BETWEEN THE LINES WITH NEO NTSOMA

Today is a  very special day for me.  It’s the first day that this blog does what it was created for. It’s the day I am so honoured to get to publish my great sister, friend and prolific photographer Neo Ntsoma’s story. I first met her on the happiest day of her life, as the first black female winner of the CNN African Journalist – Photojournalist  of the year award in 2004. Dressed in a bright red and white suit, a top hat and wide smile with sparkling eyes, I immediately knew she was one of a kind. Since then we’ve become like sisters, meeting often to talk about anything but the work we do, have coffee, watch films, and imagine and dream about the future. Yesterday, for the first time  Neo told her story on her Facebook page.  She told it in a way that  only she can and in a voice I have never heard before;  though I recognize it, it resonates with me, I know exactly what she means – in many ways our story is  the same story.  Her story is the reason I started this blog,  the reason Between The Lines exists. Today I have her to thank again, for her courage to speak her truth, because her truth  has allowed me to see mine, again with fresh eyes and clarity (yes I am tearing up).  A re-commitment to a vision of a  future full of HOPE  that was birthed within me from the depths of despair.  So take your time, and listen to the true cost of journalism and it’s rewards. She has kindly given me her permission to re-publish her story on this blog. In her own words and pictures, My sister friend and colleague Neo Ntsoma:

I’ve never really felt comfortable to tell anyone the real reason why I quit my fulltime job of almost a decade at The Star. So I decided today would be the day I put the truth out there. Hopefully I will never get to be asked the same question ever again. I need to put the past behind me…

Why I Quit My Job To Rediscover Myself: 

Picture by Neo Ntsoma (c)
Picture by Neo Ntsoma (c)

I thought I was going to get a mental breakdown. The four years that I worked night-shift at The Star newspaper exposed me to so much. My assignments mostly involved covering a lot of violence in the city, road accidents, police raids, drowned children in lakes, inferno(s) in informal settlements and just about anything traumatic…it was intense! There was so much uncontrolled crime happening around that time. Johannesburg had earned its place as one of the most dangerous cities in the world and a very reckless one to live in and I was right in the middle of it all. It got to a point where I would even get calls from other newspapers photo desks asking for leads to crime scenes.

I suffered terrible insomnia I couldn’t sleep. Is not like anybody had forced me to work night, it was a more of a personal choice I made. I enjoyed it so much that it was more of an addiction. I was hooked! Working night was a selfish decision that I chose for myself mainly because I preferred to work in an environment that involved fewer people and manageable egos to deal with. It was more to avoid conflict of interests and decisions that sounded unreasonable at times. It would have been practically impossible to adjust and adapt to working daytime even if I had wanted to.

If I weren’t out on assignments shooting various disasters, I would just sit around at the office waiting for the next big scoop to happen. At times I would work throughout the night and leave the office at 6am the next day to be back again at 2pm of the same day. I got used to the routine so much and enjoyed it because it allowed me the time to do other things such as attending to emails from varsity students whom were working on their research on photojournalism or something in relation to that. I was always at their service. I was forever bombarded with scholarly requests of sorts. It had become a habit to find a few Q & A interviews waiting in my inbox from international journalists writing reviews based on my work. Somewhere more demanding of my time than others but I enjoyed every moment ever spent responding to those requests. I also used that time to research on photography. I would sit for hours on the computer searching lots of photo sites for new trends within photo scenes around the world. I was driven, passionate and very competitive but more competing with myself than with anyone else. That time was also invested well on reading books, lots of books on various subjects from anthropology to biographies of successful people. My huge appetite for knowledge was craving to be fed with more information, which I enjoyed sharing with others.

Being the type that enjoys getting a bit of more sleep in the morning I figured working night would suit me better considering the many other commitments that I already had. Besides, it was getting more of a routine for me to arrive 30 minutes to an hour late to work only because I had overslept a little. I just couldn’t get myself to waking up early like your average normal person. I had a good share of warnings from my photo editor and had already a few trips to the managing editor’s office. And it was starting to seem like I was being disrespectful whereas I wasn’t. So in order to keep my job I had to beg to be put on a permanent night-shift slot. Ultimately I got burned-out!!!

I later learnt that Ken Oosterbrooke also suffered from the same disorder and like me; he never allowed it to come between his commitments nor his duties.

Picture by Neo Ntsoma (c)
Picture by Neo Ntsoma (c)

By mid 2006, I no longer could cope. I remember sending Robin Comley, my former photo editor a series of text messages around 3 o’clock in the morning sharing my frustrations mostly about my unhappiness at work. About how unappreciated I felt at the office and just how fed-up I was with my life and that I wanted to resign. I was only expressing my bitterness at the realization that my life was turning into something I had not imagined or planned for.

I was unhappy about everything but mostly about the direction that my career was heading. Too much was expected of me also because I had set myself a very high standard of excellence which increased the pressure to keep wanting to achieve more. At the time I had already decided to take a break from entering photo competitions but to focus more on investing in others. There was a new breed of young photographers that had just joined the company and I took it upon myself that I would be their mentor. That was my mission and I was prepared to commit to it whole heartedly. I still feel proud to this day that I made that decision because it has produced amazing results, which I’d choose not to mention on this platform.

My insomnia increased. Again I started pitching to work late. Some kind of uncontrollable disorder had taken over my life yet again but I still maintained producing excellent work. Insomnia propelled me to push myself even harder to make up for my late coming. The one thing they failed to recognise was that I worked extremely long hours than I was paid for without ever claiming overtime. Time was not so much of an issue. What mattered was the level of commitment I put in my work.

Karen Sandison, deputy photo editor and probably the only person that understood and appreciated my dedication knew that my actions were not meant to cause any harm.

I was constantly thinking new ideas and never-seen-before concepts that I wanted to create for the betterment of the newspaper and myself. I even went as far as collaborating with Robin Orlin, the internationally renowned choreographer and created an award-winning series that caught the attention of the Art scene both in South Africa and in Europe…The Babysitting Egoli Series…photographed at the Johannesburg Art Gallery!

Award Winning Picture, shack dwellers watch as their homes razed to the ground. Picture by Neo Ntsoma (c)
Award Winning Picture, shack dwellers watch as their homes razed to the ground. Picture by Neo Ntsoma (c)

What the judges said: “Mohamed Amin photographic award: Neo Ntsoma, The Star, South Africa Topic: Their world in flames Judges’ Citation: “It stood out as a news piece in that not only did the photographer manage to capture the intensity of the event, but she did so in a very unusual way. She produced a very attractive set of photographs that were technically superb, visually very attractive, the sort of photographs one felt you could enlarge and frame and hang on your wall, and yet they were photographs of a tragedy.”

Then I suggested to be allowed to specialise, a decision that was turned down by management, as they couldn’t see how that would benefit the newspaper. I knew then that my future with the company was nearing the end. All I really wanted was to be given a chance to take control of my professional future with the hope that the company will give me the much-needed support by making sure that I am progressing wisely down the right path. Much to my surprise it turned out that we were not on the same page regarding my future plans hence they couldn’t hear me out. They blindly failed to recognize the bigger picture and the prospects of how much value that could add to the company.

Just being a senior photographer based on the fact that I was a little more technically experienced than my juniors was not good enough for me. That was not my ultimate achievement aspiration. My goal was a lot bigger than what was on offer but more to do with the craving for freedom to focus more on special assignments type of projects. The type of assignments that would require that I choose my own team based on their strengths and specialities. A team of special reporting experts that would work with me on various subjects while I create images that would make one think that they were reviewing a Master’s or PhD thesis when viewed. Highly intellectual material! Not the average hurry up and wait daily assignments that I used to do. I wanted to step out of the norm, find my own voice, be on a league of my own but I needed a pair of wings to fly that far. I so much wanted to revolutionize the industry but I knew there was no way I could achieve that on my own without the full support of my employers. Not even an associate editorship position could have fulfilled that desire. I think my over ambitious aspirations scared my editors or perhaps the industry was not yet ready for my over the top ideas.

Still in 2006, I got nominated for a MTN Women in the Media Award alongside the likes of Ferial Haffajee, who was then editor in chief of the Mail & Guardian and the first woman to ever hold that position, Ruda Landman whom most people may know from Carte Blanche, currently a non-executive director on the board of Media24 board and Sue Valentine, a Nieman Foundation fellow. Surely being nominated alongside these industry heavyweights was a good enough reason to encourage my editors to review my proposal. I was ready for growth and needed to be groomed for a more advanced role.

When my editors failed to show up at the awards ceremony. it clearly spoke volumes. All my efforts and dedication towards my work and the company were unappreciated but also a clear indication of condemnation at least that’s how I took it. I felt even more trapped, like a rat in a cage.

All Star to the End. Picture by Neo Ntsoma (c)
All Star to the End. Picture by Neo Ntsoma (c)

Thoughts of suicide crossed my mind several times but I could not let myself entertainment them considering that my child needed me to still be here for him…but truth is I was not coping. Dealing with so much emotion all at the same time, I was burning up inside. I had reached a breaking down point but no one could notice neither did I have the courage to disclose my situation to anyone except the occasional text messages to Robin sometimes sent out at some very awkward hours, at times with parts of the truths distorted.

It had come to a point where I couldn’t force myself to be remorseful over a relative’s death or that of a friend. My heart was hardened from covering the deaths of those that died in the most horrific ways. I had seen and photographed a lot of corpses before, some with missing body parts, brain splashed onto the ground, people trapped in cars, the Ellis Park stadium disaster where I had to photograph close to 30 corpses lined up together awaiting to be identified by relatives.

Shortly after my resignation Robin Comley, was appointed photo editor at The Times, the sister paper of the Sunday Times and suggested that I join her as chief photographer. As much as the offer sounded attractive and the fact that I was indeed qualified for the position, I turned it down mainly because I needed to take a break from the pressures of mainstream, shooting hard news. If only the offer came a year earlier I am sure I would have jumped at it with eyes closed. I had already lost the passion for Journalism and I couldn’t do it even for a million bucks. I didn’t have the heart for it any more. I so badly wanted to be left to mourn the passing of my mother even seven years after her death. I wanted to be left to rediscover myself.

If you can’t stand the idea of having your current or previous ‘manager’s job, you need to think long and hard about what’s next. I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but something inside of me was telling me I shouldn’t continue down the career path I was on. I felt strongly that it wasn’t getting me closer to where I wanted to be, though that destination was largely unknown, and I had to get off that road. I just needed some Me time. What more was there for me to still wanna explore or challenge myself with? Nothing!!!

Not even that one picture that probably could have put a smile on my editor’s face and turned me into an overnight superstar was not good enough to change my mind about leaving. I am referring to a photograph of Fezekile Kuzwayo boarding a flight to Amsterdam. Thee “Khwezi,” the alleged rape victim was relocating, a move that was prompted by persistent threats from President Jacob Zuma’s supporters. Being the ONLY photographer at the airport at that particular time, that picture could have earned me a lot of respect from my editors including the international media landscape at large but I had to let it pass.

‘I’ Neo Ntsoma witnessed “Khwezi,” as she walked right passed me, with all the access I had, a camera in my hand but I just couldn’t bring myself to capturing that moment. She had found freedom and she needed to be left alone. That moment gave me all the reasons to stick to my decision because I had nothing left to prove to anybody anymore. I had found my own freedom!

THE END

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Charlie and the Sky Factory

Love at first sight. Charlie  arriving back from School
Love at first sight. Charlie arriving back from School Pic: Jedi Ramalapa

By Jedi Ramalapa

October 2013.   On the 31st of August during a fundraising event for the Soweto Kliptown Youth   (SKY) Center, Charlie called me “mama” and I was so touched to hear this – I didn’t even know I yearned so much to have a child of my own or that I had hidden secrete desire to be called “Mama”. And there he was, ready-made, calling me mama and I took the bait. It wasn’t much but he came to me saying his hands were dry and I had a number of  hand lotions.  I physically oiled his hands, with natural honey face cream, vaseline-hand lotion, baby oil, all the lotions I could find in my bag  and then some. I bought him food – hot-dog- he in turn looked after my bag. For a day I could  pretend that I was actually his real mother. I was a guardian to someone, was responsible for somebody’s existence. Somebody needed me, wanted me, somebody’s life depended on me.  For a day I fully belonged somewhere – to someone, at least in my mind.

I first noticed Charlie during  my day visits to SKY while making preparations for the fund-raising-event.  Unbeknown to him he got me  at my softest, softest spot  the very first time i laid eyes on him – through his  books.

I was sitting out in the sun taking pictures of an artist painting a portrait of the late midwife and  Kliptown community  worker and builder   Eva Mokoka on the wall of her former house (which she used as a  community clinic). I was also taking pictures of sister Ntombi and Gloria  who were busy cooking the days’ meal on an outdoor fire, with extreme dedication and focus. They spent the whole day cooking!

I was truly minding my own business when Charlie arrived back from school, neatly  kitted out in full school uniform.He me  greeted respectfully  and stood to stare at  the evolving  picture of Eva Mokoka, in what I read as complete admiration (see above) and then he proceeded to go the book storage/container kept outside bob’s door – I assumed they kept their home-work.  He took his books out  and proceeded to show Jabu and other volunteers his work. They all sounded impressed with his achievements. I  thought wow, at least they are getting something right.

So I was already in love with Charlie by the time he uttered that four letter word. Mama. I wanted to adopt him, make  him mine.  I already had thoughts of having a constant, loyal companion ( life can be unbearably lonely sometimes, when you are me: -an independent, single,  childless ,uncompromising woman), travelling the world etc. I told my brother that Saturday.  “Something amazing happened today – Charlie called me mama” I exclaimed. He just looked at me and smiled his beautiful big eyes. I had now found another solid moral reason to exist.

The next day, Charlie watched me gather my things and asked me where I was going, and when I would come back.   He wanted me to stay he said. “When people come with bags it means they are staying” He said removing a piece of paint from the wall. Mama I would like you to stay he said. It broke my heart to leave him there in that place like that – what kind of “mama” am I? I felt as if I was betraying him, abandoning him “again” –  taking away his only chance at being “loved, cared for”.

When I returned to last SKY and this time to stay I was looking forward to seeing Charlie and  to spending more time with him. But Charlie had disappeared, he was nowhere to be found, nobody knew what had happened to him.  I was quite surprised  and shocked that nobody seemed too bothered about his where abouts. People just moved on.

I asked everyone what happened to Charlie.  The the story slowly emerged that  Charlie was not the sweet little boy I had met or thought I knew. Charlie always dressed neatly in the morning as if going to school, while in actual fact he would go elsewhere, and spent days only God knows what in  Johannesburg’s CBD. He must be around 12 or 13.  I didn’t know him well enough.  Never had a detailed conversation with him actually. I did not ask any questions. He was a great performer, and he knew exactly what to say to get the right response from adults. It was his MO they told me, to disappear into thin air. “He always used to lie to me about going to school, ha  uCharlie!’ they exclaimed.   But has anyone even tried to search for him to find him?  i asked softly, hesitantly, trying not to sound worried, alarmed or disappointed.  “Yes,  we went to his school and found that  hadn’t been there for weeks, even though he woke up every morning going to school and back”

I realized then that there  was no point  in burdening my little heart further inquiries of Charlies whereabouts.  It seemed to me right then that life for people at  SKY is highly transient and unpredictable. Members of the “youth club” came and went as they pleased and there was no one who was the wiser   about the goings’ on the children’s lives  except perhaps bra Bob Nameng who understandably shared very little about the people’s personal histories.  They were accountable to no-one, and no-one could be held accountable for their disappearance.   At the time there were no records of how many children  lived at SKY, when they came in or when they left.  Somebody later added “Maybe he is at the suburbs with a relatives, an aunt or something”.  I slowly began to realize that though they may indeed be vulnerable and be troubled – the children and the youth at SKY were not  necessarily  “orphans” and I should not get emotionally involved thinking they had no one, even if they were, orphans, I could not “save” anyone let alone myself. SKY is a free thinking society.  ‘Here you are free to be and express yourself, no one can be the judge”.

Food - Gloria's Food!
Food – Gloria’s Food!

Now that I have time to reflect, I can see how easily children can be used or manipulated. How they also quickly learn to manipulate if such behavior is rewarded. Food is  often used to lure children ( even adults) to do all sorts of  crazy things. Children are  beautiful and innocent – and that is why they will always be so vulnerable, they learn by doing what you are doing. They repeat often, always and almost without fail, the same things you say to them or to others in private or public as truth. They are sponges that take in everything – especially behaviour. They emulate. They are what we make them. They didn’t ask to be “born” or exist. So you  place them in conditions  that would generate untold sympathy from ‘adults”  who see themselves reflected in their innocent eyes, and hope to somehow use the children as a way of attaining some form of salvation – healing or “good karma”.

Mothers begging with infants on the street is becoming a common scene on the streets of Johannesburg.  People may not sympathise with you as an individual, but for the sake of the “innocent” child they will give you something, do something which you as the bearer of the child will invariably benefit from their “donations” anyway since you are the custodian.  Both men and women (consciously or subconsciously) to get their way in life sometimes, to stay together or to separate, in divorces, in marriages, use children to justify their actions “I’m doing it for the children” is always the righteous response of people who insist on staying in toxic relationships,  having children when they know they are in no position to take good care of them,  to gain power, hoping that they  can “change” people and sometimes they do, but often people don’t change for anyone except for themselves.

It tore me up inside when  in  Dakar and St Louis in Senegal. So many children as young as  two years old with huge bowls begging on the streets  at all hours of the day, working, while  their parents stay at home  feeling sorry for themselves.  Life on the streets is no childs’ play and I think that children who live like that  in many ways are no longer children, they grow up, they become mini hardened adults.  In South Africa,  I have seen and observed how women with children –  used them as pawns to keep and or control men, get cash, have a roof over one’s heads, get married etc. It works because men want to fertilize the world with their seed, leave some kind of a  legacy. In some cases children have become real life-sized dolls, their personal toys, mini-mes,  machines. ?Things people – someone  they can finally have “control” over, indoctrinate , brain wash.  A “second” chance at creating a life you never lived. Your very  own creation, personal DNA – your blood  that you can direct,  control, this is what children have become.

Their innocence is continuously being manipulated by everyone.  Everyone “says” they “care” for children because they are “innocent’ but most often as with everything else they are just using them to fill a void, to “get” something and when they become “too-much” we abandon them – discard them – blame them, for  everything. For money spent or wasted after they fail to become our perfect creations.  We do all this to suit our personal needs, dreams, to make us feel “better’ about ourselves. Who has the children’s best interest?

Children are a dream for advertisers or anyone in business, who wants to make a quick buck – ‘for the children”. They are fertile ground to plant all kinds of  ideas good and bad. Children = money. Everyone wants to give to children… something or inversely everyone uses children to gain some advantage in life, women do this more than men.

It’s a dangerous trend ( even though it’s part of human nature to have children) a fait a compli.  I just shudder when I see how people treat  children today. I am scared almost to live in a world where these children will be all grown up, all-knowing and seeking revenge.

It’s easy to want to help, to be a do-gooder, to feel good about our good deeds. But I think we should all ask ourselves more honestly,  really interrogate ourselves critically and honestly answer the question why? We do what we do  with, for, on behalf of children? Is it really for their benefit? for the benefit of the individual child? Or are we part of a machinery that is producing children who will become machines, clones, extensions of our super Egos?  Capitalism, society, is creating people machines and soon machines will be more valuable than human beings.  A computer rarely questions your motives and reasons. You press click and it does what you want, if it fails, you can always get another one.  It reminds me of a verse in the Bible where some general was asking Jesus to heal his daughter, Jesus asked him if he believed, and he said “I am a man of authority, I have servants under me. I tell this one to go and he goes, and I tell this one to do this and he does it. Just say the word and I know my daughter will be healed.” We want to live in a world where can remote control people like we do  machines, robots. We want  people we can  have complete  and “absolute” control over – children are easier to control and manipulate because they are completely powerless.  We want people to obey us, to have authority over,  we need to be needed, wanted. So we practice with our children and used them as an experiment for our failed lives, projects. We want to  own them like a prized pair of expensive shoes, which we use step on still  regardless of  their value.  Charlies’ disappearance made me realize how easily I fell into the trap of trying to “own” someone so I can feel “worthy, needed, wanted, to leave  some kind of a  “legacy”, “immortalize myself forever” .    Out of all the selfish things that we humans  do and are capable of the need to live vicariously through other human beings, to decide on people’s destiny’s to rule over and to control them; make them do our bidding – must count as the most despicable and deplorable of them all.

A girl Childs' Shoes. Pic Jedi ramalapa
A girl Childs’ Shoes. Pic Jedi Ramalapa

 

The Artist’s Way to A Room with A View

This way. To A 12 Week Artist Challenge.

This week-end I picked up, The Artist’s Way By Julia Cameron in my box of treasured-to-read- books.  It’s a  book I bought and half read in 2009.  It was recommended to me by a really good friend of mine. She loved architecture and loved Art and couldn’t quite find a balance that allowed her to do both. So for a while she painted paintings that looked like basic plans or models for re-designing spaces, and phases. Minimalist outlines, for where real life would happen.  Then she enrolled  back to University to complete a degree in Architecture. “At least finish something you know” She said in that sexy polish accent only she could manage.like.   Back at University among young pubescent students, we met for coffee – she was back pushing deadlines. I asked her  how she was doing. “It’s always a process you know” She said with a  smile  and I nodded my head, because I was  still tied to a job I wasn’t sure fulfilled me.  She went underground again and then  re-surfaced, now living at a gallery we often used to frequent for nice veggie dishes  not far from where we all used to live.  I was with her brother, one of my  good friends too. She was down with the flu, but much happier than she’d been in a long time she told me. I sat next to her by her bed side and watched as her sweat made cute tiny balls near her hairline, she really was beautiful, like a porcelain doll. Then she reached the for the Artist’s Way which lay  next to her small side table as if it was her lifeline – like a bible.  Here you should read this she said. It’s helping me, I see things very differently now, it has tasks, like going out on dates  by yourself and it’s empowering, she said in  that way I knew she was convinced, her lips curled sending light to the blue murky waters in her eyes. I looked at it skeptically. I may have squinted upside-down for good measure while trying to figure out  why she thought I needed the Artists way.  She was the Artist. I just hung out with them. This is my copy but I can lend it to you if want. No, thanks it’s fine I said after glancing at its contents. The first page speaks about God/The creator, Julia Cameron began her journey to calling herself an Artist after she stopped drinking alcohol. I didn’t want to continue. Do you want some tea? Asked my the fairest beauty. Yes, sure I replied. Wishing I could have a nice glass of red, red wine, right at that moment.

She got up to make a pot in her colourfully- eclectic kitchen.  I thought then that If I were an artists and had a place of my own I would quite like a  kitchen that  looked and felt  a little more like that , eclectic and warm and homely – an organized and colourful poetic mess ( not too much mess).  All the pictures I used to paint as a child while listening to my mother’s stories recounting how lovely it was to grow up in that house in Orlando West – Phefeni. We used to have jars of candy, biscuits, fruits, vegetables, and my mother would bake and the kitchen will be warm and fragrant with sweet vanilla fumes seeping out from the oven, while red coals glittered in the silver and porcelain coal stove… someone would be telling a lyrical story, and we would sit transfixed, while waiting impatiently for the cakes to come out of the oven. As I grew up I added my own little things to my the picture as I went along.  Flowers lots of them, plants…. some dried out some fresh… books for recipes  books to read while waiting on something, note books, yes , pens,  yes biscuits, coffee yes from different corners of the world, ground and brewed in my very own kitchen… with dollops of cinnamon.  Lemons, yes,  I would have a huge bowl of lemons, candy,  a radio in a corner with some sultry voice reading the news, or singing a nice tune like Michelle Ndengecello’s Beautiful – a vegetable stew on the stove… bread in the oven, a  nice corner couch in the large window alcove in the kitchen strewn with colourful  rusty, olive, orange and green and yellow cushions, where I would snuggle up to read, write or smooch with a lover over a chocolate flavoured glass of red wine, with sweet and tangy berries  or hot chocolate on cold wintry days….

So, What have you been up to ? Her question brings  me back to her eclectic kitchen and as I star between the wooden cracks on the floor for an answer I see my own brown kitchen cupboards which were –  Oh so uninspiring. Ah nothing, I replied feeling lost, same old same old , still at the S**C, but I’m busy applying for fellowships. I was always applying for fellowships, to somewhere, anywhere but here.

Now this week-end as I re-opened the book I closed almost three years ago. I found inside a contract I signed with myself on the 26 of August, 2009. Committing my self to a twelve week intensive course, which included twelve weeks of intensive reading, daily morning pages, a weekly artists date, and the fulfillment of each weeks tasks,  with an understanding that the course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with. I committed myself to excellent self-care, with adequate sleep, diet, exercise and pampering for the duration of the course.  Now almost three years later,  I had forgotten about this contract I signed while struggling to pull myself through quick sand and yet the one I had made the contract with had not forgotten. The giver of creativity, the source , my creator had not forgotten.

Today I am producing a play  based on my recent travels to Senegal, have sent off a first draft of a manuscript I wrote intensely for six months,without fail, while keeping a daily (nonpunishable journal, i.e Morning pages),  and writing free-lance for news publications, I am keeping a blog, while keeping a 9-5 daily job.  I stopped drinking in 2010 and this year I reduced my smoking to next to nothing, I have a fragrant vanilla chai (tea) next to me as I write this, a stainless steel coffee plunger I got as a gift from a good friend just a glance away.  Even though it’s all happening in the office, instead of my dream room with a view – It’s still a room with a view for me.   It occurs to me that I did the course without even knowing it. I’ve almost come to the point where  if someone where to ask me, do you believe? I would reply to paraphrase Jung, I don’t believe, I know. I think I’m ready for the for the 12 week challenge.

PS: The last time I saw my friend she had decided to leave  the country -South Africa – without really telling anyone including her parents. She Left a note and jetted off to where her soul would find that room with a view.  This is my of way saying Thank You – Kasia.

Love.