Who am I?
I am Helen... Mama to 2 beautiful little boys, Noah and Elih, and wife to my hubby Craig. We are just an average South African family creating our dream lives in beautiful Cape Town.
On an average day, we are managing our busy boys between school, extracurricular activities, and homework, while building our own businesses. We love to adventure to exciting places, experience new sights, tastes, and smells. Our weekends are spent on adventures with the boys, friends, and family, eating, laughing, and having a ball.
We are gearing up to get back onto our mountain bikes after 6 years of no riding at all...Eeek!
Life is beautiful… simple. But it hasn’t always been this way.
I grew up in the country, on a farm full of animals and fruit. A simple, healthy and rewarding life. I had a great childhood running free and wild with my Lab, Noetsi, at my side. Not a care in the world!
We went on exactly 3 family vacations before I was 10. Then no more.
My dad was a great farmer, but a terrible businessman, so we were never a wealthy family. But our home was filled with love & we had all that we needed. Dad was always really busy, so we never had much time for family holidays.
He could never getaway, and we didn’t really have the cash to splurge on holidays anyway. Holidays were spent on the farm, or with my cuzzies in PE, or the cuzzies would come to the farm. But… we never got away with my folks as a family or all the extended family together… at some beach cottage somewhere, as other families did. I would have loved that...
As I got older I wanted excitement and adventure… I wanted a life! So I missioned off to boarding school “to be with my friends”. It was like a prison - my freedom was gone and I struggled. Almost got myself expelled for “bunking out”.
College was next, which was a taste of freedom again - but I wasn’t serious about my course so I dropped out to start working a “real job”. Yup - a corporate, 9 to 5, soul-sucking, life wasting job where I was a number... not a person with a life, feelings, dreams, and goals. It was absolutely crap!
I watched others who had been there 10, 20+ years and counting, with the car, the house, the kids… all paid for with loans from their employer… the Bank. They were literally working all their lives for the same company to give their money right back on payday… Huh! That’s nuts… right?
This was a defining moment for me...I didn’t want that! I didn’t want to be tied to the same lame existence for the rest of my life.
I was only 21, so off I went to forge an existence elsewhere. I wandered aimlessly through job after job for about 3 years until a friend and I decided to ditch our responsibilities and hop on a plane to Ireland. Hooray for an adventure!
Exactly 1 month after we made our pact to leave, I cashed in a portion of an investment I received for my 21st birthday and hopped on a plane with my Bestie! That day I decided I was finally free to be myself… so grew some dreads (Eeeek…. You may be thinking… but I will keep this story for another day).
We drifted across Ireland, Cornwall, and into Brighton on a wish and a prayer. Working minimum wage jobs and living in backpackers. It was great! No ties, no obligations. We were FREE!
We eventually bought a 20-year old VW campervan in Brighton. You could say that we were “early van lifers”. We named her Amandla which means "Power", "Strength", and "Energy" in Zulu. Amandla took us up North through the stunning lake district to Scotland. We explored the country and ourselves... and dealt with a couple of very dodgy breakdowns...
We found an invigorating sense of freedom that we had never experienced before, & we loved it! We could go anywhere we wanted, when we wanted, with whom we wanted, and all we had to do was tie our bikes to the van, and off we went. It was bliss! But, the idea of facing our second winter in the northern hemisphere sent us scrambling onto the next flight out to the sunny shores of SA.
We had so many amazing adventures, met such incredible people, and grew tight as friends. As a caregiver at some stage, I met some of the sweetest old (and young) folks who taught me the value of gratitude, living in the moment and having no regrets. I learned how important it is to be there for our people... our loved ones when they need us most.
I grew as a person in ways that would never have happened if I had not decided to have faith, make that change and jump on that plane. Even my relationship with my parents was better after that trip.
Years later, when my husband & I were newly dating, we were working small jobs living on a shoe-string budget in a commune with some other crazy cats in Cape Town.
When I reflect on these moments in my life… we had no fancy corporate jobs, big houses, smart cars - only enough to get by... it was undoubtedly the happiest that I had ever been, until now. “Why was this?” It was because we were free! No ties, strings, or baggage. No unrealistic expectations from others to be something or somewhere that I didn’t want to be.
I finally “grew up” and slumped back into the real world. I spent too many years slogging away in jobs that gave me money, but no joy. I came close to enjoyment here and there. But it never really felt right, like home or a forever after. If I think about it, I only found joy in helping others and learning - new skills, new jobs, new something… learning fulfilled me for a while. Then I moved on again.
I was dying to break free again! But how, where, when, what? I can’t just ditch my responsibilities and jump on a plane again… I am married with kids now.
Finally, I got fed up with the drab lifestyle that an ingrained traditional job forced me into. 9 to 5, Monday to Friday (or Sunday to Thursday in some cases), blah blah blah… Boring as hell!
I realised that life is short, time is now, and only I can change my world. I have realised that in order for change to happen I needed to recognise what change I need and make that change. In me, in my life, in my way of thinking about life, things, ME…
So, I decided to take another leap of faith and go out on my own… forge a new existence.
I decided that I am worthy of being happy, fulfilled, and worthy of achieving my goals and dreams.
A Girl Can Dream
I want to be free from watching a clock… unless I really have to.
I want to be financially independent for the rest of my life - I never, ever want to ask for another raise again and I don’t want to worry about my retirement someday.
I want to be a role model to my boys, to show them that they can live freely. They don’t need to conform to tradition and what others expect them to be or do. Not being themselves is a shitty existence.
I want my family to know that I am around. I am present and I am here for them. They are my world after all.
I want full control over my life, my time, my income... my family’s happiness.
I want to buy our own home… that we can renovate as a family.
Hell! I even want that beach cottage for all of our extended family to enjoy with us. Dam! Now wouldn’t that be great!
We want to be able to take family trips, together, to exciting places. Enjoy life whenever we want to! We only have 1 life… surely we are allowed to enjoy it? Don’t you feel the same!?
I want a strong, healthy relationship with money so that I no longer see it as a "need", but as a "tool of progress'. I want my money to start working for me, instead of me working for my money. That is just BS!
Something Has Got To Change
But first, I needed to make a few changes in my life and I started with my mindset. I decided to stop thinking that I am not worthy of being successful, and give myself credit for how far I have come. I needed to take a chance on myself, make the changes in our lives to free ourselves from the normal and traditional thinking that we were so heavily indoctrinated with.
I had to stop to see how fast my boys are growing. When I look again they will be off with their friends, forging their own lives, and I missed it all because I was too ‘busy building someone else's dreams” with no time for my people... my world.
I needed to quit the proverbial rat race, my comfort zone (first emotionally, then physically), and find the time to start building my own dream.
My hubby had a stressful career, and I needed to get him out of there, quickly. It was not a healthy environment, and this worried me.
Obstacles In The Road
Having a permanent job is a comfort zone, familiarity. That dreaded comfort zone has held me back from reaching further and taking a leap of faith.
I have always had a side hustle, with the hope of it growing into something bigger, but it never did. I made and sold jewelry and mosaic furniture, did people’s bookkeeping, even delved into the world of MLM for a while. But nothing made me happy.
Nothing I did gave me the freedom that I was looking for. In the end, with everything that I was doing, I was always selling my time for money. This is not a sustainable solution. So I carried on looking, searching for that ONE thing that ticks my boxes.
I was never the girl to speak up in class and ask the questions that I was stuck with because I was scared of sounding stupid… I fear judgment... Looking back, besides getting over a rough breakup, this is why I waited until I moved to a different country, where nobody knew me before I experimented with growing dreads.
My fear of failure has kept me from many enjoyable moments. In the same way, I fear if I start a business it will fail, and then I will look stupid. My family will be disappointed in me, my friends will laugh, I will feel like a failure...
I never finished college so I had very little confidence in my own abilities, skills, and knowledge. Even though I have spent years working and learning on the job, which some would say is sometimes more powerful than a formal qualification, I felt I didn’t know enough to run a business - it will fail. I will be a failure...
I have always made excuses for why I don’t have the time to spend on building my own dream. Too busy, too tired, too much procrastinating… the story of my life.
I didn’t know how I was going to start a business when I had no idea where to begin and no idea what I needed to do? I had no product to sell, and services that I had experience with always sold my time… AGAIN! How was I going to find a business that suits my lifestyle, goals, and dreams? A business that ticks all my boxes.
I was exhausted at the thought of finding "more time" to start a business when I was already so exhausted by my regular day around my 9 to 5 job and family responsibilities.
I didn’t believe that the world would be interested in what I am doing or what I had to say. Who cares about Helen’s views, right? Nobody will want to follow me… You may be able to relate?
So… I never took any action, I never made any changes and life went on. I carried on hating myself for not getting it right. So many others are living their dream life, why am I not getting it right?
I decided that I needed to invest in myself. Expand my knowledge and skill set, and build my self-confidence. I found a program that teaches online business skills. Basically, they teach you about the internet and how to use it to do business online… and a shit ton of other stuff that goes along with it.
Of course, I was skeptical at first… anyone would be. There are so many scams and crooks out there that you can’t be too careful. But this is an education, not a product as such… so, what could go wrong?
But it felt right, and with some nifty credit card payments (and some careful persuasion of the hubby) I was able to afford it, and so I started my education in a whole new, unfamiliar, and scary way of becoming a Digital Business owner.
Once I decided to break free again, I realised that this would not be a smooth sail down a peaceful river. I had to dig deep - introspection happened. I dug up my fears, illusions, goals, dreams, and desires. It has been a serious journey but entirely worth it and extremely rewarding.
I was scared as hell to face a camera. I am not 21 anymore, so who wants to see my aging face? But, as learning goes, we need to face our fears, and this is one of my biggest fears. I am still working it and will be for some time to come.
And so, I started building my kickass little digital business.
I am so grateful that I had faith and signed up because, what I am doing… No, what I am building is freeing up time for what matters to me and my family most - being present.
During Covid, we were living in Dubai, working soulless, blood-tapping, full-time jobs with long hours. We hardly saw the boys. Elih was at school most of the day, and our Nanny, Roda, took care of Noah. Roda became Noah’s person, not me. We were disconnected from our children. It broke our hearts.
Things went pear-shaped abroad and we moved back to South Africa. Thankfully, I was able to move countries and take my little biz with me, fully intact. I haven’t lost money from rental deposits, or hefty staff retrenchment payouts. PLUS, now I will earn a foreign income while working with awesome like-minded peeps from across the world. Fan-flippin-tastic!
All the time, money, and effort put into building the foundations of my business has not gone to waste. Now, I work in my own time, at the pace I choose, when I choose, and best of all, with whom I choose. And I can run my “international” business from anywhere that we decide to live. Woop Woop, next stop…???? Bali may be...
Now, I am living my perfect day each day. I don’t commute, I manage my boys around their time, and I am finding time to look after myself, my mindset, my spirituality, and my wellbeing. Craig is in a better place too, building his little business alongside me. We are living life on our own terms. We still have a long way to go to reach our financial goals, but the train has left the station and it is not rolling back.
We are not stressed, anxious, overworked, under pressure, or hating life.
We leave the city early to go camping on weekends - we don’t need to ask the boss.
We go to visit the boy's Gogo (Granny) who lives an 8-hour drive away - we can stay as long as we want (around Elih’s school holidays of course ).
I take the boys to the Eco Garden to dig in the earth and learn about plants and gardening every Wednesday afternoon - because I can.
I have learned so much about myself, who I am, what I want out of life. I have learned what FREEDOM means to me. I now know what immense power the internet has to create a completely different future for us.
A future where you control your time, income, who you work with, what you work with... it sounds unreal, but it is SO REAL!
I have always loved helping others. There is no better feeling than helping someone else improve their situation, life, or circumstances. I can show others that if they recognise the need for change, it is possible... That there is always a way.
Why live a meaningless life, when you can change it and live a fulfilling, happy life? I strive to inspire others to take action to make the changes that they need in their lives… whatever that may look like.
So, this is how I come to be here. The story of me stumbling upon “something special” one random day. Something so profound & enlightening that it has altered the journey of our lives forever.
Hopefully, my story will inspire you to see the world of possibilities that lie beyond your fears and challenges.
Behind the Scenes
We are The Mays! A bunch of crazy South Africans (and their cats) on a mission to save ourselves (and YOU) from the world as we know it, surround it with love & make it a better place.
We strive to help others see that they don't have to be slaves to the system. That there is another way... a different way of living and being free.
At the same time, we are teaching our boys that they are free to be their own authentic, beautiful, imperfect selves. Showing them that they do not need to chase the idea that others may have of who they should be or what they should become.
Together we love exploring new places, tastes, and experiences, laughing, crying. We are always up for another adventure.
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”