Submitted by: Natasha Brink

Hi there #ImStaying family … Natasha Brink here!  I have been wondering for a while whether I should share a bit about what it feels like to be a moderator in our fantastic group. 

I was sitting in my usual spot in front of the laptop yesterday, and had this epiphany… you “mos” know one of those where you have just typed a word and look up at the screen and see a totally different word… and you begin to wonder – do you still have a working brain? has someone spiked your coffee perhaps? or is that old age brain rotting rumors actual truth?  I don’t have a satisfactory answer to that… it may even involve all of the above!  

But for now, reality draws me back to the serious issues we all face in our everyday lives.  I have witnessed the heartbreak of pain, illness, death – I have witnessed the heartbreak of all kinds of addictions such as gambling, drugs, and the ever-increasing evils of alcohol abuse – I have witnessed those silent killers of feelings named hate, rage, anger – I continue to keep a close eye on politics, world dilemmas, financial woes of large corporations, corruption, and fraud – I bear witness to water shortages, a massive slice of the South African community still being deprived of running water, non-existent plumbing, overpriced water and electricity services (if any at all), and filthy sidewalks, potholes, and sidewalks being mowed perhaps once a year.  I witness the youth never finding jobs after school and university, I witness older and experienced people not finding jobs and having to feed families, and the homeless souls increasing to unbearably high numbers.

Have you ever experienced that little light flickering in the eye of a receiver of a good deed?

You would say “why talk about these negatives, and why acknowledge this at all?”  After all, we are a group that focus on GOOD THOUGHTS, GOOD WORDS, GOOD DEEDS, and we do it with all our hearts. WHY then focus on the bad?  My take on this — If we do not learn to accept that these negatives exist, we would not be aware, and if we are not aware, we would not be able to assist in any way shape and form – we would for sure be living in our own little “bubble”. 

Have you ever experienced that little light flickering in the eye of a receiver of a good deed?

Have you ever experienced that “cat with a bowl of cream” feeling when your heart melts with joy when you yourself help a fellow human being?

My story started way back in my past – you know that far back where there were still some seriously confused, presumptuous people governing our beautiful country, and these guys represented us all!  It wasn’t until many years later when I was grown up that I understood the whole concept of discriminatory behavior.  Whereas in my childhood years mom would dish up and have our nanny eat with us at the table, and then suddenly as a married woman I was faced with a husband that bought a separate mug, plate, utensils for our nanny, literally to avoid getting contaminated by WHAT???  I was horrified and embarrassed that I could misjudge a human being so much.  The rebel in me had me visiting my dearest Maria in her cottage in the garden, and those were the beautiful times where we talked about children (mine and hers), about church (mine and hers), and about life (mine and hers). 

I was horrified and embarrassed that I could misjudge a human being so much.

Chris Hani lived just around the corner from us in Elspark, and when he was murdered, Maria was the one who climbed on top of the garage roof with me and the children, along with picnic and emergency supplies (just for safety sake) while Chris Hani was laid to rest.  As we sat there on the roof looking out for any trouble from the thousands of mourners, just a few hundred meters away, we talked and talked and eventually came to the same conclusion – we both did not understand how any human being can hate another simply because of skin colour. 

In 2000 my life changed a lot when I was retrenched – BEE has not been kind to me as it took me the next 10 years to find a permanent job.  This time I was mature enough to not allow any negatives to creep in and disrupt this re-claimed advantage in my life.  After all, I could once again pay rent, buy food, and consider looking at myself in a different, more positive light. 

The change came slowly, where I used to avoid looking people in the eye – you know that worthless being that could not find a job for so long was a persistent little niggling pest!  I started writing about my life experiences, both good and bad, and published.  Friends, this is when my true lesson started!  People who read the book told me their stories… most very similar to what I have been through.  It was like a huge snow-ball slamming me right on the chin.  I have hidden within myself, always looking within for the issues – it must have been my fault!  Slowly but surely I crawled out of that space and continued to work hard, be honest at all times, and plan and achieve things I needed, or wanted, bit-by-bit.  If I wanted a new warm jersey I would do window shopping, put it in my small budget, and once I have enough, I would have a ball buying the item.  Every single panty, pair of socks, microwave, laptop, dress, and new dinner set – everything became achievements!

For each homeless, jobless person out there – I salute you! 

There was no more proud and presumptuous Tasha, only a humble thankful soul – happy to take care of herself.  For each homeless, jobless person out there – I salute you!  I know you! I believe in you! I know your pain!

Now after 10 years in a stable position, I have received a couple of small increases but that never keeps up with inflation rates, so it keeps me on my toes, so I still budget, and stick to plans religiously – hah! Well ok, not really, because there are 2 gorgeous granddaughters in my life – and that ballerina tutu, or school costume, or aftercare throw me off sometimes – but I love every second of it! 

My biggest secret though is that whenever I used to borrow a bit of money to get through some months, I made a plan set in stone to pay that back first when I got paid.  I find it strange how I would insist that someone must accept my loan repayment, but when someone else is in trouble and need my help, I cultivated this motto where I just refuse to take the money when being paid back – “if you had to ask for the help, then you probably are not in a position to pay it back – it would be a constant vicious circle where you run short again and have to borrow again – so let’s fix it by being prepared and keeping what you wanted to pay back now and avoiding the shortfall – in short, I don’t want it back”  – all this goes down with a huge smile showing that it really makes me feel good to help.

 What I love most is how much I have been smiling…

The lady asking if I know of second-hand shops close by had me running home quickly to go fetch the extra microwave plate – and when offering to pay got informed about #ImStaying and there is no way that I would accept a cent for a plate that I kept for no reason – until she needed it.

The lady driving around with the kids in a car with tires that have steel showing – mmmm – yes that is sorted too!

What I love most is how much I have been smiling…  Everywhere I go I find myself looking people straight in the eye, saying hello, and smiling!  Where did the martyr go?  She disappeared around the same time this woman decided to embrace problems, and to help others as much as possible.

 This new me became a moderator for #ImStaying; and have grown so much, and have seen so much, and I know there are a lot of GOOD THOUGHTS, GOOD WORDS, and GOOD DEEDS in my future. 

I wake up at 5 each morning, start my regular job at 6h30, get back home at 6pm, and for the next four hours or so I read and watch and experience what you, our group members, share with us.  You make me laugh, you make me cry, and you make me want to continue walking in my own shoes!

I thank you all for showing #ImStaying those soft under-bellies of yours.  Thank you for opening your hearts and sharing short-comings, achievements, love, laughter, and pride in our beautiful South Africa.  I love you all!!!