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‘Express your passion. Do what you love. No matter what.’

As a way of an introduction to the Tretchikoff Trust, I have a story to share with you about a conversation I had with my late grandfather, Vladimir Tretchikoff.

Every birthday I used to make him a birthday card and one year when I was already in my teens he said, ‘Natasha, you have a talent and I would like to give you art lessons. Would you like that?’ Now this was not a man whose offers you refused, so I very quickly said, ‘Yes. Of course Dadda (which is the Russian term for grandfather and what I called him), I would love that.’ So it was then that I would go to see him once a week for art lessons.

Now one particular day - a perfect summers’ day in fact - we were in his garden selecting a Protea as our still-life for that day and he said to me, “Natasha, what do you love doing more than anything in the world?” That was easy for me, “I love to think, talk and write about life or the big questions - Who am I? What is life really about? Why am I here? What is my purpose?” I said.

“Then this is what you must do, Natasha. This is what life is about, it’s about finding something you love doing so much that you don’t even notice time passing, something that the thought of doing really makes you happy and then doing it no matter what others think you should do or even what you think you should do, no matter what setbacks you experience, no matter what challenges come your way. Simply do what you love no matter what.”

I think he must have seen the slightly confused look on my face because he continued, ‘All my life I have loved to paint and that is what I have done, even when the odds were against me, I have continued to do what I love – to paint. When I was young and living in Java after the war, I dreamed of being a world famous artist and like many others in those days, I had the American Dream. I wanted lots of money, a house I owned, a Cadillac and a fur coat for your Nonna (Nonna is the Russian term for grandmother). So no matter what, I carried on doing what I loved – painting. When I was working towards my first exhibition, there were days when I worried that it would be a flop and I just carried on painting. When I was invited to tour America, there were days I worried about not being accepted by the American public, but I simply carried on painting and believing in myself. And you know what, if I look back, everything; the fame, the fortune, the American Dream it happened while I simply did what I loved to do.

So Natasha define your dream, believe in yourself and do what you love no matter what – create your masterpiece my darling!’

Well those few words have been the single most impactful words anyone ever has spoken to me and I have lived by them. So now, almost two decades on my ‘Dadda’s’ words are no longer just a concept to me, I have experienced them in my own life and I can share this with you.

When we commit ourselves to an inspiring dream and do what we love to achieve it – magic happens! We enthuse our everyday lives with purpose and fulfilment, because every day then is about doing what we love to ultimately achieve what we want – our dream.

Then in turn, commitedly taking the action to achieve our inspiring dream takes us out of our comfort zone and when we step out of our comfort zone (not only do we feel most alive), we create the opportunity to grow as an individual.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the dream is a means to an end and not the ultimate purpose of our lives. Why do we then go after dreams? Well, we go after them because we think they will make us happy. Underlying everything we do is the desire to be happy, content, fulfilled, right? However consider this; achieving the dream will never make us truly happy, content or fulfilled. It may bring us that temporal, transient kind of happiness; and then you will hear yourself saying, ‘there must be more!’ ‘What’s next?’

So, why then would we bother to pursue the dream if it won’t make us happy? Could it be, that who we become, how we grow as individuals as we overcome the various obstacles (internally and externally) on the road to achieving our dream, is what gives us the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfilment - not the achievement of the dream itself?

So yes it’s cheesy and yes it’s true; ‘It’s not about the destination, but rather about the journey!’ And if I look at my Grandfather’s life, he was never attached to the dream happening, he simply dreamed the dream, which gave meaning and purpose to his everyday and inspired him to continue to do what he loved to do, to paint. You could say the dream is what ignited his passion and the passion was the fuel he used to produce his artworks.

This all said; I believe ‘Dadda’ discovered life’s simple secret.

So by now you might be wondering what my dream is. Well, my dream is simply this; that every young person in this country has a ‘Dadda.’ Not to tell them what do to, but to inspire them to dream, to sketch the outline for their masterpiece and ultimately to life in their fullest colour!

You see, we know that the more someone takes action towards achieving an inspiring dream they have for themselves and their life, the more they push beyond their usual limits, the more they discover capabilities they weren’t even aware they had, the more courageous and confident they become and ultimately happier they are.

So here at the Tretchikoff Foundation we have launched the Tretchikoff Trust, which seeks to encourage young South Africans to believe in the power of dreams, helping to turn them into reality. Our focus is the creative arts – dance, drama, art and music. A percentage all sales goes into the Tretchikoff Trust Fund and is utilised to fund our various empowerment projects. By purchasing any Vladimir Tretchikoff Product, you will have contributed to making a young person’s dream come true.

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