Men Who Wear Nail Polish

I recently saw an article about nail polish becoming a rising trend in men’s fashion.

I was initially uninterested because I think men wearing nail polish is weird, but then I read on. The article continued by recommending men’s nail polish brands and providing tips on the best way to apply the nail polish.

I found this strange. I thought that guy liner and man bags were odd but it turns out that feminine men's fashion trends have gone a step further. Are men really starting to enjoy mani-pedis and painting their nails? If this is the case, I will soon be manlier than the average man (or male fashionista).

I looked at which celebrities fashion bloggers and fashionistas are looking to as trend setters. The likes of David Bekham, Seal and Johnny Depp popped up. A little digging and I realised what these men have in common besides being famous. The answer – they all have pre-adolescent daughters.

When interviewed, Johnny Depp attributed his blue and pink nails to his daughter. Seal said that getting a manicure was one of the ways he got to spend quality time with his then nine-year old daughter.

So, what’s happening is that people are taking the work of little girls choosing to play around with daddy and turning it into a fashion trend.  Admittedly, when worn correctly and styled to complement clothing, I've seen instances in which it looks good.  Johnny Depp does pull off the blue nails look, making it seem whacky and cool at the same time.  However, in my opinion anything that's not black or blue makes a guy look like he's taking the first seemingly subtle steps to becoming a drag queen.

My conclusion: If you have a young daughter, that’s cute. If not, it’s odd and likely also pretentious.

Maja Dezulovic

Eloquent Ways to Say "Fuck You!"

As children we were taught not to swear. However, as we get older, “swear words” become a common way for people to express themselves. They are understood globally so you can be sure that people will understand you if you use the S, C and F words often enough to convey your message. They are effective but sometimes also reflect on the speaker’s (or writer’s) lack of a decent vocabulary and imagination.

I’m not necessarily condoning insulting people but sometimes situations lead to a moment in which you have to paint a clear picture for the other person about how you feel about them. Thought-out insults also tend to have a deeper impact on the subject because rather than using a general insult, you seem as if you’ve taken the time to actually examine their behaviour (and looks) before commenting on it.  I’ve read and heard some wonderful ways to eloquently insult people so as to appear more sophisticated, intelligent and educated so I thought I’d share some of these. Of course, it is always recommended that you use your own imagination to come up with good ways of saying things but, for humour's sake, here's how others have said it.

  1. “I desire that we be better strangers.” – As You Like It, William Shakespeare
  2. “I am not interested in emotional fuckwittage. Goodbye.” – Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
  3. “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” – Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  4. “It should take you about four seconds to get from here to the door. I’ll give you two.” – Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  5. “The man is as useless as nipples on a breastplate.” – A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
  6. “May your genitals sprout wings and fly away.” – Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
  7. “If you will forgive me for being personal, I don’t like your face.” – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  8. “How art thou, thy globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip-oil?” – A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  9. “You bloody old towser-faced boot-faced totem-pole on a crap reservation.” – Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  10. “If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off. – Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
  11. "If I had a dog with a face like yours, I'd shave his ass and teach him to walk backward." – Gleaming the Cube (1989)
  12. “Why don't you do the world a favor and take your lower lip and pull it over your head and swallow?" – Grumpy Old Men (1993)
  13. "You dirt eating piece of slime, you scum-sucking pig, you son of a motherless goat!" – iThree Amigos (1986)
  14. “You're a gutless turd." – The Breakfast Club (1985)
  15. “You foul loathesome evil little cockroach!” – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  16. “You sweat from a baboon's balls!" – Coming to America(1988)
  17. "You are what the French call, les incompetents." – Home Alone (1990)
  18. “A real wart... A carbuncle, a blister, a pustule of malignant ooze!" – Matilda (1996)
  19. "In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you're nothing but a scurvy little spider!" – It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
  20. “You are a worthless street rat. You were born a street rat, you'll die a street rat, and only your fleas will mourn you!” – Aladdin (1992)
  21. "Your foul heart, a wart on the nose of humanity, and I'm going to blast it off.” – Nine to Five (1980)
  22. "Has anyone ever told you, you look like a penis with a little hat on?" – A League of Their Own (1992)
  23. “My great aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be a hundred and two, and when she'd been dead three days, she looked better than you do now!” – The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
  24. “The day I need a friend like you, I’ll just have myself a little squat and shit one out.” – The Mist (2007)
  25. “What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. May God have mercy on your soul.” – Billy Madison (1995)
  26. “You know what Mom, you know what I’m going to get you next Christmas? A big wooden cross, so every time you feel unappreciated for all your sacrifices, you can climb on up and nail yourself to it.” – The Ref (1994)
  27. “You are nothing! If you were in my toilet I wouldn't bother flushing it. My bathmat means more to me than you.” – Swimming With Sharks (1994)
  28. “There’s a name for you ladies, but it isn’t used in high society… outside of a kennel.” – The Women (1939)
  29. “I misjudged you… You’re not a moron. You're only a case of arrested development.” – The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway 
  30. And another one by the master of words: “Thou art a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver’d, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mungril bitch.” – King Lear, William Shakespeare
  31. And finally, one of my favourite scenes, Katharine Hepburn in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967):

Maja Dezulovic

Writers Write

Looking at this blog, it may appear as if I haven't been writing for a while. Actually, I have. I just haven't been writing on here. Day by day goes by and I neglect to add to this ongoing project. This shouldn't be the case.

In my time away from Blue Daisies and Purple Grass, I came to a few revelations about writing and life in general.

For starters, writers write. I got a job which required me to work up to nine hours per day dishing out up to seven well-written and well-researched 500-700 word articles daily. At first, it seemed almost impossible and I was pretty slow on the first day but then I realised that it was completely doable and in fact a requirement for any writer who plans to be successful.
If you cannot write a 500-700 word article in about an hour, you're wasting your time. Now I know how much time I've been wasting.
There's a short formula to success, or at least content, perhaps even happiness. It goes like this.

Talent becomes skills, which turn into experience and later that experience has the opportunity to transform into mastery. And if you fail to use the original talent, you lose it (apparently).


I'm pretty much on a skills level now. For the first time, I've realised that I actually type faster than I write by hand. Thank you to all those Mavis Beacon games and tight writing deadlines. Should I fail, I can always do transcripts or become a secretary. But, failure is not an option.
As anybody with a passion for the work they do will tell you, you've just got to keep going. It's not about a means to an "end" but about the journey. I finally understood this a few days ago when I watched a TED talk (one of those things which I'm hopelessly addicted to). The speaker compared the journey to music. When you listen to a good song or go to a concert, you don't think to yourself: Oh, I can't wait until it's over. You enjoy the journey. You revel in the music and the waves of movement, rhythms, harmony and song it takes you through. That's what life is about - enjoying the journey, which from now on, I'm going to refer to as music.

Another thing I learnt (or rather re-learned) is to keep writing. You can't wait around for the next great job or spend too much time hunting for new gigs and editing old articles. No piece of writing will ever be perfect. It's not meant to be. I used to be slow because I worried about perfection. Now that I'm much faster, I've found that I haven't compromised on quality. In fact I'm getting better at it. And I'm getting better faster!

I remember when I was a kid I'd write and illustrate ghost stories and other short stories and poetry. I went particularly nuts when I discovered limericks and Edward Lear. And every time I was recognized for it, I kept going. That recognition, my words published in the school newspaper or magazine, a teacher's praise and later seeing my work published in print and completing whole books and positive reviews is sometimes what keeps me going but if that's all that keeps me going (aside from money, of course), I know I’m getting spoilt. That shouldn’t be my motivation. My motivation should be the music and the “musicality of language”.

Writing is a lovely but lonely world. You become trapped with only yourself and the computer screen. Nobody can help you write. Sure, they can suggest things and encourage you but ultimately it's up to you and you alone. This is especially the case if you're a freelance writer. Yes, there are the editors who act like bosses in some cases but nobody is there to breathe down your neck and make sure you're writing.

I am convinced now that writing is probably one of the most difficult careers out there. "Oh, wow! You're a writer." People say it as if it's a dream job and all that writers do is pen a few musings while travelling, sipping wine and indulging in other luxuries. Nope. That's not it. Like anybody else who works, writers have a job. We have a role to fulfil and for those of us who enjoy it, it can be wonderful to have your thoughts, ideas and characters come to life in print.

Writing is amazing. For me, it's transformational. It's almost like when you're writing about an idea, you become it. When you write about a character, especially in the first person, you become him or her. Writers are like actors. We need to understand different people and situations in order to portray them accurately and be good at what we do.

I just want to keep going, enjoy the music and then one day look back and say: "Wow, look at what I've achieved." Like an opera singer who brings people to tears or a rock star who spurs a revolution through chords and lyrics.

And to the naysayers, difficult editors and clients who pay late (or not at all), I have just one thing to say. "F*ck you, this is who I am and if you can’t appreciate it, f*ck you again."

I might come back to edit this post later, but for now I'm posting it in its raw form. I respect you as a reader but frankly I'm exhausted thanks to countless hours of writing and editing followed by self-indulgence in TED talks and MOOCs.

Now there's another topic for a later discussion. After discovering MOOCs (massive open online courses), my life will never be the same again.

Maja Dezulovic

“The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself...That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.”  ― Neil Gaiman

The Best Investment You Can Make

If you are in your teens or early twenties, it’s a good time to start investing in your future. Your choices in this period will lay down the foundation for the rest of your life. That might seem a bit daunting but there is no need to worry. This time is for self-discovery and getting to know yourself to ensure that you are satisfied with the path you are taking.

Realise that you are the best asset you’ve got. It is your responsibility to grow that asset to the best of your ability. The best way to ensure your personal development is by educating yourself. I’m not referring merely to formal education, but also to self-education. A university qualification will go a long way but there are many things essential to your well-being that won’t necessarily be taught in school. There are many online resources and books to refer to. A good place to start is to educate yourself about money.

Money is essential to survival as well as progress. Realise that your financial education is crucial to gaining wealth. Too many people enter adulthood without a clue on how to manage their finances and spending. This results in an excess of debt and limited financial freedom. If you learn to spend wisely, you will be ahead of most people and can enjoy your life more. Purchasing goods just to be fashionable is not worth the headaches of debt. Be smart about buying property and vehicles. Buy only what you know you can afford, not what the banks and others say you can afford.

In terms of financial investment, invest in self-development resources such as courses on financial management. Get into the habit of saving. Entrepreneurs such as Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki advise that you save at least 10% of your earnings. Some have gone as far as recommending that we live on only half of what we earn and dedicate the rest to savings and investments. The safest investment of your savings is earning interest from the bank. Further your education about other investments before risking anything.

There is a trend of young entrepreneurs venturing into business. It does seem like a viable option because you cannot depend on others, your job or the economy to provide financial security indefinitely. Most people will change careers a few times in their lives. Diversifying your education and areas of expertise also allow you the freedom and flexibility to adapt in our ever-changing and expanding economy. Becoming self-employed may appear ideal but it is a brave step and requires had work and dedication.

Invest in travel. Travelling need not be expensive. Too many people think that it’s far more exciting to leave their hometown or country and only that can offer the experience of something new. The truth is that most communities usually have a wide range of activities to offer. Do something. Don’t be a homebody. Read the local paper for upcoming events. This will help you gain priceless experience, get to know the world around you and meet new people. This way you will find out what you enjoy and get to know people who share your values and goals in life.

Invest in your body. I know that eating fast food is very tempting, especially when you are young and have a busy schedule. A young healthy body may fool you into believing that this food does not have an effect on you. It does. It is detrimental to your health. Create healthy eating habits now in order to prevent disease rather than having to rehabilitate yourself later. Take a little extra time to learn about healthy foods, buy them and cook them at home. If your body is healthy, you will feel good and enthusiastic about the other aspects of your life.

Youth is about learning. You can try new things and gain from those experiences. If this knowledge is applied with the bigger picture of your future in mind then you are off to a good start. Time is your greatest resource so be wise about how you spend it and learn from mistakes early rather than suffer as a result of bad decisions in the future. The best investment you can make is in yourself.

Maja Dezulovic

What We Should Be Doing in Our Twenties

A few weeks ago I did a purge of my Facebook friends list. I deleted all the people who I had nothing in common with and with whom I hadn’t communicated with in over a year. The main reason for this is that I realised my news feed and updates became flooded with news of weddings and babies. I don’t have anything against marriage and children. I just think it unwise to jump into a commitment before you’ve really had the chance to get to know yourself. In my experience, this seldom happens before people reach their thirties.

I think we should learn from the mistakes of our parents and the generations before us. We can do this by not repeating their mistakes. An old school friend of mine is divorced and the mother of a young child at the age of 26. Her parents also married young and divorced. It’s frightening that people feel that after studying (whether ending their education in high school or at a tertiary level) it’s time to get married and have kids. How about getting to know yourself? How about furthering your education, becoming self-reliant and growing yourself as an individual? How about getting to know the person you want to marry? Getting to know each other involves a lot more than just dating and going on holidays together. Many married couples don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when they start living with each other. Cohabiting out of wedlock is practical yet frowned upon by fundamentalists and the more conservative part of our communities. If you live with someone, without entering any binding legal agreements (i.e. signing a marriage certificate), you give yourself the chance to call it quits when it doesn’t work out. It’s simpler and less painful when you don’t have to struggle through divorce proceedings or have any kids involved. You also allow yourselves the time to build a strong and healthy relationship with each other proving to yourselves that you are loyal and committed.

A simple Google search about divorce statistics and the link between marriage and education reveals what many of us likely already know. Firstly, less educated people get married and have kids younger than other groups and have higher divorce rates. Poorer families tend to have more children as well. Secondly, people with a tertiary education normally get married later, i.e. in their late twenties or early thirties, have a lower divorce rate and are likely to have less children than those with a high school education or less.

As a result of these trends, our society is filled with people who are focused on survival and trying to please other people (their boss, spouse or children), who later realise that they don’t truly understand themselves. I read that the fastest growing age group of subscribers to dating websites are people in their fifties and sixties. Part of the reason for this is that people, especially women, tend to only discover themselves and begin to enjoy their lives in their fifties. During and after this self-discovery they are more likely to find suitable partners than they might have been when they were younger. This is because they are probably divorced and the kids are all grown up and no longer need looking after, therefore women have nobody but themselves to truly look out for.

If this period of self-discovery happens in the twenties, people make wiser decisions later about their partners and when to start a family. Modern medicine has allowed us to live longer healthier lives. Therefore we no longer have to rush into starting families. Moreover, one of the greatest threats to the Earth and the greatest contributor to pollution and global warming is overpopulation. We already have too many people therefore it is not essential that we continue to reproduce at the current rate. By taking the time to discover ourselves and spend our youth in growing rather than jumping into what is considered to be a social norm, we allow ourselves to make wiser decisions and enjoy life in our prime. That way our older, wiser selves can have better careers, be better parents and contributors to society.

Our twenties are a time to learn, study, grow, have fun, travel and lay the foundation for the rest of our lives. That foundation is important. If our priorities are not in line with what we truly want for ourselves we may join the 80% of our population who hate their jobs, are in unhappy marriages or divorced and generally lead unfulfilling lives.

Maja Dezulovic

The Corporate Zombie Apocalypse

Monday morning came and I was petrified. I reluctantly got myself ready and went to the office. Our office has become one of those ghastly places where death has come to reign. Lifeless souls float around with their dead blue eyes and loose limbs. They groan in anguish and will only be satisfied when they claim their next victim.

Some of you will know that it was discovered that the zombie crisis is caused by a virus. I don’t know if Brad Pitt can save us from this one but we can only hope.

I’ve tried everything. I try everything that is rumoured to work against them and camouflage a perfectly healthy body for them to claim. It’s so widespread that the local Dischem is now stocking the vaccines (also thanks to Brad Pitt) and other preventative methods. I don’t like needles so I started taking vitamins. I also avoid all possibly contaminated areas or clean my hands with sanitizer or wipes after accidental contact. The culprits are door handles, telephones, keyboards, remotes and of course, touching the half-dead corpses themselves. During early infection, they may fool you while they still look semi-normal and force you into a casual handshake or caress. Be warned that anybody can become infected, even those closest to you. If you want to save yourself, isolate yourself from danger as much as possible. Stay within the secure confines of your own home.

Sometimes it is difficult. I walked into the office today. The atmosphere was quiet and eerie. Almost everyone has been infected and people are missing. They’ve probably left the germs behind, lingering, waiting.

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again. I don’t want to become a groaning, coughing, sneezing and panting flu zombie, although it’s probably inevitable.

Maja Dezulovic

8 Reasons Why You Don’t Need to Follow the News

When I tell people that I usually neither read nor watch the news, I’m often met with surprise. Admittedly, as a writer I have to stay on top of current events but I’ve learnt to do that without getting too immersed in the media. It was a transition starting from completely withdrawing from following mainstream media to learning to take information in without becoming too affected by it. I'm not living in a bubble. I am just selective about what I want to focus my energy on. Here are eight reasons why I feel it is not necessary to follow the news.

1) The media is filled with negativity. You'll hear more about rape, violent crimes, terrorism, natural disasters and so forth than you will about anything good or reasons to motivate you to keep going. The latter is saved for short skits at the end of the news hour, just before the weather. This can give the viewer a very obscure view of the world. It encourages fear rather than exploration.

2) Mainstream news is biased and pre-edited. Most news agencies are owned by a few major corporations. When a small group at the top owns the news, can it really be represented in a free, fair and unbiased manner?

3) Headlines are enough. I'll often read the headlines posted on the side of the road whilst driving or pick up the newspaper when visiting someone. If a headline really catches my attention, I'll look deeper into it.

4) If it's important, you’ll find out. When something creates a lot of hype, be it good or bad, people will talk. You'll hear about it. If it is "Breaking News" someone will mention it to you.
I don't need to follow the news because the people around me will always tell me. I have my own personal news reporters. Isn't that special? If I need specific information, I can do a bit of research or read niche publications.

5) Why follow the news, when you can make the news. I like that old adage. "Some people will watch the news, whilst other people will make the news." I'd rather make the news, even if it is just my news and not too many people find out about it. I'd rather live my life than follow the lives of others.

6) It sucks you in. Gossip is addictive. It is like a story. You hear the beginning and you want to follow it until the end. However, following a celebrity or politician vivaciously may mean that you'll do so your whole life. Likewise, T.V. is also addictive and much of our news comes from that tube. Wanting to fit in is also a sort of addiction. Small talk is often about politics, crime and the weather.

7) I like not knowing what the weather will be like tomorrow. I like being surprised. It sometimes leads to spontaneity, and many of life's great moments arise from that. So, I don't mind being the only person carrying an umbrella on a day the weatherman pronounced as "sunny and with clear skies". So what? I didn't know. I like my umbrella. It's a nice accessory to my walk and when I'm tired I can lean on it. Also, it can come in handy as a good weapon to defend myself if I am attacked. On the other hand, if it rains and I'm caught without it, I can follow in the steps of Gene Kelly and just start singing in the rain. If there is a storm ahead, somebody will warn me.

8) The Internet is enough. I read most news on the Internet. People will post relevant news on their Facebook profiles and re-tweet it on Twitter. The digital grapevine is effective in spreading information.  Independent newscasters and blogs will give rougher and more opinionated versions but you get a real feel for the story that way.

It is nearly impossible to completely isolate yourself from the world. Nevertheless, it is needless to worry and have negative commentary and press affect you daily. Time and energy are our most precious commodities. It would be wiser to spend them on the things that we love and have a positive impact on us.


Maja Dezulovic

Marijuana Could Change the World

Jack Herer, the author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, said that marijuana can change the world. In light of recent events, it appears that the world is changing after all. In the documentary about him entitled Emperor of Hemp, footage of Herer appears in which he discusses ways in which cannabis can be used in various industries and also under methods more sustainable than what is implemented today. He proclaimed that the cannabis plant can save the world.

In his book, Herer wrote: “...[T]here is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the world's paper and textiles; meet all of the world's transportation, industrial and home energy needs, while simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil, and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time... and that substance is -- the same one that did it all before -- Cannabis Hemp... Marijuana!”

Hemp has many uses but its medical properties have been the ones highlighted in the recent media and legislation amendments. Marijuana has been proven to aid pain sufferers and provide relief to cancer patients. In light of this, the use of medical marijuana is now legal in Canada, the Czech Republic and over 20 states of the USA. Other countries such as the Netherlands, Australia and India have provided leeway regarding marijuana laws. However, to date, only one country has put legislation in place both legalizing and regulating the possession, sale, transport and cultivation of marijuana. That country is Uruguay.

Herer’s claims have been criticised but if his research and analyses are correct, Uruguay has taken the first step in changing our global path. If the decision turns out to be a success, it may alter the stance of international politicians, environmentalists, and sociologists with regard to cannabis use, sale and cultivation leading to more breakthroughs.

The marijuana revolution is underway and our views on cannabis are undergoing a transformation. Perhaps it is possible that we can become a global nation of hippies, running our world on renewable energies, and governed by sustainable and ethical business practices. A wild-eyed and grinning stoner’s dream may be making its way into reality.

Maja Dezulovic

Eskom's Effort to Enlighten Us

Last week Eskom released their load shedding schedule. There was an outcry from people who envisaged the fiasco of 2008 happening all over again. Businesses began preparing for downtime and hospitals were warned to prioritise their back-up systems. There is no need for the ordinary citizen to panic, however. We need to see this as Eskom’s humble effort to teach us a few things. Our nation’s power supplier wants to inspire some thinking and use of the imagination. They want to bring us together and have us embrace our culture. Perhaps their method may be forceful but it is clever to enlighten us by putting us in the darkness. Let us look at the ways in which life will change and we can benefit from this.

It is an ideal time for one of the favourite past times of many South Africans – braais. Men can gracefully play around with tongs whilst the women prepare freshly picked salads. Wives will find relief in no longer having to cook but will have to acquire the skill of planting and harvesting crops such as lettuce, tomato and rocket. Since the fridges will be experiencing downtime, all salads will have to be fresh from the yard. Obviously Eskom is a supporter of organic fresh produce.

Others can share their cultural bond around potjie pots and camp fires. The kids can sit around the flames telling ghost stories, or even the more chilling tales of armed robberies, break ins and murders whilst all the alarms and electric fences are off. On the subject of children, there should be a peak in little ones. Stargazed lovers will unwaveringly surrender themselves to the romantic atmosphere and do what many adults do when the lights go off. This is good news for the baby products industry. In gratitude, all Eskom executives will receive a baby pram as part of their annual bonuses in the future.

The lazier bunch of us will opt for fast foods. Pizza places should look particularly enticing around this time of year – candlelit tables surrounding the blazing pizza oven. This is definitely a good opportunity for fast-food chains and restaurants owning reliable generators. We also need not fear an obesity epidemic. Without distractions which promote lethargy such as the internet and television, we will be active and burn the calories we consume. We may even become healthier.

Shopping may take a little longer than it used to. The cash register will be replaced with old receipt books but we should give thanks for this too. All cashiers will finally learn what they missed out in school and leave these testing times with a new, very valuable skill – the ability to count. This stimulation of left-brained activity may lead to higher ambitions for the ordinary cashier. After learning to count (or use a calculator), they may choose to pursue careers in science and mathematics. An increase in educated citizens will go a long way.

The obvious earners will be alternative energy suppliers who will see a rise in demand. We will learn a thing or two about electricity generation and remember how easy it was when it was just given to us for a fee. We will learn to think and be more creative about life. Moreover, those living in gated communities and spotless suburban areas will receive a reality check and be reminded that they are in Africa after all.

With the provision of so many lessons and benefits to us, Eskom should become a division of the education department. In the meantime, we can put somebody else in charge of our power supply. We don’t want to overload Eskom with too much responsibility now that we have discovered the company's true strengths and value to us.

Maja Dezulovic

God is in the Rain

It has been raining heavily lately. Some places in Johannesburg are flooding. I remembered these words. “God is in the rain.”

If you have watched the 2005 film V for Vendetta, you’ll recognise the reference. If not, let me elaborate. The film is set in a dystopian future. One of the stories told in the movie is of a beautiful actress named Valerie. She begins her narrated autobiography by describing how her grandmother always told her that God is in the rain when she was growing up. Valerie realised in high school that she was homosexual. When she openly exposed her sexuality to her family and community, she was rejected and outcast for it. She meets “the love of her life” as a young adult but the affair is short-lived as both her and her partner are later arrested by government officials because they are lesbians. Valerie is taken to a concentration camp and tortured to death. The significance of the words is repeated again by the main character Evie (played by Natalie Portman), when she realises the meaning of the words. God is in the rain is an idiom denoting that good can be found in everything. So even if you find yourself caught in the rain, there is a good reason for it.

This was on my mind because of the recent homophobic acts we have seen occurring around the world, particularly those in Nigeria, Uganda and Croatia. Religious leaders have referred to homosexuality with abomination and countries are enforcing laws prohibiting same-sex unions. Have we fallen into a mental time warp into the Dark Ages, perhaps? If you are a Christian, or a member of any religious order that worships God, you would have been taught that all people are children of God. Believing people to be sinners or heathens gives you no right to judge or stone them. There will be some who will refer to Holy Scriptures and justify their condemnation of others. However, as Christians, were we not taught that all humans are innate sinners and that Jesus died on the cross for all our sins? If Jesus died for our sins then why must we punish ourselves or others for them now? There are many angles to explore this religiously. I refer to Christianity because it relates to my background. Whichever religion we may belong to, hopefully reason and a love for all humankind wins this one. We all have an equal right to life. The era we live in is defined by freedom of choice. We do not have to agree with each other’s choices but it is our duty to respect each other. Perhaps that is the “silver lining” in this situation – another lesson about our common humanity and conduct towards each other. The sad part is that we will continue to have to deal with injustice until the message sinks in globally.

We can analyse the words of the saying in another manner. More than half of our bodies are made up of the H20 compound. Maybe this is a symbol of something more profound. Essentially we are all the same. Our differences lie merely in our choices. God is in the rain, therefore God is in the water, hence also in all of us. We choose to contaminate that water or purify it. Some decisions, such as committing certain crimes, are punishable by law and rightly so. We nevertheless cannot punish individuals for who they are and who they choose to love. People should be allowed to express their freedom – religiously, politically and sexually.

Maja Dezulovic

South Africa’s Media Frenzy

I was reading articles on News24 the other night when suddenly the app on my phone bombed out. I wanted to continue reading the article I was busy with so I reopened the app. To my surprise, there were two new tabs on the newly updated website – one for the elections and the other for the Oscar Pistorius case. It is a crazy time in South African media.

The popular reports reflect our main interests – politics and a murder case involving a celebrity. I wonder if the two will begin to overlap at some stage. Perhaps the DA will promise to reform the justice system if Oscar is acquitted. Taking advantage of the intense media following, maybe Oscar himself will join a political party and create waves in the tabloids around election time. On the other hand, he may be found guilty and then later appeal for medical parole due to illness. Some would consider the absence of two limbs as a serious condition, thus feeling morally obliged to release Oscar so that he can recuperate at home and perhaps, grow more limbs.

The world’s eyes will be on us for the next couple of months. If history is anything to go by, we will continue to be called a “failed country” and the crime, corruption, farm murders and all the other reasons that have apparently forced about 800,000 white South Africans out of here over the past two decades will be highlighted. We have nobody to blame but ourselves. Our media feeds us what we want to hear, see and read. Unfortunately we have become a nation of complainers, but on the lighter side of things and in America, where the grass is obviously a much brighter shade of green than it is here, the Oscars took place. Ellen DeGeneres did a great job entertaining her audience and took an awesome selfie with an all star cast. It is strange however, that nobody covered the story of her backstage conversation with Angelina Jolie in which it was decided that no philanthropic efforts will be continued in Uganda.

Yes, this is another South African complaining. I just wish we could focus a bit more on the beauty of our country and all the things we can be thankful for. Maybe if we start seeing them, the world will too.

Maja Dezulovic

Poetry and Time Management

I can remember the days when I sat in school analysing the poetry of far away people in far away places. Some of them had strange Russian, German and sometimes more familiar English names. Much of that poetry remains forgotten to me. However, there were a few poems that I took home with me, took to heart and they still live within me.

I love poetry. Although the popularity of poetry reading nowadays for leisure is debatable, I think it is an invaluable part of literature. One of the best quotes about poetry I know is by Paul Negri. He said; “Poetry is the art of compression, of saying in a few well-chosen words, enhanced with rhythm and musicality of language, what might take many more words to express – far less memorably – in prose.”

That is why music lyrics are sometimes so powerful. They are merely a form of poetry. In my reading and writing of poetry, I did it out of passion. I am a writer at heart. Recently I have learnt, more and more, that the practising of my craft has a purpose. That purpose is to send out a message. One of those messages made it into a classroom and to a few high school students in Kugel High School Holon in Israel. I became one of those far away writers, in a far away place and with a strange name. I laugh when I think of how my name could have been mispronounced but I smile when I realise that an educator took the time to select my poem and include it in his/her curriculum.

Maybe my poem’s message was learnt and understood and perhaps it was taken home by some student, re-read and it made a difference. As a writer, that is an honour. My time was well spent.

Below is part of the worksheet in which my poem, Time Manager was analysed in conjunction with one of my favourite poems, Count That Day Lost by Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot).  Please see the poem in order to better understand the context.

Worksheet 4

Count That Day Lost – Bridging Text and Context – Activity 1

The way we live each day ultimately makes up the lives we live and the people we become. The poem Count that day lost is a poem relating to this issue. The poem was written by Mary Ann Evans (under the pseudonym George Eliot) in an era when being a female writer was not easy. However, Eliot wanted to make a difference and make people think about the social injustice of her time, the responsibility they should take and the moral choices they must make, in order to create a better society.

Here's another poem I found on the net, that relates to how you spend your day. It's a poem about the meaning of time management:

Time Manager 

I am a Time Manager
A rich one at that
Because every day I receive
A lump sum budget of
86,400 seconds!

I may do with them as I please
But with every
I lose one
Never to return or be replaced.

28,800 of them
At most
Are spent in dreams.

9,000 taken up by the mundane
Time used to think.

The balance I must organize
And prioritize
So that I know
What I’ve done so far
What I’m doing after
But, most of all what’s happening now.

12,600 dedicated to silly games and fun
Because the child in me can never die!

21,600 dedicated to strength in sales
And making money
Because we all know
children are expensive.

14,400 of active learning
And planning
So that I get it right.
Although I always discover something new
With every day’s plight.

The schedule’s in my mind
And not on a wall.

It’s quite overwhelming
But I know I must see it through
Because I’m not Time’s employee
But a manager
Time works for me!

© Maja Dezulovic 2011

How does this poem relate to Eliot's poem? How does it reflect the issues that Eliot wrote about?


Here is another poem I wrote around the same time in relation to how we choose to spend our time.

Reasons Why I Cannot Sleep

I'm thinking...
What have I done today?
Was my day well spent?
Can I look back and say: "Hey! I did that!"
Can I recall a smile?
Did I touch a lonely heart, even if for only a short while?
Is there at least one thing I can point to?
Or is failure the reason I'm feeling so blue?

I'm wondering...
Was this day worthwhile?
Did I even try?
Did I love, did I say it and did they see?
Is there something to prove that I was alive?
Did I do what I set out to?
Am I twenty-four hours closer to my dreams?
Or... Did I sleep?

Was I dreaming...
It was all a painful haze,
I was running, chasing hallucinations through a never ending maze!

What did I do today?
Truth be told, I cannot say.
I do not remember anything.
I just know that I'm exhausted and all which I did -
it meant nothing! No thing! Not a thing!

So, no!
I cannot sleep.
Although it is already tomorrow,
I cannot relax from no effort.
I must work for the sleep.
One cannot rest from sloth.

So, I'll do something now.
When my body sleeps,
then my mind can say that it is okay.
"You can sleep now.
The monsters of lethargy have been set astray..."

© Maja Dezulovic 2011

12 Characteristics of the Modern Entrepreneur

Most of us have seen and read those banners, Google ads and pop ups claiming that people can earn a substantial income from starting a home business.
“Mike earns $3,000+ from his home business. You can earn too.”
Most of the time it seems too good to be true and it is. Many of these companies take the statistics for their top earners and represent them as an average in order to attract more recruits. The rest are scams.

However, there are many ways to successfully run a business from home without having to become an affiliate for some product or join a network marketing company. This has been proven over and over again by entrepreneurs all over the world for the past two decades. We live in a technologically advanced world with all the tools allowing you to be influential in many places at once. You can successfully run a small business from home and look as big as you want to be by using online tools and marketing strategies.

Telecommuting refers to the use of technology and modern telecommunications products such as telephones, VOIP, and the internet to enable you to work from home, or any other place rather than the traditional workplace or office. It is sometimes also called telework. Telecommuting is done by individuals who remain employees of a company but choose to work from home as well as by businesspeople running their companies from the household. If this lifestyle seems ideal to you then you may just be the ideal candidate.

“Work is something you do, not something you travel to.” That is the telecommuter’s motto. The work is the output and result of your efforts and not any particular place where you have to be. Instead of wasting countless hours in traffic on your way to and from work, going to work can be as simple as a few steps to your computer or home office.

Telecommuters or online entrepreneurs realise that the old methods and norms of doing business are slowly becoming outdated as the internet expands and opens the doors into a new, faster and more efficient means of getting things done. We can already take sneak peeks of this through the windows as an increasing amount of people join the online work force. It’s not so much about working from home per se, but rather working from anywhere. You can be on the beach, in a hotel, on a mountain top, in a busy restaurant or anywhere in the world.

12 Characteristics of Potential Telecommuters

1. You hate being told what to do and when to do it

This may be interpreted as revolting against authority, however it really means that you are free-spirited and like to think for yourself and do things your way rather than follow the instructions of others. It does not mean that you are disrespectful. You acknowledge and value the knowledge and experience of others but you also keep the following words in mind: “... the value of experience is overrated, usually by old men who nod wisely and speak stupidly... experience is comparable to fashion; an action that proved successful today will be unworkable and impractical tomorrow .” (pages: 53 – 54 of Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World)

2. Entrepreneurial spirit

You admire the likes of Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump, Richard Branson and Warren Buffet. You want to start something for yourself and create significance rather than settle for a cosy office job. You are self-driven and motivated and a natural born leader. You want to drive part of the economy rather than just be part of the workforce.

3. A freelancer and not your ordinary 9 to 5 worker

This ties into being free spirited and an entrepreneur at heart. You hate being part of the grunge & submitting yourself to the ordinary life of the economy’s workforce. You’d rather be a freelancer or start your own business than join the rat race.

4. Open to new ideas

You’re always on the lookout for new ideas and perspectives. The internet and telecommuting still remains new and untapped by most people and companies and this intrigues you more. It’s also an exciting challenge to do it and make it work for you.

5. Adaptable

Your timetable and work environment is not set in stone. You can work any hours and during any intervals to get what you need done. You don’t mind working from an office, on the beach, in a coffee house or anywhere, as long as there aren’t too many distractions.

6. Tech savvy

You don’t necessarily need to know all the ins and outs of new technology and the internet but you are accustomed to using technology as a tool. Any new information and gadgets are a breeze for you to find your way around. You might not always keep up to date with the latest developments but you have a passion for Tech and making it work for you.

7. You hate wasting time and money

You despise spending precious time in pointless meetings and in traffic. Hence, you hate long commutes and rush hour. This is the perfect symbol of the rat race and you simply do not want to be a part of it.

8. Visionary

Telecommuting is still far from becoming a global norm so it still requires a fair amount of vision to see where the concept is going. You need to understand global trends and see the future that you want to become a part of.

9. Self-disciplined

You can’t afford to get distracted easily and not keep to your goals and daily objectives when working for yourself. Nobody is there to act as a policeman when you step out of line so you have the drive and discipline needed to keep yourself in check.

10. Self-driven learner and researcher

Successful telecommuting is dependent on telecommunications devices and any form of daily use of technology means that you have to stay up to date in order to stay on top of your game. Also, if you are an entrepreneur, you need to keep educating yourself about all that is related to your industry. Keep your mind active. As Jim Rohn put it, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”

11. You believe in the power of the internet as an economical & entrepreneurial tool

Many of the successes stories online are of Internet Entrepreneurs. After the Dot Com bust some people remained skeptical of the internet and its capabilities but the resource continues to sprout more and more millionaires each year. The internet has infinite possibilities – you just have to look out for the gaps and make opportunities blossom into cash flow and success. This sounds much easier than it is, especially to newbies, however once you’ve waded through the rubbish that people claim, you’ll see the true potential. The beauty of the internet is that you can reach millions of potential clients in a moment, whereas it’s very difficult and expensive to do the same offline.

12. You realise that our most precious commodity is not money, it’s time

What did you achieve today? How did you create significance and value in the lives of others? These questions relate to how your time was spent. At the end of the day, nobody will remember you for your net worth but rather for what you did with your time spent on Earth. So, do you want to die having spent countless hours in traffic, meetings and with regret? Or do you feel that your time is worth more than that?  Realise that work is a tool used to create another tool – money! And the latter can be used as a tool to your freedom.

Realising your strengths and values in life is one of the first steps to starting a successful business. If you are an entrepreneur at heart, the next thing you need to do is find a need which you can satisfy and work passionately in providing your product.

Maja Dezulovic

For more information, also see A Short Introduction To Telecommuting: Advantages and Disadvantages

People Are Funny Animals

I watched an old Jamie Uys film the other day entitled “Animals Are Beautiful People”. I loved the way the director highlighted the similarities in which we live our lives as compared to animals in the wild, specifically those in the Kalahari Desert. We have more in common than we think.

My proposition is that people are funny animals. Animals follow their instincts. They follow the food sources and life sources which sustain them. If a river dries up, the animals migrate to the next closest water source. Granted, we as humans have become smarter and taken it a step further. We have built pipelines to bring the water to us. However, the comparison I am trying to make is not about following food and water sources. I am referring to adaptability.

For some reason, we have developed the habit of grabbing on to things. People lose their homes because they fail to talk to the banks or place their houses on the market the moment they realise that they can no longer afford the bonds on their properties. They stupidly wait until the bank comes in and repossesses the property. An old shopkeeper will hang onto his decaying fish ‘n chips shop in a dead-beat town because it is his life’s work, that is the town in which he grew up, raised his children and worked all his life. Why is it that we value comfort and attachment over all else? We were created to adapt and evolve with our natural circumstances.

Moreover, for some reason we have learnt to ignore our inner voices and rather base our reactions on so-called logic and social norms. Good detectives, wealthy businesspeople and most successful people attribute many of their achievements to following their hunches. Your gut feelings are there to guide you. I’m not saying that we must become primitive and act solely on impulse but we should supplement our “animal instincts” and control them with rational thinking rather than completely ignore them. The way many of us are reacting to life-changing events and living is counter-intuitive to nature.

Living your whole life in the same box, however big or small you may think it is, is not exciting.  The world is full of opportunities. It is ripe with places to see, people to meet and ways to make money. These things are also in constant change. Yesterday’s major city may be a ghost town tomorrow and vice versa. We must learn to go with the flow and not hold on to the crumbling remains. Life is about challenges and adapting to this ever-changing world.

Maja Dezulovic

What Does Your Car Say to Her?

The easiest way to impress a girl for the first time with your car is by driving a status symbol. Everybody knows what it means if you’re driving a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche versus a Mercedes, BMW or Jeep versus a VW, Suzuki or Tata. All the respective vehicles have their advantages and pitfalls but they generally represent a certain income bracket. It is inevitable that the guy in the red Ferrari 458 will get more initial attention than the guy driving an old blue Datsun bakkie. If you are however, looking to attract a girl who looks past your income and does not judge you for the money you earn and the car you drive but rather looks at the person you are, there is hope.

It may be a stereotype but generally men do understand cars better than women do. As a man you may forget this and think that she sees everything you see in your vehicle. It is likely that she has no idea what all this talk about torque means nor does she care. As long as it looks good, is reliable, fast enough and a good ride, she will be happy.

Do not buy a car which you cannot afford. Drive a vehicle that you like but is the most affordable to you. Too many luxury vehicle drivers have allowed themselves to make ignorant purchases and later realize that they cannot afford the insurance, servicing and maintenance required. There is no need to try to look richer than you are. A smarter man making wise decisions is appreciated more. Women find more long-term security in the maturity rather than the wealth of their partners.

Whatever the cost of it may be, remember that your car represents a part of who you are. The way it looks reflects on you and your values. If your car is clean and well maintained, it tells her that you value order and your own appearance. If there is a pile of junk building up on your backseat it shows neglect and apathy. She will wonder if you approach the other aspects of your life in the same manner. Appearing untidy and irresponsible is not the message you want to send out to people.

If you are single, you never know who you might meet or run into. Keep your car in mint condition. You don’t have to have the best car on the road to have it look good. It doesn’t have to cost much either. If you cannot afford a car wash, wash it yourself. If you cannot afford to take your vehicle to its next service, educate yourself and service it at home. A little attention and effort to your car will go a long way. That old blue Datsun bakkie in tip top shape should impress her more than a dirty and underappreciated BMW. If you’re picking her up for a first date the condition of your car will have much to say about you so prepare to impress rather than depress her.

If you are married or in a relationship, make an effort to keep your car clean, tidy and in good working order. The lady in your life wants to feel comfortable and enjoy travelling with you. She wants to be proud when she steps in and out of the vehicle, rather than want to hide her face and run. Especially if you are sharing a vehicle, make sure that your significant other feels loved and appreciated. Even if you drive separate vehicles, what you drive still has an impact on her. Also take care of her by volunteering to wash her car now and again and make sure her vehicle is in good shape by keeping track of services and maintenance. That is your department. She will return the favour in the other aspects she enjoys and it will make you both happier.

The little things you do often hold significant meaning. Women pay particular attention to detail. Looking good and having your assets look good will increase your confidence and attract the right partners and responses. Just take a little time to think about things and act in accordance with what you wish to achieve and receive in return.

Maja Dezulovic