Saturday, December 26, 2015

No place like home ... South Africa in May

At the end of each year I spend a few days going through all the photos from the past year. I create Memory books for the kids online ... and then I put together an album for myself ... family memories, photos I want to keep, memories of places we visited or just every day moments that stand out ... it's a good way for me to remember the year, and to reflect on the highlights ... think about what I want to do differently in the year to come. Sifting through the months today, I realized that I never got to share photos from my trip back to South Africa in May. I've felt really homesick this Christmas ... it's how it is at this time of year, and I know that ... sometimes it's just a case of keeping head down and getting through ... but these photos brought home back to me today and I thought it was as good a time as any to share them. It is the country I love best in the world. Hands down. No competition. No matter how hard I try, my heart is still there - fluttering between the light and shadows, refusing to leave, and I always feel a little empty, living so far away from the heat and chaos and beauty that is South Africa.

In May I flew back there on my own for a week. I needed time with my family and friends, especially my grandmother, and time to myself, away from the day to day. It was a very special trip for me ... I got to reconnect with  the people I love and miss, to remember my history, to explore new places and to revisit old ones that are part of my story. What struck me the most on this trip was the creativity and originality all around me ... the coffee shops in Cape Town with their beautiful menus and funky decor ... the little stores we wondered in and out of ... the way creativity and inspiration are all around. And of course, the landscape, which never fails to take my breath away when I am back.

So without further ado, this ... is my South Africa. 

Beautiful craft store in Kloof, KZN

Below: Sculpture in the Gardens at Makaranga Lodge, Kloof

A night in Ballito

On to Cape Town: Blouberg Beach below, with a view of Table Mountain

Below : At the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Below : Farm School

Below: Driving to Greyton, we stopped in at my favorite farm stall


Farewell breakfast, Cape Town 


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas ....

Wishing you and yours a truly beautiful Christmas. We are staying home this year and Christmas will be a quiet one for us but there will be cookies and big mugs of tea, the anticipation of preparing for Santa, presents under the tree and wearing of silly red hats for sure. 

As our thoughts wing their way across the seas to our family and friends far away, and to those who are lonely and scared and uncertain of their future, to those crossing countries to bring their families to safety, to those who are battling illness ... we will hold our children tight and send up our prayers as we sing Christmas carols and we shall be grateful for what we do have, much as we are missing the ones we don't.

Merry Merriest.

Love and Light.

Monday, December 7, 2015


It's the holiday season. A time of baking cookies and hanging wreaths and decorating the tree. It's one of my favorite times of the year. And yet this year, I can barely breathe with the weight of the sadness hanging over us all.

I try not to spend hours obsessing over the news. I catch up on Facebook, quickly, scanning. But I also don't want to hide out and stick my head under the covers. That has never been my way.

I read articles from Greenpeace. The Climate talks in Paris. Secret transports of nuclear waste. Slavery on fishing boats. Forests burning. Smog at an all time high. People told to stay inside. I read updates from the camp in Calais. I see photos posted of a teeny tiny girl who was killed during air strikes in Syria, her father's body around hers, trying in vain to protect her. I read about families displaced, stories of refugees. The woman who spent her whole life growing her family in one place, only to have them spread across the world. Scattered. And she having to leave home at the age of 72 to keep her sons safe. There are thousands of stories just like hers.

I cry for days and days and days. At odd moments, all alone. With people around me, the tears threaten. During a kid's movie. Writing emails. Making tea. Running errands. Trying to fall asleep. I feel the violence and the terror and the anguish and I have no answers. We're making such a royal mess of it all. Over and over.

I tell my children to look for the positive. I tell them to remember that no matter what, there are beautiful people out there doing brave things to save the planet and save other people. People are building up while others are tearing down. I tell them to stay brave and to remember that light is stronger than darkness.

Sometimes it's hard to listen to one's own advice.

In the quiet of early morning I look to the woods and see the way the light falls. The quiet beauty, the perfect balance. I wonder if God watches the light rising on another day in each part of the world and wonders why He bothered. I wonder, as I sometimes do on the very bad days when the bickering never ends and we talk in circles and I have to raise my voice and still it does not help ... if He too despairs of his creations. If He had stopped with the deer and the rabbits and the elephants. Just left this beautiful planet to go on peacefully. The fish to swim, the turtles to drift. The lion to roam. Balance. Peace. Instead here we are - greedy and hungry and demolishing the very earth we need for our survival. He must want to wipe the slate clean. Most days.

Instead He sends us sunsets, bursting with color and light. He lets the woods grow wild and the light that falls, softly, takes my breath away. He knows the power of a soft hand holding mine at the end of a long day, the gentle quiet of a child's breathing in sleep. The way the early morning quiet holds the promise of a new day.

I walk in the woods. I look for poetry. I search for beautiful images to remind me why we are here. I play my favorite music and remember to paint. Times like these we have no choice but to go on. To pick up our pencils, our cameras, our paintbrushes. Take to our keyboards, continue the work. Light the candles no matter how stifling the darkness. No matter how many times they are blown out.