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

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.

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

MENTAL HEALTH in KIDS

Last week South Africa could have been the setting for a horror movie.

I honestly never thought I would live to see my country like that and I pray that I never have to ever again. Scenes of factories burning, shopping centres being destroyed, looting and violence flashed across every TV screen and, try as I wanted to shield my children from it, I failed.

They felt the energy dipping as we checked our social media for updates. They heard the snippets of news on the short drives to the shops. They sensed the uncertainty and confusion as we tip-toed around the big issues.

Now I don’t know about you but if I remember anything about being little, things always seemed bigger when people whispered. So, we stopped whispering! Teachers were forced to do that too. My daughter’s English class via Zoom, for example, had to be put on ice for the teacher to field questions (and conspiracy theories) from learners. They wanted in on the conversation and it made me so proud to know that my kids have teachers in their lives who could hold space for such a tender dialogue.

We then received a notice from school advising of a MENTAL HEALTH DAY on Friday. A free day off school for kids to relax, de-stress, do a digital detox and reboot.

Whoooah, I thought. Perhaps this damn world really is waking up to the fact that we need to do things differently if we want to raise a generation of adults that don’t have to spend their whole lives recovering from their childhoods?

I’m hopeful. About South Africa. About the future of mental health and about Friday. I really think we’re on to something. Four-day work weeks are already totally in a thing in some parts of the world:-)

Lee

Gratitude Lists as part of your Self-Care

You know what guys? I’m sad about what’s happening in Israel and Palestine. I’m sad about the millions of people dying in India as the Corona virus continues to wreak havoc. I’m sad about the many divorces, suicides, mental health issues, drug addictions around me. I’m sad about the way people are struggling to eat, feed their families and survive. Their pain is everyone’s pain.

And yet, in the last couple of weeks,

  • My dad got his vaccine, my niece got married, the kids set a mouse-trap and my daughter wore hot pink shorts for a new dance class
  • I picked chillies from the garden and turned it into a home made peri-peri sauce which I bottled for some friends
  • My neighbour put a bottle of silver shampoo at the gate for me to try (without saying a word)
  • My favourite client launched her new website
  • I cut my hair, made rum and raisin ice-cream and ate it in bed with my hubs when the lights went out
  • I ran a little further, finished editing a 70,000 word manuscript for a client and I received the sweetest hand-written thank you note and some Turkish delight from a little boy.

Looking out for these moments and documenting them is part of my self-care.

It’s not so much about creating a false sense of happiness but rather choosing to note the little things.

These are the moments that help to lift my mood, change my focus and improve my overall feelings of health and wellbeing. The more I do it, the more I see little things to take note of.

So, I wanna know. What’s on YOUR list of things to be grateful for this week? If all you did was brush your teeth, that’s okay too. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. I say snap those pearlies and be grateful you still have them.

Grateful Always,

Lee

*CONFESSION*: I used to be a YES-Girl too

When last did you say NO?

As a recovering yes-girl, every single time I do this, I still get goosebumps. No, honestly.

Just last week I said no to doing the social media content for a campaign to help find jobs for people who had lost theirs because of Covid-19. The organisers wanted the job seekers to hold up placards describing their plight and to pose for pictures. The placard captions were to read Hungry. 2 Kids. No Food etc. I knew for sure that not one of the people – who by virtue of the way the dice had fallen in this lifetime – would have been prepared to hold up such a placard (nor would I), and so I walked away.

I just love this photo by Arfa Talib from Pexels. Isn’t it wonderful?

Then, I also said no to a bully in the family recently. Now, if you know anything about families, no is the ultimate swear word! Don’t you think? But, I was willing to take my chances. This time, I was guided by the fact that my little people are watching and learning and that if I want them to learn how to assert themselves, affirm their boundaries and stand their ground, I am going to have to walk the talk!

Perhaps you’re battling a little bit in this arena too? If you are, here are a couple of things to remember:

  1. You teach people how to treat you
  2. No is a complete sentence
  3. You get what you tolerate
  4. The only people who get upset when you assert your boundaries are the ones who benefit from you not having any

I wish you love, my friends. And the courage to say NO!

Grateful always,

Lee

A Kind Stranger Part I (A story about INTENTION)

There are some really nasty people in this world. Trust me, I have had my fair share of them over recent months. From the word-twister to the gaslighter, from family members playing one against the other to the repeat cry-wolf types.

But, damn there are some amazing human beings on this planet. And, again I didn’t really have to travel very far (not that I could) to find them.

Just this morning, I was sitting with a friend having one of my most favourite meals : a piece of sourdough toast, slathered with a thick layer of hummus, topped with sliced avocado, grilled balsamic basted baby tomatoes, a couple of blocks of rich Danish feta, rocket and a poached egg. Yes, all on one piece of toast!

If this be my last meal, make that a double portion of hummus, please!

So, there I am, staring into my friend’s amazing emerald eyes (which seem to pop because of the absence of her hair which is tucked into her hijab) having a foodgasm when the waitress pops over to let us to know someone paid our bill. And, like every good superhero, they vanished without a trail. Can you imagine!?

My friend’s reaction was the one I want you to focus on though. She said “thank you. We’ll pay it forward!”

I’m inspired guys! I’m inspired by what kindness can do. I’m inspired to give more and do more and be more.

…and I think I am going to heed her call to action and pay it forward more than I usually do. With a full heart and grateful for all the moments that just land in my lap to remind me to focus on the things that matter.

Will you join me?

xoxo

Lee

Have you heard of THE VAULT?

I want you to imagine for a second that you can tap into a VAULT.

Inside the vault is a bunch of templates, all neatly filed and labeled. Templates for happinesss, vitality, prosperity and abundance. Everywhere you turn, more templates for creativity, joy, peace and all the other things us humans need and want in order to live a fulfilled life.

What if I told you that the only way you can ACCESS that vault is through NOT wanting or needing those things? Right! You would give me the look.

Man, oh man, have I been there before too. I was like WTF!?

Have you ever noticed how the more we want something, the more we chase something, the more we desperately claw at the things, the more they seem to slip away? Think of yourself on the dating scene/job hunting/trying to fall pregnant. And, the moment you release it, boom!!…there it is? Rightttt?

I’ve found (after many years of bumping my head) that the fastest way to attract something is to release my attachment to it and to BE HAPPY ANYWAY. That energy of Surrender and Non Attachment is magnetic. It is a vibration of trust and faith that gets me straight into the vault.

Happy!

TRY IT! Simply ask yourself WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY? My list includes:

  • Going to bed at 8pm
  • 5am Meditation
  • Going for a run
  • Writing
  • Learning spiritual “secrets”
  • Red wine with my dad
  • Writing
  • Cooking for and with my children
  • Travel
  • The Ocean
  • Fashion (gosh, I love fashion more than I realised)
  • Playtime
  • Karaoke and a bowl of hummus?! BAM!! I am happy as a kid in Krispy Kreme.

The Wise Ones have always told us that INSPIRED people are magnets for the stuff inside the vault and I think were right.

Perhaps you are inspired by opera, animals, karate, salsa and gardening? Just do more of that and let the vibration of JOY carry you.

See you inside the vault?

xoxo

Lee

P.S. Allow me to wish you a wonderful weekend and for my Jewish friends, a wonderful and SWEET new year.

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 www.leemayimele.com

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

xoxo

Lee