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It’s been a while.

I started this post at the end of last year but never got around to finishing it. As it turns out, university is a lot of work. 2018 was an absolute roller coaster of a ride. I would describe last year for me as a boat journey. Not only did I cross the sea to move to another country, but there have been times of stress and uncertainty when it felt like I was being tossed around in a sea of crashing waves, and then there have been times of brief calm and peaceful ocean.

The main event of last year was graduating from high school and starting my very first year of university. I’ve told a couple people that if I’d known what last year was going to be like, I probably would have gone the safe route and taken a gap year. However, it’s been such a surreal year of challenge and learning that I don’t think I ever could have been ready for what this past year has thrown at me.

I started off last year on the east coast of South Africa and ended it near the west coast of Canada. I have moments in my day when I realize how crazy that change is. Culture shock is a real thing. The way I attempt to describe it to people is that it’s in the little things. South Africa is a relatively developed country compared to a lot of African countries so the cities don’t always seem quite that different, but it’s something like the smell of the ocean, the colour of the lights, or the selection of a store shelf that reminds me I’m not in a familiar place when I’m in Canada.

Don’t get me wrong, Canada is great, it’s just…. different. If you ask me which one I prefer, this is how I’ll respond: You’ve obviously never had your heart split between two countries so don’t expect to understand the complex range of emotions that comes with that experience. Go think of a worthwhile question and maybe you’ll get a worthwhile answer.

Okay, that’s definitely not what I would say if you asked me that in person. I would probably say something more along the lines of: “Oh, you can’t compare them.” Just know I’m thinking the line I stated above. But here’s some advice, just don’t ask me.

Now what was it like leaving South Africa? That’s a question I can answer.

I had to grapple with the fact that I was moving halfway across the world to my home country that no longer feels like home. Whenever I visited Canada there has always been at least one person that asks me what it feels like to be ‘home’. I never know how to answer that question because there’s this assumption that because I was born in Canada I still feel more ‘at home’ when I’m there. In reality, I’m stuck in a strange sort of limbo where I don’t feel completely at home in South Africa because I’ve kept my Canadian accent and have been homeschooled for most of my life, but because I grew up out of Canada, I don’t really know how to relate to Canadians either.

So when I had to start packing up my life of eight years in order to move to Canada to start university, it was definitely a daunting task. I had to go through all of my stuff to weed out what I didn’t need or want anymore and pack it up into cardboard boxes ready to be shipped across the ocean.

The time came for me to leave my country.

Saying goodbye to my friends was hard, but they have all been so supportive, and we manage to keep in touch (when I actually remember to respond to their sweet messages. Can I just say that long distance is hard?!)

Fast forward to finishing first year… that’s exactly what it felt like. It was as if someone had pressed the fast forward button and forgot to press play again. It went by so fast. That said, I learned a lot. I learned a lot about myself, about how to function in a university setting, and about how to interact with large groups of people I had never met before. Yes, I’m an extrovert, but even for an extrovert a whole university of people is frightening. Luckily, I have a brother who put up with me hanging out with him and his friends and now he can’t get rid of me if he tried.

But in all seriousness, I have met some really incredible people. While I tend to connect with people pretty quickly, it takes me quite a bit longer to form deeper relationships. First semester was rough because I was in a new setting without any friends, and I felt very disconnected from my friends in South Africa. On top of that, I made a bad course decision landing me in a biology course meant for nursing students. My friends have heard me complain about this enough, but I managed to get through it while keeping my grades relatively high thanks to a miracle of a friend who actually knew what on earth was going on (shoutout to Chels <3).

So when second semester came around I had proven to myself that I could handle the academic difficulties that come along with university. It doesn’t mean second semester was easy, but I started really connecting with people in second semester which made this social butterfly’s heart a whole lot lighter (you know who you are 🐧).

So now I’m looking back at the academic year I’ve completed and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. If I’d known the struggles I would encounter before enrolling at UBC, I would have given into fear and stayed home, but I am a better person for pushing myself out of my comfort zone and I can’t wait to continue growing throughout the rest of my undergrad degree (please remind me of these words next year when I’m staying up until 1am slowly being crushed by the heavy weight of my workload and my overachieving high standards).

And now, I get a very exciting opportunity of going back to South Africa and reconnecting with my home of eight years after the past year of crazy experiences. I’m heading out for the month of May and am planning to soak up all the South African sunshine I can. Honestly, if it’s cold and rainy I am going to be incredible grumpy, but at least I’ll have good people around me to make it better.

These photos are, in fact, around a year old, but they capture the way I feel about South Africa incredibly well, and I can’t wait to go back and capture more of this beautiful country. Expect more posts to come soon.

And with that, my first year is done.

My boat’s still floating.

I’m in peaceful waters at the moment, but it won’t be long before my little boat is put to the test again.

~Abby

Xx

Dancing Accomplishments

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These photos were from my Advanced I ballet exam near the end of last year. I meant to write up this post right away, but time got away from me. Nevertheless, I think it is worth documenting because it was a huge personal accomplishment for me.

At the moment I have a lot of dance photos, so look out for more posts coming soon about my most recent dance endeavours.

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I’ve been doing ballet for ten years now. I started dancing in Canada and I can trace back my love of dancing to a prayer written in a little book when I was 7 years old…

“Dear God, I want to be a ballerina so I can dance for you… please help me. Amen.”

I would never have thought that dance would become such a huge part of my life. In my dance class I’ve seen people come and go and over time I’ve realized that what I get out of dance class is exactly what I put into it. It doesn’t matter who comes and who goes, dancing is ultimately about you and your body (and your mind, and your soul, and just your well-being in general).

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With the realization that I am responsible for my body (which my dance teacher had already told me multiple times) I started putting a little more into my dancing. I can’t quite remember what drew me to ballet, but I think it has a certain allure that calls to any young girl. The grace and strength of it is something every woman should aspire to in her heart.

Accomplishing a new move is such an empowering experience and I loved feeling my body get stronger over time. I started dance because I liked the idea of it, but I kept with dance because I loved it.

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However much I enjoyed dancing, I never did well on exams. Our studio participated in ballet and modern exams once a year and whenever we got our results back we would all gather around my teacher and sit on the floor while she read out our grades. I always got lower marks than I wanted, and even my teacher expressed surprise when I didn’t do as well as we expected.

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I would get so nervous in the exam room I think it affected my ability to show the examiners what they wanted to see. Because of this, I didn’t think I was particularly good at ballet. I always thought that the freer, more lyrical styles of dancing came more naturally to me. I figured that ballet was good for staying strong and supple, but it was modern dancing that could be my niche. That opinion of myself started to change when I saw my peers around me gradually stop dancing. One would stop because of school, another because she was moving away. It started to occur to me that sticking with ballet is not as simple as I thought it was, and I was all of a sudden one of the only girls in my class. Almost overnight dance became less about what the other person was doing and more about what you could do to better yourself.

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When my Intermediate exam rolled around I actually missed the session closest to us because I was away in Canada, so I decided to do an early session the following year in May… the only catch was we had to drive 6-7 hours to get there.

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I passed that exam with a 75%; a merit. Not only had I passed, but I had significantly improved from my previous exam! I had a general idea that I was one of the harder workers in my class, but I had never experienced such an amazing show for my effort.

Because I was planning to start university the following year, I had decided that I wanted to start work right away on the next exam. My first exam was in May, the second one in August… it was doable, but only just.

Then, I sprained my ankle. You can read all about my thoughts on that in my “Persevering in the Berg” post.

Now not only was doing the next exam in August difficult, it was completely impossible. You try getting right up on your tippy toes in a pointe shoe with a fraught ankle. Yeah, not going to happen.

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My only other option was to go up to Pretoria (the place I did my Intermediate exam) again for yet another exam in November, praying that my ankle would not only heal but be strong enough to support me en pointe.

I did vigorous physio with multiple physiotherapists and was rubbing gel and putting ice on my ankle every day and night. After all this, I thought, “I had better be able to do my exam.”

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And so we drove, for the second time in one year, up to Pretoria. I listened to my ballet music on the way and read my teacher’s notes on what the examiners were looking for.

Leading up to this exam I made a conscious decision. That decision was that I was not going to be nervous. No matter what happened, no matter how stressed out I wanted to be, I wasn’t going to stress about what the examiners were thinking, and I certainly wasn’t going to let any stress affect my dancing. I was so sick of being paralyzed by fear going in to these exams that I was not going to have it.

While I was warming up in the room with my peers who were to take the exam with me, everyone was chattering about how nervous they were and how they hoped the examiners were nice. While we talked a bit, I was ultimately focused on my own mental space. While we were warming up I didn’t allow myself to get stressed out; I wouldn’t worry when I was in the exam, I wouldn’t stress, I would just dance. And I did.

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Getting out of the exam I was an extremely happy dancer. Apart from losing my balance at the barre, I did amazingly well. I just relaxed into my work and performed it for the examiners. I didn’t even worry about the dancers around me, they might dance on the spot while I danced around the whole room; I didn’t care if I went the length of the room in the time it took them to move two steps, I just did what I knew and did it well.

I knew I had passed, I just didn’t know by how much.

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I got an 83% for that exam…. a distinction. The highest mark I have ever gotten for a ballet exam. Saying I was thrilled would be an understatement. I’ll never forget when my dance teacher broke the news. Normally she just sends a message, but this time she called. I saw my teacher’s name pop up on my phone and I hesitantly picked up. She said hi, I said hi. Her next words to me were,

“Before I tell you your mark, what did you do?!”

Here I am going oh great, I probably got a 60% or something. I couldn’t even think straight, I wanted to say “I just danced” but I’m pretty sure I just said, “I don’t know.”

My teacher replied with, “Shall I just tell you your mark?”

I think I said, “yes, please.”

“You got an 83… a distinction.” I burst out crying. My teacher was so funny, “The lady at the office told me you got a D, and I was like a D?! what on earth is a D?”

Turns out, it’s a distinction.

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Whatever doubts I had about my ability vanished. I remember the smiling faces of the examiners and I hope I managed to brighten their day a bit with my dancing. This was to be my last exam of the South African method before I move, and it couldn’t have been a better ending.

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I now know that no matter where I am, I will always continue to dance. I see professional dancers on youtube and know I will never be as good as any of them, but it doesn’t matter because I am an accomplished dancer in my own right. Knowing this for myself makes all the difference.

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Stay tuned for more dance-related posts!

~Abby

Xx

Fitting In

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Everyone wants to be accepted and understood. It is extremely lonely pretending to be something you’re not just to ‘fit in’. Living in a South African context with a background that no one else can really understand has taught me that your identity does not depend on where you are living, or the kind of people you’re around. You have to decide for yourself the kind of person you want to be. Unfortunately though, that doesn’t give you a free ticket to happiness.

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More and more I’m learning that people will always let you down. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault, it’s just something that happens. It’s a sad reality of the world we live in, but we have to accept that everyone is navigating this life for themselves and it doesn’t always result in a perfect relationship every time.

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Being accepted for who you are is one of the greatest gifts of friendship, but that also comes with understanding one another. Especially when two people have differing opinions, you have to work to keep a relationship strong, and that can result in some very difficult conversations. It is my belief, however, that a relationship is never allowed to grow deeper without these kinds of conversations. It helps both people to understand where the other is coming from and allows them to feel heard and valued. Without that, feelings may never come to the surface.

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Let me tell you a bit about myself… I am a people pleaser. I go to great lengths to make people feel loved and valued because deep down, that’s how I want to feel. If someone doesn’t reciprocate the same kind of effort and emotion, I assume that it’s a reflection on myself as if I’m not trying hard enough to make it work. This is why I’ve had to focus a lot of time and energy on accepting that I cannot make everyone happy. If there is a situation where I have to choose between the emotions I feel and the way someone else wants me to act, I need to do what’s best for myself.

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My brain doesn’t let me choose myself as much as I would like. I can sit here and write things like “love yourself” and “put yourself first” but I can’t pretend it is that simple. In a recent situation with a good friend of mine I had to decide if I wanted to make a situation easier for everyone involved, or to stay true to what I felt emotionally. My head screamed at me just to let it go, and to make things simple so no one had to get hurt, but my heart ached at the thought of lying to myself.

I didn’t want to pretend that I was totally okay with everything going on around me, because I wasn’t, yet the desire to be accepted rivaled the desire to be true.

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The result was a lot of uncertainty and wondering, but I felt a strange sense of peace inside me because my soul could feel safe and at home, not violated and ignored. I watched a great TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson in my grade twelve English course that talked about how the education system is “killing” students’ creativity. What I loved about it though was the depth of application to what he said. It didn’t have to be taken in the literal context of the schooling system, instead, I would apply this knowledge to everyday life. All of us are born with some form of creativity, it can be original thought, the use of art as a form of expression, or music, or dance. But then what “kills” this creativity is not being true to who we really are.

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Just like ignoring your personality “kills” your creativity, it can also kill your happiness. I feel most happy when I can be myself around close friends, but if I am not true to myself around others, I cannot be true to myself when I am alone because I would feel one way or another I am lying.

People can feel trapped in different situations because they do not feel like they can freely accept themselves. To do so, would jeopardize the act of “fitting in” which is something that we find to be of the highest priority in a social context. However, it is this kind of behaviour that rips us apart, because our personalities desperately want to show. The act of pushing them down and hiding who we are makes us less able to embrace our uniqueness, from which stems creativity and original thought. No matter how many times people say that you’re unique and not to let anyone change you, we’re always trying to imitate something else.

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I remember thinking that to put yourself first was selfish. I still do, sometimes, but I also am trying to learn that not being true to yourself can set you up for a lot of hardship  down the line. I think that while being accepted and understood by those around us is a wonderful feeling, it is not something that lasts. Instead, it is important to make sure that you understand and accept yourself. It’s a weird thought of having to “understand” yourself, but sometimes I react to things and I don’t know why. To fully understand why something bothers me so much, I have to fundamentally understand myself and what I value in life. Generally, if something gets under my skin, it’s because something I value is violated, and to fully understand why will help me to monitor my reactions in the future.

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We will never truly feel fulfilled if we don’t experience life through our own eyes. We cannot pretend like we are something we’re not, there is no pleasure in that. While the desire to be accepted is fundamental in our social behaviour, we have to learn to fulfill that desire with our own acceptance of ourselves. Through showing who we truly are, we can discover those around us who truly accept us, and the result will be more life-giving than imitating our version of perfection. We will never achieve our version of perfect… we can only hope to be happy in ourselves, imperfect though we may be.

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~Abby

Xx

New Year Musings

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It’s a month and a half into the new year and still ten and a half months to go of learning and self-discovery. I find that no matter how much I learn about myself, there is still so much to understand and process. Things that I didn’t even know affected me often control my reactions in ways I can never predict.

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The end of last year and the beginning of this year have been some of the busiest and most stressful months of my life. While there were many things I wanted to do and things that I found genuinely enjoyable, I found that there was still a lot of emotional stress concerning relationships, education, and my future. At this stage in my life, so many things are uncertain and it’s impossible to know which is the best course of action as there are so many to choose from.

I decided that the option holding the most potential for me was attending university in the fall. While I am excited to see what university lifestyle is like, the stress in finishing up my first semester of grade twelve courses was unlike any I had experienced before. Being a dreamer and a hardcore procrastinator, I managed to get very behind in probably one of the most important semesters of education in my life. I was very unsure of how to deal with it, and the question arose how I could’ve been shortsighted enough to allow it to happen… and this wasn’t the first time.

This plunged me into a frame of mind where self-doubt ruled and I didn’t feel like I could accomplish anything. My social life came to a standstill and I didn’t get out of the house at all. This period was interrupted by my brother coming to stay and the Christmas holidays easing my frazzled mind. I was lucky I was able to even have a Christmas break, and the two weeks of school holiday made it seem like I would actually get through this.

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Then there were diploma exams. Anyone who grew up in Alberta can relate, but basically, they are your grade twelve exams on steroids. The first one was okay, the second one cutting it close, and the third, well…. we don’t go there.

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It was the first time in my life my educational career has ridden so forcefully on my performance in an exam. I’m generally a pretty high achieving student, but man, those exams knocked me down hard. After finishing my last exam on a Friday, we went straight in to packing for a holiday in the mountains to begin to recuperate. It took the whole week for me to even relax, and I’m still attempting to sort out all the aspects of my life… I wonder if I will ever be finished in that respect.

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There’s only so much room organization you can do before the end of the day, and even when you think everything’s in its place, something in your life will manage to nag the back of your mind. For me, it’s the preparation of leaving South Africa indefinitely. This country is almost all that I’ve known for eight years, and in the past few months, I feel like I’ve finally found a group of people I feel comfortable in, and in the midst of it I have to pack up and leave.

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The knowledge that other people are also finding their way and going off in different paths brings me some sense of peace, but the fear of the unknown is startling. If you knew me well you wouldn’t take me for a shy person, but having to pack up my life and move to an almost foreign place for the second time in my life makes me wonder if I’ll make any friends. It’s taken me eight years to find some really good ones on this side of the world, will my experience be similar on the other side of the world?

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I guess the start of the new year has allowed me to take a step back, and to appreciate where I am at, right now in my life. I don’t need to be anticipating my future all the time, I don’t need to be planning what my life is going to be like in ten years, I can just live in the moment, and do my best with what I’m given. I guess part of the journey is enjoying where you’re at in your life, no matter the circumstances.

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In this coming year, I want to be able to be true to myself and not feel pressured to fulfill other people’s expectations of me. I want to set standards for myself, and live my life without thinking that someone might not agree with me. I can be such a people pleaser at times and while it feels so good when you make someone feel happy, in the end, it doesn’t fulfill you as a person. You need to be okay with who you are before you can start helping others in their insecurities. But it’s never easy, it’s a constant struggle and I will be living that struggle for the rest of my life. Such is the life of a social butterfly.

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I know this is a long blog post, so I hope I haven’t lost you, but in these photos that I’ve posted here, I remember looking at them and seeing how pretty I thought I was. I wasn’t worried, I wasn’t overthinking everything, I was just admiring the view and posing for the camera. How simple does that sound?

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I hope this has given you some insight into the crazy, weird, wonderful life that I live and that it has helped you in some way or gotten you to think a different way about the challenges you might be facing. If you have any suggestions for the kind of stuff you would like me to post on here, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email; I’d love to hear from you! There are more posts coming, I promise, it just takes me a while to put everything together sometimes, but I’ll try and be more diligent about it in the future.

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Above all, I hope this post has been inspiring. That is my one hope for this blog, that people would read what I write and look at my pictures and feel a little lighter than before. We’re all destined for something, we just have to trust that we are on the right path.

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Thank you for reading!

Abby

Xx

Matric Dance 2017

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As a homeschooler I never thought I would get to experience a prom or the South African equivalent matric dance. I had dreamed of it maybe happening sometime but I always thought that my graduation ceremony would be the extent of my high school festivities. You can imagine my surprise when a good friend asked me to accompany her to the matric dance they were holding at the school where she worked. My mom encouraged me to go and so the preparations began.

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I’m not the fussiest person when it comes to getting dressed up, I can generally do my hair decently and make myself look presentable, but for a matric dance you generally put in a little more effort as a part of the experience. Unfortunately, my parents were away in Ethiopia the day of the dance so I was accompanied by my good friend to the hairdresser’s to get my hair and nails done. I think we can all agree they did a fantastic job! Especially with it being the first time I had ever gotten my nails professionally done, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome especially because I have the most brittle nails in the world that insist on tearing every chance they get.

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I’m very happy with the way my hair turned out as well. I’ve heard horror stories of people getting their hair done just to end up hating it and I worried a similar thing might happen to me, but I trusted my hairdresser and she did a fantastic job as always.

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I, however, wanted to do my own makeup – that’s half the fun! My favorite thing to do is to take my time on my makeup, I sometimes call it my therapy. Plus, I had an excuse to use my fancy lipstick unapologetically.

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As the invitation was so last minute, we had limited time to search for a dress. Most girls know what dress they want months in advance but it was the week of the dance and I hadn’t even thought of the kind of dress I wanted. The typical dream is to have a long evening gown sweeping the floor as you dance, and while there were some in the store, none really suited me and they were somewhat out of our price range. When I tried this dress on it fit so well and looked completely classic. I was at first unsure of the shapeless fit, but as my mom pointed out, it was the style, and I hope I don’t sound too narcissistic, but I think it suits me. With dreams of evening gowns with a fitted waist you can imagine my surprise when I found myself at home with a shapeless dress that didn’t even reach my knees. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m already looking forward to the numerous occasions I’ll be able to wear this little black dress and it’s entirely timeless in my opinion.

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Of course, we had to have a mini photoshoot to show friends and family in other countries so I hope you’ll indulge me with some of these shots.

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The dance itself was an experience since I had no idea what to expect. There was a huge red carpet rolled out for the graduating class and the arrivals were almost more about the cars than the fashion. Revving cars would be met by hysteric screams, you’d think Benedict Cumberbatch had arrived.

I’ll be honest, I was a bit of an insider at the event, I sat at the teacher’s table and was asked my opinion on fashion to determine the best-dressed individuals of the night, it was really quite fun.

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The downside was I had sprained my ankle exactly a week before, and you can read all about that in my Persevering in the Berg post. I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to wear my fancy heels or be able to dance whatsoever, and if you know me, you know I love dancing. I was attending intense physio sessions during the week and I think it was by sheer determination that I wore those heels for the entire night, after walking on uneven ground in the park to get these beautiful shots. I have my gorgeous friend Limé (lee-may) to thank for that.

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I got many a compliment on my ensemble which I have to say made me feel pretty dang special. I enjoyed talking with the teachers and saying hi to the few people I knew, but if I’m honest there was less socializing than I thought there would be. Maybe it was just because I was a bit of an outsider but it seemed like most people kept to their tables, but again, it might have just been me feeling uncomfortable. I don’t often feel uncomfortable in social situations, but being among my peers at an event that they have been looking forward to for their entire high school careers felt somewhat unnerving, but as the evening progressed I felt more included and I ended the night with tired feet and a happy heart.

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Dancing with a crowd of people you hardly know without a partner I discovered is not exactly easy. My chaperone refused to dance as she prefers to watch from a distance, but if there’s a dance floor, you won’t find me far from it. While not a dancer herself, my partner encouraged me to go dance, and I eventually did, but I just kind of stood there in the crowd not sure what to do. All the girls had their partners, and the others had created a bit of a circle where people would showcase their dancing once by one, but I wasn’t one to just push in, so I kind of bounced on the spot completely clueless as to how I was going to make this fun. Eventually I took a break and had a breath of fresh air, and when I got back to my table for a drink a couple of the teachers invited me to accompany them to the dance floor. That’s when things started to get fun. The kids knew the teachers so already I was a part of the group and some of the girls started teaching me specific moves that I can only assume is the pop culture of today, but it was really fun as I finally felt like I was a part of something. I surprised myself to see how much I could do with a swollen ankle I had stuffed into my heeled shoe, but I found strength that I didn’t know I had and determination to have fun that I didn’t know was sometimes required. That’s just it, if you’re not determined to have a good time, it’s not guaranteed to happen automatically. You have to work to have fun sometimes, just like you have to work to have good relationships occasionally. Everything needs a bit of a boost, and for me, it was finding the right people to share the night with.

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I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed reminiscing on this once in a lifetime event.

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Stay determined.

~Abby

Xx

Persevering​ in the Berg

These pictures were taken on my trip into the Drakensberg which is a range of mountains inland of South Africa’s coast. It was going to be a two night trip with my youth group. I had been excited for this weekend, but what with the promise of freezing nights, people I didn’t know all too well, and a startling 5:30am wakeup call, I became a bit disenchanted with the notion.

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It was just one of those things where you know it’ll be great and you try to convince yourself you’re fussing over nothing, but there’s a little nagging voice in the back of your head telling you to stay home, that it’s not worth it. I shared these feelings with a friend who felt mutually, and we kind of looked at each other and asked, why should we go? But we pep-talked each other and managed to convince ourselves that once we got past the 3 1/2hr drive, we would be glad we pushed ourselves to do it.

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Were we wrong? Yes. Am I sorry I went? Kind of. Would I tell myself to stay home from similar events in the future? Absolutely not. Pushing yourself is the only way you learn to discover new things, meet new people, try out new places. Without pushing yourself, life becomes boring and predictable. I’m mainly annoyed because I managed to sprain my ankle, making me have to get driven home the day after we arrived. In my opinion, not exactly worth it.

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While I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of doing a 5hr hike after a 3 1/2hr road trip, I put on a good face and laughed with the others, convinced that the people around me would help to lift my spirits. Sometimes, that’s all it takes; with a good face and determination, you’ve pretty much got a good time in the making.

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The berg is beautiful this time of year or any time of year for that matter. While the evenings are undoubtedly cold, the days are pleasantly warm in the sun and the mountains were magnificent. Hiking seemed like a small price to pay for these views.

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While the mountains were spectacular, every once in a while, a different perspective is welcome. Why does a party have to be loud? Why does a prayer have to be quiet?

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On the way down the mountain, low and behold, I step into a pothole on the side of the trail and stumble. I can safely say that that hurt. Don’t ask me how I managed to keep myself from landing on my camera, because the truth is I have no idea, but what I knew for certain was that I had just sprained my ankle… a month before a ballet exam… and I had no way of hiking the rest of the way back. Luckily I had friends around me who helped. I got a piggyback ride all the way back to camp; some may think it was relaxing, but I was trying not to be too much of a burden on the poor guy who was tasked with maneuvering the mountainous terrain with me on his back.

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What with the swelling and bruising around my ankle, it was safe to say I was out of commission for the weekend. With my only chance of getting home leaving at 5am the next morning, it made for the 3rd sunrise I’d seen that week. The first was Sunday over a golf course with good friends, the second was driving up on Friday (remember the 5:30am wakeup call?), and finally, driving home on Saturday with a swollen ankle that wouldn’t hold my weight… each event getting progressively worse and worse, but each sunrise as beautiful as the one before, just from different perspectives.

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And now I am sitting on my bed after an intense physio session with my ankle taped and balancing on a stack of pillows writing this blog post and thinking that if having a sprained ankle wasn’t such an inconvenience, I still would have woken up that early, endured the drive, and gone on the hike, just for the experience of being around the people, seeing the mountains, and feeling the exertion. All that said, it still wasn’t an enjoyable experience, but it’s the unenjoyable experiences that shape us as people and the way we find our way through the challenges presented defines us in our personalities.

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Life is about pushing through, overcoming, and laughing about it afterward. You know what? I’m up, I’m walking, although my ankle still hurts I know that my body is incredible enough to heal itself and that makes me happy.

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If nothing else I got a new facebook profile/cover photo and some cool Instagram posts… that’s all that matters right?

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Keep persevering.

~Abby

Xx

Golden Hour Adventure

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Sometimes you need a good book and a cup of tea to unwind, sometimes you need some fresh air and a brisk walk. Everything is different for everyone, but what’s always the same is, once in a while, we need a break from the busyness of life. For me, high school was getting crazy, commitments to friends and other people kept me running at full speed, and eventually, I was just holding out until I submitted my one last assignment, and completed my last test.

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Now, I get two months off. Two whole months and I couldn’t be happier about it. Two months to pour into painting and dancing and maybe a bit of mindless Netflix watching as well. I went so long without taking time to do the things I enjoyed that I’d almost forgot how much I enjoyed them. I forgot what it was like to get out of the house.

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This is when an adventure is needed. It doesn’t matter what kind of adventure, or how long it is, just something to inject you with a little bit of life. These photos were taken from Easter when my family and I went on a spontaneous drive to see a waterfall during Golden Hour. That was an adventure. But one of my favorite kinds of adventures is when you just stay home, read a good book, and get swept along in someone else’s adventure.

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Whatever adventure we choose, we often forget how much we need one when life doesn’t allow for anything else. There’s always another deadline, another project, another commitment. We never seem to slow down and take the time to allow ourselves to do the things we enjoy. It might be because we’re feeling guilty from a bad decision, or you could just feel obligated time and time again to do things for other people, but the truth is, we’re no good to other people if we don’t take care of ourselves.

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The adventure I chose for this week was alternating a good book with some screen time, two things I really enjoy. Watching a silly video on youtube, putting my thoughts out on the internet, and reading about the impossible challenges of three heroes destined for greatness. My family and I decided to get out of the house, get some time to ourselves, only an hour away from where we live, but away from all our commitments as well.

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It’s in looking back at pictures like these from some time ago that one can begin to realize the power of adventure. Feeling purpose is all well and good, but getting lost into an adventure can sometimes be the best medicine. One of the reasons I like Alice in Wonderland so much is because it reminds us that getting lost is not always a bad thing, but neither is finding our way back.

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I didn’t think while I was writing this, this blog post is just my thoughts raw on the page. Simply, we forget to take care of ourselves and we think that to do so requires some sort of huge effort, but it can take nothing but a long drive or a short nap, just something you really look forward to, something no one can take away from you. That is how you really recharge.

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Thank you for reading!

~Abby

Xx

My Birthday

My birthday was just about a month ago now and I felt as though I couldn’t not share it. I wanted to re-cap it as something I could look back on and remember because my 2017 B-day is not something I want to forget.

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My good friend stayed the night before my B-day, and we ate pizza and snuggled up on the bed watching a movie, enough said. The ideal movie night in, in my opinion. I focused just on enjoying the night so I didn’t snap any pictures, but I kind of like it that way. Sometimes a memory is better in your imagination, and I wouldn’t have traded that night for the world… my heart was so happy. ❤

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The next morning was so special and I was spoiled rotten by my family and friends. The gift of social media allowed me to received messages from people dear to my heart who were across the ocean. And then the fun began. We got all dolled up and headed into Durban for our special tea.

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We decided on the Antique Cafe (93 Churchill Rd) and we were not disappointed. Not only did they have the most beautiful sitting area, but their food was amazing. 5-star rating from me. ^_^ There was an accordion player playing live atmospheric music and the whole morning couldn’t have been better.

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It’s not every day an accordion player plays you Happy Birthday and you get a candle in a bee sting. In case you’re confused, a bee sting is a mini cake with honey and caramelized nuts. Divine! We also indulged in some cheesecake, and oh man it was good!

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But really, I can’t think of anything more special than sitting with my friend and my parents enjoying a beautiful Durban morning celebrating another year alive

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That’s it for now

~Abby

Xx

Train Trip

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So I started this post a week after New Years and it’s March already. On New Year’s Day, I went on the Umgeni Train ride which is run completely by volunteers. We managed to go on the perfect day because it wasn’t raining and there weren’t actually a lot of people on the train. There were plenty on the first ride of the day I was told, but my parents and I went on the evening ride. We were actually able to pick our own seats!

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Apart from going on a train ride being so flipping cool, just check these views! The windows were all wide open so we got to breathe the fresh African air and catch some stunning shots.

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Once we got there we browsed the market a little bit and sat down for some supper. Of course, we had to go for some pizza.

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Me trying to be photogenic whilst eating pizza…

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At least it was delicious!

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The ride back was almost better than the ride there because it was just getting dark and there’s something so satisfying about trundling along in a train at dusk.

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Staring out of a dark train window listening to the music that you love sounds like one of the best ways to spend your time.

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Almost for the whole ride back, my head was out of the window (being careful about overhanging branches) and I just turned up the music on my phone and enjoyed the ride.

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So I hope you enjoyed this little mid-week post about my first adventure of the year. Even though it’s March already, it’s not too late to look ahead at the year coming and make the plans that you want to make. I’m personally excited for this month because it’s my B-Day month :D, but whatever else is facing you this year, be bold enough to do the things you want to do.

I hope you enjoyed this post, I’d love to hear from you so don’t be shy and leave comment down below. ^_^

Expect more posts coming soon!!

~Abby

Xx

Moments of 2016

Another year gone… I’m at a loss as to where 2016 went. The craziness of travelling seems to have ripped away the time. Now it’s the start of a whole new year. Every year is a chance to make memories, but what we do with that chance is up to us.

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Last year was a year of craziness, stress, and experience. I traveled the world for 5 months, visited with family I hadn’t seen in 3 years and said goodbye to my brother as he went off to uni. Looking back on this year I think that amidst the experiences I could have done a better job of making the most of the amazing things that were happening around me, instead of just going from one day to the next, but then when I really think about it, I’m happy with what I was able to accomplish in another year, and I’m content.

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The year had its ups and downs as all years do.

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I spent some time with amazing people,

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I saw some incredible sights,

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Did lots of walking,

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Ate some incredible food,

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And learned a few things about myself along the way.

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I hope your 2016 was everything you had hoped it would be, and even if it wasn’t, that you’re content with where you’re at and striving to move forward into the new year with confidence and enthusiasm.

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Here we go again. 😉 Bring it on, 2017

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~Abby

Xx