Sunday, November 20, 2011

Someone once asked me to define a leader.
The dictionary definition of a leader is ‘the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. A chief, head, conductor, guide, director, captain.’ 
‘A person followed by others.’

One of my first life memories is me standing in the entrance hall of our old house in Port Elizabeth – well over 20 years ago - and waiting for my dad to come home. I can distinctly remember standing there and staring at the front door as my mom had told my brother and I that he had just driven into our driveway in Walmer. The excitement and adrenaline that rushed through my 5 or 6 year old body can be easily compared to as if I were about to make a speech in parliament or go for my first interview. 
The love and respect I had for my father was tangible.
 When he opened that front door and stepped into our house – I anticipated what would happen next. He would pick me up in his strong arms and tell me how much he loved me. I can still recall the smell of his work shirt – stained with traces of deodorant and sweat after a long day at the office.
He was the strongest person I knew.
He was the man who taught me right from wrong.
He was the decision maker in our home.
He was the one who fixed my problems.
He was my hero. 
I can remember my dad trying to do a plait in my hair when I was about 7 as my mom was away. He didn’t know how to plait but he tried. By the time I had climbed out of the car for school, the plait had fallen out, but I didn’t care.
My dad had plaited it.
I was so proud of that. 
There was a moment when I was in grade 8 and failed an accountancy test so badly that the teacher had been angry. I was told that I had to show my parents and they had to sign next to the fat zero out of 40. Instead of being upset my dad wrote something on that paper that has literally stuck with me forever (I still have it). 
He wrote:
 “My Faye may have failed this test but she will pass the next one. I am proud of her no matter what.”
In grade 10 I had a boyfriend whom my parents weren’t overly excited about. However, my dad would drop me and fetch me to and from every party and event I attended. He would set a specific time to fetch me and sacrifice sleep, petrol and inconvenience on the weekends to make certain I was safe and did not go beyond the lines of safety.
He put up with my bad attitude throughout high school and blessed me irrelevant of my inability to communicate or love as I should. He opened our home to my rebellious friends and never failed to believe in me. 
In matric, my dad suggested that I do something called Life Team after school. It simply entailed spending a year serving at a church in Johannesburg. However, I was unsure, emotional and fearful. He gently encouraged me and steered me in the right direction – never forcing me to do anything. 
That year changed my entire life. 
When I was learning how to drive, I bumped my parent’s car into our driveway wall. My dad was away on a trip so my mom broke the news to him a few days later as he stepped off the plane. I remember sitting at home, trying to study at my desk, and praying that he wouldn’t be angry with me...
His response was said with overwhelming graciousness and a quirky grin, 
“I think we will keep that bump on the Jetta as a momento to your driving lessons.”

My dad has always encouraged me to live with passion, to strive for more, to never settle for the mundane, to do beyond what is required, to dream massively and pursue the impossible.
He has offered council in situations of confusion.
He has put his strong arms around me when he can see I’m struggling.
He has asked questions that matter and given answers that carry me.
He has reassured me when I don’t believe in myself.
He has put money into my account when I haven’t even asked.
He has let me go but never stopped fighting for me.
He has taught me the difficult tension of living on the edge,
taking risks,
never regretting but always being wise, discerning and sensible.
He has shown me how to fight for the Kingdom,
directed me to Jesus and trained my arms for war.
He has lived his life with unhindered ferocious devotion to Christ.
He has inspired me like no one else.
He has never given up.

Someone once asked me to define a leader. 
My answer was simple: 
My dad is the best leader I know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Love it or hate it we are all susceptible to it.

We don’t understand it. 
Try to remove it, ignore it, dull it or kill it. 
We find ourselves influenced and persuaded by it but are not always convinced of it. 
We are driven by it and yet rage against it. 
Woman are mocked for it and men deny it. 
However, if it were removed from who we are we would not be classified as human beings. 
It differentiates us from robots and inanimate objects.
It holds us vulnerable to life itself. 
It gives fullness to everyday experiences and adds dimension to simplistic moments.

1. an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.
2. any of the feelings of joy, sorrow, fear, hate, love, etc.
3. any strong agitation of the feelings actuated by experiencing love, hate, fear, etc., and usually accompanied by certain physiological changes, as increased heartbeat or respiration, and often overt manifestation, as crying or shaking.
4. something that causes such a reaction: the powerful emotion of a great symphony.

We relate to emotion.

When Mr Darcy speaks to Elizabeth Bennet in the last chapter of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice there is a very distinct well of emotion as he utters the following:

“You must know... surely, you must know it was all for you. You are too generous to trifle with me. I believe you spoke with my aunt last night, and it has taught me to hope as I'd scarcely allowed myself before. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”

When a friend is crying. 
When I baby is screaming. 
When a stranger is laughing. 
When a beautiful piece of music stirs you deep within. 
When the adrenaline rush of shock paralyzes your body. 
When an accomplishment wells up a sense of pride. 
When excitement about seeing someone gets you talking too fast. 
When knowledge brings peace to the frantic unknown. 
When hope is birthed within the arms of a lover. 
When clarity enables good decision-making. 
When joy is found in a simple act of kindness.

I know that my most heightened emotions have come from loving someone. 
I know that the moments where I have felt the most joy or the most hurt have been with those I am closest to because it is in love that we find ecstatic, overwhelming joy and deep-seated hurt simply because of the intimacy shared with someone else.

Mark Twain said, Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.”

We may not fully understand it but I think we could begin with appreciating it.

Emotion enhances how we see and act and breathe and move on this planet.

It adds colour to the dull normality of our existence.

Love it or hate it we are susceptible to it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Have you ever imagined doing something completely impossible?

Have you ever pictured something happening to you and wondered how you would respond?

Have you ever dreamt of something and felt completely ridiculous?

I am sure everyone finds themselves in that place at some point in their lives. 
A moment. 
A situation.
A set of circumstances that surprise you and leave you in a place of wonder.

If not yet… then I encourage you to begin day-dreaming J

Over the last few months I have had the privilege of being involved in events and competitions that have seriously challenged and changed me <from the inside> in ways I could never have anticipated. I have decided to begin here with…


On Saturday the 24th of September I modeled for the awesome Gert Johan Coetzee who is known to steal almost every show he is involved in. His work is unconventional but incredibly appealing.

It was my first ramp work ever and at an event of this status and profile you can just imagine the nerves. The model line-up for Gert’s collection was Christina Storm, Bonang Matheba, Shashi Naidoo, Jenna Dova and Weza Solange. I had one opportunity to walk down the ramp as a practice round and nothing more. However, besides for the terror of messing up, falling, tripping, not walking in a straight line or moving your hips in the correct manner - there is the tremendous excitement, the buzz, the phenomenal atmosphere and build up over a few hours. The hype over hair, make-up, nails, shoes and outfits…

I can honestly say that the adrenaline rush as you stand there waiting to walk down that ramp is beyond anything I have ever experienced. My heart felt like it was beating so hard it was about to explode inside of my chest. The high heels were stopping all blood circulation in my feet. Gert did his last check over our outfits as the music begins.


You walk.

Music pumping your legs forward.

The overwhelmingly bright lights don’t allow you to see the audience.

The non-stop flash of a million photographers on a grand stand directly in front of you.

It is literally a few seconds.

But it’s a few seconds that I will never forget.

As we were getting ready to walk the finale (all models simply walk out again before the designer comes out on stage) I thought back to a few years ago when I was watching Fashion TV and wondering what it must feel like to do just THAT. 
All I could do was smile. 
This is THAT.

So do it.

Dream of the impossible. 
Nomatter how seemingly insignificant or stupid. 

Perhaps you will find yourself caught up in a moment where some Coldplay lyrics seems to be the only appropriate description of the place you find yourself in:

Look up, I look up at night,
Planets are moving at the speed of light.
Climb up, up in the trees,
every chance that you get, 
is a chance you seize.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I love music. 

I love instrumental melodies. I love bass. I love rap. I love house. I love acoustic. I love jazz. I love rock. I love classical. I love dance. I love trance. I love vocal pop. I love indie. I love hip hop. I love a slick mix. I love discovering a new artist. I love listening to a new album and deciding on my top three favourites. I love lyrics that epitomize your situation. I love discovering an old album and being flooded with a mass of good memories. I love a beat that can do nothing else but get you moving… whether in the car or on the street or in your bedroom. I love running for kilometers on end with my i-pod pressed into my ears and the beat pushing my legs to run harder, faster. I love sending a song to someone in a moment when spoken words don’t do justice.

Besides for music… I love radio.

I spent some time and had good experience working at a Community Radio Station whilst I was studying in East London. It was there that I learnt how to “present” on air and hosted the Youth Show, the Top 40 and a daily half-hour community chat show. This was a good three years of experience. There wasn’t a set-apart moment when I recall knowing this was my passion. I just began having fun. There were many moments of skrewing up, saying the wrong thing, sounding flustered, being criticized and feeling as though I would never ‘master’ this skill. However, I believe that – similarly to any profession – if you apply yourself and work at improving the way in which you do something – you will eventually become increasingly excellent at what you do.

Although I do not consider myself to be a professional I do know that I love what I do. Preparing a show and presenting it to listeners who could possibly enjoy what I have to say is rewarding.  This kind of interaction with complete strangers is indescribably awesome. I guess you could compare a well-presented show to a brilliant sale or an excellent architectural design. The function can obviously vary from informative discussion to pure entertainment but the point is usually the vital establishment of a connection with your listeners. Through careful and strategic use of these functions you can easily encourage, persuade, uplift or simply engage your listeners with a topic of your choice.

I believe radio is one of the THE most powerful media tools. It is the one medium which is most accessible to people of all races and cultures in this world. Those in rural areas may not have an i-pod, an i-pad, a television, a washing machine or even a stove… but they have a radio. I remember going on outreach trips into Africa and walking into a hut where they sold ice-cold coca-cola and on the top of a box or wooden stool was a radio perched up in the best position for maximum quality reception. I have seen domestic workers listening to talk radio 702 as they work in the garden, teenagers begging their parents to change the frequency to 5fm, elderly folk singing along to Classic FM, patients in waiting rooms tapping their feet to Highveld, rappers crowded in circles listening to Y-fm, successful business women blasting the new Rihanna track on Kaya FM as they drive home from work, grown Afrikaans men speaking about Jacaranda FM, and students phoning in to express their opinion on 95.4.

Radio, unlike television, can be listened to whilst doing a million other activities. Washing dishes, ironing clothes, getting dressed, sitting in traffic, cooking, drawing, typing, chilling, planning, bathing, eating or even chatting to someone.

I’m passionate about it.

The presenters/ dj’s are my friends whether they like it or not. I talk back to them and laugh with them. I have listened to them in some of my best and worst moments. There may talk complete sense or absolute rubbish but there is always some kind of entertainment, comfort or amusement sought.

I believe radio can change and challenge our society.

So this week, when you find yourself in that inevitable place of listening to the radio, do one thing:


Thursday, September 22, 2011


I met a 23-year-old girl the other day. Indian. English Speaking. Studying Law.

After a few minutes of a very superficial conversation about the busyness of Johannesburg, career aspirations, place of residence and relationships the conversation gradually moved from general to specific. She explained to me a little of her struggles to prove herself amongst her friends and family as everyone she associates with is highly prosperous and influential. Her aim is to be the best at whatever she does. Yet, in an almost hushed tone, with a distinct gleam in her eyes… she vulnerably explained how she sometimes contemplates the ‘irresponsible idea’ of being a full-time artist. 
Determined. Driven. Sporadic dreamer.

I met a 54-year-old man the other day. African. Zulu speaking. Lecturer at Wits.

He interrupted me at till in Pick n Pay, advising me to close my handbag properly in public, as theft is rife and on the increase (of course) in this country. The teller had some problems with the card machine so while we waited we briefly discussed crime statistics and went on to discuss where some of the safer cities in South Africa are – specifically for raising children. As I turned to leave, we shook hands and he said to me in a stern tone but with a big smile on his face, 
“Nice meeting you, now don’t ever forget to close your handbag.” 
Protective. Fatherly. Consciously helpful.

I met an 8-year-old boy the other day. Portuguese. Wealthy. School going.

This young man was quiet but confident, well spoken but slightly careless, attentive but still a boy. I picked him up from school as part of my aupair work and he surprised me with his unusual questioning and interest in my life. He described to me his simple but honest desire to help people one day ‘when he is grown up’ as “there are too many sad people in the world”. He then begged to introduce me to playstation for simply half an hour. I gave in and gave way to being solidly beaten in “Call of Duty 4, Modern Duty Warfare”. His massive grin was enough of a reprise. 
Caring. Sensitive. Unashamedly competitive.

I met a white 84-year-old lady the other day. White. Retired. Lives in an old age home.

This lady was walking in my neighborhood, enjoying the sunshine. She smiled as she walked and stopped to greet me with genuine friendliness. No inhibition. Lines of wisdom stretching over her face. A depth of ancient beauty. A content expression of understanding. A brief and simplistic interaction with this lady left me contemplating my life’s goals and ambitions. My youthful arrogance seemingly obvious in the midst of someone who has walked a long road, someone who has experienced life to the fullest, someone who has loved and lost and come to a place of enviable satisfaction. 
Mature. Composed. Sophisticated aura.

Different ages. 
Different races. 
Different contexts. 
Different faces. 
Different stories. 
Different dreams. 
Different desires. 
Different challenges. 
Different emotions. 
Different struggles. 
Different names. 
Different perspectives. 
Different hopes. 
Different cultures.

One nation.

Heritage Day, 24 September, is a Public Holiday on which South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their cultural heritage and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all it’s people.

A celebration of life.

We have often heard the typical comments made by foreigners - on how friendly we are as a nation. The daily interactions we are accustomed to are seen as completely ‘suprising’ or ‘unusual’ to those from mostly European or First World countries. The greetings paid to you by strangers you walk past in the street, the conversation struck in an elevator, the smile in a shopping centre, the comments made in que’s, the complaints or encouragements shared...
Whether it’s about the weather or the latest political scandal there is a genuine openness and sharing-of-life we seem to carry wherever we go. The respect and appreciation of different cultures.

Madiba’s birthday was on the 18th July and on that day I read a tweet saying “Madiba's birthday a few hours away and it's difficult to celebrate. Every single thing that he stands for is being destroyed in SA. A shame.”

I guess there will always be a manner of viewing our nation in respect of the areas in which we lack and need improvement. There are always vast and open spaces in which we know need to change. 
However, commemorating heritage day is an opportunity to view what we DO have. 
Our cultural diversity and varying beliefs and traditions are what make us a rainbow nation. 
It is a rarity. 
Something unique and blatantly beautiful.

I recently went to the Nando’s comedy festival in Johannesburg and a gentleman named Ndumiso Lindi (The Rooster) brilliantly described our nation in a way I have never heard before. He painted such a rich picture of the cultural conglomeration of heritage that we hold within one nation. He highlighted our idiosyncrasies and encouraged our differences to the point a standing ovation was given. This was not simply because he is an obviously great African comedian… but because I am almost certain that every single one of the 1800 audience could feel the presence of celebratory unity. What we have in this country is intrinsically attractive.

Yet, beyond our diversity of cultures being celebrated on a single day, we hold something more essential than any other kind of recognized public holiday or person on this planet. 
We hold a truth within our hearts that motivates, stirs, encourages, moves and changes everything we live for. 
This truth has been proven true for centuries and has literally altered our existence on this planet, on this nation, in the cities we find ourselves. 

This truth is better than any unified heritage.

A Savior who created us.
A King who walked this earth as a man.
A Father who gave his life so that we could live.

May we never fail to live in celebration of this truth.