This, That & the Next –

Happy New Year to you All. Let’s hope that 2018 brings its gentle wings of change for the betterment of all. The new moon is always a time of new beginnings, time to plant seeds in the soil, in the garden and in the heart.

We’re so aware of all that is happening at all times on our shared planet. We’re all doing our small bit, turning hope into action, whether picking up trash, being mindful of plastic water bottles and our use of them, plastic straws no longer for our drinks, a smile to a stranger, being helpful when we can, conservation and gratitude of all that is good and beautiful, including family and friends –

 We set off tomorrow morning from Plettenberg Bay in the early hours for the long trek back to Johannesburg with our cat Angie in tow. Packing still has to be done and a few tasks still to be completed. It has been very special indeed to spend time with our sons and daughter-in-law. The weather has mostly been very kind, any rain always welcome. I’ve had a few walks on the beach, a few swims in the sea. I wondered the other day whether the water in Plettenberg Bay shrinks clothes after being in the washing machine – fortunately though, after obsessing about this for several days, I came to realise I was engaging in classic avoidance behaviour and avoiding more essential concerns, i.e. the year ahead. 

My husband and I both turn 70 this year. I’ve hardly given this a thought but it’s time I did. There are plans afoot to meet with my husband’s sister and her husband, maybe their adult children and their children (who all live in California), and our sons and daughter-in-law somewhere exotic in June. 

I guess that’s the frill of the matter.

On a more urgent note, I was recently asked to give a talk at the end of February on ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’, the book I co-authored with Susan E. Schwartz Ph.D. This time I’ll be on my own. So, I’ve been thinking about that and making some notes and what with turning 70, several friends fairly suddenly being unwell, or experiencing difficulties in grave ways, and death, brought me up short in terms of my own life and what I plan to do with it, given the limit of time now more apparent. And, my dreams have been somewhat alarming. I’m paying attention. Been brought up short. Catching a wake-up call …


I will always remember my dear friend Lyndy who died in March last year and her emphasising the importance of doing and not delaying – of which I am a past mistress. 

What I did do this morning was to book a flight from Johannesburg next week to Cape Town on Thursday returning home a week later. I’ve thought a huge lot about this over the last several weeks. There are plans to meet an old friend (from more than 40 years ago and who lives in England) who is already sailing on the seas with her partner and who docks in Cape Town next week Friday. Lunch on Friday with other old friends. And a plan for a city bus tour on Saturday. I am not sure who I will know or recognise besides Wendy. I also hope to see some friends in Cape Town who I didn’t manage to see when last in Cape Town in November (for a school re-union), and one or two who I did see, but I want to see them again, including my sister.

I also have a yearning to go to Norway to seek out my paternal grandmother’s place of birth. I’ve been doing a bit of detective work and a few recent synchronistic happenings have enforced my wish to go, even if I go alone, this year.

I said in a post or so back about precipitation – how it means rain but it also means prayer. My note book in which I’ve written prayers for specific people and for our planet over the last months is constantly being added to. I’m taking my globe back to Johannesburg with me and will say prayers for the planet and all living in and on it.

I used this photograph from an atlas a while back – useful for making prayers for the world –

Praying … I’m still a newbie at this, but I’m learning and practising. As a dear friend of mine said recently on the phone when we were talking about one of her ill family members, it helps maybe for the one praying to feel a little better and to know that we are doing what we can for the other – even from a long long distance. I think she’s right. Does one pray for one’s self I wonder …? Something I’m thinking about – something that someone said –


There was very real physical labour in planting a newly purchased hibiscus. Getting the roots out of a previously planted creeper (which was here when we purchased our Plett holiday home 10 years ago) from its container took us a few hours last evening. Digging, digging, digging – back breaking work but so worthwhile. Re-planting of other in another place – geraniums. Soil in my fingers. (I don’t wear gloves). More work, taking out old roots in order to plant new ones by my husband and son today (while I was having acupuncture to be balanced for the year ahead and to be more disciplined and mindful of my health) and this is the photo of it. It’s sort of near the entrance surrounded by stones.

We plan to make the move to Plettenberg Bay sometime this year. The uncertainty is very real as to when this will actually happen. Who knows what will happen this year?

T. S. Eliot, East Coker

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

Thank you for reading. I hope this finds you all well and in good spirits. Here’s to 2018. May the fates be kind to you and may the Force be with you.

 I won’t be able to respond to any comments for a day or so because of travelling although perhaps I can use my phone. It’s always a thrill to see comments!

48 Comments on This, That and the Next

  1. I’m surprised to hear you’ll be turning 70, Susan. With your activity level and energy, I thought you were much younger (I mean no offence). I think that’s amazing, and it’s always good to see that turning 70 and beyond are not roadblocks, but opportunities.

    My mother has used her age as an excuse not to do many things, especially travel, for quite some time. It’s frustrating for me, as she had no serious physical ailments, and I’ve been on trips with people who were much older than her–and who sometimes needed assistance to walk–who never let that stop them. I’m so glad to see examples of people who live life to the fullest and don’t waste a single day.

    Our time here is short. I want to keep traveling and adventuring for as long as I possibly can.

    • Thanks Holli for your comment – yes it’s an interesting attitude that some have to aging. Some are definitely more comfortable in their own surrounds, and find travel daunting to say the least and can find pleasure in eg reading about other places. Others – well, travel broadens the mind as you well know … and do not let age stop them. I’m busy preparing a talk on aging this coming Sunday evening .. the realities and the opportunities. It’s not a comfortable topic for many 🙂

  2. Beautiful and heartfelt post, Susan. I will watch to see how your resolutions unfold. I love that precipitation also means prayer. Such a touching thought esp considering the world will be in the position Cape Town is in unless we start being more mindful or our water use. Happy travels and many blessings in 2018. ox

    • Thanks Pam so much for your lovely comment. I’m back from Cape Town; just read in the news that Israel is in danger of drought in the years ahead even though they’re streets ahead of everywhere else in their desalination of sea water. Cape Town and surrounds has a huge challenge ahead. They have to wait for their winter rains, while Johannesburg where I live has summer rains. Many blessings to you. This month of Feb focuses on Loyalty .. a/nother big one 🙂

  3. It is so good to be visiting this blog again! Oh, how I’ve missed your lovely writing Susan! I’ve always enjoyed T. S. Elliot btw. Age certainly does have a way of creeping up on us. I can vouch for that! Safe travels to you, and best of luck at your conference! I’m looking forward to reading about your travels in Norway. Peace and love to you and yours! Teresa

    • Too wonderful to see you here Teresa! Right now I’m in Cape Town, returning home to Johannesburg on Thursday. Norway – I mustn’t lose sight of that …

      Peace and love to you Teresa and family, Susan

  4. Hi Susan – I’m very late … and in fact will need to be back – lots to answer on and I’m about to be going out to see an art film … so will return – 70 yes that short time now ahead … take care – cheers Hilary

    • Hi Hilary, who knows if a short or long time ahead – however it is, to use the time wisely. Going to an art movie sounds ideal! Have a lovely week ahead. Susan

  5. These watershed years always seem to trigger a lot of soul-searching, reflecting, balancing, etc. It sounds like 2018 will be one of those years for you.

    Best wishes for your reunion with old friends!

  6. We are in the same stage of life. I have been thinking about how much time I might have left. I just bought ‘No Time to Spare’ by Ursula Le Guin. She is a bit older but I think the book is about her reflections on aging. I’m thinking about what to do with that ‘time’ we have left? Try to appreciate life, family, friends as much as possible..and all the things I love. What is most meaningful to me. But can’t be so intense all the time either.

    • Thanks for coming by Deborah! (you’re the 3rd Deborah! – though one is without the ‘h’ – my sister). Thanks for saying about Ursula Le Guin’s book … I will look it out. May Sarton I think also wrote a book about aging – on being 70, though I don’t recall the proper title. I’m in full agreement what you say about appreciating all the things that are meaningful in life. The restriction of time concentrates the mind wonderfully! Important though to not be intense all the time! 🙂

  7. I can’t believe that your are turning 70, Susan. It really does make sense to make the most of life and do the things you want to do. My Mom is turning 80 this year and we are having a big party for her.

    • Just found your response Robbie in spam! Don’t know why it was there .. I can only imagine the birthday cake and other beautiful things you will make and bake for your Mom! Thanks for coming by 🙂

  8. Your plans seem to esential than urgent… I agree with you as to the importance of not delaying things. My dad was diagnosed with Prostate cancer… and this is a continuous reminder for me of how I need to cherish the time I spend with him. We have been having great conversations, listening to each other in a way which is totally straightforward, no interfernces (hard for us as we have italian roots and love to interrup each other, haha!). Anyway, he is well and it is following a treatment… But, still I care about him and I often think that Time is in fact the Great Ruler.
    I Liked what you say about precipitation… “how it means rain but it also means prayer”.
    Interesting, I´ll try to locate the post! … Sending love & best wishes, dear Susan 🙂

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad Aquileana. May his treatment go well and he be restored to good health. It sounds as if the prostrate cancer was unexpected as these sorts of illnesses often are. It’s interesting how this seems to open up channels of communication that may have been missing before … not necessarily in your relationship with your father but those who face illness need to have an ear who truly listens. Just this morning a friend I met for coffee was saying about how a friend of hers who is gravely ill, opened up to my friend for 2 hours and was so grateful that my friend did not offer the platitudes that so many do. She said that her friend wanted to smack those who said things like ‘don’t worry; you’ll get better, look on the bright side’ etc etc etc ad nauseam …

      I so appreciate your coming by! Love to you – hope you’re having a marvellous Sunday. I’m going to take down to Cape Town my gift from a friend many years ago and which I want to know more of: The Ancient Egyptian Tarot: Clive Barrett –

      • Thanks so much for your words… They really mean a lot to me.. And, you are right, difficult situations could be revealing, as they might lead to unexpected things, such as this type of more personal and deep communication you refer to.
        Sounds great that you´ll take your cards with you. In my next post (probably next month) , I´ll dig into the Minor Arcana. And with that the complete deck. Wishing you a beautiful week 🙂 <3

        • Thanks Aquileana … am tempted to get into the cards ‘right now this very minute’ 🙂 but – head down in preparation for Cape Town. You too have a beautiful week 🙂

  9. Just beautiful, Susan. Thank you. I needed that including Marion Woodman’s favorite TS Elliot quote, or at least the verse I heard her recite the most often by heart. “So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

    Your life sounds rich and full. I’m glad you’re giving another talk about your terrific and timely book. I’m glad you’re making it a priority to see old friends and follow an old instinct to dig into your own family roots.

    Tomorrow I’ll join a Women’s March in Seneca Falls, NY at the Women’s Right’s Museum. It’s the one-year anniversary of the big marches last year. I plan a two week vacation and deep rest (in Arizona in March to visit dear friends I haven’t seen for a long time. Because of deafness, I tend to pull into solitude, but they understand. My sons do well in many ways, but there is also suffering and not a damn thing a mother can do except keep loving them. The new moon is gorgeous here tonight and I’m grateful for her benevolent curve. Our political situation remains scary, but the moon reassures.

    • Thanks so much for coming by Elaine. I know it’s the anniversary march – I remember that you did it last year. And that it’s government shut-down right now …

      I like how you say about ‘the old instinct’ – maybe there is something primal about it ..

      Things on the political front this side are moving apace – the current head honchos are trying to get the pres of SA to resign; they’re meeting today – else wise he’ll be removed and/or face impeachment. And, our newly elected deputy president is about to go to Davos where he’ll be talking about our country and that it’s open for business … so it is all hotting up, while it’s awfully hot and humid here in Johannesburg on our return…

      The moon is re-assuring isn’t she … I love that you say about her benevolent curve 🙂 Good luck on your march .. I look forward to hearing about it.

  10. Your thoughts ring true with me. I find that prayer, like meditation, is something that I do when I feel like I need to do it. It calms me in a way that encourages me to, like you said in reference to gardening, take “out old roots in order to plant new ones.” I refuse to be stuck, and I’m finding that by associating with other women who feel the same way, I’m focusing more on a better 2018. Happy New Year [a bit late]!

    • Thanks Ally Bean for coming by … I like that you like about old roots being removed to make way for new ones. A good mantra for the year, applicable in many ways. See, you’ve helped me to see this is a new way, so again a thank you 🙂 Happy 2018! It’s never too late!

  11. Thank you for providing a window into your world. Being homebound for awhile, the thought of travel intrigues me. May you travel with light and hope.

    Of course prayer helps, and God wants to know our own wishes and needs just as he does those of others. I predict your talk will go well. Those sponsoring it apparently think you are quite capable. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been asked.

    Thanks to you for your presence on my blog posts. It’s so nice to see your smiling face every time you can comment. Blessings, Susan!

    I enjoyed the T. S. Eliot quote and Robert Browning who famously said, ” . . . the best is yet to be!”

    • Browning: ‘…the best is yet to be!’ Thanks Marian! I must find my t-shirt I bought in Istanbul a few years ago that has these words in sparkly design on them. I don’t wear shirts that have writing on them but this one I bought – and have worn a few times 🙂

      Thanks for your encouraging words re upcoming talk 🙂

      Thank you for saying about prayer and it’s fine to ask God for ourselves as well … I’m always thanking Him for everything (also for getting us home safely yesterday), maybe it’s ok to ask.

      Have a lovely weekend and saying about travelling with light and hope 🙂

  12. What a lovely poem. I hope your year is a wonderful one, Susan, and that you are able to do the things you want. I also am terrible at delaying things. So that makes two of us on needing to take action.

    And happy upcoming birthday! 70–what a fantastic milestone to reach.

    • Thank you sweet Sara for coming by. May your year be the greatest one yet! Glad I have company in our needing to take action – instead of dreaming about it (my downfall). Have a great weekend! And 2018!

  13. Thank you Susan for your writings and thoughts. Digging and replanting is what I am attempting this year. You explain it all very well. G Angela David put it perfectly about prayer for others – that conscious act. Go very well this year.

    • Thank you for coming by sweet Sis. Planting’s hard work, the digging beforehand especially! Yes, re prayer being a conscious act – I like that very much. Go well too – and I’ll see you before you know it …

  14. Dear Susan, Thank you for sharing more seeds and photos of your new adventure with us. Love the title, pitch perfect! 2018 is already an incredible year, I sense it deeply within. The light feels ever presence and closer somehow. I can’t explain it really, maybe the word I’m hunting for is “hope” yes, I’m hopeful this year will sweep positive change in, worldwide.

    Yet for the moment, all we can do is to continue to follow Ariadne’s red thread through the labyrinth, hopeful not to get endlessly lost in the archetypal maze of our lives. This year, let us pull and pray together the separate threads of our stories and find our way to the centre of our selves, so that we may kill the monster that guards our sacred, blessed inner treasure.

    What new adventures, new maps, and new territories await?! How exciting, and for all this to be taking place in your 70th year. Interestingly, four of my Jungian “dream sisters” have turned seventy last year. After nine years, I still sit and watch in wonder as the deepening of their devoted Cronehood continues. Happy New Year, love and blessings always, Deborah.

    • As always such a lovely and reflective comment Deborah thank you! Rich indeed … also your sense that the light will emerge from the labyrinthine maze and that separate threads will merge in our inner being … I think I feel this! (That’s just me, thinking and feeling – both rational functions according to Jung and others, although for me I need to get more into my feeling function which I THINK is happening!)

      Love to you dear Deborah! Blessings also 🙂

  15. This, That and the Next:) very appropriate title for this post susan, loved reading your post, feel so connected with every sentence, wishing you and your husband a great year ahead… 70 years is quite long journey and I am inspired how you have sustained yourself with so much positivity and enthusiasm to share so generously your learnings. I am impressed with your first pic of the new moon .. beautifully captured.

    I do appreciate you for praying for so many people… prayer is one of most beautiful gift you can give to others as you make a conscious decision in your mind and genuinely lift the person spiritually to the Lord, the Universe and what ever power you may think about.

    Its so nice to know you are traveling and hoping to meet a lot of people; planning for a session on Ageing &Becoming, I have been learning so much through your posts, and I want to be grateful for your presence in my life, for every post you made, and for all the encouraging words, appreciate you and wish you a great year ahead…. Replanting the hibiscus tree is so symbolic for me as i keep journeying in life, it makes a lot of sense to keep exploring within (digging and digging ) and to replant myself in a new context ..

    love and hugs to you my friend.

    • Thank you Genevieve for coming by and your lovely comment! We arrived home yesterday and it’s lovely for me that I can reply on my computer instead of on tiny phone.

      Thank you for saying about prayer – that it’s a conscious thought. I hadn’t thought of it like that. It’s lovely to read of other comments – still to respond to – about the power of prayer.

      And thank you also for your very kind comments about my blog posts. I feel the same about yours, they are uplifting and encouraging and I know they come from your beautiful heart. I am very grateful we have this connection 🙂 Love to you.

    • Thanks Jacqui 🙂 and for good luck wishes! I wish you were here to show me how to put up pictures of quotes from my computer to the screen … no time while away to ask my son … 🙂

  16. Quite a powerful poem and a stirring time that you describe. Safe travels on the journeys. I hope you are able to do all as planned and whatever comes up in the midst…

    • Thank you Susan for your good wishes re travels home – and upcoming ones! I also hope that all flows – though one can never be certain ..

  17. “ … a time of new beginnings, time to plant seeds in the soil, in the garden and in the heart.” Thank you for that and for the TS Eliot at the end. Perfect choice. And for all the in between. My summer’s strawberries are currently under two feet of snow. But they shall rise again, as shall we all.

    Safe travels. And happy 70th when it comes. I too am (eagerly?) looking toward that number.

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