On top of the world and around the country - project me day 516

There's only one way to get your big girl (or boy) panties (or boxers) on and get out into the big wide world of things that fear you ... Nike has it so right and I wish I could tattoo "Just do it" on most people's foreheads. Of course I would need to start with mine.

We all have fears and we look at each other as though our fears are much scarier. I can think of a good number of people who I look at very strangely when they say something scares them. To me, it's easy! Shove me on stage, totally unprepared, and I will be fine. Give me a topic I'm comfortable with at least. Don't ask me geography questions in public unless you are planning on making a complete ass of me. Funny that, considering what I'm about to announce.

I'm determined not to start the 'book' with the opening line: "It began over a pizza and coffee", so count it as officially being used. Truth is, it did begin that way and with a whole lot of?frustration?as I watched a friend put an awesome idea on a shelf because of a whole lot of fears. ?Mostly, his fears didn't scare me, so it was easy to give him a handful of reasons to 'just do it'. By the end of the evening we had a brilliant idea and both of us were making a whole lot of dreams a reality.

Pat Sloane has never seen the best parts of South Africa and for some reason I have had my dad on my mind in the most tear jerking way. Pat is a brilliant photographer and I'm a passionate writer. Pat wants to create a coffee table book of the positive side of our beautiful country and I want to give people a true understanding of happiness.
Greg and myself has dreamed of changing the perception of charity and so Lifeology Rich (readying individuals to create happiness) was born. There is so much to tell you about that aspect of our vision, but for the most part, we want to give back in the only way we know how ... by empowering individuals to discover their richness within.

While I was standing on top of the 22nd floor of the most gorgeous building in the centre of Braamfontein on a frosty winter's night in South Africa, I had two thoughts.
1 ... holy crap, I climbed into an elevator and went up 22 flights without thinking I was going to do. Yes, I'm that afraid of them. I have even walked up 17 flights to my hotel room (up and down) for an entire weekend. I have made my sister walk up over 150 steps in London to avoid the subway elevator ... I am that afraid! Well ... I was that afraid! Staring at the beautiful view at Randlords and watching the lights twinkle and Jozi?glisten, I realised that I had no need for an old pattern anymore.

I used to be afraid of getting lost or stuck in lifts and public toilets in case no one noticed I was missing. It was my fear that I would be stuck there or lost for hours or days. I can't be claustrophobic because I'm happy to climb in a plane or pile into a noisy club and small space ... but lose me in a crowd and my world falls apart. I'm not that girl anymore ... the one who thinks I'm not noticed or that I'm so insignificant that I will be gone for hours and no one will even notice I'm missing. It's been that recent that yesterday was the first elevator trip that didn't scare the panties off of me. Okay, I cling to my cellphone a little, but that's better than walking 22 flights of stairs.

So, on top of the world, really was that spectacular.

The other incredible moment was realising that I'm about to make one of my dad's dreams a reality. No wonder I have been so emotional about him of late. With Pat's fears putting on the breaks and me battling to watch people not overcome their fears, I took the plunge and told him that we would collaborate on our dreams coming true. My dad wanted to see South Africa in one long trip (but being on the road with an oxygen tank to survive is not the wisest idea) and Pat wants to take pics of the happiest moments he can capture in this magnificent country. I, on the other hand, want to do an incredible trip in memory of my dad, blog about it and share the concept that happiness truly is that individual. If you ask 100 people what happiness means to them, I know you will get 100 different answers ... and so, Project Happiness is born!

The how's are always the fun part and there's a lot to plan without getting too bogged down in the detail. So it's a month on the road, driving through SA and taking pictures of what happiness means to the people we meet and see around us. Then a coffee table book will be born with the combination of my telling the story of our trip and quoting South Africans from every corner of this incredible place and asking only one question ... "What does happiness mean to you?"

Well ...

Mike Turner's Project Me Story, supporting SA Guide Dog Association

I was born, and raised by my Mom in Cape Town. In my early teens, I was a bit of a surfer boy, listening to Bob Marley and chasing girls. As I got a bit older I became more and more interested in music - especially heavier music. Eventually I sold my surfboard and took up guitar lessons instead. I formed a band with some friends from around the neighborhood. We were pretty bad.? We sounded like a cross between The Sex Pistols and some of the early grunge bands coming out of Seattle.

When I was about fifteen I was sent to live with my Dad in Johannesburg. Apparently I needed some discipline and a Father figure.? I guess the gory Iron Maiden posters and rebellious attitude were the main cause of this. ?But I always did my own thing. I didn?t like being told what to do. I was in trouble with my teachers regularly. Even from a young age I knew I didn?t want to conform to society - get good grades, go to university, get a regular job! No thank you. I barely made it through each year of high school. All I wanted to do was come home and play my guitar, and one day be in a famous band. Maths! What do I need that for? This attitude didn?t go down well with my Dad. He?s a very successful engineer. He told me I needed something to fall back on. He wasn?t wrong, but I didn?t care. I had my dream and I was going to follow it no matter what!

After high school I went straight into the army. I was in the second last call-up for the old National Service. This was like my own personal hell. I hate being told what to do and what to think.? But I got through it and learned a few skills in the process. The experience did make me a better man. Not so much because of the discipline and general army stuff, but because it was such a huge challenge for me. ?I truly believe I went in a boy and came out a man. It didn?t change my perspective on conformity to society. If anything I was more determined than ever to do things the way I wanted to do them.

I was out the army for about a week and I formed a band with my best mate. We found a singer and a drummer and set to work. Most of us worked more than one job at a time, to live and afford the equipment we needed. We played gigs all over Johannesburg. Entered battle of the bands wherever we could. Three of us worked at a bar at the old Randburg Waterfront. On Monday nights a guy called Sean Liebenberg played there. We became friends with him, and one night he invited us on stage to do an unplugged set during his break. While we were playing, Art and Brent from Just Jinger walked in. This was just after they became famous [1997]. They were blown away by our stuff and invited us to open for them at The Roxy in Melville. Talk about right time, right place. It was like a fast track to fame. Before you knew it we had a manager, were getting sponsors and getting booked all over town. Within a year we had three record companies offering us contracts. We chose Sony BMG, and set about recording the album.

Our first single ?Starlight? made it into the top 20 on the 5FM Top 40. Our second single, ironically titled ?Getting Stronger? made it to number 2. Dj Ian F said if it weren?t for U2?s ?Beautiful Day?, we would have made it to number 1 that week.

We got loads of airplay, and did a supporting national tour for our album.? But, despite rave reviews and good exposure, there just wasn?t enough financial support to sustain it full time. There were nights our sound engineer went home with more money than us.? We were peaking at a time when DJ parties were more popular than watching live bands. I had to go back to part-time work to pay the bills.

I got a job working for a small independent Pro photo lab. I really got into photography at this point. I was even the bands official photographer, using tripods and timers to get the shots. I think, because of our financial struggles, the friendship between the band members became a bit strained. I was starting to fall out with the singer in a big way. We were both very stubborn, and wanted to do things differently. This included musical direction, and general business decisions. As he was the main songwriter, he got his way most of the time. This frustrated me. I don?t like being told what to do, especially when it concerned my future and my financial situation.

About one year after recording our album, I left the band with a very heavy heart. I was devastated that it had come to that. We had worked so long and hard, making huge sacrifices along the way. We were very good together, musically, but becoming bitter and resentful as friends. Still to this day, that was the hardest decision I?ve ever made. And I often regret it. If I were then, the person I am today, I would have fought harder to make it work. I would have found ways to keep our friendships strong. I was young then, and have learned a lot about myself, and life in general.

I have learned that the people in your life are the most important. All people. Even the ones I haven?t met yet. It?s the connections we make on this earth that make our lives special, that make us better people, and grow our businesses. I try to treat everyone I meet with respect and dignity, even when it?s not being given in return. Good manners and sincerity go a long way in making lasting friendships and strong business connections.

Today I run my own photography business. I mostly work in the corporate market, the one place I never wanted to be, growing up. I love my job. I meet new people every day. Go to new and exciting places, and get to see into the workings of all kinds of things I never though excised. I?m following a new dream now, one which has endless possibilities. I do miss the music though. The thrill of performing live, and the fun of jamming with friends. Who knows, maybe one day you will hear me play again.

Grannysmith?s website: www.grannysmith.co.za

My photography website: www.miketurner.co.za

Follow Mike on Twitter

On a personal note:
Mike, we met through a Tweet that screamed of honesty, passion and a truth of who you are and now I'm thrilled to call you my friend. Thank you for sharing in #D500 with me and inviting me into your world of photography and live SA music. I know you have asked me a few times why I wanted you to do the project me interview and my answer is unwavering. I loved every song from Grannysmith in my early days of clubs, tequila and Rocky Street and I also you would have a story to share that reminds us just how incredible it is to live a dream. Everything you touch turns to your version of gold and it a joy to share you story! Mike, thank you for your time, honesty and a trip down memory lane that must be so bitter/sweet!

Here is my favourite Grannysmith song called Starlight.

Mike's Project Me Story interview:

1. What is your definition of happiness?
Happiness is living in the moment. Living in the present. I believe there are two ways to live your life. You can have a life of ?meaning? ? which requires you to dwell on the past and the future. This rarely brings happiness. The other is to keep your thoughts on right now. Be happy for who you are, your family and friends and the other blessing in your life.

2. If you could have everyone say one thing to themselves every day, what would it be?
Never give up on your dreams. They are always attainable, as long as you keep trying to reach them.

3. We all need someone to believe in us. Who is that person for you and why?
I?ve never needed anyone to believe in me. I?ve always done things my own way. I?ve always looked to myself for belief.

4. What quality do you believe we can never be taught because it is our birth right?
To love

5. Describe the moment when you realised that you could achieve anything?
The moment I truly believed that I could?achieve?my dreams, was the night our band won the battle of the bands at Roxy Rhythm Bar back in 1998. I can clearly remember the feeling on stage. The crowd was going?ballistic. The whole place was just buzzing. I could literally feel the energy in the room. Every pull on my guitar string was connected in some way to the people there. It was like we were all connected by this invisible force. And we were controlling that. Its an unbelievable feeling.

6. What have you always dreamed of being or doing and have you reached that dream?
Since I was about fourteen years old, I dreamed of being a musician. Performing on stage. Going on tours and living the life of a professional musician. I?pursued?this dream until we signed a record deal with Sony BMG in 1999. I really believed that was the start of big things. But being a pro musician in South Africa is very tough. There?isn't?a big enough market. I still had to do part-time jobs to survive. And in the end we could not keep going. So I guess I did not reach the?heights?of the dream. However, this failure could have been overcome. I could have achieved my dream. As a band/team we?weren't?all moving in the same direction. And that was the biggest stumbling block. When your dream depends entirely on the co-operation of others, things can go wrong.

7. When life gets in the way, what do you always remind yourself of?
Life is life. Its part of the journey. It cant be avoided.? Just try to find a balance. Every little thing we do or experience, has value. It makes us who we are.

8. We all have something unique to offer the world, what is yours?
My point of view. But most people are only interested in their own, so it is of very little use to the world.

9. How do you deal with the fears that could potentially hold you back?
To quote Waynes World: ?Live in the now? ? You can?t change the past and the future hasn?t happened yet, so why worry about it.? Do your best everyday.

10. What do you believe we have lost sight of in the world as a whole?

Mike is bringing awareness to: South African Guide Dog Association

The South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind was founded in 1953 by?Gladys Evans?and a?temporary training centre was rented at No 1, Glamorgan Road, Parkwood.after she returned from England with her famous guide dog, Sheena.

SAGA?s first real home was a lovely 6 acre property called ?Vale Cottage? in Parkmore, Sandton which was established in 1958. Vale Cottage was later renamed ?The Gladys Evans Training Centre? and was to remain the home of SAGA until 1986 when, due to the increased demand for guide dogs, the new ?Gladys Evans Training Centre? was opened in Wroxham Road, Witkoppen.

This 11 acre property today boasts all the facilities required to train both guide dogs and their blind owners.

It?s interesting to note that in the long history of SAGA only 4 people have headed the Association. They are Michael Bibikoff (1955 to 1959), Lionel Wilson (1959 to 1969), Ken Lord (1969 to 2004) and Malcolm Driver (2004 to the present time).

To donate, sponsor a puppy or guide dog and find out the many ways you can support this vital cause, please visit the SAGA website.

What's in a year? - project me day 515

I can't believe Greggie is another year older. It feels like the first real milestone I can distinctly remember from when the blog began. I remember his birthday party last year as if it were yesterday. I even remember sitting down to blog for it. The memories were so clear that I decided to do what I hardly ever do ... go back and read the post from last year.

Some things have changed dramatically and others are exactly the same.
It's the day I can pinpoint my back being sore for the first time, before it finally sequestrated and disks collapsed in about August. That's a long time to have pain, but that the bitch about hindsight.

From an esteem point of view, I've come leaps and bounds but 365 days ago I was still on about my body and my weight. Actually, it wasn't one of my finest days and I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking I was pretty negative at some points. One thing I did notice is that I ended that day finding the good in it and I'm thrilled that I am at least getting that right.

Yesterday was so much fun and it was great to have Greggie's party at Thava Indian Restaurant who have been very loyal sponsors and supports of 'project me'. Okay, so that day I remember clearly too. The day the sponsorship was confirmed, we went to dinner at the restaurant and the next day my disks collapsed. All in all, this has become a very interesting time as I reflect on where I was and I contemplate where I'm going.

Of course, that will all unfold as the days go along. Right now all I want to do is give myself the pat on my back at where I am emotionally ... and it's such a special place.

A year ago today ... I was miff and here's proof: Flashback 365 to day 149 - Here it is in the words of my low self esteem.

That was then ... and this is now:

Greggie, Emmanuel, me and Hustler Girl's Ponkie (who isn't on Twitter ... sigh!)

Okay, so ?I forgot to organise a cake, but some very yummy Thava pudding did just fine!

Hustler Girl and Me

Oooh, look ... there's my Risky Business!

All the Twits from Twitter

Another very big thank you goes to the Thava Indian Restaurant for making Greggie's birthday so special. Every person raved about the meal and it's always a joy to share our time in such a special place.

Step one: Let myself go! - project me day 514 #projectbody

I'm hoping by know you now what is going on when a daily post is nothing more than a country song ... or based on one. Yesterday was one of those where I couldn't think of how to express myself for all the words in the world. Sometimes it's just easier to take the first song that's pulling me through the day and share it with you. Magically, it works every time and yesterday I made some crazy decision (that I will share with you just as soon as I've told Greggie and my mom ... not so wise for them to read it here first because it is that big!)
The song yesterday was 'live like you were dying', which I watched my dad do and there's been this terrible missing of him ... and now I know why!

Back to today though and the reason why this song will be on repeat for the next few weeks ...
When I first heard this song (years ago) I truly had let myself go! I had let myself go in a completely let go and don't care way and my body had become my victim of sabotage. It took years to make friends with me and for glimmers of time I let myself go in the way this song truly intends.

At the moment it's a constant yo-yo between letting myself go with hurt and harm and other times it's letting myself go with abundant self respect. The up and down is making me nauseous though and I just want to constantly let my self go ... and go ... and go!!

The start of it is with a very special trip to Cape Town thank to the kindness of heart of the 6 on Thirteenth family. There I'm letting myself go ... to finish my book! Then I'm coming home to let myself go ... on a journey of body, fun and me in #projectbody. Then ... I'm letting myself go ... just the way my dad wouldn't have dreamed I do it!

It's time ...

Let herself go ... George Strait (One of the best country singers of all time for those not so in the loop!)
He wondered how she'd take it when he said goodbye.
Thought she might do some cryin': lose some sleep at night.
But he had no idea, when he hit the road,
That without him in her life, she'd let herself go.

Let herself go on a singles cruise,
To Vegas once, then to Honolulu.
Let herself go to New York City:
A week at the Spa; came back knocked-out pretty.
When he said he didn't love her no more,
She let herself go.

She poured her heart an' soul into their three-bedroom ranch.
Spent her days raisin' babies, ironin' his pants.
Came home one day from the grocery store and found his note,
And without him there to stop her, she let herself go.

Let herself go on her first blind-date:
Had the time of her life with some friends at the lake.
Let herself go, buy a brand new car,
Drove down to the beach he always said was too far.
Sand sure felt good between her toes:

She let herself go on a singles cruise,
To Vegas once, then to Honolulu.
Let herself go to New York City:
A week at the Spa; came back knocked-out pretty.
When he said he didn't love her no more,
She let herself go.

To Vegas once: Honolulu, New York City.
Came back knocked-out pretty.

Do you live like you were dying? - project me day 513

He said: "I was in my early forties,
"With a lot of life before me,
"An' a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
"I spent most of the next days,
"Looking at the x-rays,
"An' talking 'bout the options an' talkin? ?bout sweet time."
I asked him when it sank in,
That this might really be the real end?
How?s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
Man whatcha do?

An' he said: "I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

He said "I was finally the husband,
"That most the time I wasn?t.
"An' I became a friend a friend would like to have.
"And all of a sudden goin' fishin?,
"Wasn?t such an imposition,
"And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.
"Well, I finally read the Good Book,
"And I took a good long hard look,
"At what I'd do if I could do it all again,
"And then:

"I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

Like tomorrow was a gift,
And you got eternity,
To think about what you?d do with it.
An' what did you do with it?
An' what can I do with it?
An' what would I do with it?

"Sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I watched Blue Eagle as it was flyin'."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

I still need to ... Sky diving! Rocky mountain climbing!?Loved deeper!

I'm not so old after all - project me day 512

I think the only person who can't believe that I used to be this club hopping, 4am on a school night kinda girl is me.
I started when I was 16 (I'm sure that was under age) and discovered a club called Ceasars Palace in Braamfontein. I kid you not ... it became a standard Wednesday and Saturday night thing until it got to the point that a group of us were on the VIP list and used to stroll past the crowds lining up in long queues on a freezing night like last night.

Nothing would stop us! Not even exams or broken bones. Ladies night was on Wednesdays and we would grab front row seats on the edge of the dance floor. We would wait for certain songs the whole nite and sometimes arrive home as the sun was rising because it took that long to get up on the speakers and dance to it!
I remember that one year a friend of ours gave up clubbing for Lent ... we thought she was psycho and there was a huge celebration when she returned after 40 days of real?sacrifice. It did pay off though, because she met her hubby there not long after.

Believe it or not ... I never had one comfortable day of clubbing in all the thousands of nights out. It was way before 'project me' and I was this chubby, glasses wearing virginal girl who thought that competing with size 2 chicks who got the guy was the end of my world. I went for the dancing, the b52 shooters and because I have always made beautiful friends throughout my life. Even now, as I sit here and think back, I can't think of one time when I was happy in my skin and out on the town.

That girl in me is an old friend that I no longer recognise and I only realised that last night.

So, I bitched and moaned like an absolute brat and Tweeted myself silly about it being too cold to go out and that I was too old to go out on the jol (SA word for awesome time or party). I chewed Greggie's ear off and shivered like a drama queen but kept reminding myself that in a few hours it would be his birthday and I had to grow the hell up!

Of course I'm thrilled that I went out and for so many reasons.
I'm loving getting to know people I've met on Twitter and I can slowly start to call real friends. Mike is one of those special peeps who invited us to go watch an SA band that he has been raving about. I haven't done live music in ages and forgot how much I love it. I might still be feeling too old to go to loud concerts where I have to queue for hours and stand for even longer, but last night I realised that I'm not gonna get to old for amazing SA bands in chilled out venues, with special people.

My proud pic at the top is with Mike, me and Graeme from the Graeme Watkins Project in the middle. I haven't seen stage personality like that in a very long time and for a girl whose passion lies with country music, I have to say they get full marks for stealing my heart. I loved the lyrics and I hope to interview Graeme on Your Project Me Story soon, so I will definitely include some of them.

Only when all the gorgeous girls arrived and it would have been that time for the old insecurities to kick in, did I realise just how happy I am to have taken time time to like me.
I mean seriously, look at my gorgeous friends! Oh, look ... there's gorgeous me too!

'Project me' made magic last night by not having to drag all the baggage of low self esteem out with me. I'm not a girl to look back with regret, but I am one to look at the moments as perfect and even more amazing remembering how far I have come.

In the end everything warmed up: The fingers, toes, heart and company.

Thanks to Mike for the invite and the Graeme Watkins Project for the SA pride. To Emmanuel for rocking up?unexpectedly and being so freaking special.

Last, but certainly not least ... to my best friend, business partner, next door neighbour and soul mate (in our own little way) ... happy birthday to you! So much of who I am is because of the light that you held up so that I could see who I am through all the darkness. It was one of the most precious moments to count down to your birthday and wish you a happy birthday in moments when I couldn't be happier to be me.


Food for thought - project me day 511

The standard 'project me' joke is that I say I don't complain often (but I do) and it's going to be a short blog (but it never is). So tonight I'm going to try not complain, but fok it's cold. Keeping it short might be on the cards because I've had a very offish day!

Of course I didn't tell anyone around me, but it's also why I've left blogging until the very last moment.

Blog wise, it's been so exciting that I don't quite know what to do with myself, so let's share the positive. Today I got to interview Stephen van Niekerk for Your Project Me Story. For my international friends, he is one awesome South African actor and I have been honoured to get to know Stephen and slowly share my passion for blogging and social networking and its endless possibilities with him. When everything fell into place and one of the charities he supports had it's national day on the same day as the scheduled interview (ok, I coordinated that a little), I woke up so excited.

The rest of me woke up freezing cold and irritated that the landlords haven't sorted out what they promised to and I ended up acting like a big baby and sleeping with my mom behind locked doors last night, because the alarm still isn't working.

Back to the excited part of me that had a glimmer of being a part of the National Soup Day in Stephen's featured post. The whole start to the day got me thinking and I couldn't quite shake the feeling that a part of 'project me' will always be the platform to allow others the use it as a voice. I'm very stuck on not calling people needy, less fortunate and I watch how I use the word charity.
In combination with the build up to the Twitter Blanket Drive and the CANSA event that Lifeology is a part of and that my very talented business partner, Greg Arthur is singing in, I felt the need to explain what 'charity' means to me. I won't do it tonight because I said I wasn't in the blogging mood, but I know it's going to become an integral message in 'project me'.

Tomorrow is Greggie's birthday and it's dinner at my house. My dearest friend, Hustler Girl is stressed because life is in that scary about to fall over the edge part of the journey. So the other part of my day was filled with what to cook for my special friends in the combination of happy and scary times. Last night I invented an awesome recipe of chopped herbs, lemon, garlic, chilli and reduced fat cream for the grilled chicken. Of course it was a hit, but I can't repeat one day later ... sigh! That also got me thinking that it seriously is time to start recording some of my recipes. As a Pagan witchin' in the kitchen, I should be ...

I'm obviously very nervous to begin 'project body' and I've decided to start it when we return from Cape Town on the 14th of June. Oh, did I forget to tell you that? Thanks to the incredible peeps of 6 on Thirteenth, Greggie and I are off to combine some work and writing (well, I'm writing) for a good few days. In the time that I have been writing my novel, two of my friends have published theirs. My dad was still alive when I started writing it ... I mean really! So it's time to get down and do it and I'm hoping a wet winter in Cape Town is the perfect place.

Okay, about 200 words short of normal ... but about 400 words more than planned! See you all on day 512 ... the big Birthday!

Stephen van Niekerk's project me story told on National Soup Day {Supporting FoodBank SA}

Amateur dramatics was Stephen van Niekerk's first step towards expanding his personality and gaining the self-confidence and personal skills he needed to survive in this dog eat dog world. After doing his first production with the Franklin players he received an award for best actor in an amateur musical, and the rest as they say is history. Stephen then went on to study at the Pretoria Technikon where he completed his Drama Diploma. Following that he started pursuing all different avenues and facets of the entertainment industry; from Puppetry to directing, Script writing to educational theatre, sexual awareness workshops to children?s theatre.

Stephen has a passion for screen and film acting and has starred in various local TV shows like?Snitch on?Mnet, the emmy nominated?Home Affairs on SABC1 where his abusive character?Daniel caused huge controversy. He has appeared on many local soaps,?Egoli and?7de Laan as well as?Backstage. He made his?Hollywood debut as a featured extra in the film?Femme Fatal starring Antonio Banderas. More recently (Dec 2009) Stephen teamed up with Warner Premier to film the third instalment in the vampire thriller series,?The Lost Boys - The Thirst. His love for live performance drew him back to stage and has seen him in shows like Shakespeare?s?Macbeth, Terrence McNally award winning?Love Valour and Compassion, Ladies night, the musical version of?Debbie does Dallasand he made his singing debut as burger in?Hair in 2007. The South east Asian tour of Ben Elton's?We Will Rock You saw thousands of international fans filling theatres.

Stephen joined the star studded cast of?Fings aint wot they used to be and wowed audiences in the highly successful?Doobie Boobies in 2010. ?In 2009 Stephen joined the?Isidingo family as hunky Daniel Le Roux and has been having great fun and audiences around the country are slowly considering him a household name. He is excited to have been involved in the production and looks forward to many new story lines.

On a personal note:
Stephen, it has been an honour getting to know you and watching the passion with which you approach every aspect of life from your career to your family. Amidst the busy schedule of being back on stage with Doobie Boobies (can't wait for it to hit Jozi), your baby's arrival and your support of National Soup Day and other charities, I can't thank you enough for stopping and doing the Your Project Me Story interview. I am thrilled that we could combine your interview with the support of FoodBank SA and the Denny Soup Drive and encourage all our South African friends and supporters to buy a tin of Denny Soup throughout the end of May and June so that 50c per tin can go to warming the hearts and tummies of others.

Here's Stephen's project me story:

What is your definition of happiness?
For me happiness is organic emotion and it is dependant on where you are emotionally, physically and mentally at that point in our day or even life. Because my Happiness has shifted since I was blessed with a daughter. But to answer that question:
Happiness is finding that sense of contentment and fulfilment associated with looking at life with the feeling of gratitude and awe. Knowing, that you are seriously special and that you have so much to offer and not allowing anybody to strip you of your responsibility to be good to yourself.
If you can achieve that feeling with every breath, I think you could say you were Happy.

If you could have everyone say one thing to themselves every day, what would it be?
I am the Boss of me!

We all need someone to believe in us. Who is that person for you and why?
If I had to analyse all the reasons for wanting to achieve at a task or a life choice, I would say that the number one reason was to have recognition from my Father. Because I believe that as a boy I couldn?t truly move into adult hood unless I had had that all knowing nod from my father to grant me right of passage.

What quality do you believe we can never be taught because it is our birth right?
I would have to say Happiness/Love. We are all born with the ability to love unconditionally. (Somewhere along the way it is tainted and diluted with social pressure and moral infidelity.)

Describe the moment when you realised that you could achieve anything?
It was the first time I had to sing in front of an audience. This had been a nemesis of mine for as long as I could remember. Of all the art forms I think singing is the one people scrutinise the most, expecting perfection in every note and being relentless in their disapproval should you hit a bum one. I had had very little rehearsal on stage before this performance, but I was mentally prepared to do well irrespective of the massive amount of fear of failure.

The curtain went up and I found myself staring out at about 500 people all waiting for me to open my mouth. My music began and I was edging closer and closer to the opening note. At this point I didn?t know what the first words were. I looked out over the 500 faces and realised that I was in control and that nobody was here to watch me fail. I sucked in the largest breath I could muster and hit the first note. Suddenly the audience seemed very far away and I was riding on every note coming out of my mouth. At the end of the song it dawned on me that I was still alive and I felt like the king of the world and my fear was nothing compared to the feeling of elation at conquering my foe.
Then there was getting my child to pass a burp at 3am and the sound of a belch after a 2hour squealing match made me realise there was nothing I couldn?t achieve.

What have you always dreamed of being or doing and have you reached that dream?
Tough question, Being? My quest has always been to be comfortable in my own skin, but the vehicles I have chosen to achieve this is where I think the difference lies. I guess I have always wanted to be a doctor or healer of sorts. Circumstance has driven me in a different direction but I feel that I will heal through laughter or portraying characters that other people can relate to or identify with.
Doing? I dream of getting to the top of Kilimanjaro, I would love to say that it was all planned and ready to go but I guess to quote a sugar packet. ??Life is what happens when you make other plan?.

We all have something unique to offer the world, what is yours
I remember to go to the edge of town or to a place where I can see the wood for the trees. There is a lot to be said for perspective. I don?t mind playing the fool. I will be the guy to break the tension and I forgive.

How do you deal with the fears that could potentially hold you back?
I give them the respect they deserve and then deal with them? one at a time.

What do you believe we have lost sight of in the world as a whole?
The fact that we are all in this together.

A personal note from Stephen about National Soup Day:
South Africa's first National Soup Day will take place on 26 May 2011 and on that day Denny is going to hand over the first batch of a guaranteed 2000 cases of soup to FoodBank. Everybody loves to give to those in need but with so many charities out there, it was difficult choosing one. Thus FoodBank was the perfect choice as they service over 1000 NGO's nationally, as you already know. We want to appeal to the public on a personal and emotional level and show them that this day is for a great cause.

Apart from the handover taking place, Denny's Soup2Give campaign is also donating a further 50c of every can of Denny soup sold during May and June.

Sponsor's information: FoodBank South Africa

FoodBank South Africa (FBSA) is leading a large-scale co-ordinated effort to establish food banks in communities with the highest concentration of food insecure people.
What is a food bank? A food bank is an organisation that acts on behalf of all of the non-profit organisations (we call them "agencies") operating in its area. The food bank procures food (and essential non-food groceries) usually from donors such as producers, manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, individuals and other organisations. The food bank defaces the donated product (to protect the brand) and stores it in one of its warehouses. FBSA's warehouses are equipped to safely sort and store all manner of food and non-food items. Food is dispatched from the food bank every day (depending on supply) and delivered to depots in the communities where our agencies are located. In this way, we save agencies the expense of having to travel long distances to fetch food from our warehouses, and FBSA saves itself the cost of delivering to 1300 agencies countrywide.

FoodBank South Africa provides food to about?1,100 community based organisations countrywide. Collectlively these organisations - typically edu-care centres, orphanages, shelters, frail care and HIV/Aids Clinics - serve approximately?203,000 children and adults.

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I now know my awkward interview question - project me day 510

It's one of those days I didn't dream about and that's what makes it all the more incredible.
It was my first interview as a blogger! Okay, casting my mind back, I'm pretty certain that it was my first interview ... period! Well a face to face one with that little dictaphone and a journalist asking me questions that the world wants to know the answers to. Well, my world at least.

One of the questions that Lindsey Kin of Media Update asked me was, how do I decide what to blog about each day?
It's the significant moments. The ones that jump out as a time when I've had to go into 'project me' mode and either tell my truth, face my reality, laugh at the moment or be conscious and grateful.

With that in mind, my day was filled with two of those moments.
The morning was abuzz with 'project body' phone calls and emails. I had to call my friend, The Gossip Guy for a little pep talk on actually telling the world that I'm fabulous because he knows the difference between confidence and arrogance. That done, I finally got brave and damn well called the personal trainer that I contacted just after I was given clearance to get back to gym ... In MARCH! I though I would have to re-introduce myself to him, but instead he picked up the call and said, "Hi Jode, where have you been? Not in my water aerobics class, I see!"
Yes, yes ... I hate gym! Well, actually ... I'm scared of it! It's because I have no idea what moderation is and usually end up breaking my body when unsupervised. After hearing my idea for 'project body', he's keen to sponsor me with a few personal training session in the pool (because my back is safest?exercising?in water) and monitoring my weight loss and body fat, measurements ... blah, blah! I'm even more excited that Niel from Slimlab is joining me in potential sponsor's meeting and has proven to be an unbelievable support along a very scary road.

Now I''m on a mission to get a little more media exposure and Niel was a great help there too ... even though he told me that all he had to do was Google. Hey, if I don't have a PA yet, a little damsel in?distress can be faked once in ?a while.

Driving to the interview was fun, considering I had to break it to Greggie that I double booked Monday morning because my diary is on the Blackberry and I'm scared to sync it with the laptop because things get triple booked ... so when I'm on the phone I don't know what's happening in the dairy and ... well ... do you think I'm kidding about the PA?

I loved the interview questions, but we never escape the voice of the low esteem that has to be mean at the most?crucial?moments. Mine always says the same thing: "You talk too much!" I never give myself a hard time about talking nonsense or making no sense. I'm always mean to me when I think I could have said all of that in half the time. I said it anyway and in true Jodene style, even had a moment to shed a tear.

I love knowing that what I do is unique enough to not be able to pull 10 questions out a hat, but do know that one questions is always going to come up: "What do I do in my spare time?"
I swear ... I could think of nothing else but spending time with my friends and family and cooking ... a lot of cooking! Do I need to get a life? Do I need to tell the low esteem to shut up and go into all the little details of what I do like ... oh wait, I also said listen to country music. Does that count against me? Only a smattering of followers in the US will be thrilled about that answer, but most of SA will roll their eyes. Don't make me take up knitting or sky diving. The other option is that word will spread that my stand answer will be, "I cook!" and all future journalists will know to avoid that one ... damn I hope so!
Of course, the question does make me lonely! Don't get me wrong ... I love living with mom, the 2 kitties and the parrot. I would, however, love to say that my spare time was spent with a special man driving around SA and seeing all the incredible places our Country has to offer. That was my dad's dream and we used to laugh at him. He wanted to buy a caravan and drive the whole of Africa ... it never sounded tempting until after he was gone and we didn't have the luxury of seeing the Africa through his beautiful stories and memories.

Well on that very exciting note and with a huge thank you to the team at Newsclip for finding my 'project me' journey newsworthy ... I'm off to cook for friends! Another defining day with priceless 'project me' blogging moments and a great reason to blog!

My own 9 & a half weeks - project me day 509

'Project me' has been body focused since day 1. Not day one of the blog, but day one in about 2004. I remember sitting on the couch with my 'guru' at the time. We were both smoking (yes mom, I really did that) and we had just returned from the reality check of my clothing shopping experience. My friends had put money together and taken me out to buy new clothes because I only wore those XXXL stretchy black pants that stretched to XXXXXL with a little wiggle.

That day I realised I was wearing a size 46 (size 18). I know I've spoken about this so many times and that it's time to leave the past behind, but there is always a constant fear that makes it tough to put down. I'm now a size 40 which is a thrill for me, but it's also only a benchmark that I have been stuck on for a very long time.

'Project me' has shifted the energy away from any kind of weight issues to a genuine journey of learning to know myself and do what is best for my body and me. That's the bitching part ... I don't know what's good for me at all. We all have it ... some in relationships, others with career, someone has it with money and I have it with food and exercise.
Since the first day of blogging you have seen me try and figure out what is good for me as I've done a moment of weight watchers, a few days of weight less, no carbs, low cards, fat free ... blah, blah, blah ...

And then I injured my back and an additional fear put all exercise on hold. Every day I fight with myself because it's as simple as doing what's best for my body. 'Project me' is supposed to be that and there's one area of my life I just can't seem to kick start and it's riddle with fear.

Thanks to the support of SlimLab, I haven't had to deal with overeating and binge eating thanks to cravings, but now I'm finding myself in a new space. I don't know how much is good for me. I don't know what a decent quantity is and I wouldn't know what to eat when in order to not feel starving half to death at night.
I don't want to diet because we know that doesn't work. ?I don't want to be an unhappy sod who loves food but has to live on water and lettuce my whole life, but I also can't be getting it very right if I'm stuck on 40 like a broken record.

In walks two great sponsors who are helping me be filled with purpose but not obsessed with goals:
Slimlab has a 9 week eating program which I am going to start after Greggie's birthday week (His birthday is the 27th May for anyone on 'project me planet' who does not know that.
Skyetor photography offered me a sensual boudoir shoot ages and I've been avoiding it like the plague ... but no more!

The only goal I'm setting is a photo shoot date: 1 September 2011

The rest is pure purpose and a Sunday blog throughout my 9 and a half weeks of learning to eat with a sensible plan, gym with a moderate pace and incorporate my everyday life into it.

Trust me ... I'm shitting myself! I have said this so many times and attempted it many times more. The only difference is that this time I don't have any goal at all. I'm standing on the scale and monitoring my weight loss with that tape measure that stares at me every morning, but I'm doing this to know me ... and not to get to like me. I already love me ... now I just have to show me how much that love truly is!

So the weeks after Greggie's birthday will be the build up to sharing how the eating plan works and stocking the house with what I need. It also gives this broken toe the last few days to heal. Then it's a Sunday blog for 9 weeks and following the plan, (that works in 3 weeks cycles where calories drop in each cycle) facing my dread of aqua-aerobics (in winter of all times) and?ending in a sexy photo shoot!

Yikes! Gulp ... it's time!