Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas!

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.'
- Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

Thursday, December 23, 2010

beach art

The girls and I spent a happy couple of hours at Maori Bay this afternoon. After a brief and invigorating swim in the surf they busily built sand castles with the black ironsand, decorated with shells and feathers scavenged from the edge of high tide. I discovered this photo taken by Talya of her art work when I was downloading today's images from the camera (taken while I was having one last dunk in the sea). I thought it was rather well done!

Friday, December 17, 2010


This small flock of seagulls was particularly vocal as I watched them congregate on the rocks. It made me wonder what they were discussing and who was in charge. The one standing just left of centre seemed to have a very strong opinion on the topic!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Every December the pohutukawa trees which line the coast of New Zealand burst into a beautiful crimson bloom, just in time for Christmas! Here is a fine specimen seen at Shelley Beach on the Kaipara Harbour. I am often amazed when I see a tree covered in red blossoms standing right next to another one with barely a single flower. It makes me wonder what the magic ingredient might be? Attitude? Courage? Love?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Hello I'm back!
I've decided to do a series of photos depicting Summer in Auckland - we had some of the hottest November temperatures ever recorded and who knows what lies ahead for December and the rest of Summer!
This picture was taken at Piha Beach in November (the same day I took
this shot).
There was a surf life saving competition in progress and the colourful flags fluttered brightly in the strong breeze. The life savers do a fantastic job throughout the summer making sure bathers are safe - the wild west coast is renowned for the strong tidal rips that can make for dangerous swimming conditions. Every beach has a reminder to Swim Between the Flags (although these aren't being used for that purpose, I think they were team flags):

Saturday, November 20, 2010

double chocolate

In the wake of my mid-life rant and as November draws rapidly to a close, here is another black and white photo: the remnants of double chocolate muffin mixture; gooey and delicious, waiting to be licked.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

on poppies and purpose

I think I’m having a mid-life crisis. I’m 43 years old and I am going through what can only be described as overwhelming feelings of quiet desperation as I look back on years and years of self-doubt and self-flagellation. Outwardly I have a great life – a loving husband, two incredibly beautiful and talented daughters, a supportive family, a comfortable home, financial stability, a small but close group of loyal friends, good health and a range of skills and abilities that mean I ‘can do anything’! And I can. I know in my heart I have the intellect, the physical abilities, the creativity, the courage and the stamina to do anything I set out to do.

And yet, I feel like someone who has spectacularly underachieved – someone who has ‘so much potential’ yet so little self-belief. Not that I want to go around ‘blowing my own trumpet’ or ‘getting too big for my boots’ or achieving celebrity status (now that would be pushing it) – I just want to feel I am making a difference in the world – that I am putting my wealth of God-given talent to good use – that I am fulfilling my purpose. I am tired of thinking small - I want to 'think big' – to stop apologising and to embrace everything that I am, even the parts that I wish I could change but I know that in order to find peace I must accept – simply because they are me.

Perhaps it has something to do with ‘tall poppy syndrome’ – rather than standing out from the crowd and achieving greatness, I would rather downplay my talents to avoid being in the spotlight. I was taught that modesty and humility were values to strive for but I think I’ve turned them into a habit of perpetual self-effacement. I have always abhorred being singled out in class as an example of someone who ‘can do it’…right back to my primary school days when I got full marks for my tests, and sailed through the end of year exams, to yesterday when my yoga teacher asked me to demonstrate a pose which required a certain degree of flexibility and strength (perhaps the 10 years of practice helped). I would rather curl up in a ball! I so dread being thought of as someone who thinks she is superior, all I want is acceptance and connection – a shared struggle, a common battle is what forms friendships and builds bridges.

So with this fear comes a tendency to do the bare minimum, to achieve less, to blend in with the masses simply so that I can feel like I belong. But more and more I feel a growing, gnawing, agonising sense that I am shrinking, day by day – that soon I will be completely invisible. Perhaps this is part of the 40-plus stay-at-home-Mom-syndrome – all of a sudden one’s circle of influence diminishes to the immediate family and every waking moment is devoted to ensuring that they are happy, healthy and well fed – a role I wouldn’t change for anything but at which I feel I spectacularly fail on a daily basis (try getting a 5 year old sugar junkie to eat her greens)!!

Or perhaps there is more to it.
Perhaps this gnawing agony is a call to Do Something.
Do Anything.
Just Do it Well.
See it Through to Completion.
Stop being Afraid of your Own Amazing Self.
Because when you’re 43 and you planning on living to 100, there is still plenty of time to Change the World.
Or at least your Part of it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This is a bit of a 'visual chinese whisper' follow up from Justine's Reflections post: On Saturday I attended a yoga workshop in Piha which is a small unspoilt beach town on Auckland's west coast. The west coast of New Zealand's north island is famous for its black ironsand beaches. I love walking along the beach at low tide watching the reflected clouds in the glassy wet ironsand.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

hand picked

Yesterday afternoon Talya picked a bunch of white daisies which were growing in the fields next to her riding school. I thought they'd made a good black and white November shot!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

sunday creative: aspiration

Aspiration seems to be a recurring theme right now. Rachel posted this great quote on Saturday, and then the Sunday Creative prompt for the week is 'aspiration'. I thought I'd take part with this picture I took yesterday morning... at about 7am we heard the distinctive sound of gas blasting hot air into a great big balloon. We looked outside into the beautiful blue sky and saw this:
(a brief deviation from b&w november!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

work in progress

This is my second entry in Justine's black & white november: my husband is in the the process of restoring a red 1965 Ford Mustang convertible and I took a few photos of it yesterday afternoon, looking not very pretty at all! But I can guarantee that in a few months time it will be back in mint condition. Mustangs are his passion and it amazes me how much joy he derives from spending the weekend underneath this car! It always reminds me of the importance of finding and pursuing one's passions - a sure-fire route to happiness :-)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 2010

Wow - November! Where did October go? The last couple of weeks have been busy and I was fighting off some sort of virus until I finally resorted to antibiotics which worked almost instantaneously(coincidence?)!

Anyhow, I have lots of plans for November - I'd been planning a big spring clean in preparation for the new year and then I happened to read my horoscope on She Said, She Said - by Sheilaa. (Go and read yours). I don't normally follow my horoscope but when I read this I sat up and paid attention!

ARIES (March 21 – April 20) The recent full moon in your birth sign heralds the official beginning of a once in a lifetime, major transformational shift that will permanently alter the way you think, feel and act about–everything. Get out in front of this unstoppable force by sorting through and emptying out your emotional storage unit. What to do with the old stuff and relationships that no longer reflect who you’re becoming? Make room for your new energy and perspective by setting the old out on the curb to be picked up for recycling.
(italics are mine)

Once in a lifetime, transformational shift, unstoppable force?? This is exactly what I need to start off 2011 on the right note.

So my intention for November is to:
Clear Out (mentally, physically, emotionally), to Lighten Up and Let Go so that I can Make Space for that Unstoppable Force
Because how could I possible let this once in a lifetime opportunity pass me by??

My other project for November is to take part in
Justine Gordon's Black & White November. And here is my first entry(from my archives) - taken in July 06 when Anika was 9 months old. One day she was playing in her bedroom and I grabbed the camera, selected the b&w setting and clicked away. This is one of my favourites.
Where did she get those eyelashes?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

yoga shapes

My yoga teacher once said, 'when you start doing yoga it's all about making shapes with your body'. Later on you get into the deeper, more philosophical aspects of the practice - those come with time and consistent practice. But in the beginning, yoga is about making shapes.

One of the most well known yoga poses is trikonasana or triangle pose. I'm not going to go into a detailed explanation of how to practice this pose - you can read about it at Yoga Journal, or you can watch Rachel's Suburban Yogini tv where she beautifully demonstrates a variation of the pose (thanks Rachel!).
It's one of my favourite poses because even though I have been practicing it for over ten years now, each time I do it I learn something new about my body - about how placing my feet in a certain way, or working with props, or extending my arms, or pressing down my feet - can help me to achieve a deeper awareness of the pose, an experience of ' myself moving through space' and thereby a greater appreciation of what my body can do when I give it the love(=attention) and support (=props) it needs.
And this learning follows me off my mat and into my life.
To put it simply, I'm coming to appreciate my body not for its shape but for its ability to make shapes.

And for me this has been the greatest gift of yoga : the gift of awareness - of being able to enjoy the experience of being in my body, and to celebrate what it feels like to be human - no matter what shape I am in!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the language of shape

'I found I could say things with color and shapes that
I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for'. Georgia O'Keefe

Pelvis with Distance (1943)
"I was most interested in the holes in the bones - what I saw through them - particularly the blue from holding them up in the sun against the sky".
(I found this artwork by Georgia O'Keefe here)
Thoughts for today:
What do you have no words for?
Is there a shape and a colour to describe it?
How can you use art and photography to express yourself?
Isn't this what art is all about?

Monday, October 18, 2010

the shape of my week

has prompted
us to pay attention
to shapes this week: I
plan to look at life a little bit
differently, to look for hidden patterns,
to experiment with rhythm and repetition in my
writing, to explore ways in which I might be able to change a
thing simply by turning it upside down or inside out; to change the way I think
by altering my viewpoint; & to change the way I live by adjusting my perception:
'To look at something as
though we had never seen it before
requires great courage'
Henri Mattisse

Friday, October 15, 2010

a few of my favourite things...

What would a week about 'heart' be without a 'things I love' post?
Here is my FRIDAY list:

Flat white - one a day, double shot espresso, with heart shaped patterns in the foam...
Red wine - a glass a day, sometimes two - any more and I suffer the consequences!
Internet - what did we do without it?!
Dogs - loyal friends, great walking companions, excellent doorbells
Apples, apricots, avocados, asparagus...
Yoga - keeps me sane, one asana at a time!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

open your heart

Most of us spend a large portion of our days bending forward, shoulders hunched - at a desk, over a computer, driving a car, doing housework, gardening...there are very few activities where we are actually required to stand up tall and throw our shoulders back! No wonder our lives start to feel compressed and closed in!

The backbend poses in yoga are all designed to open the chest, release the shoulders, and uplift energy levels. There is nothing quite like the feeling one gets after completing an intense backbend sequence. But if you don't have time to fit in a 90 minute yoga session you can start off with this simple chest opener. It only takes a couple of minutes (even though my description of it is quite long and detailed). It's a great way to start the day and can be repeated whenever you feel the need to lift your energy and open your heart!

Stand with your feet parallel, about hip distance apart.

Stand up tall with your hands by your sides and get a sense of your shoulders being positioned directly above your hips, and your hips directly above your ankles.

Press the feet down and lift the legs up, allowing the tail bone to extend down towards the floor. Draw the navel back towards the spine and lift up through the crown of the head. Feel yourself growing taller!

(This is called Tadasana - mountain pose - the most basic of the yoga standing poses)

Now take your hands behind your back and interlock your fingers, keeping the arms long and elbows straight. The hands should be resting on the buttocks at the base of the spine with the thumbs close to your body.

Roll the shoulders back and down towards the hands and lengthen the arms downwards.

Draw the shoulder blades together and into the back of the body. Lift the sternum up towards the chin, without throwing the chest forward.

Keep the navel drawing back towards the spine, front thighs moving towards the back thighs, feet pressing down.

Look up slightly, keeping the neck relaxed and throat soft.

Now inhale and lift the arms away from the back, keeping the arms extended.

Feel the broadness across the front of the chest. As the ribcage expands allow the breath to fill the chest cavity, creating space around the heart and lungs. Hold for about 30 seconds, breathing normally.

On an exhalation, release the arms back down towards the back.

Now change the interlock of the fingers so that the other thumb is closest to you (this may feel like the 'unnatural' grip of the fingers). Repeat the life of the arms to open the chest again.

Do you feel a lift in your energy, a space around your heart, a feeling of lightness?

You may well find you spend the rest of your day feeling more generous and open-hearted!

p.s. this is even more beneficial when practiced outdoors :-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

shape of my heart

I was trying to photograph this wooden heart given to me by a good friend a few years ago.. it sits on a shelf in the kitchen with some mugs. As I was taking the picture I realised that the handle of the mug formed the shape of a heart sliced in half..a sort of 'semiheart'.

And while we're talking about heart shapes do you remember that song by Sting called Shape of my Heart? Here are the lyrics from the chorus:

I know that the spades are swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

home is where the heart is

I've often thought about this phrase and how it applies to me - in the last 10 years I've had a bit of trouble defining exactly where my 'home' is - where do I belong? Where do I fit in? Where is the place where I feel most comfortable, most able to be me - because that is surely what home is - a place where one can relax, a place of peace and quiet, where you are surrounded by loved people and things.

When it comes to cities, I will always think of Cape Town as home but as the years go by Auckland has also become a place where I feel happy and comfortable. My daughters were born here, my husband is from here - this is where our family was made and moulded.

As far as a roof over our heads is concerned, we have been living a rather nomadic life during the last 10 years, moving 5 times but our 'dream home' is within reach at last. We're renting a house while we look for some land to build a family home, somewhere we can spend the next 15 or 20 years, a place where we can plant a tree and watch it grow (I'm going to blog about this process at my new blog home sweet home!)

Through all these changes I've sometimes felt lost, anchorless, as if I am bobbing around in an ocean waiting to be washed up on shore. The things that have kept me afloat has been the love and support of family, near and far - and friends, old and new. And also the gradual deepening of my awareness of Who I Am - in a wider sense. I no longer feel that where I live or what I own or how I look or even what I eat will keep me safe.

I do know without a doubt that the feeling of Being at Home, is so much more about being comfortable in my own skin and having faith in the path of Life than about living in any particular place.

The world is an oyster and the pearl we so long to find is really the beating of our hearts, the air that we breathe, and memories we hold dear - the sum of every moment that has made us what we are today - right here, right now.
Wheresoever you go, go with all your

Monday, October 11, 2010

beginning again

I've been racking my brain for ways to inject some life into this blog. The August Break taught me that a specific theme/project/structure makes regularly posting easier - rather than waiting for inspiration to randomly strike (it seldom happens!).
So I'm going to start off with a weekly theme, and then use the theme to inspire my photography and writing: As I've mentioned before I'm taking part in Joanna Paterson's Treasure Conscious online writing & photography course (we're into week 4 now) - each week Joanna provides a prompt to guide our practice during the week - this week the prompt is heart. And so that I don't get myself confused and my attention split in multiple directions (quite easily done), my soul sisters theme for this week is also heart. The heart shape has always been synonymous with and has become the universal symbol of love...but the word heart is open to many interpretations and can be used in many contexts. I'm going to try and explore it from a few different angles this week.

“It is only with the heart that one can see clearly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

back in the Land of the Long White Cloud

We're back from our holiday in South Africa - it was everything I hoped it would be..and more! It is good to be back in New Zealand too, and in some ways the trip is now just a dream: the only evidence I have that we were actually away is about 1000 photographs and a head and heart full of happy memories!
I'm planning on becoming a more frequent blogger again, starting next week when school begins again.
Watch. This. Space.

In the meantime, here's one of my favourite Cape Town shots - taken at the magnificent
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

red tuesday

Yesterday was a perfect spring day in Cape Town. I took a lot of photos - I was particularly looking for things red (I'm taking part in Joanna Paterson's Treasure Conscious online writing/photography course and our prompt for the week is Splashes of Colour). This is my favourite, taken at Kalk Bay harbour:

Friday, September 24, 2010

visual chinese whispers

Justine Gordon has started a photographic chain..a game of visual chinese whispers - and this is my contribution (taken by my daughter last week at The Barnyard in Cape Town). Join in the fun and leave a comment on her post :-)
Also, go and check out my sister's new blog lucky fish - she takes great photos!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010


197 days ago I wrote this post.

The days stretched out before me like a long flat desert road to an oasis.
But they have slipped through my fingers like crystal clear water.
And tomorrow we fly!

I love my life in New Zealand. But I also love that I can get on an aeroplane and be transported back to my life in South Africa - a life which is still there waiting for me to step back into, thanks mostly to the wonderful people that live there - the people who have known me the longest.

I will savour each sweet moment, each delicious day - allowing each one to embrace me like a hug, feeling it, enjoying it, returning it, letting it slip into the corners of my mind and heart so that I may retrieve it at a later date and enjoy it all over again.

And when it's time for me to get back on the aeroplane and fly back to Auckland, I know my beautiful life here will be waiting to welcome me home.

Life is a continual circle of hello's and goodbyes,
beginnings and endings,
looking forward and glancing back,
some things change, some things stay the same.

Tomorrow we fly!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

reflections on the august break

Wow, it feels weird to be posting words again, as opposed to just uploading a photo! I really enjoyed taking part in the August Break - for me the break was more of a 'breakthrough'.
Here are some great truths which were reinforced for me during the month:

- committing publicly to a group project is a great way to gain inspiration, support and ongoing feedback

- your number one critic/fan is yourself - take note of her feedback but don't get caught up in it or put off by it!

- when you pay attention, life presents all sorts of opportunities that otherwise go unnoticed

- when you notice what is right in front of you, you realise that the answer is always staring you in the face

- photography (and/or any other form of creativity) is a great way of focusing on life as it is, and finding the beauty that is always present

- seeking beauty is a short cut to a life filled with love, appreciation and abundance since 'to appreciate' also means 'to escalate' i.e. when you appreciate what you have, you automatically attract more things to 'appreciate' :: the result - ABUNDANCE

- a month (or a year, or a lifetime) is only ever presented to you one day (and in fact, one moment) at a time - all you have to do is show up, pay attention, make a choice, and do what needs to be done

- you always do have a choice: about what to do, where to go, what to focus on, how to respond, how to live, and who to love

- you can travel to new places without leaving your home town - all you have to do is take a different route

I'm planning on continuing with this photography thing...hopefully getting a few expert tips from my dear sister when I am in Cape Town later this month (YAY!)

I've also signed up for Joanna Paterson's Treasure Conscious 8-week online course starting on 13 September - looking forward to using writing and photography to continue to explore the treasures in every day.

Happy Spring to all you Southern Hemisphere readers! Happy Autumn, if you live north of the Equator!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

pukeko in the rain

The last day of August, the last (official) day of Winter and the last day of the 'August break': this picture gives you a good idea of what August has been like in Auckland - wet! About ten minutes before it was taken the sky was blue and the sun was shining..but that's Auckland for you - four seasons in one day.
I've loved taking part in this project - thanks to Susannah for initiating it!

Friday, August 27, 2010

quote 3

from Good magazine - NZ's guide to sustainable living - they have a great website!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Shelby can't resist a good board game..especially if there is a dice involved!

Friday, August 20, 2010

starfish magic

Starfish Magic visited our local library and ran a 1 hour interactive workshop - great fun for all ages!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

oh deer

Anika is sure that that is Father Christmas' house up there on the hill and those are his reindeer grazing in the field.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010


Bolliwood is an Indian restaurant in Ponsonby Road which has a fantastic $10 lunch special - I had the dhal - it was delicious!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Some long awaited winter sunshine prompted a visit to the playground this afternoon!

Monday, August 9, 2010

remembering summer

I dug this picture out of the archives today, taken at Hahei on the Coromandel Peninsula in January this year. It's been so cold and wet around here lately I felt like a reminder of sunshine!