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Theme Reveal for April A-Z

April A-Z Theme Reveal

Today is the day that we reveal our theme for the annual international April A-Z Blog Challenge. 

I haven’t fully decided on what my theme will be. Most probably on “Aging” excerpting a quote from my and co-author, Dr. Susan Schwartz’s book, ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. And elaborating a little. It will be psychological. Not long. We post daily in April, on a topic for each letter of the alphabet, except for Sundays when we get a day of rest.

I’ll also be linking my posts to We Are The World Blogfest (#WATWB) whose aim is to spread love and peace amidst our turbulent world and hopefully telling of positive, even personal, stories where ordinary human kindness is the order of the day. These effects are felt, no matter how small the ripple. This begins next week and continues for a year, posts to be put up on the last Friday of each month.

Sing up for We Are The World Blogfest!
We Are The World Blogfest

So, wish me luck. As I wish you, those joining in on this roller coaster ride …

I like this quote below – apt as today is the equinox – equal day and equal night, as the earth tilts on its axis. Here in South Africa, we move towards Autumn, and the northern hemispheres towards spring. I like also what it says about ‘certainty’ – 

“When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.”
― Julian BarnesFlaubert’s Parrot

Departures, Death, Birthdays and Anniversaries …

Departures, Death, Birthdays & Anniversaries

I took my husband, elder son Mike and his girlfriend Amanda to the airport this morning. My husband is off to Plettenberg Bay on his own, my son & girlfriend Amanda are off to Japan and The Philippines. My younger son Dave is also away, in Vietnam, with his lovely wife, Jüte. It’s their wedding anniversary today … one year since they were married on 19th March. And it’s Jüte’s birthday too. Dave tells of how he said to her that he would marry her only when she turned 25 – and that was the actual day they got married… today she’s 26 …

I got home from the airport, buying the Sunday Times en route, planning to do some things after I had chilled at home for a bit. I wanted to check on Harry our cat, who is an old chap already but he is I think, due to exit this world. He’s not eating, drinking a little water every now and then. I dreamed of him some nights ago, clambering up to a great height, then falling. I was in the bath, open to the elements and watched him falling. He landed on the side of the bath, his paws got a bit wet and then he slunk away. I was watching him in the garden this afternoon, sitting still, shifting position to face another way, then again and then again – I thought of the Buddha facing east, west, north and south as he bore witness to the earth and as he received enlightenment. I hope that Harry delays dying until my husband is back. He seems at peace. Right now, he’s sitting in my study on the mat with the glass door open.

I planned also this morning to phone my ill friend’s son Richard and ask if I could come round and sit with her for a bit. My cell phone beeped as I got out the car on my return home – it was a message from a mutual friend to say that Lyndy died peacefully this morning. Richard was at her side …

I messaged that person back immediately to ask if I could come round – come, he messaged back. There are other people here …

I left home soon after to go to Lynda’s home. I spoke to Richard who said that he was with her when she died, which was around 9.00 this morning. She was at peace he said – she died peacefully – I asked if I could go to her room and say goodbye – but no, he said.

There were many people. I had a few meaningful interchanges with family. Her elderly uncle, so dear – a cousin who I saw fairly often when I visited; another cousin who flew in last evening from abroad and saw her last evening.

So, the cycles of life, all in one day, the 19th of March – a prime number. Life, death, so closely intertwined. Life to be celebrated, anniversaries and birthdays too – and a death to be mourned – a departure –

And while I stick to my own advice of always keeping death alive on one’s left shoulder, my experience of her death leaves a hole in my heart ..

Rest in Peace dear Lyndy –  my friend from schooldays – sadly, fondly, lovingly remembered – 

We Are The World Blogfest

We are the World BlogfestI’m very happy to announce and to be part of this initiative. I thank Damyanti Biswas in Singapore for her infinite patience in helping me get this blog post up. It’s the same one that will be going up in various parts of the world from Wed 8th March. It was lovely to meet and talk with this gentle and loving soul. She was a ray of light. Without minimising the direness of the world, the hope of this blogfest is that through true-life examples of love and peace, pockets of joy, moments of clarity, the tide can be turned.

‘Social media and news in recent times has been filled with hate and negativity. Just as you cannot fight darkness, only light lamps, Hate and Negativity cannot be fought. You need to bring Love and Positivity forward instead.

We bring to you the We Are the World Blogfest, along with these fabulous co-hosts:

Belinda Witzenhausen, Carol WalshChrissie ParkerEmerald Barnes, Eric Lahti, Kate Powell, Lynn Hallbrooks, Mary Giese, Michelle Wallace, Peter Nena, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Simon Falk, Susan Scott, Sylvia Stein, Sylvia McGrath

We Are the World Blogfest” seeks to promote positive news. There are many an oasis of love and light out there, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world.

We will link to charities supported by the co-hosts, and you could choose to donate to some of them or add links to local charities you support, so we could all chip in to a good cause if we like.

Let us flood social media with peace and love, and “In Darkness, Be Light.” The first post for We Are The World Blogfest is on the 31st March 2017.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news, about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

We Are the World BlogfestSign up in the WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below and please help spread the word via the hashtag #WATWB.



Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page (Damyanti Biswas) in case you’d like to be heard by this community.’

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Conversations 2 on Aging & Becoming

Conversations 2 on Aging & Becoming

This is a follow on from Susan Schwartz and my responses on redd.it/5u8b13 on ‘ask me anything’ on 22nd Feb. The questions and our responses are again abbreviated. Last week’s post says a bit about our book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. In that post I put up a selection of come of the questions. What follows are some further questions and responses –

Q: ... the evolution of mind now appears no longer as a process of the adaptation of species to their environment but as the adaptation of minds to increasingly complex forms that exist in the cosmic potentiality. The cosmic connection means that the human mind is a mystical mind?

A: Jung addressed the mystical traditions in its many forms throughout history. We could say that this resides in the collective conscious and unconscious. The connections remain between mind, body and spirit. It is different eras and people that put different spins on them. This is like contemplating aging – it will look differently depending on where you stand personally and culturally. We address expansion out of narrow ideas into broader perspectives on the aging process. Perhaps this is also a way of addressing the evolutionary process. Jung addressed this with the process of individuation or becoming all we are meant to be. That is surely a lifelong task.

Q: How do I stop myself from feeling the existential angst of being 29? Do I feel anxious because of a primal desire to have children or am I scared that my 20’s have been squandered? Or both?

A: I think it may be both. What you feel is also part of being an aware person who values the inner world and is not taking life lightly. The primal desires also relate to one’s own creative self and how that will be manifest. It comes not only through children but through the effort into discovering through life what it is to be you and what you have to offer to the world.

Q: Hello Susan & Susan, this may seem like a strange question, but what do you do with the fear that time and energy will run out before you complete the inner work you want to do? … I’ve been on a helluva inner journey and I’d emerge from the cocoon as a new person, but everything inside me just collapsed. Something in me has been broken ever since. … I don’t know how I can ever have the time and create the space for the delicate inner work I feel like I need to do …. Let’s face it, that inner work is sometimes brutally challenging …

A: The thing inside that collapsed is calling. It wants you to look inward deeply and find the broken, and put the pieces together. You may think about analysis as a way inward with the serious depth and dedication that your message implies that you have. Aging & Becoming is about that, but the personal work is at hand for you – a blessing and a burden both …

Q: Susan, what if I know little (nothing) about Jung? Will I still understand this book?

A: ...Our book is about life – and death – and everything in between – all that is applicable to us, now and then and in the future –

A: The book is about knowing oneself and reflecting on life … easy to understand concepts .. we are speaking about openings to oneself.

Q: My question is on the cultural side … are your results global? Did you consider the cultural differences between ethnic groups? For example, Japanese do not have problems with aging .. a healthy respect and honor  (is) awarded to them because of their age. … also in African-American in the Deep South. They see aging as an honor and they grow old gracefully. So was your sample mixed? Or did you limit it to a certain group of people?

A:we write about how the elderly are often marginalised in western societies and the sadness of that compared to the attitude of reverence towards the aged of other communities and societies…. We write mostly from our own perspective and experience of aging.

A: Each culture learns from the other. We had to limit ourselves to what we knew and felt. It is an Enquiry providing thoughts, feelings but not all the answers by any means…

Q: I am shocked by what I have allowed to occur in my life. Always positive, illnesses, a couple serious, have taken me from feeling young to resigning to old age. I know it’s my mindset and I simply want my active life back. At 75, I’m giving into old age  and my health has been keeping me in this dismal thought pattern. … Even my spiritual attitudes have failed me. I’m not that old yet! Do you have any suggestions?

A: I see many people for inner work who are 75 and older. The witnessing with another, the life review and the reclaiming of energy and spirit happens in this interior focus. Age makes one able for it. Movement in whatever form physically, good self care and care of the self are also important. Mind, body & soul all go together in figuring it out

A: … Life is pretty harrowing much of the time and even harder when there are health issues. Life is a mixture of depth and darkness, height and light – and it is always a learning curve.

To end, a quote by Marie Curie:

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this must be attained.

Thank you for reading!

Conversations

Conversations 

Mary Oliver: Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.

Dr. Susan Schwartz (in Paradise Valley, Az.) and I (in Johannesburg, South Africa) went live last week on Wednesday 22nd Feb on reddit. It was a week long AMA – ask me anything – and then on Wednesday we responded to the questions as they came up. I’m going to put up a few questions and our responses to them for your interest. 

The excerpt below in blue was an introduction to our book “Aging & Becoming ~A Reflective Enquiry” – and it’s a little abbreviated as are the questions and answers, from necessity.

This is not a ‘how to’ book. Nor is a book about what, why, when and where. We’ve used personal stories and shared a few friends’ views. We’ve brought in myths and tales from the distant past. They live on as good myths do, speaking to our contemporary lives by illustrating the timeless trials and tribulations resonant to every generation. 

We’ve brought light and dark, pain and pleasure, heights and depths, shadows and the ever present paradoxes into this book. We’ve given aging honor and respect. It is our politic. We covered a wide array of topics; life, death and all else in between.

From A – Z we reflect on aging – and becoming. This is what we do every day of our lives – age and become. The writing has brought into sharper focus and our reflections have afforded a deeper way of looking at this crucial stage. Aging underscores the inevitability of death and the realization that the limit of time narrows.

Aging is part of living and the more conscious we are of it, the more we can actualize our potential.

A few of the questions and responses: –

Q: Have you paid much thought about archetypal rites of passage, and how the individual may encounter these, and how archetypal studies can influence the maturation process by virtue of being aware of the process with a deeper understanding?

A: Yes, we speak about rites of passage as in gaining awareness of oneself along the way. We give suggestions. Becoming oneself is maturity and as Jung says, it takes a lifetime. So, keep on being aware of self and others on your own particular journey.

Q: How does aging cause us to re-align our switch to authenticity? Does reflection on aging ground our perception of aging? 

A: Authenticity does not come with age. It comes from internal and external awareness and consciousness. It comes from working with dreams, relationships, developing one’s passions and becoming a conscientious person. It comes with daily attention and care to one’s soul and others.

Q: Jung said that we spend the first half of our lives expanding & establishing ourselves in the world and the 2nd half contracting to focus on what’s most important. What happens if that pattern is interrupted … considerations and circumstances i.e. … aspects of mental illness or trauma … breakdowns, blocks/complexes?

A: There is no real order but all are part of the whole. … The challenge is to stay awake and value where one is in life. Jung valued the stages … all the way through. Self-knowledge is gained in many ways-dreams, synchronicity, relations, inner and outer feelings. These show us how we are living and are manifestations of the archetype.

Q: What has in your eyes been the best part of growing older?

A: … a little more comfortable in my skin … time is limited in that there is no longer a forever as in the fairy tales – and more of a realisation of the importance of giving expression to my inner self.

A: Growing older happens daily. It is not in a moment but through a life time. Valuing of even the small things gives meaning to the more awesomeness of our individual lives. It is also honoring the range of feelings in being.

Q: …. How do you keep the spirit alive?

A: …. sometimes my spirits are very low – and many are those who are not so well disposed as those of whom you wrote – from them we learn too. Our spirit may be very disheartened at times or many times, and it feels as if there is no spirit or soul at all – even this place is a place of broadening our spirit…

A: I think the spirit comes through being creative, having joy in self, finding the surprise in each day. It comes from being inwardly aware and accessing oneself in many compassionate and depthful ways.

Q: I’m drawn to the question of grief since I write about this topic and work in bereavement. Grief has been a huge teacher to me. ….  Your line “Grief tends to press on the soul” drew me. Grieving for others took me on an initiatory journey that opened heart and soul and led me to a new life. …. How do you suggest dealing with grieving for our own vital selves?

A: Not easy to grieve at all and for oneself is part of life, I would think. The decline may also open the inner world as the outer communication is changing. No doubt there are some tangible things but there are also your dreams, anything creative that helps expression and being with those who care and know how to express love in the many ways love shows up.The issue is love of self as well.

A: … What we may have taken for granted … eg reasonable health, when it is taken away from us through no fault of our own, as in deafness, is a bitter pill.  … When it comes to our own selves, I guess this kind of grief takes on a different flavour, goes to another level – I’m reminded of a quote by George Eliot: She was no longer wrestling with grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.

Q: What can we do when we’re young, to grow old gracefully?

A: Grace is living with consciousness as much as possible each day. Mind, body and soul are involved and bring fullness to life. …

A: …..There’s always grace in the world if we see it, in our own actions, thoughts and expressions. … Moments of grace are always around if we are open to it and take it in. At any stage of our lives – the planting of seeds leads to future growth.

Well, I’m well over 1000 words already so I’ll end now. There’re so many more … maybe I’ll do another post soon with more of these interesting and depthful questions..

The reddit link if you want to check it out is https://redd.it/5u8b13. On reddit itself there are so many very interesting looking sites –

And, thanks to Ally Bean for suggesting last week that I make a post about questions …

This is a photo of yours truly taken this morning by a visiting guest Charles. I am holding a copy of the book which is not even mine. It’s on loan from a friend of mine who ordered it! I’m awaiting my very own one … (and no, I’m not mad about the photo of me, though the book is lovely!)

Thank you for reading. The seasons are changing, so is everything. Keep centred.

Conversations on Aging & Becoming

Conversations – Aging & Becoming

Firstly, I’m really sorry that I had to abandon my previous post “What is Your Soul Asking of You” – I took it down a few hours after it went up. It is still too private for me to give you an explanation. I wish I could, but I can’t. I’m really sorry if you hit a dead link.

Susan Schwartz and I are answering written questions on ‘Aging & Becoming’ via this link – https:redd.it/5u8b13. If you would like, during the course of today and this evening to pose a written question to this link, Susan & I will answer it. We go ‘live’ at 9.00 p.m. South Africa time, and 2 pm ET which means that we will answer written questions in a written form as and when and if they come up. But the link is open now if you would like to pose a question to us. We have a few hours yet in which to answer. I would so appreciate this. It is not a promotion of the book, merely to ask a question if you would like to.

I was scrolling though the photographs I have on my cell phone to find one I liked. This above one was of the sunrise in Plettenberg Bay in July last year.

A quote I came across today – very apt re the president we have here. As I write our Finance Minister is giving his annual Budget Speech in the Houses of Parliament. He’s steered our ship through very rocky waters in the past. I am hoping that he won’t be sidelined as the president is about to do a cabinet re-shuffle. He may be sidelined and we are concerned about the potential replacement …

“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Thank you for reading.

Birthing and Black Swans

Birthing and Black Swans –

I had to leave art circle earlier than planned this last Saturday morning – I’d left my cell phone at home and was anxious about missing any call from my very ill friend. The very latest news of which is not good –

It was lovely to see the others – it’s a once a month meet, the last one of which in December I missed. Lovely to see works in progress, discuss, engage …

Anita du Toit recently spent some time in Namibia. She was sitting next to me. I spied her photos in an envelope on the table. Knowing that I had to leave sooner rather than later I asked her if I could see them privately.  Her photos were magical, of a magical land – trees, branches, barks, close ups of stones, insect trails – more –

Anita’s words (she emailed me the photo and brief):  ‘A close-up picture is of the bark of a lovely quiver tree just before sunset, when the light is at its most photogenic. Taken at the Quiver Tree Forest close to Keetmanshoop, Namibia’.

I said quietly to Anita (while we were also paying attention to the others) how very beautiful. I said it reminds me of a vagina. I had to leave soon after, so was not there when Anita was going to show her photos to the others …

Driving home, I was thinking about this photo and my response to it and thinking about the birthing pains of ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry‘ by Susan Schwartz and myself. And my own thoughts about the very recent release of it – and so on –

And I wondered what is being birthed in the world and all its severe concomitant labour pains with real anxiety its constant companion –

On Sunday morning my husband & I went on a guided bird walk, meeting at the Country Club at 6.00 a.m. It was lovely to be in nature and walking, taking some photographs – 

Janet Leifeldt who was in our group sent me this photograph at my request that she took of the black swan with a telephoto lens. 

 I’ve occasionally come across the term ‘black swan‘, usually referring to economic markets. I was especially interested in this given what is happening everywhere. All appears to be going along at a favourable and predictable pace when all of a sudden an entirely unpredictable and improbable event occurs that upsets the apple cart – hugely – and has enormous effects in many ways, geopolitically particularly. I couldn’t help but reflect on seeing the black swan – and wondering if we, world wide, are undergoing a ‘black swan‘ moment/s- and whether it will or could lead to a birthing of something else entirely –

The black swan in my cell phone photo is barely discernible – it’s right in the middle. But apt enough; some things are almost impossible to see.

I looked up ‘black swan’ to get more of an understanding of it. There are many links. Insufficient time to do a thorough search. *The importance of the metaphor lies in its analogy to the fragility of any system of thought. A set of conclusions is potentially undone once any of its fundamental postulates is disproved. In this case, the observation of a single black swan would be the undoing of the logic of any system of thought, as well as any reasoning that followed from that underlying logic. (italics mine)

*I excerpted this from Wikipedia. In this particular article mention is also made of the necessity of being robust enough to withstand the fall out.

I took this photo of the reflection of golden clouds on Sunday evening as the sun was setting. I thought of the necessity of honouring the dark, knowing that the dawn will arise, even though the dark is a-quiver with the unknown –

  •  Click HERE to see the book on Amazon. and to see the back cover which gives some more information.

    Thank you for reading. And thank you to Anita and Janet for the use of their photographs. 

    The lotus arises from the mud, it’s habitat until it begins to rise and bloom in all its beauty and grandeur. More than ever we need to be steadfast and firm in the winds that are blowing.

In the Line of Fire

In the Line of Fire

We stopped over for two nights at the Mountain Zebra National Park in the Karoo to break our return home from our summer holiday in Plettenberg Bay. 

It’s a place of great green beauty, mountains and plains – breathtakingly peaceful.

One morning, after we’d been on a game drive, we set off to hike/walk on one of the shorter trails. I was in front of my husband who after 10 minutes or so, called me to say ‘look at this!’  I walked back and there as plain as day was a snake skin.

Interesting to say the least – I’d never seen one, though it gave me a bit of a start to realise there could be snakes about. As we continued walking, I was thinking about the shedding of skin and how this is necessary in our everyday lives to shed skins or old attitudes when they no longer fit.

Not more than 5 minutes on, I stopped short. The picture is not clear in among the shade but it is right in the centre. If I hadn’t been watching my path a little more closely, I may have stepped on it.

This was enough for me already – at my protestations when it moved ever so slightly, we agreed to turn back. We stopped in at the little shop and were asked if we knew there were lions about. No, we didn’t, but we learned that had we gone just a little further on, we would have come across and disturbed two lionesses with 3 cubs. Who would have been very anxious re their offspring – and may have – I don’t know what they may have done, but we were enormously relieved we didn’t face that possibility –  

We returned home Friday late afternoon just before a glorious thunderstorm. I called my good friend on Saturday morning. We’d been in constant contact while we were away because of her illness, and learned on the phone that she is in the line of fire. I saw her on Saturday afternoon but we could not talk as there were other people there. Her particular form of cancer is not curable, only maintainable, and she’s had all the treatments. It has returned in full force and her time is limited. This she heard only a few days ago – I saw her again this morning – we had time on our own and time to talk about death …

The below photo (I hope it isn’t upside down or sideways on smart phones or tablets) is of a mountain zebra, hiding among the pretty thornbush, which made me think of the thorns in our lives in amongst the beauty of it all – 

I thought of the marches across the US and worldwide on Saturday and the steadfastness of women protesting against what needs protesting, walking peacefully, in solidarity, in the line of fire.

My own line of fire was in Plettenberg Bay where, with the help of my son Mike, Susan Schwartz’s and my book went live on Createspace as a printed copy. I’m still in the line of fire as I want the book to be an ebook as well – but so far, there are errors such as incorrect paragraph spacing and the pages and glyphs not being as they should. It is such an attractive book and the ebook must be as the printed book is – so this is getting the attention it requires …

I hope this photo doesn’t appear upside down on this post, but the book is available as a paperback on e.g. amazon.com & amazon.uk. This is the first public ‘announcement’ I’m making about it. When I’ve sussed how to do links I’ll post them.

In the meantime, I’m trying to settle back home while feeling pretty unsettled about all manner of things. I’m noticing the slightly shorter days and the earlier casting of shadows – and wonder about this year 2017 and what is in store for us all –

Pema Chodron’s quote is apposite –

As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.

Full Moon, Spring Tides

Full Moon, Spring Tides –

I haven’t put up a post for a long while now. I wondered a bit about this – part of me wanted to be more engaged but another part of me wondered if I had anything of any importance to say?

But, it is full moon today – last night it looked pretty full and magnificent. I saw it through the leaves of a tree at my son’s girlfriend’s home where we were for a delicious dinner. The skies were clouded over but the moon would peek through the clouds and branches every now and then. She was lovely –

This morning dawned with rain and coolth and it has been like this the whole day. There is something so soft and cooling about this kind of weather. It did preclude though, my husband and I swimming across the lagoon, onto the beach, and walking across and having a swim in the sea on Lookout Beach this morning.

I had my first swim yesterday – a bit unbelievable since we’ve been here in Plettenberg Bay since just before Christmas. It was wonderful being in the sea, diving into waves, getting knocked and bucketed  about and dumped, being aware of the strong current pulling in the opposite direction. It was not the place to float as I would have liked to have done, but this will still happen. I was with my husband and brother – for my brother, his first swim in the sea also.

We’ve had many walks here and there … the one day we braved the wind and walked on Keurbooms beach. My husband, brother and 2 sons ..

The holiday makers have left, the town is a lot quieter.

My sister who is currently at their holiday home in the Wilderness, about 1 hr 15 mins away from Plettenberg Bay, told me the story of her rescuing a cormorant tangled in fishing line on the rocks just the other day. She and her friend took the injured bird to the vet some way away, and when they got home they were phoned that the disentanglement was complete and that the bird was ready for fetching to be released. Which my sister did and carrying the distressed bird in a cage, returned to the scene with her son in tow and her grandchild aged 4. It sounded an extraordinary story as she related it to me, steep rocks to clamber over, her son carrying the small child on his shoulders, both of them barefoot – and before this story gets too long, the below photo is of the bird returned to the sea. Well done Sis, a great achievement.

And then on their return to clamber up the rocks again young Matthew the 4 year old shouted, A fossil a fossil! Come quickly! Under the cave – this is her photo. Well, believe it or not, it is a log!

This is a photo of the green drink I make most mornings – apple, spinach and water is its base – I add whatever to it, fresh ginger, cucumber, mint, a desert spoon or so of already prepared crushed seeds, including sunflower, sesame, chia, coconut flakes and other … (made by me, stored in airtight container) ..

Back to full moon and spring tides … I doubt we’ll see it tonight, it’s too cloudy. The waves that I can see from my balcony don’t look overly large, in fact the lagoon and the sea looks positively calm. Maybe it’ll change tomorrow. On that note of change, may I wish you calm and peace as this year gets underway. 

The top photo is taken from the garden of Beacon Isle where we attended my younger son’s gig last Sunday evening. The promontory is the Robberg in the near distance –

Solstice and Christmas Greetings

 Solstice & Christmas Greetings

creation_bhajjushyam3

Camus: In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer

Solstice (from the Latin, sol:sun; sistere:to stand still), a twice a year happening when the earth stands still for a nano-second and then begins its tilt in the opposite direction towards a new season. In the northern hemisphere where the night is the longest, there is a promise of warmth to come after the bitterness of cold. In the southern hemisphere and the longest day, we’re aware that the days will shorten and the nights will be imperceptibly longer.

The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. For the moment, there is balance, stillness, pause – and a holding of the opposites –

For many if not all of us, 2016 has been a particularly tumultuous year. Maybe we say this each year as it draws to a close and we look back to all that has happened not only within our own lives but at events around the world. I hardly need to mention them. Have we reached a tipping point? Are we tipping over?
May the December winter and summer solstice’s stillness be the precursor to the turning point for our world as we approach the new year. More than anything we need peace, compassion and goodwill on our planet. The deeply felt knots that keep us bound need untying.
We’re down in Plettenberg Bay for the festive season. Both our sons are here, Davey with Jüte his bride. My husband’s sister Jenny and her husband from San Francisco will be with us on Friday, en route from visiting friends in France. I’m preparing for this great celebration. I brought down from Johannesburg a poinsettia plant which was a gift. There’s something so Christmassy about them.
plant
 Lastly, our Christmas card greetings to you. My son crafted it some years ago and we just update the year. This time we’ve obviously included Jüte, our beautiful daughter-in-law, a blessing in our lives. It comes to you with love.
scotts_christmas_e_card_2016
Thank you all for your warmth and friendship. Long may it continue.

A Circle of Light

A Circle of Light

light-circle

I took this photo on Tuesday late at night after a rain storm. I felt the wet grass beneath my bare feet, looked up at the obscured moon and stars sometimes glimpsed among the densely clouded sky and was struck how the little solar lamp formed a lighted circle on the ground around the plants.

I thought about the week still ahead, closing down the rooms, seeing a few friends locally before the upcoming travel down to Plettenberg Bay where we will be a full house over the festive season.

I thought about the politics here in South Africa and abroad, the devastation in Aleppo, Mother Nature and the ongoing attempts of her destruction. The troubling person who is the US president-elect. And wondered about the psychic infection of warring and the inherent dangers of such an infection. 

I thank heaven for the outbreaks of light that appear here and there on our planet. The water protectors protesting the Dakota pipeline, steadfast in their bravery to protect life-giving water. Our opposition parties here in South Africa who at last seem to making our people aware of the devastation our current government has caused. Not only opposition parties, those within the government who are making a stand against our president and his cronies. All over the world, those who stand up for what is right. Steadfast –

To me it seems as if there is an upsurging of another kind of power, one that is life-affirming, curious, intriguing, loving. It appears in dreams, where women dream of other women who offer succour, listening, arms opening to embrace the other. Where women enfold and embrace all that is and have a knowing that even among all that is dark and disturbing, there is a way towards greater wholeness and harmony. 

Rumi comes to mind at times like this –

‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass

the world is too full to talk about’.

– and from the Book of Hours (Rilke)

“I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.

I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.

I’ve been circling for thousands of years and I still don’t know:

am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?”

May you always find a circle of light in the darkness – the menorah of the upcoming Hanukkah always glows brightly – as does the star in the East in Bethlehem –chanukkah2-1

and the moon – taken tonight –

img_1984

Reconciliation and Reflections –

Reconciliation and Reflections –reflection-tree

There’s seldom time for reflecting – real hard inner and outer reflecting. At least for me it seems so –

But today is providing a space as I am mostly at home today. Much to do – have completed wrapping Christmas presents for my 3 friends who I’m meeting at a restaurant this evening for our Christmas dinner. We meet throughout the year when it is one of our birthdays. And for Christmas – it’s been going on for I don’t know how long. 15 years? Always for me, such a special time, spent so well – interludes throughout the year when we share each other with each other, and exchange gifts –

Wrapping presents, not a fast task for me. Choosing the paper from beautiful wrapping paper that I’ve kept for just such occasions – recycling at the same time – remembering sometimes where that lovely paper came from, a present to me wrapped in it, and from whom. And now for my three women friends, items carefully chosen by me, lovingly –

Still to complete a present to each of them – a pretty little notebook. I started on this a day or so ago, writing in a quote or 3, many from Susan Schwartz’s and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. *

One such quote is from Simone Weil : Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity ~

I’ve wrapped presents for the girls at the rooms – we have our Christmas lunch next week Thursday at a fancy restaurant. The rooms will close down that day after my husband has attended to his patients in the morning. The next day, 16th December, is a public holiday, the Day of Reconciliation* in South Africa held annually on16 December since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Reconcile – a pretty powerful word.

                    From The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary On Historical Principles Vol 2:-                                      Reconcile  1.1. trans. To bring (a person) again into friendly relations to or with (oneself or another) after an estrangement.

There was much else also, under Reconciliation and Reconciliatory – quite easy for me to get diverted and indulge in origins and historical quotations of it and what it meant from times past. And to wonder about reconciliation in the current times in which we are living. Not just here in South Africa, but world-wide. I especially like that the definition includes ‘…friendly relations ... with (oneself …) after an estrangement.

It’s almost too big for me to think and reflect about – it almost takes me down the rabbit hole – but somehow I do think of the urgency of reconciliation, within and without. Within, as in our own selves, re-conciling all that needs re-conciling. Giving and paying attention, the rarest and purest form of generosity. Paying attention to that which has been neglected, and needs attention. Doing our own inner work hard though that be. Finding the treasure within, though the road be rocky. Not littering, or wasting water, being kind and considerate, standing in protest and solidarity with deserving causes  e.g. Standing Rock about the DAPL – The Dakota Pipe Line, not buying groceries and food stuffs that contain palm oil (hard one that one, you really have to look), or other items whose origins may be dubious (e.g. sweat shops or suspicious ingredients). Buying locally supporting smaller businesses. I love to know that I’m making a protest in my own small way. I’m all for lawful civil disobedience –

Being a little more thoughtful in word and deed, a little more considerate, a little more loving, a little more aware – these are my tasks. Perhaps also to myself – bringing the micro into the macro with a tiny grain of consciousness, knowing always that the shadow is not far behind. Hoping and praying that reconciliation on a macro level is actually possible –

My husband & I spent 5 days down in Plettenberg Bay recently. We thought we’d get a tiny bit organised before we go there for the festive season around the 19th or so. Well, we did a bit, the pantry has some tins of tuna, three bean salad and beetroot salad and some things in the freezer.

On the evening before we flew down, I cut these roses from my garden with the intention of taking them down to Plett. I photographed them also and they spent a night on the dining room table. Wate-rly wrapped the next day, the only item in my small back pack to go on the plane to place in our Plett home. I gave them to Pat who works at the rooms who gave us a lift to the Gautrain (our speed train that gets us speedily to the airport) –

roses

My husband found this butterfly wing in our driveway at our Plett home. I still have it in a notebook somewhere.

butterfly-wing-plett

On the Keurbooms beach there was this strange something – we suspect the skin of a jellyfish? There were quite a few swimming in the sea – it was rather lovely –

jelly-fish-skin-keurbooms

I love this image – it comes from The Spectator, many copies of which I have offloaded from my friend Lyndy. The image is used for Diary. Various columnists contribute to it.
spectator-serpent-pen

May all be well –  thank you for reading. Another quote from our book –             

Indira Gandhi: You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose 

*our book: ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’ in process. Soon to be published I hope.

**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_Reconciliation

Start Close In – David Whyte

Start Close In

winter-solstice2

A strange day today – I’d hoped for Susan Schwartz’s and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry ~’ to be live on amazon.com today or tomorrow. Or the next day – but that’s not going to happen. It’ll happen in a while – 

I was doing some catch-up at my desk earlier this afternoon, after a busy morning out and about. I was at sixes and sevens – much to attend to at my desk, some tasks achieved, diary somewhat updated, much still to do –

There are a couple of threads on FB that I follow, usually requiring more from me than I am able to give, or respond to adequately, or as I would like. These are psychological posts on FB. I came upon this one just now – it was from Parker Palmer, a columnist for ‘On Being’ and at the end of his post, he included David Whyte’s poem –

Start close in,

don’t take the second step

or the third,

start with the first

thing

close in,

the step you don’t want to take.

Start with

the ground

you know,

the pale ground

beneath your feet,

your own

way of starting

the conversation.

Start with your own

question,

give up on other

people’s questions,

don’t let them

smother something

simple.

To find

another’s voice

follow

your own voice,

wait until

that voice

becomes a

private ear

listening

to another.

Start right now

take a small step

you can call your own

don’t follow

someone else’s

heroics, be humble

and focused,

start close in,

don’t mistake

that other

for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

 My love to you all, may your Thanksgiving be happy and joyous ~ may there be peace and quiet amidst it all ~ and take the step also that you do want to take ~

Full moon energies

Full Moon

moon

I took the photo last night. The moon will be full tonight …

I had not planned it but this morning saw me tidying, organising my bathroom cupboards, taking stuff out of bedroom to my study (still to be sorted), colouring my hair, a facial scrub and baobab oil on my face right now as I go about tasks.

My American friend who lives in Cape Town phoned this morning – she is arriving tomorrow in Johannesburg to see her eye surgeon and will overnight here at my home. She recently returned from the US after attending the funeral of her older sister.

She is in deep pain at the outcome of POTUS. She is politically savvy and right now, aghast and fearful of today’s news of the election of Trump’s Chief of Staff. Plus Trump repealing the 2009 interdict (though I think it was never interdicted?) which kept bank and private money separated after the ‘lesson’ of the crash of 2008..

We are very aware of the heart-felt pain of Americans who are exceedingly alarmed at the election of Donald Trump. I have several friends in the States both personal and through the Internet whose views I deeply respect and I can feel their deep concern.

The reverberations are huge. Everywhere and every one in the world has reason to be exceedingly alarmed. The thought of nationalism on the rise is extremely worrying. So many, many concerns ….

As I was going about my tasks this morning I found myself thinking about these extraordinary times in which we are living. I’ve read much on social media, some very excellent posts on FB for example, clear analyses facing the dangers, thoughtful blog posts, quotes by the Dalai Lama, Buddha and so on reminding us of the inner light. I follow a few Jungian FB threads which are always interesting. A man who lives in Sweden for example recently had a dream where the underground systems of Stockholm were crumbling and out of the morass exited a woman dressed in white charging away from the mess. He wondered what it meant. It’s a powerful dream in my view.

Susan Schwartz writes in our soon to be published book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry ~’ of a woman who dreamed that she was in a nuclear explosion and who could she turn to – there was no-one. Or was there  –

Many posts are memes if that’s the right word, short, profound, exhorting kindness, more so than ever. Some write about the need for the shadow to be exposed and at least things are clearer though no less troubling. I remember hearing a political analyst on TV saying that in this last 100 year span, only once before has the ruling party in the US been elected to a third term.  That gave me cause for pause – and made me wonder about cycles and the crying need for change –

Many FB posts write of their shock and hurt and deep deep pain.

Susan and I write in our book about the moon in a chapter called ‘Moon, Mourning & Mystery’. What force other than the moon who pulls the oceans from shore to shore. The moon has a direct effect on women’s monthly bleeding when a group is in synch. Plantings are done by the moon – and much more. Mourning – such a time right now. Mystery – will we ever know –  what is next?

The full moon is tonight – may we pay attention to this occasion at this time.

Her energies are feminine ones. We can call on her. We can look up at her beauty tonight. We can look up at her while looking deep down into our hearts, and send a message or a prayer or an invocation to her that we need her healing energies. We know that she is a guide – she has guided ancient travellers for aeons as have the stars ..

I will consciously ask her for peace and patience, calm and still, to be a balm to all in this time of upheaval. I will ask her to bear with us in our pain and woundedness at least for a while. I will ask her for her feminine energies to shine brightly on the masculine energies so that unification can happen. I will ask that she shine benignly on our planet in crisis on so many levels.

serpent3images-1

Simone Weil: ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’. 

img_1907-3Photo taken at 6.15 this evening after major afternoon rainstorm. ..

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