I am starting with Day 10 – take a photo of something that brings you joy and share it🧡 New books to read spark so much joy for me And I have so enjoyed rediscovering my love of sketching in recent weeks.
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.”
Susan David PhD has been an absolute revelation to me. I guess I relate to her because of the similar background and accent! 😊
In 2007 I spent a year in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
as a SANParks People and Conservation volunteer intern based at Twee Riveiren.
It’s difficult to put the isolation of this spectacular place in words but the experience of living in the Kalahari has been one of the most profound of my life. My time in the Kalahari inspired the name of this blog – Pure Spaces. Spaces/places have such significance for me. The way they make me feel, the energy they give affects me emotionally and often spiritually. The space that is the Kalahari would definitely fall in the spiritual category. And my name means “pure”. So there you go…
What you quickly learn in a place like this is how important
your small community is, you rely on each other for support, for
companionship. You have to get along
because you don’t have a choice. In my
case the small community within the slightly bigger Park community were the
residents of Blikkiesdorp (Tin Can Town).
Our lodgings being converted shipping containers. Let’s pause for a moment to let that fact
settle – a shipping container room in the Kalahari Desert!
So Blikkiesdorp, our little area of the staff accommodation of Twee Rivieren rest camp, was home to me, the intern, and two students studying Nature Conservation from Tshwane University. Occasionally the field guides would visit for a braai. But mostly it was just the three of us. A resident cheetah researcher and his wife adopted me as did the border policeman and his wife which meant a welcome break from Blikkies for a yummy meal or even the luxury of watching a little television.
Don’t get me wrong though, I grew very fond of Blikkies as the year progressed and it brought out some very creative “decorating” in me.
Here is where I need to introduce Kerryn, one of those students I mentioned earlier. A petite, feisty girl absolutely passionate about wildlife conservation. Kerryn and I clicked almost immediately. I say almost because she admits based on meeting my predecessor, she was determined NOT to like me. But it seems our common love of the band Smashing Pumpkins broke the ice! There is a good 10 year age gap between us, but I quickly began to admire her, particularly her determination to succeed in a (still to this day sadly) male dominated field of work. I am thrilled to say that we remain very close friends today even with the many miles that separate us.
It started with Kerryn, this kernel of an idea. By the time I had spent time getting to know
Margie, the researcher’s wife, and Isabel, the policeman’s wife, as well women of
the Khomani San community, I was overwhelmed by these extraordinary women I was
meeting and the stories I was hearing.
None of them would describe themselves as extraordinary. Most of their “voices” weren’t the voices of
activists or feminists. They were just
ordinary women blooming where they were planted – creating, nurturing,
learning, growing, caring, loving in that very unique way women do.
I have to share these “voices”, I thought. Their stories deserve a place in the sun. So here I am all these years later beginning
this journey… I finally seem to have found my courage, to have found my
voice. This is the introduction to what
I hope will be a series of posts over the coming months – the extraordinary
voices of ordinary women.