me

Hi. My name is Genevieve. I am 30 years old, a wife, mom to 3, daughter to an amazing mommy, cousin to many, niece and friend. But that sounds so generic, as so many people are parents, siblings, spouses… So¬†I’ve decided to share a little more about myself (eeek); so here goes…

Secretary vibes...

Secretary vibes…

By day (Monday-Friday), I am a secretary to a very busy Factory Manager. I love my job, I love my boss, I love my colleagues and I love my company. I can honestly say that I look forward to work every day. Yes, I have my boring, monotonous moments, but I’ve seen just what a team and family we all are, especially in the last few months, and I’m so very grateful for such an amazing support team. I took this job back in 2013 having never been a secretary or PA before, and this being my 2nd big corporate company to work for. I left the comfort of my job for the past 5 years to experience something new, and I’m so glad that I did. For those who know me well, they know that I do not adjust well to change, and especially having become so comfortable in my previous job, this was a huge step for me. But I took that step, and I’ve never looked back.

By night (and sometimes by day, on the weekends) I am a waitress. I work part-time for a mobile bar

Waitressing vibes...

Waitressing vibes…

and events company, and even though the hours can be crazy long sometimes, I love it. My bosses are awesome, I’ve worked for and with some really amazing people, and I’ve met some great new friends. My little car and I have driven from the North Coast to the South Coast, in the rain and at night, in the boiling sun and in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve dropped staff at home, waited for their lifts, and had far too many laughs and giggles to even think about work. I have had maybe 1-2 functions where I’ve seriously considered just leaving, but that’s just not in my nature. So with a smile on my face, I serve. I laugh. I interact. I mingle. And sometimes, I even party a little. Seriously awesome 2nd job.

Bubble vibes...

Bubble vibes…

My weekends (every Saturday and the odd Sunday) are spent at a flea market, selling BUBBLES. Yes, bubbles. The hugest, most awesomest (yes I know that’s not a word) bubbles EVER! Seriously, best. job. EVER. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are; you cannot not smile when you see bubbles! And the best part about my 3rd job, is that I get to have some one-on-one time with Morgan-Lee, something that has been seriously lacking in the past 18 months or so. Watching her run around, having fun, interacting with the other kids, just being a kid herself makes me so damn happy. I’ve met some really interesting people, have spent far more money than I’ve made, and am absolutely loving it. It’s hard work; it’s quite a physical job setting up at the market and then packing up at the end of the day, but I’m out of the house. I’m around other adults; I’m socialising *gasp*. I’m rediscovering my fun and extroverted side, my flamboyance and zest for life. And I get to play with bubbles. It’s a no-brainer really ūüėČ

For the other 24 hours in a day (see what I did there) I am mom. Mommy. Mom. Mama. *scream* *squeal* Mommy. Mom. Mom. MOM!! In between those 24 hours, I somehow find time to be a wife (not a very domesticated one as the husband makes supper most nights, does homework but I mean hey. I try ūüėČ ) I’m a terrible friend in that I will generally only message or contact someone if they’ve messaged or contacted me, but my friends know that if they need me, I’m there. No matter the time, whether it’s day or night. I’ll be there. Over the years my list of friends has whittled down, partly because I just haven’t stayed in touch with people but I think it’s more to do with the fact that the friends that I have in my life right now, are who I need in my life right now. I have loads of acquaintances and friends, but only a handful or 2 of really close, can-we-move-in-with-you-if-we-get-evicted friends. And I couldn’t ask for anything more.

My life - Alex, Morgan-Lee &; Maddie (picture courtesy of Krystal Temlett Photography)

My life – Alex, Morgan-Lee & Maddie (picture courtesy of Krystal Temlett Photography)

This year has been tough on me, tough on my family. This year has not only shown me how strong I am, but also how weak I am. That I am not superwoman. I am not supermom. I am just trying to get through every day, alive. These hardships that we as a family have experienced this year will fade. They are only temporary. We will come out of this stronger. I will come out of this stronger. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I asked for help. That was a huge step for me. Huge.

I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I’m broke. I’m happy. This is my life right now, and instead of moping and complaining and hating the world for it, I choose to embrace it. I am working my backside off for those I love, and who love me in return. I am becoming stronger, re-energised, and happier. This year has been hard, I can’t deny it. But I refuse to let it get the better of me. I refuse to let it define who I am as a person, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend.

I will learn, I have learnt, and for that, I am grateful.

G

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don’t have a period, man

That time of the month.

Surfing the crimson tide.

PMS.

Menstruation.

Period.

Holy hell, who the f*** did I piss off?!

These are just some of the ways that society, including myself, refers to that really awesome time, once a month, that affects almost every woman on the planet.

Yes, I am bleeding from my vagina. Some women are ‘lucky’ and only have to deal with this ‘affliction’ for a few days. Some women have some really bad juju, and can bleed for weeks. According to medical research (no, I have no idea where I read it as it was a while ago) us women only lose 1-2 teaspoons (or maybe it was tablespoons, I forget) of actual viable, good blood during our period. The rest of it is our uterus’s throwing the mother of all tantrums, and quite literally throwing its toys out of the proverbial cot. And if you’re really lucky, for the first day or so, you look like you’re birthing the spawn of Satan, or at least 25 million of them. Blood clots. So appetising. And also effing scary, especially at 02h00 in the morning, when you thought you only needed to wee. Or better yet, when you’re in the bath, and this red blob catches your eye and you stare with wide-eyed horror, knowing that that came out of you. Whaaaaaat?! And the cramps? And the bloating? And the fact that not only do I want to eat every chocolate I can lay my hands on, I also snap at my husband for absolutely no good reason, and then give him the silent treatment because he dared to ask wtf he had done wrong.

What’s even scarier is the stigma attached to a menstruating woman. Some cultures do not even allow these women into the house during this time. This is a natural thing, and before I had my tubes tied, my ability to breathe a huge sigh of relief that there weren’t anymore “mini-me’s” on the way. Believe me, a LOT of women use the start of their period as a time to party, because they can!

What’s even more awful is how many women (I’m only talking about in South Africa now), miss work and school because of their period. So many young ladies are forced to use leaves, old rags, even old sanitary towels when they menstruate. In our country, you can find free condoms pretty much everywhere; at clinics, robots, shopping centers, yet feminine hygiene products are nowhere to be found. Oh they can be found in abundance at the shops, with a nice little price tag on them to boot. I am not against the issuing of free condoms; I myself have taken a few from work as seriously, the mess is just not worth it, especially at 00h15, but why are feminine hygiene products not also available? Rape and assault aside, a person (male or female) has the choice to abstain from sexual intercourse; a woman’s monthly cycle is going to happen. She is going to bleed. Whilst I do not expect a tampon to be included in this debate, sanitary pads should be made freely available, just as condoms are. School girls are missing out on their education; approximately 3.7 million school age girls (11-13) are allegedly missing school every month due to this issue. Whilst this is a difficult figure to verify as schools record just that a pupil was absent, not the reason why, almost 78% of these girls live in the lower LSM (living standards measure) bracket. What this essentially means is that these families barely have enough money for food and clothes and other basic necessities; feminine hygiene products are not on their list of monthly essentials. They’re deemed a luxury.

I just do not understand how a pad can be deemed a luxury. What, do people think it’s really glamorous to have a period? Yes, I know and appreciate that as women, we have the ability to co-create life, and sustain that life for 9 months. A male body cannot do that, but this cannot and must not detract from the real issue here. Feminine hygiene should be a basic right to all females.

A month or so ago I was in the ladies bathroom at work, and whilst in the one stall another woman entered. I heard her stop at the paper hand towel dispenser, and dispense paper towel. And she didn’t stop. I don’t even know how many times I heard that handle go down, and it annoyed me. Why was she taking so much paper towel? That stuff isn’t cheap, and we’re always looking at ways to cut costs at work, so when I was done I took my time washing my hands, whilst I waited for her to exit the other stall. As she exited, another woman entered, and I saw that they were both contractors from the plant company that we’ve hired. I asked her quite abruptly why she took so much hand towel, and she blushed and put her head down. I asked her again, more forceful, and she replied

I’m bleeding and I don’t have any money for pads.

I felt my heart stop for a moment. My hard resolve melted and I said to her, shocked, “you don’t have any pads?” She just shook her head, embarrassed. She had nothing to be embarrassed about, I did. I went to my desk and offered her whatever I had. She was so grateful, so relieved, so happy. She was basically going from site to site, and before she could actually work had to go into the ladies bathroom to refresh the paper towel between her legs. Now I’ve used paper towel before, I think most women have. But I’ve only used it as a quick fix, at the shops just to ‘stem the tide’ whilst I run in to buy some tampons. At home if I need to find where I put my box, at work when it just happens and I need to go back to my desk for a tampon or pad. But I’ve never had to go my whole period using just paper towel. Or leaves. Or rags. Or newspaper. I’ve always had the ‘luxury’ of having feminine hygiene products readily available to me.

Something about my interaction with this lady, this lady who was in a sense degraded and humiliated by something that happens naturally to her body every month, awoke a fire within me. I know that there are a few initiatives that have sprung up in recent years around feminine hygiene products, but I decided to start my own thing. And all I’ve received is positive feedback. I’ve decided to focus on the ladies in my workplace, as we have a lot of employees who are factory based, and I shudder to think how many of them miss work every month due to their period. How many of them simply don’t have the money for a pack of pads.

With my mom, we’ve purchased in total 12 packs of pads over the past month, which I’ve placed in the admin bathrooms, just to see how they would be received. The first 2 packs of pads took about 3 weeks to be used; the second 2 packs are finished. I have the other 8 packs in my desk, and I distribute them when necessary. I myself have gone down to our onsite clinic in an ’emergency’ situation, only to find that they don’t keep feminine hygiene products. They have condoms; oh boy do they have condoms everywhere. But not a single tampon or pad.

This is not something that I expect a resolution to overnight. There is still so much negativity and ‘hush hush’ around discussing menstruation, and even I felt the same. But I think that the world that we’re living in has definitely changed in recent times, simply because it’s been forced to. Women bleed from their lady parts, fact. Women and young girls are missing work and school because of this, fact. Can I do something about this?

Yes.

Can you do something about this?

Yes.

By the end of the year I am hoping to have a feminine hygiene initiative active at my factory. I’m still not 100% sure as to how to go about it all, whether or not to just leave the pads out for the women to help themselves or to have like maybe a registration and then issue them out every month, but it will happen. Whilst I am not wealthy I have never had to go through what some of the women in South Africa go through on a monthly basis. A period is not dirty. But it can lead to serious health complications and illnesses, when not taken care of correctly. By women using items beside feminine hygiene products when they have their period, they are putting themselves at such a medical risk for infections, but what other choice do they have.

In 2011, President Jacob Zuma promised that government would provide sanitary pads to impoverished women and girls, a promise he has made again and again, but has never delivered on. But that’s ok. Well not really, but it just fuels the fire within me.

Oh, BTW. I’ve written this post whilst on my period, having to stop 3 times to run to the bathroom to ‘change supplies’ as this month, my uterus really IS pissed off with me. Just FYI, maybe TMI but that’s LIFE.

G

why i took the kiddie lock off of my car doors

In the news these days, there is at least one story involving violence against children, whether it be assault, abuse, rape, murder, or a hijacking. But every. single. day. After reading the horrific story about little Taegrin Morris¬†(warning, very graphic descriptions in this article) last year, it has stayed with me. It has weighed heavily on my heart, my eyes filling with tears whenever I think about it. I don’t know how his parents have stayed as strong as they have.

Last week I took the kiddie lock off of the back passenger door where M-L sits. When she first discovered the door handle, and how to undo her car seat belt at about 18 months old, I immediately put the kiddie lock on. Now whilst I understand that Taegrin didn’t die because he couldn’t open the door, the reason that I took it off, was because if I were to ever find myself in the situation whereby I was being hijacked with my children in the car, I know that M-L can get herself out of her booster seat and the car. With the kiddie lock on, she would be able to undo her safety belt on her booster seat, but then be stuck in the car. What good is that? She is almost 6 years old now, and understands that she mustn’t open the door whilst the car is moving and even stopped. When we go shopping etc, she waits for me to either say that she can get out of the car, or for me to go around to her side, open the door and let her out. I need to know that if I am ever in such an awful, dangerous situation, that M-L can get out, can get to safety. As it is, it scares me to even think that I might be in a situation like that with all 3 of my children in the car with me, 2 of which are still in full on baby seats. But sadly it is something that I must think about, be prepared for.

So with the angels watching over me and my family whilst we travel on our South African roads, I am at peace with my decision.

G

diploma drama

At the end of October 2014, I will have my Diploma in Packaging Technology, thus allowing myself to officially be called a Packaging Technologist.

I hope.

During the 10 month course, there are 5 tests, 2 exams and 1 project that one has to complete (and pass) in order for your diploma to be awarded.  Of the 5 tests, they only take your top 4 test marks.  Thank God.

I failed test 2.

And not by like 1% or something riduculous like that.  I mean properly failed.  As in 35.5% fail.  Now, if IPSA had no integrity, determination and motivation like our education system here in sunny South Africa, that 35.5% would have actually been a pass!  I would have actually SURPASSED the minimum requirement of 33%!

Say What?!

Say What?!

Well they don’t, and I didn’t.

But it’s ok, because I did actually pass the first test, and I plan on passing tests 3-5, as well as both exams. ¬†Where the real drama comes in, is with the project that I have to submit.

We were given our topic on the 24th of March 2014. ¬†Only today have I decided on what product to base my project on. ¬†It’s due on the 7th of August 2014.

I KNOW.

Um, err, ahh, um...

Um, err, ahh, um…

I just couldn’t decide which South African product to base my project on, because I honestly didn’t know! ¬†I’m the type of person that battles with decision making; ¬†tell me that you need to package pineapple pieces to optimise their shelf-life and BOOM! ¬† Done! ¬†Don’t tell me to pick out a product from the thousands, if not millions of products out there, on which to base my project! ¬†Late last week I found a product on which to base my project on, only to find out yesterday that the packaging material that I wanted to repackage the product into, was not recyclable. ¬†Oops, seeing as the theme is ‘Design for Recycling’.

*(&&*$^#$^&*)*(_&^%$%$#%$@%$&(^&&)*&*)%&^$#%^@#$%$&*()&*)

I did a little shopping last night, and without even realising it, or doing it on purpose, I found my product. ¬†Sitting on my couch last night after supper, munching on the biscuits that I had bough just a few hours earlier, I found myself looking at the packaging thinking to myself, hang on a tooting minute! ¬†This is so not recyclable! ¬†Ding ding ding!!! ¬†The instant relief that I felt when I realised that I had FINALLY found my project topic, was amazing. ¬†But then came the next hard part; ¬†how on earth am I going to redesign this into packaging that IS recyclable?! ¬†Thank goodness for not burning bridges, and for leaving my previous job with a smile on my face, because I contacted my former boss this morning who gave me some AMAZING ideas, and also reminded me of some suppliers that I used to deal with whilst working for him. ¬†After contacting him I contacted my one former supplier, and I’ll know by this Friday as to whether or not they’ll be willing to assist me. ¬†It’s pretty much a done thing; ¬†they will help, but I gotta do it right, ask permission etc.

So now the research starts; ¬†the packaging properties of the 2 materials that I’ve decided to use, the machinery required, how recyclable these 2 materials are and if South Africa’s current recycling capabilities can handle the recycling of these 2 packaging materials. ¬†But it’s ok; ¬†these next 2 and a bit months are going to be full of stress and long hours and late nights, but at least I know what they hell I’m doing now!

And I can’t wait to get my diploma at the end of October!

G

asbestos; the good, the bad and the ugly

A few days ago I received a mail from my contact page from Heather Von St. James.

What a remarkable woman. She is based in the USA, and 8 years ago, was diagnosed with Mesothelioma; a rare and deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She had given birth to her daughter Lily just 3 months prior to her diagnosis, and was given only 15 months to live.

Heather lives by the motto; with hope, the odds don’t matter. I knew that asbestos was bad, hell I even knew that it had killed some people. But I didn’t realise it was THIS bad. Heather has created an awareness page, and you can reach it by clicking here. It is shocking that the USA has not yet banned all use of asbestos. Here in South Africa, it was banned in 2008, and you can read a write-up about why here.

It is a miracle that Heather survived; that and the fact that medical science is pretty darn amazing.

The good – Heather survived and has made it her life’s mission to educate people about this deadly disease and its cause
The bad – the fact that asbestos is still legally in use in the USA and around the world
The ugly – pretty much the same as the bad

I feel privileged that Heather contacted me for my assistance in raising awareness for this awful disease and it’s causes. I feel that so often we focus on the more ‘common’ cancers; breast cancer, lung cancer etc and don’t actually realise that there are so many other forms of cancer out there. Just look at this graphic regarding the various forms of cancer that are out there:

There's more to cancer than a pink ribbon

There’s more to cancer than a pink ribbon

I sincerely hope that you do click over to Heather’s awareness site, and that if you have asbestos in your homes or workplaces that you’re able to do something about it. ANY exposure to asbestos is detrimental to your health.

You can connect with Heather either via the link above, or via her Facebook page, link here.

G