Mirror, Mirror On The Wall – Who Is The Fairest Of Us All?

For my maternal ancestors

And all of you out there who (like me) have felt abandoned and longed for connection.

My mother and me as an infant

In 2019 when I turned sixty, I gave myself a weird and wonderful gift.

I asked to finally let go of the past .

I committed to the process and looked foward to having it done and dusted.

As if it works that way…

My expectation was that I would be dealing with my relationship with my father and brothers. You know all the patriarchal stuff.

I was not disappointed.

It was a wild ride especially the very severe depression I developed when I realized my own part in the dance.

What really blew me away though, was what followed this year.

After a beautiful family gathering which should have filled me with joy and bliss, I woke up during the night sobbing.

The feeling was so familiar.

An inky abyss of abandonment and rejection, that I had experienced many times before in my life.

I remember literally buying myself a stuffed toy gorilla during a particularly bad bout when my marriage had ended and I was reeling from the loss of my dreams and my whole worldview.  

Rather irreverently I named him Jesus, because Jesus and I were really tight at that stage…

I sometimes even referred to Him as my boyfriend!

Cheeky , I know, but it was kinda real for me , but that’s a whole other story…

When my mom died very suddenly a couple of years later and my father asked that I move down to Stellenbosch to take care of him, I sheepishly gave Black Jesus to the little girl next door.

I think she was five – a much more appropriate age for a stuffed toy, my Inner Critic jeered.

So imagine my horror, when now , some twenty years later,  I found myself longing for that stuffed toy again.

At a time when I should have been at my happiest.

In my bed with my fiancee.

The next minute, I remembered my mother’s face on two photographs of her holding me as a baby. The two photographs I am posting with this blog.

What also came up clear as day , was an experiment my scientist father had told me about when I was young.  I could see the pictures in the book about the experiment clearly in my mind’s eye.

Please forgive the detail here – it was a different time ( 1950’s,  I should think).

There were three images of baby monkeys.

One had a “mother” made of a bare, wire frame , the second “mother” figure had a towelling cover and the third was a real flesh and fur monkey mommy.

The experiment proved that the monkeys needed touch and nurturing and not just milk to survive.

That monkeys could die, if they did not receive love as infants.

The puzzle pieces fell into place for me.

During my depression I had been so aware of how excrutiating it must have been for my mother to  be so depressed and have a newborn to take care of.

I kept remembering her face on the pictures and feeling such compassion for what it must have been like for her to feel nothing.

To be dead inside and not able to function or take care of herself let alone a new born.

Thing is …

Right up until that moment I had not allowed myself to feel my own pain in this situation.

Not fully.

Just tiny snippets here and there.

Tugging at my gut.

As I surrendered , bits and pieces from my therapy and other experiences and insights seemed to flow into one realization.

This experience formed the original wound for me that made me fiercely, externally referenced – ever searching for connection and love outside myself.

Being such a tiny infant (nine month’s old) most of my communication was non-verbal so it makes perfect sense that I would scan faces and sense people’s emotions to try and connect.

An empath was born  : a hypervigilant being , desperate to survive, to connect, to find love, feeling everyone’s feelings.

Here’s the miracle though.

The woman I am today, knows with every fibre of my Being : Love is not outside.

It is in me.

It is me.

I am Love.

I am Compassion.

I am connected to everyone and everything.

To all of Life.

I can relax and be.

I can put the mirror down and experience Life in every now moment.

The whole human race is my family.

As I show up for myself (and others), I experience myself as the One.

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Bring in the clowns!

We need them.

A friend sent me this cartoon on New Year’s Day.

I am not sure where she got it – so I acknowledge whereever it came from and whoever created it…

It made me chuckle – a good way to start 2021 for sure!

2020 was certainly an interesting year .

As a crone,  I seem to think more and more in terms of my children and their (at this stage) potential children.  

There were so many moments that made me aware that this was history in the making.

Plenty of stories we will tell our descendants about in the years to come.

For me it will always be the year of the c’s.

When the Corona Virus first stopped the world as we know it, I had the strongest possible sense of it all being part of a cosmic plan to unite the world.

It seemed to me to be a call to compassion and co-operation.

It proved to us that we are all linked.  What we do in our small part of the world effects others on the other side of the globe.

We are in this thing we call life, together. Whether we like it or not.

My son,  Johan,  and his partner (now husband) contracted the virus very early on .

Blessed as I am with a strong inner guidance, I had pre-warning.

For a couple of days in a row , I drew a serenity card.

I remember telling a friend – when I draw that card , I want to climb under the bed ‘cos trouble – she is coming.

I know from experience that one’s life can change in an instant.

People can die.

So there were some tense moments .

Especially when he WhatsApped me from the hospital with instructions on the care of his partner should he not survive!

It was clear that very little was known about the virus. I remember feeling very sorry for the doctor who was so concerned about discharging Johan without knowing what to expect.

By the Grace of God,  he did survive. Craig also recovered well and subsequently they got engaged and married on 18 July 2020 (Madiba’s b’day).

Their commitment  ceremony was unique.

My daughter and I and two close loved ones on Craig’s side were witnesses.

We posed awkardly for photos with and without masks promising ourselves to have a big celebration at a later stage.

They teased me for having the only colourful mask.

Talking about masks, I became more and more confused as I realized that many people were not prepared to wear masks and more and conflict began to arise on Social Media.

Maybe it was because the virus was a reality in my life, or because I am a Capricorn and duty-bound or because my father is 95 – it just seemed (and still does) like the right thing to do.

To wear a mask to protect others (and myself).

Then there was also the cry about control and refusing to be controlled.

This had me bewildered again . Surely we have reached a stage where we realize no-one can control us except ourselves?

Conspiracy theories and negation of science simply don’t compute for me. To my mind spirituality and science are converging – coming closer to one another.

It is not an “either” “or” kinda situation. It is an “and” “and”.

Conflict and chaos were certainly part of 2020.

And corruption.

That people could continue to steal money when we are facing a pandemic – the mind boggles.

From where I sit, the old is dying and making way for the new.

Unity is calling.

Diversity is wonderful . It makes life interesting, beautiful and colourful.

Superiority not so much.

Seems to me, that is where the paw-paw hits the fan.

The minute we think our group, religion, our country, or our opinion is the only one that counts, things fall apart.

We go to war.

We kill one another.

We rage and shame and dominate.

That’s the old way.

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A dream is a wish our heart makes

This beautiful eiderdown is made from silk cigarette cards of all things!

Recently I dreamt I was a huge mother bird.

An eagle of some kind.

With magnificent majestic wings big enough to hold the planet with all her life forms close to my heart.

My eyes were bright and very fierce.

My heart was filled with love for all I watched going about their daily business on the planet.

I flapped my wings and flexed my tallons as I held my precious home in my arms and heart.

Then I saw myself as the Creator.

Just to tease you all, I must insist that the Creator be a she, just for a change and because, quite frankly,  that is how she is showing up for me at the moment.

She was making a quilt – a beautiful, colourful tapestry made of blocks of mutli-patterned designs.

Each block was made from light. Before she formed the block , she held the ball of light in her hand and played with it.

She whispered to it and held it to her ear as if listening intently.

Then she stroked the spark of light against her cheek before she blew on it and carefully placed it into the design.

Every time she added a new patch, she beamed with delight and the eiderdown grew more vibrant and beautiful.

It was very clear that the Creator loved all the shapes and colours of her creation.

Waking from this lovely dream, I found myself overwhelmed again by the clammering , hate-filled messages from people trying to assert their will and way of being and thinking on others.

Every now and then I would feel the call to enter the fray until I realized , time and time again, that what I re-act to , especially what still triggers me , is fed by my outrage, anger and furious energy.

The thing is: there is a voice in me, deep in me, that gently tugs at my consciousness until I listen.

It whispers to me.

Insisting to be heard.

“They are all part of the whole”.

The maskers, the anti-maskers, the lovers, the haters, the big , the small.

Everyone and everything is part of the whole.

Unity and peace will only come to our world when we learn to zoom out like huge mother eagles in flight to gain perspective and then lean forward in openness and trust  to learn from one another.

I don’t think this virus came to teach us to hate one another, to snipe and deride and divide ourselves, into them and us, and only me and mine.

Surely, we did not need to learn that at all… we know it only too well .

The history of mankind is filled with wars and strife, famine and suffering.

We have lived our lives to this point dividing ourselves into nations and tribes and cultures and religions – all clambering and clawing to get ahead.

And strangely enough, we all believe we are right.

We have the answers.

 We know what is best.

 We know and others don’t.

What if it is time to learn love and unity?

And what if it is actually the easiest thing in the world?

What if all we have to do to unlearn the hate, the competition and the divsion,  is to become like  children, returning to the innocence we once knew as babies.  

The innocence of children who saw no race or difference and just wanted to play.

Before we taught them what society expects …

What if we remembered, instead,  how she held us to her cheek, breathed life into us and placed us carefully  into the her divine masterpiece .

Each of us a unique, perfectly crafted spark of divinity whose only job is to be.

How would our world be then?

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Something done in a small moment

A beautiful cactus moment in time

Something done in a small moment is something sacred and holy.

It’s the sitting in the sun enjoying a cup of coffee and feeling the warmth on my shoulders as the world goes by.

A small moment stolen from the busy , frenetic day of earning a living and caring for the children – a never-ending rush and pull of too many tasks and too little time.

A tiny moment walking in a park feeding the birds (mostly ducks) with old bread kept for this purpose. (Yes, I now know this is not a  good practice!)

A sunset or sunrise enjoyed from the balcony – just being and drinking in the colours.

The delicious bite of a well-prepared dish – the pause to savour the taste and the nourishment.

The lying in bed just before the alarm goes off,  or even after, before I really need to get going to face the day.

The moment when a child is born – that holy moment when the baby first breathes the harsh air.

The first kiss between new lovers or even just the look they give one another filled with desire and love.

The picking of a flower or a beautiful grass in the field or maybe in the wood or forest.

The way and moment when a child slips their hand into mine. The look of trust that passes between the two of us as I help them up from the floor after a nasty fall.

The thud of the earth on the coffin.  The small moment of finality that causes the mourners to catch their breath and feel the cry lodged in their throats as they move to throw the last flowers (gestures of love and respect) on top of the earth splattered box.

The small, small moment when the dying person expels their very last breath of precious air – the sigh that, in that small moment, signals the end of their life well-lived or wasted.

The moment when I first spot the plant struggling through the soil to greet the sun and my excited gaze.

Moments ,all small, yet strung together a string of translucent  pearls that form the life of the participant, the beholder, the one who experiences each moment  in time, aware or unaware.

Moments that become hours and days and years that flow into a lifetime of living in small, small moments.

One moment in time becomes a lifetime.

Prompt from “A Creative Writer’s Kit”by Judy Reeves

Written on 17 November 2004

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Local is the new loyal

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It is not an alien – it is me in a mask!

It has literally been months since the Muse called me in the middle of the night.

So much has changed in my own life and in the lives of most on this planet since I last typed away in the wee hours.

We have collectively undergone  a fundamental re-set of our way of being with one another and ourselves.

Whether you believe the corona virus was manufactured in a lab somewhere and unleashed on an unsuspecting worldwide audience with malicious intent, or that Gaia just had enough of the abuse and is fighting back to wake us all up – our world is different!

To my mind, it doesn’t really matter either way!

I follow my own heart and good old-fashioned common sense.

Social media and our conversations as we emerge from lock-down are dominated by division and discontent.

To mask or not to mask.

To vaccinate or not.

To kneel for BLM or refuse.

As we gradually leave our homes and start interacting with others outside our own precious circle we find ourselves having to negotiate new situations.

Isolation and the strange sci-fi movie our lives have become, have weaved their magic!

It is not all negative.

I find myself so aware of both our global inter-connection as well as our boundaries.

During the time of isolation so many people reached out to one another through social media sharing their small parts of the world. They took photos from their windows so that fellow humans on the other side of the planet could share their beautiful view.

And now as we emerge as if into bright light, we circle one another with wariness and sometimes probably even fear or anxiety.

For me though, there is something new that has grown in this time of incubation.

A respect for others’ point of view.

It is not that I wasn’t aware of other peoples’ feelings before – I am an empath and have always tuned into peoples’ essence rather than their appearance.

Now I know, without a doubt, that they have the right to take decisions about their health and well-being, just as I have.

And what they decide or are comfortable with, might not be what I believe or choose to do.

One size definitely doesn’t fit all.

Who am I to say that I am right and they are wrong?

Who am I to shame them or criticize their choices?

Take the mask – thing for example.

I don’t wear a mask just to protect myself (that too, of course) or to conform – I do it as a sign of respect and to protect those in public who serve me and have literally hundreds of people breathing on them every day.

I have a 94 year old father and I certainly do not want to infect him when I visit him. I also have a partner I need to consider, as well as children who tell me that they still want me around as their only surviving parent!

Oh, by the way, just a tip to the wise: if you have heard the advice about putting a drop of peppermint oil in your mask …

ONLY USE ONE DROP!

Otherwise you will find your face burning and tears streaming down your face along with the mucus dislodged by said oil!

It won’t be fun!

Just like the fogging up of your spectacles is no fun either.

My remedy for the fog is a buff under the mask or a paper clip or other wire on the bridge of my nose to make sure the warm air doesn’t escape up.

I have also become a fast and efficient shopper to minimize the time I need to “muzzle” myself.

Sorry … put that word in just to set some of you off…

I digress…

Talking about shopping – I find myself choosing very carefully where I spend my money.

Now more than ever, if I can support a small business rather than a big chain store, I do that.

We used to say:” Local is lekker”!

Last week I saw a banner-ad up in a big mall – “LOCAL IS THE NEW LOYAL”.

It really struck me.

It wasn’t just because of the dire situation our economy is in.

It was because local has a new meaning.

COVID-19 has forced us all to take responsibility for ourselves and those we love.

Goodness knows, our governments have shown us that they really are not up to it.

It’s gonna have to be an individual and sovereign affair leading to real unity.

My choices affect others – in my small circle and globally as well.

Local means me and you and those we love in ever widening circles until it becomes the whole wide world.

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We are One!

We are One!

Perdita-Fisherhaven-Messing about in boats

Photo taken before lock down

This morning whilst out on a walk with my two dogs my mind kept drifting back to something I read a few days ago.

It was a suggestion that Sandra Walter (http://www.sandrawalter.com/) made in one of her videos or newsletters.

When I read it, my heart reacted.

It made such perfect sense to me.

In my own words : the suggestion was that those of us who are lucky enough to be able to get out into nature during the lock down, should really absorb all the beauty and then transmit to the others who are not as fortunate – people stuck in urban environments , apartments, hospitals beds or circumstances that prevent them from connecting with Nature at this stage.

This thought so appealed to me , that I did just that this morning. I took it all in and beamed it out to the world.

I drew in the sight of the light on the Botriver Lagoon and the Kleinmond mountains in the distance and I sent that sight with all my love to the far corners of our beloved planet.

Perdita-Fisherhaven-View from the Yacht Club

Photo of the view from The Lake Marina Yacht Club in Fisherhaven (taken before the lock down)

The sound of the water lapping against the lagoon shore reminded me of the character in “Il Postino”who makes a recording of the sound of the waves to send to his friend the poet, Pablo Neruda.

Remembering this scene and the soundtrack of the movie, filled me which so much joy that it was easy to imagine light and love streaming from my open heart out into our troubled world.

O …K…, I hear you mutter!

If all of this is just too whoo whoo for your taste – think of all the amazing outpourings that have flooded your Facebook timeline.

People all over the world sharing the view from their window or taking the time to record their favourite poems to share with fellow poets and lovers of poetry. People , just like you, sharing the beauty that brings them joy.  Flooding our world with beauty and hope at a time when we most need it.

There have been outdoor and indoor concerts, singing from balconies, people sharing recipes and families connecting in ways they never have before.

Nothing like the Grim Reaper grinning at one to make one remember what is truly important!

Art, beauty, music, laughter, family, connection – the things that make us human.

Our instinct in times of pressure, strife and lock down has been to show compassion and to laugh, to come together and to do what it takes.  We have made things bearable by joking about our shared “reality” and reaching out with offerings of what makes us each happy!

As time has passed and some restrictions have been lifted , many of us have found ourselves angry and rebellious and have chosen to find fault and rage against it all.

The gentle loving voice in my heart has whispered to me:  what we resist, persists!

You remember that!

It was all the rage – Spirituality 101!

What if the time for “against”, is forever gone, dear ones?

What if it is time to create a New Earth?  To dream it into being?

A world we wish to give our children and our grandchildren.

A world without judgement, division and hate, artificial borders and a “them versus us” mentality.

What if we are truly one?

As I pondered what to write, I happened to read a post that echoed this message almost 100%!

So, I rest my case!

Unity consciousness is here.

We are all connected.

We are in this together.

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Hamba kahle Baba Credo Mutwa

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I was sad to hear of the passing of Credo Mutwa at the age of 98.

I searched my files to find this piece, I wrote fifteen years ago about my journey with Baba Credo Mutwa from Stellenbosch to Kuruman.

I have chosen to let the innocent woman I was then, speak:

“Hartlangs huis toe

‘n Paar maande gelede het ek ‘n werklik merkwaardige vrou ontmoet. Mary Ann is haar naam. Sy het op my tuisdorp, Stellenbosch, kom woon en werk. Sy is ‘n  kunstenares. Uit die herskepping van ou rommel, skep sy wondermooie kunswerke en in die proses maak sy ook haarself oor – word sy gesond.

Ons paaie het op synchronistiese wyse gekruis en ek het haar begin help in die gallery. Praktiese goed gedoen om haar by te staan met die reëlings vir die groot opening van die gallery wat op die 5de April sou geskied.

‘n Baie bekende Zoeloe man sou die gallery kom open.  Die ou en wyse man: ‘n toordokter, siener, kunstenaar, skrywer en bewaarder van sy en ander swart mense se kennis, wysheid en gebruike sou die aand daar wees.

In ‘n storievertellerstoel sit.

Die stoel is spesiaal vir hom gemaak. Vir die aand. Om hom te vereer. Uit sement en blink klippies, stukkende glas, ou porselein en ander westerse kitsch gemors en baie liefde en eerbied het ‘n towertroon sy gestalte gekry.

Toe hy praat, huil ek….want ek voel die diep liefde vir Afrika en sy mense wat in my siel woon. Kon dit nooit verstaan nie. My broers is albei landuit oor die politiek en die geweld (of so vermoed ek altans).

Maar ek, ek voel anders …nog altyd.

Het al ons land se mense hartstogtelik lief …diep en innig.

Die Here het dit bewerk dat ek die voorreg en verantwoordelikheid sou hê om hierdie wonderlike wysaard en sy geselskap huis toe te neem – Kuruman toe.

Met ons vertrek uit Glencairn, hou ons eers by die see stil en die vrouens skep kosbare seewater  en ek sien hulle is traag om die see te verlaat.  Ek sê vir Baba, wat by my in die motor bly sit: “Ek voel altyd die Here is so naby by die see.”

“Ja”, sê hy . “Ons mense glo alle lewe kom oorspronklik uit die see” en ek hoor hy verstaan wat ek bedoel.

Buite Leeugamka voel ek ‘n snaakse trilling op die stuur, dink eers dis die wind tot die vrouens van agter sê daar’s fout. Die engele help my om veilig stil te hou.  Toe ons uitklim, is die agterste band flenters – gebars.

Baba klim moeisaam uit en gaan sit ‘n entjie weg in die veld. Sy vrou hou hom geselskap en pluk plantjies in die veld.

Dit laat vir my(‘n middeljarige blanke vrou), ‘n 35-jarige leerling sangoma en haar assistent en ‘n seuntjie van tien met ‘n gebarste band in die middel van nêrens nie.

As ek nie so geskok was nie , het ek seker sommer dadelik begin lag. Vir die nuwe Suid-Afrika prentjie van die vrouens (een ewe met ‘n galblaas op die kop!) en die kind wat in die boekie naslaan en die gereedskap uitsnuffel en uitpluis hoe om die band te ruil.

Voor die AA kan arriveer, is ons weer op pad.  Ek het ‘n snaakse gevoel van kalmte en trots en bo-alles Vrede soos ons verder ry.

By die plekke waar ons stilhou om te eet, word ons met respek en eerbied bedien.

Al is ons’n buitengewone bende.

My hart is bly.

Dankbaar.

Ek verbeel my tog daar was dalk een oom wat uit die Steers gestorm het met ‘n bedremmelde vrou agterna .

Maar ek is nie seker of dit oor ons is nie …want in mý hart is daar net vrede en vreugde en die wete dat ek is waar my Skepper my wil hê.

Niks anders nie … net Liefde. My oë sien net die liefde raak.

In Victoria-Wes bly ons in die mooiste plekkie oor. Die eienares ontvang ons hartlik en spot dat sy ons in die Tokkelossie- huise wou sit.  Baba en Mamma slaap in Kalbassie en ons ander (die band-omruilbrigade) kry ons lê in die Pophuis. Hier leer ek dat die leerling sangoma ‘n gekwalifiseerde sielkundige is en verstaan ek hoekom die Heilige Gees in my oor gefluister het dat ek tog nie vooropgesteldes idees oor my reisgenote moet hê nie.

Verstaan ek ook hoekom my hart bly sing: “Bless you, oh my sister!”.

Ons deel mooie, heel oomblikke toe ons vrouens koer oor die pragtige outydse meubels en eetgerei. Ons praat van ons ouma’s wat ook sulke goed gehad het en wens almal ons kon langer in die pamperlangplek bly.

Eg vrou.

Oor die kultuurgrense heen.

Die seuntjie… soek net televisie en kos met tamatiesous.

Die tweede dag van die reis ken ons mekaar al beter . Ek spot my reisgenote : “Ek is is so bly sangoma’s moet ook pieipie”.

Daar is ‘n kosbare oomblik tussen my en Baba toe ek vir hom ‘n beker sap met ‘n spiraal daarop uithou en hy bevestig dat dit ook vir hulle die teken van Ewigheid is.

My hart beaam hierdie sê en dit smaak my dis ‘n kosbare geskenk uit die Here self se hand.

Later praat ons oor boeke en kuns en die uitbuiting van kunstenaars en vergifnis.

Met die inkom in Kuruman begin dit net so effentjies te reën. ‘n Seën vir die terugkerendes.

Met die afskeid, huil ek weer ombeskaamd en Mamma omhels my en sê in my oor : “Don’t cry, we will miss you too. You are a good girl.  Take good care of yourself”.

Ek mompel iets oor die engele wat my altyd omring en Mamma loer oor my skouer en sê : “I see”.

Baba sê dankie en dat ek moet kontak hou.

By my gastehuis vir die aand, wil ek steeds huil. Ek bel ‘n vriendin en vertel van al die oomblikkies en die gewaarwordings – probeer elke kosbare impuls oproep en oorvertel …so of ek dit wil bewaar.

Die volgende dag reis ek alleen terug.

My hart is vol herinneringe en dit voel of alles om my meteens helderder en varser is.

Ek verkneukel my aan die immer wisselende landskappe van ons pragtige land. Bêre die prentjie van kindertjies net buite Upington, wat met swartsakvlieërs speel, in my hart.

Wonder of ‘n juffrou soos ek hulle dit leer maak het?

In Calvinia by die Hantamhuis laat die Karoosterre my na my mense en Liefde verlang. Daar is turksvystroop te koop. Ek neem ‘n botteltjie vir my pa omdat dit my aan my oorlede ma  laat dink.

Ek koop ‘n CD en kry lag toe ek sien sy naam is “Tokkel Los – Hartlangs huis toe.”

Ek ry hartlangs huis toe .

Verby bekende plekke en naamborde.

Letterlik alles wat ek sien, praat met my. Roep vir my mense en gebeure op. Pieter Strauss sing van die “Annerlikheid van my land” en ek sing uit volle bors Koos Doep se Gebed oor en oor.

So ry-ry en sien-sien, kom lê die oorbekende wete in my hart – na alles…al die hartseer…al die ervarings… al die jare bly daar werklik net die Liefde oor.

Vreugde ook en Vrede.

Maar bo-alles net die Liefde van mense en veral van God.”

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In Times of Trouble

In times of trouble

 

“Let It Be

 The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be “

This past month or so I have found myself in times of trouble.

It crept up on me.

It all started, as it so often does with me, when I ignored the small voice in my heart whispering ever so softly that a project I was about to undertake, would not be good for me.

I even drew a card repeatedly: “Turn back – this will not be good for you”.

Did I listen?

No.

I had my own agenda.

Wrapped in good intentions, justifications and mind chatter-  it really seemed like a good idea at the time.

I sailed forth, intent on getting things right.  I had visions of closure, healing and showing the way, serving and making a difference – all those most noble, lovely things.

I probably should have known that choppy waters lay ahead, when Mother Mary started showing up everywhere.

In posts on Face Book, at my boutique (Hospice Shop), constant reminders of my own mother who passed away in 2005 and flashbacks of dreams and visions of Mary from way back when.

At a Frida Khalo party a dear, dear friend gave me a wooden Mother Mary bracelet very similar to the one I wore nineteen years ago when my life fell apart.

The previous bracelet had pictures of Jesus, saints and angels on it and I wore it for many years during my “Catholic” phase.

Funny that – first the masculine then the feminine – go figure!

Anyway, the times of trouble were no fun at all!

First I got flu and felt worse and worse.

Then I missed a step and fell bruising my right leg.

As the mottled shades of purple began to show, I got the flu again.

And then it hit me – a depression and anxiety so severe, I was forced to stop.

Dead in my tracks.

Dead is how I felt.

There was no past, present or future – just a bleakness and a lack of connection that would have been devastating and terrifying if I was capable of feeling at all.

A loved one who knows depression only too well, took care of me. Loved me through the adjustment to the medication the doctor prescribed after all my homeopathic interventions failed.

For the first time in many years, the doctor I visited, actually asked me for feedback on how I was reacting to the medication.

When I thanked him (much to his embarrassment) it became clear that he considers patients to be responsible for their own health and partners in the treatment!

My kinda doctor.

The medication worked powerfully for me. I could still feel and process and cry and heal. It just took the edge off enough for me to painstakingly claw my way out of the bewilderment.

I spent September and October retreating and resting, taking good care of myself.

Every Monday I visit a therapist – again just the right one for me. She is helping me to re-build a solid foundation of self-awareness and self-care.

And my medical aid pays for it as part of Prescribed Minimum Benefits.

Everywhere I go now, I find myself sharing about this “dark night of the soul “ experience and everywhere my confessions are met with understanding and often relief.

People seem so glad to talk about their experiences of depression and anxiety with someone who knows what it is like.

I so wanted to write this blog during October as it was Mental Health month.

I wasn’t ready.

I am now.

For me this experience has been an opportunity to ask for help, to allow others to help and support me and above all to press the re-set button on my life.

It has led me to release patterns and behaviours that have not been good for me .

To take responsibility for me.

To step back into my authentic power.

Whilst this is not an experience I would wish on anyone : it has gifted me with deep inner healing and beautiful transformative experiences.

It gave me much needed rest and the impetus to re-design my life.

Best of all, it has shown me that I live in communion with the Divine every second of my life.

Now I joyfully and gracefully create a life consciously from that communion.

A life I will be proud of on my deathbed.

 

 

 

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The Chalice of Life!

For my father, David Eduard Van Dijk, on Father’s Day 2019 with loving gratitude for instilling a love of books in his children:

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Once upon a time, in a kingdom not too far away from here, lived a king and queen with their three children.

The king was a thin man with a pointy grey beard who wore thick spectacles and loved to read. The castle was lined with shelves containing books in all shapes, sizes and  imaginable colours. It was filled with the musty smell of old paper and ink. King Eruditus was known for his knowledge of many subjects none of which pertained to anything related to human relationships or the Unknown Realm.

To him it did not exist at all.  This special Holy Realm. He had no patience with the women who chatted amongst themselves of this other place  – one of miracles and magic.  Equality, peace and freedom. More a way of being really, than a place, they said, where one could do and be anything one wanted to.  Even talk to those who had passed on, it was whispered. Sometimes glimpse the future or receive messages from the Past.  A state of timelessness and Grace where the ancestors live and breath and have their being.

Try as he might the King could not prevent the talk. No law or edict or proclamation seemed to have any effect . He found the whole business exceedingly tiresome. To him only facts were real and of any worth.  He seldom, if ever, left his reading corner, preferring to even eat his meals alone surrounded by his beloved volumes.

This sorry state of affairs was difficult for those close to him to bear. Not to speak of the inhabitants of Academia who had not so much as glimpsed their monarch in many years. In fact, things had really begun to suffer because their absent ruler hated being disturbed for anything practical. To make matters worse there was a severe drought in the land – had been for years.

If Truth be told, the kingdom was in crisis. There were no cattle or other animals left, very little food and the only water to be found was very high up in the mountains. Work on the pipeline to bring the precious liquid down to the people was slow and laborious and often interrupted by marauding bands of desperate peasants who wanted to save their dying children. Corruption, bribery and violence was rife.

Queen Mercy was the only one who could talk some sense into King Eruditus when she could get up the nerve to face her rather intimidating spouse. She was a gentle woman with raven-coloured hair and doe-like brown eyes . She loved to wear floral gowns shaped like bells that swished when she moved and velvety pumps on her dainty, little feet. She smelt like red roses in full bloom and jasmine in the early spring. She had a loving nature and cared deeply for her three children and also for all the people of Academia.

She, too, had withdrawn of late, unable to bear the sight of hollow-eyed thirsty mothers and listless children trailing behind the parched men who begged at street corners and banged on the castle’s gates at night demanding action. She spent her days and nights praying for a solution and for the strength and wisdom to help her husband and her people. Eventually she could bear it no longer and died of a broken heart.

The king was devastated and in his despair and anguish he ventured out just long enough to see what was happening in the kingdom. He vowed to find a way to save Academia and her people.

He called all the wise men of the land together and asked what should be done. They scoured every conceivable book, deliberated, debated and discussed every possible avenue of action. No-one  seemed to know what to do. None of the many scriptures or books of Wisdom seemed to offer any workable solution.

The two princes were sent out on a mission to find remedies to the evils that had befallen the kingdom. Both sent word after a short time that they had found no answers to Academia’s dilemma. They each found a new kingdom, married a lovely lady from that region and settled there.  They begged their father to visit them and give up his castle to live with them.

Eruditus was somewhat  relieved that his sons had found a way to live a good life , yet he also felt betrayed and determined to stay on in  Academia.

Give up his kingdom….never !

Dismayed he surveyed the shriveled land that had once been green and lush. He became more and more reclusive.

Seeing her father’s dilemma, the Princess spoke:

“Father, I have heard of a wise woman who lives in the woods at the foot of Mount Hochmah . They say she is the guardian of the Chalice of Life. Maybe we should ask her for help. “

“A woman ! Indeed ! Where did you read of this woman, daughter?”

“I did not read of her, father.  I heard her voice calling me in my dreams . When I awoke a little brightly coloured bird sitting on my sill chirped her name.   Sophia, Sophia ,Sophia. Three times I heard him. Later , whilst in the rose garden I heard her calling my name in the wind.”

“What nonsense!  Voices in the wind…dreams and speaking birds – you have lost your mind. Go to your room.”

Saddened and shamed the princess ran to her room and lay on the bed too miserable even to cry. She thought of her mother and wished that she were there.

No sooner had she made this wish than Queen Mercy appeared in her room.

“Dear child, it is time for you to do what I could not. You need to follow your heart and be courageous and true.  The kingdom and your father and all the good people of Academia, everyone…. is depending on you.”

“What do you mean? What must I do? Mother, don’t leave… What am I to do?” She cried as the apparition disappeared.

She sat in silence on the opulent bed until it grew dark around her. She rose to light a candle and continued her vigil. Waiting for the voice she had heard or her mother’s ghost to reappear. Neither came. Yet somehow she grew calm and sure.

As dawn came and the castle awoke and began to move for the day, she packed a few things and left on a journey to find the one who had called to her in her dreams. She left without word- slipping out of the castle over the field that once had been covered in green grass and yellow daisies.

She spoke to the arid field, the anxious small animals she met along the way. She avoided settlements and people keeping to areas where she could journey unseen.  She traveled at night to escape the scorching rays of the sun. Drinking dew in the mornings and lying in ditches and hollows or any other form of shelter she could find during the hottest parts of the day. Eating sparingly from the small pouch she carried tied to her waist that magically seemed to always contain another morsel no matter how many times she dipped into it.

Her favourite purple cloak provided shade from the sun and warmth at night. It became her comfort, her home. It ,too, remained pristine and whole –  untouched by passing branches. Clean, despite the dirt she lay on. Unharmed by the elements, as she was.

Whenever she came to crossroads or a fork in the path she asked : “What is in my heart? Which road shall I take?”.

Then, having discerned, she set out once more confident and determined. She traveled for miles and miles over rocky terrain and crossed many sandy, dry river beds.

The moon was her greatest friend lighting the way. When she became despondent or afraid she looked up at the starry night and saw her mother’s face in the bright moon.

Strangely enough, although she heard the jackals call and even once a lion’s roar they never bothered her. The snakes, lizards and spiders she encountered scurried away as if very busy with their own agenda.

After days of traveling she was exhausted and ready to give up the quest.

“If what I seek is not round the next bend I will lie down and die”, she thought.

As she reached the bend in the road, she paused and prayed for help. She spoke to her mother and her other ancestors, her guardian angels, archangels, saints and all her mother had told her of, who lived in the Unknown Realm. She pleaded to be shown the way to help her father and his kingdom.

Rounding the bend, she gasped.

In front of her lay a beautiful green forest and as she stood transfixed by the sight, she was sure she could hear the sound of running water!

As she ran with arms outstretched, delighted and convinced she had reached the end of her journey, she was stopped in her tracks by an enormous silver and green long necked dragon.

The dragon towered over her, its jewel shaped blue third eye pulsating in the centre of its rather small head.  She waited with bated breath for the roar of fire . All that came from the beast’s mouth was a feeble spurt of puny flame pale yellow in colour.

The dragon was leashed and was pulling and straining at the chains that held it captive.

At first the princess thought the creature was straining to get to her until she noticed a stone bowl from which a fountain of pure, clear mountain water bubbled.  The dragon was desperate to reach the water.

As she watched she thought of the thirst of her own land and it’s people, of the parched road she had followed to reach this place.

With scarcely a moment’s hesitation she reached out and loosened the beaded collar around the monster’s neck.

As she did this, she looked into his eyes and saw all she had seen on her journey.

She saw again her father’s gaunt and haunted face ; the wretched, tired eyes of the woman who had recognized her just after she left the castle, felt again the woman’s pleading tug at the hem of her purple cloak. It was this desperate gesture that had made her set her course through uninhabited land; to travel with the animals at night ; spurred her on when she grew weary and despondent. She heard too, her mother’s voice and saw again, in her mind, the desert land and her people who were depending on her.

The beast heaved itself forward and lunged.

She closed her eyes expecting to be devoured.

When nothing happened, she gingerly opened one eye, then the other, to see the dragon lapping up the water like a puppy dog.

As she ever so gently and carefully approached the drinking dragon, she heard her name being called…in chorus….a lilting chant that beckoned her to enter the forest .

The ferns seemed to greet her, raising their heads as she passed. The moss underfoot was a soft green carpet and the best of all was the clear stream gurgling, inviting her to drink freely. Which she did gratefully, lying face down on the soft grass, hugging and stroking  the round, smooth river stones.

When she had had her fill, she ran around wildly, beside herself with joy. She lay on her back on the moss carpet , watching the sunbeams dance through the canopy of trees to tickle her face.

She awoke startled by the dragon licking her face and nudging her to get up.

He was hunched at her side. Looking up she realized he was waiting for her to get onto his back.

He ambled through the wood until he reached a clearing. He bent down and waited patiently for the princess to dismount.

In the centre of the clearing was a clear pool surrounded by large ferns. As she looked into the water she saw a very beautiful, elegant woman wearing an exquisite, dark purple cloak. Her hair was dark and framed her perfectly oval face. Her eyes were kind and a warm brown. They seemed wise…her eyes.  And compassionate. There was a light shining from them.. so bright that the princess felt like blinking.

She gazed at the beautiful woman and was so moved and touched by her beauty that she began to cry.

As her tears fell the reflection was disturbed and she glimpsed a fine silver goblet lying lodged amongst the pebbles at the bottom of the pool. It was simple and beautifully crafted with a few brilliant jewels and delicate inscriptions and engravings that filled her with awe and wonder.

She lifted the cup tenderly from the water and studied the markings carefully and reverently for she knew instinctively that this was a holy object.

In the centre of the cup was a simple engraving that mesmerized the princess – a heart with a spiral in it. Under it were the words: “The answers lie within”. Eagerly she turned the cup over to look inside . It was empty.

Disappointed she hugged the cup to her chest. It felt as her heart was breaking.

“Look again. Go within. Look again. Go within,” she heard the angelic choir chant.

So she peered into the cup again and seeing nothing there, she glanced at the pool. The reflection was back.  It was the same except for a beautiful heart with a spiral in it forming a vortex as she watched almost too afraid to breathe.

From the vortex words began to dance and as she read them, she felt them in her heart.

Love , Forgiveness, Compassion, Peace, Sharing, Kindness, Joy, Laughter.

The words danced and she began to dance with them and to sing and in her heart she knew.

She cried for joy and as she cried and released all the pain of her journey the heavens opened and it began to rain.

She flew back home to the castle on the dragon’s back, blessing the land as she passed over it. Blessing it with her healing tears. She felt the water on her face and saw the people cry out in joy and relief.

King Eruditus was so happy to see his little princess again. He found her changed though. She was older, wiser and very beautiful.  Her bearing was regal and serene and her brown eyes shone with fervour and conviction as she said:

“Books are fun and interesting too. But the answers, dear father, lie within.”

To this day, the crest of the flourishing kingdom of Academia bears these words: “Read, Enjoy, but go within!”

The people and their king learnt the ways of the Heart from their beautiful, courageous Princess, the heir to the throne.

And they all read happily ever after.

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Life is a Park Run!

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These two beautiful people are definitely part of my Personal Best!

A while back we discovered a fun event: the Park Run.

So every Saturday morning (or most Saturday mornings) we start our weekend in earnest running (or in my case walking) for five kilometers.

From what I understand, there are Park Runs all over the world so you can take part where ever you happen to be.

It is free.

It is fun.

It is beautiful.

Jan is a lot more physical than I am.  He loves cycling and has run many marathons.  He was a diver and is a biker.

He and his body know one another really well.

He knows quite a few neat tricks about conserving energy, using gravity on the downhills and taking the shortest route.

So I am learning.

At the start of the Hermanus Park Run at the Overstrand Training Institute, there are two wooden sculptures of a hare and a tortoise.

Without a doubt the tortoise is my totem animal!

It happens to be a symbol of a writer for me too.

But that is another story.

One of my most precious realizations came as we entered the forest after passing through Camphill during our first run.

I quite literally felt the difference in energy as I entered the trees.  I remembered how I felt as a child in Germany in the beautiful rich forest outside Göttingen.

Reaching the forest , it felt as if I could breathe more easily and I began to long for the forest stretch on subsequent runs.

Imagine my delight when a little girl actually verbalized my love of the forest in a clear and ringing voice during our third of fourth outing.

“I love the forest, Mommy!” she declared.

Wings to my heart and feet, Little One!

Then there was the whole question of competition .

I don’t like the concept.

Never have.

Park Runs are cool that way.

You can if you want to and you don’t have to, if like me, you would prefer not to.

You get your results after each run and these reflect where you are at in the field and all that jazz, but most importantly, you get a PB (Personal Best) time.

So you are running your own race.

I have found that there are people who run at more a less the same pace as me and  I do overtake them if I can in an effort to run a good time, but I prefer to think of it as benchmarking rather than the dreaded “c” word.

I made one exception last Saturday that I do need to share.

There were three individuals of the male persuasion last week – two adults and a young boy who made me compete.

Despite myself!

They walked broadly and in spite of the fact that I was very focussed on my own “race” I began to sense energetically that these boys were blocking people on purpose.  Jan confirmed this for me afterwards.

So I overtook them a couple of times and then they made a point of passing me again and so it went on.

Towards the end of the run I found myself behind them and was very aware of the sense I had that they didn’t like the idea of a woman (much less a sixty year old!) passing them.

For a moment I thought of letting it be.

Then I felt my outrage at all things patriarchal triumphantly propel me past them.

Vat so, manne!

Insights come and go as I experiment with focus and flow, striving and relaxing, lightness and heaviness, running and walking.

During one of the runs, a young father passes us.  He has an infant strapped to his chest in one of those nifty kangaroo pouches.

I am so happy, because I find I am no longer sad when I see this father and child.

I am simply delighted for this little one, growing up connected and nurtured – close to their parent’s heart .

I hear parents and grandparents explaining the walk and life in general to their children as we pass each other.

Friends share intimate confidences and snippets float on by.

I am in my body.

I am connected to all who share this run with me.

I walk my own race.

Life is a Park Run.

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