if I don’t try in earnest to show you every damn day just how grateful I am because you deserve nothing less.

Sincerely,
Your youngest kid

~Poppie Tee

 

Dramatics.

December 27, 2015

I intended to sleep late this morning as it is my last day. However, that did not go as planned, I woke before my alarm even went off and I couldn’t for the life of me go back to sleep. All because of that gushing waterfall. I know, I know, I should be at one with nature and all that but isn’t sleep also natures course? I know I’m being dramatic but I’ve been running on at least four hours of sleep a day. The only time when I do sleep is during the day with the flies bugging me.

Okay, I’m done ranting. With a cup of coffee in me and a few left over baked beans, I set off to start writing. Hear that? Contentment. Uh, no, wait, it’s… Barking. Dogs barking. Puppies to be exact. Escaping from their place of rest. Aw, they’re so cute! I bet their owners adore-

-Oh, my gosh. Those pesky little mutts. They ran right towards me! I couldn’t even defend myself. I ran right into my parents’ little camping spot, waking my parents up in a panic and hid in their little bungalow watching how the little puppies dismantled our camping spot from the safety of my parents’ humble abode. My parents went on sleeping when I told them what was going on, dismissing me and telling me that they’re just playful little dogs. Did they just momentarily forget that I am highly afraid of dogs? Ugh, those little buggers are not cute anymore. Oh, no. They’re Satan’s evil little balls of fur.

Once they were gone, I went walking again on my normal route but I felt jumpy all the way. The sheep were already out, staring at me like I ate their young. Who even eats sheep meat? I sure don’t. The horses kept on giving me the side eye, coming all near the fence as if to jump it and attack me. The goats were a bit agitated trying to escape to beyond the fence and to my dismay they succeeded. I ran back so fast not looking back. I do not feel safe. I know, I’m probably in the safest place and I’m being just a tad dramatic but still. Today is my last day and I don’t want to leave on a bad note. I’m determined to make my day better despite my morning.

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After my walk and when the rest of the world woke up, I decided to take a walk up to the waterfalls just to sit and take it in. I needed that. That felt good until I felt a spider climbing on me. Nope, I’m outta here. Went back to the camp site and we just lounged around, sat under the shade on towels and had our own little picnic. It  was nice. We went up to the waterfalls several times during the day just to cool off, once we made it back to the camp spot again, our clothes were dry again. That’s how scorching it was.

These last three days were phenomenal. Family time, nature time and writing time. What more could you ask for? I have learned so much about myself during these pass three days. I’ve learn’t that I’m a bit overly dramatic… Okay, a lot. These past few days has taught me to be thankful for family, that we’re in the 21st century, electricity, having all my senses, paved roads,WiFi and other mundane stuff that I take for granted everyday. Now, it’s off to work and a new me in 2016.

“But there’s a beginning in an end, you know? It’s true that you can’t reclaim what you had, but you can lock it up behind you. Start fresh.”
Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

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~Poppie Tee

Do Nothing Day.

December 26, 2015

Determined not to let the horses get the best of me, I went down to the little farm again. I watched the animals run to the gates for their food. It’s amazing how animals are able to adapt. Pavlov’s Classical conditioning and all that.

Besides the horses giving me the stink eye all because I accidentally enticed him with an apple and then took it away and the goats climbing on the roofs, it turned out pretty normal.

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You can honestly find goats on the weirdest shi*t

By 7 in the morning it was scorching hot already, I don’t know how people manage to sleep late in tents. I always get up before the sun even tries touch my tent.

After my morning walk, I had a hearty breakfast of crackers and tuna (hey, it’s camp; no one feels like cooking).

Because today was so hot we decided to do nothing, just lounging around in the shade, eating watermelon and sipping juice.

Just before sunset we hiked to the waterfall again, got lost along the way twice (I still don’t know how that happened) but we made it. It turned into more of a photo shoot than a hike but the journey was fun.

We had braai for supper and ate while the sun was going down. We then made a bonfire, had a few laughs, some steaming coffee (because camp makes you so tired that you have to force your eye lids open) and we called it a day.

Slow down and look around you,
Throw your to-do list away!
The clouds look like sheep and vice versa,
Let’s have a do nothing day.
– Jeremy and the Incidentals (Phineas and Ferb)

~Poppie Tee

Hungry horses, evil eyes and throbbing hands

December 25, 2015

Early up this morning, wanted to run but decided it wouldn’t be safe as I do not know this place. Camera, apple, walking shoes? Check.

I set off down the gravel road because tackling the hiking trail alone today did not seem appealing. I wanted to see the animals. And, indeed, I saw animals.

At the office of this place there is a farm with mostly sheep, goats and horses. I first came across the sheep, cute little buggers, reminded me of Mary’s little lamb but good Lord, do they stink! And praise the almighty that they were in their little section with a fence separating us, I did not want to be chased by a sheep.

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Next was the goats. These buggers have weird, crazy-looking eyes and long-ass goatees. Reminded me of some bad guy in a movie playing his role real bad.

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The horses. Ah, gosh. Before I say anything further; let’s just establish that this would be my first up close (kind of) and personal encounter with a horse.

So, I’m there, snapping pictures of this one majestic horse with my huge camera and a half-eaten apple in my hand. I get bolder and move a little closer to the fence, snapping pictures, la-di-da. No care in the world when all of a sudden the horse looks up, looks me (I swear to God) in the eye and walks closer. At this point, I’m freaking out because this huge, majestic animal is coming straight at me. I. Am. Flipping. Out. In my haste to get away I almost trip. Almost. This huge animal is by the fence now and it looks like he could easily walk through it. I stand in the middle of the gravel road dead still, my eyes never leaving him and I fall. Hard on my bottom. I never understood how people could just fall over with doing anything and there I went did it, I don’t know how but I did it. Trust me to have a traumatic first encounter. And all the horse wanted was my freaking apple!

Now, I’m currently sitting sitting on a rock waiting for the world to wake up as it’s only 7 in the morning. I’ve been up for three hours already. What does the day still have in store for me?

So, the rest of the morning was pretty chilled. Slept for an hour after my traumatic experience and then we drove pass two ghost towns, came home and braaied, you know, the norm.

We came to our camping spot, ate huge watermelons and spoke of this and that. We decided to go for a short hike to, the reason the place is named 22 Waterfalls, the actual waterfalls.  We hiked for a short while and came across the first waterfall. Beauty. The  10 grand camera doesn’t do it justice.

Then we came across what I would from now on be referring to as the “stairway” leading to heaven. It even had a gate! Now, I’m not an experienced hiker, traveler or photographer. I had tried my best to go even further up but because going up alone did not appeal to me and I didn’t want to risk my family members’s lives (JK, I was scared out of my mind that I’ll fall to my death and that is not how I plan to leave this world). But anyway, we went up to the second one of the 22 waterfalls (I know, scary right? Hey, don’t judge the mountain is steep). Magnificent. Words cannot describe the beauty and I’m not even going to attempt to.

 

I was terrified going up and coming down that I’d somehow injure myself. But, alas, I came out unscathed until we were by the campsite and I cut my hand on a key. A. Freaking. Key. Are you kidding me? I could have laughed at the irony if my hand wasn’t throbbing right now.

After I got cleaned up and bandaged up by my mom. We ended the day with a bonfire, some crackers, popcorn and a steaming cup of coffee, not forgetting the ghost stories. With my feet (and hand) throbbing, I know today was a good day.

“Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.”
Douglas Pagels

~Poppie Tee