Green Renaissance produces gorgeous short films that uplift the personal stories of ordinary people, with the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change. We feel hugely blessed to feature video-stories that filmmakers Michael and Justine capture with exquisite expertise, and which so beautifully illustrate Grateful Living principles and practices. In this short film we hear from Julie Khyl.

Learn more about Green Renaissance through our Grateful Changemaker feature.*

Questions for Reflection

  • What moved you most about Julie’s story?
  • What do you hold dear today?

We invite you to share your reflections below the video transcript that follows.

Video Transcript

When I was a child, my big dream was like being like Pippi Longstocking. Pippi – she did what was fun and that was number one. It’s wonderful to do things like I do. It’s like playing all your life. Maybe “play” is not the right word, I don’t have so many English words. But to be “nysgerrig,” is what you call it. To want to look under what is going on – to find out. Curious – this is the word I think. That’s one of the most necessary things, I think, there is to be living in this world. To be curious.

Anyone who finds something new in the world must have been playing, in their mind. Otherwise you don’t find new things and new ideas.

I have worked all my life. I have been a dish washer, I have been in a kitchen. I’ve done a lot of normal jobs too. But besides, I always make these things which you see around me. You do something for money, and you do something for love. I’ve been so lucky so I could do both of things. I didn’t have to do only things which I didn’t like but most of things that I really loved.

I would say that what I’m living off is love. It’s the way that I wake in the morning. I say, oh, how happy I am. I have something I love. I love my work, I love my family, I love my friends.

I’m happy for what has been my life, even if there has been a lot of trouble around me. And unhappiness. But I don’t believe that anyone can go through life without that. My two husbands, first one and then the other, and they died in two awful ways. And if I ever get happy again, I will dream that I will meet someone who could understand me like the two who is underneath now.

It’s difficult to find love, but the most difficult is to find someone who understands you and who could leave me like I am and like me like I am, and opposite, of course. And that is not easy to find. It’s not on the trees just to pick. You should be lucky.

You have to accept each other to give the real love. And that is what I hope will happen before I die, once more. But we’ll see.

I read a book — it was my mother’s when she got divorced. And they said, “The Art of Being a Single Woman.” And it says, “Most men don’t like mess and much things all over. Just one single Ming teapot will do it.” One teapot is not enough for me. It should be a very special type who would like to stay with me in this kind of mess of treasures. Especially because I have so many things, many people know what I’m doing, so I get many collections of strange things people come and give to me.

I have been a collector all my life. Second-hand shops and places where people throw their rubbish, and I collect and I collect and I collect. They don’t necessarily need to be of a kind of value or a kind of beautiful. It can also be things which is a little broken. But I like that everything is different. I think that we only live once, and we have to be very happy that we have this chance to be here. It’s to open your eyes and to see. The world is full of beauty and treasures. Find them and take care of them.

To support Michael and Justine in their film-making journey visit Green Renaissance.


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About the author

Justine and Michael are a creative couple living in South Africa.  Their project, Green Renaissance, works to spread positive stories that reflect the wonder of the world. With the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change, they produce gorgeous short films that are posted online and available for anyone, anywhere, to watch and share freely.


Through their films, they explore what it means to be human. They touch on topics that can often be difficult for people to discuss – from loss of a loved one to aging and retirement to friendship to love and courage – universal themes that we all deal with at some stage in our lives.


By sharing these stories, Justine and Michael hope to remind us of one simple truth – that we are all human – that inside our hearts and minds, we are all facing similar challenges.  We have so much to learn from each other, and our connections run so much deeper and stronger than we think. Learn more and support their work at greenrenaissance.co.za.