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We are GOLD baby!

As I write this piece I am heartbroken at the recent announcement of the shutting down of Ndalo Media. In many ways, Destiny Magazine played an integral role in my writing journey and the birth of PenTheVision. I still remember the first ever article I wrote titled, “I don’t have to know everything and that’s Okay”. I wrote that in 2016 and I recall the first email I received from the then features editor, Fiona Daverns. In her email she shared that she loved my article and expressed her desire to publish it in Destiny magazine. I wish I could fully express my joy that day and something in me knew that, that was the beginning of amazing things in my life.

I guess the news of Ndalo Media shutting down came as such shock to all of us. I mean sis Khanyi Dhlomo is the epitome of black girl magic! It is through her legacy that we are able to dream the impossible dreams! She has taught us that our dreams are relevant and to that sis Khanyi, we salute you and everybody who has played a part in making Ndalo Media a success. This is just a period of testing; you guys are GOLD!

I said to myself this morning, “hold on baby, so you really are GOLD after all, that’s why you are facing so many challenges!”.  In the  final production of gold, it is often placed in a furnace and this process aims to remove any impurities and ensure that we have 24-karat gold – the most valuable grade!

Fast-forward to December 2018, despite all challenges and uncertainty, I am still in pursuit of making a difference and still writing. We are also on the verge of rebranding PenTheVision to morph into something bigger than just a blog. Thank you to all those who have supported us since our inception in July 2016. 

The next time you engage with PenTheVision, you will experience a whole new website and other elements. So, we will not be publishing any articles until the launch of our new website sometime in 2019. We are so excited about the upcoming changes and we will keep you posted.

And remember, even as you go through life’s ups and downs, you are GOLD baby!

PenTheVision would like to wish you and your loved ones a peaceful Christmas and fantastic New Year! Love you all…

Image courtesy: https://www.benjaminpop.com/products/youre-gold-baby

Cheers to unconventional friendships…

A dear friend of mine recently landed back in South Africa after completing her doctoral studies at Pepperdine University in California. The last couple of months have been incredible because we shared a glorious space together. This space became both our home and our office. Our friendship dates back to our university days and I am so blessed at how it has blossomed over the years. She has been one of the people in my life who support my unconventional dreams and allows me to constantly evolve without judging me. Of recent, we have been collaborating and helping each other build our empires and we are excited about the great impact we going to make in the world.

One of the interesting things I have come to appreciate about her the most, are the things she says that are so unique to her and our conversations. I love her use of words in ordinary conversations because they really are ‘doctoral’ 🙂 and no one else says these things but her. Let me share a few examples below:

Me:“Friend I really hate a sink full of dirty dishes.”

Her:“Hmmm buddy, I think hate is a bit of a strong word”

Me: “Friend, should we watch 90 days to wed on DSTV or a documentary on Netflix?”

Her:“Oh, that’s a good question!”

Me:“Friend, I am hungry, and I need food.”

Her:“Hmmm great insights friendy.”

Me: “Friend, my whole heart smells like him, he is solid food.”

Her:“Those are very decent points.”

Me: “I am obsessed with Netflix…”

Her: “Hmmm ‘obsessed’, friend I think you using that word a bit too loosely…”

Me:“Friend, I’m tired”

Her:“hmmm…let’s unpack that a bit more”

Lol, very different from the normal way people respond right?! But this is precisely why I love her, she lives out her uniqueness.

Great friends are rare species and this piece salutes all those friends who allow you to evolve even when they don’t understand. This is to say, thank you for just loving and believing in me even when you don’t have language to make sense of it. Cheers to our unconventional friendship!

Image courtesy: https://www.india.com/buzz/friendship-day-messages-2015-11-funny-witty-quotes-to-wish-happy-friendship-day-to-your-best-friend-487284/

The coolest thing about the reset button…

What is the purpose of a reset button?  “In electronics and technology, a reset button is a button that can reset a device. On video game consoles, the reset button restarts the game, losing the player’s unsaved progress. On personal computers, the reset button clears the memory and reboots the machine  forcibly. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reset_button).

According to the above definition, the reset button has a threefold purpose, namely to reset, restart and reboot. Though these words are electronics jargon, most of us have an understanding that they indicate some sort of ability to ‘start afresh.’

I have come to appreciate that even in our lives we have the power to press the reset button. Pressing the reset button requires a shift in perspective. As I shared in a previous article, I have been going through an emotional roller-coaster. But I am so grateful that even in these weird moments of my life, God continues to shower me with strength and wisdom. As I write this I am feeling incredibly peaceful and renewed with hope to face the world.

I have come to realise that as long as you are still dreaming, you are capable of creating avenues which can help you achieve your dreams. We should never waste a day, it’s a such a precious gift. Mornings are my favourite time of the day because each morning presents the possibility of new beginnings.

I was impressed when Oprah interviewed Michelle Obama about her recent book, titled “Becoming”. In the interview Oprah asked Michelle, “You mention in the book that one of the things that has lasted with you, you say is this sense of optimism”, Oprah then reads a quote from Michelle’s book:

“I continue to keep myself connected to a force that is larger and more potent than any other election, or leader or news story and that’s optimism for me. This is a form of faith and an antidote to fear”.

Oprah continues to ask Michelle this question, “Do feel the same sense optimism for our country and who we are becoming as a nation?”

Michelle’s response, “Yes, and we have to feel that optimism for these kids. We are setting the table for them and we can’t hand them crap. We have to hand them hope. Progress isn’t made through fear. We are experiencing that right now. Fear is false, and fear is the coward’s way of leadership.” I love this because I share Michelle’s sentiments that, to have a meaningful and fruitful life, optimism is key. The real miracle of life is in optimism and as people we thrive and live on hope.

As long as you are breathing, you have the power to make a positive change big or small and that is the coolest thing about the reset button.

 

Image courtesy: https://empowereddollar.com/reset-button/

NOT AN AFRICAN WOMAN? SAYS WHO?

All my life I’ve been labelled “the skinny girl” and because of this I suffered from a very low self-esteem. Growing up people would make fun of my weight and height sharing their unkind and unwelcomed comments about how skinny and tall I am. Some people would ask ignorant questions such as “do you even eat?” In my mind I will be rolling my eyes and thinking, “yes genius! I mean how on earth would I be standing here alive and talking to you if I did not eat”. And then there was the torture I endured at school. When I was in primary school I was teased and called all sorts of terrible names such as “toothpick”, “ostrich”, “sticks” and the list was endless. In High school the torture continued as found myself wearing layers of clothing under and on top of my school uniform even when it was 30 degrees outside, just to give the illusion that I wasn’t as  skinny as people thought I was.

I recall a particular incident in grade 9, where some kids drew a very nasty comic strip about me, and the contents of the comic strip were disheartening. They drew an image, apparently that image was me, and they said I was HIV positive and ascribed that to be the reason for me being skinny. I have never cried that much in my entire life, the pain was unbearable.

I remember at some point I wanted to end my life because I couldn’t take the constant taunting and ridicule from the other learners. What was even more sad was the fact that I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what I was going through. I thought no one would understand my dilemma and honestly, I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t easily share deep personal feelings and personal information.

I am in university now, and although I do feel like I’m accepting my body a bit better than I did when I was younger, it’s still tough when almost everyone around me epitomises a certain kind of beauty. Sometimes I try to ignore their comments but it is really difficult to do so when everyone is constantly on your case about your weight and pointing out that you are not “woman enough”, because you don’t have curves. People can be so insensitive as they do not realise how much their words pierce through and affect the way I view myself as a woman and particularly as an African woman.

Just because I am thin doesn’t mean that I’m sick. I was born this way and there is nothing I can do about it. We live in a time where society and social media celebrate a particular image of the ‘perfect woman’. This ‘perfect woman’ is someone with a curvy body, a big butt and big breasts, “bigger is better” they say. What message are they sending out to young African girls that are still coming into their womanhood? Are they saying they are not good enough? That they need to change how they look to fit into the standard of beauty that has been idolised by many? Don’t even get me started on the number of young girls that have had plastic surgery to enhance their body parts, just so they could feel “good enough”. Whenever I log onto my Instagram account, in the explorer page I am always bombarded with hundreds of photos and feeds celebrating this one type of beauty with hashtags such as #Bigisbeautiful #curvygirlsonly #thickthighssaveslives etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is problem with celebrating a curvy body. But all I am trying to say is, let us not view a certain body type as a standard of what a woman should look like but rather we should recognise that all women come in different shapes and sizes. Whether they’ve got a big booty or not, our society should celebrate all body types and no one should feel left out.

I am not only writing this to speak up for myself but also for other young women who have struggled with their body image throughout their lives. I want to encourage you to come out of your shell, embrace who you are and recognise that you are also a  beautiful African woman.

Image courtesy: https://www.pond5.com/stock-footage/78046999/body-shape-animated-word-cloud-text-design-animation-kinetic.html

 

About the writer: 

Lindelwa Mhlongo loves God, loves family, experiencing new things and is make-up and beauty connoisseur. She is a hard worker and lives each day full of gratitude. She is currently a student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), and she wants to change people’s lives whilst also pursuing her passions.

 

A better caretaker…

I opened my eyes this morning, facing the ceiling, I laid in my bed for a couple of minutes and just appreciated the sound of the chirping birds. We all know birds chirp every morning, but we hardly ever truly pause to appreciate this gift of nature. But today was different for me. Today, I felt like the birds were composing a joyful melody just for me. It felt like the Creator of the universe had wanted me to lay there silent appreciating this sweet soothing melody.

As I lay in bed, I was overwhelmed by a great sense of calmness and peace. My mind took me on gratitude lane and I just thought of all the things I had wanted, from the time I was a young kid to now being this blazing hot woman! Hahaha vele! lol 🙂 . Anyway, in gratitude lane I was reflecting on the things that I have been blessed with and also thinking about things I so badly wanted but ended up not getting. I am grateful for the things I didn’t get because what I received was far better and in line with my purpose 🙂 . I laugh about some of the things I thought I would ‘die’ if they were not placed in my path.

I think the chirping birds was the Master’s way of saying to me, ‘girl I got you!’ Even in the things I ask for now and circumstances I am confused about, I know that my Heavenly Father is a far better caretaker of my life than I am. I always think I know stuff, but my young life has taught me that the He always knows best.

This piece is a nudge to any one panicking about their life, I want to say, darling, relax! because God’s Got you. He is a far better caretaker of our lives than we are and the greatest gift we can give ourselves is, to learn the undying truth that we are God’s best masterpiece and into His hands we can commit our lives because it is the only safe place.

 

Image courtesy:https://www.cafepress.com.au/+best-caretaker+greeting-cards

I hate how lukewarmness feels on me…

Lukewarmness can have various meanings depending on the context. But the word doesn’t usually have positive connotations. For example, most people don’t enjoy a lukewarm shower because the water temperature has to be just right or cold if it’s a hot summer’s day. People don’t enjoy lukewarm food, it either has to be hot or cold depending on the type of food. The worst kind of lukewarmness occurs in behavioral form. Usually we tend to dislike people who are lukewarm because they present unpalatable qualities. Example of these qualities are, people who are indecisive, uncertain, indifferent, uncommitted, unresponsive and wishy-washy.

Another kind of lukewarmness is one that happens inside of you, where you feel like you have lost enthusiasm and zeal for life. I am by default a very optimist person but of recent, I have been having an internal emotional battle with this.

I have been feeling so overwhelmed and I have been sharing with my friend about how tired I am. In a quest to regain my strength, I read through old notes as reminders that every situation eventually passes. Yesterday, I bumped into a note I had written, shared by a speaker at a conference I was attending. The note read, “people are not tired, they just uninspired”. As I read this I just thought to myself, ‘wow, what a timely word for me’. According to the vocabulary dictionary the word inspire comes from the Latin word that means to “inflame or to blow in to”. “When you inspire something, it is as if you are blowing air over a low flame to make it grow”. As I battle this feeling of lukewarmness, I realised that at the root of my feeling lukewarm is an existential crisis. I am at the brink of entering my thirties and I have placed pressure on myself to have certain things sorted.

I want my fire back because lukewarmness doesn’t feel like home and shouldn’t be home.  I guess part of the reason for writing this piece is my initial step towards finding healing and a resolute. I hate how lukewarmness feels on me because it undermines the beauty of the gift of life. I hate how lukewarmness feels on me because it makes me forget that I am divinity inside and I have a significant contribution to make in the world.

I am writing a love letter to myself, reminding me that it’s okay to take time out to breathe, to take it easy and to not give up on pursuing those things that set my soul on fire…

 

Article image courtesy:https://alukewarmmess.com

Big ups to people who are approachable!

I woke up this morning and added the words “be approachable” to my life development chart in my bedroom.  I was inspired to add these words based on a story I was listening to.

Someone was sharing a personal story about a pain point they experienced when they entered the corporate world. This person had landed their dream job at their dream company. One of the main reasons that attracted them to this organisation was because of the CEO. As a young person, they admired the CEO because on the various public platforms, he appeared to be a charismatic character, eloquent of speech, cutting edge business leader and extremely intelligent. After a couple of months of working there, they were assigned to a project in the CEO’s office. The project required that he meet the CEO to gather information. The day before the meeting he was so excited, finally he will meet this formidable leader, or so he thought. The morning came, he went to the executive floor, greeted the PA and was asked to wait a few minutes outside the office.

Finally the door opened, the PA looked over to him and signed with her hand that he may enter. The first thing he noticed when he entered was that the CEO had his head down and was busy writing, so he quietly sat down and waited for him to finish. When he finished, the young lad greeted cheerfully, the CEO responded in a nonchalant manner. During the course of the meeting the CEO was so rude, and kept shutting down the young man’s ideas. Post that meeting the CEO would not attend some meetings set up by the chap and if he did accept a meeting invite, the young man would lie awake the night before anxious about what the following day would bring.

This guy eventually resigned after a few months and went on to get other jobs. Years later he started his own enterprise and it became a success. What touched me most about the story, was the key principal he has built his business on, and that  is approachability. He learnt from the early years of his career that ideas are inhibited if we don’t have a culture of being approachable.

The Collins English dictionary defines the word approachable as:

“friendly and easy to talk”

I started reflecting about how I have faced my fair share of people in leadership positions who are just not approachable. As people, we generally have a desire to achieve and a desire to connect. It is the connection that sets alight ideas and brings life. I want to be an approachable person and I have penned the following questions as kick starters to help me:

  • How approachable am I?
  • Am I doing something or not doing something to be approachable?

Some ideas to answer the kick starters are:

  1. Being a listener…it truly starts here. I saw the below quote the other day and it really blessed my heart!

“Are you really listening…or are you just waiting for your turn to talk?” Robert Montgomery

  1. Being humble… Someone once said,“humility is not thinking less of yourself, its thinking of yourself  less…” We are not our titles, wealth and accomplishments.
  2. Being kind…I promise you one of the best ways to influence people is through kindness. When you live out your kindness, people will do absolutely anything for you joyfully.

Let me know your thoughts on how you think you rank on being approachable? 🙂

 

Image courtesy: https://www.superinterns.com/2015/09/approachable-boss/

 

Up, Down, Left, Right, In and Out: An extraordinary discovery of finding inner peace

Growing up my dream was to become a professional soccer player. I started playing soccer from a very young age on the streets of Hambanathi township, in the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The only thing I wanted to do was to play soccer and represent my country at international competitions. I will never forget the year 1994 and at the tender age of 6 while playing soccer at the local football stadium, near the sugar cane factory, tragedy struck. One dreadful day in an attempt to recover a soccer ball we had been playing with, I found myself stuck in a swamp of hot ash, till this day I cannot explain the surreal circumstances that were materializing before my eyes. Overwhelming feelings of disbelief and shock, there are no words to comprehend what I felt on that day. Funny enough, I was not feeling any physical pain at that moment, all I could hear was hysterical sounds from individuals within the vicinity of the incident.

The next thing I remember was being carried by a group of men into a vehicle and rushed to the hospital, I have never seen my mother cry so much before. Wittingly or Unwittingly than reality struck, I started to feel excruciating pain on my feet and to my dismay, when I took a peek at my feet, all I could see was skin peeling out faster than a speeding bullet. I thought I was going to see my bones, my whole world was falling apart, my mother’s frantic crying was not helping at all, then I realized the painful reality, I was burnt by hot ash, mixed with dumped chemicals from the sugar cane factory next to the unfenced sports field.

I remember being in hospital, my parents and teachers would bring me school work to complete while in a hospital bed. I am so grateful to them for that because they understood the fundamental principle that though my feet were burnt, my brain was not damaged and the only thing that would distract me from my painful misery was a sound education.

After being discharged from hospital, one had to face other challenges and stereotypes, there would be those people who would genuinely feel sorry for me and others who would mock me. At that point in time I was in primary school, school kids can be nasty and cruel, if you know what I mean, there were those who teased me and called me names. Some of the nick names I was given were“KFC”, “Chicken Licken” and “Mapheki Nyawo (Roast Feet)” I must be honest at that time it was so painful for me emotionally, it was a huge set back, because my self-esteem and confidence was at a “junk status”.

I remember while still in primary school, I hated the subject Physical Education (PE). I did not hate the subject because of the teacher and content, however I hated it because we had to wear shorts. Till this day I dislike shorts because at that time it meant I had to expose my feet and other mean kids would make me a laughing stock.

Fast forward to 30 years later, having had a supportive family helped me cope with all the tragedies and struggles I faced growing up. Being raised by God fearing parents, who prayed for me was what gave my life a sense of purpose.

My purpose in life is to inspire greatness and change people’s lives. If I chose to be bitter and angry I wouldn’t be fulfilling my purpose in life. So many people are filled with anger because of the things which have happened to them. Truth is you will never fulfill your purpose and receive your blessings in life if you allow yourself to be held back by your circumstances.

In conclusion, I think it would be befitting that I share a quote from Mr. Musa E Zulu, who is a World Class Author, Artist and Motivational speaker that I respect and look up too, as a matter of fact, I am currently reading his book titled: WHEELS ON THE SOUL OF MY SHOES.

“Think about it, I’m young, I’m Black, I’m free, I’m possible, I’m diverse, I’m open, I’m smart, I’m an African and I’m possible!”

 

Image courtesy: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/432064157992027629/

 

About the Writer:

Nhlanhla Mhlongo is open-minded, friendly, crazy and down to earth person. He loves to work hard and also enjoys life to the fullest. His academic background is in Public Administration and Management, Public Financial Management and Public Service Delivery. He obtained his qualifications from The Durban University of Technology (DUT), he is currently studying towards a master’s degree in Public Management at DUT. He is currently working at Ethekwini Municipality, Ombudsperson and Fraud Prevention.

 

Light cyber stalking- the unspoken thing we all do!

These days when you meet someone and there is an attraction from either one or both parties, there is bound to be some light cyber stalking involved. In my unresearched definition, light cyber stalking is:

“Going through someone’s social media platforms, sometimes saving their images without wanting the person to know. The aim is to satisfy your curiosity about the person.”

I purposely termed this ‘light cyber stalking’ because there is the unpleasant definition of cyber stalking in the Oxford English dictionary, which is described as:

“The repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone, for example by sending threatening emails.”

For the purpose of this article, I humbly ask that we stick to my unresearched definition of light cyber stalking :-). And according to that one, I think most of us can agree that we have been light cyber stalked or we have light cyber stalked someone. I have had a couple of suitors go on a ‘research exercise’ by viewing my social media platforms as a means to satisfy their curiosity about who Bongeka is, some even to the extent of saving my photos on their phones…hmmmmm still not comfortable with the latter part!

I have also been on a social media expedition, seeking to satisfy my curiosity about my crush-lol yep and after disclosing this to a few friends, guess what I discovered? That we all in this together comrades! Hahaha… I have come to learn the comforting truth that a  couple of my friends also cyber stalk their ‘crushes’. For example, they look at photos dated 2010, investigate the females in these photos, interrogate dress codes, find out where they like hanging out, how they think and what they like.

Light cyber stalking is a new way of gathering information about someone in the digital age. Though this seems like an innocent exercise, my slight concern is that it may lead us to form inconclusive perceptions about people. A friend of mine shared an example of wrong perceptions being formed about people on social media. She echoed that, if you are a woman in her late twenties and your social media is flooded with images of your frequent fine dining visits, trips with the girls around the world, looking good and always posting about how glorious life is, you will be placed in a category of people called ‘abathanda izinto’ (loosely translated to mean those who love and consume the finer things in life). She continued to say some men will even go to the extent of being intimidated to approach you because they feel you will be high maintenance and ‘not’ wife material-whatever that means!

In my own light cyber stalking, I have also formed exaggerated conclusions about my crush’s photos and status updates, sometimes to a point of working myself up over nothing. Since most people are doing this already, I started this dialogue to say it’s OKAY! lol, and as we continue with our light cyber stalking journeys we need to employ self-control and do it in a manner that serves to appreciate the existence of another glorious being!

 

Image courtesy: http://marcellapurnama.com/by-the-way-stalking-is-fun/

Different valid forms of work- they all have a right to co-exist…

My friend and I have been engaging in dialogue about redefining work and creating a meaningful life in today’s world. We are both independent consultants with very different lives from our peers who work a 9-5 in corporations. More so, we are quite selective about the kind of projects that we choose to get involved in because we think differently about our quality of life. Work is not just about paying bills, but about choosing projects that we believe in and being in spaces where we feel we are able to make meaningful contributions. But even more importantly, it’s about getting projects that create room for flexibility so that we manage our time in a way that allows us to pursue our God given dreams and enjoy a fuller life.

As we explore projects that will fit well with our lives, most of our days look like this: We choose what time we wake up and go to bed; we choose where we have breakfast and where to work from. We plan our week according to our hearts desires and always slot in things we enjoy doing, such as going to book launches, doing research, reading and getting our nails done – This is the life right! 🙂

It is definitely going against the grain and as a result our way of life comes with scrutiny and confusion from people in our lives. When people know you don’t have a project, work a 9 to 5, or run a business, they struggle to understand what you do with your life. When I tell people I am working, I always get the confused response of ‘doing what?’, since I don’t fall in the normal parameters of what is considered ‘working’ or ‘having a job’. People would say to me  “You must have a lot of time in your hands, right?”  insinuating that I am less productive and don’t know what to do with my time. Sometimes they would even say, “wow, you probably have lots of money then.” Both of these assumptions are not a true reflection of my life. I can understand why people think this way because when I was in corporate I also thought in that same way. Our socialisation has taught us that ‘valid’ work is having a long-term job in a particular institution. Part of the reason I am writing this article is to challenge narrow perceptions of what productivity is and should look like. Often the assumption is that, you have a ‘proper’ job or are more productive if you wake up early, go to an institution and receive income end of the month. Whilst this is great, I challenge that it cannot be the only true voice in a society that is comprised with different kinds of people with various lifestyles.

I believe that we are moving into an era where more and more people are wanting to really do work that fulfills their divine purpose. My friend and I are not trying to go against the norm just because we can, no. Actually, this is a very divine journey for us because despite the opposition we face daily, we remain peaceful knowing that we are grounded spiritually. This journey has made us think differently about work, productivity and money. I say this because the things we do, don’t have immediate tangible pay off benefits. But we have a peace about that because we recognise that what we invest in today will pay out gigantically in future 🙂

I want to end with this note- friends, it’s okay for our lives to look different. We need to be more understanding of other valid forms of working and just appreciate that there are multiple views of what productivity is and should look like and guess what, they all have a right to co-exist!

 
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