Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Say yes to reading and open a whole new chapter to your life this year

- Sherlin Barends

“READERS are achievers…” I picked up this three-word phrase from one of my high school teachers. Mr Dames used it often enough, but it was only really etched in my memory when he made me write it out 2 500 times as punishment for forgetting my prescribed English novel at home.

Dames was right. I’ve been told that Microsoft’s Bill Gates reads about one book per week and you’ll find business magnate Warren Buffett with his nose in a book

80% of the time.

However, I’m a twentysome­thing who gets to call the Mother City home, so I’m more interested in creating my own memories than spending my days reading about others. Still, since there are various benefits tied to reading, I have resolved to read a book every month throughout this year.

Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person was first on the list of 12. The author’s story of how using one three-letter word transforme­d her life inspired me to say “yes” for a week. Here’s what happened:

Monday: It’s 4am. My phone’s generic alarm tone wakes me almost immediatel­y. Lately, I’ve hit snooze, a routine that is often repeated at 4.15am, 4.30am and then again at 4.45am. Yet, today I successful­ly resist the urge and say “yes” to waking up on time. Now I meditate, apply make-up, pack meals and even enjoy a cup of steaming hot tea before I leave for work at 5am.

“Good to see your shoes are where they need to be Sherlin,” remarks Albert the Uber driver. He’s grown accustomed to a barefooted, bald woman rushing to his car, stilettos in hand. Today I wait for him, dressed and ready for the day.

Tuesday: Flowers are pretty, but impractica­l. They’re expensive and need to be thrown out after a week, maybe two. But thanks to Aunty Murky Williams, I’m leaving the Adderley Street Flower Market in Trafalgar Place armed with a big bouquet of white St Joseph’s lilies and gladiolus.

It was an easy “yes” when the plump woman with the friendly face asked if she could help me. Williams has been in the flower business for more than four decades.

“I love my job! You learn a lot about the people who pass you by.” Her customers are as diverse as the blooms she sells: men who want to impress or apologise, women celebratin­g a birthday or supporting a friend in hospital.

“You’re not just here to sell flowers, you’re also here as a support system.”

Wednesday: Give me a credit card and I’ll show you how easy it is to max it out. Paying off the debt, on the other hand, now that’s a different story!

Nothing made me happier than the e-statement which showed that I now owed nothing on my Visa card from Woolworths. I contemplat­ed celebratin­g by swiping the golden piece of plastic one last time but decided against it. I said “yes” to saying “no” (Chapter 11 in Rhimes’ book). I’m quickly learning that using both these words is extremely liberating.

Thursday: A man with an impressive salt-and-pepper beard shaves my head in under 10 minutes. He refuses to take my money: “This cut is on the house, I insist.” I’m in a rush, so there’s no time to argue. Here’s to saying “yes” to accepting a gift of kindness, whatever form it takes.

Friday: The neighbour’s doorbell rings incessantl­y. The noise stops momentaril­y until our apartment unit gets buzzed. Whoever is at the gate isn’t looking for someone specific, just someone, anyone. I want to ignore it. Surely the persons on the other side will get tired at some point.

“Old clothes please, my lady.”

I fill a black refuse bag with old clothes, shoes and bags.

They’re all still in good condition, yet they’re either too small or I haven’t worn them in ages. Letting go feels good.

Saturday: I love red meat. I know where to find the best bacon, ribs and beef burgers in the city. Today I went on a date with a pescataria­n who challenged me to order the only vegetarian burger on the menu. I enjoyed it, surprising­ly.

Sunday: It’s a day for sleeping in. “Let’s go to Bali this year?” reads the text from my best friend that wakes me just before midday. “Yes,” I respond quickly and slowly put my head back under the covers.

Here’s to saying “yes” in 2018 and creating a life that excites you!

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