‘Every Birthday Is A Gift. Every Day Is A Gift.’
– Aretha Franklin
For some, celebrating a birthday means celebrating who they are or the life they have – that, eating cake and getting presents. For me though, celebrating my birthday means celebrating with the people who make my life worthwhile and inspire me to be the best version of myself. And so, every year on my birthday, even though I’m usually the focus, I try to give back a little to all of my loved ones.
This year, for my birthday, I was going to bake a special sugar-free, gluten-free, diabetic- and allergy-friendly cake (catering to the dietary requirements of all my loved ones) in the shape of a butterfly. We had a whole seafood lunch planned in Hermanus, seaside, where friends and family would come together. Over good food and wine, we would make some more precious memories together. Unfortunately, this had to be cancelled as almost all of my friends and family were sick with a cold or the flu.
Also, at the last moment, I decided that I would launch my website – this website – on my 24th birthday. It really was the perfect date as exactly a year earlier, on my 23rd birthday on the 4th of August 2018, the idea of THE WHIMSICAL REBEL was born. But it also meant a lot of work had to be done before then! In a way, the family visit getting cancelled was a good thing, as I don’t think I’d have gotten as far as I did with building this website if I had a whole weekend of birthday activities to attend.
In the end, it was a pretty low-key birthday weekend… I went for drinks at Cubaña, a Latino café, in Stellenbosch with (literally!) my best friend forever, Roné. As the designated driver, she stuck to mocktails, while I indulged in the Diabolita (made up of whiskey, peach, pineapple and Amaretto) and a Piña Colada (one of my all time favourites!). I’m not much of a drinker: I usually stick to a glass of wine at family gatherings (unless I’m driving) about once a month, or indulge in a cocktail or two when there’s a special celebration. But, as I joked with Roné, “You can’t live in Stellenbosch, celebrate a birthday in your early twenties and not include some form of alcohol!”
We ended up sharing a basket of crumbed chicken strips and chips served with the option of a sweet chilli sauce and a cheese sauce. Strangely enough, both of us had skipped lunch to get some extra work done. Unfortunately, the only gluten-free item at Cubaña is their French fries – even the meat in their salads are crumbed and battered!
I will admit to eating very poorly this weekend. I was so absorbed with building the website and getting everything just right that I didn’t pay much attention to food. I definitely skipped a few meals and since I didn’t want to take time out to cook, I ended up eating take-out and making less healthy choices while out celebrating. I didn’t exactly overeat – I think I only ate once or twice a day this past weekend – but I did eat the wrong kind of foods. Lots of gluten, sugar and carbs… Definitely paid for it with a terrible stomach ache today! (I’m gluten intolerant.)
‘My Life Is Better With Every Year Of Living It.’
– Rachel Maddow
I spent most of Saturday working on the website, working right until 4 am in the early hours of my 24th birthday. I was just too excited to leave it be and turn in! I caught about 3 hours of sleep before getting up to launch the website and announce it on social media, snoozed for an hour or so, and then the Mumsy picked me up for my birthday brunch. But I didn’t feel as tired as I was supposed to. Honestly, I felt so happy and proud and relieved at the finished product of the WRebel website that I just wanted to jump up and down like a demented zombie and shout about it from the rooftops!
We made it just in time to enjoy the Continental Breakfast buffet at Helena’s Restaurant in the Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel & Spa before the staff started clearing for the lunch crowd. Of course, I was so tired, hungry and excited at that point that I really dug into the food on offer… and there was a lot of it! It was a total foodie heaven and feast for the eyes that are larger than the stomach…
Although there was a large variety of low-carb, healthy choices on offer, I just didn’t feel like resisting the less healthy choices at that point. Hey, it was my birthday, I only had four hours sleep, I had just achieved a life-goal of celebrating my website and I was really hungry… I have no regrets. Except for a generous piece of chocolate cake the Mumsy baked specially for me, I didn’t eat the rest of the day after that.
Because the big gathering was cancelled and I worked most of the weekend, I didn’t end up baking a healthy birthday cake for myself. Instead, my mom stepped up and made her secret-recipe chocolate cake for me – most of it which I gave away to friends and family. Unfortunately, I’m the only “healthy” baker in the family and the Mumsy’s cake – although DELICIOUS!!! – was neither gluten- nor sugar-free. But I really didn’t care. After all, she was baking her special cake especially for me. I try to eat healthy most of the year, certainly on my birthday I can indulge a bit? Besides, I always end up baking for everyone else. No one really ever bakes for me – not that I mind, but it was nice to be spoiled a bit. The Mumsy just gets me.
‘All The World Is Birthday Cake, So Take A Piece, But Not Too Much.’
– George Harrison
(BTW… I refer to her as the Mumsy because it sounds weird to say “Mamma”, which is what I call her when we interact. She is my “Mamma”, but to the rest of the world, she is way more than just a “mom”, “mum” or “mother”. Like the Hulk. The Avengers call him “Hulk” when talking to him, but when they are talking about him, they always say “the Hulk” because he is a force to be reckoned with – much like the Mumsy.)
(On a more health-conscious note, I went happily and diligently back to my low-carb, real food diet on Monday. And after the digestive discomfort I suffered for cheating, I fully intend on maintaining my healthy eating until at least my next birthday!)
I spent the rest of the day napping, cuddling with the Munchkins and reading a novel about vampires with a disease much like Alzheimers. All-in-all, an awesome birthday! I do, however, look forward to the big gathering of loved ones once everyone is healthy once more!
‘Don’t Just Count Your Years, Make Your Years Count.’
– George Meredith
Now… on to the Revelations part of this post…
Every year on my birthday for as long as I can remember, I take time out to reflect on where exactly I am in my life at that point in time, how far I had come, what I had or had not achieved by then, and where I wanted to be in my life or what I wanted to achieve by my next birthday.
Last year, on my 23rd birthday, in one of my first Instagram posts, I set myself the following goals I wanted to have achieved by my 24th birthday:
- To finish my first novel
- To obtain a literary agent
- To lose at least 40 kg
- To finish at least two more subjects in my psychology studies
- To start dancing again
At that time, I was working part-time as an au pair on a full-time basis. I was only studying towards a bachelor’s degree in psychological counselling through the University of South Africa (UNISA) and had a hard time juggling my studies with my work. I was, and I quote from an Instagram post at the time, “nowhere closer to living the life I want and making my dreams a reality than I was 3 years ago…” I then went on to say that, “My heart is filled with regret, guilt, anger, frustration, and general unease… I don’t want to spend another year merely existing instead of living.”
I ended up achieving NONE of the above-mentioned goals.
‘Every Year On Your Birthday, You Get A Chance To Start New.’
– Sammy Hagar
Instead, my life took an unexpected turn at the beginning of 2019: I quit my job as an au pair and signed up for health coach and Banting coach training programs. And, because of an admin misunderstanding with UNISA, I had to postpone my bachelor’s degree with a year and resort to a one-year diploma course in counselling children and adolescents before I could continue with my degree in 2020.
And yet… I have absolutely, without a single doubt, NO REGRETS!!!
Since my 23rd birthday, I have achieved the following:
- I have maintained my weight at around 105 – 107 kg.
- I have embraced a low-to-medium carb diet that is completely free of both gluten and sugar.
- I have prevented myself from developing Type 2 diabetes.
- I baked healthier versions of my favourite guilty-pleasure foods.
- I said goodbye for good to emotional and binge eating.
- I embraced a new career path – to become a health and Banting coach.
- I started my own business.
- I built my own brand.
- I began exercising again.
- I got closure on unresolved romantic relationships.
- I built my own website.
But, more than just that, I defined my own super power and identity. I know now exactly who and what I am, just how strong, brave and capable I am. I realised fully what is I want, how I can get it, and, more importantly, that I can actually get it. There is a sense of self-respect, self-worth, self-love and pride in myself that I have never experienced before this past year. This year, I BELIEVED IN MYSELF and learned that I WILL SURVIVE (EVEN THRIVE OFF) ANYTHING LIFE THROWS MY WAY. And, for me, that has been the greatest achievement of them all.
I got the gift of knowing that I am STRONG and RESILIENT. And, this is the gift I hope to pass on to you, dear reader.
‘Today You Are You! That Is Truer Than True!
There Is No One Alive Who Is You-er Than You!’
– Dr. Seuss
I may not have achieved the goals I set out to achieve, but I realised dreams I didn’t think I was even capable of realising in the first place, goals I had but never set out to achieve. And I gained new dreams I didn’t even know I wanted in the first place!
Life truly is a surprising, unpredictable wonder!
Even so, this has definitely been a challenging year, and my greatest challenges have been me, myself and I. This past year I’ve had to face down, push and confront my own fears, self-doubt, insecurities, shortcomings and limitations in a way that I’ve never done before. As much as it was about broadening my horizons and realising my full potential, it was also about recognising when I put myself in a box and when I actually had to concede to things not in my control.
‘The More You Praise And Celebrate Your Life, The More There Is In Life To Celebrate.’
– Oprah Winfrey
And now, the only remaining question is… What do I want to have achieved by my 25th birthday?
It’s simple really. I still want to achieve the same goals I set myself last year on my 23rd birthday, but there is more to them this time – perhaps because I know myself better now. So, here are my goals, a list of the things I want to achieve, by my 25th birthday on 4 August 2020:
- To finish the planning, research and timeline of my whole story.
- To lose at least 50 kg.
- To completely embrace a healthy, sustainable, balanced, low-carb diet.
- To complete a 5 km fun-run.
- To take up ballroom and Latin dancing again.
- To qualify as a Real Meal Revolution certified Banting coach.
- To qualify as an internationally recognised and certified health coach.
- To start a YouTube channel.
- To build my coaching business into a full-time job.
Most of the above-mentioned goals I’m already working on. I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve ALL of them in a year, but I’m definitely going to my darn-best to try!
So… will I or won’t I…? That is the question! Stay tuned in to this space to find out!
And here, before I sign off, I just have to give a shout-out to my health coach trainer Amanda Strydom (Coaching with Impact!), my Banting coach trainer Jonno Proudfoot (Real Meal Revolution), my therapist Francois, my fellow coaching colleagues (Helen, I’ve learned so much from you!), my first clients, and all my family and friends who have egged me on when I was on the edge of surrendering, been patient when I had to work, forgiven me when I was pre-occupied or moody, and have offered humour, support, hugs and physical aid at every step of the way… My brother Krieg, my Oupa Louis and Ouma Marida, my Tannie Mitzi and my Oom Frikkie, my Oom Louis, my Munchkins, my friends (especially Roné!).
‘The Greatest Gift That You Can Give To Others Is The Gift Of Unconditional Love And Acceptance.’
– Brian Tracy
But, most of all, to the Mumsy.. She was literally there for every step of the way, whether in person or on What’s App. An encouraging word, a push in the right direction, a hug, a high-five, a meme, advice from everything about my studies to seeing clients, her food runs when I was too busy to cook, our walks and talks, access to her uncapped WiFi…
I can’t thank you enough, Mamma, or any of you, my friends and family, for how you have helped me grow and all that you have done for me.
I love you all to Pluto and back! Xx
‘God Gave Us The Gift Of Life; It Is Up To Us To Give Ourselves The Gift Of Living Well.’
- Pink sweater from Pick n Pay Clothing
- Straight leg jeans from Miladys
- Shoes and handbag both from Mr Price Clothing