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To Live and not Just Exist

Choosing life, happiness, peace and joy. Oh and weight loss too

Rebranded

Hello all you fabulous and deliciously awesome people that follow and happen upon this blog.

Please click HERE to be rerouted to my new, self hosted and branded blog. I would really appreciate it if you would come on over and say Hi / Hoezit / Howdy / Whatup!

This blog will stay live. Because it is where I found happiness for so long.

New blog – http://www.jessierubina.co.za/

See ja all later :).

Everything has a season

This place, this format, this freedom – it has served me well.

From my very first post – The Fat Chick to my very last Things I learnt after Joining an MMA type gym, there has been healing in this place. Allot of laughter. A few friends.

But everything has a time. And all things must end eventually. Although this place will always be my first love. And for that sake I will leave it open and I will take it with me.

To live and not just exist was a mantra I claimed, when shit got dark.

But it is a time for new beginnings.

A time for branding.

A time to reclaim the things that were lost to me.

So forgive me if I quote myself – even if I do damn well make myself cry everytime:

“Stand tall and stand brave.
Allow no one to steal your Grace.

Stand not swayed by rhetoric or prejudice.
Opinion is only as powerful as education.

Stand not bowed by condemnation or judgement.
Your right to be is immutable.

Stand strong in courage and acceptance.
Life is too short and boring otherwise.

Stand unique in your own beauty.
We are all a canvas.

Stand powerful in your nature.
It is completely as it should be.

Stand gracious in your oddity.
God favours the interesting.

Stand lightly on the shoulders of friends.
They will keep you afloat.

Stand clear of the judgement of others.
Inevitably the high ground they inhabit is theirs alone.

Stand wise in your experience.
Life is one long lesson.

Stand in awe of your Self.
Know that your true being is precious.

Stand tall and free and bold.
Allow no one to hold your past against you.

Stand your truth.”

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www.JessieRubina.co.za

 

Things I learnt after joining an MMA type gym:

I have been sick again. No biggie. Except it always is. This time though – I stayed off the cortisone. YAYAYAYAYAYAYA….

Sorry. Got a bit excited there for a minute.

What with the sick and all, and it takes me forever and a day just to have clear lungs again, and the spending allot of time indoors so you don’t breathe cold air and what what…. A very odd thing happened to me.

I missed going to the gym. I missed the challenge. The comradery. The giggling like a spastic tonsil. The sense of getting stuff DONE.

I will probably only be able to go back in a few days because I am gifting myself a few days to get completely better. But to help me get through this odd sensation of missing a thing that actually causes me to walk funny, here are a few things I have learnt after joining an MMA type gym:

  • Stairs were probably invented just so that your trainer can torture you.
  • Every day is leg day
  • Not all stairs are equal.
  • Badly done burpies are still better than no burpies at all.
  • Skipping like a deranged monkey with one leg is better than not skipping at all.
  • It takes 8 gym days for your brain to actually figure out the whole skipping thing. At approximately 06h07 on the morning of the 8th day, you will be skipping like a graceful and rhythmic swan. In my mind anyway. If swans could actually skip that is.
  • Also on the 8th day, you will do your first proper set of assisted (feet hooked into something or someone) sit ups. None of those half crunch things here. No, no, no. Full sit up, gloves touching my mirror partner. Graceful as a dolphin. No grunting, snorting and panting here. No, no, no. Ok I lie. There are huge amounts of grunting and snorting. But you will still do them. Like a boss.
  • I am as agile and flexible as I am fit. Which is to say I move like a blob of butter in cement. But moving is what actually counts.
  • You don’t have to be good at something to love it.
  • The relative sense of accomplishment that accompanies every single ache is profound.
  • Sometimes, the instruction to move going from your brain to your thighs (I’m talking to you left thigh), is completely ignored. More than ignored. It goes to its room and sulks for a few hours. Leaving you hobbling around like a lopsided turtle singing its own theme song. And by theme song I mean curse words muttered at a level only bionic dogs can really hear….
  • Sometimes, just showing up is already a win.
  • Once you have successfully managed to collapse onto the toilet seat, your will to ever stand again leaves you.
  • Not all ow’s are equal.
    • Some ow’s are perseverance.
    • Some ow’s are accomplishment.
    • Some ow’s are strength.
    • Some ow’s are a lesson.
    • Some ow’s are sweet.
    • Some ow’s are worth the breath.
    • Some ow’s are Oorah and Hooah.
    • Some ow’s are worth the standing all skew like a retarded tree for a moment when you stand up, while things settle and other things loosen.
  • It is impossible to balance on a Pilate’s ball when you have the rhythm of a deranged dandelion in front of a fan.
  • It is even more impossible to plank on said Pilates ball when you have been cursed blessed with as much boobs as I have.
  • Lifting with your legs and not your back is all very relative until you have to try lift and push a tractor tyre down the length of training hall.
  • Shin pads don’t mean doodely if the person you are ‘fighting’ is as new to kickboxing as you are and their sense of placement is as crap as yours is. Be prepared for a sore inner leg just next to the shin pad thingy. Please notice I said ‘fighting’…. Fighting without quotes implies some kind of skill. I have only ” skill.
  • Knowing where to place and keep your feet AND boxing with the correct hand first AND thinking about where your kick is supposed to go AND being correctly defensive is FREAKING HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clearly this is multitasking at a whole new level.
  • Kettlebells are from the devil

Yes – I get completely and utterly physically knackered. But in that moment, my mind is silent. My mind is calm. For the first time in a long time. My mind is consumed by what I can do.

Not what I can’t do.

Sometimes going to the gym every day is kinda like the Nac Mac Feegle – all bravo and yelling and disorder and theft of livestock and tattoos but when you get right down to it…

Brave as hell.

And just as crazy.

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I saw Hope today.

Today, I saw Hope.

I have already seen Grace and Faith in Town. Both of them Gifts that could so easily have been missed and overlooked.

Lost in the busy and the noise and the life that we live. Lost in the numbness of humanity.

Today was much like any other day. I got up, fed the things I love, drove the farm roads to work.

Today, I categorically did not feel like going to gym. From the moment I woke, I fought my own head.

“It’s cold.”

“It’s too early for this today.”

“I am so tired.”

“My ankle is sore.”

“My back is sore.”

“I have a sniff, people in the office are sick, I am probably well on my way to another session of cortisone / hospital.”

“I don’t want to.”

Sometimes, the thoughts in my head win. Sometimes, I fall back into bad habits and negative ideas and a uniquely twisted reality that is all mine, finely crafted from years of being way harder than I need to be on myself.

Precision honed to be cutting, demotivating, devastating and soul crushing.

There it is.

“I don’t want to.” Because what is the point? I have been doing this for a month and a half. And I have not lost 1 kilogram. Because everything is weight to me. And weight is everything to me.

“I don’t want to.” Even though I can climb a flight of stairs faster now, than I did a month and a half ago.

Even though I love it and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something.

Even though every step is a journey to better. To healthier. To stronger.

I don’t want to. Because today it was just hard. Hard to be positive. Hard to be kind to myself. Hard to be motivated. Hard to be me.

Every step into the office a fight to convince myself that I am worth it. It is worth it. Get up and get going.

I am not sure why today was so hard. It just was.

Even when I was sitting taking my takkies off at Redemption Fitness Centre, my head was still at war with itself.

“You know you are probably getting sick so why bother?”

“You know you will fail in the long run, like you always do, so why not just give up?”

“You know you look especially large today and all the beautiful people are going to stare at you right?”

You get the idea.

And don’t get me wrong. None of these are formulated thoughts that run through my head. These are all just dark and oppressive snippets of thought, accompanied by the overwhelming weight of sadness and desolation.

I sat in the stillness of my heart and my mind and looked into the darkness that lives so very close to the edge of my soul, and I thought about letting it engulf me again. I thought about failing again.

Instead. I stood and looked out into the lit darkness beyond the windows. I thought about my path and who I am and where I am.

Again – none of it consciously formulated into structure. Just snippets of an idea and a feeling of light. Of potential calm. Of cleansing tears.

A moment in a moment where the dark of my soul fought the light of my soul. And I found a bit of Hope.

Hope for better. Lighter. Love. Laughter. Joy. God. Peace. Family. Strength.

Hope for me. For who I am. Who I have become.

Who I will be.

Hope. Just for me.

Sometimes God lives closer to you than you think.

Humanity

I work very hard for the money I earn, to pay the bills I have, to eat the food I eat, to have pets, to live on a smallholding.

I work very hard every day to afford uncapped Wi-Fi, a Telkom line, a Vodacom contract, a washing machine.

My middle class family worked very hard every day to send me to a middle class High School, where I mingled and learnt the way of other middle class children from middle class families.

I succeeded, in spite of my best efforts not to. Despite being a black sheep. Despite being ‘the emotional’ one.

I work very hard every day to live the life I live. I don’t have millions in the bank. Don’t even really have thousands. Most end of the month, I don’t even have hundreds.

I don’t drive a fancy car. I don’t own a house or property. I grew up into the very middle class I grew up in, with very middle class views. Views on whether or not our country is functioning. Whether or not it is safe. Whether or not I should stay or flee. Whether or not our President is corrupt. Very middle class.

With the privilege that comes with it. Having a job at all, a stable one that affords me 3 warm meals a day, a roof over my head, a dog, a house with an indoor toilet, a phone, a cell phone, a car….

Let’s say that all vanishes today. Let’s say I get fired or retrenched. Let’s say I am suddenly brain damaged or deaf or blind or poor. So poor, that R150 a day becomes something you are willing to die for.

Let’s say your life condenses into a moment where the hope of earning R150 a day for a very long day of work, is something you will die for. Because that hope for R150 a day, is what will feed you.

That hope of earning R150 a day – which you get up at 4 in the morning to get ready for.

That hope of earning R150 a day – that you use your last R10 to catch a taxi to.

That hope of earning R150 a day – on an empty stomach, because the hope of R150 a day from yesterday was in vain.

Let’s say your whole life condenses into that moment. Where you and the thousands like you, in that moment, are not middle class.

You are not well off. You are not rich. You are not even really poor. Because in my mind poor equates to at least having something, even if it is not enough.

You literally have nothing.

Then who cares if our country is functioning? Who cares if it is safe? Leaving is not even the beginning of a thought you may have. What your president does or doesn’t do is of little concern.

What happens on the day you wake up, and your first thought is “Where am I going to find money for food today.”

Do you perhaps lose hope?

Do you perhaps turn to crime?

What do you do?

Where do you go when your country, your people, your government fails?

I grew up into the very middle class I grew up in. With all the opportunities it affords me by default.

The next time you judge the hell out of a government that is failing you, just for one moment consider what you have.

As of last year, 22% of the people in my country live on R11 a day.

When last did you spend R11? What did you spend it on?

The next time you sit in judgement from your very middle class dining room suite, in your very middle class house, in the middle class suburb you live in:

Consider for one moment whether or not you can survive on R11 a day.

Rethink your life.

Find your humanity.

Donate something if you can.

Support someone if you can.

Be more than some middle class douche.

Be someone’s Hope.

** The featured image is a photo I took of a young boy and his brother (I assume) while travelling on the train home from work one day. Just two little souls, with their parent, trying to live any kind of life in our country. Be their Hope.

Breath

9 flights of stairs doesn’t sound like much right?

9 down and 9 up.

Most people fly through it. It is the 9 plus that gets them.

Me?

Today I stood at the bottom of a stairwell and listened to breath.

The panting rasp of someone with the lungs I have.

The laboured inhalation of someone with the fitness level of an overweight rock.

It used to embarrass me – the thought of someone hearing me breath heavily. The idea that I would be judged and found wanting. It is why I never did sport at school. The sound and the jiggle and the red face and the sweat. And yes, the coming last.

Children can be cruel. But sometimes, we are our own worst tormentor.

So today, I stood at the bottom of a stairwell, 40 minutes into a seriously hard gym session. A gym session full of the things I thought I couldn’t do.

I listened to breath.

And I thought –

How Blessed is that sound?

How Joyous is that sound?

How many times has that sound meant something else?

How many times has that sound been accompanied by panic, because I just couldn’t get enough breath?

How many times has that sound, slightly twisted, echoed around a hospital room – for weeks on end?

You feel free to judge me all you want.

The breath. The sweat. The red face. The jiggle. The coming last.

Until you hit a wall one day, and breath becomes a thing you actually have to think about….

The breath is what matters.

The doing.

The being.

So who gives a crap if I came last?

At least I took part.

At least I was there.

Sometimes, when breath is all you have, that is where your Hope and determination lies.

 

 

Picture found on – https://embodypilates.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/pilates-breathing/

The Small Things

Sjoe, I have been gone a while.
Thing happened. Reality shifted. Time passed.
And here we are.
Life has this really annoying and occasionally cool habit of throwing stuff back in your face. At your lowest, or your highest, or somewhere in between. A little memory. A little song. A little blog.
A little bit of God.
I forget sometimes how far I have come. How hard this road was to travel. Sometimes I traveled it alone. Sometimes with family. Sometimes with friends. I have written before about being the Black Sheep. About being the Fat Chick.
Reality is – we are who we are in the moment. As kind or vicious, as generous or selfish, as alive or dead, as happy or sad. All we have is a moment. Because the next moment may be a life ender. Or a reality shifter.
In a moment, a Blessed moment, I walked into a gym with a little bit of hope. And I met a lovely lady who runs a gym, a lady of passion and laughter.
In a moment, an Inspired moment, I faced a lifetime of fears around what I look like. Around inherent sporting ability. And I thought screw it. I joined a gym.
In a moment, a Divine moment, I remembered that even though it is hard. I really do like exercising. I am crap at it. But that doesn’t change the Joy.
I have written before about finding Joy in the small things.
Sometimes the small things are the ache that comes from 18 flights of stairs.
The laughter that comes with trying to skip.
The giggle that accompanies a burpee done in the style of a deranged alien.
Sometimes the small things are driving on a farm road at 5 in the morning. In the mist.

Just you and your God.

Sometimes the small things are realising that you came from here….

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And you have gotten here so far…..

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With a whole world still to go…..

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A rant at anarchy

So…

The 4 biggest cities in South Africa just made it onto the list of the 50 Most Dangerous Cities in the World.
9. Cape Town
41. Durban
42. Nelson Mandela Bay
47. Johannesburg.

I am completely and utterly horrified that even one of our fabulous cities makes the list, never mind 4.

It caused a little chain reaction in my brain. And something that has been bothering me for a long time now, decided it needed to be written about. Because they relate on a fundamental level.

I drive into Cape Town at about 05h30 every week day morning. That is the only way to miss the chaos that is N1 traffic.

There is a little bit of highway, at the off-ramp to the M5, that suddenly drops from 120km/h to 80km/h. It doesn’t matter why. Or who decided it. Or whether I agree or not. It is what it is. This little stretch of road is notoriously well known as being a trapping hotspot.

Except at 05h30 in the morning obviously.

So I should put a little context in here. I have car insurance with Discovery Health. In order for me to maximize the cash back I get every month, I trend to drive as well as I possibly can. Obeying all the rules of speeding, harsh acceleration, cornering.

I like money. And smoothies (new driving reward). So I drive appropriately.

Another little bit of essential information. I suspect that quite a few traffic officers report for duty at 06h00, or thereabouts, at a traffic department in Town. Because every morning I see at least 2 traffic officers on the N1, heading into Town.

I have yet to ever (and I really do mean ever – in all the time I have been driving to work in Town) see one drop his speed to 80 in the 80 zone. They all merrily maintain their speed, whatever it may be.

Perhaps I am being petty. Perhaps I too would not drop my speed if I didn’t get money back. Perhaps. Perhaps.

All I know is this.

When did we stop holding those tasked with upholding our laws accountable?

Is the message being sent not one of:

‘If I know I am not going to get caught, it is ok to break the law?’

‘If I am not yet on duty, I don’t have to follow or enforce the law?’

‘I am a traffic officer, so I am above the law?’

All I know is that our country is bleeding. There is no accountability anymore. There is no morality anymore. There is something very close to situational anarchy. I will do as I please because I probably won’t get caught.

This is beyond race. Beyond colour. Beyond economics. Beyond it all.

It is fundamentally about right and wrong.

It is a traffic officer speeding with impunity at 05h30 in the morning, on a stretch of highway he will probably set up a speed trap on in a few hours. After his coffee. And breakfast.

But what has he taught every single person who sees him in the morning. Consciously or not.

That it is okay to break the law when it suits you.

And I am also in no way trying to excuse the folks who do chose to break the law. Whichever law it may be. Small, or big.

You have to live with your own conscience and at the end of the day, you and your conscience have to be okay with the choices you make.

Whether you stand in a uniform and are supposed to uphold, and by default obey, a law, or in civilian clothing and chose to ignore a law.

Part of why South Africa has 4 cities on the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world?

Because no one gives a fuck anymore.

Until it suits them.

There is injustice in this world, stop ignoring it.

I happened across this blog the other day. And watched this video.

And my world changed.

I spoke to a lady at work that farms with pigs. And she brought me to this picture –

images1.GestationCrate

This is a gestation cage. A pregnant sow gets put in it and she will never leave it. Never. This becomes her world.

The enclosures measure 2 m x 60 cm.

We are talking about an  animal that likes to play. Is smart. Has good long-term memory, and can be socially manipulative. An animal that can tell which people are nice to them and which aren’t. An animal that can distinguish between pigs they know and pigs they don’t.All traits that we think are unique to being human.

And then I happened on these pictures –

 

I just cannot fathom how big business has managed to create a world where normal, rational, smart human beings have completely disassociated themselves from the fact that bacon comes from a pig. A pig that lives in conditions that are vile. That biltong comes from a cow that is so mistreated that it cannot even stand on it’s own. That chicken comes from an animal that is barely a few weeks old and pumped so full of crap you may as well just inject yourself with that crap and save yourself the trouble.

I grew up on a farm. I have a fundamental idea of where the meat on my plate comes from. I also consider myself an animal lover. One of those fruity folk that will double back to try and rescue the dog running lose in the street.

Yet I have somehow bought into a consumerism that enables the mistreatment of animals on a massive scale. I have turned a blind eye to the fact that a creature somewhere suffered to feed me? A creature whose life is as important to it, as mine is to me?

I have no doubt that humans, once upon a long ago, were supposed to eat meat. Needed to eat meat. That was before big business. That was before animal cruelty became normal.

That was before I knew that over 56 billion farmed animals are being killed every year by humans. That more than 3,000 animals die every second in slaughterhouses around the world. And that doesn’t even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes.

And just so you know – the pictures above? That is factory farming in America. That is exactly what our Government has signed a deal with Barrack Obama to let into our country by the bucket load. Oh and in the process just completely destroyed our own agriculture and farming sector.

I have to date never had a problem eating meat. I would even say I have always loved the taste of a good steak, on a open fire.

I have a problem with how that animal died. And I have a massive issue with how it lived.

And then there is the niggle…..

It will not leave my head nor my consciousness….

Babe is really no different to Blossom.

Babe
Babe
blossom
Blossom

I would never even almost contemplate eating Blossom.

One day we will all be asked a question. Perhaps by our God, perhaps by our children. Perhaps by our own conscience.

How did you live, that bettered the world? Did any thing or any one suffer needlessly because of you?

I will no longer eat Babe and all those like Babe.

For the sake of my own soul.

Quote attributed to Johnny Depp - There is injustice in this world, stop ignoring it like it's not real, animals or humans.

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