My thought process when picking an outfit

by Matilda


We were invited to a fiftieth birthday celebration. A family affair. The in-laws. I have four amazing and successful sisters-in-law. All of them are accomplished career women. My very stylish mother-in-law was also going to be there. I began to feel a teeny bit insecure. I needed to plan what I was going to wear.

My process is fairly straight forward. Is the event during the day or in the evening? Is the event formal or informal or semi-formal? Do I have to wear comfortable shoes? What will the weather be like? In South Africa this is a very important factor at this time of the year. We can’t be sure of how a day will turn out. A gusty wind could keep you shivering or no wind could have you sweating in your sweater.

This specific celebration was a buffet lunch at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. Definitely informal and with comfortable shoes. The weather could go either way. After gathering all the relevant information it was time to put three outfits together and choose the one I feel most comfortable with.

My three options

I really liked the outfit on the left, but the light colour of the pants made me nervous. It is a garden after all. The outfit in the middle can be layered up with a denim jacket if I get cold. I love the colour of the shirt with the frills, but the pants are very summery.

My choice

I chose the floral dress, layered with a knitted three quarter sleeve sweater. I also grabbed my denim jacket for added protection if needed. I didn’t need it even a little bit. It was a lovely, mild day.

Fine vibes, good times

The weather was without a doubt perfect for outdoor dining. The gardens were buzzing with families enjoying the outdoors. We even saw the resident Black Eagle breeding pair. They apparently have a new chick, but we weren’t lucky enough to see it.

The waterfall beneath the eagle’s nest

The gardens are beautiful, even this time of the year. The buffet lunch was delicious and the company excellent. We had a great time.

Matilda xo

Styling my way!

by Belinda


 

Because of our daily Instagram posts, Matilda and I used to both do a type of styling photo every single day. We have since added the Blog to our home business, and we are learning so much about technology as we go, that we decided to take turns with the daily Instagram post, as we do with Facebook. If you happen to follow us on those platforms, we hope you enjoy our styling, as much as we have enjoyed creating the content for you.

We also don’t buy new often, so are unable to link items for you, but this has been a deliberate choice on our part. We style what we already have in our closets, and we shop second hand as far as possible. However, if we do show a new item of clothing, or any accessory here, we promise to link it for you.

Today, I styled an old pair of white, skinny jeans from Mango, together with a pair of nude heels I purchased in Zambia two months ago, with a light blue knit from David Jones at Woolworths, South Africa, which I purchased in the summer months. My inspiration for this outfit came, as it usually does, from Pinterest. The account is: liketk.it and the blogger: loverlygrey https://cutt.ly/SN8GCt

I loved the lightness of this outfit as today is an exceptionally warm day. But I do think it can be easily layered up, to create an even more appropriate outfit for winter. So I changed the shoes to these easy-to-wear, really old Woolworths slip ons in white. I added a scarf, which was a gift from my sister, who now lives in New Zealand, hence the delightful Kiwi theme. I also added a lacy, long, hooded cardigan that is an old purchase from two winters ago. This would be how I would wear it for the winter, especially on colder days. You could also change up the slip ons for a pair of ankle boots, which would give even more warmth to the feet and ankle area.

I do hope you like these styles. For me, it was a bit of a change from my very neutral, winter wardrobe. I must say that this outfit makes me feel light and airy!

Hope you have a beautiful day further. Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!

Belinda xo

Neural Pathways to Fashion

by Matilda


Before I joined My Style Journey, I never planned my outfits, except when I had to attend an event. My stress levels were raised considerably as I was coming to grips with the agreed upon photo a day on Instagram. I was just one accessory away from a panic attack, but also determined to learn. I was so grateful that Belinda had been doing this already for a while, because her gentle encouragement helped me to find my feet.

Our very first styling post on Instagram

In just a couple of weeks I went from spending very little time thinking about fashion to being totally engrossed by hem lengths and clashing prints. I could feel new neural pathways forming in my brain. My mindset and my perspective on life has expanded so much since then. I now believe that it is very important to be attentive to what you wear.

But why is it important to pay attention to how you look? It is my opinion that our external life has to be aligned with our internal mind – and soulscape. It is very liberating to dress in clothes that reflect your true personality. I feel much more confident now that I know what I like and wear clothes that I feel completely comfortable in.

One of the biggest challenges for me is to style one clothing item in three different ways. The big reward is when I see how versatile one item can be. I have styled my basic long sleeve T-shirt with jeans, a skirt and plain black pants.

I enjoy this process so much and I am learning new things continually. I hope I will keep evolving and never be stagnant again.

Matilda xo

How I stepped into my power

by Matilda

 

I don’t know who coined the phrase, to step into your power, but it really speaks to a place deep inside my soul. The moment it happened I knew that I would never be the same again. For me it is a solid feeling on the inside and this power is with me constantly. When I was mulling the whole incident over, my conclusion was that it is a three step process. Realisation, responsibility and taking action. I am sharing my experience as I have internalised it, but the path to your power will be singular to you and your situation.

Taking that first step into my power was a result of a series of awakenings. It began with me looking for answers. What do I actually believe? What is really important to me? Who do I honestly want to spend my time with? What do I want to spend my time on? Can I keep on living this life? No, was the decisive answer. I discovered that I did not want my life to continue in the same way. I was tired of the lies, tired of the deceit. Most of all I was tired of my double life. I had two faces: the show face and the shit face. The show face was the me I allowed other people to see. The mouth on that face said: “I am fine. My finances are fine. My marriage is fine. My kids are great.” The other face said: “I am incensed. I am hurt. My marriage is crumbling. My kids are confused. I am dying inside.” I could have kept my show face in place, but it was so exhausting and I was done. Done with not honouring what I needed, what I wanted. Done with not honouring me. I could have chosen to continue with this ruse, but I was only fooling myself. I had a very realistic view on what rocking the boat was going to do to the people I love. No one would be spared. My husband and children were not going to be protected from pain. Knowing that I was going to be the cause of a lot pain, was terrible. I had to believe that something healthy and whole would come from realising that I could not continue in the same way as always. I made the conscious choice to step out of the known into a very scary unknown.

It took me years to get to this point. Not just a couple of years either. It took more than a decade to get to a place where I could be honest with myself. Everything in my life was there as a result of either me allowing it to be there or me actively choosing it. To accept responsibility for the totality of my life was the hardest, best thing I have ever done. Previously I felt like a victim. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t me. I was the wronged party. Poor me. I was powerless and I couldn’t stand myself any longer. I knew then that only I can change. I can’t force anyone else to change and my circumstances can’t change if I stay the same. I had the power to change my inner self. Self -discovery was the only way. Brutal honesty was the road littered with potholes I had to travel. Admit to all the bad, feel all the guilt and shame, take responsibility for it and let it go. Choose a new you and a new life. I took responsibility for my life and it gave me the power to change my story.

Lastly, I had to take action. Confronting the issue or issues you want to change can be very daunting. It took a lot of courage to step into my power and reveal the disconnect and not know what the outcome will be. In my mind all the possible outcomes were going to be really, really difficult. I chose to act in spite of all the pain and loss that could possibly follow. That was the moment when I truly stepped into my power. I took the risk. Whatever the consequences, I would be true to me. And it has been really, really difficult, terrible, messy, beautiful, enlightening and powerful.

I stepped into my power four years ago and it has been a rough ride. My show face and the other one are in agreement: “I am learning. I am growing. My marriage is a work in progress. My kids are okay. I feel powerful.” The most important thing for me is to know my authentic self and then live true to that person. I am still doing the work, asking the questions and staying in my power.

“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”
― Patrick Overton,

A Tender Goodbye.

by Belinda

 

I once heard it said that you don’t know what it’s like to lose your Mother, until it’s too late. Obviously, this is true. No one can know the loss, until it happens. However, I never knew the depth of the loss, the pain of knowing she won’t ever be there anymore for me to chat to.

My mother passed away last year on the 15th November, 2018. She died in my arms, which I am forever grateful for. This is how I entered this world, in her arms. I am filled with deep appreciation for that moment. On the day she passed away, my aunt, her only surviving sister, was with us. The carer who had taken care of my mother both day and night, except every third weekend, had just bathed my mother and had gone into the house to have her late breakfast. This was a Thursday. My mother had slipped into a coma on the Sunday prior. The doctor explained that she had an infection, but because of the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s that was my mother’s disease, coupled with her low body mass, her body was unable to fight the infection. It was possibly a strain of the flu, as both myself and my granddaughter, who also lives with me, had been ill the week prior to my mother’s illness. I digress… My aunt had stepped out of the room where my mother was lying in the bed, to take a call from one of the many family members, who were calling to find out what was happening.

When my aunt left the room, I climbed onto the bed and lay next to my mother. I contacted my sister who lives in New Zealand, to say the end was close. I could see a change in my mother’s breathing. Her breaths were slow and shallow and quite intermittent and erratic. My sister was awaiting the call and her and each of her three children, sent a voice note that I then played to my mother. Each one was able, from far away, to say their goodbyes. My nephew, Jethro, asked me if I could play the song, “Blue suede shoes”, by Elvis. As I started playing the song, my mother took her last breath. For a little while, I could just lay with her in my arms, listening to Elvis, her favourite singer of all time, and be a little bit lost in memories and nostalgia. I stroked her hair and told her how much I loved her and how much her life had meant to me. It was a brief but exceptionally tender moment. My aunt then walked in and I stood up from the bed. She asked if it was over and I nodded. She too, came over to my mother and hugged her and said her own emotional goodbye. We needed to let Gladys, the carer know, so my aunt went to call her. She was the kindest person in the world. She had taken such expert care of my mother, who could be extremely difficult at times. If you understand Alzheimer’s, you will know the terrible mood swings the person suffers from. Gladys took everything in her stride. She lay over my mother’s frail body, lamenting in her own language, tears streaming down her face. My cleaning lady, who happened to be working that day, also came in to say her goodbyes. Each of these women, come from different African cultures and it was quite telling how differently they showed their grief, but each one of us, needed in our own way, to let go the best way we knew how. Nelie, my cleaning lady, prayed for my mother in her own language. I don’t know what she said, but I do know how moving the prayer was. I could sense something far larger than all of us in the room, as peace descended and we seemed to take a collective, deep breath.

I will forever be indebted to my father, who allowed me to take care of my mother in her final months of life on earth. He did the best he could, but is seven years older than my mother, and had himself, suffered a cardiac arrest five years prior to my mother’s passing. He himself wasn’t well, and the toll of taking care of my mother, was beginning to affect his general health and well being. The day I brought my mother to live with me, was the first time I truly realised the extent of the severity of this disease, as it presented symptomatically in her. My husband and I, committed to visiting with my parents, who live a good 2 hours away, every third week. Sometimes I would go alone, but mostly, we would visit my folks together. Of course I had noticed the decline in my mother’s memory, her inability to hold a conversation, her excessive and rapid weight loss – but I think each one of us, all the siblings, was in denial. My two birth daughters, my granddaughter and myself, were holidaying in Greece when my father called me to say he could absolutely, no longer cope with taking care of my mother himself. Many times before this point, my husband, Johann, and I had made the suggestion to get a carer in for the day to assist my father. Each time, he refused. So I had no clue it was as bad as it was, until that call whilst in Crete. As soon as we arrived home, I started making the preparations to bring my mother to me. As a family, my Dad, my siblings and myself, made a unanimous decision to let me take care of my Mom with the help of a carer. Fortunately, my sister, who lives abroad, also agreed and she arrived to assist with settling my mother here. It was such a precious time for her and I too, to bond over the caring of my Mom. We are the only two daughters, so it was indeed special that we chose the carer together. As a family, we also made the decision, due to the advancement of the disease, to not give any active treatment, should any other illness arise. I don’t think any one of us knew just how close the end of my mother’s life was, but there was a profound sense of peace knowing we had had the difficult conversations before her death. When she became ill and slipped into the coma, no one reneged on our initial decisions. We just made sure Mom was as comfortable as possible. She passed away with not one single bedsore, even though she weighed only 35kgs! Gladys would get up in the night, even before my mother was in the coma, and turn her over every few hours. She was our angel who was diligent with my mother’s pressure care, having conversations with my mother that made no sense, laughing at my mother’s jokes, even though she could not make head or tail of their meaning. She was a rare treasure to all of us, but especially to my mother. She only cared for my mother for a little over 4 months, but became my mother’s safety blanket in that short time. My mother would cling to her for comfort and support. Because she was so close to my Mom, she also bore the brunt of her anger outbursts. This Gladys took, all the good and the not so great, with dignity and grace. We still remember her fondly, and keep in touch with her even though she has now moved on to assist another family.

And so it is, as I come to the end of writing my first ever blog post, that I remember my mother as a woman who deeply loved. She was a woman who truly loved others without expectation of being loved in return. She had a rather difficult life with my father. He was a wounded man, an unconscious man, who could never love her as she loved him – but that never deterred her. Because of his wounds, there were times when we, his children, suffered as a result of his verbal, emotional and physical abuse. We often witnessed my father abusing my mother. When I became a mother myself, I vowed my children would not suffer the way that I had. I could not understand how my mother could stay with him, and allow her children to be hurt over and over again. But in later years, it was revealed to me, that my mother too had wounds from her childhood, and in the best way she knew how, she tried to love us all from her own broken place. I was in my early forties, when I finally forgave her for not protecting us. We had a difficult conversation around that time, where I told her I’d harboured hatred toward her for many years for staying in that abusive marriage. She apologised to me, but could never give me the answers I wanted. I had to decide to forgive and let go, or forgive but disconnect. I chose the former. Am I happy with my choice? Yes, today, I’m so grateful I decided to stay in connection. We had the most beautiful goodbye I could ever hope for, and I believe the Universe gave this to me, as I was the one who chose to let go.