When I did my first Women to Watch post in November last year, I said that these would be posts about “… not the type of typical business-women who you picture putting on corporate suits and strutting their stuff alongside the men, but women who are forging their own path; doing things in their own unique way in their chosen field; dancing to the music only they might be hearing, and dressing in a way that their own inner fashion guru dictates! They’re making up the rules as they go along, not following any pre-ordained rule-book. They’re dedicated and devoted; hard-working and determined. They’re stating very loudly that they’re here to stay and that confidence and dignity are the banners which they proudly hold aloft!
These are the women we should be learning from … these are the Women to Watch!”
STACEY LEWIS – THE DIVORCE SOURCE
Well, if ever there was one such woman, Stacey Lewis is certainly it!
Many of us have experienced change that dramatically affects our lives. Often it’s a trauma from which we eventually emerge as an altered person. Despite the scars, we’re hopefully wiser, more empowered and stronger than we allowed our previous self to be as a result of the experience. Of course that mindset is usually reached quite some time after we have undergone our own private hell.
That’s life, and we learn to roll with the punches. It is these experiences which define us and thankfully there are many people who are able to learn and gain enough strength from them to eventually give back and help others going through similar traumatic times.
As far as stress related traumas go, divorce ranks extremely high, (positioned at number two in the top 10 stressful life events on the ¹Holmes & Rahe stress scale), an event which Stacey Lewis experienced eight years ago. “The hardest part of my divorce was the initial shock. There was no actual process. It was my husband’s decision and I had no prior warning,” says Stacey, a practicing paediatric physiotherapist, who was left with three young children, the oldest being 3 and the youngest being 8 months.
At the time there was very little offered in the way of support resources so after her divorce and gradual healing over time, Stacey was determined to create the ideal support structure which she would have wanted to assist her through her divorce. By creating her own inventory of the various types of support that she would have liked, this led to the creation of an online resource for women: The Divorce Source (http://thedivorcesource.co.za/), so that they would feel less alone going through a similar difficult experience.
The site is a resource for all matters and issues relating to divorce with its own resident attorney, Noa Kinstler, as well as a mediator (also a qualified attorney), Sherie Grayman. Other experts include psychologists and life coaches who share their expertise in various articles. Content is also provided by divorced women who share their own experiences.
The website is a hub, a home, a place where a woman can go to for support, inspiration and information relating to the divorce situation. There is also a resource section on the site which provides details of other useful websites and useful contact details of attorneys and therapists. As the site grows, so too will the resource network. Future content will include financial matters and planning.
For now, Stacey is taking it step by step. It took many years of fighting her fears and building up her confidence one small step at a time to reach the point where she is now able to help others. “Life happens. Divorce happens. It can be heart-breaking, gut-wrenching and soul-destroying BUT you are not alone. There are many women who have been through the process and emerged happy and complete, eventually. Divorce does not have to be the end of your life. It can, in fact, be a catalyst to a better life,” says this petite dynamo who is determined to empower women through the expertise and support of The Divorce Source.
Having experienced the pain of divorce herself, Stacey does not view the process lightly. The site is a place to provide the divorced or divorcing woman with information, inspiration and resources, equipping her to cope with the divorce and move on to create a better and ultimately great, successful, independent life for herself. It is a haven for them to turn to, to receive the support they need.
“The Divorce Source has only recently been launched. My vision is that it will ultimately be a “one stop shop” for the divorcing woman, perhaps there’ll eventually even a dating zone,” she jokes.
Despite her trauma, Stacey understands that her journey has given her many gifts such as overcoming her fear of adversity and having a life filled with greater meaning each day. “Sometimes, when we are in the thick of pain and darkness, the gifts are not so apparent. I feel so privileged that I am now able to see the gifts of my initially terrible situation,” says Stacey who wishes the same turn-around experience for other women going through this difficult time.
One of her treasured gifts is how her divorce ultimately changed and empowered her. “I far prefer the person I am today. I am more confident, assertive, happy and compassionate. My pain has given me a heightened sensitivity towards women in similar situations and I find immense meaning in being able to help others.
My message to anyone going through this difficult time is that recovery after divorce is a process. Be kind and patient with yourself. Commit to finding your happiness and take small steps each day towards creating a good life for yourself and your children,” concludes Stacey.
Today Stacey has come full circle: she is happily re-married and has a baby of 18 months, while continuing undaunted with her commitment to help provide support to women going through a divorce and to show that no matter how hard the journey and the work needed to move on, it is possible to start over again.
And The Divorce Source continues to grow and thrive, proving that there is such a critical need of online support for divorced and divorcing women. They have negotiated free self-defence classes for divorced women in Johannesburg. There have been almost 20 000 visitors to the site, and the Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/thedivorcesource/?fref=ts) now has over 2000 likes.
Stacey will be releasing a book in September 2016!
COLLABORATION … COHESION … CELEBRATION … and a COMPETITION!!!
Education Africa and Sydenham Shul are thrilled to present ‘Sounds of Celebration III’. This unique event features musical performances by over 150 children and a guest appearance by Jewish singing sensation Choni G. The concert is a joyous and uplifting tribute to social cohesion, performed by talented young artists and representing a wide spectrum of cultures across our beautiful rainbow nation. The goal is to foster unity and positive interactions among young learners by facilitating cross cultural exchanges through music and in the process benefiting disadvantaged learners and communities.
The concert concludes the third year of the ‘Sounds of Celebration’ project in which NGO Education Africa has collaborated with Sydenham Shul to uplift disadvantaged communities around Johannesburg. Education Africa currently runs 9 projects that address various educational needs in South Africa. Their most recent grassroots endeavour has developed an ongoing scheme aimed at bringing musical training, through the establishment of marimba hubs, to a wide number of communities. This exciting project has already established marimba hubs at the Ithute Primary School in Alexandra and the Daveyton Zama Montessori School where over 250 children attend marimba lessons on a weekly basis, and an additional set of marimbas was donated to Stoneridge Primary School in appreciation for the outstanding marimba work being done at that school. With this year’s proceeds a new marimba hub will be established in the Boys and Girls Club in Protea Glen, Soweto.
This year’s exceptional event coordinated by Education Africa’s musical director Joan Lithgow, is themed ‘We are the world. We are the children’, and will include musical pieces on mbira, kora, djembe drums, marimbas, pipe bands, penny whistles, bouzoukis, violin, jazz band, and will also feature choirs, acrobats and dancers.
The organisers are presenting two matinees which are free concerts for 2000 disadvantaged youth in the Gauteng area. These young learners will have the opportunity to hear talented peers perform in a world-class venue. An educational booklet, allied to the CAPS curriculum, has also been prepared and will be supplied to each child. The final performance, formally presented by David Bloch, takes place on Tuesday 15 March at 20:00 and is open to the public. All performances take place at Emperors Palace, Theatre of Marcellus. Tickets are reasonably priced between R60 and R120. Bookings can be made through Ticketpro For more information about the project and the concerts contact Education Africa 011 685 7300 or Sydenham Shul 011 640 5021.
Participants include: Pops Mohamed, Yeshiva College, , Jack Lerole Penny Whistle Ensemble, Jeppe Boys High School, King David Linksfield Primary School, Saheti School, St Benedict’s College, St Dominic’s Boksburg, Zama Montessori School, Pendo Masote on violin, Vuyani Dance Studio & Jewish singing sensation: Choni G