Ferris Wheels: Our love story

Image: Siyan Ren

 


When I think about our story, I wonder to myself. Is it the way we met? The challenges along the way that could have broken us apart but undoubtedly made us stronger together in the long run? Is our story wrapped in the reasons we love each other or wonder why we even try to get along? It is all of these things but more importantly it is our faith in God who saw it fit for us to cross paths for an adventure that doesn’t stop with us. We are Ashleigh and Shadley, and very soon we’ll be affectionately known as the Easthorpes.

How did I know he was the one? I didn’t. But he left me speechless. As someone who has something to say or write about most things, this was different and strange. There was something about this guy so unlike the person I was expecting to share my life with, he possessed a peculiarity about him that made him feel like home. I had my expectations and I always relay with fond memory that although he didn’t fit a cookie-cutter mold when he came along, he most certainly ticked every box in ways that mattered. Before him, I never knew that one could be everything someone ever wanted in a manner they never knew they needed. He was a surprise. The best one yet.

He will tell you that I remind him of his mother. Aunty Colleen, I wish I had the opportunity to meet her, and that her children would have had more time with such a special and remarkable woman. Apparently it is in the little things I do, like taking my hair out of a roller set on a Saturday afternoon, or choosing a beige camisole to wear under my winter jerseys. There’s my love for hearty meals born in kitchens and raised in satisfied tummies, and my soft spot for others. It feels ridiculous talking about myself in this way but the sentiment means a lot to him. It was his silent prayer before our meeting, a mum’s way of reminding her eldest that there will always be someone looking out for him.

Shadley ended a long-term relationship before we got together, and I – I don’t really know what I was doing at the time! Whatever it was, it eventually prepared me for the day my pot would have its lid and my aching feet (and heart) would have its resting place. Shadley jokes that he asks himself daily what he got himself into, and it means a lot to me that he loves me the same fully aware of who I am and not who he met on his birthday in Johannesburg with a chocolate cake from PicknPay in her lap.

After deciding to explore a romance, I left South Africa for Malawi where I lived for several long and stressful months. I was discontented with the idea of a long distance relationship and we fought as if for a title. Shadley might say that he was a little insecure and I had way too much time to think. We both saw parts of each other that were scary and real, things that should have been enough for us to forget our first date at Milky Lane where I nervously ate my waffle knowing I had a badly broken tooth which he kindly made no mention of. That day I was corny enough to make him sign his name on a serviette to salute a strong and healthy courtship. In less than a year I will take that name as my own.

When were both snug in Cape Town after my return (he relocated from Johannesburg where we met while I was in transit) the slow dance began. We had a lovely holiday housesitting with my family and the scent of shouting “wheeh” and keeping my eyes wide shut while being whirled around in a communal pool by the man who I will call my husband in a few, stays close. These were good times and we have had many more.

But there has also been tragedy. On 28th October 2016 Shadley was the one who conveyed to me that my father had died suddenly. It was his experience of losing a mother that held my hand and left me alone when I thought I wanted him at my side at every hour of the day. It was his sadness of not knowing my father as he had hoped which lended him to grief too. Our families have been touched by tribulation many times before and after then, and together we have been able carry weights and lift burdens, and other times do nothing at all but pray.

For me, our engagement couldn’t have come sooner. Yes, I had itchy feet because I knew all that I needed to know and didn’t care for waiting. I’m not so sure how I made it to 17th November 2016 in one, calm piece. Shadley planned a complete surprise, something I thought he’d never get away with. He was out of breath on shaking knee and when he managed to ask me to be his wife in a few words I could tell were tough for him to reach for in the spirit of the moment, he put the ring on the wrong hand! I am the girl who laughed the entire length of her marriage proposal. I nodded instead of saying “yes” and a year later I have no pictures of that very special day. But it is engraved on the walls of my heart and Ferris wheels have never been more valuable to me than after my life changed in one single trip on the Cape Wheel at the V&A Waterfront.

I am so excited about what our good Lord has in mind for us and know that our marriage only begins with love. So much more awaits.

 

Video: Inspired by Necole Kan

Video footage is talk of the town when it comes to online marketing. But l use this medium as a form of self-care practice too. Read on to find out how and watch a favourite video of mine too.

video

I have been visiting Youtube more regularly to watch vlogs and I have also started short video diaries of my own on Instagram. I have enjoyed hearing voices and seeing facial expressions – it adds glitter to plain words and who doesn’t love a bit of sparkle?

In the video below, former Necole Bitchie writer shares how her life changed after shutting down the popular celebrity news site to focus on positive stories for black girls.

I was touched by her story of starting over as I have done this several times and anticipate another new leaf with my 25th birthday on the horizon and my nuptials following after.

Some of my take-aways:

It’s okay to press the reset button on your life as many times as you need to – this might not change your past but it could very well change your future. I know lots of people don’t like to refer to this as a fresh start but rather continuing strong – but who doesn’t love second chances and the opportunity to begin again? Oftentimes it hurts but it is also so GOOD for the soul.

Create like no one knows your name – Necole mentions in the video that she found herself competing with her old success and that this left her in a race where she could only lose. I have had some good times in the past but it’s time to look forward without trying to “get back” things I feel “I lost”. The recognition, the opportunities, that’s over now.

Descend from the mountain –  this was a light bulb term for me and I can’t quite explain why. I’m gonna give it some thought and come back to finish this point at a later stage.

Tip:

If information-overload is detrimental to your own self-care practices, try to limit the time you spend searching for and browsing new content. A lot of the videos I am watching now appear to me organically as I start to clean up my social media timeline to make room for more of what I want to see on my feeds. They’re videos of friends or shared by my favourite online magazines; and I’m loving the inspiration. For a long time I thought I had to add more, find more, do more – it’s amazing what happens when you just make some space.

Let me know your thoughts on this video in the comments below or feel free to share your own.

 

Let me know your thoughts on this video in the comments below or feel free to share your own.

Vintage Wedding Inspiration: To be Content

We aren’t having a vintage wedding but l couldn’t help but drool over this one…

vintage wedding inspiration

Image: Jillian Mitchell via Vogue.com

I had butterflies but simultaneously felt serenely content – Solange Franklin Knowles

For my 25th birthday l initially had a wishlist of only five items long. The idea was to narrow things down and move toward wanting and needing less. I know a girl can dream but sometimes the idea of aspiration makes my head spin and I wonder. Am I setting myself for desire by wanting so much? Why do I want it these things anyway?

While questioning this one day I stumbled upon a tweet from one of my favourite fashion personalities,    Gabi Fresh. She shared a link to an article covering a friend’s wedding. It was published on Vogue. I should have scrolled over it and looked away. But alas I clicked and man, it was beautiful.

The bride’s vintage dress, their bookshop love story, the personalized details ranging from décor to food, the word “chuppa” which tasted to my mouth like rich coffee with thick cream.

In telling their tale, she recalled names of people and things I have never heard of. Great craftsman and precious goods. There weren’t talks of money but I could only imagine the price tag. This girl and I, we might love similar things but I knew our lives were inherently different because of the mighty dollar (or rand). It all seemed so easy, sourcing the pure white shoes and having the industry friends flaunt and faff. I wondered how many times they looked at their bank balance and cried.

Still, it was beautiful and lacked pretense.  I love that they pursued only meaningful things and if that is a lesson I learn over and over again, it will never be too much.

If you’d love to take a peek at the glorious wedding of Solange Franklin Reed and Brian Franklin Reed do be my guest. They also have a great story of how they won a legal battle to merge their last names.

Solange Franklin Reed is a stylist, womanist and fashion-editor-at-large for Paper Magazine. She captioned all the pictures in their slideshow and this one was my favourite acccount of their marriage celebration:

I’ve never looked better but I will always feel that beautiful. – Solange Franklin Reed

Xx

AE

Marital Advice: Transparency

We don’t accept marital advice from just anyone but Zara Hairston is one of those people l wont tire of hearing from.

marital advice

Image: Zara Hairston

I enjoyed the accompanying video by the lovely Zara Hairston, she is an author l have followed for years. Zara is happily married to her husband Eshon Burgundy,  a hip hop artist; the pair have three children. They recently shared that they would be renewing their vows after ten years of marriage. She shared that she could finely get rid of her ring which she referred to as fake (which I assume meant that the diamond was not real). I saw the post, liked it and felt genuinely happy for the two. Turns out that some folks had a few things to say about her choice words; sighting that a statement like that was embarrassing to her husband. Always the ready encourager and mistress of dialogue, Zara recorded the video below to share her two cents and I was deeply encouraged.

The Hairstons were wed at the justice of the peace (Home Affairs in South Africa) and have never minced words over details of the marriage, including their early challenges with pornography and financial lack. I admire their transparency and this is an attribute I seek out in anyone who offers me marital advice.

If you aren’t engaged yet, I can assure you that you’re going to be the recipient of unsolicited marital advice. Heck, here I am giving it to you. Whether or not all people mean well (which in some cases they do not) – it can become a lot to deal with and cause confusion in your heart and in your relationship.

As a measuring stick, I always consider how much I know about the person offering the marital advice. Are we close? If not, are we able to talk openly about important and awkward topics such as money and familial problems? Will they shy away from answering tough questions? Are they always sharing the moral of the story without telling the story in itself? All of that might work for you but I struggle to relate in such instances. I hear hearts in gory details and trace footsteps in muddy waters.  In life l learn more from crooked paths than I would if straight roads could talk. I understand your “what” when you explain your “why” or “how”.

The details of your life don’t make it imperfect, they make it real. Zara is an example of transparency to me, and so are a number of my friends and people I have met throughout my engagement. I thank them for the honesty as well as the sum of their fears, tears and triumphs. Time has made me believe in sharing  victories and defeats, it is somewhere in between where someone else might find freedom from the past, courage for today and hope for tomorrow.

Please watch this video below and subscribe to Zara’s Youtube channel for more motivating and honest discussions around life, faith, womanhood, marriage, motherhood and more.

On Freebies and Blogging Nice-To-Haves

 

honest-cafe

Before finalizing my official disclaimer (needed these days) here are my thoughts on freebies and other blogging nice-to-haves.

Some things take longer than others and in the moment that can suck – a lot. But I think I have grown into this “waiting” business and when I look back I always thank God for giving me time which I (hopefully) would have used to mature.

After blogging consistently from the age of 19 to 22, the indefinite break from 23 to 25 was the most agonizing but precious time of my life. It was in this period that I could find my voice and learn things about myself which would in turn enable me to be an authentic blogger hell bent on altruism.

This included obedience to the journey and sacrifice of opportunities but I’m happy to be back with a bang and lots of clarity on what happens next.

I don’t know if my little disclaimer will excite anyone other than myself but I wanted to share in the event that you wanted to know my way forward.

I’m extremely money conscious. Planning a wedding on a small budget hasn’t helped my position but I have tried my best to move on from being plain “cheap-skate” to simply being aware of how I spend and on what.

I <3 that I’ll be able to share budgeting tips via this blog and since I’ve made that little declaration I think it’s only fitting that I consider how I will approach freebies and all the nice-to-haves often associated with blogging.

I have decided that I want my product and service reviews (where applicable) to correspond with my financial status. I’m not about to declare my income for the world to see but I mean it when I say that some months are better than others and that we’re honestly living on a very big prayer.

I’m still working on the mechanism but my idea is to give each product or service a rating based on how long it might take me to save for it. In the event that it’s a splurge, I will also indicate this for every post. The same applies for sponsored posts should I receive and accept opportunities to host them. I want to go a step further and commit to being honest with myself when accepting any offers made. I <3 freebies as much as the next person but if there’s a possibility that I probably wouldn’t spend my own money on said item or experience in real life, I need to be considerate when sharing gifts of such a nature with you.

The average guy or girl next door doesn’t have a contact at a PR office and won’t receive a press drop from such-and-such’s new range of goodies. We have to stand in line like everyone else. The idea of paying your way shouldn’t change solely because you are internet famous.

I will be very clear and say that this does not mean I won’t be accepting brand partnerships because I will do so if it is in the best interest of the blog and relevant to our niche market, but that’s about it. I am holding myself accountable to a standard and I challenge you to do the same.

I want to be relatable. And I honestly can’t relate to a lot of what I am seeing online. We’re all broke af so how come representation is so low?

I hope you will welcome me, the me who shares her recipe for scraping together meals from the last few items in your cupboard at the end of the month, the me who is still planning her first hotel stay courtesy of her own back pocket and can’t afford more than R1000 per night.

You can live your champagne life on a budget honey. I say YOURS because who knows what balling looks like to you. Maybe you want to be skipping, jumping or laughing instead. Maybe you’re just happy to make it to pay day with your dignity intact. Whatever your vibe, you’re truly at home here. I’d <3 to host your content suggestions. Let me know what you’re keen on and I’ll give it a whirl as my finances allow.

AE