Retreats & Reflections

It’s been a busy few weeks, with little time for reflection. Dr. Susan E. Schwartz, co-author of our book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’ and her husband were here in South Africa for two weeks from the end of July. Susan presented a paper in Cape Town before flying up to Johannesburg which was our base for the next several days.

We took off for the Pilanesberg up in the northwest where we spent 3 nights and 4 days. Our accommodation was extremely comfortable, a mere few minutes away from the entrance to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Our drives were wonderful. There was game viewing a-plenty. I managed to video this rhino – 20 secs.

I love the reflection of the rhino in the crystal clear water –

We returned home on Friday afternoon and Susan & I gave a talk on our book the next afternoon at Bookdealers, a bookshop in Greenside, one of our suburbs. It was well attended & well received, many friends and others, books sold. Chris Reinders read an excerpt (the man in the hat), I’m next to him and Susan Schwartz next to me … my friend Linda took this photo and sent to me …

We left the next morning for Clarens, a lovely artsy town some few hundred kilometres away and close to the Golden Gate National Park. The view from the balcony where we were staying was magnificent overlooking the mountains – the first evening I photographed the full moon rising and later that night noticed a partial eclipse of it!

We spent precious time driving through the Golden Gate National Park – everything seemed golden – the light, the time, the mountains, animals at ease and ourselves at ease. Clarens is a very pretty town with all sorts of shops and cafe’s, lovely places for coffee and croissants – and shopping! Our two retreats into the wilderness were very valuable on many levels –

We were back home on Tuesday last week; my husband left early on Wednesday morning for several days to attend something that had long been in the works, returning only on Sunday evening. Susan, her husband & I – and another Susan, a dear friend – we were 3 Susan’s in my car – motored through to Pretoria on Wednesday for a lunch party held in honour of a visiting Swiss Analyst, an 85 year old man of such grace and wisdom, so present. It was such a special day, rich in conversations and people.

Thursday was busy, meeting with a few friends here and there who were keen to see Susan & Frederic. Thursday night dinner was with Vonn who first met them 18 years ago at the airport when we set off to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro …

Last Friday afternoon, Susan and I were interviewed off-air in the studios of Classic FM by the gracious Tamara LePine-Williams who hosts the morning radio show. She will let me know when it will be aired, and says that we will get a podcast of it. I’ll make a link to it, in a future blog post (if possible).

Susan gave a seminar to psychologists on ‘The Shadow’ on Saturday morning and they flew back to America on Saturday night –

In between all of this, there were lengthy phone calls and what’s app messages about my brother Christopher who lives in Natal and is in hospital following a partial shoulder replacement. The calls and what’s app messages were between my brother’s son who lives in Cape Town but who was with his father for several days, myself and my sister who is also in the Cape. He, and the situation he is in, is dire, beyond words … it is altogether troubling and anxious making for the 3 of us, the two sisters and his son. There is no-one else. And we all live elsewhere. He is currently in the ‘stepdown’ rehabilitation section of the hospital – his ongoing depression is much heightened –

And in among all this, the sun is shining, it is very cold, there is a slight wind. The weather turned overnight, from 24 degrees yesterday to 10 degrees today – we were warned. Parts of the country are blanketed in snow. The last few weeks have been sunny and warm, almost summer like after a spell of winter weather. Now, again, winter is here in full force or so it seems. -1 degrees tonight.

The photos below were taken today. In the first you can see a newly-popped poppy. I’ve been waiting for ages to see what was coming out of this planted tray – and will photograph them no doubt when the tray is is full bloom. On the orchid was a bee, always good to see –

The second is of pots on my patio – it’s a partly cloudy day and ideally I should have waited for full sunlight. There are many orchids still to bud – 

I sometimes feel suspended, between what and what I do not know. We’re all of us going through some sort of transition period, the events of the world are testament to that. Is the macrocosm a reflection of the microcosm I wonder. Each is a reality, and not independent of each other and each exerts its influence on the other …

More than ever, I feel the tension of those apparent opposites, within myself and without. More than ever, I feel the need to steer my ship in these rough seas, and hope to keep my balance as much as possible, to not retreat from anything, much as I would like to. I remind myself and remember the connection we have to each other and to our earth, and view that with as much loving kindness that I can.

I wish the same for you too …

Thank you for reading. May The Force be with you …


40 comments on “Retreats and Reflections”

  1. I’m glad you had a full and enriching time with your coauthor and had a chance to talk about and present your book to more people. It always amazes me that you live in a world of elephants and rhinos.

    Yes, suspended between this moment and whatever comes next. I’ve wondered what it meant to have an eclipse where the Lunar energy overpowers the Solar for a small amount of time. We live in an alarming world in the US with a dysfunctional and amoral “leader.” We’re getting a dose of how so much of the world lives. Ah, this life.

    • Thanks Elaine for coming by … if this is a duplication it’s because my first comment back to you disappeared. Maybe just as well as it was rather gloomy. Suspended – not a good feeling – I guess this uncertainty business can take its toll yet how can we think or wish for certainty?

  2. Sounds like you’ve had some interesting travels, but I’m very sorry to hear about your brother. 2016 was so challenging, and we all hoped this year would be better, but in many ways it has been even worse.

    It’s a struggle to stay positive sometimes, especially with all the daily horror in the news. I have no answers, no solutions, but your determination to find joy where you can seems as good as any. There will always be beauty in the world if we’re open to it.

    Sending you hugs and love. I had no idea it got that cold in S.A.!

    • Thanks Holli for coming by and for your sympathy re my brother. I remember that you’ve had the awful experience of people you’ve been close to, in the pits of depression. I’ve lost hope vis a vis him … and it’s a reminder as you say to find beauty where I can …

      It’s cold here on the highveld but at least it’s sunny! Love to you too 🙂

  3. What a lovely post, Susan. So cool that you’ve been touring for the book; I wish you both huge success with it. Not so great about your brother, though… Hope he’s on the mend soon, and in the meantime I wish you all the strength you need to get through these tough times and come out the other side better persons, better souls. Sending you much love!

    • Thank you Guilie for your good wishes re the book, for my brother and for strength to get through these troubling times. He needs it more than I – though I could do with a huge dose of it too … sending you love in Curacao…

  4. What a joy to see this peek into your world Susan, and an utter delight to celebrate your book event. But my what a full time it’s been for you – quite a full spectrum of experiences. Here’s to a some time to rest and recoup.

  5. It’s excellent that your book project gets exposure, though for everything to happen at once must have been overwhelming. … And we all live elsewhere … this seems to become the norm, often making us feel helpless, with duty pressing on us when it comes to friends and relatives. I hope you brother is well looked after and recovers to enjoy life. And I think its not just fine but necessary to give ourselves the occasional retreat. In you case your beautiful garden can return the care you put into it – soothing your soul.

    • Thanks Ashen for coming by. Yes, it was busy yet fruitful time but the pressure never lets up it seems in ordinary everyday life. Thank you also for your good wishes for my brother, this is appreciated. I’m looking out onto my garden as I write and it is indeed a balm for the soul.

  6. How lovely to have this window on your world, Susan. What fun to travel as three Susans in your car. I loved the video of the rhino. What an awesome sight – double vision. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. It sounds distressing for you all. We definitely live in troubled times. I appreciate the reminder for me as well as for yourself: “I remind myself and remember the connection we have to each other and to our earth, and view that with as much loving kindness that I can.” I wish it back to you. Best wishes.

    • Thanks Norah for coming by! Thank you for your sympathy re my brother … he is keen to get home where he lives in isolation aside from his housekeeper. It’s been ongoing for a long time. More than ever it is necessary for loving kindness to be operative in our world. Thank you for your good wishes, and mine to you …

  7. You are leading a busy, productive life. Thanks for helping to get us caught up with your all of your activities. Still you take time to notice beautiful flowers. I am struck by how the same – and different – flora and fauna are in your hemisphere: rhinoceros, for instance. Your orchids are lovely; I struggle to get mine to re-bloom. Thanks, Susan.

    • Thank you for coming Marian in between your travels! I’m not sure why my outdoor orchids continue to flower year after year – it’s a mystery to me. I don’t feed them anything, besides a little water when I water the garden. Maybe they bloom because of all the admiration I give them? I have a large pot of an ancient orchid outside my study that every year looks completely dead – this time round more so than ever, deader than dead… I wonder if this one will re-surrect in the next several weeks? I’ll let you know!

  8. Hi Susan – gosh lots going on – no wonder you’re twixt and b’tween … it does sound as though you’ve had a lovely time with Susan and Frederic and been able to do lots – makes me tired thinking about it.

    However your brother’s situation sounds difficult – I’m just glad my mother ended up being relatively nearby and not down in Cornwall (300 miles), when she was so ill – but travelling to London and back for 9 months (before we got her down here) was exhausting – the emotion and the worry – I feel for your nephew.

    I’ve just had my South African friend over … to see another friend – both with cancer – so difficult … but we had a good time – though her visit was mostly with the other friend, as her time is short. Her visit here was to do few things … and we went to London on two separate days … so she’s satisfied two of the things on her list … she left for Chichester today thinking she’d rather stay on and watch Airborne – front row seats from the flat … but she’s gone and I note from your email that the weather is not too warm down south …

    So many of us need life to settle … life changes rather too much and rather too quickly as we age on … with lots of thoughts – Hilary

    • Thanks Hilary for your comment – yes, I can imagine the exhaustion and worry re your mother.

      Your time with your friend sounds valuable even though she too has cancer … there but by the Grace of G.d go you or I – sometimes front row seats at one’s home is the best place to be.

      Have a lovely weekend – your weather sounds very appealing right now, while we’re in the middle of the big freeze, though warming up again fairly soon. Susan ..

  9. Wow Susan, lovely video of the Rhino, captured the reflection so well and beautiful pictures of sun set and gorgeous flowers. So glad to know that you and susan were interviewed together, and susan could take sessions. Lots of positivity in your post; and sorry to know about your brother in the hospital. Like your title Retreats and Reflections, I have been missing you for long – and its such a pleasant surprise to read this post. wishing you wellness and peace 🙂

    • As I was writing a comment on your Thursday Tree Love, your comment came up at the same time! Thank you for your lovely comment Genevieve – wellness and peace to you too! xx

  10. Yes, this seems to be the year for new beginnings. You have a positive response to your book, and a wonderful support system. Your brother’s health is a challenge as are the events in the world.

    We are all facing challenges in life and health. Aging is an interesting issue as it often brings about a change we don’t expect. However, it is important for us to support one another so we can all successfully deal with these life changes. I think balance in the world will follow, but it takes time.

    I’m here to support you however I can!

    • Thank you Gwynn for coming by … a challenging time for many of us on many levels and support from friends is so valuable. Thank you for extending your support dear friend – so much appreciated.

  11. So much was positive Susan. Considering the world has gone mad. that was an achievement! All the very best. Your book seems to have struck a fair few chords! Totsiens for now.

  12. You have been REALLY busy! I enjoyed reading about your successes and travels. There are many of us who feel the unrest in the world, but you put it into words beautifully.

  13. It’s good to hear that your book is becoming more popular. That is a joy. On the other end, the situation with your brother, the tension in your own country and in the world challenges you to face the Unknown and whatever comes. I can only say I am in the same situation. I find myself walking forward to meet the unknown. I’m learning to embrace the insecurity and to walk upon the water,
    Wishing you all the best.
    Shalom aleichem,

    • Thanks for your calming words Pat, I too can live in a world of uncertainty and there is a real part of me who wouldn’t want it any other way. The unknown is another reality which tests us to accept this. This is all part of living – Shalom to you Pat. Susan

  14. How wonderfully busy you have been Susan. I had noticed that you had been quiet on the blogging front. We arrived in the UK this morning and the weather changed from cool and rainy to quite hot and sunny with a few hours.

  15. So great that you and Susan S. were able to spend the time together and do some book promo as well. You are blessed to be so near so many natural wonders, but I think we all are if we are willing to take the time to explore.

    I’ve been feeling a sense of “suspension” as well. Too many conflicting notions clashing in our world and so much seems infused with impending doom. Makes me want to disconnect from most of the world and just hole up in my own little refuge.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • Thanks Arlee for coming by. I too feel like holing up in my own little refuge from time to time though this isn’t really possible on an ongoing basis. Makes me thankful when I can and do retreat into my own refuge.

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