2016 – Final Thoughts

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As I spend the final moments of 2016 reflecting on all that has happened this year, it’s really bitter-sweet and hard to put into words. I am all about focusing on the positive and being thankful for all the good things in our lives, but it hasn’t been an easy thing to do at times.

When this year started, I was aware of the fact that I had a lot of challenges to overcome. Personally, academically and professionally, I had a lot of things to get in order and I remained focused on my goals. The good by far outweighed the bad. I completed law school, passed my attorneys admission exams, got sworn in and admitted as an attorney, traveled, met people who changed my life for the better, had some unexpected surprises, many dreams came true, I discovered more and more about myself and my relationship with myself grew stronger. I am proud of the woman I’ve become and I know I still have work to do, but that’s what the twenties are about… That’s what life is about… The journey of discovery. Making the best of every situation and the most of the time we are given.

2016 has been the biggest roller-coaster of my life… I thought 2015 was a mix of some of the best and worst moments of my life… But then 2016 came along and took the cake. I achieved so much and so many of my dreams came true… But the number of obstacles I have encountered along the way have been more than ever before. With each year that goes by, the stakes are higher, the challenges bigger and I have to step things up and prove myself more and more. Sometimes it frustrates me, but it is what it is and feeling sorry for myself won’t get me anywhere…

Just as I have gained a lot, I have lost too…. I lost people I thought would always be there and I’ve had to learn and remind myself that nothing is guaranteed. Like many others, my life has been touched by death and I have been reminded of my mortality… That is something that drives me to keep going because every day is a blessing and a gift and I don’t want to find that I didn’t honour the fact I got to see another day when many didn’t.

2016 was no walk in the park… Everyone I know can attest to that. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. But no one ever promised us an easy life. No one ever promised us perfection. Those are things many may hope for, but the reality is, sometimes things will be hard. Sometimes we will be brought down to our knees and stripped of all we thought we had to hang on to… Sometimes all we are going to have is ourselves. And we have to find a way for that to be enough.

Solitude is what I’ve been holding on to more than ever before. I have never needed it before in the way that I have this year. Last year I was determined to make myself my main focus in 2016. Pushing the envelope and making my happiness and dreams my top priority while also celebrating my victories and being grateful for the good things in my life. I really believe I worked hard on that. I made breakthroughs. Sometimes a breakdown comes before the breakthrough, but it all contributes to building us and preparing us for what is ahead.

My motto this year was “face your fears, live your dreams”. I did a bit of both. And it feels good to know that. My heart didn’t go cold even though there were times it could have and perhaps even should have. I rediscovered and reconnected with some of my passions and what makes me feel most alive. I have seen very good days and really bad ones. I have cried tears of joy and tears of pain… But at the end of it all, I LIVED… I lived and made it through. And now I’m ready to look ahead. I’m ready to leave behind this year… I am ready to leave behind the disappointments and finish what I started.

2017 will be even more about me. I will not compromise on anything. I will reap the fruits of my labour. I will live, love, work and do all things with my full dedication. I will focus my time and energy on that which is worthy. I will not explain myself or apologize for doing what I need to do to be happy… I will strive to always remain and be a good person even if at times it seems like no one sees or appreciates it. I will dream bigger dreams and believe in my ability to make them come true. I will continue to push through both the good and bad days for as long as there is still breath in my body. I will travel, explore the world around me and put more of my energy on living in the moment. I will set goals and pursue them tirelessly.

I will LIVE life to the fullest and trust the process even though I know some things won’t make much sense at times.

Goodbye 2016… I hope 2017 makes up for all the hardships we all went through this year…

Here’s to a new chapter, new experiences, endless possibilities and living FEARLESSLY.

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Cape Town – Beach Life

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Ever since I can remember, I have always loved the beach. It’s kind of funny seeing as I can’t swim to save my life, but that would never stop me from having all the fun in the water.

The first time I ever dipped my toes in the sand was in November 2011 at the beach in Durban. It was really awesome and liberating, but it was in May 2013 when I first traveled to Cape Town that I truly experienced the beauty of the beach, the sand and the sunset in a way unlike ever before. There is something really fascinating to me about it and it was only natural that I would want to see the sunset there again this year.

After a long, crazy year, I booked my flight and went to visit my friend in Cape Town. It was really fun being away from life as I know it and just having a different view and environment for a few days. I am beginning to enjoy travel more and more with each trip.

What makes Cape Town’s landscape so beautiful to me, among other things, is driving down the road surrounded by beautiful palm trees (which just so happen to be my favorites), how Table Mountain seems to everywhere – pretty much no matter how far you go or where you are, the different beaches that make you feel like you are in completely different places, the calmness, the breeze, the way your feet just sink in the sand, the high tides that catch you by surprise when they hit harder than expected and of course, the sunset. That, to me, is magical.

I played in the water like a carefree child, freezing as it was. Sitting on the beach watching the sun setting, seemingly falling into the ocean is something I could watch over and over again many times and I am pretty sure it would still take my breath away without fail each and every time. I love capturing such moments on camera and having those bits of those moments to carry on with me and look back on. For me, Cape Town represents a getaway and complete tranquility. Living in South Africa is a true blessing. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful countries in the world and there are so many places to visit and explore. Nature is a wonderful thing and the older I get, the more my appreciation grows.

Lunch by the beach side with cocktails and good food and company, walking barefoot in the sand on the beach, getting into the water waiting for the cold waves to hit and seeing the sun set will go down as some of the most beautiful memories I will take from 2016 going forward. I encourage anyone and everyone to visit Cape Town at least once… It’s a place and an experience like no other. Here’s to traveling more and enjoying the beauty of the simpler things in life. Take nothing for granted!

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(© Photography By: GMZee)

My New York Adventure

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Looking back on 2016, the opportunity to travel to New York was most certainly the highlight of my year… It meant more to me than any academic or professional achievement I attained this year. This revelation is somewhat surprising to people, but pushing myself academically and professionally is second nature to me. Traveling and exploring makes me feel alive in a completely different way and that’s part of the reason it meant more than most other experiences 2016 brought my way.

I still remember being so excited the night before my flight that I couldn’t sleep properly. I arrived at the airport about five hours before my flight and I wished I could just fast forward to the next day. A sixteen-hour flight later, we safely landed at JFK International Airport. I don’t think I realized it was real just yet. Throughout the drive from the airport to Manhattan, I kept looking out the window, just in awe of every little detail, from the roads to the buildings and everything else in between. I just wanted to take it all in. I didn’t want to miss a single thing. It was just one of those situations where I only cared about being in the moment. No yesterday or tomorrow mattered. It was just me living in the moment. Something I usually struggled to do but was now effortless.

The funny thing is, no matter how tired I was, I just found the energy to push and explore constantly. After dropping all luggage at the hotel and with a few hours to kill before check-in, a long walk around Manhattan followed. Watching people go about their business, everyone concentrating on their own thing and not really concerned with dozens of others sharing the sidewalk. Traffic, yellow cabs. It was all surreal to me. What is an everyday normal thing for millions of people was truly an experience for me which I treasured more than I could ever explain. It was so humid, but I really didn’t care so much about the weather. The heatwave was a small price to pay in comparison to all the experiences, big and small.

I mistook Chrysler Building for the Empire State Building probably for the first two or three days and I remember taking a walk to Chrysler Building like look!!! Empire State Building right there!!! LOL. But that’s one of those mistakes I look back on and laugh about now. Taking the subway was also an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. Being one of many commuting from one place to another, seeing random performers hustling for dollars on and off the train. It was all part of the New York vibe.

Exploring Brooklyn the first evening in New York was really special and I conquered a night on the town despite jet lag. The adrenaline and excitement made me feel superhuman.

My hotel room was on the 36th floor with a clear view of the actual Empire State Building. The view at night was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I wanted to journal about my trip at the end of every day/night, yet I couldn’t really sit still and I wanted to just take photos, videos and still have enough time to live in the moment without getting carried away in capturing so much that it takes away from the actual experience of being truly present without distractions.

I remember I barely slept the first night. The next morning, I went up on the rooftop of the forty-floor Element Westin Times Square Hotel and experienced New York City from a whole different angle. I fell in love with every little detail. I was never a fan of crowded places, yet it made me feel so alive and energized and inspired by how fast-paced it was. I really got to understand what is meant by the saying “in a New York minute”.

I also had the opportunity to visit a few court houses. As a lawyer, it was really exciting just visiting and seeing the differences. I really wanted to sit in on and observe a jury trial, but that bit didn’t come together. But at least, there’s something to look forward to for next time.

I took trips to the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, a night tour of New York, Times Square, Central Park, Queens, George Washington Square Park and many other places. Whether I was traveling by road, subway or taking lengthy walks, it was all an adventure.

In those few days, I learnt things about myself that I didn’t know before. I enjoyed the hours I had to myself all by myself exploring the new and unknown on my own. I trusted myself and my instincts more than ever before and I was not all in my head constantly. I was spontaneous, adventurous, I felt safe, didn’t worry about getting lost anywhere, I had a completely different sense of self and direction… The best way to describe it was feeling like myself, only better. All of my qualities were heightened. I felt free, fearless, at peace and washed over by clarity. I had more energy than a little kid. Sleeping at night was something I didn’t even want to do because every moment counted. Waking up in the mornings was thrilling because it meant I got to visit more places and see more.

Sometimes we have to get away from all we know and explore the world… Go to foreign places and give in to the unknown. See where it takes us. By learning more about other people and places, we learn more about ourselves… I met people and shared experiences beyond my imagination and had I not stepped outside of my comfort zone and being open to travel and adventure, I would have missed out on a great deal. It’s hard to describe it all, to capture and relive each moment… But I lived them all fully… And nothing will ever take that away from me…

We all deserve to get away once in a while. To travel and see the world. To be inspired by life outside the borders of the where we live… So get your passport… Pack a suitcase… Go on an adventure and see where it takes you!!!….

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My view of NYC from my hotel room window.

(© Photography By: GMZee)