Category: uncategorised

Opposition

Opposition

opposition

I tried to find the quote which has always stayed with me ~ I can’t ~ but to paraphrase  as I remember it, ‘a healthy democracy is dependant on its opposition’.

This is evident by the outcome of our recent national municipal elections held every 5 years this past August 3rd. Although there wasn’t a huge voter turn out, our ruling* party the ANC~ the African National Congress ~ was severely trumped in 3 major metros and elsewhere in previously held ANC strongholds. The opposition leader of the DA ~ Democratic Alliance ~ Mmusi Maimane ~ led a clean and inspiring challenge to the ANC.

We’re hopeful that the Democratic Alliance will bring back values enshrined in our Constitution, drawn up by Mr. Nelson Mandela and many other worthies. We’re hopeful that those who remain in the ANC will be similarly inspired. There are/were many within the ANC who did sterling jobs but there were far too many who were feeding at the trough. We’re hopeful that money for education & schools, health clinics, housing, water and electricity will be properly allocated and implemented; tenders will follow proper transparent procedures; councillors will be accountable; people who are qualified for the job will be given the job and no more positions for pals; and that tax payers money will no longer be used to line the pockets of those in the ‘inner circle’ ~ the sycophants.

The lead up to these municipal elections was seriously rough. Racism reared its ugly head at every turn. Dirt on candidates was unearthed; 20 potential candidates were murdered, perpetrators still to be found.

At long last, we can hope that our country can pull together in spite of the challenges ahead. That there will be more job opportunities for our youth who find fulfilment in their work and can foresee a future for themselves and future generations. That women and girls rise up from their position of subservience and disallow a firmly entrenched culture of patriarchy ~ and that men and boys do not feel threatened by the natural feminine.

It really does seem to me that we’re in a process of transformation in my neck of the woods ~ a slow one as worthy ones are ~ and while there opportunities for all in our beloved country, there are also dangers. There always are as the old gives way to the new, as a new consciousness and a new vision is born. Waking from sleeping is never easy ~

I think this is true for the world at large as well ~ the soul of the world is calling out for recognition of pervasive social malaise and a re-dressing of serious imbalances. We’re all being called to be in opposition that does not serve ourselves or our planet.

There are many seismic shifts worldwide. Locally we’re still in winter here in South Africa but I am heartened to see buds on plants that looked very tired. A bougainvillea pot plant looked quite dead yesterday but I today I can see the shoots! The below photo of orchids I took this afternoon. Snowdrops in the background. Opposition is healthy ~

orchidsIMG_1285

May The Force be with you, and thank you for reading.

 

*I wish they’d do away with ‘ruling party’ and-rather call it the ‘serving’ party ~

To Hunt A Sub

To Hunt A Sub

to_hunt_a_sub

Jacqui Murray’s debut novel ‘To Hunt a Sub‘ is out. I read an excerpted chapter which I enjoyed so much that I’ve ordered it on my Kindle. There is no guarantee as to when I will read it but I will and follow up with a review.

I’m really happy to put this up as a blog post. It’s the first time I’ve done so. It’s a small token of appreciation for her ongoing support and comments to my infrequent blogs. I’d be happy to do likewise for any of you.

Her posts are so worthwhile – there are so many excellent tips for writers, technical shortcuts on the computer and much much more, all written in her clear and concise style and always a pleasure to read. For checking out and subscribing to her posts:

blog :- https://worddreams.wordpress.com/

link to her Tech Tips for Writers column:  https://worddreams.wordpress.com/category/tech-tips-for-writers/ 

link to her Writer’s Tips column: https://worddreams.wordpress.com/category/writers-tips/

She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her nonfiction books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

 The link below is to the Kindle version of her new book. I wish her great success!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K7VSPBW#navbar

Never Again

 Never Again

My younger son David met Mr. Nelson Mandela (South Africa’s ex- president) about 12 years ago just before his high school jazz band was about to go on a performing trip abroad. The school band performed for Mr. Nelson Mandela at his home in Houghton Johannesburg. David knows that he was enormously privileged to have met him.

In the intervening years, David read music and philosophy at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (eastern Cape), and has been a musician for some years. I’m not sure when David produced this song, but they use the words of Mr. Mandela himself. He must have excerpted them from Mr. Mandela’s many speeches and put this particular one to music. Drawing is courtesy of elder son, Mike. The music composition and trumpet is David’s.

Never, never and never again

shall it be

that this beautiful land

will again experience 

the oppression of one by another

July 18th is the late Mr. Mandela’s birthday and every year on this day is Mandela Day where citizens world wide are encouraged to spend 67 minutes of this day in helping the less fortunate in some way. Mr. Mandela gave 67 years of his life to public service and we are encouraged to give a mere 67 minutes of our time on this day.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King

Viva Mandela, Viva!
Amandla!

Unusual

Unusual

awareness quote

I’m happily back at home from my trek/road trip to Plettenberg Bay on my own in my little car, and feeling gratitude for my safe trip. I’m also pleased that my son Mike willingly spent several hours formatting the WIP after I had worked at even more editing while in Plett. I think it is almost ready for the next step. 

Some weeks ago, here at home in Morningside, Johannesburg, I walked to my friend’s home one Saturday afternoon to play bridge (a newly revived interest). It was unusual to make the walk – it wasn’t just around the corner – it was quite a fair way. While walking I thought of doing at least one unusual thing each week. Which helped in my making the decision to drive to Plett the following week – two weeks ago today. This fell into the category of unusual.

I left home  2 Thursdays ago around 6.00 a.m., overnighted in Graaff Reinet, left about 9.00 in the morning, had breakfast some hours later in Willowmore, omelettedrove through the mist of the Outeniqua Pass,

outeniqua

stopped in at my sister in the Wilderness for tea and got to Plett about 5.00 p.m.  Rain on Saturday. I rested though started fashioning something from egg cartons soaked in boiling water and flour. I went with my son and lady friend to Harkerville for a hike on Sunday. Below is a view point.

me mike harkerville

The week was unusual, come Monday. Always I would wake early and step onto the bedroom balcony to check the sunrise. I went to bed fairly early and woke early, made tea and from my bed in utter comfort I worked on the WIP. I would make coffee a little while later, and would continue working from my bed. 

sunriseplett

The week flew by. I saw a few people. I walked on the Robberg Beach with my sister who came through from the Wilderness about an hour away.plett

Mostly I worked on the manuscript. Made some walks into town to have my car cleaned, another time to have my hair cut – up hill and down dale, necessary exercise.

I left Plett on Friday afternoon to overnight at my sister an hour away. Such a lovely evening with her grandsons and Elizabeth my niece and her husband. liam

That’s my sister’s husband on the sofa – with TV control where it always is –

I left the Wilderness on Saturday morning, around 9.00. Earlier sunrise from the  Wilderness balcony. That’s the mist that accompanied me for the next several hours.

sunrise sisI overnighted in Springfontein, in a charming garden cottage on a farm. Golly those stars at night; I can’t remember when I last saw such a night sky. That Milky Way. Those bright glowing stars. I wish I’d attempted a photo –

I left really early on Sunday – my windscreen was thoroughly iced. Several jugs of water from the tap to de-ice in the complete dark. It was totally freezing. I arrived home at 1.00, tired but very happy to be home and sweetly looked after by my husband.

I thought some more on the road trip of aiming to do something unusual each week. I have already. I walked to the gym close-ish by me earlier this week to enquire about yoga classes. It makes more economic sense to sign up for the gym and attend yoga classes included in the ‘deal’. My husband and I are seeing Zanele tomorrow late afternoon to discuss it all. He also wants to join! Not for yoga, but you never know! So, if we join, believe me, this will be extremely unusual. And my unusual something for the week.

Thanks for reading! Hope this finds you all well & safe. May the Force be with you.

On the Road again …

On the Road again …

road trip Karoo

August 16, 2014, driving through the Karoo –

A restlessness, a yearning to be on the road. It would be less expensive to fly down to the coast, certainly far quicker, probably safer. A two hour flight as opposed to a 14 hour road trip. My husband has a car at our holiday home so it’s not as if I wouldn’t have wheels down there, I would.

I plan to overnight tomorrow night in Graaf Reinet, a very charming Karoo town and stay at a BnB we’ve stayed at before in October 2 years ago. Such comfort, so charming, such a genial host. Then it’s only about 450 kms still to get to my destination. 2 years back this August I did a road trip down to Plettenberg Bay, leaving Johannesburg very early in the morning and did the trip solo in one go. I want to recapture that sense of being on my own again, winding through the Karoo and those never ending roads and wide open blue winter skies and be part of the changing scenery, unfolding in all Nature’s grandeur. Just me and thee and Mother Nature –

The timing is right – government schools are on holiday so I am not tied to my volunteer work. The girls at the rooms are happy to stand in for me in my absence. My husband will manage. Already the freezer is half-full. There is food for the cats. I’ve changed a few arrangements for next week. But the following week I have to be back and not just for school. I have other commitments that can’t be changed.

I want to get off the treadmill for a bit. I know I’m lucky to have a treadmill when so many don’t. I want to walk on the beach, feel the sand and sea on my feet, watch the waves and who knows, there may be whales to watch and climb Robberg maybe.

20th Aug 2014
20th Aug 2014 Robberg.

I hope to paint, play with clay, do nothing, dream, read, finish what I’ve started reading on my Kindle, finish off the WIP, so close to finishing. June is almost over – we’re halfway through the year –

I want to be back by Sunday next week to prepare for the following week but also to watch the finals of Wimbledon on TV. I wondered which route I will take to return … perhaps I’ll meander back on a different route.

Well, those photos are old photos – here’s a recent one from last Sunday when we trekked out to Nirox, a beautiful place not far from where I live, to see the land art sculptures.Nirox June

Lethargy

Lethargy

shadow

I was thinking to myself the other day that the only good thing about lethargy is that it too passes. But this was too easy a thought and dismissive of what lethargy is. In hindsight, I look back at lethargy that was my companion for the last several weeks. I can quite easily describe the sense of it as it pertained to me. I can say I felt wooden, somewhat immobilised, powerless, helpless, heavy – yet I needed to reflect on the why’s and the wherefores and my role in all of this, if any, in relation to my brother who suffers – from depression.

He lives elsewhere, in isolation. He visited for just over a week. He and I were on our own. My husband was away. We walked a bit, played Scrabble. Once I took him for a walk around the Zoo Lake, photo below. He was not open to anything of a psychological nature, like playing with clay or doodling or any in-depth talking. My husband returned from being away for my brother’s last 2 nights here so that was good and timely. My younger son was up in Johannesburg for 2 nights during the time my brother was here, so that lightened the load in a good way. Two dear girlfriends came by at different times to say hello to him and play a game of Scrabble, so that was also nice.

Zoo Lake – late May

zoo lake

Depression: Dear God. An Affliction. We did talk occasionally. But there were barriers. He returned home in early June and we’ve spoken a few times since. One day at a time …

The during and aftermath of his visit has left me with much to digest and I’m doing so in my way. I can only continue to hope and pray that he finds his way in some way. I’m aware that he may not – and that a person has their own destiny to fulfil – 

The changing of the seasons have I think mirrored me in some way – lengthening shadows, cold, heavy, dark.

Last week, preparations were underway for a birthday lunch for me of which my husband took total control. He had no control over the weather though. Sunday was forecast to be bitterly cold. So we brought in tables from outside to inside the day before and re-configured things. The tables looked lovely. The room looked lovely and festive. The fire and heaters were blazing. It was a lovely birthday celebration, much fun and laughter, excellent food (sourced from Giovanni the owner and chef of the best Italian restaurant down the road, anti pasta, lasagne, vegetarian pasta, salads), limoncello, wine, champagne, phone calls and messages from my friends and family, lovely presents I opened later when a few stayed on – it was very very special. As well, a heightened appreciation of my husband who laboriously brought it all together –

I started lightening up from the lethargy last week sometime. I’m attending to things left unattended.

And writing a blog on lethargy.

I’ve also realised that while lethargy has its place, it also has its danger of becoming entrenched. Or at least that was the sense that I had. I could see the possibility inherent in me of becoming fully immobilised, not attending to anything, not attending to my psyche, wanting to just do nothing.

Brexit looms when the UK will know whether or not it will exit the EU. There are ramifications either way and there is tension in that.

The Orlando shootings have happened – I have no words. There will be ongoing ramifications of that, and there is tension in this.

Our country is facing municipal elections in early August and there is much ongoing infighting amongst other issues on many fronts. We are all tense.

Yesterday, I drove to school with my lights on as the day was heavily overcast and visibility low. When I returned to my car the battery was flat as I’d left the lights on – but I was helped by two men who got it going. I was very grateful.

Later on in the day I drove down to the shops for a few provisions as well as to buy a couple of doughnuts for my helpers yesterday, to deliver today when I was again at school (I’m a volunteer for an organisation that assists poor readers). I left the shops yesterday, waited at the traffic lights to change to green, made a right, and was almost side-swiped by a speeding BMW who shot the red lights. It was seriously close, a hair’s breadth .. up ahead I saw a speeding police car obviously giving chase. It’s only a few days to the anniversary of the serious car accident when a truck shot the stop street and upended my car, three years ago on 20th June.

20th June is the winter solstice for the southern hemisphere and it’s also full moon that night. Turning points –

The sun is shining today, though still very cold. The photo below is of my orchids heavily laden with dew on the patio taken just now –

orchidsJune

I reflect that there is beauty among the difficulties and challenges that life presents –

faith

and some words from Clarissa Pinkola Estes – 

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some poor portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip towards an enduring good ..

Thank you for listening –  

A-Z Blog Challenge T: Trauma as Initiating Agent

A-Z Blog Challenge T: Trauma as Initiating Agent.

roses-with-thorns

The Rose with its Thorns

Oscar Wilde: Where there is sorrow there is holy ground (De Profundis)

Many of us have had some kind of trauma in our lives, whether the death of a parent, sibling, grandparent who we’ve loved, or of a partner or loved one; the loss of a job, home, security; betrayal; illness or injury of ourselves or loved ones.  The list is endless. What was once beautiful, has shown its’ hurtful thorns.

A friend of mine here in Johannesburg is feeling totally whacked and weary to the bone. She says she’s seeing so many trauma cases in her clinical practice – this was correspondence via email apropos something else entirely but she mentioned it at the end of her email. I felt for her tender and gentle soul. This got me thinking – could trauma to the individual in a psychological sense be an initiating agent? I’m not speaking of the Holocaust, or the Vietnam war or of those having to flee because of atrocities in their home of origin. That is too big a something to write about here. Individuals such as Victor Frankl, Anne Frank and many many others have written movingly about their experiences. It must be said though that people such as they have looked into the heart of the matter and brought their wisdom to bear on human nature and the ability to rise above trauma, irrespective of how unimaginably damaging. 

I’m thinking of the wounding we may have received as a child in our normally dysfunctional families from eg a cold mother, or an emotionally absent father or a bullying sibling or relative or at school. Or any of the traumas mentioned above at the beginning of my post.

Do we have any helpful guides along the way who can help us hold the trauma, and see into the heart of it? A friend, a therapist, a counsellor, an outreach programme? Do these traumas propel us towards change whereby we can say when there is light at the end of the tunnel: we’ve changed – and for the better for I am now stronger, wiser, more compassionate, not so alone in my feelings of hopelessness. I’m human, like everyone else …

I think of Lilith, first wife of Adam (according to the Midrash) exiled to the depths of the Red Sea for her refusal to obey him and her subsequent blasphemy to God for refusing to hear her plea. Aeons sitting in the depths, wounded to the core. She returned and in disguise offered the apple to Eve which she took and she and Adam were exiled from Paradise. (according to the creation story). Trauma, that kind of wounding leading to a new world to be learned. Rosa Parks, refusing to give up her seat in the bus. Mr. Nelson Mandela spending 27 years in prison yet emerging with peace and forgiveness in his heart. Propelling us forward, all those acts initiated from trauma .. 

Is the rose any more beautiful without its thorns? I don’t think so – the thorns are a timely reminder of beauty and sadness residing together. 

A-Z Challenge Theme Reveal

A-Z CHALLENGE THEME  REVEAL

atoz-theme-reveal-2016

Thank you all who help so much and so well in making the April A-Z blog challenge the success that it is … and for those of you whose reveal themes I’ve peeked at, I’ll be getting to your posts in due course. I’m looking forward to reading them more thoroughly in the next few days – 

I haven’t decided yet! I wrote up on ‘A’ & ‘B’ a few weeks ago while I was able and without many distractions eg my son’s wedding this last Saturday and finding something to wear. ‘B’ is a brief on Botswana which is where I’m going mid-April (the 16th April back on 23rd) on safari! Ideally I’d like to have posts on this adventure from about M onwards (actually I haven’t worked this out, I’m guessing) but it will be difficult I think to have up to date posts using that particular letter for that particular day – but if I can post something on safari while away I certainly will! A picture of a croc or elephants, or lions and rhinos – I have no idea – hopefully photographs while on the Okavango Delta –

At this stage I have no real clue as to my theme – I know/hope it will come to me.

Maybe I’ll do something on heroes & heroines & heroic acts … . I have much research to do, and once home this weekend I hope to get them lined up and scheduled in the next week. But I’ll keep them brief (I hope) …

Happy writing! Always a great idea to have written and scheduled them – time moveth so fast! Good luck everyone!

full moonFull moon tonight – from my balcony in Plett –

Easter, Pesach, Equinox

Easter, Pesach, Equinox –

yinyangimagesa time for reflection – to deepen faith –

a time for redemption – to deepen faith –

a time for renewal – to deepen faith –

Pesach – Passover – commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt led by Moses out of 400 years of slavery into Israel, the land that God had promised on oath to Abraham. The Promised Land was finally reached, His promise fulfilled. It’s a time of looking back to the going forward – a joyous celebration indeed!

Easter – Pasch – a remembrance of the carpenter from Nazareth and his wise teachings, told most times in parable form. A reflection on His resurrection 3 days after his burial. Did you know that when Christ was crucified and there then was an earthquake? It’s a recorded fact. A remembrance of His love for the sinner who truly repents and the saint, reminding us that we too can put aside our hates and enmity even in these troubled times in which we live – and experience the renewal of our faith in love –

When I write above – to deepen faith – what do I really mean? I mean a faith in our potential wholeness, for those of us who can bear and carry our own particular cross as consciously as we possibly can. And to allow a conscious experience of ourselves being torn between the opposites of e.g. joy and sadness, love and indifference – to find our own individuality. We have our own crosses to bear, our own crucifixions, and to bear them consciously, to experience them as truthfully as we can, and therein to find our unique and individual life means deepening our faith in the mysteries of life –

And the equinox – I’m never truly sure of it’s exact date in March – 21, 22 or 23 – today is the 23rd and I do know that it is full moon tonight. Here in Plettenberg Bay where I am (leaving tomorrow evening for Johannesburg), the tides will be very high. Right now, out on my balcony, the sea looks calm. All is fresh and lovely. I looked out at the moon last night, almost full, sliding behind night clouds from time to time and then peeking out and revealing her light and beauty. We in South Africa are now in the autumn season officially and already I have seen yellowing leaves on the ground and on trees –

below, balcony view taken today, the Tsitsikama mountains off to the left –

balcony view

And for you in the northern hemisphere – Spring! How lovely! Such a wonderful time to visibly see plants and flowers beginning to bloom, the air fresher, the weather milder, maybe a little warmer! A time of renewal – in ourselves, the land, Mother Earth – a celebration indeed!


My Easter and Chag Sameach love and good wishes to you all! May it be a blessed time –  

 

Wedding!

Our son David’s wedding to Jüte Dorfling on Saturday 19th March at Bramon Wine Estate at The Crags outside Plettenberg BayjutedavidA joyous and happy day! 

How to say about the wedding in few words? I can’t actually – though I will write about it in my journal in due course when I’ve had time to digest and process it.

The energy of it all – Davey and Jüte surrounded by young men and women with whom they’ve maintained loving and meaningful relationships over the years. It was not a large wedding really – about 90 people. Davey & Jüte were clear on having only friends who meant something to them; those with whom they maintain contact. Many were from his prep school days; others from his senior school, and many from his university days. All bright and beautiful people – good hearts. How lovely to see Hannah and meet her new husband! How lovely to see Andy and Jess, Andy with Dave though both prep and senior school, university also where they shared digs! Alex and Nic from Davey’s prep school years, Sploddy (Duncan) from senior school, Shandu and his lovely girlfriend Allegra – Shandu who was Davey’s partner in the Kiffness band – larger than life; Clem, saxophonist in Davey’s band, with his lovely girlfriend Bonj. Dan his MC who was in the jazz band and choir with Davey in senior school who told hilarious stories. Elizabeth my niece just so beautiful; my sister looking lovely and very slim and gorgeous legs – oh well, I’m now completely green with envy.

The groomsmen, so handsome – Nic, my brother’s son, David my sister’s son, Mike my elder son, Miekel Jüte’s younger brother. The bridesmaids, all beautiful warm and friendly.

The ring bearer was Matthew my niece Elizabeth’s 4 year old son who took his duties very seriously. Especially when Matthew asked Mike for the rings at the venue (the wine cellar of Bramon) – they’d been left behind at our Plett home, the one thing that David did not take into account. Mike screamed back to Plett and came running down the slope as Jüte arrived by car with her parents having just been notified (because of this emergency) by someone that the bride must always be late …

matthew

Youth, energy, beauty – how we oldies admired them for their joie de vivre, their natural warmth and joy, their kind hearts.

Neil made a speech in which he used the words of Cat Stevens’ song ‘Father and Son’; and then started singing it himself … and all the guests joined in! A magic moment – it gives me chills just thinking of it.

Deon, father of Jüte, had us in stitches speaking of her as a child and how he couldn’t quite engage in the continual changing of Barbie’s clothes for different adventures and having tea in tiny tea cups with nothing in them with them both –

Mike as best man and Dave’s speeches were wonderful …

mike

meneil

It was truly a fabulous wedding!

dave jute

Park Free and Go Shopping Card –

Park Free & Go Shopping Card

parking voucherIMG_0252

Several weeks ago, a friend was here in Johannesburg from Cape Town as an events manager of a 3 day economic conference in the Sandton City Conference Centre. Which is part of Sandton City, I think the largest shopping mall in South Africa. She gave me several parking vouchers left over from attendees, which meant that if I were to use them I would not have to pay for parking. The Centre in ordinary circumstances allows for a half hour free parking and I use that time to collect the mail from the post box, or dash into Woolworths for food, pay an account or two – but never for any serious shopping. I have a ‘thing’ about paying for parking while supporting the vendors. It’s just one of my peculiarities –

But, as many of you know, I have a wedding coming up – my son David’s wedding in Plettenberg Bay, in less than 3 weeks time. And I haven’t got anything to wear! (Well, I do, though they’re items I found the other day in my wardrobe that are rather ancient).

I’ve been walking the centre in recent days in a bit of a dream-like state and looking at glamourously dressed mannequins in the windows of trés chic shops. I felt the allure of shopping unrestricted by ‘paying for parking’. Much of the while thinking … how do I want to be, or appear, for this joyous occasion of the wedding of my son to his beautiful bride? I know that I value comfort above everything … but how it would be to wear e.g. a bold and colourful African print dress? Absolutely different to anyone else’s. I was falling under a spell. I sensed and felt the pull of the desire to find that perfect outfit that would make me feel like a million dollars on this occasion. And that I could use afterwards.

mannequin4IMG_0244

mann1IMG_0248

mann2IMG_0249

mannequin3IMG_0250

But, I also thought about this go free parking voucher – does this slip of a parking ticket have anything to do with my feeling a certain freedom, at least in terms of free parking and taking my time about shopping to find that elusive outfit? How much of me is slightly panicking and thus maybe putting caution to the winds and buying irrespective of what it costs? No, I would never do that – 

It reminds me of my own wedding 34 years ago when I bought my wedding dress a week before and a flouncy hat the day before ..

But, those thoughts aside, I felt myself seduced in some strange way by the allure of shopping. I’ve returned zillions of items after trying them on at home in my own time – after initially raving about them and thinking ‘This is great! Problem solved!’ Maybe the allure had something to do with the free parking voucher –

I think I’ve come to my senses – those old and lovely things that I already have is what I will wear. Now, to look for a lovely striking belt, a necklace of some kind or the other, and a fascinator – those things one wears as a sort of a clip on one’s hair … which I had cut coloured and styled yesterday and which I’m hoping like mad will grow into its own by the time of the wedding …

I’ll be using my go free parking vouchers to look for above items and I only hope that I don’t have to step into the Dior fashion house to find such things. This free parking ticket ain’t so free after all and it’s taking altogether too much of my not so free time –

Synchronicity

Synchronicity

tortoise

I had a dream in November in which a friend gave back to me some gifts I had given her. But she kept a few of my gifts, including a wooden tortoise. This dream puzzled me; not only that she appeared in the dream as we haven’t been in any contact for several years (although she does appear in my dreams from time to time), but that she kept the tortoise I had given her, a bracelet with gems as well – 

The next day at school where I volunteer helping poor readers to read better, my little pupil chose his book of stories and selected the Tortoise & the Hare from it. OK, I thought, interesting.

I pondered the dream for several days – this theme of giving things away that are of value to me has occurred in past dreams over the years – and sometimes getting them back – and the last part of the dream in which a mother with her two daughters appears, my brother as well. The days passed – and then Susanne of mindfunda.com posted about the symbology of the Hare. It was interesting, but obviously the tortoise was what was of particular interest to me. But her post on the Hare, following on from my dream and the young boy selecting that particular story gave me cause for pause.

I thought of fashioning a tortoise for myself so that I could ‘re-claim’ the gift in some way and started playing with some clay. In fact it was rather old clay that had gone hard. I soaked it for several days in a bowl of water and over the days I was able to break and mush it up to allow for more soaking. I took this wrapped up moist clay (in plastic and foil, and had my bag with this ‘foreign and suspicious object’ searched at the airport) down to Plettenberg Bay in the New Year. I was quite unsure how to proceed, but I started shaping it and allowing it to dry in the sun and then used an emery board to smooth the cracks though I was not wholly successful there. All the while I was wondering what next to do with it. Back home late-ish January, I painted it all over with red acrylic paint. 

Then art circle, a once a month meeting on a Saturday morning loomed at the end of January at which, if we wish (we’re urged to), to bring an art work to the group. I thought of painting it with a few IChing hexagrams – but then the night before I knew I had to finish it. So, with a white pen and a gold one, I made the little patterns. With no guidance from IChing or anywhere else …

So, that’s my story of the tortoise – from a dream in November. I photographed it this afternoon.

Do you find synchronicity appearing in your life every now and then? When events appear to have no causal link? 

I hope this finds you all well – we’re on tenter hooks here in South Africa – our Finance Minister is making his budget speech on Wednesday. This follows on from President Zuma’s State of the Nation two weeks back which was heckled by a particular opposition party for over an hour. We don’t know where we’re going as a country … and can only hope for positive change.

Change: it never happens unless it has to – which is just about all the time –

Blind Spots and Racism

yinyang

It’s been a turbulent start to the year here in South Africa. Amid dreadful drought and searing heat, water shortages, a falling rand (our currency), bleak economic prospects, failing parastatals, protests, poor education, rising unemployment, rising cost of food and much else that is dismal, it seems as if racism is not about to end anytime soon. The rants of others towards others on social media have been vicious and pernicious in their name calling. We’re pulling each other apart –

When, if ever, will it end? The outpouring of hatred continues unabated and many of us wonder if these are diversions tactic used by divisive factions that are not representative of S.A. as a whole, and if there’s something afoot to hi-jack the unfolding of our beautiful country to its full potential. Is racism rearing its ugly head at a crucial time in our history with elections around the corner inter alia, in order to keep our eye off other pressing issues mentioned above? Does democracy take 50 years to stabilise? 

But, racism is real, its wound is real. We fail ourselves and our fellow human badly if we don’t uncover our blind spots which are by definition invisible. Blind spots, like deep wounds, need uncovering for them to be seen for what they are. The invisible festering wounds if not acknowledged can wreak untold damage without treatment – and continue. As Freud said regarding the repetition compulsion: history keeps on repeating itself until and if/when we learn from the lessons of the past. The underlying dynamic or theme is compelled to repeat until the lesson is learned and the pattern finally broken.

The blind spot is in my view fear: fear of the other; and here I’m speaking of the other within our own selves which we do not acknowledge and is thus projected out onto the other – so we fear the other, who ‘is not like us’.

If I look at this psychologically in terms of our past and on a wider scale, I remember when we feared the red under the bed, or the yellow peril, or the hippie era and the larger freedom of sex. Here in South Africa, during apartheid, we feared the black man. We whites mostly lived in an ‘us’ and ‘them’ cocoon enforced by the regime of the time and of which by extension, we were a part. Too many of us, the minority by 1:10, were fearful of the black majority in some defined and undifferentiated way. We were kept separate, blacks from whites; separate facilities; separate entrances and exits. It was institutionalised – though it takes two to tango –

Why this fear? Is it possible that the very qualities that we projected onto the black man, the other, was our own darkness that we vehemently denied was a part of us? Far easier for us as white South Africans to say from our position of supposed superiority, that ‘the other’ was lazy, irresponsible, superstitious, savage and brutal, irrational, envious, jealous, had unhealthy sexual drives, desired power above all, ambitious, greedy, and this projection of our own undesirable qualities was made easier by virtue of the colour of the skin of the other.

How much easier it was for we whites to put ‘out there’ our own maelstrom of darkness rather than acknowledging that it is within ourselves –

 We see ourselves in a certain way that fits in with our tribal or world view, the way we’ve been conditioned by family, religion, society and culture. We like our comfort zones and stay away from being challenged for fear of re-shaping our thinking and acknowledging and re-cognising what is sometimes unthinkable.

We, no-one, sees ourselves as cruel and inhuman. But history tells us another story. We fear the unknown stranger within ourselves and do not want to bring that unknown part of ourselves out of the shadows. That part who is very capable of hate and hateful speech and action. We know that we may have the best intentions in the world with regard to ourselves and others, yet we are very capable of being destructive. In our everyday lives we overeat, waste water, drink too much, continue with violence in one way or the other, distract ourselves with matters that have nothing to do with soul-searching. What we do to ourselves we also do to the other; what we do to the other we do to ourselves. We cannot continue to use ‘the other’ as a scapegoat for the ills that plague us. Our souls cannot continue shrinking. 

My son David put up a Facebook post yesterday morning of a song he composed on Sunday night, reflecting how he feels as a white South African. I’m excerpting his words on his post prior to the song ‘Make Amends‘ and then an excerpt from his song.

His words prior to the song excerpted:

“… I believe there is a great responsibility for white South Africans to undergo deep introspection and gain understanding of why things are the way they are in SA to avoid any further racial tension. If we can humble ourselves in order to gain understanding of each others views … that is a good starting point to making change. It may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary….”

An excerpt from his song:

‘I know that I’ve been quick to blame,

but it’s only because I never saw your pain.

And in the past I was quick to talk, 

Until I took the time to walk a mile in your shoes.

It’s a life I would never choose,

Now that I see your point of view

And I’ll never comprehend the cost of the

cross you’ve had to bear,

I hope we can make amends….’

He received many comments on his FB page mostly encouraging, a few damning saying this doesn’t cut it or go far enough. That’s not really the point; being responsible for his thoughts and feelings and expressing them allows for personal change which has its effects on a larger scale.

I believe we all have a healthy desire, perhaps somewhat still unconscious and not yet differentiated, to unify as a nation, between all peoples. Do we need to be torn apart and rendered still further? As much as we have an archetypal desire for union, do we also fear it its polar opposite: of being subsumed by it? It’s such a huge task, holding those opposites in the alchemical vessel that is South Africa and allowing the transformation to finally begin – by bringing the outsider and insider closer together – warts and all – shadows –

The wilderness is within – I am not madly sure of Jung’s exact quote: ‘The jungle is in us, in our unconscious’ – it is our task to encounter and bravely explore it –

This post is far longer than I initially imagined – and I know I’ve barely scratched the surface.

We’re still in Plettenberg Bay, returning to Johannesburg in a few days time. Last week when my brother was here with us, my elder son Mike, Christopher and I went for a long walk on the Keurbooms beach. It was a misty-ish sort of day, and I never wear a hat of any description any time. But the heat on my head was fierce so I wrapped my beach scarf around it. We came across this ‘totem pole’ that was on the beach – which reminded me of building – and balance – and solidity – and beauty – of which we as South Africans are capable.

totem pole

Yes, the cracks are showing in our democracy and wonderful constitution – that’s how the light gets in – 

There’s a crack in everything

amaryllis

I bought this pot plant – amaryllis – about 2 weeks ago and have been watching the buds blossom. I had no idea how beautiful it would be. I’d bought another one about 3 weeks previously but I gave it away as a thank you to someone who was very kind about delivering something at no charge – a new mattress actually, for my housekeeper. Such a nice man, Mr. Clifford Lyons of Lyons Wholesale. What a pleasure to have it on hand (bought by me, for me, that morning) and give it to him – I hope his bloomed as beautifully as mine – he said his wife loves gardening so I am sure it brought them both joy.

Last evening I was outside in the coolth of the night wondering if I would put up a blog post today for New Year’s Eve. I didn’t really want to say about this past year which has had wings of its own supercharged aerodynamic batteries. I would have had to put my thinking cap on to look back – and the batteries are now flat. I was thinking of some lovely books I devoured e.g. ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’; ‘The Light Between Oceans’; ‘Girl on a Train’ and several others … then I was thinking of music and my Willie Nelson CD’s that I play sometimes when I’m at my desk. I’m a country gal at heart.  What really is my most favourite song? Leonard Cohen’s ‘There’s a crack, there’s a crack in Everything’. I was pretty sure that I didn’t put up a blog last New Year’s Eve but I went to have a look – and indeed I did! Similar title!

My son Mike helped me ’embed it’ – (whatever that means). I love the sentiment of the crack – that’s how the light gets in. There are so many ever-widening cracks in our world these days yet I find it hopeful that this allows for light. And without researching it properly, I do know that ancient pottery was the more valued for the cracks it had which were painted over with fine gold – not to hide, but to emphasise – and value –

Many of us are missing loved ones who are no longer with us. It’s more sad and sore over this festive season and New Year when the bells ring in change. The longing for those who are no longer with us can make the crack a little deeper …

‘Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in’ –

 

 Dave my younger son, Juté his fiancé, Mike my elder son – taken in early December. Dave & Juté marry in March 2016.
IMG_0724 6

I took this photo today of Mike and Toko, his old prep school buddy. Toko and his family is and always will be a treasured part of our family. They were setting off for golf with Neil … still to change their shoes and golf shirts …

IMG_0741 3So, the New Year is upon us – may the bells ring how they may and make beautiful music. May our hearts and souls continue to deepen and take root and blossom. May the path with its cracks lead to peace, joy, fulfilment, compassion, creativity – within and without –542591_620348161315085_803962571_nAll my very best and warm wishes for a blessed 2016!

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