I am Annien. Here is a little information to introduce myself!
I was an attractive, intelligent child and young person. I started developing my personality through an interesting upbringing on a wine farm, in a small town community and later in boarding school in Cape Town South Africa (where I met the Lord) – through studying (a lot), traveling, living two years abroad, 15 years in Johannesburg, and my career life. I always knew I wasn’t a “poppy” though, and never considered myself “pretty”, but felt attractive in my own way! In circumstances where I couldn’t use my personality, I used my image to my best advantage. (Why is it so unfair that attractive children are able to attract others so easily and getting more positive attention than their not-so-pretty peers?). I thought I was in control of things, always strived to be emotionally independent, and lived many years far from my family at home. I have always been reckless or carefree – relying on my so-called “guardian angles” or “good luck” to protect me! I lived life SO passionately, I thought, had a strong survival instinct and was a fighter. My career was mostly in Clothing and 20 years in the Beauty and Health industries. I always thought my security and identity lied in the job I was doing at the time.
In the evening of 14 July 2012, my friend who visit me from Johannesburg, and I were discussing what I would do with my future, job-wise, as my current job (helping organizing tours and being a tour leader) just came to an end. I typed all future job possibilities on my phone.
But then something happened and I hit my ”rock bottom.” The next day, on Sunday morning 15 July 2012 after church, I was in a horrible car accident which changed my life, overnight. On a major highway close to Cape Town, a foreigner’s car glided and crashed into me from behind. I broke my neck, was paralysed (for three months) and the doctors predicted that I wouldn’t be able to ever “walk, dance or do sport” again. OVERNIGHT my whole career as beauty and spa therapist was over…
Besides being paralyzed, I suddenly encountered lots of nerve pain, and was left with several physical limitations. It felt almost like an “attack” on my whole body. I wasn’t only feeling victimized. I was a victim…Before I always had a strong survival instinct (being a fighter). But this time, I really needed help from above. His grace is greater that we realize…
I realized I couldn’t do everything I used to do and was disappointed, angry and confused about this happening to me.
Very soon I felt ”incomplete” (a half-person) and wondered what the reason or reasons were for ending up like this. My vitality was gone and I started feeling old, overnight (Whereas before I always felt 10 years younger than my age, now I felt 10 years older). I couldn’t walk or function properly anymore. I was feeling helpless, hopeless, and sorry for myself (Being paralysed is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone!!)
Suddenly I was forced to take life slower, not being able to MOVE without pain. Besides, all the things I planned to do the evening before on my phone (which was brought to me after everything were removed from the car wreck), I now wouldn’t be able to do anymore. Being a mobile beauty therapist or doing beauty therapy from home was instantly over (because of my now weak right hand), I couldn’t continue with my recent plans to become a gym instructor (my body was a wreck, abnormally stiff and weak from the nerve damage), and I couldn’t teach or sell clothing anymore (couldn’t stand for long.) The only thing I might have been still capable to do on the list was “writing for magazines.”
During the first depressing moments in hospital, a new idea helped me getting the courage to go on. I wanted to write a book – to let others know just how hard it is being paralyzed, helpless, dependent on others for every little thing. I started writing (with a half paralyzed right hand and the help of an I-pad stick) on Facebook, and inspired others to appreciate what they’ve got. But before I could publish it, God first had other plans for me…Besides, I was still a piece of work..
After three months, through the my fighting spirit but more so, the grace of God and other’s help…I slowly but surely learnt – from SCRATCH– to walk, eat, brush my teeth, shower, write, and use the toilet without help. I miraculously recovered and could walk again. I first relied on a wheelchair, the walking ring, then crutches, and afterwards on myself – though still struggling with balance. I felt like having a blackout whenever I tried to walk for further than a metre. Eventually I learned to bath by myself, with difficulty pulling myself out of the bath.
Four years later, the ageing process now really began (which might have happened in any case, but not to this extent, I think) and my eyes started to weaken quickly, as well.
Now I’m going to sound like I’m REALLY old – discussing my ailments! )I’ll try and keep it brief!)
I am right-handed. My right hand was my biggest worry since the beginning. I still have lots of pain in my hands at certain times, which make them uncontrollably contract from the spasticity, especially when it is cold outside – all due to the nerve shortage coming from my neck. My right hand stayed weak and half-paralysed (until now), with motoric movement abilities severely affected. My right arm is also weaker than the left one. I still have constant pain in the middle of my back (which pulls up in my whole body), making it difficult to get up from a seating position, bend, or walk after a period lying. This pain – which is worst in the morning and evening, I have learnt to live with now…as they say…I got used to it. My balance got severely affected (until today) – that’s the reason I cannot stand for long at a time. I suspect that half of each part of my body (each arm, leg etc.) stayed numb and that is maybe the reason why I still have no sensory feeling left for cold water (which is a plus on swimming pool days, of course!)
Eventually I had to realize that depression and self-pity is not going to bring me anywhere, neither is looking for understanding from others. Others care mostly about themselves, anyway. I had to choose am I going to be ”destroyed” and give up, or am I going to choose LIFE and rice ABOVE this traumatic situation, and stop focusing on being a victim.
I had to appreciate that I survived death, I am longer there for my children, but more so, I survived being completely paralyzed forever!
To accept my situation, the “new me” was taking some time (although writing about it, surely did help…)
A long journey of pain and struggle was lying ahead though (which has stayed demoralizing till today, and needs a lot of self-motivation at times!) But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Everything contains a positive and a negative. Part of my positive, is that I could start a journey of building myself up again through self-inspiration, as well as the inspiration of others who are willing to walk the road with me.
(This is how this page happened.)
After hospital, I looked at what I could still offer others. I remember making the decision (or changing my mind-set) to take a good look at WHAT I HAD LEFT. What was it that I LIKED doing (my passion)…and what was I still GOOD in doing. That is how I decided on my particular writing niche today, which is Health, Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle or Life (my new one.)
This incident contributed to my career as Beauty or Spa therapist coming to an end after 20 years, but the industry would still not leave me alone! I decided to continue to use my Health and Beauty career after all, only now – I would be writing or blogging about it (including fashion and lifestyle or Life). I could make myself feel BETTER about myself or make the BEST OF MYSELF (despite my circumstances). I could even make OTHERS make the best of themselves, or DEVELOP THEMSELVES and grow personally. I could help others in the same, or even worse situations. Besides inspiring those who went through similar circumstances as myself, I could even inspire those who have Everything (like I used to have.) And I recognized while building others, I simultaneously build myself. So I landed in the ”inspiring business”!
I entered the new season of my life as a more ”spiritually oriented” being (the ”spiritual” became more important to me.) I believe it was my faith and positive outlook which carried me until today. I got some brand-new revelations. The first things I learnt was:
- Your identity doesn’t lie in your talents because it could be removed from you overnight!
- You should appreciate life, the SMALL things, realize what you can be THANKFUL for, and not take things for granted.
- You must stop “sweating the small stuff”, running around and being in a hurry always, and live in the ”moment”– with ”peace in every step” ( I don’t worry about minor matters anymore, thanks to new discovered values – the really important things in life.)
- Those first moment in hospital I started ”meditating” for the first time in my life – lying in bed and just thinking (you can only do so much being paralyzed), Maybe for a change I kept my mouth shut and listened to what God were telling me. I learnt quickly that one should always wait upon God’s direction first, become STILL when your thoughts are “all over,” and listen what He is trying to tell you (not the world or other people.) I learnt to value stillness and not to do, say or listen to anything when things become hectic and when I want to hear God’s voice. These are the first words that came up : “Be still and know, that I am God”.
- Later on I realized that anyone CAN be their best, in any particular season of your life.
While I was still working very hard to deal with the ”brokeness” inside (so suddenly faced with), slowly but surely the doors started opening for me…
Someone approached me, unexpectedly, and asked if I would blog about Beauty on his website, ”My Afrikaans” (where books, written by South African authors, are sold) – which I did. This eventually led to the blog, ”Annien’s Health and Beauty.” (and after much thought, now: ”My Beautiful Life”.) Out of the blue a well-known Afrikaans Christian magazine, Finesse, sent me an e-mail asking if I would be available to blog for them weekly (under ”Gesonde Leefstyl”) At first I wrote very half-heartedly on Beauty (which was my career for twenty years), because I just wanted to write about my accident and my feelings around it! (And couldn’t care less about anything else!!) Besides, Beauty became overnight completely unimportant to me.) I eventually started writing more and more on over-all Health which also includes my Faith, Lifestyle and Life, rather than about Fashion and Beauty. Health encompasses not only the physical, but also all aspects of the emotional, mental and spiritual.
I also had a near-death experience in hospital (Afrikaans-speaking people, see my blog ”Oor die Hemel”) or the page I wrote in ”Finesse Boekie oor Hoop”, sold in my Shop). I experienced a little about the pathway from this life to the next.
Continue to read my About this page and About me pages.
Me before the accident. Here I taught young kids how to walk ”like a lady”
Continue reading my About this Page and Annien’s world pages!
Blogger – Annien Botha
As internasional qualified ex-beauty, spa therapist and home economist, Annien writes about BEAUTY and HEALTH on all levels. In 2012 she was involved in a serious car accident which ended her career as therapist after 20 years. She decided though, to keep on writing and blogging in her career. She inspires with her own thoughts, actions and life story as well as those of the people around her.
http://www.voelgoed.co.za Under “Blogs” – “Gesonde Leefstyl