Category Archives: Bullying

The “Perfect” Spray Tan

“Here ya go, just undress and put this on”, she nonchalantly said as she handed me a minuscule ziploc bag which contained what looked suspiciously like a tissue.

“Um, by undress, do you mean all my clothes?”, I stammered, nervously and naively hoping I was misunderstanding her words.

“Of course! But don’t worry, you will still be wearing those.”, she kindly reassured me, pointing to the little baggie I was clutching in my sweaty palm. The baggie that was so tiny that it couldn’t possibly contain anything that even loosely fit the description: clothing.

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Insensitive Things That People Say When You Have an Invisible Condition

Yesterday, I saw a woman at the grocery store. She was in a wheelchair and was struggling to manoeuvre around and between other shoppers but, with a smile on her face, she got on with her shopping. Every now and then, she would ask for assistance from a fellow shopper when something was out of reach. I observed her matter-of-fact manner and noticed that even though she was a little slower and less efficient than everyone else, she was getting it done all the same. As I watched, another woman boldly approached her and began to ask her a whole lot of questions about her wheelchair. She asked why she was in the wheelchair, for starters. She just couldn’t seem to comprehend that the wheelchair-bound woman was unable to walk. She seemed, in fact, rather irritated that this bulky wheelchair was taking up space in the aisle and interrupting the other shoppers. She then asked, bluntly, what it felt like to be unable to get up and walk. The woman in the wheelchair calmly and patiently explained that she had always been in a wheelchair and that she did the best she could to manage and that she felt she was doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. With that, the other woman sighed dramatically and said, “I could never live like that. No way could I ever be in a wheelchair…” Of course, the woman in the wheelchair was taken aback and didn’t reply, so shocked was she at this blatantly insensitive statement. Before she could catch her breath or formulate a response, the other woman went on to say, “How does your husband cope with you being in a wheelchair? It must be so hard for him to be married to you!” Okay, I lied. I’m sorry. That didn’t happen at all. There was no woman in a wheelchair. There was just me. With my invisible ADHD. The conversation was the same, though. Someone asked me to explain what ADHD feels like and after I explained my memory lapses, my time-distortion issues, my struggles with organisational anything, she replied, “Oh, I could never live like that…” and shook her head. As if my ADHD is a choice. As if I have the power to just ‘grow up get over’ all the symptoms with a little elbow grease and discipline. As though the physical make-up of my brain (the fact that my frontal lobe is smaller than a neurotypical one and is also under-stimulated) is somehow a character flaw. She then continued, “How does your husband cope with your ADHD? It must be so hard for him to be married to you!” I didn’t answer her because, frankly, I was stunned speechless. After crying onto my husband’s shoulder for the better part of an evening at the realisation that this may well be how the world at large  views me and receiving nothing but love and the assurance from him in return, I now want to say here what I wish I had the wherewithal to say that day. Let me be clear about this: I don’t choose to be disorganised, unfocused and forgetful. Yes, it’s hard to be married to me. Extremely. Know what’s harder? Being me Having ADHD means suddenly realising, with gut-wrenching panic, that I’ve missed a lunch date with a friend because four hours went by and my brain only registered a half an hour. It means that the three alarms I set to alert me that time was passing went unheard because I was hyper focused on the task at hand. It means being frustrated that yet another organisational system failed to work. It means being asked if I remembered to fetch the dry cleaning/pay the bills/go to an appointment and my stomach clenching because not only did I forget but I have no recollection at all of the entire conversation where I was asked because it fell into a memory hole. It means often feeling like I am losing my mind. It means setting alarms, making notes and writing lists and still forgetting to do something I promised. It means sinking into a Depression and wanting to never speak to anyone again for fear that I will disappoint them. It means waking up with fear burning in the pit of my stomach that I might let someone down today. It means profound guilt as I realise, at the end of the day, that despite my massive efforts, I still did let someone down. It means constantly losing track of conversations mid-way and filling in blanks. It means lying awake all night with insomnia borne from worried thoughts that swirl aimlessly around my head, demanding attention. It means constant self-flagellation. It means developing a thick skin because people regularly lose patience with me and cross me off their ‘friends’ list. Do you know what else it means? It also means I’ve had a lifetime of practice in seeing the silver lining around dark clouds. It means I have outstanding problem-solving skills and the ability to think on my feet. It means I’ll find any reason to smile and I’ll grab it energetically with both hands.It means that if you’re my friend and you accept me, warts and all, I’ll take a bullet for you. Without so much as a passing thought. It means that, as horrendous as I am at spreadsheets and calendars, I’m fabulous at painting and writing and free-thinking.It means I’m spontaneous. It means I’m generous.It means I am willing to fall down a hundred times and still get up and try again.It means I have an infinite capacity for love and forgiveness. Because I know only too well what it’s like to be shut out, judged and found lacking. I would like nothing more than to have the magical powers to ‘snap out of it’. My life would be exponentially easier, I can assure you. That’s not going to happen. My ADHD may not be physically visible to you, but it is a physical difference in my brain. It is not going to go away. No matter how irritated you are as you tell me to try harder, to write a list or to set an alarm. It isn’t a choice. If you wouldn’t tell someone in a wheelchair to just try harder to walk, to use discipline and willpower because her ‘paralysis’ is not really a ‘thing’, why do you think it’s it okay to say these things to me? My friend, it’s not okay. Invisible illnesses are far from invisible from those who live with them. Just because you can’t see ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Myofascial Pain or Colitis (just to name a few invisible conditions) doesn’t mean they are imagined. Please show compassion, love and forgiveness for the inconvenience they cause you. I can assure you, the carriers of these conditions are not having a party at your expense. I know you remember everything with ease and are incredibly organised. For this, I applaud you loudly. Really. I can’t even fathom those superhuman skills. I, on the other hand don’t remember what’s in my diary from day to day, what’s on my to-do list or where my car keys are hiding (I swear, I put them over there!) and I know this is frustrating for you. I’m sorry for that, truly I am. On the bright side, I also never remember to put my bitch pants on.

ADHD Depression Fibromyalgia Colitis

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Six Lessons I Learned from Nelson Mandela

Image Today’s post is syndicated at Bonbon Break – a stunning portal to the internet’s best blogs and fast becoming a second home to me. I hope you’ll take the time to click over and read about my childhood in Apartheid South Africa, my family’s struggle to fight the system and my tribute to Nelson Mandela. Rest in peace, Tata Madiba, your long walk is over. 

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    If you want to see Val Curtis (Editor in Chief of Bonbon Break) and I in yesterday’s episode of Bonbon Break LIVE, click HERE.

Bonbon Break LIVE

It was 2am for me, so you’ll find me in my pyjamas, clutching my daughter’s Nelson Mandela doll and discussing parenting and perceptions of beauty. I also did a live reading of “Damn you, Barbie!” Much to my amazement, I seemed reasonably coherent. Enjoy!
This post was syndicated at Bonbon Break Magazine.
This post was syndicated at Bonbon Break Magazine.
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Myth of the perfect mother.

This morning, the most beautiful picture found its way on to my Facebook newsfeed. It made me smile. It grounded me. It made me proud to be privileged enough to be called “Mum”. Here it is:
From the 4th Trimester Project - "Tara Maki is my hero of the day. She is ex-military and has overcome a serious eating disorder to grow and nourish and set such a glowing example of beauty for her girls Joselyn (3) and Addie (9 months) — at Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia."

Picture courtesy of The 4th Trimester Bodies Project ( – “Tara Maki is my hero of the day. She is ex-military and has overcome a serious eating disorder to grow and nourish and set such a glowing example of beauty for her girls Joselyn (3) and Addie (9 months) — at Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia.”

I was all loved up and happy until I read the horrific caption that went with it: “This picture and a whole swath of others like it have been removed by Facebook and other social media sites for being vulgar.”


My blood is boiling over this. It is so very wrong on multiple levels.

This picture is not pornography.

Know what is pornographic? The countless images that Facebook thrusts on to my newsfeed as ‘suggested’ stories – images of emaciated teenage bodies accompanied by information about the diet pills I should be taking/milkshakes I should be drinking to look like them. These images are vulgar in their message that, somehow, I – a 38 year old mother of three – should aim to look like them. Know what else is vulgar? Read the rest of this entry

Enough Mylie!

Visit Bonbon Break today for my thoughts on this Mylie Cyrus debacle.

Visit Bonbon Break today for my thoughts on this Mylie Cyrus debacle.

If you were an alien visiting the Earth and found yourself in a Western country this past week, you’d have learnt the following things about the People Of Earth:

ONE: Miley Cyrus is Very Important and has magic powers. With a few shakes of her rear (accompanied by an unnaturally long extension of her tongue), this young earthling can make poverty, murder and impending war  d i s a p p e a r. Yep – anyone who witnessed Twerkgate was privy to the instantaneous vanishing of the murdered Syrian children, threats of WWIII and… well… anything of actual importance from world news. Poof!

TWO: Twerking is horrible and slutty. HOWEVER, women should be allowed to twerk to their hearts’ content because we own our bodies, so quit judging and back-off. ALTHOUGH, even though we shouldn’t Judge Miley (poor, poor, poor Miley, naive and expressing her rights) she really did behave like the sluttiest slutty slut from Sluttsville and Read the rest of this entry

Is that your baggage?

I couldn’t believe I was finally here. After a whirlwind six weeks of pre-cooking meals, re-organising of karate/dancing/footy schedules and some serious yanking up of my big girl knickers, I was finally standing at the Qantas check-in counter at the airport. Brand-new red conference handbag slung (so fashionably, people were fainting left and right) over my shoulder and my I’m-still-young-and-hip-dude pink camo backpack at my feet, I lugged my Daddy Bear sized suitcase on to the scale.
“Is this luggage yours?”
I looked up and beamed. “All mine.” I declared. The Qantas lady raised an eyebrow quizzically, “Did you pack it all yourself?” The beam grew, “Yep, every square inch of it!” She looked at me funny (What? Never seen a Mum experiencing the unparalleled joy of a whole suitcase all to herself before?) “Ohhh-kay…” 20130729-233006.jpg She handed me my passport and boarding pass and I gleefully skipped off, arm in arm with my lovely friend who stayed up late and braved the cold to take me to the airport. This was as close to a girl’s night out as I’d come in the past year. Woot! We sat down for a quick coffee and revelled in uninterrupted conversation (okay, we interrupted each other, but that doesn’t count) and suddenly it was time to say goodbye and board that long-awaited plane. As I clipped my seatbelt clasp closed, a thought struck me. I flashed back to the check-in lady’s question, “Is this baggage yours?” This question is of paramount importance at a check-in counter – physics and all that jazz – but we really shouldn’t stop there. We should be asking ourselves this question every time we interact with anyone. I often find myself weighed down by something that someone has said to me. The angst! The endless conversations with Darren about why/how/who/what – the self-doubt, the frustration and the heartache steal too much time. Enough! Ineed to teach my kids, by example, that when someone hands them an ugly, heavy, smelly piece of luggage, they don’t have to – unquestioningly, pick it up and carry it. Like Mum always has. Like Mum does. Like a donkey. I’ve always been that girl – the one who accepts, wholesale, the words and actions of others. The problem is that the next day, I routinely wake up, see all that extra luggage (ugly luggage that makes everything around it look sad) and guess what I’ve always done. Yep. Hee-Haw. No more! I need to stop doing this. All it takes is a closer look at the baggage people hand over to me and decide who it belongs to. Mine? Sure – own it, pick it up, carry it, unpack it. Get rid of the stinky stuff and repack. Not mine? Hand it back! Are you a donkey? C’mon, look closely and be honest with yourself. If you find yourself carting around other people’s crap, repeat after me:
I am not a donkey. I do not have to carry anyone’s luggage but my own. I do not have to unpack anybody’s luggage but my own. Other people’s luggage is none of my business. I can choose what luggage I pack and carry.
I’ve been making a conscious effort to be more discriminating about what I’m carrying. Not easy for a serial yes-girl, but who said it was going to be easy? This weekend, at the BlogHer 2013 Conference (which you’ll hear all about in a couple of days because – wow – did Mama grow!) I had the chance to meet a lot of the faces I’ve only ever seen on this screen. I’d like to say I wasn’t starstruck, but some of these bloggers have been my unknowing heroines for a long time. What blew me away was the way in which these accomplished, talented women (approximately 6000 of them) embraced me into the fold. There was one exception. A blogger, who has consistently given me the proverbial cold shoulder online continued to do so at the BlogHer Conference. I’d love to say it didn’t upset me but that would be a lie. It hurt! I started with the internal “what did I do? Why is she like this?” dialogue but was interrupted by a hand grabbing my arm and spinning me around. It was one of my new friends, who had given me nothing but love and acceptance from the word “go”. She grinned and said to another blogger, “You HAVE to meet Michelle Lewsen! She is goofy and funny and we LOVE her!” I looked around me at this sea of new friends and colleagues who had welcomed me and showed me more love than I ever could have imagined and it struck me: focusing on one bad apple and wasting a minute anguishing over why/how she was behaving that way is utterly stupid. I looked inwardly at the ugly bag of snot she’d handed me, laughed at myself for picking it up in the first place and threw it away. It’s not my baggage. I have my own baggage. It’s colourful, messy and filled with my favourite things. My hands are full. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If you liked this post, please share it with your friends using the icons below, and I’ll love you intensely if you click the thumbs-up button at the bottom of this post. I’d really love to hear your comments, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance). You can also join the fun on FacebookPinterest and Twitter [blog_subscription_form]

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A letter to a little boy in a scary world.

letter to a little boy in a scary world.

In the light of the George Zimmerman trial over the death of Trayvon Martin, I can’t help but feel sick that we live in a world where race is still an issue, where religion is an issue, where sexual-orientation is still an issue. What a world for our kids to grow up in.  All I can offer is this: A letter to that little brown boy. A letter to my Jewish son. A letter to the obese kid. A letter to the transgendered child. A letter to that weird kid who makes funny noises…. Read the rest of this entry

You are a shit-head.

“Daniel called me an S-WORD HEAD!”

(She actually said “S-word” head because she could NOT bring herself to say, ‘shit’.) Miss M was six years old. She came running to me after school, upset because someone had used *gasp* the S-word. She was horrified and devastated that a child could use THAT word.

It was then that a light bulb switched on and I had an A-HA moment. Read the rest of this entry

Parenting. Like a Ninja.


Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

Yes….and no.

I have tried to raise my kids with good manners, compassion, respect for other people’s property, the ability to share and a sense of kindness for everyone around them. I thought I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t wrong. If we lived in a perfect world, that is.

Problem: This isn’t a perfect world.

It is a world where other kids are not necessarily taught to say please and thank you, not to swear, to share, to be kind, to not hit. It’s a world where other kids will snatch, steal and be downright cruel. By teaching my kids to always be nice, have I indirectly rendered them incapable of coping in a less than perfect world? I didn’t think so for a long time. I wasn’t that cynical. I was a firm believer in raising my kids to always be kind, polite and certainly, to never hit.

Until Little Man got punched in the guts. In pre-school.

Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry

The Test.

Today’s post is prompted by a writing challenge. It spoke to me. I’d love to hear about your thoughts on this challenge.
You have the choice to erase one incident from your past, as though it never happened. What would you erase and why?
The Test It was 1986, a temperate Summer’s day in Johannesburg, and it was almost time for the school bell to ring for break. I was crazy-obsessed with playing elastics with the girls in my class and looked forward to the chanting, jumping, giggling joy only a ten year old knows. That bell rang, it’s Pavlov’s Dog effect causing excessive shrieking and laughter, and we were dismissed. I ran with a gaggle of little girls to sit under a tree and eat our lunches as quickly as possible (I was not one to ever skip a meal – even for elastics). As we ate, we talked about the important things in life, like whose mother packed them a chocolate (not mine) and who was wearing what colour knickers (don’t do handstands in a dress). Then it started. She was sitting by herself, eating her egg-mayonnaise sandwich. She looked sad. Read the rest of this entry

I’m Not The Favourite.

Hanging out our dirty laundry Today’s post is a MOMfession by Tracy @ Momaical Blog What’s the MOMfessional? It’s a place where Parenting Bloggers can come to write about something that they usually keep hidden. It’s a place where we let our skeletons out of the closet and let ‘em dance! Welcome to the MOMfessional – a space where other parenting bloggers can let it all hang out.  Read the rest of this entry

I met a troll.

I met a troll on Mamapedia When I was a little girl, my mother would read stories to me about nasty, evil little trolls hiding under bridges, with the sole purpose of disrupting the day of innocent passers-by and causing undue stress and misery. When I grew up, however, unlike other mythical creatures, trolls didn’t disappear into the category of imaginary things. I am here to tell you this: trolls are very real. I met one a few weeks ago, in fact. Let’s call him Jon. (To protect his identity and such. I’m kind that way.) Read the rest of this entry

Ten things the presidential candidates could learn from my child’s preschool teacher.

I’ve been observing the run for the American presidency with abject fascination.   It’s been quite a show, I must say – even from the opposite end of the world over here. Listening to the talking heads, watching the debates, seeing the sheer spectacle of it all has left me scratching my head and wondering about the way Mr Romney and President Obama (and the three-dimensional media circus that follows them) have been conducting themselves.    You see, if any of our children behaved the way they have been behaving, they would find themselves in the naughty corner contemplating their Ps and Qs for a very long time.   We teach our children from the time they are little to share, play nice, work together, be respectful. We teach them please and thank-you. We tell them to respect diversity of opinion. And then we put two leaders in front of them who promptly throw these rules out of the window. So, Mr Romney & President Obama, here’s a reminder of what you were taught in preschool:

If you liked this post, please comment and share and I’ll really love you if you click the thumbs-up button below. You can also weigh-in on Facebook. You may also like:   A Monster Tale. Am I a slave to my children? Kids ADHD explained. You suck!

I’m being bullied.

There’s this girl I know. She hates me. She watches my life with avid fascination…every little thing I do. Mostly, I’m able to avoid her, but every now and again, she finds me. Yesterday, I was having one of ‘those’ days. You know the kind – when life seems too much and nothing goes according to plan? I was feeling like a failure because other people seem to manage the juggle so well and I was just.not.managing. Well, I bumped into The Girl. She looked at me and smirked. She looked at my disheveled appearance and her satisfaction was palpable. Without a care in the world, she said, “You’re pathetic. Your husband deserves better. Your kids deserve better. You are a failure, Michelle.” Just like that. Read the rest of this entry

Open letter to the parents of “The Bully”

Image borrowed from

Dear parents of “The Bully”, Let me start by saying, you seem like really lovely people. This makes me feel a little awkward because if I wasn’t writing this letter to you, I’d probably be trying to befriend you. How do I put this? I suppose I’ll just come out with it – your child is a bully. Read the rest of this entry
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