10 Hour Op Later ( #71) & I Am In Awe That The “Tiniest” Biggest Hero In My Life I Get To Call My Sister, Debs.

Today yet again she proved her bravery, Faith in God & strength beyond what I can imagine – by going through her 71st major op which took a long 10 hours.

It was reconstructive & the surgeon said it went so well.

When we got to see her finally, she looked healthy & happy & was smiling – my sister, my legend.

Yet again she was held Faithfully by our Father above, who we know held her in his palm, throughout.

No doubt He has big plans for this testimony.

I also stand humbled that I have the strongest family.

Especially a mom Dee Bayvel & dad Paul Bayvel – at 69 & 70 – who have helplessly watched their child go through so much for 31 years & stand strong in Faith & Love for us all.

Against All Odds – my sister has done it again.
Debs, I adore you.

Leroy Brown – The Best Damn Dog In The Whole ‘World ever’ 29.09.2011 to 5.09.2019

Video tribute to come as Leroy was my moms first love and her his, this is just a really small tribute to the Bullmastiff who served His Dog’s Purpose with me. I am heartbroken, I cannot breathe, I am lost but I was loved.

Leroy Brown – the best damn dog in the whole ‘world ever’
29.09.2011 to 5.09.2019
The magnificent sun set last night, just after you crossed the rainbow bridge my best buddy.
No more pain or suffering. You are running in fields healthy & happy.
The sun rose this morning, on the most magnificent day, a sign from you smiling down from up above.
You Leroy Browning our big, gentle, giant who became my best friend, confidant, protector & companion at my side always; served your Dogs Purpose.
You only loved & gave us beautiful memories to treasure.
We are broken hearted.
Boy Boy I can hardly breathe.
Tears do not stop falling.
Half of my heart has lost its biggest whole – you.
I love you always, forever a day and until we meet again.
Thank you for giving me your infinity, you made me so so happy….
I know time heals but for now,
I am lost without you.

Looks Fade, Souls Don’t…

This touched my heart.

In an era where what one looks like implicates what defines one’s personality we need to remember the true essence of beauty…. it is a celebration of you, your heart, your soul.

We are inundated with ‘ways’ in which to improve our external selves through the faux world of social media – where are those adverts and posts encouraging us to be us on how to help others, on how to become a ‘heart person’.

When did we stop appreciating the beauty that is what God created INSIDE of each of us, the talents we should nurture and the very features we were born with, painted and sculpted in His image. When did we stop caring about caring for others but instead merely caring about our looks?

Sweet girl,

The world is going to tell you a million things about who you should be, how you should act, and the way you should look.

Very few of those voices will be shouting, “your worth doesn’t lie in your appearance.”

Very few voices will be reminding you, “you are made in the image of God, you are perfectly you, and you’re body is not something that needs to be manipulated.”

A million voices will be telling you the exact opposite.

And lies will be flying at you like burning arrows telling you that you just aren’t good enough. They will tell you to look around at the other girls who have what you don’t. They will try to steal every ounce of your joy.

Believe me when I tell you, it’s not worth it.

Chasing some unrealistic, superficial body or appearance will never be good for you. It will never bring more love or joy into your life. It will never, ever make you better.

Looks fade. No matter how hard you try. Gravity comes, wrinkles happen, bodies age.

Souls don’t.

You weren’t made to be an ornament to look at.

You were made to be a vessel in which God works His good through.

Little one, I pray your days are filled not by chasing after an image, but chasing after Jesus and His incredible call on your life.

Love Always


Raw, Real & OH So Inspirational ‘A Note from Maya: Life, death & the dentist’ by Maya Amoils – Aren’t I Lucky Enough To Call Maya My Cousin & BFF. My Cancer Fighting Bumble Bee

To preface this piece written by my cousin is near impossible. But, here goes.

Maya in her typical ‘pose’

What I can say is this. I have always been so incredibly proud of you my ‘little cousin’ Maya. To find out at 28, you would be; and are fighting against the dreaded ‘C’ was|is devastating. I am amazed at how inspirational your post is, how much courage and strength you possess and how absolutely beautiful you remain.

Maya & Mishie | Maya & Honey

Sharing these words is a privilege. For those going through any battle – let it light and guide your way, and I hope you look forward to your next visit to the Dentist!

You may be thinking wow, your sister, aunt and now cousin? No it’s not genetic; it’s a ‘bad luck’ of the draw & it sucks. You should know we actually have pretty damn awesome genes thanks to dip (carol ann), dorry (dee) & ducky (sands) I mean HELLO, our amazing Nana survived for a couple of years in complete heart failure and with a triple G cup which by 84 meant her b**bs reached her knees, which could kill anyone! We are all fighters !

Me, the three sisters, momma and aunties & My

My, My My, just don’t you ever forget we ARE in your corner, we have done it with debs, aunty dip and we will do it with you!

Here are a few tidbits about our My My you may not know.

When younger we were all enthralled by our littlest cousins antics – her bronx accent? Whilst born and raised in Cincinnati? Giving herself timeouts (yip herself), her refusal to wear socks if they weren’t inside out, her not so soft renditions of all the songs from the Lion King, her mushroom hairstyle and refusal to change it, her dress sense *cringe* and then her ability to melt anyone’s heart with a little smile and those dimples.

Mishie & Ultra Cool My My

At that tender age her stubbornness and tenacity shone through (even getting my tough rugga bugga dad dressed up as a ‘pretty ‘pretty princess’).

My My, Dad & Mishie

Who knew that so many years later these traits would become crucial in her world and to her existence.

As Maya grew up and the age gap between us shrank figuratively ,us girls Mishie her sister (another beauty and rocket scientist I adore) become far closer than cousins. We truly are the best of friends and heart sisters. Soulmates who share the same stars in the night sky – even living 10 000 miles apart.

Soul Sisters | Cousins | BFFS

In fact Maya and I are incredibly similar…. in personality, humour and perhaps a few (or more *big eyes* quirks here and there oh and our stubbornness.


That’s where it ends, unfortunately for me 🙂 She is the beauty, brains and ….. b**bs.

I stand in awe of a cousin who grew up to be absolutely magnificent, incredibly capable, successful beyond.

Someone who literally walked and worked with the ‘stars’ whilst to me, outshining them in every way.

My My thinking of you today and always my mind drifts back to memories of you belting out and of course making us all sing “Hakuna Matata” – “Means No Worries For The Rest Of Your Life” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” – my cousin let it be so, and not just tonight but every night until I see you later this year, I hope you feel the HUGE amount of love I have in my heart for you.

Now for that post | note | most inspirational entry

A Note from Maya: Life, death & the dentist

Journal entry by Team Maya — May 22, 2019A few days after I got my diagnosis in November, I went to the dentist. A few days following that news meant that the world was raw and triggering. Every minute felt terrifying. So when my hygienist asked, “Have you had any recent changes to your health?” the poor woman really had no idea what she was unleashing.

I spent the hour fighting through tears and silence and awkwardness. When I checked out, the receptionist asked if I would like to schedule my next appointment, six months from now. I froze. I didn’t know much about my diagnosis,  but I knew enough from the glimpses of terror in my mom’s voice to know that things did not look good. That there might not be a six months from now.

Today, I got a reminder that my dentist appointment is on 05/28, six days from now. 05/28 also happens to be the birthday of one of my very best childhood friends who passed away in a tragic hiking accident. I made 05/28 the password on my phone as a daily reminder to myself to live my days as fully as she did. I couldn’t help but marvel at that coincidence and reflect on how much has permanently changed. So much can happen in an instant, yet the world keeps turning and everything’s the same. It still rains on days you want it to be sunny and is sunny on days you want it to rain. There is still life, death, taxes, and the dentist.

I haven’t written much about this whole experience, but lately I started to write a letter to myself, to the Maya who stood in line at reception wondering if she should make her next appointment, from the Maya now.

In it, I talk a lot about odds. The odds of getting into Stanford. The odds of getting a job at Google. The odds of getting stage 4 ovarian cancer as a perfectly healthy 28-year-old. With 0/20,000 cancer genes. With parents, an uncle, and a sister, as doctors.  

What I conclude from these head-scratching odds is this: life is going to be short for everyone, no matter how long it is. And while we walk the planet, the only thing any of us has is our ability to extract meaning from experience.

What I have taken away from this experience is:

1. That life is a sport, best played as a team. And my team fucking rules. My parents are the most phenomenal souls I know. My sister is my hero. My friends and family are who you want by your side in a boxing match, in an ER, or in bed on a lazy Friday after chemo. Soulmates come in all shapes and forms if we let them. They can even come as dogs.

2. That you should write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Especially on the days you feel like you have nothing to be grateful for. The last entry I wrote in the gratitude journal that sits by my desk reads, “getting to start chemo tomorrow.” Tonight, I will write “getting to finish chemo tomorrow.”

3. That you should be kind to strangers and generous to the world. You can learn a lot from your neighbors. Even if they are 82, they can become your friends.  

4. That in the face of the unknown, the only way through is one breath and one day at a time. One song at a time can work, too (thank you Rachel Platten, thank you Lupe, thank you GRiZ.)

5. That with all my unexplainable odds, I am no more, or less, special than anyone else.

Throughout this journey, I have held mantras sacred. My dad shared one a while ago that I use often — relax, trust, go downstream. He also taught me a very important one, “I am not attached to the outcome. No matter what happens, I will handle it.

I do not know the outcome of tomorrow. Or the next six months. I pray it is the end of treatment for me. But it may not be. What I do know is that I will go to the dentist next week. And I have never been more excited for a dentist appointment. That horribly mundane, dreaded experience has now become a chance to celebrate that I’m here and a chance to remember everyone I love.  

I end my letter to Maya-At-The Dentist saying this:

Your experience has been an extraordinary one. Let it undo you. Let it break you and make you whole again. Walk away from it bigger, brighter and filled with what you need to live like your soul is on fire.   

That is how you live a vibrant life in the face of death, darling. You stare it down and blind it with compassion and laughter and love and human connection. You defeat it with the conviction to make it better.

I would not be here, able to have any conviction, without you — my team in the arena, on the bench, and in the stands far away. For the unwavering messages of love and support, for “being there” in every sense of the term — thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. I cannot say it enough.

I hope someday I can find a way to repay the amount of generosity I’ve received back into the world but, in the meantime, I hope you can find a way to look forward to your next trip to the dentist.

With love and appreciation, 

Follow Maya’s journey here

Let’s Bless Blessings – By Bruce Darné co-written by Jojo Bayvel

Blessings Pic copy

An initiative started by my amazing brother in law “Bless Blessings journey Home to South Africa” — story co-written by me… and lets fund!

Blessings came into my life in January 2013 and for some reason – I would like to think it is an inherent instinct I have to recognize good and kind people – my heart immediately went out to this tiny but strong young man.

At this point Blessings was absolutely desperate for work and trying to support his wife – then pregnant with their first child. Having been in South Africa for a few months he had overstayed his welcome and his visa and was in dire financial straits, yet making the trip back to Malawi, his place of birth, was not possible if he did not earn the money to do so. Add to this the additional stress caused from the knowledge that returning to his country would mean that Blessings would battle even more to support his little family, in a place where jobs are so few and far between. Blessings was a truly desperate man, and seeing this I knew I had to give him a chance.

I started giving Blessings odd jobs around the house and in the garden. In time this man of such diminutive stature proved to be an unbelievably strong, dedicated and hard worker. Putting in the effort of 3 men when doing any job I asked of him.

Slowly but surely because of his amazing work ethic together with his gentle, kind and willing nature, Blessings began working as a gardener for other people including ourselves.

Blessings had found work and was able to support his little family as his wife had given birth to a beautiful baby boy – He also quickly earned himself the nickname among his employers of ‘Turbo’ due to his ability to get everything done so efficiently and so quickly!

And then whilst everything seemed to be coming right in this mans life the worst tragedy struck.

Blessings family back home in Malawi were desperate to meet their new grandson and nephew – yet another thing I found endearing about Blessings and something I can relate to as a husband, son, brother and father, is his closeness and dedication to his family – and so with the little money he had saved up Blessings sent his wife and new baby boy to meet his family.

On their return, less then a week after being reunited with his wife and baby boy, Blessings little guy became terribly ill and landed up in hospital with Malaria. Three days later Blessings and his wife had to say goodbye to this tiny new member of their family, when he sadly and tragically passed away.

They say a parent should never have to bury their child and I think that this cannot be more true especially when it comes to having to bury a tiny baby. A little human completely dependent on you to exist and a precious soul with their entire life stretched out before them – as the father of a three and a half year old and a one month old, I cannot even begin to imagine the heartache and sheer desperation Blessings and his wife felt and still feel to this day.

BUT upholding his incredible work ethic and knowing he is the sole provider, Blessings continued to work 6 days a week for fourteen months and at full ‘turbo’ in order to save the money he needed in order to return to Malawi and reunite with his wife to be with their family and finally have the chance to mourn the loss of their baby boy.

Fast forward to the 3rd May 2016. Taking R 7000, all the money he had earned working so hard for me and other people, Blessing began the 3 day journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg where he would then get on a bus and return to Malawi.

Desperate to keep his life savings safe; Blessings hid this money in the very shoes and socks he was wearing – The tragedy that a man should have to hold on so tightly to an amount of money we could spend so very easily in just a few days on trivial and nonessential items again strikes me as so very sad and burdens my heart.

And then Tragedy struck this man again. On arrival in Johannesburg, Blessings was stopped and searched by corrupt members of the Johannesburg police service. These men, meant to stop crime and corruption, not only stole all of the R 7000 Blessings had worked so hard to earn but also locked him up in a cell and threatened him with deportation if a bribe was not paid. For these men stealing another mans hard earned money was not enough, having the upper hand in ‘terms of the law’ they knew that Blessings should not be in the country and so further tried to exploit this already desperate human being.

Blessings contacted me and in sheer desperation for this young man I have come to respect, I decided that I would pay a bribe of R 1000 to the police – let it be known this is something I am completely against – and then get Blessings on his bus to Malawi. He needed his family and he has worked so hard for the dream which was just within his reach that was so very nearly snatched away and perhaps still was as Blessings is left penniless.

Blessings dream and plans, were and still are to return to South Africa with his wife where he wants to apply for a proper working permit.

However this money stolen from him, his life’s worth and savings, was the money he would use to take time to grieve and then return to South Africa in a timeous fashion in order to continue working on the jobs he had fought to secure and worked so hard at, in order to keep.

My fear is that Blessing now returns home empty handed. Which means he will not have the means to return to South Africa and keep these jobs which belong to ‘Turbo’ our hard working blessing.

This young man has suffered too many tragedies in this life and as I mentioned in the beginning of this story when meeting Blessings my gut instinct was correct. This is a good, kind, gentle, humble and hard working man who deserves a little break in life.

And so I would like to start and initiative to bless Blessings. Let’s all get together and get Blessings back to South Africa as soon as we can so he can keep his jobs and carry on being the ‘turbo’ he is!

If this story touches your heart and you would like to, or are able to assist with any size donation towards Blessings and his wife’s journey back to South Africa, where he can fulfill his dreams then please donate by following the prompts on this page. Donations can be made via PayPal here http://gogetfunding.com/lets-bless-blessings-by-bruce-darne/?single=9653

You can also donate money via EFT into my bank account and this donation will then be shown on this page as “Money Raised Offline” with your name (if you would like) and the amount you donate.

Please use your email address as your reference!

Banking Details:

Bank: Nedbank

Account Holder: Bruce Darné

Account Number: 1009742647

Branch Code: 100909

Proof of Payment can be sent to Bruce at bruce@addvalue.co.za or 0823370962

I will then make sure this money gets to Blessings in his own currency – the Malawian kwacha.

I feel we can do this in two weeks – I challenge myself and all of you to get this done. Let the bless Blessings journey back to South Africa, begin now!

By Bruce Darné co-written by Jojo Bayvel