This blog is moving!

Quick Disclaimer to the people who have already received their first post from my NEW site:  As usual – I’m confusing things and doing stuff the wrong way around.  Most of you already know that I’ve moved sites… but I’m publishing this post anyway – on the “Living Differently” site – so that folk who aren’t blog-followers – and who are linked to the site from somewhere else… can now say:  “Oh – okay… I see she has moved!”

Okay… so… for the past couple of months, I have been working pretty hard on building a new website that doesn’t have the limitations of a wordpress.com website.

For those unfamiliar to the world of blogging and websites… there are TWO different kinds of WordPress!!  Who knew?  Not me!  I didn’t know this for a long, long time!!

WordPress.com is where anyone can set up a really easy-to-manage blog site… and which is where “Living Differently” has lived for the past couple of years.

WordPress.org – however – is the place where you can set up your own, self-hosted website (with unlimited options – where you can build pretty-much any kind of website that you want).  It’s considerably more schleppy and finickity to set up (and it has taken me quite a while to get the hang of it) – but I think I’m almost there…

… and so – wonderful peeps… the time has come to “migrate” (as WordPress says)… my Living Differently blog followers to my new website:

www.themadhat.co.za

What does this mean for you guys?

Those of you who follow this blog (and receive an e-mail every time I post)… this migration thing I’m doing… *SHOULD* just kinda automatically happen for you (and I hope it does… I hope I haven’t messed it all up completely!!)

If you are a wordpress.com follower – please note that you will not receive any e-mails every time I add a new post.  You will only see me in The Reader.  You will not receive e-mail updates – unless you subscribe to receive them on my new Mad Hat site.

Those who visit Living Differently by occasionally typing in the URL… rather type in the http://www.themadhat.co.za URL instead.

Those who visit the Living Differently blog because you are a Facebook friend and occasionally click on my blog links…  nothing will change for you.  I will still be posting on Facebook (both on my personal site and my Living Differently site)… the posts – however – will link to the Mad Hat website from now on.

And for those you just… y’know… wanna be kept in the loop with all things “Hat” and “Living Differently”… and what-not…  the BEST way is just to subscribe to my e-mail list That way – (regardless of what I do with these fandangled websites or my Facebook or whatever – we can stay connected regardless!)…

Sorry if this all sounds confusing.

Truth be told… I’m probably more confused than you are at the moment.  And I have made MORE than my fair share of stupid assumptions over the past couple of months (ie:  assuming it would be “quick”… or “easy” to set up a whole new site, migrate everyone, and try to throw in an online store too… NOT happening.  STUPID assumption!!!!)…

Anyhoo…

*takes deep breath in an attempt to calm self*

See you on the Mad Hat site!!!

Heather (Hat)….X

 

Here’s my book!

Squeeeeeeeeee!!!

So, now that I’ve sent off books to all the amazing folk who supported my book-printing crowd-funding campaign… the time has come to offer the book to everyone else!

My 80-page, full-colour, illustrated book is now available world-wide!

  • You can buy it on Amazon by clicking here.
  • You can download a PDF version by clicking here.
  • Or – you can order a personalised, printed-in-South-Africa version directly from me.  Find out more by clicking here.

Just a heads up:  My new “Mad Hat” website is still very much a work-in-progress (you’ll see what I mean if you visit it!)… it’s a bit of a mess… but… yes, well, whatevs…

So – for those of you who haven’t seen the book… here is a nice, long, technicolour preview of the first pages of my book… plus – at the end of this post – I’ve added a whole bunch of excerpts from people who wrote to me after reading the “Hat” story… :-)

Oh – one more thing:  it’s a poem – so to enjoy it at it’s best – read it out aloud:-)

Here goes:

Page 05

Page 06

Page 07

Page 08

Page 09.jpg

Page 10

Page 11

Page 12

Page 13

Page 14

Page 15

Page 16

Page 17

Page 18

Page 19

Page 20

Page 21

Page 22

Phew!

So there’s the first 18 pages of my 80 page book.

Something I wanted to make sure everyone understands (in order to avoid any misunderstanding, confusion or disappointment) is that – even though this is an illustrated book written as a poem – it wasn’t originally intended to be a children’s book.

There are a couple of topics that I touch upon (eating disorders, low self-esteem, marital infidelity)… which might be a bit too intense for younger children.

My kids (aged 7 and 9) enjoyed it – of course… and I think there’s a number of topics in there that will resonate well with teens…  but I suggest some parental guidance for younger kids, for sure.

Okay… here’s some fantastic (and very appreciated) feedback from some of the (many) people from around the world who have connected with me after reading the “Hat” story….

All my life, I was told to be quiet, calm down, talk less.  Everything that is ME seems to be too much for most people.  I became an apologetic and insecure adult who spent time pleasing everybody but herself, constantly toning down everything from my laugh to my sense of style.  Everything about your story is wonderful beyond the words I have to express it.  Thank-you for doing this” – (Giselle)

Your story and your poem hit me in the heart and reached my soul.  I burst into tears as I read your words because it resonated so deeply.  My sobbing, uncontrollable, as I considered all the people trapped in society’s ‘norm’.  You must get this message out!” – (Lexi)

I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get my ‘Hat’ness’ back and trying to understand how I lost it in the first place.  I now have a little boy and I don’t want him to lose sight of his dreams as I lost sight of mine” – (Joshua)

I love your poem.  I cried and had to stop reading to dry my eyes several times.  This is my daughter.  She is 13.  I get called into school to discuss her ‘problems’ almost monthly.  Thank-you for the inspiration I received whilst reading your work of art” – (Ashley)

Hat’s story has verbalised everything I’ve ever felt” – (Ayesha)

Everything that I have just read has hit home so hard that I find myself in tears.  My daughter is just as you’ve described.  Happy, loving, creative and insanely funny.  She loves to talk, sing and dance… but has been labelled ‘a problem’ by the teachers at her school who tell me she should be on medication.  Thank-you for shedding a different light on this issue.  I am now determined not to silence my daughter’s voice or creativity” – (Cari)

The part about the Invisible Woman really resonated with me.  After many years living in the shadows of a successful executive, I became known only as his wife.  Tracy ran away.  I lost my own voice and I let my husband take complete control of our lives.  I became The Invisible Woman and invisible people don’t have ideas and opinions.  Well, slowly but surely, I have decided that I’m going to find my voice again” – (Tracy)

I feel overwhelmed.  I just wanted to say how beautiful your book is and to thank you from those of us still trying to break free.  You are a gift” – (Dorean)

Hat’s words have had a profound effect on me, not only in regards to myself but also in how I parent my son who has Aspergers” – (Gini)

Your book is a thing of beauty.  The story is compelling and the artwork is fabulous.  I have read it… and read it… and lost count of how many times I’ve read it.  Every page was a joy to read – even the darker ones” – (Rachel)

I am 37 and going back to school to get a degree in dance.  After thinking it was stupid and wasteful and saving it for my daydreams for 20 years, something snapped in me and I made the decision.  I’m going to use your story to teach my 10 year old son about all the ups and downs.  Trying to be ‘normal’ was bad for me too.  I want to do everything I can to make sure that my son understands that nobody can tell him who to be, that he never has to change based on the thoughts / opinions of another person (of any age)… and that ‘weird’ is not an insult” – (Mariana)

I am a home-educating mum in New Zealand.  I have a ‘Hat’ daughter.  Your story is beautiful, poignant… and very needed” – (Miko)

I am a fellow outcast – rediscovering myself in a big, scary world.  Thank-you, oh thank-you… for finding yourself and sharing your story” – (Sarah)

I LOVE Hat!  I can SO identify!” – (Retsy)

Wow.  I’ve just read that and cried.  This is me, and I’ve been told so many of the same things.  I am trying to dig myself out of ‘normal’.  I still hear these voices saying “You’re not good enough, you’re too fat, nobody will like your art”… so I find myself hiding.  You do what you do for ALL of us” – (Donna)

Your poem is beautiful.  It captured my heart and my mind.  I want to have your books around for myself and as a reminder to allow my children to be the ‘Hats’ that they are” – (Louise)

Tears.  Love it.  Couldn’t feel more this way.  Grew up in foster homes.  Stifled the artist.  Never felt like I fit in.  Still don’t.  Still searching for the courage to be me.  Thank-you” – (Zephyr)

“Your book is so much more than I ever imagined.  I was crying by page 1 and had a few sobs while reading your story.  My daughter’s eyes were brimming too.  May your book touch and help SO many lives in the years to come” – (Ingrid)

“Keep Hatting the world!”(Rachel)

So – there you have it.

If you want the book… click here.

And – finally – (again)…. THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU!!!  Not only to the backers… but to EVERY person who has journeyed alongside me as I’ve worked on this project!  I deeply appreciate you all!

Hat x

 

Get back in your place!

So… I’m one of those people who want *more* out of life.

Yes.  MORE.  I want *more* !

There.  I said it.

Part of me cringes when I write that.  It feels greedy.  It feels selfish.  It feels ungrateful.  It feels *wrong*.  I feel like the greedy person who wants to return to the buffet table to heap my plate with third and forth servings.  I feel like I need to… apologise, even… for admitting that… (*cringe*)… I want MORE out of life.

See, I was raised in an environment where I was taught that the “good” people… are the people who choose to diminish.   The people who don’t want “more”.  The people who shrink.  The folk who make themselves small and insignificant.  The people who dutifully go about their business, unseen and unheard.  Those who put themselves lastThose who accept (without question) their “lot” in life.

These days I wonder (with much flummoxed and frustrated pondering)… what that even means.

And perhaps you can help me decipher some of this odd jargon.

What… for fuggsakeis this “LOT” in life that we’re supposed to accept and embrace without question??

Is it like some kind of vile caste system?  Is it some kind of classicist allotment?  Some kind of invisible mould that we’re all supposed to fit in… like those pre-marked spaces on the toolshed wall….?

Oooh, blimey! ... that screwdriver shouldn’t be there!  That’s the hammer’s place.  Screwdrivers aren’t allowed in the hammer’s place.  Screwdrivers must be in the screwdriver place.”

  • “She’s a girl!  A girl can’t do that!  That’s boys stuff!  Get BACK in your place!”
  • “You’re from middle-class Benoni!  That’s your place.  That’s what defines you.  Who the hell do you think you are?  You think you’re better than us?  How dare you want something different!  GET BACK in your place!”
  • “You’re a woman.  A wife.  That’s not how good wives behave!  Get BACK in your place!”
  • “You’re a South African!  That’s what defines you.  You think you’re more special than the rest of us?   Get BACK in your place!”
  • “You want to travel the world?  Why can’t you just be a normal person and be grateful for your house in the suburbs?  You should get those silly ideas out of your head and accept your lot in life!”
  • “You want to publish a book and make a movie???  Jeezyou think very highly of yourself, don’t you?  Who do you think you are?  Do you think you’re so special?  Are our middle-class suburbs too “lowly” for you?  You need to be brought down a notch or two.  Get BACK in your place!”

I’ve heard this kind of talk many… many… times over the course of my life.  And, sure, it’s not always directed at me personally.  Often, I’ve heard folk direct this kind of talk at other people…

And it’s usually:

  • People who don’t fit-in…
  • People who look differently… dress differently… laugh differently… raise their kids differently… believe differently… behave differently…
  • People who dream BIG…
  • People who don’t want what everyone else wants…
  • People who shun convention and the status quo…

And I’ve heard all manner of words and phrases used.

“LOT in life” is a popular one.

Others talk about “her place”… ie:  “She needs to know her place!”… or “Somebody needs to put her back in her place!”…

And “station”, “rank” or “position”, ie:  “He’s shooting above his station in life.  He needs to be brought down a notch or two”.

And, I’ve always wondered:  “Brought down from WHERE?”…

Is he *up* somewhere that he doesn’t belong that somebody feels the need to “bring him DOWN a notch or two”…?  And WHY would one feel the need to bring somebody “down” – and worse – feel somehow smugly justified for doing so?

Why would anyone feel justified for deliberately… purposefully… deciding to “bring somebody down a notch or two”….?

I can’t even begin to tell you how revolted I am by the whole idea. 

I can’t even articulate how violently my soul kicks against this noxious idea that we all have pre-determined little “stations”, “places” or “lots” in life… and – by God – if you don’t WANT to stay in your predetermined, demarcated station… and if you want something different… something *more*… something ELSE… and if you determinedly haul yourself out of the confinements… and aim for the “more”ness..  the OTHER’ness… the something-ELSE… (whether you want a different job… or to move to a different town… different church… different country… different community… or if you just want a different LIFE…)

Then, there is – without fail – a cluster of offended people who howl in protest… and demand that you be “brought down a peg or two” because you have “forgotten your station”… and that you need to be “put back in your place”.

Well – today – I’m just gonna call BULLSHIT on the whole ridiculous idea of caste systems, allotments and demarcated “places”.

It’s codswalloppy-rubbish-toxic-slime-oozing-STINKING… festering… hurtful… unnecessary… BULLSHIT!

There is no demarcated “place” for you (or me).  We are ALL (firstly) EQUAL… and we are ALL valuable… and we are ALL beautifully, wonderfully UNIQUE… !!

Dream the BIG dreams, peeps!  Be who you *ARE*… live life on YOUR terms!  Don’t let things like “race”, “gender”, “sexual-identity”, “nationality”, “class”, “culture”, “age”, “size” (and all the other many boxing-mechanisms) LIMIT the way you see YOURself and your OWN potential.

Don’t let the long-faced bullies with the cat-bum mouths try to bring-you-down!  Don’t let the sour pessimists POO all over your beautiful dreams!  Don’t allow people to make you feel *less* than what you are!  You are not *less*… and you have just as much right (as anyone) to aspire to be whoever you want to be.

There *IS* no Rule Book.

There *IS* no One-Size-Fits-All.

There *IS* no one, special “RIGHT” way to do life.

There is enough food at Life’s Buffet for ALL of us.  Enough big dreams for all of us.  Enough POTENTIAL for ALL of us to access.

I truly believe this.

(Even if I am an idealistic artist).

I truly believe that each human is immeasurably valuable… important… EQUAL… and yet… uniquely different to every other human.

Embrace that beautiful uniqueness.  Celebrate that you’re NOT the same as everyone else.  Figure out what you want and where you want to go… and do NOT let anyone “hold you back”… “bring you down”… or try to “put you in your place”.

Lots of love… Hat x

PS:  Oh… and now that I’ve sent back-packs to all the crowdfunding peeps… it’s time to announce that my book, “How Heather got her HAT’ness back” is now available on Amazon – or you can visit my not-anywhere-close-to-being-completed website to find out more.

An open letter to… Myself.

So – last night… whilst fretting over a potentially difficult situation that hasn’t even happened… I wrote a long, rambling, disclaimer-filled blog post.  (Those of you who have subscribed via e-mail will probably still have it squatting miserably in your in-box).

Feel free to delete it (as I have).

This morning… I decided it was time to have a very honest heart-to-heart with myself.  And so I wrote this letter:

Hat letter 1Hat letter 2Hat letter 3Snapseed (3)

Blog followers… friends… please feel free to REMIND me to re-read this letter… any time I start morphing again into people-pleasing, disclaimeritis mode!

Hugs & thank-you’s…..  Hat x

The arrival of my book and an illustrated rant on not being heard

So… I just wanted to quickly show my face on this blog – so you guys know I’m still here and haven’t been swallowed up by a sink-hole.

As many of you already know… my book is now printed (wooo-hoooooo!!!)… and all of my time has been spent on preparing backer’s packs and slowly (but surely) getting copies of the book out to every person who funded my crowdfunding, book-printing campaign.

Preparing the backer's packs...

Preparing the backer’s packs…

If you want to be kept in the loop about how to buy a book (regardless of whether you’re in South Africa or anywhere else in the world)… just drop an e-mail to tracy@themadhat.co.za (she’s my Admin-Queen… she’s good with money… she remembers to post things… she remembers to return phone-calls and e-mails!!).

I’ll do a *proper* book launch thingy (both physically and online)… ONLY after I’ve sent all the bits ‘n pieces to my backer-peeps.

I’m also working like a fiend on getting the new website up… because – it’s kinda silly (and typically shortsighted) of me to be sending out books – which advertise a website – that actually doesn’t EXIST yet!

Once the website is done… I’m going to transfer this blog to that site (it doesn’t really affect you guys – because even if you type in the old “live against the flow” URL – it will automatically plonk you on my new site).

So… *THAT* stuff… (plus renovating our house – again – and preparing it for Air B’nB)… and kids, and life, and birthday parties… is why I’ve been a bit scarce.

Anyhoo… here’s a little cartoon that I scribbled-up a while ago.

I drew it after a conversation with a woman I met in Durban who “heard” something entirely different to what I was actually trying to say.   Perhaps – there’s some of you can relate with this?

SnapseedSnapseed (1)Snapseed (2)Snapseed (3)Snapseed (4)

Anyhoo… there’s a whole LOAD of stuff that the Ranty part of my personality would like to say on the matter…  but… I’m not really in the mood for an argument with anybody – so I’ll just leave you with this last little scribble-thought of mine:

Snapseed (5)

Laters…

And remember – if you want to e-mail me for whatever reason… or ask about the book… or what-not – my e-mail is:  heather@themadhat.co.za

H x

Why I think rat-popping should be encouraged

So – let me start this post with one of my book drawings.  To remind those of you who haven’t seen it yet – here it is:

IMG_3617

Hmmm.  I’ve had a couple of folk express their distaste at the page above.  Somebody said that – although she might select my book from a bookstore shelf and start reading… she would replace the book if she came across this page.  Somebody else mentioned that she found the page distasteful and unnecessary – and she felt that it might upset children.

I’m not going to go in to a (very) long-winded response about the rat-popping… (because I’ve been working hard on attempting to manage my disclaimeritis)…  but, there’s a few things I want to point out:

Firstly… the rats were dead already.  I don’t like killing things.  And I have certainly never tortured or hurt any animals.

The rats from my story were big field rats that had fallen into our partially-buried septic tank (on the smallholding where I grew up)… and they had drowned in the sewerage.

I was a curious child – and I wanted to open the septic tank to understand what a tank full of poo and wee looked like.  Yes… gross!  – but – as I say, I was a VERY curious child.  What I discovered – instead – was about 12 dead, bloated rats… floating on top of all the other stuff.

I couldn’t reach them with my hands (kinda like reaching into a half-full well… and I had no intention of falling in to the septic tank whilst trying to retrieve the rats)… so I grabbed the pool net (Dad would have had a melt-down had he known)… scooped them up one-by-one and examined them closely.

My first thought was:  WHY have they swollen up like balloons?

My second thought was:  if they look like balloons – I wonder if they will *pop* like balloons?  Will they make a loud… popping sound?  Will they explode?  If they DO explode – will their guts splatter everywhere… like on the movies??

My third thought was:  how can I go about popping these rats to find out?

I didn’t want to try and pop them with a pin or a knitting needle – simply because doing so would mean that I would be within close proximity of a potentially exploding rat.  I did not want rat guts all over me.  Especially not rotting, stinky rat guts.

So – I decided to pop them… from a safe distance.  I lined them up in a neat row on our driveway… took a few steps backwards… took aim… and tossed bricks on top of them.

To be honest – it was pretty disappointing.  They didn’t explode like little rodent bombs.  They didn’t make a nice, loud balloon *pop* noise, either.  It was more a dull, squishy, muted phlooooppfff  sound.  The guts kinda oozed nonchalantly on to our driveway.   There was no dramatic, splattered rat-gut-shrapnel (as I had secretly hoped).

But there you have it… it was a fun science experiment.  Carried out by a curious child.

And you know what?  I don’t think this kind of curiosity should be discouraged because it makes people squirm and wrinkle their noses and say:  “Eww!  That’s disgusting!”

As much as I’m an artist (and my rat-popping days are long over and I have no desire to concoct any further experiments on dead things)… there’s a whole bunch of kids out there who could be future scientists, biologists, doctors or pathologists.  And those kids are curious about this kind of thing!  And they want to know… and understand how stuff works… and I think we should encourage them.

Dead things… are a part of life.  We need people who will be curious about that kind of thing.  Sure, it’s not everyone’s cup of proverbial tea… but… for the kids who DO want to dissect the dead things… and figure out how stuff works or why dead things bloat… I say:  let them!  Encourage them to question.  Encourage their curiosity.  And later – ask them what they discovered and what they learned.

Personally… I learned that popping dead, bloated rats wasn’t worth the effort of retrieving them from the septic tank… cleaning up the aftermath… and trying to hide the poo-encrusted pool net from my dad.

I also learned that dead rats bloat because the decomposition process releases various gasses.  These gasses accumulate and cause the bloating.  Too much gas accumulating (or – a brick)… could cause the gas-inflated cavity to rupture… but not *explode*… or blow the entire carcass to bits.  Therefore, my experiment rendered significantly less dramatic results than what I had anticipated.

As the saying goes, we learn something new every day.

It’s finished.

In February 2014, I experienced a milestone moment.

It happened during the first couple of weeks during our 7-month stay in Cape Town.

At the time, I was in a very positive frame of mind.  I was in the process of deconstructing my *old* life and asking myself some tough questions about who I really was (and who I wasn’t)… what was important to me (and what wasn’t important) and – of course – what I wanted out of life (and what I didn’t want).

It had been a long, slow journey of rediscovery after a decades-long self-imposed prison sentence of mask-wearing, people-pleasing and pretending.

Journals, art books, gratitude notes, stories, books, music, poetry, encouragement from dear friends, deep conversations with my husband and lots of time spent with my loved ones… had all played a vital role in pointing me in the right direction.  Each one of those things unlocked parts of me that had been shackled for years and… in a way… they set me free.

In February, 2014.  I was happy.  My family and I had recently returned from a 6-week South African road trip… followed by an epic 2 month journey around the United States.  Our life was drastically different to what it had been like a few years earlier.  For the first time in years, we felt as though we were finally living life on *OUR* terms…

Our family - Cape Point - 2014

Our family – Cape Point – 2014

As a family – everything was going really well.

But for me – personally… I still didn’t know what *I* wanted to do with my life.

Sure – I was wife to Nick… and mom to Morgan and Joah… and those are, of course, critical parts of my make-up… but… I knew there was *more*.

Who was “Heather”….?

Apart from “Nick’s wife”…  or “Morgan and Joah’s mom”… or “Linda and Bob’s daughter”… who was Heather?

In February 2014… while we were staying in a beautiful little apartment in Noordhoek that overlooks Long Beach… I sat down at the kitchen counter with a cup of coffee, some paper… a couple of pens… and I started to draw.

I drew a sketch of a little girl.

Messy plaits… scratches and scabs on her knees… a mischievous grin… and – I wrote:  “Hello and good greetings, my name is Hat”.

Here is a pic of that first sketch:

IMG_2417

And it hit me.

HAT!  Of course….!!!

That’s who I was back then… before I began obsessively trying to *fix* myself… and fit-in… and change everything about myself in my desperate, misguided attempt to be found acceptable by others.

Hat.

It was a nickname given to me by my dear friend, Tracy Straughan (back then, her name was Tracy Askham).  She came up with the name partly because I was a bit mad (like the Mad Hatter) – but also – because I absolutely LOVED wearing crazy, interesting hats.  I had a whole collection of them.  A vintage hat box too.  Tracy also liked that the “H” for “Hat” matched the initial of my first name.

At the age when Tracy named me

At the age when Tracy named me “Hat”…

So, Hat it was.

All my school friends called me “Hat” (and those I’ve kept in touch with over the years still do).  My sister adapted the name to “Hatster” (and has called me that for as long as I can remember).

Back then… I had a dream.  I dreamed that I would be an artist, poet and storyteller.

But… my dream never materialized.

I set it all aside in order to become all the things I believed I was *supposed to* become:  respectable, responsible, practical, sensible, well-behaved, lady-like…

I set it all aside so I could get a *REAL* job… (because this is *REAL* life)… and blah-blah-humbug…. (long story – but it’s all in the book).

In February 2014… when I drew that first little “Hat” illustration… and when I wrote those “I am Hat” words… was the first time that I fully remembered who I used to be.

That one illustration became two… and then three… and then four… (and eventually – it became 80).

And now – it’s finished.

My big, fat portfolio stuffed-with-art... (on it's way to get scanned a few days ago)....

My big, fat portfolio stuffed-with-art… (on it’s way to get scanned a few days ago)….

And it’s at the printers… being printed… (thanks – of course – to a whole bunch of awesome-incredible peeps who funded my crowdfunding campaign!!!).

Writing this book was not only therapy but… with every page… it re-affirmed what my heart already knew:  THIS is who I am… and THIS is what I’m meant to be doing.

The book – in a way – is a visual diary of my “process”… the process of re-discovering (and finally embracing) the person that I am… my ME’ness… my MUCH’ness… my HAT’ness.

IMG_2593

It wasn’t conceptualized or created in the way that one might normally create a book.  I didn’t wake up one day with a plan to write and illustrate a book about my life.  The whole thing just kinda… evolved.

The book evolved… and I evolved with it.

Even *I* had no idea where it would lead… or how the story would end.

I took it day by day.  Writing… recording… remembering… drawing… and – in the process – becoming.

Originally – I thought I’d add my illustrations to one of my art journals.  Or maybe I’d blog about the process… or laugh about it with a group of friends.  Originally – I had never intended it becoming an actual… published… *book!*

I mean – an illustrated book (a poem!)… for adults?  Weren’t illustrated books only created for children?

What was this *thing* that my process was creating??

But here we are.  80 pages and one finished book later.  Crowd-funding, pre-orders, letters… stories… connections with people from all over the world who resonate…. and even a movie deal on the cards.

Who would have guessed?

Not me.

In a beautiful way (that far surpasses what I could have imagined or expected)… we are back in Cape Town.

I put the final, finishing touches to my book… on the exact same kitchen counter where the journey began in February 2014:  the little apartment in Noordhoek with the beautiful sea view.

Oh – and did I mention… I was born in Cape Town?

In a way… it feels as though I needed to return to my roots… even geographically… for this story to unfold.  Cape Town has always reminded me of my young, carefree self.  Perhaps I needed the mountain, the fynbos and the smell of the sea to reconnect with the creative little girl I once was.  The person I was designed to be.

Here’s a picture of me – of “Hat” – in my early Cape Town years:

beauty1

Kinda speaks for itself, huh…?


As a footnote on this Milestone Day:  a huge, resounding, deeply-grateful thank-you to every person who has sent words of encouragement and support.  And – of course – to everyone who backed my book-printing crowd-funding campaign (your goodies will soon be in the mail).  To Tracy Baggott – who has been an anchor of support (and the Organised-Queen) and who has been SO patient with me!!  And – of course – to Nick and everyone else who believed in me LONG before I learned to believe in myself.

Want a book?  Want to reach me… or Tracy (who is the more reliable one and who actually responds – on time – to e-mails)…?  Here’s our details:  tracy@themadhat.co.za or heather@themadhat.co.za  X