Thursday, February 25, 2010


Last week Suburban Yogini honoured me with a Sunshine Blog Award - thank you so much Rachel!

I now have to pass the award on to 10 other bloggers who bring sunshine to my life. I have a fairly short list of blogs that I visit regularly - if I let myself get too carried away I wouldn't ever get anything done around here! So here is my list of favourites from which I receive a daily dose of inspiration, warmth and sunshine - no matter how stormy the weather!

These blogs cover topics ranging from writing and photography, to health and well being, to fashion and style. Most of them are all fairly widely followed but I hope you discover something new on this list:

Fiona at planting words
Phil at Green Ink
Karen Maezen Miller's Cheerio Road
Michelle at Find Your Balance
Terresa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle
Susannah at Ink on my Fingers
Andrea at a cat of impossible colour
Mary at Goodlife Zen
Marie at Begin - Writing Yoga and More
Rachel at Suburban Yogini (I know I'm not really supposed to pass it back but I can't help it, this is one of my favourites!)

Thank you to all of you for sharing your inspiration and incredible talent!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


There is nothing quite like the feeling of anticipation. Even though we are encouraged to live in the moment, embrace the present and live one day at a time (ideas which I heartily agree have enhanced my level of happiness in a multitude of ways), I believe it is vital to one's general well being to have something to look forward to, to propel one through the daily grind that goes with living.

Last week I found myself starting to slide into a gentle decline. I became aware of a perpetual feeling of restlessness, unease, I'd even go so far as to call it despair. Perhaps it is the darkness of the mornings that is starting to creep in, the slight crispness in the dawn air, the appearance of clumps of pink March lilies that mark the end of summer in the southern hemisphere. We have had a wonderful summer in Auckland but there is no doubt that within the next couple of weeks we'll be starting to rethink our wardrobes; we'll need to take an extra layer when going out just in case a cold wind picks up unexpectedly. And slowly the shorts and tee shirts will be packed away and coats, hats and scarves will reappear. The winter months ahead will no doubt bring with them a whole host of new and resilient viral strains which we will need to defend ourselves against; we'll weather the storms and make large pots of soup and gather wood to put on the fire. But by August we'll be desperately looking out for signs of Spring. There is no stopping the Seasons.

But as I played with these thoughts in my mind I realised that my despair had nothing to do with the change in Seasons. I love all the seasons. I love the change in light, temperature, food and entertainment. If it wasn't for the grey of winter, the colours of summer would be a lot less vivid.

No, what I desperately longed for was Home.

I've been living in New Zealand for 9 years now and I love it. I have come to think of it as my home, there are places now that feel as familiar and comfortable to me as many of my favourite childhood memories.

But there is no place like Home with a capital H.

And Home for me will always be Cape Town. A beautiful city at the tip of Africa where two oceans meet. A place where there are people who know me inside out and love me despite my many flaws and weak spots, or maybe even because of them.

It's a place where no matter how long I have been away, within a day or so it feels like I never left.
It's a place where I can Breathe. Be. Run. Soar.

So I've booked a trip for late September - for me and my two girls. We have 198 days of joyous anticipation ahead of us. My feeling of despair has miraculously evaporated!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

my beautiful week 7

Mondays continue to come around with frightening speed and I feel as though I am barely keeping my head above water some days. February is racing past and a new month will soon come marching in. I must admit that I am not finding the time to do as much writing as I would like to but I know very well that this is more a matter of making it a priority than through lack of time. It is just that my free pockets of time are scattered throughout the day rather than in convenient chunks, and I do not always have access to a computer when I find myself with minutes to spare. I probably need to keep a notebook in my car or handbag to scribble down thoughts when they crop up rather than hope for 30 minutes of dedicated time in front of the computer.

In the meantime, I continue to gather little snapshots from each day. Here are some from this past week:

- I feel remarkably satisfied that after watching 2 hours of mindless but addictive television I have completed one and a half squares of my knitting project.
- While biting into an apricot at morning tea time the second of Talya’s top front teeth is dislodged leaving her smile spacious, yet beautiful as ever.
-With each mouthful of sushi wasabi shoots up my nose setting off sparks which clear my sinuses and bring tears to my eyes.
Have a lovely week!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

finding poems

Patti Digh posted this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye on her blog and I love it so much I am posting it here for you:

Valentine for Ernest Mann

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.

Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Where are the poems in your life hiding?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

my beautiful week 6

- On the way to school we see a hot air balloon floating in the distance. The girls are full of questions about how it stays in the air. We Google it when we get home.

- I dish Shelby’s tuna into her pink bowl and she rubs her soft furry body against my leg in a gesture of gratitude.

- Tania layers and styles my hair until her tiled floor is covered with a soft brown carpet.
How's your week been?

Friday, February 12, 2010

open your heart

This week I have been taking part in a Virtual Zen Retreat at Goodlife Zen run by Mary Jaksch. Mary is a woman who radiates peace, generosity and joy.

On each day of the 6 day retreat participants receive an email with the day's lesson, readings and a video from Mary. The focus of this retreat is the 'miracle of kindess'. And for me the most powerful thing I have learnt is this metta (loving-kindness) meditation:

As you breathe in, cherish yourself.
As you breathe out, cherish all beings.

Mary recommends that this be practiced as part of a seated meditation, as well as at opportune moments during the day - while waiting in a queue, when your alarm goes off in the morning, while sitting in traffic.

There is so much written about the importance of self love, so much advice about how to love oneself more - but for me this simple suggestion has had a most powerful affect on my ability to be gentle with myself and others. Each time I feel irritated or stressed just one round of this metta meditation returns me to a sense of calm and clarity. I think it has a lot to do with the word cherish - it seems to encompass so much - gentleness, kindness, respect, honour, forgiveness, appreciation, joy and deep unconditional love. When I say the word I feel a softness around my heart, an opening, a creation of space. And gradually with repetition that flow of love and energy becomes as natural as breathing.

Try it. You are worthy of cherishing!

Monday, February 8, 2010

my beautiful week 5

Wow, did I say time flies? It's Monday again and the start on another week. School is back and we've barely had time to catch our breath. But thankfully, I've managed to keep collecting stones:

- Lion Rock sits majestically at the centre of the long stretch of black sand which is Piha beach, like a gate keeper at the entrance to the vast deep blue ocean.

- I hope I never forget what it feels like to hold Anika’s 4-year-old hand in mine; as soft as a baby bird which I know one day will fly away.

- Talya swims a beautiful length of freestyle, then a zig-zaggy length of backstroke. She is assigned to the “albacore tuna” group: swimming lessons Thursday 4.30pm

Wishing you a wonderful week

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

time flies

Tomorrow Talya, my 7 year old, starts another school year after a wonderful routineless 6-and-a-half-week summer break. I feel as though we are about to board a rollercoaster that will take us on a rollicking ride of highs and lows, twists and turns until we finally step off, shaken and breathless ready to get back on the Christmas merry-go-round once again.
There is a poem by Henry Austin Dobson which says,
"Time goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, time stays, we go."

We go when we choose not to be here now; when we choose to lose ourselves in the mad rush that is modern life; when we allow ourselves to miss out on what is happening right under our noses because we are so caught up in worrying about what tomorrow might bring.

So since stopping the clock is not an option, my hope for this year is that we will remember to

Stay Present
Pay Attention

Is there any other way to truly live?

Monday, February 1, 2010

my beautiful week 4

It's been a hot humid week in Auckland but yesterday we had a very welcome deluge of rain. Here are my 3 favourite stones:

- A bright almost-full moon rises slowly above the tall pine trees opposite our cottage. During the night I keep thinking a light has been left on outside.

- I walk past a singing tea tree. I search for the source of the sound but find none. Perhaps it is the tree that chirps.

- We stop for petrol on the way home from Beachlands and when I pay I include a small bar of Whittakers 72% Cocoa Dark Ghana chocolate. I savour four squares with my cup of rooibos tea.

Have a wonderful first week of February!