Christa Calitz

FIFTH ELEMENT SPORTSWEAR


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Questions & Answers

Woman & Home March 2018

How long have you been a dancer? From primary school?  I danced from the age of 5.

What mediums did you begin with? Ballet, tap, jazz? Classical Ballet, Cecchetti Method.  I was taught by Diane van Schoor.  I was with her until the age of 17, up until the day I had the accident.

To this day, how many styles have you mastered?   Classical Ballet, Cecchetti Method.  “The Cecchetti method is a ballet technique and rigorous training method devised by the Italian ballet master and pedagogue Enrico Cecchetti (1850–1928). It is specifically concerned with Hilton’s law of anatomy, especially within the confines of classical ballet technique.”

Recently I discovered through the archive system that I received an honours award for Intermediate level I 1994.  Seeing that I lost most of my memory of my dancing years (due to the trauma and great loss of dancing) we weren’t quite sure, which, my last exam was and if I did finish the Intermediate level.

As a teen, how many days/hours a week did you spend dancing?

We trained 3 days a week, 2 hours per class.  Sometimes on weekends if we had to practice for exams or productions.  At a young age standard dance lessons are normally once a week.  45 min. and later twice per week, 1.5hours at a time.

When you were pulled under the bus when you were 17, were you paralysed by fear, or did it all happen too quickly for you to be afraid?  There was a moment of fear, which I remember clearly.  Not being able to respond or to ask for help.  It all happened very fast, but I think to me it felt longer almost in slow motion.

In those moments, was your first thought that your dancing career was over?

At the scene I don’t remember what exactly I saw.  I remember trying to get up and saw my leg and asking why.  In the emergency room I overheard the doctor and staff discuss the amputation of my leg.  Only then did I realize the severity of my injuries.  Shortly after the accident I was told I would never be able to walk again (not without a prosthesis anyway).  Not ever dancing again was not even a discussion at all.  It was a given fact.  My mother never gave me false hope, which helped me to mentally prepare for the worst.

How had your leg been damaged? Was it broken, bleeding, torn off? Which leg was this – right or left?

What was the full extent of your injuries? Please describe.

When they found me, my foot was completely detached from my leg, only the main artery running down the leg and into the foot, was still intact and this is the only reason why there was any chance in saving my leg.

I suffered a severe crush injury (A crush injury is injury by an object that causes compression of the body) to my lower left leg.

I suffered compartment syndrome (Compartment syndrome develops when swelling or bleeding occurs within a compartment. Because the fascia does not stretch, this can cause increased pressure on the capillaries, nerves, and muscles in the compartment. Blood flow to muscle and nerve cells is disrupted).

I suffered serious damage to the skin, completely removing layers of skin leaving the wound exposed to infection and deformity.

I suffered serious muscle (muscle death), nerve, blood vessel, and soft tissue damage.

I underwent multiple surgeries to complete nerve and tendon repairs.  Called a Fasciotomy or fasciectomy, a surgical procedure where the fascia is cut to relieve tension or pressure commonly to treat the resulting loss of circulation to an area of tissue or muscle. Fasciotomy is a limb-saving procedure when used to treat acute compartment syndrome.

A year or so later I underwent the reconstructive surgeries – Free flap procedures are done by plastic and reconstructive surgeons who specialize in microsurgery. The surgeon disconnects the tissue completely from its blood supply and reattaches the tissue to new blood vessels, where a new blood supply and soft-tissue coverage are required.  I did not have the full use of my right arm after the operation. I could only lift my arm to about shoulder height. Painful physiotherapy followed to stretch my arm again so that I could lift it up over my head to regain full functionality.  From this surgery (removing the whole latissimus dorsi for the transplant) still cause neck and shoulder pain today at times.

During your recuperation, did any of your dancer friends/teachers come to visit you? How did that feel?

My dance teacher and some of the dancers came to see me in hospital only once, which I recall.  One day, a fellow dance student came to our house and asked if I could please return to ballet class. I was very upset. How could she ask such a thing of me? I couldn’t even walk properly at the time. I was so vulnerable and totally devastated.  At the time, it would have been too painful to watch other dancers.

How did it feel getting letters of support when you were in hospital? Did it give you hope? Restore some of your faith in humanity?

I was surprised to have so many strangers show interest in me.  Much more so than the people closest to me.

I didn’t feel much hope then; my feelings were kind of numb towards faith etc.

Initially, did you have to go for weekly physio or do other physical exercises to keep your leg in shape? Please describe. I recall receiving physio in hospital.  At first just simply sitting in a chair a few minutes each day.  It was very painful if I lowered my leg (because of the blood flow).  Later, just walking up and down on crutches to strengthen my arms.  I was just skin and bones, loosing so much weight and muscle mass from just lying down and never using any of my muscles.  Biokinetics only followed much later, when the skin was healed up and I could exercise in the pool & on some of the equipment at Stellenbosch Biokinetics centre twice a week on and off for the following 3 years.

Had the accident not happened, do you think you would have become a dance teacher or professional dancer? What were you doing for work instead, and when? Please provide dates and details.

I had no interest in anything other than dancing.  There was never any doubt in my mind what I wanted to become one day and which direction I wanted to follow.  I planned to attend a dance scholarship in Canada the year after school as part of my Associates diploma.

The stage was the one place where I really could live out my passion and express myself.  I loved performing and dreamt of one day being involved in choreography.

After 1996 I underwent various reconstruction surgeries.  In 1998 I went to Stellenbosch College for two years.  2000, at the age of 21 I went abroad on a working holiday; lived and worked in Edinburgh, Scotland for two years.

During college I started with the Cape Wine Academy courses and developed a love for wine.

After my two-year working holiday, I returned home (2002) to work in the wine industry whilst continuing my studies in wine for another 7 years.  I devoted my time in achieving the Cape Winemasters title.  Studying and working in the wine industry – export and wine buying departments.     In my final 5th year, I still had one theory paper to pass, but the time had run out.  I was devastated knowing that I worked so hard and that I couldn’t be a qualified CWM.  I felt as though another attempt to find my purpose had failed.

Mayah was born in 2011 & Helena in 2013.

I was often travelling abroad for work attending wine fairs.  It was a very stressful time and having to leave my daughters behind also caused a lot of anxiety and stress.

In 2005 I registered the Fifth Element brand.  Since 2016 I have been supplying the middle eastern market with my brand.  Wine will always remain a passion of mine.  I have been tasting on the Wine & Spirits board for about 11 years now, which I thoroughly enjoy.

But only now am I truly living out my passion again.

When you lost the ability to dance when you were recovering, how else did you find joy? Did you find another creative outlet, like singing or creating art?

I invested in travelling as much as possible during my time in Europe.  I kept my mind occupied with studying wine, learning a new language and spend a lot of time with family and friends.

Despite other creative ventures, did it always feel like something was missing?

Yes, it always felt that something was missing.  I wasn’t completely whole.  I lost my fifth element.  The spark of life known as your sole.  I carried a deep sadness within me and I never considered myself to be someone who would live a very long life.  I believed that no person could carry so much sorrow within them, without illness just lurking to take over their body.

When you met your partner, were you open about your ordeal?

My partner just knew that that I was seriously injured in the accident, but it was never discussed further in detail.  He never questioned me about it.   He accepted me for the person I was and not what happened in my past.

Did you dance at your wedding? If yes or no, how did it feel?

My partner does not dance, but for the wedding we went for lessons.  I danced with my father, friends and family.

Similarly, did you ever dance at parties or other social events? Or was it too painful?  A few years after the accident we had a couple of opportunities to dance and parties and weddings. I did dance indeed as I love dancing.

Over the 20 years since 1996, did you have to continue physio to keep your leg in shape/did you have to constantly get your leg checked by doctors? How often e.g. once a week? Please describe.

I only received physio and biokinetic treatment the three years after the accident.  I didn’t receive any regular physio of this time.  I only had my leg checked out when I had an open wound under my heel and suspected possible cellulites infection.  (Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection. Cellulitis may first appear as a red, swollen area that feels hot and tender to the touch).  I used to end up in hospital at least 4 times per year, because of these infections.  It normally happened quite fast and I could immediately identify the symptoms & immediately get checked into hospital by my surgeon for a course of intravenous antibiotics.

Normally this occurred after a trip on whilst being abroad, caused by flying, walking more than normal, change of shoes, going into a different season, for example wearing boots suddenly while we had Summer at home.  I normally ended up with a blister and that aggravated the bacteria and let to infection. 

Thankfully since March 2016 (my last strenuous trip abroad) I have not had any need for treatment thus far.

I think the exercise has improved my blood flow a lot and therefore I am much more capable to withstand so much more.

When were your daughters born?

Both my daughters were born in Stellenbosch

Mayah, 05 April 2011 & Helena, 05 January 2013

Do you think that the anxiety you experienced while they were growing up was a direct result of the accident?

Yes, I now know that it must have played the biggest part in the onset of my fear and anxiety.

After the birth of my two daughters I started suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  For many people, symptoms begin almost right away after the trauma happens. For others, the symptoms may not begin or may not become a problem until years later.

Symptoms of PTSD I experienced:  flashbacks, avoiding things or places associated with the event, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, lack of taking part in activities.

Did you think that because a freak accident had happened to you, it could happen to them?

Absolutely.  It felt like I wouldn’t be able to protect them.  I still struggle with that at times, but it does not cause anxiety anymore.

In the 20 years since the accident, why had you not begun a training programme or participated in physical activities? Was your body still healing, could you not work up the motivation, did you not have time what with raising a family? Please describe.

I tried joining a gym a couple of times before, but it never lasted very long and then I lost interest.  I could not keep myself motivated or find a purpose to train for something.

I cannot run or walk far for exercise, so there was no quick, easy way for me to get out of the house in between building a company and raising my family.  I had to join a group or class for me to be able to partake in anything physical.  But there was no time when my first daughter was born.  I also started a new wine company soon after the birth of my first daughter, it was stressful putting everything into a new business, travelling abroad a couple of times per year and raising a family simultaneously. 

Was there an incident that pushed you to begin activities again at the end of 2015? Did you notice that you were out of breath just from climbing the stairs, could you not lift children? What was the moment that made you click? Please describe.

Various factors contributed:  A new marriage.  A husband starting an intense 3 years financial degree with a new baby on the way.

My post-traumatic stress; a stressful 3 years building up a business, travelling along with the stress and anxiety of having to leave my children behind.  It was extremely hard for me to go away from them.  I was afraid that I would not be able to return to them.  It caused severe anxiety.  All these factors led to being unhappy and living an unhealthy lifestyle, not feeling the need to participate in anything physical.  I was in a very low point in my life and I knew I had to turn things around for myself.  I needed to be happy again.

When you joined the gym and began swimming, was the end goal to return to dancing, or did this come later after you’d built up your strength and confidence?

Not at all.  Only 5 months into serious training since April 2016 (of which 3 was with my trainer).  In August I started building up the confidence and only then did I decide that I wanted to get back into it.

When you began training, did you notice a positive change in yourself?

Absolutely.  Not only a physical change, but also a mental change.  Experiencing encouragement, positive energy and receiving constant compliments and praise for my input changed my frame of mind.

How did Natasha Adams and Geoff Amess help to build your confidence? What were things they said that really encouraged you?  Natasha saw the potential in my and she lifted me up, but telling me that I was a beautiful strong woman and that there was nothing wrong with me.  She told me I could stand out by being different.  And that it was not necessarily a bad thing to be different.  Constant praise and encouragement from my trainer Geoff Amess gave me the will power to succeed.  Just by telling me it is never too late, by using his own mother as an example was the beginning for me, to realise that I can also still do it.  When I was in doubt, he always got me right back on track, fighting for what I love.  When I first told him that I’ve been to the studio, he checked up on me if I have spoken to the ballet principle and what the progress was with me starting the class again.  He just kept me on my toes so to say.  I was terrified that I was setting myself up for failure, so if it wasn’t for him, I might have easily pulled out of walking into that studio on the 13th of September 2016.  When I started dancing and I was feeling down one day, Geoff told me that although I will never be the perfect dancer again, that he will get me to a stage where no one will even notice that I had the accident.  And we made this happen.

When and why did you tell Geoff that you were a dancer, not an iron woman?

It was near the end of 2016.  I have already started ballet again.  And one day I had a hard training session, so I asked him as a joke, what he is training me for, because ‘you know I’m a ballerina, not iron woman’.  I just said is as a joke at the end of our session.  When I got into the car and drove off, I only realised what I just said/acknowledged, that I was a ballerina.

In that moment, did it occur to you that dancing was an integral part of your identity, which you weren’t willing to let go?

I realised that it has been part of my identity all along, which I re-discovered.

After telling Geoff that, were you more encouraged or determined to begin dancing again?

When I told him that, I was already dancing again, probably two months.

How had your leg improved? Did you have to do exercises or physio every week to improve it? Please describe.

Knowing that I wanted to get back into training, Geoff included some exercises to strengthen my foot and included a lot of resistance band training methods to regain more mobility in my ankle, calf raises etc. to strengthen my foot.

If so, why did you reject your friends’ offer to take you to a modern dancing class? When was this? This was earlier in 2016.  I didn’t quite reject it as such.  I just did not follow through on it.

What prompted you to ask Ethne Daniels if you could attend a ballet class? Was this in August 2016?

In August 2016 the ballet studio had a dance show, which I attended.  After watching this, the urge to dance again was sparked in me even more so.  I was at the studio on day, picking up my daughter from ballet class & I just asked her.

Did you go to this class alone, or take a friend with you?  Yes, I went alone

If alone, was it important to you to do this as an individual? Yes, I was probably back at the ballet studio for about 5 months, before anyone knew that I was dancing again.  I didn’t share it with anyone, probably because I was afraid that I was setting myself up for failure.  And I first wanted to see what I was capable of.

If with a friend, was it important to have support? I had the support of my trainer.

How did it feel watching the ballet dancers in that class?  When I first started out, our adult class were a small group.  Probably 3 to 4 dancers at the most.  So, I felt secure and wasn’t to overwhelm.  I soon saw that I was not behind any of the other dancers & that I am coping fine under the circumstances.  The first lesson my teacher Nicole noticed my injury, but it is not until about 11 months later (till I released my article), that she knew   the details of my injuries.  My fellow dance partners also did not notice or knew about my accident until we started talking one day and it was mentioned in the conversation.  I only had such joy.  I experienced an undeniable amount of happiness and joy being able to dance again.

How did it feel joining in on the dancing? Did you get emotional and cry during/afterwards?

I’ve never felt so happy in my entire life.  Yes, I still do get emotional afterwards sometimes when I listen to a piece of music which sounds familiar and with which I can connect, not knowing exactly why or where it fits into my past, just knowing it does.  It is an emotional journey.  Only now, a year after being back in the studio I have had one of two memories of my dance teacher.  Mrs van Schoor.  I don’t remember what she was like in class, but recently I remembered something and what she used to wear & the way she pinned back her hair.  It is emotional when these memories re-surface.  Mostly I am on a high and it is such a joy getting ready for class and when I leave.  The adrenaline that flows through my body is out of this world.

Did all the ballet moves start coming back to you? Could you perform pirouettes and arabesques on your leg?  The moves came back to me very quickly.  I have forgotten the terms and all of that, but it was still recorded in my muscle memory.  I can perform pirouettes and arabesques much better on my right leg of course, but I am still working on the left side and trying to improve week by week, as I get stronger.

Was that the moment when everything changed, and when you decided you were going to dance again?

Well, when I walked out of that first class, I knew this was it, nothing will easily keep me away from it ever again. 

What did you say to Ethne after the class?

Nicole Benting is my dance teacher.  I don’t recall saying anything specifically to her.  I just went home and was totally over the moon that I just did that class.  I only started to join Ethne’s Intermediate class a couple of months ago.  It is so inspiring to be in her class, all the years of experience and knowledge.  I love that I learn so much from both.

After the class, did you go and buy yourself a new pair of dancing shoes?

When I first decided to ask Stellenbosch Ballet Association if I could join a class, a couple of weeks passed before I started, due to the busy exam schedule at the studio.  So, I knew I was going to need shoes & that I wouldn’t be able to wear the standard leather shoe with my foot.  I was searching online and came across a shoe which is totally elastic (and which I knew couldn’t damage the skin on my foot and ankle), so I ordered it from the Bloch store in London.  It arrived just in time when I went to my first class.  Luckily it was a perfect fit and the Bloch pro elastic and synchrony flats is all I now swear by.

How did your body react to beginning dance again?  Before I started dancing I had a slight knee injury due to over stretching and the dancing did aggravate it a little at first.  I feared a knee operation, but luckily my trainer adjusted my program and we strengthened the muscles around the knee to protect it.  My body wasn’t quite used to the posture and turnout, but I soon got used to it again.  Luckily, I was fit and my muscles in good enough condition to carry my upper-body weight enough, so that I could protect and manage the pressure I put on my leg/foot.

Since I don’t have normal sole tissue under my foot/heel, I must ensure that I don’t get a blister or wound under my heel (which is the area which is the most fragile).  I wear a 3-layer silicone padding under my heel to protect it & I haven’t had any serious injuries in over a year.  I had to adapt my body and am still learning along the way, what I can and cannot do (rather shouldn’t 😊) & what I can improve on.  I am surprised to what I am capable of so far and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

My body got used to a 45-min class, when I started joining the Intermediate level class, which is 1.5 hours I must and had to get use to the longer time on my feet.  It is also incredible to see how I adapted to the one class and now I can feel my body needs to get use to the new exercises again.

Were there any special exercises you had to do to keep your leg healthy?

Not particularly something to keep it healthy.  Rather particular exercises to avoid or be careful not to injure my foot in class.  Still figuring out how to adapt my body in the safest way to avoid any injury.

During personal training sessions: resistance training, flex and calf raises & balance work, assisted in my ability to do the exercises with more ease & staying pain free.

From there, did you begin going to classes? What kind and how often? I.e. were they ballet classes three times a week, modern dance every day? Please describe. We had two ballet classes a week, 45 minutes.  Later, I joined the floor Barre/strength and stretching class.  And recently the Intermediate level class, which is 1.5 hours.  Altogether, it is 3 classes per week.

What did your family say when you told them you were starting dance again?

My mom and friends knew I was doing Zumba and Barre classes at the gym, but not that I was doing ballet.  My daughters love it.  My family does not really speak about it.  I know it is too hard for them, especially to read the articles and listen to the interviews.  But I know they are extremely proud though.

How did it feel incorporating dance into your life again?

Absolutely amazing.  I never thought that I would ever buy a pair of ballet tights or a leotard in my life & look know 😊 designing my own dancewear range.

What motivated you to design your activewear line in August 2016? I’ve always wanted to do something in fashion.  Me and my mom had kids clothing brand for a short while 😊 As I got more into fitness, the idea came together.  I couldn’t find anything original out there, which was fun, but still classic and elegant altogether.  So that is where it began.

Do you have any design experience? No, but I consider myself as creative 😊 I always had an eye for design and was very involved in the design and concepts of new wine labels etc. throughout my career.

When you say you couldn’t find anything in the market that was authentic, what do you mean by this?

By that I mean original.  Workout clothes which was bold & fun, but still classic and flattering altogether.

Is each line of activewear – Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Fifth – more suited to specific sports? E.g. is Water best for a yoga class, is Fire best for a Pound class?

Earth is the women’s range, more suited to ground work.  Studio (barre, Pilates, yoga); gym and running.

Fire is the men’s range – compression wear from gym workouts and running.

Water is the surfing and swimwear range for water sports, because I love surfing and water-skiing

Air is the dance range, for all forms of dance.

How do you want women and men to feel when they put on your activewear?

I want them to feel confident and feel good about their bodies and about being active.  It is all about the inspiration to stay active and sustain a healthy lifestyle and feel good about ourselves.

How has your perspective on life shifted since beginning Fifth Element?

Looking back at my life know, I realize more than ever that our paths are set out for all of us long before we even know what it will entail.  Like the star constellations have been placed in the sky, so our stories have been laid out.  All we can do is trust that all things that is brought over our paths are all part of Gods greater plan for our lives.

This is a brief life, but in its brevity, it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures.  Most of the time these splendid moments and memories are forgotten or stored away in our memory never to be shared.  Through discovering my fifth element I have learned to express myself more generously by sharing my moments.  I find it difficult to live in the present.  Feeling like I have been taken ‘back in the past’.  Dancing again, beside the young girls.  I never thought I would ever buy another leotard again or shop for ballet shoes.  Now I am designing my own dance wear range and looking at this and realizing that “you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed”.  I realize know that some things in life just aren’t meant to be understood.  I guess that is why they say life is beautiful.

I always wondered about the purpose of my life (I knew there must be a purpose).  I always wondered about what had happened to me and why.  If there was a bigger meaning behind having survived the accident?

I am now much more spiritually inclined, recognizing the connection between past and present life occurrences.  I recognise specific signs and events in my life, which had influenced my life to how I am experiencing my life today.

The present life, the present body, became important and special to me again.  I have a strong sense of belief in life after death.  I know life is short and I now live my life to the fullest.  Although I do have compassion for others, I also do not pay much attention to the negative opinion of others as it assists me in staying focused and remain goal orientated.

The little things in life are much more important to me than material goods.   I love giving and I always think of how I can make somebody else’s life better.  I would love to start an organisation where people can donate & sponsor some of the talented dancers in our community to get them all the opportunity which they deserve to conquer the world. 

What is your current weekly workout routine?

Every start of the week I re-visit the goals I have set for myself & I decide what I do that week to get closer to that goal.

I stick to at least 6 training sessions per week.

Mondays includes a session with my trainer to keep me on track for the rest of the week.

Tuesdays – I have ballet class in the evening.  If my schedule allows it, I like to attend a yoga class

Wednesday – Upper body workout including core exercises and weight training.

Thursday – afternoon stretching following by Ballet class (1.5h)

Fridays – Floor Barre (strengthening & stretching ballet class)

Saturday – Surfing or leg workout in gym

Sunday – rest day and surfing.

I include protein in my diet after all workouts; include amino acids pre, during and post workout to aid in muscle recovery.  Include supplements in my diet to keep my joints healthy.  Taking good care of myself in this manner decreases the risk of injury and ensures that I don’t have to rely on anti-inflammatories.

Since dancing again, how has your relationship with your family, daughters and partners changed?

I would say that our family grew closer.

Do you and your daughters dance at home now?

Yes, we like to ‘workout’ together, stretch or just do basic ballet exercises when we get the chance.

Now, is it important to you that your girls discover what their own fifth elements are? What are they? My two daughters each have their own unique personality and it is very special to see how their personalities and interests are developing.  They are still very young, and I want to give them the best chance in life and give them all the exposure I possibly could so that they will be able to discover their passion and talents on their own terms.

Mayah’s interests:  Dancing, Swimming, Art, Horse riding, Piano, Maths, Ball play

Helena’s interests:  Dancing, Swimming, Art, Ball play, Singing music and Piano, horse riding, insects and animals

How has your relationship with yourself changed?

I am much more relaxed.  Not so hard on myself as before.  I don’t take life to serious anymore.  Knowing that it is a brief life.

Nowadays, how often do you dance? How many hours a week, where, and what kind of styles of dance do you do?

I dance 3 times per week at the Stellenbosch Ballet Association, of which one class is Floor Barre, where all the exercises are performed either sitting or lying down.  I train under the Cecchetti method of classical ballet.

Do you teach any dance classes or choreography any routines? Please describe.

If so, how does it feel watching your students embrace dance?

The studio has asked me a couple of times to help as an assistant with the little ones, but I am not formally teaching no.  I do not have a teacher’s qualification as such.  It is so nice to watch the young dancers.  I do see myself in a teacher’s position.  I feel like correcting them sometimes 😊 because I see the potential in them & perfection is something I may not necessarily be able to master anymore, but they still can.

Do you think that going through your ordeal – the accident, having your dreams dashed, building yourself up again – has made you stronger? How so?

I think every single person’s story is important.  All of us experience some form of difficulty in our lives at some point.  Perseverance is my strongest trait.  I have the strength to keep on pushing, which has certainly shaped me.

My ordeal made me a very strong person, but my foundation was built on rock and that is the reason I could succeed in fulfilling my dream so many years later.

What would you say to people who have been through similar trials and tribulations?

Don’t let anything stand in your way of achieving your goal and your dream.  Don’t let go of it no matter how impossible it might seem.  Surround yourself with people wo supports your passion.  Who will encourage you; challenge you and inspire you enough to take a leap of faith.

Elle Magazine November 2017

Tell me about your love of dance and your own history with dance.

As a young girl at the age of 5, I started ballet classes with Mrs. Diane van Schoor in Stellenbosch training in the CECCHETTI METHOD.

“A tradition of lyrical beauty, classical line, musicality, finesse, attention to detail, warmth of spirit and the flame of dance – all the attributes necessary to make a good dancer. Add to this, intelligence and individuality, the qualities that make Maestro Cecchetti’s exercises come alive and one has the makings of fireworks with which to spellbind-the-audience.  And what is a professional dancer’s task, but to carry the audience into a world of fantasy and magic.”

At the age of 17, I had completed Intermediate level and had just began with Advanced I before the accident.

I had no interest in anything other than dancing.  There was never any doubt in my mind what I wanted to become one day and which direction I wanted to follow.  I planned to attend a dance scholarship in Canada the year after school as part of my Associates diploma.

The stage was the one place where I really could live out my passion and express myself.  I loved performing and dreamt of one day being involved in choreography.

Today after 21 years I am dancing yet again.  Dancing will not be possible without my strict fitness program along with determination and grace from God.

How did your fitness journey help heal you after your traumatic experience?

I suffered from post-traumatic stress after the birth of my two daughters.  It completely took over my life and thoughts, which caused so much anxiety and panic attacks.

I would say personal training played the biggest part in my fitness journey so far.  It kept me motivated and it helped to have a goal orientated program.

In June 2016, I started training with personal trainer, Geoff Amess.  During my training sessions, I had new records to beat every week and that motivated me to eat clean and live a healthy lifestyle.  Only three months into my training I felt that I had reached a level of confidence and fitness to start thinking of getting back into dancing again.    Geoff’s dedication to my program and encouraging words kept me going in times of doubt and minor physical set-backs.

Today I am happy to say that I am free from those fears and anxiety because of my new fit lifestyle.   My fitness journey healed me by realizing that I got my fifth element back.

If you were to go back 20 years, what would you tell your younger self who had just lived through your trauma

I probably would have told myself that what had happened to me doesn’t necessarily mean that I could not be involved in dancing in some other way.  For example, to continue working with the little ones, or assist in any means possible during exams and productions.   On the other hand, I do believe that everything works out the way it is supposed to for a reason and that we must just accept it even if we don’t understand it.   It was not God’s time for me then, but it is now.  And I believe that was the reason I dealt with my trauma the way I did.

What was your beacon of hope after your accident that propelled you to start Fifth Element?

I guess I never believed that it would ever be physically possible.  In the beginning of last year, I would never have thought that it would be possible for me to attend a ballet class ever again in my life.  This only existed in my dreams and imagination.  Fitness and personal training changed my outlook on this.  Not only did I regain physical strength, but also mental strength and confidence to start believing in myself again.

On 13 September, I walked into the ballet studio and have never stopped since.  I felt what it was to feel truly happy again and I also realized how truly unhappy I was.  This made we want to tell my story, however hard it was for me to go back ‘there’ and recall all the memories.  For the one reason that I wanted to let other people know that they should not give up hope.  That they must hold on to their dreams however small or big they are.  And most importantly through my clothing range I want to let me people know that it is fun to work out.  You will look good and feel good about yourself in my clothing.  Boosting self-esteem and confidence of others.  It is not necessary to have the perfect body type to wear something which you like.  Life is too short 😊 We must embrace it.

What daily mantras did you recite/read/live by to regain your strength?

-Mentally prepare myself for each training session

-Set Goals for myself

-Stick to at least 7 training sessions a week.  Whatever that entailed, Aqua Aerobics, Zumba class, Personal training sessions and core strength training through Barre and Pound classes.

-Including protein in my diet after all strenuous workouts

-Cut out all Alcohol and sugar out of my diet.  Only having one or two glasses of wine over weekend.

-Cut out all the bad carbs

-Invested in myself, through personal training, healthy eating habits and supplements I needed to assist my body (joints & muscles) in getting used to the strain that certain exercises & dancing initially had on my body.

-Determination, will, perseverance, consistency

Have you seen dance as a personal therapy for yourself?

Getting back into dancing has and still is therapy for me.  It is a way for me to deal with the trauma and making peace everyday with the reality I need to face.  I am just thankful for the strength and opportunity I have to be doing this again.

Right after having had your accident did you experience a fear of participating in anything physical? If you did, how did you overcome it

Anything physical I participated in after the accident was terrifying for me.  It still is today to some extent.  Whether I went snowboarding or horse riding for the first time I wonder if I am not setting myself up for failure.  And that is terrifying.  However, I always seem to get through it and every situation I ‘survive’ I realize it was not so bad and I grow and learn from every experience.

I was terrified that would not be able to do the Zumba class or Barre class.  Now that I have overcome that the next challenge is to dance on pointe again 😊 I am terrified, because I know it is not physically possible for me anymore, but I thought to myself I can do it, even if I must dance one leg, I’ll do it.

How has your own love of dance influenced the design of your active-wear brand? 

I would say dance plays a part in my design choices.  The EARTH range is based on classic and elegant cuts.  Body modelling leggings and crop tops are my signature for the women’s Earth range.  Dancers strength lies in their core & therefore I love the fact that crop tops can accentuate the mid waist and abdominals.

Dancers have long, lean muscles and I think my designs are influenced by my own body type.  I love high waisted, ankle length leggings are, which are flattering for all body types & not only for ballerinas.

Have you seen a link between how you live your life now and what you learned after your near-death experience?

I can associate with a definite link.

  • A strong sense of life’s purpose & a strong sense of wonder:

I always wondered about the purpose of my life (I knew there must be a purpose).  I always wondered about what had happened to me and why.  If there was a bigger meaning behind having survived the accident?

  • Spirituality becomes central and important:

I am now much more spiritually inclined, recognizing the connection between past and present life occurrences.  I recognise specific signs and events in my life, which had influenced my life to how I am experiencing my life today.

  • Quiet confidence and less interest in the opinion of others:

The present life, the present body, became important and special to me again.I have a strong sense of belief in life after death.I know life is short and I now live my life to the fullest.Although I do have compassion for others, I also do not pay much attention to the negative opinion of others as it assists me in staying focused and remain goal orientated.

  • Less appreciation of money and possessions

The little things in life are much more important to me than material goods.   I love giving and I always think of how I can make somebody else’s life better.  I would love to create a charity which would assist less fortunate children to get the opportunity to discover their talent and love for dance.

Do you believe that fitness begins with the mind? If so then why?

Yes, I cannot agree more.  I firmly believe that the body can achieve what the mind believes.  Physically our bodies can withstand almost anything, it is our minds we must convince.  Having my own sportswear brand, clients often speak to me about their exercise interests and I find that allot of people struggle to be consistent in their approach.  Starting off strong and then losing interest due to lack of discipline, perseverance and the will power, to ultimately achieve their goals.  A healthy lifestyle not only changes our body, it changes our mind, our attitude and our mood.

You need to want it bad enough to work for the change we want to see in your bodies.  And the difference between wanting and achieving is discipline.  We cannot be successful from what we do occasionally, but rather from what we do consistently.

1) What injuries did you suffer exactly? 

I suffered a severe crush injury (A crush injury is injury by an object that causes compression of the body) to my lower left leg.

I suffered compartment syndrome (Compartment syndrome develops when swelling or bleeding occurs within a compartment. Because the fascia does not stretch, this can cause increased pressure on the capillaries, nerves, and muscles in the compartment. Blood flow to muscle and nerve cells is disrupted).

I suffered serious damage to the skin, completely removing layers of skin leaving the wound exposed to infection and deformity.

I suffered serious muscle (muscle death), nerve, blood vessel, and soft tissue damage.

I underwent multiple surgeries to complete nerve and tendon repairs.  Called a Fasciotomy or fasciectomy, a surgical procedure where the fascia is cut to relieve tension or pressure commonly to treat the resulting loss of circulation to an area of tissue or muscle. Fasciotomy is a limb-saving procedure when used to treat acute compartment syndrome.

2)Were you told then that you’d never dance again – after the accident?

Shortly after the accident I was told I would never be able to walk again (not without a prosthesis anyway).  Not ever dancing again was not even a discussion at all.  It was a given.

2)What was your mental state once you comprehended the volume of your injury/ies?

Only once I knew the severity of my injuries I had feelings such as shock, sadness, anger and denial for many years.

I suffer from repressed memory.  Fragmented & incomplete memories.  (At first, hidden memories that can’t be consciously accessed may protect the individual from the emotional pain of recalling the event. But eventually those suppressed memories can cause debilitating psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder.)

Years later after the birth of my two daughters I started suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  For many people, symptoms begin almost right away after the trauma happens. For others, the symptoms may not begin or may not become a problem until years later.

Symptoms of PTSD I experienced:  flashbacks, avoiding things or places associated with the event, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, lack of taking part in activities.

3)You make mention of 2016 and connecting with a personal trainer? What is significant about 2016? What happened between age 17 to 21 years later?

In June 2016, I started training with personal trainer Geoff Amess (qualified in sports conditioning; rugby strength and conditioning among other things).  Three months into the training, I gained enough strength and confidence & I told Geoff that I would like to get back into dancing one day.

2016 changed my life in so many ways.

-Changed my lifestyle (healthy diet and exercise plan)

-Training, setting goals for 2016, have all been reached so far

-Returned to ballet class in September 2016

-Started Fifth Element Sportswear in November 2016

After 1996 I underwent various reconstruction surgery.  In 1998 I went to Stellenbosch College for two years.  2000, at the age of 21 I went abroad on a working holiday; lived and worked in Edinburgh, Scotland for two years.

I returned home to work in the wine industry whilst continuing my studies in wine for another 7 years.  I have been working in the wine industry since then.  Often travelling abroad for work while being a mom of two baby girls.  It was a very stressful time and having to leave my daughters behind also caused a lot of anxiety and stress.

In 2005 I registered the Fifth Element wine brand.  Since 2016 I have been supplying the export market with my brand mainly to the UAE.  Wine will always stay one of my passions.  But now I am truly living out my passion through my dancing and Fifth Element Sportswear brand.

4)What inspired you to return to dancing, and when?

I think it was a combination of factors.

-Growing stronger physically:

Firstly, I saw what my body was physically capable of performing various exercise and training sessions.

-Mentally growing stronger – gaining confidence in myself and belief

-Motivation – guidance and encouragement from my personal trainer

-Watching my girls dance at Stellenbosch Ballet Association (being around the studio and being part of the community again definitely influenced & inspired me to make my dream a reality).

MY STORY

The fifth element is the element of Spirit, known as Ether or Akasha.  It is the primal source of energy that creates and fuels the other elements.  Akasha is present within our bodies, the spark of life known as the soul. At the age of 17 during my final year in high school, March 1996, I lost my fifth element.

I remember

I remember the morning my mom dropped me off at school.  Our matric class were underway on a bus trip to Knysna for the weekend.  As I was about to leave, I stopped her and asked her to remember to collect my new pointe shoes, which have arrived that day.

We made a stop in Hartenbos near Mossel Bay.  Soon after our bus departure, some of my class mates were making fun and goofing around with the microphone at the front of the bus.  I was seated near the back of the bus.  As I was almost asleep, but they kept calling me over the microphone to come and join them in the front. When I got to the front there wasn’t really any space for me to stand so I stood on the first step holding onto the hand rail.   The bus swayed out for something in the road causing the door to open behind me.

As the door opened behind me, I held onto the rail, but slipped down whilst hanging onto the rail.  My feet dragged along on the tar road as the bus was moving forward.  The wheel caught my left foot and pulled me in under the bus.

Dancing was my whole existence and then it was taken away from me in those few moments.

I remember rolling and bouncing on the highway with cars coming at me in full speed from behind.  As I came to a still lying position I was losing a lot of blood.  At first, I didn’t realise what just had happened to me and I still though that I could come upright.  Only when I saw my leg, I realised I could not get up.

The average adult has about 10 pints of blood.  I lost almost 6 pints of blood and went into hypovolemic shock.  I started swallowing my tongue.  One of the teachers stuck her hand in and succeeded in pulling it out and calmed me down.  Constantly talking to me and praying.

“The final classification of hemorrhaging, Class 4, occurs when a person loses over 40 percent of their blood volume. A hemorrhage so severe requires immediate and major resuscitative help, or else the strain on the body’s circulatory system will be too great to survive. The heart will no longer be able to maintain blood pressure and circulation, so organs will fail and the patient will slip into a comatose state preceding death.”

I saw some class mates, teachers and spectators standing on the opposite side of the highway.  I remember the teacher with the green dress looking at the scene in fear.  Classmates surrounded me, looking down at me, telling me that they loved me.

A near death experience

Whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I lost consciousness at some point and felt a sensation of detachment from my body.  Being elevated above my body, looking down on the scene, seeing myself down there as a spectator of my own trauma.  I felt feelings of serenity, security and warmth with the presence of light. 

“An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is an experience that typically involves a feeling of floating outside one’s body and, in some cases, the feeling of perceiving one’s physical body as if from a place outside one’s body.

Experiencing 5 stages of a NDE, peace, body separation, darkness, light and entering the light. Only 10% of people experience stage 5 of NDE.”

The average near death experiencer comes to regard him or herself as an immortal soul currently resident within a material form so lessons can be learned while sojourning in the earthplane.  They know now they are not their body; many go on to embrace the theory of reincarnation.  Eventually the present life, the present body, becomes important and special again. Some of the documented after effects of a near death experience which I can associate with:

  • A strong sense of life’s purpose

  • An amazing ability to enjoy a high degree of solitude and silence

  • A strong sense of wonder, a perennial sense of gratitude.  You’re grateful.  You just have that quiet confidence, for no reason.

  • Spirituality becomes central and important

  • An abiding sense of deep confidence

  • Less interest in the opinion of others

  • Compassion for others

  • Less appreciation of money and possessions

  • Increased interest in spirituality

  • Increased belief in life after death.

At the scene

A man took his belt and tied it around my leg to stop the bleeding.  I have little recollection of what happened next after the ambulance arrived.  I regained consciousness in the ER. Emergency staff was busy cutting the clothes from my body.  I heard voices.  They were talking about having to amputate my leg.

The doctor on call suggested it to me. When my grandmother arrived, he wanted her to sign the forms, but she was in no position to make that decision. My mother received a phone call at her shop in town, which she owned at the time. They asked her permission to go ahead with the amputation. My parents refused and asked that they should wait until they arrive at the hospital. They stabilised me whilst waiting for my family to arrive. My cousin happened to be visiting nearby and he came over immediately.  I recall my cousin feeding me ice with a teaspoon.  I was so thirsty, but I was not allowed to take in any fluids, should I need to go into surgery.  My boyfriend arrived sometime during the early morning hours after hiking all the way from Stellenbosch.

My parents contacted the specialists in Cape Town and decided to transport me to the following morning.

A helicopter trip would have caused some complications and therefore I had to endure the four-hour ambulance ride to Panorama Mediclinic, Cape Town.  I have little recollection of the drive, accept that it was uncomfortable and there were a few times where I felt that I was not going to survive it all the way there.  Doctors in Cape Town was already on standby.

Panorama ICU

I remember being in a room, doctors standing at the foot of my bed discussing the severity of my injuries and if they will be able to save my leg.  My father came up close to my bedside and asked me if I am willing to fight and if they must try and save my leg.  My answer was yes and they immediately scheduled the first operation.

Waking up in the ICU ward.  My entire body has swollen up from shock, twice the size of my regular body size. At that time no visitors were allowed, only family members. I do recall a pastor came to pray out loud by my bedside as if I was about to die. I was so upset about this stranger praying out loud by my bed. I just remember that I didn’t want anybody near me again.

In the ICU ward, I saw the women being checked in and going home again. Mostly older women, some terminally ill, others just demented. One day one of the women was busy dying and they quickly pushed her bed out of the ward not to upset me. Another demented woman had thought that the ward was her garden and started planting her pot plant on the ground next to my bed 😊

I do not recall the exact time frame of my time and recovery period there; or when exactly which operation took place. All I remember is that I underwent a lengthy operation to affix all the veins and nerves which they could possibly still retain.  When they found me, my foot was completely detached from my leg, only the main artery running down the leg and into the foot, was still intact and this is the only reason why there was any chance in saving my leg.

After weeks/months in Panorama, I was transferred to Stellenbosch Mediclinic to be treated closer to my family.

Memories of the next 3 years following

Because I had no skin left and very little tissue on my left lower leg, they had to use all the skin from both my thighs as skin grafts. Having to cover the tissue of practically my complete lower leg from about mid-calf to toes. “Skin grafting is a type of graft surgery involving the transplantation of skin.” In the process of a skin graft in my case, they took the skin, put it through a machine, punched holes in it to stretch the skin, in able to cover more surface. The raw legs were then covered in a plastic like contact film that sticks to the skin like glue. After weeks, the wounds oozes and forms fluid underneath the plastic, which needs to dry out.

One day a couple nurses came into my room and started pulling the plastic off my raw legs. I remember this as the most excruciating painful experience of that time in my life.  After which, I sat for days with fans blowing on my legs to help the wounds to dry out.

One day I asked for pain killers, having no recollection of day or time or when the last time was that I had any pain medication.  The nurse asked me if I perhaps had another problem (physiologically), because I have apparently asked too many times for pain meds. She eventually came back with the pills and gave it to me.  Being my stubborn self, I threw the pills towards the centre of the ward and refused to drink it.  I was still dealing with pethidine (a similar drug to morphine and heroin) withdrawal symptoms, after being taken off the pethidine patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pump used to permit the patient to self-administer small doses of narcotics.

One day they pushed me into a theatre room. The local GP was appointed to change the bandages on my leg and he came to the hospital to learn from the surgeons how it should be done. My mom was by my side. A few nurses wanted to observe the process out of curiosity of my case, but after they saw my leg, they couldn’t stay in the room and left. That is when I realised it must be bad. My mom sat by my head and held my hand.  She had to be strong for me, but I could see on her face that she was really having a hard time looking at my leg for the first time. Only months after, she told me that she could see right through the flesh/holes in my leg. This is how little tissue there was left around the bone.

After some week or weeks, the plastic surgeon just walked into my room one day, without any warning or moral support. Cold heartedly started opening the bandages on my leg and made me look at it.  He said it was time that I see it.

When my mother arrived there later…. I was totally devastated.  I had no idea that this was going to happen and what to expect.

Everybody in the wards came and went. I always stayed behind.  Being moved from one bed to the other or from the one ward to the other. Every couple of days they would ran a bath (betadine) in which I had to lay in my own blood.  I had to hop on one leg to the ward bathroom.  As soon as my leg was lowered off the bed, so much blood was flowing down and dripping on the carpets all the way to the bathroom.  One day they forgot me in the bath tub and when they eventually found me I was already passed out.  If it wasn’t for my mother who nursed me, I would probably have died of infection or have lost my leg due to negligence.

The main concern at that stage was that the skin on my heel and sole of my foot would be able to take and not die, because there was almost no tissue left under my heel bone on which it could grow.

I remember getting phone calls from the press trying to get information.  Letters from school children from all over the country.  They wrote letters, so many letters.

My most memorable visit in hospital was a friend, who has since passed.  I will never forget how scared he was to see me. His mom came in and he was waiting behind the curtain.  His mom said to me that he just wanted to come and see that I am alive.  I will never forget that visit.

The doctors taught my mom how to change my dressings so she would be able to take me home some weekends. The skin grafts were a success, so I could go home for further recovery. The months/year after followed with various rehabilitation and operations. From being in a wheel chair, onto crutches and later a walking stick. I remember going to this place where they showed me a video of prosthesis, how it works and the different kinds preparing me for what is to come.

I had to see various specialists for the reports as part of the law suit. The orthopaedic surgeon I went to, wrote in his report that I will never be able to walk again and that he doesn’t see how I would be able to keep my leg for a very much longer. There was not enough protection, tissue under the sole of my foot/heel to be able to walk on it.

One day I went to Tygerberg hospital. I was waiting in a small cubicle behind curtains. After a while, a couple of professors and specialised doctors entered. I felt a little like an experiment, being surrounded by men who each gave their medical opinion.  One professor was willing to try something.  Using either my calf muscle or latissimus dorsi for the reconstruction of my left lower leg and foot.  Free flap procedures are done by plastic and reconstructive surgeons who specialize in microsurgery. The surgeon disconnects the tissue completely from its blood supply and reattaches the tissue to new blood vessels, where a new blood supply and soft-tissue coverage are required.

If it wasn’t for my family and how I was raised, I don’t think I would have been able to have fought the battle I did.  I was strong then and I am strong now because of them.  My parents thought us be determination and dedication.  I remember when I was about 10 years old I had undergone operations on my feet.  After a couple of weeks, he just said one day, this is nonsense.  He took away my crutches and said I don’t need them anymore.

My dad and I use to get up at 6 am in the morning (at their holiday home on the river, Still Bay) and he would take me for a ski on the river. The water would crystal clear and perfect, with no other boats around.  So, one day only about six months after my accident he said to me, come.  I put on my wetsuit and got in the water.  With the first pull I was up on one ski.  That was an amazing feeling.

Reconstructive surgery

It was time to have the reconstructive surgery. Professor Bennie Zeeman and his team prepared me. First off, they gave me an epidural (an injection of a local anesthetic into the space outside the dura mater of the spinal cord in the lower back region to produce loss of sensation) before they started administering the narcotics. A nine-hour operation followed removing my right latissimus dorsi, with no guarantee that the transplant will be a success. The air conditioning in the theatre room had broken early on during the operation, but they had to finish the operation.  My body temperature dropped considerably and I went into hypothermic shock, known as a body core temperature below 35.0 °C. I remember when I woke after the surgery they were rushing with me through the halls, I was covered in silver heating blankets, functioned by warm forced air.

I spent quite some time in the high care unit, I remember counting a total of 6 tubes, drips and drains in my body all at once. Doctors and nurses monitored me very carefully and came to check on me every couple of hours to see if the muscle was still ‘pink’.

It was a very uncomfortable time because I couldn’t lie on my right side because of the long scar and neither on the left side, because of my left leg. It was a very lonely time in Panorama hospital, because my family could not all visit me every day.  It got better when I was transferred back to Stellenbosch again. Closer to family and friends.

A long period of rehabilitation followed.  The orthopaedic surgeon had to remove the gypsum plaster cast every two weeks. He would stretch my achilles tendon downwards little by little, held it down as far as I could bare and plaster it again for another two weeks. Every time it was opened-up, stretched a little further and plastered again.  It was a very painful experience trying to get my foot back as close as possible to a 90® angle.

The latissimus dorsi was attached to high up. It didn’t allow enough room for my ankle to move fully. Another operation followed to loosen it, move the whole muscle down and do another skin graft over the area which was now left open.

I did not have the full use of my right arm after the operation. I could only lift my arm to about shoulder height. Painful physiotherapy followed to stretch my arm again so that I could lift it up over my head to regain full functionality.

The major surgery was over and now I had to learn how to walk again after spending most of the last two years on my back, bed ridden.

A lengthy and traumatising law suit all happened over a two-year period, during the ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Fifth Element Sportswear

In August 2016, I started with a vision and a dream to create a sportswear range for active women and men who desire to express their individual style.  I couldn’t find anything in the market, which was authentic and which I felt represented my own personality and so I started to search and source items from abroad to investigate the opportunities for myself and for others. Soon I realised I had found something I have always wanted to do. I’ve owned the Fifth Element brand for some time and I finally had the opportunity to use this concept to let each element comes to its own.  Each element represents my love for water sports and dance.

EARTH – stay grounded

The earth range is exclusively for women of all age groups.  I love going to a Pilates, Zumba or Pound class when I get the chance.  This range has something for everyone, whether you like to run, train in the gym or attend a yoga class.

The earth element is the foundation of all elements.  It’s the combination of balance, perseverance and focus.

FIRE – have passion in your heart

Fire, the element of will, passion, change and intensity.  The fire range includes some bold and colourful designs for all men who desire to express their individuality.  This range is not only strikingly beautiful and unique, but also practical and affordable.

I’ve included some funky bold designs and, also some more classic items for the not so bold guys.  Compression tights and vests with patterns and graffiti art. 

WATER – dive deeper

Water symbolizes power and strength.  It can wash away earth, put out fire and carve its way through stone, yet nothing is softer and more flexible than water.

Our water range includes rash guards, surf leggings, swimwear and wet suits for all water sports.

AIR – move freely

Air is the manifestation of movement and of sound.  Air is also the power of the mind, our inspiration and imagination.  It aids us in the visualization and realization of our ideas and dreams.

Our air range consists of dance apparel – beautiful leotard designs, soft tulle skirts and other specialized accessories suitable for ballet, barre and all other classical forms of dance.

Fifth Element

This is the element of Spirit, known as Ether or Akasha.  It is the primal source of energy that creates and fuels the other elements.  Akasha is present within our bodies, the spark of life known as the soul. The fifth element has no direction, yet encompasses all directions. It is the centre, the circumference, above and below. It is beyond seasons and time, yet is all seasons and time.

Photo Credits:  Bakkes Images, Liza van Deventer (Fairlady)