The courage to tell your story

Have you ever noticed that the people who behave the worst, are the ones who fancy themselves the hero/ine in the story?

I’ve been going through my notes from a recent Writing Course that I taught. It was a deep emotional kind of writing in the genre Memoir. What really interested me, was that when asked why they chose not to publish or share their writing, that a range of people all said the same thing : FEAR. (I remember saying that too when I first started publishing).

I took the time to really look at the profiles of the characters that they had written about that they most feared would react negatively. It wasn’t the public. It wasn’t Twitter trolls. It wasn’t some overly critical readers out there in Cyberspace. No, the characters in their TRUE stories who my writers feared most were those closest to them! It was parents, siblings, loved ones.

As a result, the writers I am talking about became immobilised.

They were terrified of being called gaslighters, drama kings and queens, liars or being told that they were bringing up old secrets that were best left under the dirty carpet.

Sound familiar? I thought you would say yes.

The issue is universal and it does not only relate to writing. It’s a people issue.

As a writing coach though, my job is really only to facilitate a process, to guide and mentor, to edit and teach technical aspects. I would never push anyone to write or share that which they are not ready to do BUT I will (and did) say this:

  • It is YOUR story
  • You decide how you write the characters
  • The ones that have a problem with their characteristics, should have behaved better
  • How your truth lands is something out of your control
  • But tell your story, YOU MUST

Perhaps my little pep talk has gotten you thinking? Do you have a story you want to write or share? I offer a range of writing and coaching services, which you can see on my website

Remember, this is YOUR story and we all have a story that only we can tell. Truth is magic!



When is the right time to JUMP? (A short reflection on FAITH)

How do we accept when things come to an end?


How do we know when to walk away?

How the heck do we throw in the towel? Burn that damn bridge?

How do we even begin to surrender to the flame of change when the fire is getting bigger and bigger, hotter and scarier while we stand frozen?


I couldn’t answer that for a million bucks.  But, I will tell you this for free: 

None of us know for sure when/if to JUMP.  Not Oprah, not Pope Benedict and certainly not the world’s “best” clairvoyant (no matter the “waiting period” she prides herself on).

BUT, there does come a point when we have to JUMP and know for sure that our wings will carry us all the way down.


I’m dreaming of that kind of kick-ass FAITH this week.


It’s a work in progress for me but I sure hope that your courage carries you where your heart is daring you to go…


© Aluta continua, as they say.  A Heart Full of Stories, 2017

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Whilst we don’t know the origin of the pics used, all respect and due credit are hereby given where appropriate. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lee-Ann Mayimele and A Heart Full of Stories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All media rights and copyright for the words reserved.

Is THIS it? (A reflection on why the h#ck we are here)

Why am I here?

What is my purpose?

Why do I feel like something is missing?

How can I be happy? 

Is THIS it?


Yes, I know it’s only Monday morning but surely you also ask yourself these very questions too. We all do!


And I bet you’ve dipped in and out of books, religion, dark incense clouded rooms and travel in a quest to closer to the “answers”. We all have!


But here’s the thing,


…We are all here at THIS very time in THIS very place TOGETHER and we are here for an EXPERIENCE.


The experience of goosebumps.

The experience of being warmed by fire.

The experience of learning.

The experience of synergy, alchemy, mystery, magic, “God”.

The experience of blooming, ageing.

The experience of vitality, abundance, creativity.

The experience of whispers and loud bangs.

The experience of chemistry and connection.

The experience of rain, pain and sunset.

The experience of recognition, resonance, mastery, reward, acknowledgement.

The experience of tasting a lemon.


…and even the experience of loss, illness, abandonment, tragedy, fear, resentment betrayal, loneliness and jealousy.


That’s the full package . 

That’s why we’re here.

And yes, to me at least, that’s IT. 


I figure that I may as well eassssssse into the EXPERIENCE, learn to ride the waves and flow with the current. You know? After all, none of us are getting out of here alive.


I reckon we may as well surrender to the journey….


Can YOU?


© A Heart Full of Stories, 2017




A Letter to a 20 Year Old ” Nice” Girl (On International Womens Day)

Today I wrote a letter. I had to. It’s been 20 years or more and I didn’t want to leave the words caged a day longer.

Opening the floodgates for the words to flow was, in fact, the hardest part of the exercise. Once I allowed it, the emotions sprang forth quite boldly, as if perhaps that was their destiny.

My letter (which I burned instead of posting), was one of PERMISSION.
Permission to be. Just be.
Permission to fail.
Permission to try.
Permission to shape shift.
Permission to outgrow.
Permission to shine.
Permission to fall apart.
Permission to hedge.
Permission to ask for help.
Permission to express pain and fear.
Permission to desire.
Permission to disappoint another.
Permission to detour.
Permission to rest.
Permission to go off in a direction that no one understands.

The fuller-bodied girl who I wrote the letter to knows all these things now but back then, gosh….back then, she was so very caught up in her quest of the veneer of being “nice” that the Levis 501 wearing fox pressed pause on her ability to live freely, authentically, wildly.

I ended off my letter by saying,
                          Darling, if only you could see yourself through my eyes, you would know that “perfection” is over rated. You would also know that you are enough. So bloody enough! ALL parts of you are okay. Not one of the parts you’ve guarded, veiled, denied, concealed and curated so carefully are “bad”. So, please do fall apart, deviate, desire, dare to disappoint. Do go to the darker-shaded parts of yourself. Visit a while. Let them guide you. They are there to show you little avenues you may otherwise never venture to explore. And, we do know that you love a good bout of exploration. Bon Voyage!  P.S. Your butt looks great in those Levis!




© A Heart Full of Stories, 2017



Dancing & Dreaming (A story about the power to create)

Now whooooo is that famous person who said “Some dance to remember. Some dance to forget”?  


Oh yes! It’s the famous Hotel California line. But hey, before you get excited, do allow me to express upfront that this is not that kind of story.  It’s sadly not about a wild youth filled with drugs. Wrong storyteller.


It’s about:




and Forgetting.


It was nearly full moon of the Winter Solstice and I was in a full moon kind of mood. So, along I went to a “Sacred Dreaming and Dancing” Ceremony.  I thought it would be an hour long. It turned out to be more than 6 hours. Yes, 6 hours of dancing. Beyond midnight.


Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a beyond-midnight kind of person. Those same people will also tell you about my stamina.  I am a weakling on both fronts.


But, I needed to dream. 

And I do have an amazing imagination.  So, I pressed on.  I visualised myself with long grey hair, living in a stone house on top of a beautiful hill where I could see the ocean down below.  The house in the dream was full of light in Summer, full of melancholy in Winter. And, as the seasons changed, so would my soul-inspired writing.  I would be guided by my intuition to write about Gratitude, Grace, Love and Blessings during the 10 month long summer and Sorrow, Loss and Fear during Wintertime.  God knows, I could write about all those things with absolute ease.


So I danced. 

I tried some of my sexy belly-dance vibes at first but soon enough eased into something a lot more Kate Middleton. More my zone, actually.


And so I started to remember:  

I remembered my power to create. The absolute magic of visualisation.  I remembered my dreams as a child. I remembered every single step I have taken and continue to take towards my dream.


At the end of the 6 hours, I was in a bad mood. I was cold. I was tired.  But mostly, I was pissed off.  They had told us we would EAT and then presented us with cold (organic no doubt) paw paw. Paw paw at midnight? That’s the part I wish to FORGET! 


Still, I jumped into bed that night happy, satisfied, full of smiles.  But on second thoughts, perhaps it was just the Big Mac from the DriveThru that did that.


© A Heart Full of Stories, 2016


P.S. Friends, do allow me to wish you well with your own dreaming.  Hold on to the vision.  See it clearly.  But please, do remember that it is never too late to dream a new dream. Change that shit if you change your mind!  Nothing is cast in stone. This is YOUR life. YOUR dreams. YOUR way!

Aluta continua, as they say….



Defining Moments (A Lesson from a Father)

I was eavesdropping and what I heard made my heart sink.


The father said to his son “No, you can’t go and play. Remember what I told you…”


I was expecting him to say “….you need to do your chores first.”


My kids & I were on our way to the park but I was desperate that they not interrupt my listening pleasure, so I threw their ball as far as I could. They bolted towards it.


The man continued “…I told you. YOU have to work twice as hard as the other kids because WE don’t want you to end up like me!”


For good measure, he added “Do you understand me?”




I understood him but I wonder how much of that POWERFUL LESSON in inequality, social standing, class, responsibility, regret, hierarchy, dreams, resentment, balance, diversity, education, priority, motivation, sacrifice, politics, psychology that child understood.


I absorbed the lesson (including its dark side) and said a prayer of gratitude as I walked away.


I have no doubt that that will be a defining moment in the child’s life. The only question left to ponder is how exactly he will define the moment, or how exactly the moment will define him.


Aluta continua, as they say. The road is long (for us all).


© A Heart Full of Stories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lee-Ann Mayimele and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



My Favourite Storyteller

She was our cleaner by day and our storyteller when the floors were shone.

She only had one English story in her arsenal and it was a killer. She had perfected the art of telling it, narrowing her air passages just enough to make the little birds sound angelic and gruffing up in a way that made you feel like the big bear and the snakes had morphed and were right in the backyard.

Her storytime always left us with mixed feelings. We were terrified that if we did not “be good” that we too would be captured by the snakes.  Her story had the desired effect. I was enchanted.

One day, I came home from school crying. Some rude girls had cut off a piece of my ponytail and said “Try and tell your mother…you will see.”

I did not want to “see”, so, I didn’t tell my mother. I told my favorite storyteller instead.

As I walked out of the school the next day, I saw her talking to the naughty girls. I was horrified. When I asked her what she had said, her reply was simple: “I told them a small story. I did my job. I think they understand”.

In that moment, my skinny little self realised the power and magic of how a simple story, can be told over and over again and have the desired effect over and over again. I was enchanted.

I tried to tap into that same magic while I boarded my tram to a storytelling event in Amsterdam recently. I had a great old story to tell. I hoped that the spirits would reward my bravery.

On my way home, I looked out of the tram window and threw a “thank you” prayer to my storytelling mentor in the sky.  I had mixed feelings about how I did.  I still have no way of knowing for sure whether my story had the desired effect, but it sure felt good to take that tiny step in the direction of my dreams.

My husband sent me a text message asking about the event. I simply replied “I told them a small story. I did my job. I think they understand.” 

Lee FB Banner2


Dear Reader,

At the risk of sounding like a crazy esoteric caravan-woman, my heart is urging me to  wish you bravery as you look inside at the many things that have come into your life. Those shit things, those hard things, those moments of disappointment, loss and fear.  Bless them!  Bless also the happy things, those special moments with God & with your lover, the windfalls, lucky breaks, laughs and bursts of creative genius.  Those little things make YOUR story unique. They are your biggest gift and I wish you courage as you stare your imperfect life in the face & see how damn perfect YOUR unique story is.

Aluta continua, as they say. The road is still long (for me).

© A Heart Full of Stories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lee-Ann Mayimele and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

YOU are Enough

…The time surely comes

When you put yourself first

When you regain your God essence

When you count your blessings

When you honour your sadness

When you give yourself permission to try

When you name your pain

When you stop calling your passion a “hobby”

When you keep your word

When you kick someone out of your emotional bed

When you alienate nasty creatures

When you write thank you notes

When you take more risks

When you stop trusting losers

When you approach people you need

When you say no to darkness

When you yield appropriately

When you say beautiful words of gratitude instinctively

When you sleep for days

When you trust your internal red flags

When you disappoint another heart

When you run your race and let others run theirs

When you clear everything on your vision board and start again

When you no longer mind being called emotional

When you equate self respect with breathing

When you allow yourself to dream again

When you listen to a child

When you let yourself be touched

When you honour your calling

When you travel to places that call you

When you risk humiliation

When you press “reset” on your life

When you accept the shape of the parts you disguise

When you simply say “not today”

When you acknowledge those that guide you

When you start imitating yourself

When you draw a line in the sand

When you empower other people

When you forgive yourself

When you delight in the success of others

When you laugh loud

When you kiss your broken heart

When you are your own role model

When you emulate the speckles of light you see

When you tone down the noise

When you soothe your heart with music

When you dine alone

When you share your struggles

When you own your fears

When you unlearn your defences

…and on that day, may you know that YOU are enough YOU have always been enough YOU will always be enough End of story!

Aluta Continua, I say!  The road is long (for me)

© A Heart Full of Stories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lee-Ann Mayimele and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tequila Girl vs Action Girl (Choices)

We arrived in Dar es Salaam on a Friday.  It was a girl’s holiday and we were heading to the beautiful island of Zanzibar.

The scenery was magical. Turquoise water, white sand, tanned bodies, spices, sunshine and the prospect of endless cocktails.

Just when I thought that the day could not get any better, the hotel set up a solo dinner table IN the shallow water of a beautiful private beach, at sunset.  And right before I was about to die from sheer bliss, I learnt that the menu for the night included spicy prawns, grilled before my eyes.  We were in the land of spices and I wanted to cry! Haleeluuuuuia!

The next morning, we decided to go local. We ditched the tourists from our resort and went exploring.

Before we left, I met a girl in the loo.  Her face was bust up. Black eye, swollen lips, cut on her eyebrow.  My instincts told me not to trust her and NOT to make eye contact.  She said “clumsy me! Too much tequila last night”.  She told me that she had fallen down the stairs in her drunken state.  I have been acquainted with tequila a few times in my life.  Not as well as her, but still – I knew its power.

My friends laughed when I told them about her.  They had heard from the guy cleaning our room that there had been a domestic abuse drama.  “Same old story!” he said to them.

That night we went dancing. I saw the girl.  She was drunk.  She was dancing with a group of guys.  One guy had his arm around her.  I figured he was the baddie. What an idiot, I thought. 

I was glued. I could not stop staring.

When they moved to another bar, I said to my friends “Hey! Let’s go next door.  I love the sound of the music there”. They bought it.  We moved and I positioned myself strategically.

Now, one of my friends is an ACTION girl.  She is driven by her heart and when she is confronted with a situation where she feels that there is an injustice, she acts. Mostly its heroic but there are also times when it isn’t very pretty.  I did not want her involved in my movie. I needed to act cool.

Now, acting cool got hard when she saw me talking to security. She knew that something was up.  She said “What are you doing? It’s that girl hey!?” and as much as I tried to deny that I even remembered the girl, Action Girl saw right through me.  She said “don’t tell me you believe her story?”

I had zero chill.

Action Girl said :

“Look, you have two choices: 

  1. I help you get to the bottom of this shit 
  2. You forget about this shit.

BUT we can NOT spend our holiday with you obsessed with some drunk hooker who invents stories of an abusive husband to scam strangers, steal their money, their boyfriends and their memories of their dream holiday.

Make the choice”. 

I chose option 2.   More out of fear of Action Girl in scenes from Option 1.

I decided to honour my company and resist the pull from the drama magnet, filled with its lies and deceit.

I chose instead to order more spicy prawns and a Long Island Ice Tea (with a little tequila because I was still on drama-detox and had to slowly let go of the memory of Tequila Girl).

© A Heart Full of Stories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lee-Ann Mayimele and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Shit Happens

It was a beautiful morning.  My husband’s birthday always is.

He doesn’t like me to make a big deal of it.  I always do.

Shit happens.

He shares his birthday with an old friend who is an orchestra conductor with a love for the cello.   This lovely friend has a lovely wife who loves birthdays too.

So, each year we try and get them together for a bite somewhere during the day.

They tell the same stories over and over again.  The famous one is about a thief who stole the cello but abandoned it halfway because it was too heavy.  They have also told the stories of their travels into East Africa many times.  Another favourite is about a guy who followed them for days, turning up just when they thought they had shaken him.

We always laugh lots.

This magical day, we were planning to have lunch together, as usual.

I spent the morning at my office.  I got in early, had a couple of meetings and when I looked at the time, I nearly died!  I literally had 7 minutes to get my ass from the office to collect my husband, and to the lunch before anyone called him and spoiled the surprise.

I ran down two flights of stairs, jumped into my car and put it into gear. That’s when shit happened.

I looked down to the floor to reach into my handbag and then heard a loud bang!

I drove straight into a parked car!

No big deal, right?  Wrong.  It was a very big deal. 

The car was one of a kind.  An antique.  A collectors item. A family heirloom.  There were no spare parts for it. The car belonged to one of my colleagues.  It was a special gift from his dad who had passed on.  Everyone knew the car. Connoisseurs travelled from exotic corners of the world to marvel at its beauty.   It had never ever had a single scratch on it.  And, in a matter of seconds, I managed to take off the whole front bumper and kill two lights.

Before I could decide what to do next, there was a swarm of security surrounding my car!  They all looked very worried as they waited for their boss to arrive and take charge.  He called a couple of people and they debated who would tell the owner the terrible news.

The head of security suggested that I not move.  He said “Just wait here.  We will call someone to come and check”.  I could NOT just wait. 

So, I ran up two flights of stairs.  They assumed I was running away.

I ran straight into the car owner’s PA, with her beautiful curly hair. In a split second and with just a nod, she gave me the green light.  I walked straight into his office.  I saw six people listening at the door.  I could have sugar coated it, but I was not fast enough with the creative stuff.  I said “I was in a hurry. My concentration was somewhere else! I lost focus for 1 second and bloody bashed your one-of-a-kind car”. 

The owner of the car was calm.  I think he was dying inside because when he heard the news, all he managed to say was two words. He said “Shit happens” and shrugged his shoulders.

He was right!  Shit does indeed happen.I was late. I spilled my makeup all over my black dress and the surprise was ruined. I felt dreadful.

I chose not to share the story with the birthday boys over lunch.  Instead, I drank lots of bubbly and laughed at the stories of the stolen cello and the weird Kenyan stalker.

My insurance company had a shock when I submitted the claim.  I think it must have nearly bankrupted them.  But hey, shit happens right?

Perhaps I will share the story over lunch this year and perhaps it will displace the other two stories from their thrones.  If not, hey…bigger shit has been known to happen.  

© A Heart Full of Stories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lee-Ann Mayimele and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.