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Summer in Cape Town
February 16, 2017 12:43 PM by Leatitia Coetzee
Cape Town, oh my beautiful Cape Town! Summer is finally here and we are going to party hardy all summer long. You are blooming. You are vibing and you are bursting from the seams with endless possibilities.

Come and take a walk with me through the beautiful streets of my beloved Cape Town. Come and drink wine among the vineyards, have traditional meals prepared by the "mammas" of Cape Town, have designer coffee by baristas of note. Party all night long on Long Street, go for a massage at The Twelve Apostles Spa-which has the best view in the southern hemisphere.

Climb Lion's Head with me before the sun rises, and then again before it sets. Let's hike up beautiful Table Mountain and take the cable cars down again with a 360 degree panoramic view of Cape Town and the ocean.

Let us have fish at the fish market and snookies in Camps Bay/Kalk Bay-which is selling the best fish and chips in the world. Let us take a boat ride to Robben Island and Seal Island and enjoy what nature has given us.

Come and take a walk with me in the beautiful and fairy-like Cape Gardens right in the heart of the city, feed the squirrels with me, listen to the birds sing while we lie on a picnic blanket and soak up the summer sun.

Then we can take a long swim in the beautiful ocean, catch some waves at Blouberg Beach, stand up paddle board at the waterfront, have a tan session on the beach at Clifton 1st, 2nd and 3rd Beach-reader's choice.

Let's have some delicious ice cream or a cocktail at Cafe Caprice, or a proper South African steak at The Hussar Grill. Mmmm. My mouth is watering already. There are many dishes to choose from, amazing people, sounds and places.

What better time to spend your days lazing in the sun, walking through the Bo Kaap's streets with its beautiful and colorful painted houses-any photographer's dream.

For the adrenaline junkies, go shark-cage diving, hike up table mountain, paraglide down Lion's Head, go skiing, wake boarding, diving, deep-sea fishing, feed a penguin, wash a penguin! Buy real African art made with passion and love, with intricate detailing. Or just hop into one of our local taxis-not Uber-but a real loud-as-heck, cheap-cheap taxi with all its colorful characters. Trust me, there is no ride experience like a taxi in South Africa!

For the wine connoisseur, there are 20 different wine routes with dozens of wine farms to indulge in.

There is without a doubt never, ever a dull or boring moment in Cape Town. Hop on a Red or Blue bus, sit back and enjoy the splendor that is Cape Town.

Enjoy some beautiful photos from my home town and surrounding areas. Come and visit us soon!

#capetown girl #capetownmagazine #lionshead #tablemountain #capetownsa #wineroutescapetown #summerfuncapetown

 

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Finding Your Dreams and Visions
January 13, 2017 10:12 AM by Leatitia Coetzee

Every year since 2009, I have been making myself motivational vision and dream boards, and it has gotten to a point where I would make them for my family as well. What started as a way for me to motivate and inspire myself turned out to help and inspire my family and my mother's clients in her salon too.

I started to study nursing in 2009, after losing everything when I lost my job at the time. I was so depressed and broken, so my mom sat me down and said that I have to decide what it is I want out of life and then make it happen. Nothing was going to fall into my lap. Harsh words, but as always, my beautiful mother was right.

So I got up, dried my eyes and started to make work of getting my nursing degree at 26 years of age. When I got into nursing college without having the correct prior subjects, I knew that I was being blessed. I had to work double as hard as all the 18/19 year old girls in my classes, and I needed motivation while studying as I was really struggling. So one day, I started cutting out pictures and words that made me think and feel better.

I stuck them up on a board where I could read and see them every day, and I have been doing it ever since, as it gives me clarity and guidance. It makes me smile, makes me happy, feeds my creative side, elevates my mood, inspires me every day to remember just how far I have come, everything I had to overcome to get to where I am today, that I am strong and beautiful and smart.

I say, give it a try this New Year.

All you need is a blank canvas, some glue, some beautiful pictures that inspire you, some words of inspiration, motto's, Bible verses, dreams you have, things you want to do or have... and then you just go crazy on you board. Don't think about where to place everything, just let your emotions guide you.

The whole point for me with my boards is to dream, hope, and wish towards the things, places, and people I want in my life. Imagination is the outdoors to the unknown, to endless possibilities and opportunities-you need only have the courage to pursue them fully and completely. Let your inner child come out to play, you have to believe again that you can do anything you want to, trust your own abilities, they are God-given and He doesn't make mistakes.

I always put Edith Piaf on the radio and pour myself some red wine, then I just let the moment take me, and when I am done I cannot believe how amazing my work is.

Not to boast or be vain or anything, but it is amazing what you can accomplish when you stop thinking about it, over-analyzing it and just do it. Take your head out of the equation and follow your heart.

Let go of being a grownup, conforming to what society says you should do. Believe and become.

Because we, as adults, lose ourselves somewhere along the way; because we want to fit in, belong and not rock the boat so we conform, ask yourself these final questions-and they are not easy ones.

Who am I? What do I want? Do I love what I am doing now?

Soul search and be honest with yourself.

If you don't love what you do, who you are and where you are in life, there is no way you will be successful or content. You will always compare yourself and your life to others, you will work yourself to the bone to attain what others have and you don't have, and money will become your "god" and "boss."

2016 was such an incredibly hard year all over the world. So many things happened that were out of my control and that changed me and shaped my future more. I learned lessons, I learned new skills, I met amazing new friends, lost old ones, got hurt, grew stronger-but most of all, I found my faith again, learned that I was not meant to be the master of my own life, I cannot control everything.

I learned that God is Lord and Master of my life, and if He is in control and if I trust Him completely, everything will work out the way it is supposed to. I won't be so scared and fearful, I will be calmer and happier, I will be able to trust more, love more, care more and know that life will only be as sweet as the moment I am in right now.

On my new dream/vision/motivation board for 2017, I have put lost dreams, motivational and strong quotes, things I love and want.

I am ready for this New Year, new beginnings, new experiences and moments to enjoy and learn from.

So come on, what are your DREAMS, VISIONS and MOTIVATIONS for 2017?

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
December 20, 2016 2:06 PM by Leatitia Coetzee

PTSD is a mental illness that many are aware of, but few take the time to get to understand a little bit better. It's a disorder that has been around for centuries, but wasn't named until after the World Wars and has been commonly associated with war veterans. But many others can be diagnosed with PTSD after traumatic events.

So, how do I know about PTSD?

Well, since August 2014, I have been dealing with and diagnosed with the symptoms of PTSD. I have been on an emotional roller coaster since then. I lost my boyfriend on August 20, 2014, due to suicide, and I found him in our bedroom. My whole world came crashing down in that moment; everything I had wanted, needed, and dreamed of was taken away from me. I was not in control of what happened to me.

And every single day after that, I have had to deal with not being in control of my thoughts, my emotions, or my body. I have seen the doctors, I have taken the medication, and it helpsbut it doesn't cure... but that's just me. I have spoken to people who have made a full recovery, who, through therapy, have been able to get back to their lives.

The below information I obtained from some Internet research on a mental health website. I hope through this post, and the information, I can help someone else.

Keep this in mind...

1. You are not alone.

2. You are so much stronger than you think.

3. You are braver than you know.

4. You are not crazy; you just survived something that not everyone could face in this world.

5. Bad days will come. Embrace them and breathe through them. Pray, talk, and you will be okay.

6. You have family and friends who want to help you; they just don't know how to, so take it easy on them, okay?

7. You will be able to laugh again.

8. Not everyone is going to hurt you, so open your heart to those around you.

9. Pain is real, so feel it; don't push it aside, because it will never leave you.

10. Talk talk talk talk talk....do not bottle things up; it will destroy you slowly.


PTSD

"PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This "fight-or-flight" response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.

Signs and Symptoms

Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term (acute) PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.

A doctor who has experience helping people with mental illnesses, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can diagnose PTSD.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom
  • At least one avoidance symptom
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms

Re-experiencing symptoms include:

  • Flashbacksreliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person's everyday routine. The symptoms can start from the person's own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.

Avoidance symptoms include:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience
  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or "on edge"
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having angry outbursts

Arousal symptoms are usually constant instead of being triggered by things that remind the person of the traumatic event. These symptoms can make the person feel stressed and angry. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

Cognition and mood symptoms include:

  • Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

Cognition and mood symptoms can begin or worsen after the traumatic event but are not due to injury or substance use. These symptoms can make the person feel alienated or detached from friends or family members.

It is natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a month, seriously affect one's ability to function, and are not due to substance use, medical illness, or anything except the event itself, they might have PTSD. Some people with PTSD don't show any symptoms for weeks or months. PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or one or more of the other anxiety disorders.

Do children react differently than adults?

Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults. In very young children (less than 6 years of age), these symptoms can include:

  • Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet
  • Forgetting how to or being unable to talk
  • Acting out the scary event during playtime
  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult

Older children and teens are more likely to show symptoms similar to those seen in adults. They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge. 

Risk Factors

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or many other serious events. 

Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people develop PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also lead to PTSD.

Why do some people develop PTSD and other people do not?

It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD. In fact, most people will not develop the disorder.

Many factors play a part in whether a person will develop PTSD. Some examples are listed below. Risk factors make a person more likely to develop PTSD. Other factors, called resilience factors, can help reduce the risk of the disorder.

Risk Factors and Resilience Factors for PTSD

Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:

  • Living through dangerous events and traumas
  • Getting hurt
  • Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body
  • Childhood trauma
  • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
  • Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse

Some resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:

  • Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
  • Finding a support group after a traumatic event
  • Learning to feel good about one's own actions in the face of danger
  • Having a positive coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
  • Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear

Researchers are studying the importance of these and other risk and resilience factors, including genetics and neurobiology. With more research, someday it may be possible to predict who is likely to develop PTSD and how to prevent it.

Treatments and Therapies

The main treatments for people with PTSD are medications, psychotherapy ("talk" therapy), or both. Everyone is different, and PTSD affects people differently, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health provider who is experienced with PTSD. Some people with PTSD need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms.

If someone with PTSD is going through an ongoing trauma, such as being in an abusive relationship, both of the problems need to be addressed. Other ongoing problems can include panic disorder, depression, substance abuse, and feeling suicidal."

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Pay it Forward
December 13, 2016 9:20 AM by Leatitia Coetzee
SOS Children's Villages South Africa builds families for children in need and in doing so, we help them shape their own futures. We have cared for over 24,000 children since the opening of our first village in 1982.

I have the privilege to be a sponsor for a little girl at the SOS Children's Village here in Cape Town. Her name is Aphelele, and she is 11 years old. She looked after her two baby brothers all by herself for a long time, while no one in the community knew that their parents weren't there anymore. No one cared enough to help the little girl who would frequently beg for food from neighbors. Until one afternoon, when one neighbor thought it strange that this young girl was wondering the streets asking for money and food.

So she followed her home, and there she found her and her two baby brothers, ages 3 and 5. She had been taking care of themcleaning, bathing, washing, and making sure that they had food to eat and could still go to school.

It broke my heart when I was told this beautiful little girl's story. I have a little sister, and for me, it hit home, thinking how I would have felt if my little sister had to face this kind of hardship.

Children do not get to choose the cards they are dealt in life. Children are supposed to be able to trust an adult, their family, be loved by their parents. No child should have to feel cold, hurt, alone, or hungry. No child should have to become a grownup unnaturally.

 photo Dec pic_zpscyejpk5s.jpg

But the SOS Children's Villages all over the world make such a huge difference in the lives of children, giving them their security, love, kindness, and dignity back. Teaching them values to guide them in the future. Giving them education opportunities to build a better future for them.

The Villages are, however, dependant on funding by people like myself who can spare a few rand to save a child's life.

I am glad that I can be a blessing to this beautiful child with the brightest smile I have ever seen.

So I do Color Runs for charity, I bake cupcakes for Cupcakes 4 Kids with Cancer, I go and wash oil covered penguins, I do breast cancer runs, and now I get to spoil little Aphelele who loves to read, color, dance, and take care of her friends and family. She reminds me so much of myself as a young girl, and if I can have even a small influence in the strong, beautiful, and independent woman she will become, I will be blessed beyond life itself.

I was raised that you must always PAY IT FORWARD, because you never know when someone might be out of hope. And a friendly smile, a hand up, a hot plate of food, a cold drink on a warm dayit costs you nothing.

Have you found someone to help out yet? It doesn't take a fortune to assist someone in need, just a warm heart and some time to show them that you care.

So go on...PAY IT FORWARD.

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Self-Loathing or Loving? That is the Question.
November 14, 2016 11:11 AM by Leatitia Coetzee
So I want to become a model, feel better about myself, maybe change the way the world perceives a fuller woman.

Today I went for an audition and while I was there, feeling confident and ready for the whole photo-op and interview on why I want to do this, I was blindsided by the photographer. He casually dropped into our conversation that, although I was pretty, I needed to lose weight. That was my only chance of "making it" as a model.

I felt sick to my stomach, all the blood drained from my face, and it felt like someone had punched me in the gut. Probably sensing my mood, he laughed and corrected his previous statement with, "Oh, hun, do not misunderstand, I am not saying you aren't beautiful. You are, but you can be so much more beautiful if you lost some weight. It would make it so much easier for you."

Good Lord, this man had no finesse. I could have strangled him with his camera cord.

But was he right? 

We look up to Hollywood glamour, how the celebrities look, what they wear and say. We buy the glossy magazines and follow the latest trends, all the while measuring ourselves against them. We eat less to be skinny, throw up everything we eat, and count calories.

We buy things we cannot afford to be a part of the society we think we should belong to. But who really decides who belongs and who doesn't? Who decided that curvy girls are "unattractive" and unhealthy? And that skinny girls are beautiful and healthy? 

I am a cardiac nurse. I am strong and Christian. I am smart and independent. I take care of myself and those I love. I am witty and I can laugh at myself. I make a mean cup of coffee, and I can dance until the sun comes up. Is that not enough? 

Why does my body type put me into a category? Why should that define me, and why do I let it upset me? Goodness, I wish I had the answer for that last one. All I know is people can be so mean, and words do hurt. It can alter your mood, your day, your life. People will never change, but I can change how I react to what they say and do.

So I decided to put on my big girl pants and face whatever comes my way with the beautiful and bright smile that God blessed me with or at least fake it until I make it. I hope as nurses, we can teach out patients the same.

Besides, not everyone can handle my curves like I can.

#curvesrule #largerthanlifebeauty #beauty #intheeyeofthebeholder #willnotbedefined #dreams #keeponkeepingon

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Living for Today
October 20, 2016 8:51 AM by Leatitia Coetzee
As I stare out over the mountains here on my sister's farm, I cannot help but marvel at life happening all around me. I am always so rushed, so busy, that I literally never stop "to smell the roses." And I wonder how many of us actually do this in the first place. My life is in constant overdrive not only at work but also in my personal life.

As I sit here, slowly drinking my coffee, listening to the bees in the bottlebrush tree and watching the birds build their nests, I cannot relax completely. This peace and quiet is so alluring, my body needs to relax so desperately, but my mind is already racing ahead at everything I have to do once I get home from my holiday.

I am already compounded, managing every aspect of my life, that I haven't even lived yet.

How many of us do this? We work towards the all elusive "ONE DAY" when we will be able to not work, not rush, just breathe, and have fun. That day where we will have no more financial worries or obligations, where the kids are grown up and living their own lives, where we have our own chef, maid, and spa therapist to pamper us. What a utopic dream that is.

Now that it is spring here in Cape Town, I wonder at all the new life happening all around methe bright colors, the new noises, people cleaning house and reorganizing their lives and their planning. Already we are gearing up for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's... but why?

Those days are still coming; they aren't here yet. We are missing out on life happening right now. Missing out on the sunshine, our kids growing up, our parents growing older. Missing out on inventions taking place, music being made, love being found and lost... a smile from a stranger, a casual hello from a friend, a love-at-first-sight look between two people, a baby being born, and an old friend saying goodbye for the last time.

Have you ever had one day where you literally have no cell phone to continuously look in on Facebook, e-mails, Instagram, or Twitter in a last-ditch attempt to see if someone acknowledged your existence? A day where you just stopped, took a deep breath, walked barefoot on the cool grass, laid down on the beach, and soaked up the sun? A day where you enjoyed nature, the heat, the cold, the wind... not overthinking, not planning or worrying? I doubt it as we are stuck in this ever-expanding rat race lifestyle, always chasing the next big thing, our next paycheck, bills, and having to survive.

I fully plan to have one tech-free day from now on, where I will live fully, and train my brain to just "chill" for a daya day where I won't die if I'm not able to control everything. I can exist without my phone, laptop, and TV.

Let's see if you can do this too.

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Breast Cancer is More Than October
September 22, 2016 8:53 AM by Leatitia Coetzee
As we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but why should it only be in October? We are supposed to support victims of cancer every single day. Highlight their struggles every single day.

I myself have seen firsthand what cancer does to someone, their family, and their lives. And I have the world's respect for someone who can come through cancer and still believe, live, and love.

I have known half a dozen women, close friends of mine, and my family who have all faced either breast cancer, brain cancer, or skin cancer.

And these remarkable women taught me that life is a blessing.

They are the ones that would give you hope on a bad day, pray for you just because they could, and hug and smile at you, because to them you matter. I learned through their lives and experiences not to regret what you do, how you do it, or whom you do it with.

I watched them as they got the news, how they accepted it all, how they started to transition into a new chapter in their lives. But mostly, I watched how they were the ones who comforted friends and family struggling to deal with the dreaded news.

They say that you undergo five stages of grief when hearing or dealing with trauma, death, or facing anything emotionally altering in life.

People with cancer seem to breeze through these stages, each one blending into the next, but for most ACCEPTANCE is the first step. They aren't defeated by this acceptance, but once they have accepted the news, they kick into high gear in managing their time and lives, dealing with what's most important and not sweating the small stuff. Living fully in every single minute they are given.

What a blessing that must be, to be so attuned with life, with time, and with God.

I am privileged to walk with these incredible women and still been able to walk life with them. I learn from them. I am privileged to have been able to be a nurse in oncology, to have been blessed to meet and partake in so many wonderful stories.

Cancer used to be deemed a "death sentence," but not anymore. The almost daily remarkable advances in the medical field are so amazing, and a genius child is born every single day. If we trust and if we believe, then maybe one day a cure might be foundwho knows what the future holds?

I dedicate every single day I work to remarkable women like my Aunty Mina, my friend Adri, and my family Marhiette and the life they live, the people they touch, and the gift that God gave them to still be here with me and those who love and adore them.

Buddy and I walk the Woman's Cancer Walk every single year in remembrance of those women who fought the good fight but lost, those remarkable women who fought and won, and for every other woman who has the strength to support each other.

May this Breast Cancer Awareness Month be even brighter than those before it.

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What it Means to be a Woman
August 16, 2016 9:25 AM by Leatitia Coetzee

So as we all know August is International Women's Month.

And this got me thinking about what it truly means to be a woman. What power do I actually have as a woman?

I was blessed to be raised by a very strong and independent mother with a fierce strength and an unwavering love for her family and her children. She taught me to be strong, independent, smart, loyal and true to myself.

She taught me that I was beautiful and perfect in my own right and that I did not need a man to make me feel whole, that I could stand on my own and care for myself and my dreams. She taught me to think for myself, and my father taught me that being smart and educated meant that I would be a force to be reckoned with in my own right.

My parents both taught me that, when I fell in love and gave my heart to someone, we would become a team, growing in love and friendship, lifting one another up to become the best versions of ourselves. Never breaking one another down and always giving and receiving in love, patience and strength. I would be his equal, his best friend and his greatest love... not his slave or footstool, because I have my own will and can think for myself, and he would respect that in me, as I would in him. Supporting him in his dreams and ambitions, guiding gently and loving completely, caring deeply as a wife should according to the bible... not because I have to but because I want to.

Because a woman who is loved will bloom, glow and soar higher and higher.

I was blessed to be raised this way, but most women aren't that lucky. In some countries, women have absolutely no voice, no rights and no independence or true love. They are bound to men by tradition, laws, responsibility and constrictions. These women are raised to believe that they are owned, they are nothing alone, they have no strength and voice. That they cannot exist without a man to rule them. Somewhat medieval, if I have to say so.

We live in a time where you would think women's rights are there to protect, to speak for those who cannot, to save the lost and heal the broken... but it does not always work out that way. We still have such a long way to go to ensure that all women are treated everywhere with equal rights, opportunities and privileges.

I believe that if a man is raised well by a strong, happy, loved and nurturing mother, who is treated with respect, dignity and grace by her husband, he will grow up with a sense that a woman is someone who must be treasured and loved, that she is his match in every sense, not his possession. That he must lift her up, protect and guard her heart and life as she would for him. And in the same sense a girl should see her mother love and adore her father. Treat him with love and kindness, respect and loyalty. Aiding him in his dreams and passions.

This would, I believe, ensure that fewer women would enter into abusive and toxic relationships; they would choose a man based on his principles and not his looks, his integrity and not his money, his faith and not his possessions.

I honestly believe we have come such a long way in protecting and uplifting women and how they are treated, but we are not done yet. Together we can make future leaders with strength and grace, willfulness and independence, nurturing and beautiful women who will be mothers, lovers, healers and partners to strong, determined, faithful and powerful men of God.

I am proud to be a strong, independent, loving and kind, beautiful woman.

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In Oncology, Every Day Counts
June 20, 2016 11:06 AM by Leatitia Coetzee

As the morning sun comes up over Table Mountain and I climb the final steps up Lion's Heads hiking trail, I get a sense of just how small I actually am, looking around at all the majesty of God's artwork. How blessed am I not to be able to experience this, see and feel it, touch and taste it. How often do we forget to be thankful? Even for the little things we receive on a daily basis?

I had the opportunity to work in the oncology ward and it rocked me to my core. I have so much respect for every single person that works there, starting from the cleaner that keeps the ward so clean and happy for the patients, to the cheerful tea lady and catering staff that make sure the patients are getting healthy and tasty food, to the receptionist that always welcomes the family and friends with so much love and kindness, the Matron that organizes every day for the ward and makes sure that not only are the patients cared for and loved but also her personnel. 

I realized in oncology that every day counts here, there are no guarantees of tomorrow and no regrets about the past. 

Here you live today as best you can, you learn something new, you touch someone, you look into their eyes when speaking and you engage with them, and actually listen to them, you share in their journey. 

That is such a blessing. 

I was blown away by the love and grace the staff treated the patients, they did not rush (although they had a right to, with everything that had to be done, on a daily basis), they almost looked angelic in their chores, and I fell in love with nursing all over again.

This is why I am a nurse, this is why I love so hard, I feel so much, and give of myself to every single person I meet, because I too know how quickly your whole world can change in the blink of an eye. 

That you have to treasure every single day you have to be with those you love and care for. Make memories that last, that will help you through days that might seem or feel cold and hopeless. 

You have to always be kind and know that today is where you have to be wholly involved, because tomorrow might not be there, and today is a present to be opened and enjoyed fully.

My patients in oncology taught me this:" You need only have courage and believe that every day you open your eyes and you can feel, love and breath, is a blessing granted to you by God, and you don't have to do anything to deserve it, you must just simply LIVE!!"

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What Nursing Means to Me
April 28, 2016 12:30 PM by Leatitia Coetzee
 

May has nurse's week...so I decided to speak to some nurses about what nursing means to them. I spoke to nurses who are close to retirement and too young, hopeful bright eyed and bushy tailed nurses, fresh out of University. And boy there was a huge difference in opinions. Strange how the circumstances of your work, where you work, how you're treated and have been treated and things you have experienced changes your opinion and the experience you have in nursing.

Some of this already starts in Nursing School. This is where you get your first taste of what being a nurse truly means. You are taught the core principles and values in the nursing world, intertwine that with your own beliefs and somewhere in between you have to find the happy medium to make you the best nurse that you can be.

You gulp up all the information, fight through everything you have to get done in record time, and then you graduate *** Laude...you walk out of nursing school with shoulders broad and proud, head held high, that you will conquer and defeat the evil in the world, that you will be a modern day Florence Nightingale... (pause, gulp, que dramatic music) And then you walk smack into the hands of the Ward Matron at the hospital, and she brings you straight back down to earth. And not in a good way, you crash land like a big Boeing 747. And all your beautiful ideals and dreams go up in smoke.

Be it a good or bad experience, your first true nursing experience always stays with you, it shapes who you become as a nurse.

Then you find your feet in nursing and you establish who and what you are, what your good at and what not. You feel like a nursing Einstein because you feel like you know all there is to know. You love going to work, love your patients and colleagues. And as the years go along, you see and experience things that change you. Your vision of the world goes from rosy glasses to hardcore reality glasses...and contrary to believe this is where everyone changes to either a true nurse, or this-is-just-a-job nurse, or so I am told.

Every one experiences things differently I have learnt, but the way you were raised, your principles and values govern what you are. Rules in nursing as in life is there to keep us on the right path, to keep us out of trouble and to guide-yes you read this right- to guide us, not to dictate or order, to guide us.

Nursing for me started at a young age, where I would see the sisters in their pristine White uniforms and Vails. Gliding along and always having this bright smile and cheery attitude. Never once did I pick up that they did not have time for my million questions, that they had a ton of work to be done, that someone has just passed away and they were saddened by it, or that they had had a horrible day of difficult patients and doctors etc. They always had this aura of serene peace and calm around them. And I told myself then...I want to be that when I grow up.

And after years of studying I am a nurse and I love my job. I have made my dream a reality.

Nursing for me is love with its work boots on. It isn't about me, but my patients, no matter how they are or treat me. Bottom line for me is, that they are in an environment that is scary, they are out of their comfort zone and they are ill. So I treat them with love and kindness, patience and respect...because they could be my mom and dad or my sisters. I was raised that everyone has their own spirit, and I should respect that.

I should not judge someone until I have successfully walked a mile in their shoes for a day. I should be kind and fair, and treat others as I would want to be treated always. If I am upset or hurt, then I deal with it with that person and that person alone, and once it is said and done...it is done. We move on, start over. Never take your troubles to work, everyone will see it, but not everyone will help you, as we are all fighting silent battle in some way or another.

Nursing to me is brilliance in technicolor. It is filled with all sorts of people and experiences. I get to see a baby open their eyes for the first time. I get to close a patience eyes that leave this world for al lifetime with our Heavenly Father. I get to give hope and attention to someone who has lost theirs. I get to listen to life stories...and experience that with them.

Yes and I get to be picked on, bled on, bitten, shouted at, scolded, reprimanded, and of course internal wars at work with colleges...but that is minor to the fact that I get to go home every night and know that today, even for just a moment...

I touched and changed someone's life and to them it meant something, just as they did to me when I was a young bright eyed girls dreaming of one day becoming a nurse in white.

 

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Reach Out a Hand
December 21, 2015 12:29 PM by Leatitia Coetzee

As I sit and stare out the window of our tearoom, looking out at Table Mountain ,I cannot help and feel a sense of wonder and how I blessed I am to live in such a beautiful country.

I get a sense of pride. I think of how blessed I am for all I have and I smile and with that my mind changes course to all those that in this festive season don't have the same sense of pride that I feel. 

I wonder how many of us actually think about those less fortunate...those who won't have a warm meal ,a safe place to sleep. 

Are we so reluctant to truly help, or do we live only for ourselves not wanting to get involved in someone else's life story or drama. Have we become so numb? 

You know what I mean...those people begging at street corners, or going through your rubbish bags outside...that leave most people with a bad taste in their mouths because they just waist your precious time, they invade your personal space. How can you feel that way? 

Are they not also Gods' children, you don't know their story so do not judge or look down at them. Rather reach out a hand and help them up. Take 5 minutes to bless someone with a warm meal or blanket. 

The bible teaches us that God said, "I asked you for something to eat and you refused me, I asked you for something to drink and you refused me," but we so sweetly forget that God never forsakes us.

This is the season of love, goodwill and blessings. It is our Heavenly Fathers birthday. So I challenge those who dare to change the meaning of Christmas in their lives. Change it to giving to those in need, rather than giving to those that are not in need but rather in wanting!

I trust that this season will be blessed and safe for all.

 

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New Page in My Book
November 25, 2015 8:57 AM by Leatitia Coetzee

So, after weeks of feeling uncertain, crying, screaming in fear and anger, feeling lost and in a very dark place, I had no other choice than to stop my studies. I never realized I was so lost and in danger of total collapse until it finally happened to me. After a year of emotional ups and downs, and not dealing with it all like I should have, it broke me.

So, now I had to stop my studies, and I was told by my doctor to take some medication to help me relax and deal with the loss I had experienced and to go and see someone to face everything. I was so upset and apprehensive, because I thought I was a nurse I know how to deal with loss and grieve, keep busy and focus on something else... boy was I an Idiot.

With loss the whole game changes for us, it steals from us time and joy...and when we try and cope on our own, we die a little bit every day inside, without knowing it. When we finally look up from our dark little corner of life we realize we are all alone, not because our loved ones don't want to be around us, but because we isolated ourselves so much we didn't give them a choice.

But. . .

Now I am starting to feel like a human being again, slowly breathing a little bit better, and starting over in a new place, away from the memories of the past. And every day, living more and more. Now when I think about him I see his beautiful smile, his ginger hair and sexy dimples, his beautiful blue eyes. I hear his laugh again, everyday a little bit clearer...I feel his hand touching mine. And I feel reassured that he is still with me and watching over me.

And the most incredible thing happened to me...I found out just how strong I really am, and that realization brought about such a change in me. I believe more, I trust again, I laugh again until I cry from joy and not hurt. I dance around my room in my undies to my favorite songs and sing at the top of my lungs...why....because I am alive and I am fearfully and wonderfully made by my Heavenly Father.

So, now I look life square in the eye and smile because I know where my strength comes from and that an amazing future is just around the corner...and that Cape Town, my new home is waiting for me...

So I say BOOOOOOOYAAAAAAAI MADE IT!!!

Signed,

A new strong and sexy woman

 

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Making Friends in Nursing Isn't Easy
October 23, 2015 7:56 AM by Leatitia Coetzee

The opposite of the hard shell of armor you keep around yourself is the love and protection and companionship of your fellow students who need friends as much as you do.

Need to make some friends in nursing school? Admit defeat.

I was so closed off in the beginning of my nursing school training, especially about inner struggles on time management, procrastination, and life intervening in my OCD-laid plans. The stress of nursing school has worn me down though. And I realized that I have to change my way or I will burn out.

I'm way more OK now with being less than perfect and I would advise everyone to give it a try sometimes. You don't always have to be the best at what it is you do.

This semester especially I have found myself admitting what felt like defeat that proved to be something else. I had isolated myself so much that I had stopped to see the fun that I could have with fellow student, and how we could be helping each other out, rather than avoiding each other.

You are not a bad student. The stress is real for everyone, so-called "good" students and otherwise. Forget labels. There is actually someone feeling what you are feeling at this halfway point in the semester, who might even be going through much more than you are.

Making friends in nursing takes vulnerability.  A moment of truth where you admit that you cannot do everything yourself, and you need help. You cannot nurse patients but life like a recluse. We as nurses tend to want to just shut ourselves up in a quiet room after a hectic day just to have 10 seconds of peace and quiet, we don't want to hear people complain, etc. But the fact is we are human and we are social creatures, so we have to find the golden midway between being the nurse and the friend, and that not every conversation in normal people lingo revolves around medicine...nudge nudge wink wink... yeah, you know what I mean.

Be vulnerable. Find friends. Sigh out loud and you may never know what comes of it. And who knows you might learn something new about someone else.

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Giving Advice
September 17, 2015 7:15 AM by Leatitia Coetzee
 It seems now I am a student nurse, people presume I am the font of all knowledge for any medical condition, ailment or general problem, regardless of whether I'm on duty or not.

One time, I was lucky enough to have an afternoon to myself, without tests or tasks. I decided I would go out, have a long walk, get myself a book and settle down in a café to enjoy a good read and a bit of people watching.

I'm at the counter ordering my coffee when one of the ladies who works there spots me and tries desperately to get my attention. She beckons me over to a secluded corner and tells me she's so glad I came in; she wants my advice about "a lady problem."

Being a student nurse isn't just about learning and providing advice and education, it's also about undertaking different roles to different people.

I have found that one of the most difficult but rewarding roles is listening. When I'm on the wards patients seem willing to reveal concerns to me that have never previously been mentioned.

Sometimes I feel like a sponge as I absorb all these things. I have come home some days and sobbed with the weight of some of the secrets that have been shared with me.

Every now and then, I find it a real struggle balancing all these different roles. Sometimes I feel like I'm being suffocated with the pressure of placement, home life, college life, being a young adult and hanging out with friends.

Occasionally, and I know this is incredibly selfish, I wish I didn't have all these responsibilities.

It gets overwhelming with people relying on me to do the housework, go to gym, go to church, write a good essay, read more journals/books or fill in massive loads of paperwork for lecturers or mentors to mark.

I feel like I don't have time for my friends anymore as I'm always busy, on placement, tasks or tests. In fact I barely have time for ME anymore.

But then I remember why I love what I do, when I look at my patients and see the love and appreciation they have for having someone that just listens, I know that all of this and all the sacrifice is well worth it. And then I press on for another day or being everything I was born to be.

 

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Crossroads of Life
August 20, 2015 2:59 PM by Leatitia Coetzee

The last couple of months I have been struggling to find my purpose in life. Did I choose right and all those sorts of questions.  And lately after two bad test results, I felt like such a failure at life I should just give it up. I am not good enough. But nursing is my dream, and all I want to do is be the best at what I do. My whole life has led up to this phase of my existence.

So I have decided to carry on, to push on and work harder. Do I stop feeling sorry for myself and lift my head high and start to believe in the gift that God had given me, to be able to touch and love people unconditionally?

Albert Einstein said:" You have to learn the rules of the game. And then play it better than anyone else." Harsh words to some, but when you look at it, it is so true.

In life when we love and believe something, we have to take all the challenges that go along with wanting success.

One of the most inspirational people in my life, my mother Christa Coetzee, said to me this week that I was her pride, that she loved me and what I have accomplished in my life up until now and that she knows that I can and will be successful.

All I have to do is give everything to God so that he can lead me and give me the strength to carry on. She has always pushed me to break my boundaries. She allowed me to fly high and has always been my safety net and warm blanket of unconditional love in my life.  I will always be grateful to having such an inspirational mother and best friend in my life.

I realized last week that I am stronger than I thought I was, I have the courage and conviction to achieve my God-given dream.

I am a strong, independent, powerful and blessed woman of God and through my nursing I have the opportunity to live an exceptional life.

So I choose life, I choose my passion, I choose to be stronger than ever and to finish my dream

Like Patch Adams said, "The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy."

 

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