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About Me

About Me JillAlexa.com

My Parents

I was born to an amazing, Intrepid Mother who followed her heart and my Darling Dad who had itchy feet.

They taught me to love God, always be on time, love books and reading, and never to say “I am bored”. The last one would always end up by being given a job to do.

If we weren’t ready to leave when Dad was ready to go, he simply left us behind.

My Family

We children took turns doing the ironing while Mom read to us. We would take turns ironing and reading so learned a lot.

My parents were avid gardeners but had very different styles of gardening, Dad wanted everything to be in straight lines and Mom was more artistic in her placing of plants. It ended up with Dad being in charge of the kitchen garden and Mom the flowers.

On the Move (again)

As a family we were forever on the move, this was great for my adventurous spirit but not so good for my education. In all, I attended 8 schools all over South Africa and Zimbabwe. It was hard to adjust to the different subjects taught and the way they were put across so I tended to drift off into the world of dreams and make-believe, only concentrating my efforts on art and botany. Somehow I managed to get through the exams, how though,  is a complete mystery.

Being Teased Mercilessly

From an early age, I was found to have extremely poor eyesight and was blighted to wear the most ghastly round spectacles with lenses as thick as bottle bottoms.

These were a great trial as it made it easy, as the new kid on the block, to become the butt of many jokes, name-calling, and pranks. Was once led to “death rock” where my glasses were taken off me and thrown into the bush and then had chili rubbed into my eyes.

As I was practically blind without glasses this was double trouble. Had to call on family reinforcement, having two older sisters who helped to find the glasses and lead me home. It took a while to recover from this, but recover I did. Not sure quite how much damage this did to my eyes but it certainly damaged my self-esteem and confidence.

Taking My Power back

The teasing went on until I realized that I could run rather fast and also was a good swimmer and diver and earned my stripes, so to speak, being chosen for team events, etc, Thus I became more acceptable to the school community as a whole.

I was the happiest spending time following bush paths watching the platoons of army ants finding their way through the grass to wherever it was they were marching to. Riding my trusty bicycle out to Sebakwe Poort with my sisters and a group of friends. It was amazing to hear the baboons calling to each other high above us in the Kloof. Making forts on the big anthills across the road from our home in Redcliff and playing with my brother and the boys who lived behind us. We were so fortunate to live in Townsend Crescent so had the bush right across the road and the freedom to explore. We had so many wonderful adventures. We climbed trees, played with dinky cars making roads and bridges under the lemon tree. What wonderful memories to have of childhood. It was a privilege to be born at a time when it was safe to run wild, the biggest danger was stepping on a snake. Although we saw many and varied species, thank goodness that didn’t happen.

If I became tired of my outdoor activities I would spend time making dolls clothes and dressing up the dolls or the long-suffering dog. So began my love for creating and sewing.

Pros and Cons

We four children learned that there were pros and cons in life but far more pros than cons. Two pros for me were that I have two older sisters,  they smoothed the way ahead of me in many ways. The downside (con) was the fact that Mom liked to dress us alike and I inherited two lots of identical hand-me-down dresses after growing out of my own.  A plus was that Mom bought the dresses in different colors so although the style was the same the color differed. No wonder I like to sew.

The Roles we are Called to Play in the Game of Life

This constant moving around and learning to adjust to new places and people was marvelous training for my future role as a ministers’ wife., not that I knew that at the time.

The wood and iron Church in Paulpietersburg where Matt took services

I have realized that God must have a wonderful sense of humor because the least likely person to have that role would be me. These experiences taught me to become quite self -sufficient and rely on my God and the talents He entrusted me with.

I love people and I love learning and sharing any knowledge I have gained. In almost all the Churches we have served I have run sewing classes and also gym classes.

Optimizing One’s Gifts and Talents

The love of learning blossomed and I decided to concentrate on the things I love. Hence Design and pattern making and tailoring courses set me on the road to having a home business in dressmaking.

The sheer joy of creating a beautiful wedding gown.

The swish of the fabric as it is taken off the roll is a pure delight as is the very feeling of the softness against the skin. What excitement it evokes.

I  lie in bed dreaming up new ideas and how to execute them.

For all you avid sewers out there…

  • Isn’t it the most satisfying thing to make something beautiful and useful?
  • To be able to dress up and know that you will be the only person in the room with that dress or outfit?
  • To know that with the skills at your very fingertips you can help to feed your family?
  • To know that you can start so many various home based business just by being proficient on the sewing machine?

The list of options is as long as your imagination will allow itself to go.

The Little Black Book – Any Colour will do

If you are anything like me, you have a notebook with you at all times and a pen and as things come to you, you jot them down.

These can be ideas about anything but it is quite a good idea to have a separate page for business ideas, sewing tips, new techniques, what new sewing accessories are out there?

The lists are endless and so very exciting. What you write in your book is likely to be very different from mine but it all leads to growing in knowledge and power.

Here are some of the businesses I have had,  just using my sewing and pattern making skills:-

  • General dressmaking
  • Wedding and special event gowns
  • Gym clothes – tracksuits, leotards, etc.
  • Medical garments – underwear and bathing costumes. Breast prosthetics etc.
  • Machine embroidery – linen, gifts, etc.
  • Patchwork and quilting
  • Alterations

Changing with the Times

Things changed as we moved from Church to Church and the ages of the children and their needs of my time etc. We also had my elderly parents living with us.

Dad with Alzheimer’s disease lived with us for 10 years and Mom, who was fine,  although rather frail, for 20 years. As they required more and more of my caring attention,  so I was able to change to whichever was the least time consuming of my business interests. It just goes to show just how flexible one can be in a business such as sewing.

If I can offer any advice it would be:

  • Not to offer more than you can cope with. By this, I mean timewise and also within your capabilities. You don’t want either your precious family or your business to suffer due to having to rush a garment, or worse still, to let someone down altogether. This can be very damaging to your reputation as a reliable business owner.
  • Look into the legalities of running your business from home.
  • There are also tax considerations and what you can claim for the use of your room etc. Consult an Accountant and your Lawyer.
  • Keep your precious sewing machines in good repair. I have a trusty 30 something-year-old Bernina and an old Afsew overlocker
  • Be professional in your dealing with the public, they are the lifeblood of your business, without them, you have no business. They deserve the best you can offer.
  • If life gets difficult, remember that there are more pros than cons, or at least that is what I believe.
  • Most of all enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy it, you are in the wrong business and need to consult your little ideas book.

Good luck and happy sewing.

Hanging by a thread – My life as it is now

“Writing about me”, took quite a lot of courage, am sure those of you who have done this will testify to that. This next part has been even harder to do but I know I must do it. Here goes……

This is my amazing, supportive, loving family. This family photo was taken on the celebration of Matt’s and my 50th wedding anniversary three years ago.

Family Portrait: Matt and Jill du Preez 50th Wedding Anniversary JillAlexa.com

The only family member not visible in this picture is our youngest grandson, he was being held by his father and was hidden from view. He does, however, appear in my profile picture. I am instructed by him that he is NOT the smallest, just the youngest. He does not consider himself small. He is a big boy now.

We, as a family, are not in the best of places right now. My beloved husband and their father and grandfather had a beastly illness called Lewy Body Disease. It is a brain disorder which incorporates aspects of Alzheimers and Parkinsons Disease. The neurons in his brain are disconnecting causing many frightening symptoms such as hallucinations and night terrors. He has gone down rapidly in these past two years and is now being cared for in a wonderful Frail Care Facility.

He is a retired Minister of the Presbyterian Church which he served for 35 years. Friends and family, from all over the country and locally have been visiting him and bringing comfort to me. Unfortunately, Matt is not able to communicate well anymore, it is not easy to understand some of his ramblings and he doesn’t always know us. I personally feel as though I have been in mourning for the past number of years, for the man he once was. It can be a very lonely place and be overwhelming to take over all the practical things he did, so capably.

Our amazing, loving children, their wonderfully caring spouses, and grandchildren are also grieving but still manage to shower me with love and also practical caring. Between the children and our amazing friends, I am able to keep on keeping on. Some days are better than others.

I praise God for giving us all the courage and strength to get us through this time.

Best wishes to you all. Keep on keeping on.

Jill

P.S. Please feel free to comment on what I have written. It will be great to hear from you. Feel sure I will learn a lot from you too.

Jill Alexa

Jill of all Trades. Master of Many. Virtual Assistant to Lauren Kinghorn. Too busy to die.

65 Comments

  1. Great About Me page! Love the detailed family story, could relate to some of it, especially with parents gardening.

    So sorry to hear about family illnesses, praying for the best – God is in control.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Best Regards.

    • Hi Lem, Thank you so much for taking the time to read my first Post. This whole experience has been so exciting for me as I am quite a ditz when it comes to anything to do with the computer. You just have to ask my family how often I have sent a “Help, Ditzy” message. Then they know Mom not coping.
      It is indeed wonderful to know that God is in control of our lives. Thank you for the encouragement, it means so much.
      Kind regards, Jill

    • Thank you for such an enjoyable read! Your life has been exciting and with varied experiences, many like my own. My father was a constuction worker and in the 7th grade I changed schools nine times! I understand how you had to rebound after each move and overcome your shyness and get to know people!

  2. I loved reading this Mom! Some of my fondest childhood memories are of you relating stories from your childhood. You always had all three of us in stitches. Yet I even learned something new while reading this account of your life. I hope you keep sharing your memoirs on your website. This is precious information for us to pass on to our children and our children’s children one day. I love you so much.

    • Hi my darling girl, I didn’t even know this was there. Thank you so much. Am so glad you enjoyed my first post. Thanks for taking the time to read it.
      Tons of love, Mom

  3. Hello Jill!
    I love Lauren and am so glad I met her here on WA. I am glad to meet you recently as well! Your About Me page is wonderful! I love reading about other people’s lives in different parts of the world. I grew up in Alaska and instead of baboons and snakes we had wolves, lynx, bears and moose, eagles and songbirds and trumpeter swans that nested on our lake. I loved it! Like you, this type of freedom to experience so much as a child was amazing.

    We lived in a gorgeous mountain valley with glaciers up in the distance and right on a lake. We had huge gardens and grew much of our own food. We had to get our own water and wood for heat, and do all building and construction on our own. Just pouring concrete meant going to the river to get sand and gravel, and hauling in bags of cement powder in the airplane. We did gold mining a few miles away in the summer and built our own trails in the winter and ran a dog team. I had a very unusual childhood for my generation. We had no TV or telephone, let alone computers. Radio connected us with the world and mail was flown out by airplane.

    It was not a deprived life though. We had a 500 gallon hot tub that was heated with a wood stove. This kept the attached greenhouse warm all winter so we could grow plants. It was quite a life and I miss it so much.

  4. Hi Jessica, This is so interesting to read about your life. One of my favorite shows on TV is all about living in Alaska. I find it all so fascinating and can now picture you there. You have made my day. I am so grateful that you took the time to read my first post. I am so excited to know all about your life too. It is really like making a new friend. Thank you again. With love, Jill

  5. Excellent about me! It really shows you care about your next step into marketing by opening up. I’m extremely sorry for your families illness. I wish best of luck to you! By the looks of this about me post, you’re on the way to success. Thank you for the great read.

    • Hi Kyle, Thank you for your kind comments. I was very touched. You were so encouraging.

  6. Hi Jill. Loved to read your “about me” story. It made me laugh and she’d a tear too.
    You are such a strong and resourceful woman God bless you. What a wonderful family you have too.
    You are blessed in many ways and I wish your remaining days in life to be the best yet.

    • Hi Goran, I was so touched by your reply. Thank you for reading my post about me. I found it hard to write but felt such relief when I had done it.

  7. Hi Alexa, its a beautiful thing to have good mentoring from our parents, especially guiding you through the ways of God. You can see how far positively it has brought you. Your story would serve as a good example to many persons reading this blog to learn from.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Peter, So glad you enjoyed it. It is really not easy with my poor husband at the moment. He has had this beastly disease for about 10 years and the last two being really bad. Am so happy to have this new challenge with Wealthy Affiliate to keep my mind busy.

  8. Hi Jill,

    Such a heartwarming story! I loved every bit of it. You opened your heart and love followed. So sorry to hear about Matt. We went through similar with my mum a couple of years ago. She as at peace now. I know you are being strong. It’s just what family does. You really need to write a book!

    I love the look and feel of your website too. It is not too busy. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story and I look forward to reading many more posts 🙂

    Much love and blessings,

    Kev

    • Hi Kev, Gosh, what lovely comments am so touched. Glad that you enjoyed my page. Lauren is always going on at me to write a book but I haven’t found the courage. Perhaps one day. Sorry it took so long for me to write back to you. I kept losing the page. Had to ask poor Lauren for help, again.Blessings to you. Jill

  9. Hi Jill what a beautifully written piece. Looking at your pictures brings back so many memories when I would pop in to collect my Avroy Schlain products. I remember when your parents came to live with you. Your dad had a great sense of humour and your mom was so kind. Your children were still at school and now they have families of their own. Congratulations on being married for 50 years – quite an achievement. So sorry to hear about Matt’s disease how sad for you and the rest of the family. Lovely to hear about your life. Sending you lots of love. You are such a positive person, such an inspiration.

    • Hi Sharon, How lovely to hear from you. Thank you for reading my about me page and your great comments. I also have so many happy memories of those days. So much has happened since then and we seem to have lost touch. Such a pity. Sorry it took me so long to reply. I am still learning and didn’t even know that I had to keep scrolling down to see if there were more replies. Such a nana. Am loving this new venture. Tons of love, Jill

  10. Hi Aunty Jill, what a beautifully written piece! You are so warm and loving and amazing and capable. You missed out the bit where you took me in for nearly a year after Uni and were extraordinarily kind and generous to me. I remain deeply grateful. Miss you and hope to see you all one day soon. Love Barbs 😘

    • Hi my darling Barbs. I love you so much. It was a pleasure. Thank you so much for you kind comments. Wish you would come to visit. Love Jill

  11. Hi Jill, I loved reading every word of your About Me post. You write from your heart, in such a beautiful way. It takes courage to write about yourself in such a personal way. I’m sorry to hear that you and your family are going through a difficult time. I wish you and your family all the very best Jill and I will be sure to visit your site again and again.

  12. Hi Jill,
    Thanks for the article about your mother,father and your family. Nobody is perfect. Every person has good and bad experiences in life.

  13. Congratulations on your 50 year anniversary. What a life you have lead and are now leading. I feel I know you so much better. Thank you for sharing your journey and your vulnerabilities and your strengths.

  14. Awesome about me! Honestly I learnt a lot on this your post. I learnt that Determination is the key to success. I love the kind of family you came from, in fact you are a very strong woman and I think that is the reason you are what you are today. I am really sorry for the illness in your family, keep strong and let God take control.
    Kind regards
    Stella.

  15. That was an amazing read, I feel like my niche related about me is tiny now lol. I’m sorry to hear about your husbands Lewy Body Disease that sounds really terrible to have to witness, but witness these things we must for those that we love right? We do it all for them, I have a Grandfather with markers of Alzheimer’s and I know that I won’t have him for too long, which is killing me cause as I’ve been going through an emergency sex change this last few years he get confused about me a lot, forgets who I am or starts calling me by my old name which was changed 3 years ago now. Sorry about that, just wanted to let you know that I can relate to losing a loved one before they’re really gone, which is how it feels. I wish you all the best with everything your struggling with now and in the future.
    Kyra-Lynn
    PS – if I were anywhere close to you in the world I’d come for sewing lessons 🙂 I’ve got 4 sewing machines and don’t know how to even thread them and really wanna learn to make my own clothing!

    • Hi Kyra-Lynn,So sorry to hear about your grandfather. Such beastly illnesses. Also thinking of you with the immense changes you have made in your own life and wish you all the best. Not easy. It would have been great to teach you to sew. Sorry we are so far apart. Love, Jill

  16. I love the picture of your family, that is fantastic. Congratulations on your 50th anniversary. You mentioned your dad was the straight rows kind of guy and your mom was artsy. That is my wife and I exactly. I guess they say opposites attract.

    I also believe God has a sense of humor, it’s the only explanation for a lot of things that have happened in my life. I pray for you and your family for what you are going through now.

    This is an awesome page and a great start for you. Keep up the good work, I wish you nothing but the best. Thanks for sharing, it’s not always easy.

  17. Hi Steve, Thank you for reading my about me page and liking it. It really is strange how opposites attract. Perhaps we need the balance this gives to our personalities. Can cause friction on occasion if one keeps a sense of humor, that helps. Best wishes, Jill

  18. What an incredible story and a life you have and are living. I am sorry to hear about your husband. I have never had to deal with something like that. The closest thing for me is my mother who has had a massive stroke, and my dad has to care for her 24/7. They are doing well together but I can see it in my dad’s eyes, how he wants to get back to the mountains and out of that little condo they barely get to leave.
    It’s a good thing though that you have faith to get you through and have found ways to at least manage this time in your life.
    My prayers are with you and your family.

  19. Great “About me” page. Certainly not the typical one you see in most websites. It was a great read i have to admit. I wish you all the best to you and your family and every success in the future.

  20. thank you for the story what you shared with us. It’s so touchy. Everyone in our growing and life had both ups and downs. You are happy to have such nice and good children and grandchildren. They are a great support and I want to you to endure all the difficult moments.
    All the best.

    • Thank you so much Maja, We all have good and bad times, it is being given the strength to get through the bad that is important.

  21. Woooah, what an About page! Honestly, I’ve never seen another one to come even close.
    Your whole story is amazing, I really enjoyed reading about it.
    What I love the most is how open you are to your audience. This is great way to start your journey.
    Keep up the good work!

  22. I love your optimism towards life! The line that stood out to be is “never say I am bored”. I always tied chronic boredom to an internal issue. We choose what we do with our day, and if we are bored, we are obviously not doing enough or not appreciating what’s around us. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading future posts!

    • Hi, Thank you so much to reading my About Me post and for the kind comments. My feeling is that there are just not enough hours in the day to do all the amazing things one can do. When I go to heaven one day, I would like to ask God why the time on earth was so short. Feel that there are so many new things to learn. Best wishes. Jill

  23. Congrats on your 50th wedding anniversary. Good luck with your online business!

  24. Thanks for sharing. I am sorry to hear about your husband. Your story is very inspiring, no matter what challenges we are faced with, there’s always a way forward. Looking forward to more posts.

    • Hi, Thanks so much for commenting on my about me post. Am busy with a post now on sewing but have also written a guest post on my daughter, LaurenjeanKinghorns website called Count your blessings. Best wishes to you too.

    • Hi There, I am sorry if I ticked the wrong box and you didn’t get a reply from me. Thank you so much for reading my about me page and for your love and kindness. There is a new post now called “There’s no business like Sew Business”. Hope you enjoy it. Love, Jill

  25. Great story Jill, you have a lot of courage writing about your past and present but it’s also inspiring at the same time, as you went through difficult times, and always kept going.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Ben, Thank you so much for your kind comments. We all have a path we must travel and we all do our best. Kind regards, Jill

      • Hi Ben, I might have ticked the wrong box. This is not uncommon for me. I really appreciate you reading my post. Have a great day. Best wishes, Jill

  26. Hey Jill! What an amazing About Me Page. I have never seen an About Me Page this much engaging. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I commend you for the courage it must have taken to write such an honest and raw narration about your life. You have written it so beautifully, it has taken me back to my own childhood as well to reminisce. I feel for all your hardships in life, both past, and present, and know that, having learned a piece of your story, I am forever keeping you and your wonderful family in my prayers. I wish you all the best!

  27. Hi Jill,
    Congrats, a good start. A good first impression.
    Your about me page is fantastic.
    I wish you much success in your online endeavour.
    Cheers
    Usiba

  28. Hi Jill

    What an incredible life’s story you have. So inspiring and uplifting! There is so much one can learn from your life and business’s experience. You are one in a million.

    I love that you are very passionate about your causes – family, sewing and serving others. Your very first sewing machine “Empsal” as you call it, reminds of a similar machine my mum had when I was growing up.

    Unfortunately, I know very little about sewing but do admire what one can do with it to produce beautiful garments. It is a great skill to have. Sewing has been helping lots of communities in developing countries to earn an honest living, support their families and uplift them from poverty. I see quite a lot of this in Africa.

    Sorry to hear of your beloved’s husband’s illness. I can imagine how difficult it can be for all of you. May the almighty continue to shower his mercy on all of your family and alleviate all distresses.

    Remain blessed.
    Best wishes

    • Hi Rabia, Thank you so much for these lovely comments. I really appreciate that you took the time to read my posts. May yoo also be blessed.

  29. H Jill. I love this page. It is full of delightful experiences that have made you who you are today. I admire your honesty and your talent. I can’t sew to save my life! This was like reading a mini autobiography. Great!

  30. Hi Jill, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I do hope that through affiliate marketing, and through Internet business, you are able to create a stable foundation for finance. Just like your supporting family, most people on the Internet are as well.

  31. Beautiful site, good clear layout, lots of information — especially about sewing. Love your comment; “too busy to die”.

    • Hi Mori, That is just the way I feel, have so much still to achieve. The best thing I did for myself lately though was join up with Wealthy Affiliate and get a bit more of an idea of the internet and the computer, which terrified me.
      Thank you for your kind comments. I really appreciate them. All the best, Jill

    • Hi Mori, I really feel there is still so much for me to learn and do. The best thing I have done for myself lately though is learn all about the computer and the internet through Wealthy Affiliate. Am loving it and it keeps my mind active. Thank you for reading my post and the kind comments. All the best, Jill

  32. You are a great writer with an incredible story! I love all that your parents have instilled into you.
    I am so sorry for what you are going through with your husband. That is a terrible disease. Will say a prayer for you and your family.

    • Hi Sarae, Thank you so much for reading my story and for the compassion you show. I truly appreciate it. All the prayers are welcome.

  33. Jill, you life has followed a similar path to mine, or perhaps I have followed yours.
    I must say the main difference is I am not religious. I just always try to do what’s best and help people.

    I can’t say dad had itchy feet. But he might have! As a child he moved around England a lot and was in fact born in Wales. That was his father’s occupation causing the foot issue. The WW2 came along. That entailed world movements but not welcome ones. Then dad became a mining engineer. The jobs; ‘go south or west young man’. So we ended up in Canada via Ghana.

    Part of dad’s WW2 relocations was to the south Pacific, Australia in fact. Here he met mum. Mum ended up as a war Bride. And her heart took her over to England. Your parents sound like my parents’ kindred spirits.

    I suppose it was only normal for me to move around a bit. Well, being (then) in Canada I had two countries to start with, dad’s England and mum’s Australia. And the whole world inbetween.

    Now with our shared experiences I expect we could be great friends in real life!

    Sorry to hear about your husband. For me it was my mum. She had a form of dementia calle Picts Disease. Not nice. I went back to Canada to help dad for a couple of years. Then, fortunately a extensive care home (a really nice one) was built 5 minutes walk away from his home. Dad was getting pretty frazzled and all of us kids lived in assorted far away places, so I suggested he register mum there. Several times a day he used to walk Murphy the dog over to the home. Being a natural comedian he entertained not only mum but all the residents, especially because they loved Murphy’s visits.

    I loved reading your story and will hopefully see you again.

    • Hi Helen, I certainly sounds as though we have a lot in common and could be great friends. Lets try to keep in touch. Are you on Facebook?

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