My grandfather, whom I love dearly, told me on Christmas Day that 2017 has been a confusing year (he used the Afrikaans word deurmekaar). And since he is 92 years old, I am sure he knows what he is talking about.

Yes, 2017 has been a tough one on many different levels. And I am not just saying that to sound all grownup. But if even out of 92 years of living, my oupa reckons that 2017 stood out for the wrong reasons, then I can say so too.

My brother, Albert, me, and my grandfather on Christmas Day 2017.

On a personal level I know I am blessed with the year that was. I travelled and worked a lot, for which I am very grateful because that is never a given in the modelling industry. Cilliers got a wonderful, new job at a different hospital, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary, and everyone in our close family is healthy, happy and well.

Looking at the bigger picture though, it is a different story. First of all, Trump was elected as President of the United States last January. We were not off to a great start … Speaking of presidents, our dear Zuma survived the eighth motion of no confidence in his leadership. I repeat: eight.

But it seems, at least to me, that 2017 had two main themes. Number one being violence. Terrorist attacks, mass shootings, gang-related crimes, attacks on our own emergency medical staff, the burning of universities and other public infrastructure, etc. And of course, the rising number of attacks on and murders of farmers here in South Africa. Without disregarding any of the other horrendous incidents, this one really hits home. I come from a family that is deeply rooted in the farming industry for generations. That same grandfather I mentioned earlier was a farmer his whole life. He is still living on his farm (alone), in a time where farmers get brutally attacked and/or murdered. (If you guys follow me on social media, you would’ve seen that I was extremely outspoken about this and started my own #PrayForOurFarmers #PrayForOurLand movement.)

A photo from my #PrayForOurFarmers #PrayForOurLand movement, taken on a farm somewhere in the Free State.

The second theme that has affected all South Africans, especially Capetonians, was the water crisis. There’s never been a drought this bad and currently the level of the Theewaterskloof dam (one of our biggest) is a mere 18 %. With water consumption increasing in the hotter days of summer, Day Zero inches closer and closer. It is estimated that on 29 April 2018 Cape Town will be without water. I will always remember 2017 as the Year of the Bucket (not found on the Chinese calendar). We’ve been showering in buckets for months, which we reuse in the toilet (luckily we don’t have a garden to maintain since we are living in an apartment). Our short, sharp showers are so short, that I am not always sure I am clean when I get out …

A photo of the Theewaterskloof dam (found on thesouthafrican.com)

This past year has truly tested our faith, both in humanity and in God. Because apart from the normal fast-paced, pressured and hectic lives we already lead, there were so many added elements that forced us to run this race even harder. Days blended into each other and before we knew it, we were at the end of December.

I think most of us might have some form of PTSD after this year and it’s taken a while to truly slow down and enjoy the festive season. I urge all of you to really take some time to rest. Be with your loved ones, put your phones away (after reading this), make memories, and look back at the good times of 2017. Because it has not all been bad. Focusing on the good and living off those special moments and the love of those around you is what will fill and fuel you to run the race of 2018. Hopefully this time the pace is a bit slower so that we can stop to smell the roses (or at least those that survived the drought).

Yes, at times 2017 was like stepping on a Lego block. Maybe we picked up some wounds and battle scars, but at least we made it. And that is a blessing.

Bright side up, kids. And cheers to the new year! May God bless and guide us through 2018.

Love and light,

Katryn