Wednesday, January 27, 2010

when life is tough, apply lipstick

Conversation held yesterday with my 4-year-old:

Anika: “Mommy, do I HAVE to have a shower?”
Me: “Yes”
Anika: “Okayyyyy, I’ll just put my lipstick on!”

What I've learned:
When you have no choice, apply lipstick, smile and get on with it :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

my beautiful week 3

I'm enjoying my daily stone collecting and have really noticed how it compels me to pay attention! My twice weekly 30-minutes-of-uninterrupted-writing commitment is on hold until the end of the school holidays (next week) - it would mean getting up at 5.30am before my early walk/yoga routine and right now I'm enjoying my sleep too much! In the meantime I snatch moments when I can.

- Kitchen chemistry: combine flour, water, sugar, salt, yeast, oil. There is something wholly satisfying about the rising of dough.

- If I close my eyes the sound of the wind through tall trees is like waves crashing against rocks.

- The song of cicadas punctures the humid stillness around our cottage.

Have a great week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Saint Francis and the Sow

I found this beautiful poem by Galway Kinnell after an excerpt was included in this post on Zen Habits.
May it remind you of your own perfect loveliness!

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

with thanks to Sarah for her beautiful photograph x

Thursday, January 21, 2010

my beautiful week 2

We're back from our Hahei holiday. It was a wonderful break and I feel ready for 2010 now!
Here are 3 of many small stones which I gathered while I was away.

- The path to Cathedral Cove meanders along the coastline; impossibly turquoise ocean below promises us refreshment after the long walk. Pongas spread umbrella fronds across the blue sky.
- Powerful waves crash relentlessly towards clean white sand, their menacing roar like some angry sea monster
sculpting rocks with each mighty collision.
- The high tide chases us up the beach and we clamber over rocks, through a dark wet cave, emerging in a clump of Pohutukawa trees.
How's your week been?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

hahei holiday

Today we're packing for our holiday in a little place called Hahei which is on the Coromandel Peninsula about 3 hours drive from Auckland. We'll be there for 6 days. I am taking a pile of books, lots of sunscreen, my bodyboard, walking shoes, some board games and 3 of my favourite people in the world. I will be picking up as many stones as I can find along the way to bring back and share with you.

The picture is of Cathedral Cove which is a short walk or paddle from Hahei beach. Paradise.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I've signed up for Jacqui Lofthouse's The Writing Coach - Don't Forget to Write - A Monday Morning Writing Prompt, which kicked off this week. Jacqui says ''The idea is simply to give you a reminder of your writing commitment each Monday morning together with a little new inspiration so that this really does become the year when you produce your best work ever.''

This week's prompt is to choose my writing commitment and to make it public.
So, without further ado:

In 2010 I commit to

- writing at least one small stone each day

- posting on my blog at least twice a week (one of which will be 'my beautiful week'- a selection of 3 small stones)

- writing for 30 uninterrupted minutes at least twice a week (but if possible, daily)

That's it. It's small but manageable. And I hope that it will be the start of much bigger things!

Monday, January 11, 2010

my beautiful week

At the beginning of 2010 I started a daily journal of small stones (inspired by Fiona Robyn). So far I am loving this activity and I've decided to share my 3 favourite stones every Monday in a weekly post called 'my beautiful week'.

Starting today:

I step into the sea on a grey New Year’s Day. As I collide with a small wave the spray comes up to greet me, my lips taste salt and hope.

A small green leaf discarded by its tree holds seven perfect raindrops; the morning light transforms them into jewels.

The heavy metal ball lands with a thud on the crunchy shells of the petanque court. My first attempt is not very close to the jack. Not very close at all.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

pondering my profile

Am I a writer or someone who writes to explore the world and discover herself?

Am I a yogi or someone who is healed by yoga? Someone who sees the world more clearly when she’s upside down?

Am I a mother or someone who never thought her heart could hold so much love? Someone who has two daily reminders of how wonderful the world is when seen through the eyes of a child?

Am I a wife or someone who gives and forgives? Someone who is surprised by what love has taught me, who hopes that she will continually discover new ways to love the same man?

Am I a Capetonian or an Aucklander or someone who has learnt that home is less about where you live and more about who you are?

Am I a cook or someone who loves to prepare good food for hungry people? Or someone who is on a perpetual search for a nutritious recipe that will satisfy the world's fussiest 4 year old?

Am I a walker who sometimes runs or a runner who sometimes walks? Or someone who loves to be outdoors, whose body must move in order for her mind to be still?

Am I a sister, daughter, friend? Or someone who tries to give her best to the people who know her best? Who is blessed to have someone to turn to? Who hopes they know how much they are loved?

Am I 40-something or someone who learns something new everyday?

Is there a difference?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

what I've learned so far about courage

The year is barely one week old but I'm learning about courage in all sorts of ways. Not that I've had to take any dramatic risks just yet, or perform any heroic acts. Perhaps the mere fact that I have chosen it as my focus for the year has brought courage to my attention, made me explore what it means to me and how I can use it to transform my daily life. Because ordinary lives, like mine, require courage to take them out of the realm of the mundane and into the extraordinary. Even, or perhaps especially, lives that are lived in safety, comfort, health and harmony, require courage to prevent them sinking into a well of apathy.

As the decade was drawing to a close, I reflected on the 2000's and the thing that struck me the most was how much my life has changed in the last 10 years - I moved from South Africa to New Zealand, I got married, I had two babies, I became self employed. There is outwardly very little about the person I was at the end of the 1990's that is the same today. The life I have now is one I dreamed of for a long, long time. From my early twenties I dreamed of having a family, of doing what I loved - writing, yoga, mothering, experiencing life in a new country. I'm living that dream now. In a lot of ways, the way my dream has turned out is dramatically different to how I imagined it would be. But in so many other ways it is more than I ever hoped for, or ever thought I deserved.

And what I've learned in these moments of reflection is that through all this change, and all the fear and anxiety and sleepless nights that went with it - I must have had a lot of courage and faith in myself to see it through. There have been difficult times - times when I doubted myself and my spur-of-the-moment decisions. There have been extremely painful times, when I felt so very far from the only people who really know me and understand me and accept me for who I am. There have been lonely times, when I felt isolated and lost in a place which is simply not part of my history. I've had to gradually build up a new set of memories, of places to love. And I've had to acknowledge that I could call this home without betraying my birth place, or losing my identity, or cutting myself off from my roots. But through all of this it has been courage and love that has kept me going. It has been the knowing in my heart that I have consciously chosen this path. And that I have created this life for myself for no other reason than it felt right in the deepest parts of myself even though many other parts of myself doubted it. And it is that same courage that will keep me moving forward.

Because there are days when I forget that this life, here and now, is the life that ten years ago I only dreamed of having. It is the life that would bring me all the joy that was apparently missing from my single, 20-something, corporate-employee life. And I do have many moments of joy, of appreciation and gratitude for my blessed and wonderful life. But I also have moments of deep sadness, moments of self doubt, moments of paralysing fear, moments of petty irritation, moments of frustration and anger, resentment and longing - longing for that old life - the life when I was independent, free, untethered, adventurous.

So my aim for 2010 is to embrace this life, knowing that fear and doubt are never far away from the human experience, but knowing too that we become courageous by doing courageous things - 'You must do the thing you think you cannot do', said Eleanor Roosevelt. Courage doesn't dissolve fear, it simply makes it possible for us to transcend it. And no matter how insignificant or petty our fears may be, by confronting them, acknowledging them, accepting them, listening to them and moving through them, we create a life. A messy, confusing, scary, challenging but extraordinary life.

And I think the greatest courage of all comes when we realise that the 'good life' is not waiting around the next corner, it's not living in someone else's backyard or sunning itself on an island in Fiji. It's right here, right now - and its made up of all the wonderful and terrible things that are our daily lives - the happinesses and the sorrows, the frustrations and the triumphs, the moments of calm and the flashes of anger. So much happiness is missed because we want it to stay, we want someone called Joy to be our only companion. If we'd let ourselves accept that good feelings are fleeting at best, we'd be more available to those moments, we'd be more present. We'd make peace with all of our emotions, instead of longing only for the ones that feel good.

Earlier this week, Rachel at Suburban Yogini wrote about mindfulness - it's her word for 2010 - and she describes exactly that quality that is required to dive head first into life. I'm realising more and more how mindfulness and courage go hand in hand.

Stephanie Dowrick has written a chapter on 'Courage in her book "Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love'' (thanks to Green Ink for referring me to this).
I'll end off my ramblings for today with her beautiful prose on courage and paying attention here:

''Courage is as freely available to all of us and to any one of us as the sounds of waves crashing, of wind in high trees, of birds singing, of human laughter.

Those sounds too, are always there, but sometimes we don't hear them. Wanting to hear them, readying ourselves to hear them, we need to turn our attention towards them. Courage can be like that. We need to turn out attention towards it, pay it more attention than we do our fears, even when those fears are clamorous, clingy, familiar and demanding.

Sometimes courage is learned that simply. By paying attention to what is happening, right now, in the present, and not avoiding it. Buddhists believe that this is our sole route out of suffering: to pay attention, to learn what matters and what does not, and to live life appropriately.''

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Blogs I Love...

Here are some of the blogs I love, mostly because they are beautifully written by real women with inspiring dreams and the courage to make them happen.
I love that we are all spread around the globe living vastly different lives but we can share snippets of ourselves with each other via the wonderful world wide web!

Planting Words

Suburban Yogini

Nadine Fawell

The Chocolate Chip Waffle


The Wednesday Chef

With gratitude to all of you - you inspire me to be a better blogger, writer, yogini, chef, mother, woman!