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.
I think my need to wander began as a girl. Growing up, my mom and dad organised wonderful family holidays that took us the length and breadth of South Africa. Often intrepid and roads less travelled, sparking a wanderlust that has remained with me.
These days I also have incredible memories of travels with my mom – just the two of us. So grateful to have had these opportunities with my very special mama bear.
Today’s wanderings takes on one of these “travels with mom” adventures in search of Middle Earth. She is very patient with me and my obsessions. This will make more sense as my story unfolds.
I have been obsessed with Professor JRR Tolkien’s writing for as long as I can remember. Then Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his Middle Earth. I think Professor Tolkien would have approved. Anyway, it has been fabulous to have Middle Earth on my doorstep.
Today I am sharing some pics from a Queenstown and surrounds trip with Mom. We found evidence of Middle Earth all along the way from the Fords of Bruinen to Isengard, Ithilien to Parth Galen, the Mountains of Mordor to the West Fold of Rohan. Magic!
Even if you aren’t in search of Middle Earth like we were, New Zealand’s South Island is simply spectacular. A true pure space. I love mountain environments probably more than being on the coast. Just as in the Kalahari, I am similarly inspired by changing light and colour in these stunning surroundings. And just like in the Kalahari, there is something of the serene juxtaposed with harshness in this space that captures the soul.
We visited Queenstown, Glenorchy, Paradise, Arrowtown, Wanaka and Cadrona among other beautiful South Island spots. Besides wonderful sights and scenery there also seems to be great coffee, food and wine to taste everywhere you go in this area. Mom even got me to go on a little horse ride with her in Paradise! The motivation? A chance of wandering through Lord of the Rings filming sites only accessible on said horse ride.
The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.
Today’s wandering takes us to the other side of South Africa. To Mpumalanga.
Near Ohrigstad there’s a pass that winds up towards the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment – Robbers Pass. At the top of this pass there is a forestry track off to the left, hard to spot unless you’ve been there before. Bump along this track through the pine plantation for a short way until you turn a bend and the whole valley stretches before you. You have arrived at Themeda Hills Mountain Camp.
Now I don’t know if it still operates anymore, but this spot has to be one of Mpumalanga’s best kept secrets. My family have been visiting for years. I can’t remember who found it first, but I definitely associate trips to Themeda with my Grandad Jim.
Eight little stone rondavels perch on the edge of the world here with simply spectacular views. At a fairly decent altitude there is a distinct alpine tinge to the air and vegetation and the sometimes moody cloud. Rondavel 8 is the best. I saw my first African Crowned Eagle here.
Words and photos do not do the magic of this pure space justice.
After losing yourself on top of the world for a little while, time to join reality again. Down the other side of Robbers Pass you will come to Pilgrims Rest. Two options from here.
First, the road less travelled. A dirt road the follows the Blyde River from its source near Pilgrims Rest as it ambles and meanders its way toward Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The second option is the more popular R533 to Graskop. A stop at Harrie’s Pancakes before finding the R532 which will start you on the Panorama Route through the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve with lots of scenic stops like God’s Window, Lisbon and Berlin Falls along the way.
A year ago I gifted myself Kristina Karlsson’s intriguing book – Your Dream Life Starts Here. I got the Dream Life Journal at the same time and got stuck into the business of dreaming.
I decided to take my time with this process unsure of where it would take me.
Chapter 2 is titled “Be inspired by the dreams of others”. At the end of this chapter is such an inspiring story, that of Dr Tererai Trent. Discovering her story sidetracked me from the Dream Life Journal for a number of months as I explored Dr Tererai’s magical idea of sacred dreams and tapping into your Great Hunger.
By August I had 3 delicious dreams safely encased in my Dream Tin! I don’t have a suitable place to bury my dreams, like Dr Tererai did, so the tin travels with me wherever I go.
This part of the process was so uplifting and hope-inducing, particularly on the back of a previous few months of difficult times to push through.
But there’s dreaming and then there’s doing, right!
Back to the Dream Life Journal which I have now completed. Dr Tererai’s inspiration of the sacred and Kristina’s insights into the practicalities of dreaming have dove-tailed beautifully. Those 3 dreams buried in the Dream Tin now have very specific dates assigned and a master action list for each…. a couple of actions have even been ticked off already in the last couple of days!
I have always been a bit of dreamer… a day dreamer wandering wistfully through memories or drifting into future hopes.
As Master Yoda says of Luke ” Never his mind on where he was… what he was doing!”
This is dreaming of a different kind…. a dream life that is tangible and oh so possible… if I keep my end of the deal, stick to my action list and the Universe meets me half way… this time next year will look really different. Let’s see, shall we?
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.
As part of my journey with Dr Tererai Trent’s book – The Awakened Woman – I have been reflecting a lot about the place of ritual in daily life.
She talks of the importance of ritual in helping her on the path towards her sacred dreams. In the companion journal I am working through there is a section titled “grow your soul through ritual”. She writes about the richness of her culture in the part of rural Zimbabwe where she was born. There is such beauty in the connection of her people with natural world and the rituals that result. It is an inspiring read.
Dr Trent is not the first woman I have come across who speaks of the essential place of ritual in her life.
One of the prompts in the Awakened Woman journal was
to list any rituals you practise already.
At first it was difficult to think of any rituals in my own life. Looking to the past, my ancestry, the idea of
a rich cultural history is fraught. My
ancestors come from a group of people who’s past actions and values I would
prefer to distance myself from in many ways.
Then I started thinking closer to home, to my family and my childhood. I was lucky enough to grow up with my great grandparents and grandparents on both sides. Family tradition in abundance. As I began to list our family traditions a realisation occurred – it was me who turned many of these traditions into ritual. Especially at this time of the year as we head towards the festive season I have become the keeper of my family’s rituals. So without consciously thinking about this before, ritual has played an important place in my wellbeing – in feeling connected with the spirit of the past and in rooting deeply in the present to grow into the future.
There is another quote from the Awakened Woman journal I like,
“Rituals are the actions we can take to help us walk the path to our dreams. They connect us to a more authentic version of ourselves, allow us to pause and focus on what’s important and strengthen our beliefs”.
So what can ritual look like? I think it can be any action sacred to you, that you deliberately and thoughtfully repeat. I believe ritual becomes a very personal thing. I have rituals around prayer, meditation and a mindfulness practice… oooh and time on my Shakti mat! Finding time for stillness in the day to day busyness of life has become essential for me. Particularly as I currently live and work in a busy city – an environment that drains my energy.
The next prompt was to consider how the rituals you practise
help move you closer to your dreams. Definitely
a concept I had never considered!
One of my dreams goes around treading lightly and respectfully on the Earth. And so I got to thinking about whether ritual plays a part in my attempt at living sustainably. And upon reflection it does.
My family has a lot of ritual around food. We use food and precious family recipes as a way to commemorate family occasions, mark anniversaries and the passing of seasons. As immigrants our food rituals connect us to a spirit of place and time as well.
And what I now realise is that I have come to think of food and food preparation as a way to honour what Mother Earth provides – there is ritual in that. I still choose to eat meat – not in large quantity and only if I know where and how it was produced. I focus on what’s seasonal and grown locally. In a country like New Zealand I am extremely lucky to easily know where and how meat, eggs, milk, butter, fresh fruit and veg are produced and make my consumer choices accordingly. While cooking and preparing meals, I have now added in quirky little prayers of thanks to living things, plants and animals, that have given their energy to allow me mine. A weird ritual perhaps but one that has given me “pause and focus on what’s important and strengthening my beliefs”.
All this has made me ponder the food thing when travelling. How can you be comfortable without really knowing where the produce is coming from or how it was produced? I then remembered my time as F&B manager at an ecolodge in the Okavango Delta. The thought that went into sourcing food to provide a 4 star offering in a very remote location. We did source locally as much as possible. We did create menus based on seasonal availability. So the food side of things became as considered in the journey towards a sustainable organisation as the energy use, green building materials or waste minimisation strategies.
Above are some images from my time in Okavango…. best office in the world!
So even on safari in really out of the way places, treading lightly and living sustainably is possible. I take comfort in the knowledge that in their own way many eco-conscious tourism operations in Africa today do incorporate ritual. Ritual that makes them respectful of the wildlife and wild space in which they operate. Ritual that makes them sensitive to the communities they impact and include in their conservation intention. Ritual that ensures their guests are supported to also tread as lightly as possible in their journey of exploration.
I am so excited to work through Dr Tererai Trent’s wonderful book, The Awakened Woman, a second time.
I first heard Dr Tererai speak on a podcast
with Kikki K founder, Kristina Karlsson.
I loved listening to her delightful accent and the rhythm of her voice
sent me right back to childhood and growing up in Southern Africa. Listening to her read her story as an
audiobook was a revelation. Dr Tererai
is a poet and wordsmith, the way she uses the English language is beautifully
In The Awakened Women she shares her incredible story of dreams come true. Using her experiences and insight to provide a guide for others which is so profound and yet so accessible.
So I now have the print version of the book along with the gorgeous journal that goes with it from Kikki K. I have reread Chapter 1 and am now putting pen to paper in the matching chapter in the The Awakened Woman Journal… what dreams may come…
Hey World! How lucky
are we to have these strong, empowered, beautiful women’s voices who grace us
with their hard won wisdom! They are so
open and honest with their ordinary struggles, just like you and just like me. They give me hope and I take comfort in that
as I walk my own path.
Wow! A crazy three or so weeks has flown by wrapping up all things work related for 2014. And now a lady of leisure, I can concentrate on why this is my favourite time of the year. I do have some silly rituals, but they are dear to me.
The first is all about the wacky genius of Tim Burton. This is the time of the year when I get out all my favourite Tim Burton classics and rewatch. It all starts at Halloween with TheNightmare Before Christmas. Jack Skellington’s need to infect Halloween Town with the Christmas spirit is just a wonderful tale.
Now I have to mention here that when it comes to trick or treating and kids wandering the neighbourhood door knocking and begging for candy, I morph into the Halloween Grinch. So some parts of Halloween I can certainly do without. But Tim Burton’s imagery captures my imagination at this mystical time of year.
So The Nightmare Before Christmas is quickly chased by Corpse Bride, Beetlejuice and Dark Shadows. I also love Coraline which has a Tim Burtonish flavour but is actually a movie from the director of Nightmare.
All this revisiting movies I love puts me in the mood for the holiday season to come.
At tree decorating time, I celebrate a day of hard out Christmas-ifying of the house by watching Holiday Inn. You know, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and that famous little song White Christmas?
Then Christmas Eve means it must be time for White Christmas the movie – Bing Crosby and Rosemarie Clooney and a whole lot of Irving Berlin classics…. Magical! And finally, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – the Disney version with Jim Carey. Some say scary, I say classic Dickens (one of my most favourite authors).
And that about rounds up Holiday Rituals Part 1 – watching old movies. This about sums it up for me: