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How writing for VINAZINE is helping me pick up the pieces in my life.

So, I’m back from my three-month hiatus and all I can say is it’s been rough. I decided that this will be my first piece I write because not only will it bring some sort of final closure to probably the hardest three months of my life, but I also wanted to give someone out there who might need it a little bit of hope and a guarantee that there is light at the end of any tunnel. Every pit has a way out. We just have to stay calm and try to find it.


On Friday, July 13, 2018, I was told that the dream that I had to become a candidate attorney will have to wait a little while longer while I finish my degree. You see, this is a problem for me because I had already accepted the job—not knowing that there was one tiny prerequisite that I do not have. I did not pass matric (final year of high school in South Africa) with a full exemption, and the conditional age exemption my university offered does not qualify as a full exemption. I was devastated. I was crushed. I had had this whole thing planned out. I had had a lifetime of dreams poured into this decision and all of a sudden, because of something that I did 15 years ago, I couldn’t get it. I had worked so hard to get halfway there and now all I am is disappointed. I was so mad. I mean, why does everybody else get to live their dream and I don’t? (I don’t know who this “everybody” is I was referring to since everyone I know has had their dreams crushed at some point or another). I had told everyone of my great news and now I have to tell them that it didn’t happen and then deal with all the questions and recommendations. I was just not ready to deal with all of it. So I told no one and kept a brave face for the weekend.


On that same day, we were traveling to a far-away land to the funeral of a man who lived most of his entire life as an active alcoholic. Every cent he has ever earned contributed to his addiction. Why this is important is because this man was also an excellent handicraftsman and a brilliant student who, in his time, obtained top honors for the best language student in the country.  That is spectacular. The importance of this story is that I resented him. I resented him for being so brilliant and yet wasting all that brilliance on an addiction. If I could have had but a fraction of it, I wouldn’t have to fight so hard. I was angry. I was mad. Why does he die with his talents and I must live without any? (I know, I know, but stay with me). I knew it sounded ridiculous, so I told no one. I kept it to myself and put a brave face on.



On that Sunday, on our way back, we received a phone call from my brother who had been house sitting for us that Juice had died. At first, we thought that he had been run over since he was an excellent escape artist. A report from the vet later revealed that he was not run over by a vehicle but rather died peacefully in his sleep. It was a relief. At least it was not painful for him. He had only just turned 2 years old. I knew I didn’t have forever with him, but I didn’t expect to only have two years with them. It took me a long time to be able to talk about it. This kind of pain is different to the kind of pain I am used to. I knew there would be very few people who would understand what I was feeling and once again, kept it to myself and white-knuckled through it on my own. I told no one about how I really felt.  I didn’t deal with it and brave-faced myself through it. I had him cremated and still have not pulled together enough courage to fetch the ashes. I have, however, made a conscious decision that I will have to pick him up at some point. I suppose that is progress.


On September 5, 2018, I received a phone call from Lora Levison, VINAZINE’s Community Manager. We spoke about the above and a few other things. As we spoke, I realized that I have actually been shutting myself off from the world. That nobody really knew the actual pain that I was going through and that by not using VINAZINE as a platform to deal with my emotions, that I was actually just making it worse. While we spoke, I told her that I feel disconnected and that I would have to make a big decision pertaining to my field of study.  She told me, and I will never forget it, to make the decision and to tell her and to remember that I am not alone. That I have this big support system of vinas who are ready to get me through whatever I was going through.


I knew I had to do something to get my mojojo back. That next morning, I made my decision. I sent her the message and I went for a run for the first time in a long time.  Little by little, I started to take control. I still couldn’t write about anything because everything was still extremely overwhelming. I celebrated my 33rd birthday with family and friends recently and I think that extra year made a big difference. I’ve been exercising more regularly, getting back into my regular running routine, which is excellent for the healing process. I think a lot of my spiritual injuries limited my physical capabilities and, in a way, stretching my physical limitations created a shift spiritually to the point where I am now able to talk about it without feeling completely broken. I’m not perfect yet, and still very far from where I would like to be.  But I’m doing what I love again and that makes me feel extra good.

In conclusion, it’s important to note that had it not been for a few special people in my life, I would not have been able to start living again. My career is still not where I would consider it to be perfect, but it has taken a step forward. I still have a lot to do before I am 100% back on track again. The most important lesson I’ve learnt through out this experience is to deal with things as and when they happen. Life is not perfect and it will never be. Stuff will always happen and we will always have to fight a battle at some stage. To know that you are not alone is essential. And to get back up as soon as possible is key. Staying down never won anybody any trophies. Realize that there is a problem, talk about it for as long as you need to—even if it hurts and even if it feels like people are getting tired of hearing about it. They need you too, so don’t feel bad. And lastly, actively make a conscious decision to work on yourself—regardless of how you might be feeling at the time. After all, the best person to learn from is yourself.

No matter what you’re going through in life, there are vinas who are waiting for you and have your back. Download the app today. 


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I, too, have gone through a difficult 3 month period in which there was loss, immense changes and fear. I have only just begun the journey back, with journaling and good self care. Your writing gives me hope that very soon I will start to experience peace and joy where there has been weakness and anxiety.


    1. Oh my goodness, Trudy! Such kind words. Thank you for sharing your moment with me. I am touched and I don’t know what you are going through, but I can certainly relate. It’ll all be ok in the end. And if it’s not ok, it’s not the end. I don’t know who came up with that saying, but it certainly is true. Thank you for finding your way back to you. We have to take time to thank ourselves for taking the first step. It’s important. Much love.


    2. Hi Trudy, please let me know how you are doing. You can follow me on Insta @itsleelytbaby so we can message eachother


  2. Wow… you’re owning it, taking it back bit by bit… and for that miss Lee I HAVE TO APPLAUD YOU!!! Knowing you on a personal level I know it took a lot of guts to open yourself up to so many and reveal the hurt and the “bleeding” behind the iron breast plate, but now you can start healing
    and although we will have to wait a little longer to call you mrs. Attorney, we can still enjoy the journey with mrs. Vina until…. Beautiful, deep, motivational.


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