Imagine holding your arms out wide as if to embrace someone. Chest open, chin up, eyes closed, and saying out loud to God or to the universe (or both!), "I am ready."
This is exactly what I did for months on end, starting in May this year after a chance encounter with a stray dog named Maddison.
When we took the emaciated, terrified dog to the Helderberg Animal Welfare, I had to fill in some forms. There was a space to write down an optional donation. I left it blank. By then, I had been without an income for about six months, and the fear of not being able to make rent had become my constant companion. I felt sick to my stomach that I wasn't able to help this poor dog...
Apart from being a really traumatic experience, a harsh reality-check and cruel low-point, I now know that my meeting Maddison happened to be a turning point: Up until then, like millions of people all over the world, I was waiting for things to get better. Just waiting... The feeling of utter helplessness I felt at the kennels with Maddison finally pushed me to the point of done waiting. I experienced a mental shift to Ready.
For three months, I deliberately and passionately repeated this mantra: I am ready. I am ready. I am ready. Ready for change. Ready for answers. Ready to move forwards.
In August, I got an answer. A kind soul gave us money. In turn, this generous gift sparked quite a bit of change:
We were able to donate money and one of my Fine Art Wildlife Prints for a raffle, raising funds for the Helderberg AWS, the amazing team that cared for Maddison during her final days.
After sharing Maddison's story, I was approached by a dear friend to join the Essentially Natural Outreach Team. Apart from the heartwarming, inspirational, uplifting, soul-feeding work that I now get to do, they have also gifted me the blessing of a stable income. We named the Helderberg AWS as one of our very first Outreach Partners, bringing the total amount of money raised - all inspired by Maddison - to over R11 000!
Somewhere amidst all this - driven by my newfound mantra - I entered my artwork, "Mother's Pride", into an international online watercolour competition. It received an honourable mention from the esteemed judges. Even better though -- the first I learnt of this happy news was when a random stranger contacted me to find out if I'd like to show my work in her gorgeous art gallery, Reflections of Africa, close to the Kruger National Park. Gallery owner, Colleen Williams, saw my painting in the exhibition results blog post! It already looks like a match made in heaven, with the first item selling before it was even unpacked and installed in the gallery.
ALSO around the same time, the fabulous Future Females opened the doors to their Business School - an intensive ten-week accelerator program that aims to empower entrepreneurs to make the absolute best of their businesses dreams. I have had my eye on this course for years, but have just never had the money... Until now. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactor, we were able to pay some bills, give back to an amazing cause AND invest in our future.
The course exceeded all my very high expectations. Apart from the fantastic content and resources, the peer-support from the women in my cohort has been invaluable. I plan to continue with them on our journey to self-improvement, sustainability and success!
I also plan to stay faithful to the mantra that has served me so well. Arms wide, chest, heart and ears open. Because the answers are out there...
I am ready. I am ready. I am ready.
I have big things planned for 2022. Be the first to know!
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