How a scar changed my life

Friday, January 9, 2015

When I was about 21 I had a mole removed, a malignant mole. It wasn’t done by a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon, but just a regular house doctor.

The mole was on my lower shoulder, between my shoulder blade and arm and as it ‘healed’, I could see that something was terribly wrong. It didn’t stay within its borders, the scar made an awful red, swollen and itchy bulge. This was how I became aware of keloids. Literally translated, keloid means ‘crab claw’ – an attempt to illustrate the way the lesions expand laterally from the original scar into normal tissue.

Little did I know that over the next four years, this one little scar would do some deep damage to my self-confidence and the way I would approach life. I would never wear anything without sleeves, because I would be too self-conscious when people stared or asked me what this thing on my shoulder was.

When asked what caused it, people would literally zoom in on my scar, some would even go as far as touching me. It was quite sensitive, so this did not sit well. I would tell them that I was mugged on the streets and I fought back, in the process getting shot through the chest. I have a similar, smaller scar in the exact same spot on my chest. “This was the entry wound, and this big one at the back – that was the exist wound.”

People would freak out. You are so brave, they would say. But eventually I would start laughing and tell them that it was a mole that could have been cancerous. “Oh, just cancer.” Ja, like cancer is no big deal.

It became part of my identity. “You would look great in this dress,” a friend would say. Yes, but what about my scar, I would reply. “Just cover it up.” This scar had such an impact on me that it was the biggest influence in my choice of wedding dress. I wish I had removed it before the wedding, but I was scared – scared that it would come back even more red, angrier, more itchier.

I also became jealous – jealous of pretty girls with pretty backs who could wear anything they fancied. I wanted to wear cute dresses and cute sleeveless tops. I wanted to be like them, a woman comfortable in her own skin. But I wasn’t, so I just kept on covering up. In summer, when a jersey was not plausible, I would actually put a plaster over the scar, in an attempt to hide it. I needed cover.

And with cover also comes disguise. Wearing layers, it was also so much easier to disguise a little wobbliness – which would grow into a big weight gain. My confidence was at an all time low. I really hated my body.

But on December 1 last year, two days before my birthday, I had plastic surgery – nothing serious, just some scar revision. Some, like it was nothing –done in thirty minutes, easy-peasy. But those thirty minutes forever changed my life.

For the first few weeks I had to walk with a plaster on my wound, and I was going nuts about the healing process – was it going well? Or was it a monstrous gross swollen ugly scar?

Now, a month later, the swelling has subsided and I have to go for regular steroids injections to keep it from becoming a keloid again – but it is a smooth, five or six centimeter brown line, which will eventually go white again.

Again today someone asked me, because I am now wearing a fabulous sleeveless dress from Cotton On: “what happened here” and instead of going bright red, feeling ashamed, and covering it up with my hand or a jersey, I just rolled my eyes, shrugged and said: “It’s a scar, no biggie.”

Ampersand Social Stationery {feature + giveaway}

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Inspired by folly, raw emotion, expansion, blowy romances, typewriter writing, fantasy world dwelling, fun fair happy living - as she puts it on her website - Lelanie Slater delved into the world of stationery, with its myriad of opportunities and dubbed it Ampersand Social Stationery. "Ampersand is a logogram for the conjunction word ‘and’ (&). I chose this as the name for my store because of my firm belief in creativity as an infinite resource, that is best savoured in partnership and that definitely grows stronger, wilder and happier when shared. Ampersand Social Stationery is all about inspired living, creative collaboration and more to life," Lelanie says.

"My products are unique, quirky, fun and still functional. My hope is that the products and courses I teach will inspire & facilitate many creative break-throughs, enlightened moments, fabulous collabs and a general sense of happy, creative living for my customers," she adds.

 Ampersand's course, titled The Artists Way, Creative Recovery Course, is a 12-week programme that "takes you on a journey of self-discovery and helps you to blast through creative blocks, in order to fulfill your potential, reach new heights and live a happier, more fulfilled life.

The course combines inspiring essays with playful and imaginative exercises to make The Artist's Way an extraordinary book of learning-through-doing. This course will leade you to authentic growth, renewal and healing.

 Students meet at the Linden studio, in Johannesburg, for two hours each week to share creative experiences. 

YOU CAN WIN! Simply tweet: My New Year will be made with a R200 stationery voucher from @ampersand_ss and @waitingformeg

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1. How did you start and how long have you been doing this?

I am a total stationery addict. I have been whiling away great chunks of my life with doodling, journaling, book-art, collaging and other stationery fueled stints for as long as I can remember. I have always had a desperate longing to live a creative life. Yet it can be daunting to find productive creative work that still pays the bills. A few years ago I participated in The Artist’s Way creative recovery course. My teacher helped me on my way to creative recovery and now, five years later I have finally made my dream a reality with the opening of this store. The online store launched 1st July 2014 and there is talk of opening a brick and mortar store in the New Year. I was so impressed by the course and felt it had to be shared, so I started teaching my own courses an have been doing this for the last 3 years.

2. What sort of products do you make?

My products are not hand made by me, they are sourced from all over the world. I went on a sourcing trip to Hong Kong earlier this year and met with amazing suppliers from all over the world at the International Stationery fair there. My products come from London, the States, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong to name only a few places. The products are all stationery and office related. The aim is to provide practical everyday necessities with a twist. My dream is for these to inspire the users.

3. Where do you find inspiration for your products?

I find my inspiration everywhere. But mostly within; I always try to listen to my heart. I try to steer clear of popular trends and try not to get to caught up in social media. The whole aim is for the products to be unique, fresh and inspirational. When I start sourcing I generally don’t go with a specific theme in mind. I start by looking for products that I think I want to stock. As I go through the process, I am inevitably drawn to certain colours and looks. For example, the 2015 range has mostly pastel colours with strong floral and geometric details.

I have just embarked in a collaboration with a South-African stationer who is helping me create a bespoke Ampersand stationery range. I can’t wait to see where the process will lead.

4. What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?

There are many challenges to working for yourself.
You need to be very disciplined, to make sure you don’t get distracted.
Finances and bookkeeping are always tough, if you are not trained for it. I get the professionals in to help.

5. How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?

I think South-Africa has amazing creative minds. It might be our rich, natural wealth that inspires our creations. I am happy to see that we have started to move away from the very ‘traditional’ African patters and designs in the last few years and that creative are really pushing themselves to break through creative stereotypes of African design to come up with unique, challenging and engaging ideas.

I recently exhibited at Tierlantynkies, and I was so proud to be part of such a creative group. I was blown away by the unique ideas and the wealth of creative knowledge.

6. What would you do if you won the lotto?

I would definitely open my brick and mortar store. I would also take my husband on an amazing overseas adventure. My travel list includes seeing the Aurora Borealis somewhere in Northern-Finland, visiting Tokyo, returning to my favourite city - Hong Kong and a visit to Reuion Island for good measure.

7. Where to from here?

My dream is for the store to become a creative haven. I wish for a brick and mortar store in Linden, where like minded people can come to participate in courses and workshops, where they can purchase all their stationery necessities and just connect with other like minded people, on that deeper level that we as creatives crave. I am planning on expanding the ranges and adding my own unique, Ampersand stationery range.

8. What has been your proudest moment since you started?

This is possibly the hardest question to answer, there have been so many milestone. But my heart truly burst with pride upon seeing my store come to life at the Tierlantynkies market. It was so humbling to receive such good feedback from market goers. When starting something like this, you always wonder if people will share your vision and excitement. So being well received is the most rewarding thing.

Find Ampersand here:

Twitter: @ampersand_ss


Instagram: @lelanieslater


Online Shop:


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