Category Archives: Grace

Wanderings Day 29

Only two more posts to go for this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.

Two days of Kruger National Park memories… this is part one.

I was just looking down the list of rest camps in Kruger. It turns out over the many adventures there since childhood I have stayed at all but two.

My favourite area to wander would be from Satara northwards.

Pafuri is particularly magical with all those fever trees and glimpses of nyala in the shadows by the Luvuvhu River. That brings to mind the Nyala Walking Trail – sublime!

Actually any of Kruger’s walking trails are a fabulous experience. Lucky enough to have walked a few of these over the years too.

Kruger visits were so formative for me. I learned so much about ecology and how ecosystems work simply from soaking up all the info I could get my hands on. Here is where I fell in love with birds and took up birding under my wonderful Dad’s guidance.

Kruger has a distinct spirit of place. The air crackles with its magic as you arrive at the gate (any of the gates). I thought this might change over the years, grow dim somehow as I aged. But no. I got to visit again last year briefly and the magic is still there.

Now I probably need to say at this point that I am fully aware of Kruger’s history. Not all decisions made in regard to its management both for wildlife and for the surrounding communities have been sound or just over the years.

All I want to focus on right at this moment in time is the gratitude I feel for having had so many opportunities to pass through Kruger’s gates and get swallowed up in that bushveld magic.

Wanderings Day 28

Botswana Part 3.

Last virtual wander through the Okavango Delta and surrounds.

Today I am thinking of magical wildlife moments. I got to experience so many during my years there. I still have to pinch myself this time really happened.

There’s the time I had to sleep on the pool lounger as a family of hippo were grazing all round my little housie that night.

Or the 5am deep breath and tiptoe past three sleeping bull elephant (all round the house) to make sure I got to the main area of camp to get ready for guest arrival.

Then there’s a moment with a young she leopard making her way across our island in the Delta. It was twilight and there she was sat on the path ahead of me. Too close before I realised she was there. But she paused before moving off, just long enough for us to acknowledge each other.

Then there’s the time our resident bull elephant stuck his whole head through the office door to get at a couple of marula fruit that had found their way onto the floor inside. Yes, I was in this little camp office at the time.

A lone spotted hyena would make the rounds with me most evenings on lock up after guests had retired for the night…. trotting along after me along the boardwalks…. not too close…. after the first few times of feeling insecure, I actually found him quite companionable.

The Pel’s Fishing Owl family nesting in the tree above my house.

The big python who lived under my house. I never had a rodent problem.

And many more…. that’s breathtaking Botswana! Best place to experience real, wild Africa (just my opinion).

But this kind of magic has a life span. Too much of a good thing and all that… still, I am left with incredible memories and oodles of gratitude for this chapter in my story.

In the wise words of Prime Circle from their song Breathing

“Here’s to the good times
The bad times
The times that could have been
To the wrong times
The right times
I know we’ll breathe again…”

Wanderings Day 27

Botswana Part 2…

Another set of pics remembering my time in beautiful Botswana.

Today I am thinking about the Botswana rhythm. There is a wonderful rhythm to the seasons and natural cycles. The flooding then drying of the Okavango Delta. The migration of the zebra and the elephant.

A time for marula trees to bear fruit which brings the elephants.

September is amazing…. a deep breath before the rains arrive. Unexpected flowers bloom. Babies abound – impala, lechwe, zebra.

January is prickly hot. But some afternoons turn black on the horizon and then the lightening and thunder and rain arrive. The cuckoos and Woodland Kingfisher call continuously. A good time to venture into the reeds in a mokoro hoping for a glimpse of the elusive sitatunga. At Xigera Lagoon the African Skimmers are nesting.

The people of Botswana have a rhythm too. A time to plant. A time to harvest. A time to move the cattle. A time to gather from the wild.

There is a beautiful kinship that weaves the Ba-Tswana together as a people but also connects them to this land. It was so easy to fall into this rhythm and be mesmerised by its beat.

Wanderings Day 26

Botswana Part 1:

So I got to call beautiful Botswana home for a few years. In particular, Maun and the heart of the Okavango Delta.

This isn’t just a travel memory. These next 3 days of virtual wandering are about highlighting moments in a chapter of my journey. A chapter that has shaped me profoundly.

Most of these “shaping” moments involve magical wildlife encounters. But this is also about people. People I still miss every day.

These “shaping” moments are bitter sweet. They are about love and they are about loss. A chapter of my life truly lived.

To me Botswana has a deep beauty. A rawness to her purity. A pure wild heart. I have never felt more myself anywhere, ever so at home. Here my soul sings.

My time in Botswana taught me this (even though I didn’t have these words then):

Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility

Susan David PhD, author of Emotional Agility

Wanderings Day 25

So day 25 of this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.

From tomorrow, for the last 5 days of these wanderings I will be tackling the “big shaping” journeys of my life so far.

In light of that, I thought today would be a good opportunity to pause. Returning back to NZ for a retreat “travels with mom” reminisce. We stayed in the Valley Hut at Kōmanawa. A pure space if ever there was one.

I have already posted a few pics from this retreat into the NZ wilderness last year – https://purespaces.co.nz/a-middle-earth-retreat/

Today these pics have helped me soak up that retreat “atmosphere” once again. In these last days of lockdown here in New Zealand and with it being Anzac Day too, there is much time for reflection.

Time for this quiet revolutionary to take stock, re-evaluate and keep dreaming. I still believe in magic…. the magic that makes hope float up.

That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up.

“Hope Floats” (1998) – Sandra Bullock as Birdee Pruitt

Wanderings Day 24

We’re off to Italy today.

Another amazing place I have been lucky enough to adventure to multiple times. Today I am sharing a few pics from a January wander to Tuscany.

This particular wander down travel memory lane has given me pause to reflect. So many of the journeys I have shared during this April virtual wander are due to where life has taken some especially precious family of mine.

You guys know who you are. Have we ever really acknowledged how much your path has opened opportunity for me to explore the world?! That path has certainly not been easy – life never is. But if you’re ever searching for silver linings you have my eternal gratitude. It has been an absolute joy to catch up with you in all these delightful places – South Africa, Italy, Philadelphia and the UK. A lifetime of memories to treasure. Love you guys 💛

In today’s collection you will glimpse the Duomo di Firenze in Florence. There’s the Ponte Vecchio all lit up. There’s wintry Tuscan landscapes. There’s a market visit to San Gimignano. Bliss!

Wanderings Day 3

Day 3 and we are still in the Kgalagadi. This time highlighting landscape, light and colour. 

Light and colour would change constantly during a day and with the seasons or the mood of the weather.  I was profoundly captured with each change – a spiritual experience.  More a feeling than just using my sense of sight.

And the stillness, the quiet was incredible too.  Standing atop a red sand dune staring at the infinite horizon – serenity… You need to be comfortable with silence in the Kalahari, in my experience. 

There is a purity here I have never felt anywhere else – it is a soul journey. 

My Kgalagadi time actually inspired the name of this blog. 

But it wasn’t always serene.  There is a harshness here too.  It is a place of extremes and paradox… as so much of the human experience is.

Emotional Agility

It is the 15th of March.  One year ago today the Christchurch mosque attack happened.  One year ago Cyclone Idai devastated the coast of Mozambique.  I am sure many other tragic events eventuated that day.  However, I am pausing to reflect on the two events that impacted my world then.  But like I wrote in my blog post at that time, the impact on me was minimal and only caused some inconveniences to my plans.

In the year that has been, countless other traumas and tragedies have occurred across the world – personal ones, community ones and now global ones.  How do we cope with the sorts of emotions that surface at times like these – fear, anxiety, hopelessness, dread, anger, denial, grief, loss?  These feelings are uncomfortable to say the very least and it would be so much easier just not to feel them at all. Right?

But here’s the thing, life never promised us a positive-only ride.  If we tell ourselves that the difficult emotions that come with difficult circumstances are unfair, bad and to be suppressed or avoided at all costs, it really only makes things worse.

A year later and things are certainly not very rosy in the world at present.  What we are experiencing now requires all the tools we have as human beings to lean into the discomfort we are all facing. 

And so, I am reminded of what I have learned from two incredible women.

Brené Brown PhD in her book Rising Strong shares the wisdom her social science research has revealed about the benefits of showing up and leaning into discomfort.

“We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend…We can’t rise strong when we’re on the run.”

Brené Brown

Susan David PhD has been an absolute revelation to me.  I guess I relate to her because of the similar background and accent! 😊

Her TED talk is definitely worth a watch. 

“Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility”

Susan David

What a sentence!  Another quote that stands out for me is –

“Research now shows that the radical acceptance of all of our emotions — even the messy, difficult ones — is the cornerstone to resilience.”  

Susan David

“Emotional agility is the ability to be with your emotions with curiosity, compassion, and especially the courage to take values-connected steps.”

Susan David

So, at this time of great turmoil and uncertainty I am trying to practice emotional agility…. And find the space for hope and gratitude.

Today I am wishing humanity emotional agility…. Let’s be agile!

Finishing off this post with a favourite quote from Brené Brown, this time from Braving the Wilderness…

Advent

One way to define advent is the anticipation of a coming event. Historically Advent has been associated with the lead up to Christmas and involves particular rituals and traditions in the Christian faith.

These days advent has taken on a number of different meanings. I think for many people today the “anticipation” is simply the stress of being caught up in the consumerism juggernaut that is the lead up to the festive season, worries over finances and being able to afford the “expected” way to celebrate or sadness at what can be the loneliest time of year for some.

For me, it has always been “the most wonderful time of the year”. And what I have come to realise is just how much this season means to me and my mental and emotional well-being, of all things!

Anticipation of a coming event. To me this anticipation is the expectation of a positive experience, a child-like excitement. At my age I certainly can’t put this down to getting up at the crack of dawn to open Christmas presents…. those days are long gone!

Now advent is steeped in ritual.

Some advent rituals are around preparation for the coming celebration that is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the family time we are so privileged to share. Advent in my world is a way of keeping those loved ones who have passed or that live far away close by…. part of our reflection and celebration, always in our hearts.

Other rituals centre around my need to reflect – on the year that has been as it winds to a close, checking in with my dream life goals, a gratitude practice…. and gradually beginning to set the intent for the coming year.

A reflection this advent is just how lucky I am to have these positive, uplifting memories of childhood Christmases to draw on. As well as a rich source of family ritual and tradition to continue observing. And how lucky I am, being so wired to the idea of seasons and cycles, that my work allows me to take the time at this time of year to acknowledge advent in my own quirky way.

Here are some wise words to ponder…. a Celtic blessing by the poet John O’Donohue from his book “To Bless the Space Between Us”:

For Beauty:

As stillness in stone to silence is wed,

May solitude foster your truth in word.

As a river flows in ideal sequence,

May your soul reveal where time is presence.

As the moon absolves the dark of distance,

May your style of thought bridge the difference.

As the breath of light awakens colour,

May the dawn anoint your eyes with wonder.

As spring rains soften the earth with surprise,

May your winter places be kissed by light.

As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance,

May the grace of change bring you elegance.

As clay anchors a tree in light and wind,

May your outer life grow from peace within.

As twilight pervades the belief of night,

May beauty sleep lightly within your heart.

John O’Donohue

And if that is all just a bit too deep…. here is a pic of my rhino-shaped peppakakor !

This year’s peppakakor to give away….

Happy Advent!

A Quiet Revolutionary

I want my life and work to be meaningful.  I want to live and breathe my passion and purpose daily.  I want to be a force for change – for a more loving and compassionate world.

But my character is not forceful.  My leadership style is not charismatic or persuasive.  My dedication to my work, my accomplishments and achievements often fly under the radar as I don’t seek to put myself forward.  I am also not competitive which means I mostly defer to more extroverted characters.  Perhaps this is read as weakness.

And so I have been having a little crisis of self… the crisis of the “I’m too small” and the “I’m not enough” kind because I don’t have a “big, out there” personality.

I’ve been here before.  So time to find solitude and sit with this discomfit and then the epiphanies will come…. they always do…

Epiphany – find your Quiet again…

A few years ago I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that won’t stop talking. Then I listened to her TED talk.  Both have been life changing for me.  I went back to these again.

Susan’s Quiet Revolution is based on wonderful core values some of which have profoundly resonated with me:

Be kind always
Be soulful – embrace feeling, emotion and the unseen
Be quirky
Be honest
Be aligned with your values
Be a revolutionary – “In a gentle way you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I want to be a quiet revolutionary. 

And in my own gentle, authentic way shake the world. 

My most profound experience of quiet and solitude was in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park where I took this photo.