October 2016

Moving Moments

greyton-snow-capped-mountainsEver since I can remember I have dreamt of living in a space surrounded by mountains, forests and rivers. And now, finally, having reached a point in my life when I no longer had commitments that bound me to a city life, I sold my house in the city, and moved to a small village in the Overberg district of the Western Cape, called Greyton.

This is not the first time I have moved. I wonder at the nine moves I have undertaken since my early adulthood. Three of those were by choice; the rest circumstantially provoked. I hope however that having used up my nine “lives” as it were, this is the last move I will have undertaken pending my final move into the great unknown at the time of my death. Perhaps the fact that Greyton is literally at the end of the road before the mountains, I can take that symbolically.

According to an article by Will Stone published in the Express that lists the major stressors we might experience in our lifetime, I have been exposed to all of the top stressors and most of them precipitated the need to move. It is perhaps small wonder that having now moved into a place that some have called a piece of heaven, I have finally been able to take the time out to rest and heal. I do aologise to the users of my website for not having kept up the pace of regularly posting new articles, but at the same time I have needed the past three years to just STOP the rushing need to DO and enjoy the peace of this moment in time.

And this is where I pause to reflect. Perhaps a parallel can be drawn here between the physical act of moving house and the emotional act of moving on; of letting go of anger, self doubt, self deprecation and other dark emotions that come with the territory of traumatic life events. Both are hard decisions to make and, as with all decisions, both involve the reality of loss and gain. There are many who talk about moving on as if it were the easiest thing in the world. And yet it is so hard and so much easier to become a prisoner of the things that have been done to us; that have hurt, disrupted and traumatised our lives. Sometimes it seems to be impossible to set them aside and make a deliberate choice to move on. i-am-leo And yet it is those moments of decision, what I like to call the moving moments of our lives, that spur us on and move us forwards on our life’s not always easy journey. And since so often these moving moments come with deeper insights and understanding, they should be treasured in our memory banks as the golden cornerstones of our foundations.

I think a mistake that many make is the, in my opinion, false belief, that moving on from past hurts and pain means forgiving and forgetting. I believe that tryig to do this in a forced way could be the very thing that anchors us into not moving forward in a healthy way. These are topics for another time but I would like to say that I am not a believer in cheap grace. What I do believe is that the memories of both the traumas and the successes and joys of our past, are what makes up the tapestry of who we are in the present. To negate the one and only focus on the other can lead to an unhealthy imbalance in our holistic wholeness. A healthy heart beats up and down along the life line – it is the manic heart that ticks up and up and the depressed one that ticks down and down. So I do not promote forgetting; just not drowning in the quagmire of our hurts.kitkat


As with a household move, a decision to “move on” comes with its own special kinds of rewards. There is the culling of unwanted baggage, taking with us items and memories that will enrich the new life, and a stirring of our creative energies as we plan our future both inner and outer gardens and decorate our new both inner and outer homes. It is a process of looking forward as we meet and engage with new people and new life experiences in a positive way.

July Editorial

Moments in Time

clockIn this 21st century of speed and action, I pause to look at the dust gathering on my old clock. Generally I rush by, too busy with my everyday chores to stop, to open it up and polish behind it’s front encasing. It has not been wound up because it’s chimes are too noisy. So it hangs silently on my wall and has become something of value that I tend to take for granted. And I find myself reflecting on whether it could be a metaphor for some of the relationships in our lives?

The quiet tranquility of this often neglected treasure reminds me that every second that ticks by is already but a memory of a moment savoured or a moment lost.And so I ask this question: What do we do with our precious moments in time? Are our thoughts so centred on our goals, our hurts, our resentments, and so much more that draws our focus that we drive the road we call life as if with blinkers on, not noticing the signs that caution us that it is time to slow down a bit.

road signToday I received an unpleasant surprise letter in the form of a speeding fine. I felt indignant and checked carefully to ensure that it was mine. But there was no mistake.
I had been snapped by a hidden camera just outside a beautiful village in the Western Cape called Rooiels. Rooiels I was on a 100kph
road and I had missed the sign that instructed me to slow down to 60 just before I drove past the village. What is even more irritating is that I went back to check that there was a sign, since I had not noticed it before, and there it was, clearly visible on the mountain side next to the road. One would think that I might learn from the experience. But no! Even then, having taken this photo and knowing the sign was there, when I checked my speedometer while passing the town, once again, there I was driving at 75 not 60. So I ask why it is so difficult to slow down to such a moderate pace. By nature I tend to be impatient and over time have had to learn the value of patience, finding myself, time and time again, having to slow my pace to the steady beat of my heart.

The last time I got a speeding fine was 13 years ago. My father had been rushed to hospital and since his home was in Johannesburg (now called Gauteng) my thoughts were focussed on him as I raced the approximately 1500 km distance between my home in Cape Town and there, not noticing the speed at which I was traveling. In that case I was pulled over by two traffic policemen who had little sympathy for my cause. And in the end they were right. I could have had a nasty accident, possibly adding to the present crisis while potentially harming not only myself and my children but
even other fellow travelers. And when I finally reached my destination, not one saved minute mattered since my father was unconscious and would remain that way for days to come. I was left with plenty of time to sit by his bed with nothing but my thoughts and my regrets of lost moments in time when we could have talked about things that mattered but somehow never did. We always kept the surface of our relationship well dusted but never went to deeper things that matter. Is it fear that keeps us from going too deep in case we touch a nerve that might disrupt the smooth flow of a taken for granted relationship? My clock reminds me of my father since it was his and his father’s before him.

whale coastHow often do we take time out sometimes to just meander; to drive more carefully and patiently, so that as we go we have time to build up in our memory banks an album filled with precious moments in time that allow us to reflect with pleasure, smile a bit and even laugh at something that was a special moment in the scheme of things. Those moments are like precious gems and as we fill our treasure chest, they are more valuable than all the wealth we might have made in the rush and pressure of our daily lives.

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July Food for Thought


saltThis is what a single grain of salt looks like. It reminds me of a crystal or precious gem. I was thinking about salt. For many people salt is seen as a bad thing – something to be avoided in food. And yes – too much salt can be extremely harmful. But sometimes a pinch of salt in our food makes all the difference between bland  and enjoyable. It occurs to me that a realtionship without a pinch of salt might be rather bland. On the other hand, when too much salt is thrown into the mix, only harm can result.

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Places to treasure

The Overberg district, Western Cape

False Bay2
Lat week I went exploring, taking a road I have not yet travelled: the whale route towards Rooiels. The road winds along the edge of the False Bay coastal stretch in the Overberg district, and Rooiels is at the very tip of the visible mountainous stretch. Rooi Els is an Afrikaans name which, translated, means Red Alder. It is little disturbed by the impact of modern day living. The focus of this whole area is on the conservation and preservation of indigenous plant and wildlife.

After passing Rooiels, we left the coastal road, turning inland in search of a place called Betty’s Bay. Betty's Bay 3Also on the Overberg coast, Betty’s Bay features gorgeous white beaches and dunes.
This is still a place of tranquility and peace, Betty's Bay 2where road signs warn motorists to wacth out for wildlife pedestrians rather than the human kind.

It has become a protected home to a large African penguin colony. When walking amongst them, we were amazed at how docile they seemed, allowing us to get really close. African penguins at Betty's BayOne of the security
conservationists who were strategically placed along the walkway to ensure the safety of the penguins, told us that they would accept us in that calm way as long as we walked slowly, baby penguindoing nothing to alarm them. I returned from my day out, having lunched at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, feeling rested and enriched
by what nature had to offer. It is so easy to get caught up in the buzz of a busy, often noisy and commercialised existence and to forget that just a short drive away there is a town where shopping malls have not yet found a home. This is a place where humans can live alongside various forms of wildlife in mutual acceptance.

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June Food for Thought: Marigolds

I love marigolds.

In looking for meanings of this flower I discovered that they are seen to be flowers of the sun. Words like passion and creativity are also associated with them as is good conversation. With reference to their growth pattern they are considered to be an extraordinarily resilient plant.

An interesting blog dedicated to marigold seed sowers for good in a troubled world can be found at http://www.marigoldloavesandfishes.com/.

Not everyone likes the marigold. There are some people who associate it with death and jealousy. It is however just that ambivalence that draws me this flower. It seems to hold within the aroma and delicacy of it’s petals, the depths of humanity’s pain, their ability to stay strong in spite of adversity, and their passion for life.

As humans when faced with adversity we have this choice – we can look at the event and focus on the good or we can acknowledge the pain while also finding beauty and a will to go forward in spite of . . .

What do you chose?

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June Editorial – Beating the ‘winter’ blues

marigold bowl I know that this time of the year is not associated with winter in many parts of the world, but here in “sunny” South Africa, in June we leave autumn behind and enter our winter months. So I thought I would make the theme of my editorial this month “Beating the Winter Blues”. In line with this I have also replaced my former all grey color scheme of my website with a new look featuring one of my favorite flowers: the bright yellow marigold.violets2 But life is transient in nature and so, as winter begins to set in, the former glory of my sun loving marigolds has had to make way for the more delicate viola, a plant more suited to the winter climate.

When it rains here in the Cape even the sea looks stark and gloomy. We are an interesting country in that the Cape is best known as the Cape of Good Hope but we are also known as the Cape of Storms. Seals

Our winters tend to have this same dichotomy, with wonderful sunny days making their ongoing entrance into days of rain and gloom. Come June, we can usually anticipate this fluctuating weather pattern for many months to come – with cold wet days even making their entrance as late as November.

The unpredictable nature of this  pattern serves as a reminder that no matter how hard things can get, there are always moments of beauty onto which we can tag our bleakness and know that summer is still on the way. But this is tempered by the certainty that no matter how wonderful life might seem at a given point in time, there will  also be moments of sadness, crisis or even trauma that come in to darken our days.
The question is: Where do we place our focus?

Even in the worst of weather if we  take our focus off the weather and look around there are always moments that can become a good memory to  walk alongside the bad ones that often tend to flood in like a heavy rain in a thunder storm. Hout Bay harbour

I remember a much looked forward to outing to Seal Island in Haut Bay. Instead of the hoped for cloudless skies and wonderful views we all found ourselves huddled inside the cabin – the weather outside was dangerously bad as the boat rocked over the deep swells causing people to slide down the deck.  Of course once the seals were sited,  people did rush to the deck in spite of the bad weather, risking their lives in the process. When I came home  my photos were also dark and gloomy – instead of color everything came out in greyscale. But with a bit of work I had fun adding my photo of children surfing at Bondi Beach in Sydney Austraia to the seals surfing here and came up with a fun picture. Surfing school seals and kids

Of course both are at risk of the ever present menace of the great white shark, but then that is another story.

I wonder where you might be at this moment in time? Are you experiencing a cloud burst  that leaves you drained, dejected and exhausted or are you able to look at that cloudburst and decide to step out singing in spite of it?

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May Food for Thought

How many times do we look at something or someone and judge by what we see? lemon

Let’s take the lemon for example. I have had many people emphatically declare to me that the lemon is an acid.  cut lemonThe truth is,  the lemon has a high alkaline content. When I experience heartburn, a slice of lemon in a glass of cold water is usually all I need to re-balance my system.The lemon might suggest acid and taste sour but when you get to know it,  there never was a sweeter fruit.

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May Editorial – “New Beginnings”

new peas My editorial this month is about new beginnings. As I watch my garden grow I am always  struck by the constant re-birthing of new plants. But new beginnings are not just found in the new plants  that form and grow. I think too of the plants that have become overgrown and straggly – no longer
showing their best face.  These are the plants that benefit from a good pruning. Some plants only need to be trimmed a little while others need to be cut right back – hard. This kind of pruning seems harsh, but as these plants begin to put out healthy new growth the benefits of the pruning become apparent.  It occurs to me however that in the hands of the unskilled gardener, this kind of pruning can devastate rather than renew. There are also plants that wilt and die simply through a lack of adequate water, while others never reach their potential because they are not getting the nourishment they need. Or they might have been placed in a position they do not like.  Every plant in a garden has its own individual quality of likes and dislikes just like us.  I remember planting a rhubarb plant and two artichokes in a spot in my garden that I had carefully prepared with compost. I also thought I had chosen the ideal spot for them. Nothing I could do, however, prevented them from developing a sad rather wilted look. So I moved them to another spot where they were surrounded by other plants. They perked up immediately.  I wonder how different we humans are to the plants growing in our gardens.

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