Monday, 25 August 2014

Stolen Time

My friend Anne, shared this article with us a few days ago and it really resonated with me, because it feels like that is exactly what I do with my life.  I seem to be like a firefly flitting here and doing a bit there and then flitting somewhere else and doing a bit there and then being drawn back here and doing some more here and so it goes on, and yet when I look at my to-do-list at the end of the week, there is a lot I have ticked off, including my writing, journaling and blogging and it all seems to happen in those magical stolen moments!

And as Anne said, "to remember that we are part of a long line of brave wonderful women..."

Enjoy ... Stolen Time

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Truth ...

I have this gorgeous little book that I got from a dear friend of mine 

and on Tues in my circle group I randomly opened it up to this page and these were the words of wisdom that flowed out ...


Here's to the truth that shall set us free!  

Because only in being true to ourselves about who we really are and what we really want, will we be free to live the fullest and most magnificent version of ourselves.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Treat Yourself ...

Here is a little write-up about a retreat that I am running together with three really amazing women and I am super excited about it.  We hope to see you there ...

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Trees, Confucius and Journaling

Last week I went to a ceramic exhibition that a friend of mine held on her beautiful farm in among the sugar cane fields. Driving along the dirt road, I stopped to admire a gorgeous Natal Fig tree.  I absolutely love trees and to me there is a magic about them.

This particular tree always makes me slow down on the way to the farm because it is just so big and majestic. I quickly stopped to take some photos in between passing cars, hoping not to get covered in dust as cars drove by on the dirt road.  I managed to get a few nice shots. 

Later that week, when doing the Lisa Sonora Root Journaling, the focus that day was taken from the quote by Confucius 

"Cultivate the root; the leaves and branches will take care of themselves."  

The prompts made me think about the tree I had photographed earlier that week and I could resonate with the trunk of the tree. It feels like they represent my roots at the moment, or rather my very cluttered life! The branches are completely entwined and some even look like they are strangling each other. While I love the look of it in the tree, in my life, it feels like they need some thinning out and some space.  I have been wanting to de-clutter many things in my home for a very long time, from cupboards, to paperwork to 
furniture and a whole lot of crockery that has been sent my way!  I however have been resisting for as long as I can remember because it feels daunting and I would much rather be blogging.  So the message has become very clear indeed. I need to make some time for space.  Space in my home and also some space to breathe and just be.

"Spacious" is also one of my core desired feelings that I discovered while doing Danielle LaPorte's  Desire Map and I think it is time I honored that a bit more.

I am so grateful to how that majestic dust-covered tree and the Root Journaling prompt pulled that message together for me. 

Thank you.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Almost ...

"You look so calm and relaxed," I said to my friend Zoe as she sat casually on the tailgate of her car last Thursday afternoon.  Without hesitation, she replied, "that's because I swam with the dolphins this morning." 

"OMG!! No ways?! Wow!!" was my reply.  Even though I was in a bit of a rush, I had to hear about it.  Zoe is a real lover of the ocean and the beach and generally walks and meditates on the beach daily.  She also has a life guard qualification and even trains life guards. On that day, while on her walk, she spotted some dolphins far out beyond the breakers. She quickly put on her snorkel, mask and fins, and off she went (in her clothes having left her costume behind.) She said it was a hard twenty minute swim (and even the life guards on duty had said they wouldn't have gone out that far) but so worth it she said, as she got to play with them for about half an hour.  I was totally in awe.  While this is not uncommon for Zoe; she has gone out to swim with dolphins many times over the years, for me, it is really big.  I have only ever swum with them once, that being on an organised tour in Mocambique.  I asked her if she isn't afraid to go out that far on her own, and she said straight out, "you mustn't go into the ocean if you are in fear, you will carry that energy in with you."  We spoke a bit about it and I know there is no real logic in me feeling safer with another person out there in the big wide ocean, because really, what are they going to do if something comes along and grabs me?!  So I have huge admiration for her fearlessness and love of the ocean.

Then today, while walking on the beach, deep in thought, I turned around to check on my girls swimming in the sea.  There, not far from the shore, I saw the unmistakable gleaming grey-black figures of two graceful dolphins!!  And then I saw more! They were swimming playfully along and I just knew, I had to go out and try to get to them.  So I ran back along the beach as fast as I could, asking them to please wait for me and that I really, really wanted to swim with them. They were by no means in any hurry and seemed to be gliding along casually.  I got to my bag, quickly whipped off my clothes and pulled on my costume, not caring if anyone saw me getting unchanged (and anyway, it was early so there were only a few fisherman up ahead and a few surfer's kids.)   I grabbed my daughter's hand and said, "lets go swim with the dolphins!"  I could see she was frightened and excited.  "Will they, um, maybe bite me mom?  I know they have sharp teeth?"  I reassured her that it would be fine and that they wouldn't harm her.  My logic and her fear; the same as Zoe's logic and my fear?!

We ran to the water and dived straight in, swimming out as fast as we could, although I could sense my daughter was very hesitant.  I shouted out to my other daughter who was already in the water to join us. The two other kids heard me and there was so much excitement in the air. I also managed to get my hubby's attention as he was surfing at the time. He came and joined us and got my girls out to the sand bank to try and see the dolphins, but he said they were too far out for the girls.  My older daughter was visibly quite relieved. She had been saved! My hubby, not sensing my desperate need to get out to the dolphins, focused his attention on helping my younger daughter catch some waves on his surfboard.  So now it was just me on the sandbank, the breakers ahead and the dolphins beyond.  I was all fired up!!

So I started swimming out and managed to get under a few of those breakers, which weren't too bad at all.  But now, venturing out and leaving the 'safety' of company and the sandbank, my excitement, thrill and determination to get to those dolphins was slowly replaced by that sense of 'really being out there alone', my hubby's words of "too far out" and my own fears around the breakers crashing down on me. The dolphins were about 200 meters from me, not far at all I think, but far enough when you are out there on your own.  So l slowly let myself get washed back to the sand bank to contemplate and hopefully get my hubby to come out with me.  But he was busy with my youngest and I could see that she needed his help at that particular time.  I knew time was passing and that they wouldn't be there forever, but I just couldn't convince myself to go and when my hubby finally got to me, the dolphins had slowly started swimming away and then they were gone.  

I had missed my opportunity.  I sorely missed my friend Zoe  We could have gotten to them together for sure and she most definitely would have saved me from the 'big-bad-out-there-alone!'

It was so close ... almost!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Open Hearts, Open Eyes, Love and Magic

One of the things I really enjoy about traveling is the interesting people you meet along the way. On our recent trip to Namibia, we were lucky enough to meet Koos Vervey, owner of Eupa Falls Camp.  What an amazing man and what an amazing story.  We were told about him by some fellow travelers when asking for some advice about our route, and I first spotted him, walking slowly around the camp, holding the hand of his little adopted grand-daughter. We got chatting and he asked us what line of work we (my hubby and I) were both in and I have to say that I was secretly thrilled that he was more interested in my women's circle groups than my hubby's flying. I am so used to everyone being fascinated with my husband's job, and Koos, being an ex-military man, I assumed would launch into a discussion about planes and what not.  So it was really refreshing and exciting for me when he asked me all about the groups.  When hearing about some of the community projects he is involved in, I understood why.  

I was particularly touched by the one project he is still involved in and he shared it with me over coffee one morning as the sun was rising over the falls.  Here is the story in Koos' own words 

My story about this lady starts more than 20 years ago when visiting chief Kapika at Omuramba. She was always kept away from visitors but from time to time one had a glimpse of this woman. As the years progressed and I became more familiar in the village I had a better view. Enquiries did not really bring clarity; vague answers were given and I knew all the time that something was not right.

But with time I could get closer and although I was told that she was bewitched I realized that it was not what it was. She was certainly not mad. One could not follow her words at all but through the filth I detected a spirit that was not mad. Even the chains and wire did not take away her inner self.

But i simply had no idea what was wrong and just left it alone. Do not mix with the deeper community things and especially not with the sister of the chief.

I knew that everybody in the village was afraid of her and that they all avoided her. I also knew that she was literally fed like a dog with a bit of food and water. In days of little she was the last one to get the scraps.

When my roads crossed with my old school mate of the seventies after 36 years I had no idea that freedom for Ndjina was not too far away. And when we went to visit chief Kapika in October 2012 I still could not envisage that drama was to come; that she would be freed and will be a real person again.

That Sunday the two of us did a lot of brain storming but none of us had any idea about what was to come. November came and we saw the chief. I was a bit worried but then he took the wind completely out of us. We could proceed. Berrie came back and 12 December 2102 he took the chains off. When Ndjina came out from behind the bush curtain and walked nearly straight I could not believe my eyes. The care takers dressed her. She was human again.

The last evening of 2012 saw the whole village gathered at Epupa Falls campsite for the yearly big party. One of the most dramatic moments of my life was minutes away. I took her onto the dance floor and for a few minutes that whole meeting came to their feet. Ndjina was reborn.

She is eating properly, sleeping on a mattress, doing walks with the care takers. Nobody runs away from m her any longer. Kaviruru is sleeping next to her. The children at the village are around her. Her own children are proud of her. The story has spread all over Kaoko. The spirit that I noticed all the time has come to life again.

To see this wonderful lady today is for us who know the background very special. She has status, she is a grand lady. Berrie is teaching his caretakers how to work with her.

Not too long ago I bumped into a famous sendeling who is in the area for many years. He knew about her but nothing else. After he heard the story he asked me what medicine we are giving her. LOVE AND PROPER CARE. THIS he could not believe.

And all the time we are learning. She is the first person out of the African bush with Alzheimer’s. The first in Africa. The first on my road. And i came to love this old woman. Through her so many more roads has opened for me; so much more deepness and richness in my life.

This lady in chains does not know what is happening; she has no idea what is too follow and for that matter none of us really know where the road of Ndjina will take us. But we know a few things.

She was very far from broken after 20 years in chains and now she is free. She has guts, tremendous inner energy to survive all this takes a very special person; maybe a replica of Uncle Nelson.

Her strength has and will enrich many people over the years to come.

Her image we pray will become the symbol for Africans with Alzheimer’s.

And she has given and will continue to give me a sense belonging; belonging to a very small minority of himba nomads.

Here's a little more from Koos' friend Berrie Holthauzen (who started the first Alzheimer's Home in Namibia) about the day Ndjina was set free ...

With the arrival of Koos we could finish setting up the tent. We could cut her chains, remove all the old straps and provided her a nice big bath. (I brought along about 100l of water in plastic drums). The three care workers (also trained by us) gave her a bath and new, clean materials to be used as a dress that I bought yesterday in a tin hut at Epupa for N$35 per meter. Four meters of fabric and 2 dresses – the most she’s ever had in the last 20 years. She even slept on the ground because the skin she use to sleep on got too dirty and should have been burned a long time ago.
FREE AT LAST, THANK God free at last…
clean and newly dressed after 20 years. 12/12/12  

12-12-12 has been one of the most beautiful days in my life even when I consider that I had a spade instead of my toilet, that I had to sleep on the backseat of my double cab truck, have to sit under a Mopani and type for dear life with a very quick fading battery, without any possibility of cell phone reception or a fridge with cold water or beer… I had the opportunity to see a person freed from chains. And I know that 12-12-12 only comes along every 100 years.

Doesn't this story just touch your heart?  

Koos also shared with us that at the staff party, Ndjina came up to him on the 'dance floor' and placed some of his favourite local berries into his shirt pocket.  It is moments like those he said, that bring magic to his life.  I also learned that along with Ndjina, they managed to free another woman, called Kaputu, from chains because of Alzheimers.  Apparently, through superstition and a lack of understanding, 'witch camps' and stoning of women with any form of dementia occur regularly in Nigeria, Ghana and Namibia.  It is so heartbreaking and such a tragedy, when as Koos said, all they need is "love and the same environment' in which they grew up in.  It really is just what the world needs, what we all need, "love."

This to me was all mind blowing, coming from an ex-military man and from a 'staunch right-wing upbringing' as he put it.  He spoke about 'opening your heart' and 'opening your eyes,' love and magic and so of course he was the hero of my trip to Namibia.  (Not that he needs to be a hero.) I love people's stories and the story of this man's journey in life and the meaning he has found in it, completely captivated me and so this blog post is dedicated to all the magical and loving work he has been doing in Namibia these many years.  It was an honor to meet you.

Thank you Koos

Here is a link to the Alzheimer's Home in Yacandonga if you would like to read more about it.