Category Archives: Family

Heritage

I have been reflecting on Heritage a lot this month. Heritage can be defined as something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor, something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth or simply, tradition.

As yet another Covid-19 lockdown forces me and mine into this weird isolation and I think about how to fill my time, I have baked and cooked and begun traditional prep of Christmas a lot earlier than I normally would. This is me falling back on family heritage, tapping into inherited ritual and tradition to help me feel anchored at this time of ongoing uncertainty.

Granny Sybil’s famous Christmas Mince.

I have been teaching online for the past 6 weeks or so. When I think about the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and its affect on this generation I worry about what they’ve inherited. Is it okay to spend this much time “online” to learn, to work, to socialise? While I can see how under these current circumstances it is better to have the technology than not, I do wonder what the long term outcomes of this will be on the emotional wellbeing of this generation.

Probably the biggest regret I have is that I am part of a generation who has left future generations a weary and depleted planet. Not completely broken, I hope, but thinking about heritage in this way keeps me highly motivated to make a change for sustainability in whatever ways I can.

24 September is an annual celebration of South African heritage. As a South African I have been profoundly influenced by my country’s natural and cultural heritage, for good and growth.

In a hopeful step, short term and long term, I have begun preparations to return to South Africa in 2022. I am thrilled to be joining the Rise of the Matriarch Expedition – an all-female adventure across South Africa to raise awareness and funds for the plight of Mama Africa’s wildlife. The ROTM crew will engage with local communities especially children on the human-wildlife issue and distribute Wonderful Wildlife Booklets (that I developed content for). We will connect with anti-poaching groups, visit conservation groups and schools, and meet with incredible women who are doing remarkable things at a grassroots level to assist in conservation efforts.

Ecowarrior and founder of the Blue Sky Society Trust, Carla Geyser, is the expedition leader of the 2022 Rise of the Matriarch Expedition .

In 2016, she led South Africa’s first all-female conservation expedition from Southern Africa to Kenya. They drove 15 787km over 100 days through 10 countries to help stem the tide of poaching. The crew of 13 “she-roes” raised nearly R300 000 for various conservation projects, drew widespread continental attention to elephant poaching crisis, distributed 20 000 conservation educational booklets to children and provided support to 37 wildlife organisations along the way.

In September 2018 she headed out again and lead another all-female crew. This time  across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to raise awareness about the contentious human-wildlife conflict. Another very successful Rise of the Matriarch expedition.

I joined Carla on a Journey with Purpose expedition in 2019 for a boots-on-the-ground experience with Elephants Alive. I can’t wait to get back on the road with Carla in her Landy, Dora, next year. #LadyinaLandy

And so, I introduce Pelo Tales. – my Heart Art fundraiser for this expedition.

“Pelo” is heart in Setswana.

My art is an expression of the deeply creative connection I have to pure spaces, to beauty and most especially to Nature. Each painting represents a Heart Moment and so a little Pelo Tale to accompany it.

This is a series of canvases I painted during Covid-19 related lockdowns in 2020. Having to make do with what I had to hand and in the spirit of sustainability, each canvas has been recycled. Perfect in their imperfections and certainly one of a kind.

All the proceeds from the sale of my Heart Art goes towards the Rise of the Matriarch expeditions 2022. More details on the fundraising side of things coming soon.

In the meantime, I will be sharing some Pelo Tales here over the coming weeks in anticipation of wonderful adventures to come and in the spirit of sharing the heritage I am so inexpressibly grateful for 🖤

My Charmed Life

It is Meaningful May. I have been mulling over this month’s Action for Happiness calendar and contemplating “meaningful”.

There are so many things that give our lives meaning. For me as an Enneagram type 4, symbolism is very significant to me. Symbolism is attributing meaning to ideas, images, memories, words, identity, culture, belonging, sense of place and so on.

This is my charm bracelet. Here you will see symbols that represent much meaning for me…

A lioness/leopardess. That great iconic African predator. She speaks to me of Mama Africa and to my identity as a woman of Africa.

A globe. A map of the World. I love maps always have. This is about my sense of place. Feeling like a global citizen, a child of Mother Earth. My time as a Geography teacher.

A little rhino. My spirit animal. Symbol of steadiness and assurance, that all is unfolding as it should. Peace of Spirit.

A little elephant. A symbol to remind me of incredible close up encounters with these most glorious of creatures. Their wisdom, their memory, their wicked sense of humour! How charmed has my life been to have had not one but many moments with elephants!

A heart Celtic-like filigree. A nod to my Celtic roots. But more importantly this charm symbolises family for me. My deep connection to my kin.

Dragonflies intertwined. The dragonfly has been important symbol for me since childhood. Moving forward. Transformation. The little plaque on this charm reads “love transforms us”. So true.

Star Wars droids C3PO and R2D2 and next to them super cute little Grogu. These charms speak to creativity. I am drawn to fantastical story telling. The human imagination boggles. Besides being a total Star Wars geek, I also nerd out about the likes of Tolkien’s Middle Earth or Harry Potter’s Wizarding World.

A Celtic knot. Celtic mysticism and symbolism speaks to me on a spiritual level.

A dream catcher. A dreaming practice has become a very important part of my life in the past couple of years.

A Christmas angel, stars and snow flakes. My most favourite time of the year.

A little tree. Lots of symbolism here for me about nature, connectedness, belonging and living sustainably.

And just to add another layer of meaning, I took this photo of my charm bracelet laid out on top of the beautiful sleeves my precious aunt crocheted for me 💛

So much meaning and a constant reminder of how charmed my life has been. And just how much I have to be grateful for.

Wild October

Mid-October. I am a couple of weeks into my strange sabbatical. Lots of taking stock and reflection.

It seems someone decided it was wild-for-nature October too, which I appreciate. This was my #wildoctoberart contribution. The art prompt that inspired this sketch and colour was misunderstood 😀

So this wild heart has an #inktober story to share. The meaning behind the new ink on my arm and how Dragonfly Travelling come to be…

I was probably about 14 or 15 years old. It was one of our family wanderings around South Africa. This time into the Drakensberg Mountains and a place called Injisuthi.

There are no words that really capture the grandeur of this place. It is truly wild and the magic of Mama Africa sparkles across the fast flowing streams and flits through the dells and gullys, then soars up and over the grass covered hills, along the cliffs and into the caves. Here the evidence of early human wanderers lingers.

Dad and I intended to try a 4 to 5 hour hike up into the mountains. A couple of hours in we lost the trail completely. Even retracing our steps didn’t work and we were soon well and truly lost. As the afternoon drew in so did the black storm clouds. We could see the river in the valley below that we would have to get down to and cross to find the road that would take us back to camp. Contouring along the ridges trying to find a path down to the river proved challenging as most the dells were thick with thorny brambles. We pushed through and eventually came to a shallow enough spot to cross the river. As we were crossing the heavens opened and the storm broke over us, thunder and lightning lending even more drama to our predicament. I had removed my hiking boots to cross barefoot. Once across I sat on a large flat granite rock to put my boots back on. The boots were new and had given me blisters. I was so tired by this point and pretty wobbly from feeling the concern of being lost in the mountains. We had been away from camp 6 or 7 hours by now and I knew my Mom would be worrying. So I sat on the rock trying to put those boots back on my broken feet. The rain stopped in those few minutes and the sun shone through a small break in the cloud. It shone down on my rock and in that moment two crimson dragonflies alighted onto the rock beside me. They weren’t there more than a few seconds and they were gone, the sun disappeared and the rain came back. We hiked to the road as the storm continued and a passing vehicle offered us a ride back to camp. We accepted gratefully, returning 8 hours after our departure to the relief of everyone.

That moment on the rock with those two dragonflies has left an indelible imprint on my soul. It has taken me years to find ways to express and articulate its significance. The fact I was with my Dad. The fact it was a challenging situation. The fact that it was in those magical mountains of my homeland. The fact it was dragonflies. So much symbolism…. I am an Enneagram Type 4 and we love us some symbolism 😀

It might seem strange to say but the dragonfly moment has become the expression of my sense of place in this world – my deep connection with Nature, with my family, with my roots, with my purpose. It turns out there is an African proverb that expresses this idea too. Ubuntu – I am because we are. For me we includes all of Nature. This has been grounding, particularly in the past couple of years as I have moved towards living my purpose.

And so I began to articulate the significance of this moment. It started with an email address, then a simple tattoo on my wrist. Now in the completed ink story on my wrist including all the colour possible with the African daisies! And this blog…. which still freaks me out every time I am compelled to post! Like I say in my little bio – an act of vulnerability for this wandering introvert. But as a lovely kindred spirit of mine says “growth through discomfort”.

Do you have a significant moment with Nature you can draw on? A moment that grounds you in who you are in the grand scheme of things and how you want to live on this Earth? What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children and their children?

As the incomparable Sir David Attenborough says in his latest doco (a must watch!), we need “to move from being apart from nature to become a part of nature once again”.

I encourage you to find your Nature moment 🖤

Wanderings Day 30

We have arrived at the last day of this challenge to self – wander travel memory lane all through April 2020. A way of travelling virtually while in my lockdown bubble. Dreams of travelling again when this too has passed. An exercise in gratitude for all I have been given in this life already.

Going to finish with Kruger memories part two.

No more stories…. Just some Johnny Clegg wisdom… from the Johnny Clegg & Savuka song Great Heart

There’s a highway of stars across the heavens
There’s a whispering song of the wind in the grass
There’s the rolling thunder across the savanna
A hope and dream at the edge of the sky
And your life is a story like the wind
Your life is a story like the wind
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
To hold and stand me by
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
Under African sky

Guka ‘mzimba (body grow old)

Sala ‘nhliziyo (but heart remain behind)

Wanderings Day 29

Only two more posts to go for this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.

Two days of Kruger National Park memories… this is part one.

I was just looking down the list of rest camps in Kruger. It turns out over the many adventures there since childhood I have stayed at all but two.

My favourite area to wander would be from Satara northwards.

Pafuri is particularly magical with all those fever trees and glimpses of nyala in the shadows by the Luvuvhu River. That brings to mind the Nyala Walking Trail – sublime!

Actually any of Kruger’s walking trails are a fabulous experience. Lucky enough to have walked a few of these over the years too.

Kruger visits were so formative for me. I learned so much about ecology and how ecosystems work simply from soaking up all the info I could get my hands on. Here is where I fell in love with birds and took up birding under my wonderful Dad’s guidance.

Kruger has a distinct spirit of place. The air crackles with its magic as you arrive at the gate (any of the gates). I thought this might change over the years, grow dim somehow as I aged. But no. I got to visit again last year briefly and the magic is still there.

Now I probably need to say at this point that I am fully aware of Kruger’s history. Not all decisions made in regard to its management both for wildlife and for the surrounding communities have been sound or just over the years.

All I want to focus on right at this moment in time is the gratitude I feel for having had so many opportunities to pass through Kruger’s gates and get swallowed up in that bushveld magic.