My Creative Origin Story. What’s YOURS?

Hey I’m Lee

I’m a freelance writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

I started writing when I was 9. I wrote a story about a tiger and proudly handed it in to be graded. When it came back, the first thing I noticed was a big red line drawn across the page. According to my teacher, there was no way I could have written it. She reckoned it was too good to be true and gave me zero.

That moment sparked something in me. Instead of shrinking in shame, my tummy fizzed. Perhaps I do have magic in me, I thought. So I wrote some more and sure enough, the more I leaned in to what I was good at, the better I became and the more the magic flowed. And the more my tummy fizzed.

I now run a business writing for a living!

Photo by Leah Kelley

I also teach people about that magic and nothing gives me bigger pleasure than watching people and brands come alive when they find the right WORDS to use strategically in order to achieve their unique objectives.

Because let’s face it, we are ALL creative beings at heart. We ALL have a story that only we can tell and deep within we ALL have a desire to leave our unique creative imprint on this world.

I lucked out with that zero. Without it, who knows where I would have been.

If you’d like to buy my book, read my blogs or connect with me regarding one of your creative writing projects, my website is the best place to start. www.leemayimele.com

I encourage you to make your creative mark on the world. I’m looking out for it.

Lee

How to FEEL rich

Psychology says that it is easier for us to feel thankful when we surround ourselves with symbols of abundance.

* A bowl filled with fresh fruit (Freng Shui says oranges for the win!)

* A vase of fresh flowers (You don’t even have to buy the fancy stuff. I sometimes use whatever I can pick along my morning walks and pop them into an ordinary drinking glass!)

* A display of your finest wine/preserves/choccies

* Pictures of holidays, family celebrations and paintings of sunflowers/corn fields…things in full bloom. Use magazine cut-outs if you don’t have your own pics.

* A spritz of something that smells luxurious in the air or on your neck 

Photo by Any Lane

Every time you SEE/TOUCH/FEEL/SMELL those things you will tune into a HIGHER FREQUENCY.

The idea is to re-programme your sub-conscious. Very soon you will start believing:

There is always enough!

The world is rich and full of prosperity 

There is more than enough!

There is bounty all around me 

I am worthy of it all!

Join me this week, please. This is especially important when you don’t feel like you have enough. I know this feeling well. 

I see the light,  

xoxo Lee 

Do YOU have the courage to tell your story?

One of the first things people say to me when they hear that I’m a writer is “Oohhhh, I want to write a book too!” 

My response “You should!”

Followed promptly by, “…and you totally can!”  

The sad thing is that 99% of those people never write anything and I know why. It goes back to the lie that’s been told to us for generations: YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  

What rubbish!  

Photo by Leeloo Thefirst on Pexels.com

Everyone is a storyteller.

Everyone has a story that only they can tell.

And everyone has a right to tell their unique story.

I’ve been working on helping other people find the courage to tell the story that only they can tell. To date, I’ve helped hundreds of authors get their stories out of the heads, into their hearts, onto their computer screens and then out into the world. 

The courage lies in the ability to go beyond the lies. That lies that say: Your story? Ha ha! Who are YOU to be interesting? What makes YOU think that YOU have anything to offer to the world? Give it up while you still have some dignity.

As a writing coach, I make it my business to take my clients beyond that self-talk. Take my dad, for example who has been creative all his life. He sang his stories as an Elvis impersonator in his early years, sketched his way through many a childhood trauma, created poetry through his woodwork and told of his heartache with his guitar. He would laugh if I were to tell him that his stories are still in draft because he is yet to WRITE them. I guess I would laugh too. But only because I know I am write..I mean right.  

I intend to win this one. And get him to write his memoir, Insha’Allah, as my muslim friends so beautifully say, “If God so wills it”.  

Lee

If you would like to work with me, submissions are open now until the end of January 2023. Please get in touch for submission guidelines.

Gratitude Again!

Yogananda said: “Don’t wait for reversals to make you grateful for what you had.”

Shoo, that one hit me in the chest guys because let’s face it, this is our nature as human beings. We stare our healthy bodies/happy kids/safety/relationships/security/financial security/good fortune in the face and it’s only when we lose one of those things that we realize what we had going. Right?  

I’ve cultivated the habit of making a daily Gratitude List. In fact, I make several a day (on paper/on my phone) and I have done this for 15+ years. Every.Single.Day.  

It’s a bit like brushing my teeth or going out for my daily walk sometimes. It’s a slog! I can come up with a million reasons I should postpone starting it or not doing it at all, but once it’s done, I’m like … “Girl!?” 

My lists are often simple and things like my housekeeper Mavis, my children’s teachers and food top my list, but just yesterday, I had over 30 items on my Gratitude list. They just flowed. 

It was a simple, shitty Monday of chores, no-Mavis and dreary weather but I had things like:

1. Old McDonald had a farm (on the piano by an 8 year old!) 

2. Spinach from the garden 

3. Take away coffee from the hubs 

4. My Dishwasher 

5. Fireplace 

6. Bookclub stash 

8. Walk with Celeste

9. Home Office 

10. Birds galore 

11. Chats with school moms 

12. Found my keys! 

13. Boy scored goal in hockey (hates hockey) 

14. Girl happy to perform in school concert (eek) 

15. Great meeting with editor  

16. Prawn rissole from heaven

….okay, I’ll stop there but you get my drift.

I didn’t have to wait until my body was too sick to walk or my garden too barren to give me spinach to appreciate the glory of these little moments. I saw them and I winked in absolute gratitude for all the many blessings. 

And I tell you, the more I do this, the more I want to. Always.

Lee 

Is passing the ball and sharing pizza too much to ask?

Sharing does not come easy to children. Well actually, sharing does not come easy to human beings I’ve decided.

This is my conclusion after standing on the side of the sports field and using every fibre of self-restraint I own not to run onto the pitch to grab the ball from kids who hog it. Pass the blooming thing, I shout inside my head, Open your eyes, dude…there are 3 free kids waiting in the wings. It’s a team sport!

I’m sure I’ve said that last bit out loud? Never!

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

Is it that we are all driven by some inner desire to be the hero? Or perhaps we’re just chasing the high that we know comes from scoring/winning? I don’t know what the answer is but I do think that when it comes to any group activity, understanding our role in the team is as key as understanding the overall objective. Imagine if every single soccer game had 8 Ronaldos, I say. Who would be the Ruud Krol (I’m giving away my age) to help the goalie in the back? I think I’ve made my point.

As for adults, we don’t easily master the sharing thing either despite our pretenses. True sharing implies empathy: the ability to get into another’s mind and see things from their viewpoint. How many of us can truly say that we can do that?

I’m working on less of ME and more of WE.

…unless it comes to leftovers in the fridge. Then it’s me, me, me all the way. Junior School-sport style:-)

Lee

Dear Barbara Streisand: “People who need people are indeed the luckiest people in the world”

What could go wrong on a morning when all the traffic lights are out?

Well, I packed some hot dog rolls into a Woolies shopping bag together with some cheese grillers and set off to gym. Stay with me – the hot dogs and gym visual is true.

The plan was to give the food away before it expired without my husband finding out. Long story…

I never quite made it to the gym (no surprises there) but I decided to sit down for some scrambled eggs instead. Just before I picked a spot, I saw someone I could give the food away to. The man sells Homeless Talk, a newspaper that I have seen a million times but never bought.

As I sat down at the cafe for my breakfast, I reached for my wallet to put the parking ticket in the spot where I always put my parking ticket and that’s when I realised that my wallet was in the black hot dog bag! The plan had been to stick the empty shopping bag into my gym bag, that’s how my purse ended up inside. Note to self: forget gym.

When I related the story to my children later that afternoon, sure I added some drama but essentially:

I had no cash to get out of the parking lot and had to make some decisions quickly.

So I asked the parking lady for a free pass. Sure, she said.

The cafe owner said that I come could totally have stayed for a free breakfast.

I opened my banking app to see if there had been any transactions. Cancel Cards/Not? Pause, I decided.

As I drove up the road towards the Homeless Talk seller, I saw him holding out the Mykonos blue purse with a look that said, “………..!”

The kids screamed “Nice hot dog lady!” but the man’s face really screamed “dumb blonde!” I was guilty as charged on both counts.

But here’s what this story is really about: people people, people.

We are all just people who need people. And that’s how we all get by. By needing people and by allowing people to need us. Barbara Streisand was right.

Lee

P.S. I couldn’t find much info online re Homeless Talk but the lovely guy selling his is at the garage near St Davids in Inanda close to Summer place:-) Didn’t catch his name. Don’t tell him you know me.

Summer Solstice & The Hero’s Journey Theme

Yesterday was 21/12/2021 – the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere; the day celebrated as The Summer Solstice.

I was barefoot in the garden at sunset at a beautiful venue in JoBurg to host a writing workshop and Solstice Ceremony for 50 people. I was eager to get into my role.

Stories connect humanity. Without stories, we are empty. 

We listen to stories, so we can connect with others. We tell our stories, so we can heal. 

Every day, you are telling yourself a story from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep.

We tell ourselves stories so we can unpack and process what we have been through.

Everyone is a storyteller and I stand by my previous sentiments that everyone has a story that only they can tell.

So we wrote with abandon.

We worked with the classic theme The Hero/Heroine’s Journey because let’s face it, us Heroes have been weighed down by stuff (God, we are living through a pandemic and trying to keep our shit together!) 

Our hearts have been heavy

We have become well acquainted with fear, control, anxiety, jealousy, feelings of deep darkness 

We have lost people

Seen suffering on a level that we have not seen in our lifetime 

And we have been walking with a constant threat…Is this nightmare over yet? 

…And yet, there is the part of all our stories that will tell of crossing the threshold (as the Hero/ine does in the theory) and entering a brand new chapter of our lives where we truly are victorious.

That’s really what we all want and there’s really where the energy of the Solstice was guiding us.

Always towards the Light!

After our writing, we moved on to the Fire Ceremony where we burnt the words that poured from our darkness. I said, “Watch your letter burn. Watch the paper become ashes. Watch the smoke rise from the paper. Know that the materials of the ink and the paper have returned to the basic elements and you are free!”

And so it is,

Lee

If you would like to book me for your own Write & Burn Ceremony or any other Writing Workshops, my calendar for 2022 is now open!

Are YOU afraid to face your shadow?

If you suppress your pain and sadness deep enough, avoid your tears and hide your insecurities long enough… you will definitely achieve all your goals and master your life!  

Bull, right? This could not actually be further from the truth

When you suppress your hard moments you deny yourself something so, so vital. Doing this holds you back from moving in the direction of the light – the place where you flourish. Instead, the shadow takes up a bigger space in your life and begins to get to work right away. It sabotages your career, love life, health, and your sense of purpose. It robs you of achieving any of the stuff on your vision board. 

And the more you try and hide from your shadow, the more it thrives! Just like that yucky mould at the bottom of the veggie draw. The more you try and hide your feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, betrayal, and not being good enough, the more the monster thrives. 

I’ve got a doctorate in denying my feelings. (Not literally, you silly kids!) It is rooted in my difficult childhood. But I’ve been working on the unlearning for pretty much my entire adult life. There is a lot to get through! 

My unlearning has taught me a couple of things: 

  • You can’t break patterns you’re not willing to acknowledge 
  • Self-sabotage ruins relationships and stops us from growing 
  • You cannot escape your shadow 

Only when we finally step up to doing the work do we begin to break free of the cycles of victimhood, procrastination, and feeling like an imposter. That’s when we begin to LIVE! 

THANK YOU for listening without judgment and “holding space” for me while I continue my learning and unlearning.

I wish every success with breaking free from anything holding you back from living the life of your dreams.

Thank you again, 

Lee 

Coronavirus, Anxiety & Thanksgiving

I was driving to my son’s Christmas market yesterday having just received notice from school about a Grade 1 pupil with Covid-19. My nerves were in a twist.

Since last Thanksgiving, about 5million people have died, South Africa is headed for a “fourth wave” and a new variant of the Corona virus (Omicron?) seems to be our next big threat. No wonder, I thought, No bloody wonder scientists have had to coin a new term. “Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome” says it all. This pandemic has messed with our heads and we will have scars for many years to come.

Before we walked into the market, I spent some time alone to get grounded and centered. When I felt ready, I headed straight to the bar. That’s when I bumped into someone I haven’t seen for about 2 years. The first thing we spoke about was her cancer. “I heard you were ill,” I said, “How are you feeling?”

She generously took me through her journey, right from the lump she found in her breast and later her armpit to the double mastectomy, chemo and long road home. As she walked away with her two young children, something really stayed with me. She was so GRATEFUL! She told me that not only was she grateful to be alive but she was sooooooo touched people! Naturally, her friends and family were there to support her but it was the random meal drop-offs, help with the kids, kind words, flowers and support from people in her neighborhood that touched her big time.

The sense of gratitude helped to shift her focus from poor me to blessed-me! This despite the sadness, fear and trauma she is still working through.

Happy Thanksgiving Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com

As the sun set, the sound of happy children, smell of boerie rolls, champagne glasses clanking and the odd glow in the dark toy lit me up inside. I was grateful for my good health, grateful for the wonderful night sky, my amazing mom friends and my tall, handsome boy who I watched laughing in the distance. But, like my old friend, it was the people that gave me the feels. Our community of love.

I wonder if scientists are going to coin a term called Covid-19 Gratitude Syndrome because just everything seems a little more special at this point in the game.

Lee

Are you scared to make JOB change? Maybe my story will give you some hope…

I had a really crap job as a dog’s body at an insurance company in Rosebank many years ago. It was right upstairs from Fournos — a fast-food-style deli and bakery. 

One of my jobs was to archive old claim files. From my spot on the dirty grey carpet, the faces of the happy people who had just bought their takeaway coffee and croissants were not really visible, but I saw the way they walked and that’s what I wanted! Freedom. 

I remembered this chapter of my life this morning while sitting at the very Fournos. I’d say it’s about 18 years later. I can still picture the unsure girl that used to hate her job and the grey carpet. 

My dream was to move into my own office at the insurance company but life took me in another direction. One morning, I took the risk of meeting a recruiter at Fournos. She offered me a temp position at a new IT firm for triple the salary. The only catch was that it was not permanent. I would stand in for someone going on maternity leave. 

My instinct is always to say YES. So, I did. 

The next thing I had to do was talk to my boss. I was sure I could catch him before his “secret” (not so secret since she told everyone) lover closed the door for their daily meeting.  

“Can I be honest with you?”, he said.  Ah, those famous words I hate so much; usually a pre-cursor to some bullshit. 

“Sure,” I replied. 

“I would not hire you. You are too young and…well, you are not good enough.” 

I prepared a resignation letter the next day and asked HR to let me use my leave in lieu of notice. 

“That won’t be necessary,” HR told me. “Here are the calculations for your retrenchment package.” 

 I did not know it was coming. 

I used the cash to buy a new car and drove into my new job like a mother-bleep.

xoxo Lee