How To Give A Compliment

Have you ever been on the way to visit someone who has really great hair, and on the way there you realise you didn’t shower that day and forgot to put your hair up and now you were on your way to visit someone with really great hair?

I have.

It happened last weekend when I went to visit Tory. Tory has great hair. It’s long and luscious and she looks cuter than a 14 year old taking selfies in her bathroom. I mean look at her…

She has great hair. And a gorgeous son. It's kind of ridiculous.

Tory has great hair. And a gorgeous son. It’s kind of ridiculous.

Anyway.

So on the way to Tory’s house, I had this self-directed diatribe going through my head:

“Ah no! NO MAN! YOU DORK. Why didn’t I put my flippen hair up? I didn’t even have a shower today. Note to self: taking Luke to swimming lessons is NOT the same as having a shower. Flip my hair looks so scaffy, and Tory always looks so gorgeous. I HATE MY HAIR UGGGGHHHHH.”

That’s all I had time for because she lives 5 minutes away, but I could have gone on much longer.

Then Tory opens the door and OBVS her hair is flowing over her shoulder like she just stepped out of a salon.

Fast forward about an hour after tea, Swiss rolls, discussions about parenting and temperament and whether its better to get your veggies at Woolies or FoodLovers. The conversation turns to our free-spirited, unorganised approach to life (I like to call it “Big Picture Living”), and Tory brings up the fact that she can never find hairbands. She says:

“In fact, I was looking for a hairband this evening when you said you were on your way, because your hair is always so great and I was like, UH, Jess’ hair is always so smooth and straight and just hangs so nicely, and my hair is so wild and crazy. But I couldn’t find one to tie up this mane so sorry you have to look at my frizzy hair!”

What. The. Heck.

I almost fell off the chair laughing, and told her about my own hair crisis and how we were both literally thinking the same thing about each other and ourselves – SHE HAS GREAT HAIR. I DO NOT.

So we took this selfie to commemorate the moment of ridiculousness.

We have great hair.

We have great hair.

Why do we do this?

Why do we take what is probably truly awesome about us – for example, my great hair – and try pretend like it’s truly awful?

  • When someone tells us we have a nice outfit on, we say “Oh, its so old and I got it at Mr Price. It doesn’t even fit me properly.”
  • When someone says “You have such a nice nose!”, we say, “What? It’s so stubby and round. I wish I had a nose like you.”
  • When someone compliments us on a job well done, we say, “It was nothing! It wasn’t really me, the team worked so hard on it.”

STOP IT.

Stop insulting people’s good taste. Stop rejecting their compliments. Stop throwing perfectly sincere admiration to the floor like it’s garbage.

My mom taught me this a few years ago. When someone gives you a compliment, do you know what to do?

Smile and say “Thank you.”

No excuses, no self-deprecation, no fake humility. No long story about how usually you’re blah blah blah and it’s totally random that this one time you’re so good at blah blah blah.

Smile and say “Thank you.”

You probably have great hair. Or great taste in clothing. Or can sing. Or are brilliant at your job. Or can make really good macaroons. Or something.

So here’s the challenge, friends. Here is your TO DO list for today.

  1. Give a compliment. To yourself.
    Say something you like about yourself.  On Facebook, or Twitter, or the comments section of this blog. Somewhere that others can see it. Say something you like about yourself and OWN it. Claim it. Do not fob off all the affirmation that will follow. And it can’t be like, “I am so good at being average at stuff.” It has to be great, like “I have gorgeous toes. I freaking love my toes.”
    (If you feel awkies doing this, post it along with a link to this blog so everyone knows you’re not being a ego-maniacal social media fool. Or not)
  2. That’s all.
Now it's your turn to :) and say "Thank you."

Now it’s your turn to 🙂 and say
“Thank you.”

That was a test. Now go and spread the love!

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Women Rock – A Tribute to the Brave and Beautiful

Being a young mom of two toddlers, I’m often approached by many other woman who want to know the secret to my glamorous look. And by many other woman, I mean absolutely no one. Even now, as I type this, there is literally dried yogurt in my hair. I felt it when I ran my fingers through my glossy locks and I thought, “Oh, a clip.”

It’s not a clip. It’s dried yogurt.

Then there’s the time when I was waiting in line at the La Lucia clinic for baby vaccinations. I stood rocking my restless infant in the crowded room, with my serene, I’m-so-chilled-even-though-I’m-in-a-germ-infested-clinic face on, and I occasionally caught the eye of someone in the room who smiled at me. I smiled sweetly back at them. Hi there. Yes. I am one of those relaxed, go with flow mamas, how are you? Until about 20 minutes into my stand-up demonstration of awesomeness when a kind elderly woman whispered to me that my fly was down. 

Me and my fristers.  (friends + sisters. we made it up.) Two of the most beautiful women I know.

Me and my fristers. (friends + sisters. we made it up.) Two of the most beautiful women I know.

So glamorous.

If you’re not convinced about my sophisticated style, let me share the events of last month. We were down on the South Coast for an absolutely idyllic family holiday. I’m talking warm sunny weather, clambering over rock pools looking for crabs, building sand castles in the little bay in which a burst sewage pipe flowed giving everyone in our family chronic diarrhoea and vomiting for the entire ten days. That’s right. Idyllic.

After four nights of changing bed sheets and pyjamas and syringing medicine into a baby’s throat, I had had enough. The boys had woken up at 4.30am. I had to get them out the house. My poor parents had been amazing but I suspect they were on the verge of disowning us, and I’m pretty sure my sister will being arranging a vasectomy for her fiancé when they get back to Cape Town. So I packed the two kids into the car and drove to the Shelly Centre at 6am. There the three of us walked around the mall in our pyjamas for an hour, looking into the windows of the closed stores and waving at the staff who stared at us as they walked to work. Did I mention I was wearing my bright purple running shoes? It was a highlight in glamour for me, personally.

 But what is it that makes a woman beautiful? Is it her hair or her clothes or her flawless make up? Is it her skinny bum or long legs or ability to rock the sky-high wedges?

Here’s the truth. You are not more feminine when you are beautiful. You are a beautiful woman when you are brave.

  • Brave is the mom dropping her baby off at day care for the first time because whether she wants to or not, she’s got to work full-time.
  • Brave is the single woman going to another work function alone, another dinner with all the couples, and popping the champagne for another friend getting engaged.
  • Brave is the woman visiting the fertility clinic each month, waiting for her own good news, and throwing a gorgeous baby shower for her best friend.
  • Brave is the forty-something empty nester who starts studying for her degree after the kids have left home and is the oldest person in the lecture hall.
  • Brave is the young career woman applying for that top position even though all the colleagues she’s up against are guys who play golf with the boss.

Brave is beautiful.

On 9 August 1956, more than 20 000 South African women marched to the Union Buildings on in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. It was a turning point in the role of women in the struggle from apartheid. Absolutely beautiful. On the way to the Union Buildings the women sang a freedom song: “Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!”

Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn - the brave beauties who led the march

Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn – the brave beauties who led the march

wathint’ abafazi,
wathint’ imbokodo,
uza kufa!

[When] you strike the women,
you strike a rock,
you will be crushed [you will die]!

Brave is beautiful. And women rock.

Your marital status, your ability to produce offspring and the size of your bra is not what makes you a beautiful person. It’s your unique perspective and talent and strength that make you beautiful. It’s your ability to partner with other men and women in the workplace and in schools and in families and in communities, to put things right in the world and contribute towards the things that really matter that make you beautiful. And every single one of us can do that. Brave is beautiful.

Just before I sat down to write this, I lay on my little boy’s bed as he fell asleep. There in the dark, he snuggled up to me, lying with his forehead against mine, his warm chubby hand on my cheek.

“Love you, precious mama”, he whispered.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. This right here. This moment. This is beautiful.
And then, he licked my face.

Yes. It’s a beautiful thing to be a woman.