You have my word

One word can change your life.

Use your words, love, use your words


When I use my words I take back the power that I have given the silence. It’s not easy; it’s a wrestle to draw the words out of the depths. It’s painful trying to name the thing I least want to name. She reminds me gently: “Use your words, love, use your words.”

They don’t pour out as I would expect them to. I am no stranger to words and it frightens me that I don’t know which ones to use or what order to put them in. So the wrestle continues and I find myself in this vortex of stifling what really needs to be said. Until… I open my mouth and for the seconds stretch aeons before I utter the first sound. I say “sound” because the groan that escapes can’t be attributed as a full word just yet. Language is a series of sounds and it comforts me to think that if I make enough sounds I might eventually be able to make a word. “I wish it didn’t have to be this hard.”

I feel the mountains shake with these softly uttered words and this light shell heart and these shaking hands and this strained voice. I don’t offer much in the nine words that make it out, but I offer what I have. It’s not enough, but at least it’s something. My words now matter.

I have encroached a little bit into silent enemy territory; I have reclaimed some of what was taken from me. If I refuse to use my words, I refuse to own who I am – I refuse to acknowledge where I picked up what I now carry. When I speak, I am being true to who I am; I am giving myself a chance to make better – make right within myself.

In the words of Shane Koyczan, “Make us comprehend the urgency of your crisis. Silence left to its own devices, breed’s silence. So speak and be heard. One word after the next, express yourself and put your life in the context – if you find that no one is listening, be loud. Make noise. Stand in poise and be open.

That is the power that I am taking back from the silence.

When you tell your story, tell the truth


When you tell your story, make sure to tell the truth. It sounds like an obvious thing, but it’s so easy to elevate or negate parts that don’t sound good enough or sound too good to be true. Tell it how it is, and not how you want people to hear it.

Why the preamble? This coming Sunday is International Coming Out Day, and whether you support it or not, it is what it is. That is part of my story – not elevated or negated.

What’s the big deal? Coming out is about telling the ultimate truth – about yourself and about your world… about myself and about my world.

In celebration of telling the truth, here is my coming out story in brevity but, nevertheless, in full:

I didn’t come out. Well, not officially. The process (because it is a process) of coming out is really just a process of telling the truth – of telling a story. For some, it’s a truth and a story that they have come to accept and love for the first time. For some, it’s a truth and a story that they acknowledge and haven’t yet accepted. That is also OK. What’s important is that it is the truth.

So how did I tell the truth? Someone else tried to do it for me. They told a biased version of my story which blew up like dropping a full bottle of red wine. I’m not saying that some people didn’t know; if you have even two stones knocking between your ears, it’s fairly obvious to see that I’m not a cookie-cut-out girl. Yet, as much as it broke me to be exposed in that way, it also provided a new kind of freedom.

Sometimes pain is the most honest truth.

Hear me: I’m not condoning how out of place that person was, and I’m certainly not thanking them for shoving me out, but I will acknowledge the space that I stepped into. That’s the thing about being in the light.

“Coming out of the closet” is the expression that’s often used and although I don’t completely understand its origin, I do understand the feeling. If you’ve ever stepping into a closet and closed the door or been trapped in a pantry or anything similar, you will know the stifling, desperate, claustrophobic feeling that comes with the confines and you will also know the feeling of relief that washes over you when the door opens again.

It’s no wonder children are afraid of monsters in the closet. Some monsters don’t have teeth, but they do eat at your truth and instil fear in the dark.

Almost two years later and I’m telling the story here, as it is, for the first time. As I said, coming out is a process. It hasn’t come without its breakdowns and wreckage, but it also hasn’t come without its joy and contentment. That is my truth and my story.

So don’t see Sunday as International Coming Out Day… see it as a day for telling the truth, a day for telling your story, no matter what that story is. If it happens to be about coming out, celebrate that as your truth and commit to the process of always telling your truth. Others may not like it, they may not accept it, but it is yours. Be true.

Even if you’re scared, even if you break


“Speak the truth

even if your voice shakes.”

Speak the truth

even if it breaks

your heart.

Speak the truth

even if your world ends.

Speak the truth;

do not wait till it’s too late.

Speak the truth

even if the walls cave in.

Speak the truth

even if the sin

you speak outweighs your words.

Speak the truth

even if you lose the crowd.

Speak the truth

even if you’re proud

and ashamed at the same time.

Speak the truth

even if it’s the last thing you speak

before you leave.

In the event that you are too angry to speak…


Shout the truth

even if your voice breaks.

Shout the truth

even if they hate

you for being heard.

Shout the truth

even if you’re scared.

Shout the truth

even if no one cares

and you’re alone

just trying not to drown.

Shout the truth

even if you’re going to drown.

Shout the truth

even if they watch you

push the last of your air out.

Shout the truth

even if they kick you to the ground,

leave you shouting loud,

burning open mouth

with words spilling out.

Shout! Into the abyss

do not miss

the moment.

In the unlikely event that you have nothing to say…

The Art of Disconnect in an always-on world | OR Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close


An irate businessman powers into an iStore with his busted iPhone. He taps his foot while waiting and makes a scene about asking another browsing customer for the time – “because my phone is broken… how annoying!” Just a few moments pass and he is ushered to the counter. “How can we help you sir?” asks the clerk.
“My phone is broken and I need it fixed now because I’m in a hurry and I can’t function without it.”
Obviously having dealt with many an irrational phone-fixated customers before, she calmly responds. “Not a problem, sir. If you give me just a moment we can take a look at it in the back.”
“Sure. Just hurry. I’m in a rush.”

She disappears for a few minutes to the back of the shop and then reappears with a smile and the phone in hand. “What’s wrong with it?” he demands.
“Not too much, fortunately. But you’re all set now.”
“Well, what did you do?”
“It just needed some tweaking, sir, but don’t you worry about it.”
“OK. Fine. Thanks. How much?”
This one’s on the house,” she says and gives a cheeky wink.
No response. He storms out, texting again before he’s 20 metres out of the shop.

Two days later, the same businessman paces into the shop and makes his presence very noticeable at the first counter he sees. The clerk who helped him before, glides across with a cheery grin and says, “Back so soon… did you miss me? Kidding! How can we help you today, sir?”
“Is this a joke to you?” holding up the phone, “It’s not like I have things to do because clearly I don’t have a job or a life. But I can tell you what I do have: a broken phone.”
She speaks more cautiously now, “I am sincerely sorry, sir. Do you have an idea of what’s wrong with it?
“Do I look like I know what’s wrong with it?”
“I was just wo—“
“Don’t just anything. I need you to fix my phone. So how long will it take today?”
“Unfortunately, we are going to have to send it away to be fixed, but it shouldn’t take longer than two weeks.”

She realises she has just delivered bad news but has passed from cautious and empathetic to irked and defensive. This is not her first rodeo.
“Two weeks! Two weeks? What the heck? What am I supposed to do? Just wait? Two weeks!”
“Sorry, sir, but that’s usually how l—“
“Two weeks! How will I work? I’m important you know… I’m successful, I need this phone… How am I supposed to wake up in the mornings? I need to go to work? Are you going to call me? Oh, wait! You can’t!”
She holds her composure till she is sure he’s done repeating himself at an uncomfortable volume, and then she speaks with a dead-straight face.

Who. The fuck. Do you think you are. That you need an R8,000 device to wake you up in the morning?”


I bet that guy never had a more blunt wake-up call (no pun intended) in his relatively successful, arrogant life. But it’s not just him… that story was a wake-up call for me too. Do I really need an R8,000 device to get me out of bed in the morning? Do I really need an R8,000 device to track my sleep? No, I wake up in the morning and I know if I’ve slept well or had another shitty night knotted in sheets.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone (and I’m sure someone in the 80s would have wondered why on Earth I love this plastic thing, with buttons on, so much but that’s no longer the case). I live and breathe media – it goes in, it comes out. I love new apps and news that I can read in apps. I love the psychology behind why and how people use their phones. I love social media – which I access through my phone. It’s my job, for goodness sake! I work for an ad agency – it is media in every form, through and through. Yet sometimes…

Just sometimes, I wish I could get away. It gets too much. It’s too fast. It’s overwhelming. It’s superficial. It’s pressuring. It’s confining and so liberating at the same time. It’s intoxicating. It’s distracting. It’s a distraction – which is sometimes good, but so often it’s bad because it means I don’t have to face the real things in my life… like people.

All that to say I bought an alarm clock. This tiny, cute mischievous-looking device goes so far back it doesn’t even have a charger! It’s like an actual clock. It ticks (which drives me crazy) and doesn’t have a light so I have to set it before I close my eyes for the night. How wonderful!


Perhaps this sounds cynical and sarcastic as I write, but I am sincerely invested in this tiny piece of tech. Do you want to know why? Because for the first time in years I can get home and turn off my phone, I can spend an evening unwinding and not be afraid of over-sleeping. Bliss! Yes, there are “what if” questions (What if someone needs you? What if you’re in an emergency? What if your clock battery stops working? What if…?) but I’m really not all that concerned. What will be, will be, and I’m OK with that.

I’m realising more and more (call it maturity or just adapting to adulting) that it’s important to disconnect sometimes. Not because you lose signal in a mountain or because your battery died… but because you choose to disconnect. I need to disconnect. Maybe it seems like a way to avoid the world (because so much of the world happens online these days) because no one can contact me, but it’s the absolute opposite. Disconnecting is not avoiding, it’s finding stillness and focus. It’s finding space to genuinely connect – not only with others, but with myself. It’s being present in real life – in my skin – because I’m not thinking about what I can snap for Instagram as I eat, or what I can post on Facebook about what an amazing time I’m having. I can experience the now – savouring my food, revelling in the fun of being with friends.

So I challenge you: Turn off your R8,000 device every now and again. Put the laptop and hard drive away. Slide your tablet into a desk drawer. Disconnect. Perhaps this isn’t for everyone, but I guarantee that when you do (for longer than the amount of take it takes to make a cup of tea), you will feel refreshed. Maybe a bit strange in the interim, but better for it when you do finally power-up again.

Distraction aside, focus inside. Now that’s real living.


Disclaimer: This post is not only for people with iPhones.


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