Category Archives: Nature

Reclaiming Wild

Wilderness

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a pattern of soul
where every tree, every bird and beast
is a soul maker?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a moving feast of stars,
footprints, scales and beginnings?

Since when
did we become afraid of the night
and that only the bright stars count?
or that our moon is not a moon
unless it is full?

By whose command
were the animals
Through groping fingers,
One for each hand,
Reduced to the big and little five?

Have we forgotten
That every creature is within us
carried by tides
of earthly blood
and that we named them?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a season
and that we are in its
final hour?

Ian McCallum

It was a very cold August morning as we set off before sunup on our routine morning drive around the reserve. I grabbed my favourite merino wool blanket scarf at the last minute before the vehicle left base. It was only when we got back to camp I realised the scarf was gone. As the sun rose and the morning warmed up, we all slowly delayered. I had folded up the scarf and tucked in behind me on the seat but it must have slipped out as we negotiated the bumpy dirt tracks of the reserve. It had been a risk to take the scarf along, I knew it at the time.

Two days later, on another morning drive, this time in the middle of my wildlife track and sign test, we rounded a corner and there on the side of the road was my scarf! Not all in one piece though. I had a little help gathering up all the damp scraps of wool, dirt and vegetation encrusted and smelling distinctly wild. Back at base I laid them all out trying to put the wool scarf puzzle back together. Turned out only one small section was missing!

Hyena tracks were all around the scene of the scarf wreckage so the conclusion was that younger members of the reserve’s clan had found my scarf and had a good old play. Some of the holes in bits of scarf look very much like bite marks and the centre of the scarf was ripped by claws.

The pieces of my favourite scarf were carefully packed away as my year of adventure and wandering continued.

As I have settled into my homecoming these past months, I have found time to stitch the hyena-mauled scarf back together. It as been a soulful experience and given me pause to reflect and meditate on Wild, Wildness and Wilderness.

Recently, my mom reminded me about the incredibly inspiring words of Ian McCallum. I started this post with his poem, Wilderness. I can’t express just how much his words resonate with me. I have such a Wild Heart and consider myself a bit of Wildhearted Revolutionary.

In the world of biodiversity conservation, Rewilding has become the latest in a long line of buzz words. We associate this concept as a good thing – a nature-based solution for tackling the environmental and social ills of our time.

But Wild, Wildness and Wilderness are terms very often having negative connotations such inhospitable, lack of discipline or restraint, lack of sound reasoning, neglected or abandoned or a position of disfavour, badlands or wastes.

Today I reclaim Wild, Wildness and Wilderness as part of my Soul’s vocabulary – a way of expressing true nature-connectedness, a pattern of my Soul, my Soul Maker and the season I now find myself in living my Dream Life. I claim my Wildheartedness. I claim my Wildness. I claim back Wilderness for me and all my Soul Tribe.

Stitching my hyena-ripped scarf back together has become a symbol for me of my connection to Wild and Wilderness. My own metaphor for the journey I am on, connecting me to where I have been and where I am now.

A little bit of encouragement today to reclaim your Wildness 🖤

Find your peace in true Wilderness 🖤

One Year Home

View of Mariepskop from Hoedspruit Happy Place

Many moons have passed since she sat on that rocky outcrop high on the Drakensberg Escarpment overlooking Limpopo province. Flat top Mariepskop to her right. The Blyde River below snaking its way into the distance to join the Olifants River and finally meander through Kruger towards the sea. The lowveld with its mixed Combretum woodland stretched out to the horizon prickly with wild energy like only this pure space can.

A Yellow-billed Hornbill calls from a nearby bushwillow while a Fork-tailed Drongo hawks for insects. In the distance the soft haunting song of an Emerald-spotted Wood dove. Down in the valley near the river a Purple-crested Turaco croaks out its familiar song. Then an identifiable alarm call as a Jackal Buzzard wings its way down the escarpment. In the distance to her left Cape Vultures circle the thermals on high, not straying too far from the colony on the cliff face this time.

This is her Hoedspruit happy place. A pure wild space that feels like home. She is grounded here, in tune with the bushveld rhythms. She is comfortably alone in this place of soul solace as she contemplates a decision that will change her life course completely.

As the afternoon draws on dark blue-gray clouds gather on the horizon. Eventually a breeze picks up bringing the distinctive scent of the storm on its way. Then the thunder starts to rumble and the lightning to flash. She is not too worried the weather will dampen her afternoon as her spot sits in a bit of a rain shadow. In the end just a few drops to cool the late afternoon as the sun westers. Her last night in this magical haven brings a close encounter with an uncomfortable troop of baboon trying to find a resting place amongst the rocks for the night. They and she have heard a leopard’s distinctive hoarse vocalisation close by.

It is so alive here, this place. It is so wild here, this place. Her Wild Heart will always be drawn back. She is connected mind, body, soul to the Spirit of this place.

On the bus back to Jo’burg later the next day, she knows what needs to happen next. She is filled with a resolve that surprises her a little. She will leave her homeland following the opportunity that has been presented to her. She will go. She will see the world. She will remain open to any and all possibility. She will let go of the only dream she ever really had to see what chance would bring.

A few months later she boarded a plane bound for the land of the long white cloud. This journey of years unlocked her wandering spirit. Her wandering took her to many incredible places and she was indeed privileged to see and experience the world – its good, its bad, its ugly, its bitter and its sweet.

As the years passed, the dream she let go of that day never left her. At times it was dormant. At times a gentle nudge “don’t forget me”. Then slowly but surely it surfaced again with a calm and quiet yet persistent “you are ready to go home”.

A year ago she got back on a plane. This time bound for home, for Mama Africa. During the many hours in those metal tubes flying above the clouds she remembered back to that day in her Hoedspruit happy place. And so she makes the same deal with the universe, to remain open to any and all possibility.

A year ago she arrived home to a beautiful welcome from everyone – the guy at passport control, her tribe, her family, complete strangers who embody the spirit of ubuntu innate to most humans in this part of the world. Even the African Wilds seemed to welcome her back with its soul solace embrace. That first night back in bush proper, this time in magical Zululand, will live in her memory always for its sights, sounds and smells. The sensory overload of homecoming.

In the year that has been since coming home, she realised why she had to leave and why it took so long to be ready to come home. She has come home knowing who she is, now understanding her Wild Heart in a way that means she can fully appreciate what it is to be given her dream back and what it has cost her.

The universe’s gift in this homecoming has been authenticity. To author a life where she can live from a place of love, not fear. To do the shadow work in a geography that reconnects her deeply to who she really is and so can keep working towards her great purpose. A place of love to learn her life’s lessons. A place of love to genuinely connect with her tribe and soul family. All under glorious African Sky Blue.

One year home….. and now,,,, new dreams, new adventures await…. 🖤

Love Grows Here

February 14… Love Grows Here

…in vulnerability

…in genuine connection

…in letting go of ego

…in kindness

…in honest words always

…in shared free spirit

…in self-awareness

…in sanctuary

…in sweet affection

…in holding space open for one another

…in loving lightly

…in Nature’s nurturing energy

…in our Wild Hearts

…in finding Home in each other

It is the soul language of Anam Ċara

Evermore…. Fire & Rain

It is a poem. A poem about Loving Lightly. With his permission, we are sharing a little of how this connection is playing out for us 🖤

Dreams Do Come True

Going to start by saying dreams really do come true.

It has been a while since I posted here. In this post from January – Adventure Awaits – I set an intention for 2022, this year of my dreams. Here is what I wrote:

A little post to share some big plans for 2022. It is time to focus on my passion project – Pure Spaces Education. Launched a year ago, my goal this year is to begin the journey from passion project to purposeful career. For more on this please see my latest blog post on the Pure Spaces website – Anticipation. I hope to keep the Pure Spaces blog updated during the year as adventures planned and unplanned unfold. So there won’t be many posts here at this stage. However, I will still keep posting images that inspire me along the way on Instagram @dragonfly.travelling. So please do follow me there for a peek into my 2022 adventures. Adventure awaits and hope floats 💚

I am floored reading all this through again in the context of the last nine months! Let me bring you up to speed…..

The first few months of 2022 turned out incredibly stressful with all my best laid plans for adventuring back to my homeland faced some substantial obstacles. And unlike my usual behaviour I had no plan B. My resilience and sense of hope were certainly tested during this time. But I was following my Dreaming Practice. These dreams for the year and beyond were carefully written and safely stored in my Dream Tin…. And so I tried to keep the faith that I was on the right path.

I arrived back in South Africa at the start of May to an unexpectedly warm welcome from the immigration official that left me sobbing with gratitude and relief. I was welcome home.

Then I went to Durban to meet up with one of the most incredible humans I am honoured to call my friend – Carla Geyser. I am utterly grateful to the Universe for our paths crossing. So much of what has eventuated these past months as dreams come true is due to being part of Carla’s tribe.

We spent all of May on the Rise of the Matriarch expedition, what I am now calling my Magical Month of May. Lots of reflections on this magic on the Pure Spaces blog:

ROTM 2022 – Genuine Connection

ROTM 2022 – Nyalazi Magic

ROTM 2022 – Phinda & Pangolins

ROTM 2022 – Kosi Culture

ROTM 2022 – Tembe Time

ROTM 2022 – Bittersweet Pongola

ROTM 2022 – Bees, Trees & Ellies

ROTM 2022 – Lycaon pictus

ROTM 2022 – Grace of Education

ROTM 2022 – Tracks Less Travelled

ROTM 2022 – Magic Mapungubwe

ROTM 2022 – Limpopo Love

This phenomenal Journey with Purpose was followed by three months completing a wildlife conservation research internship based on Karongwe Private Game Reserve near my Hoedspruit Happy Place.

Much of my reflection about those months at the GVI Limpopo base goes around Coexistence. But there was more to it in the end. This is what I wrote in those last days of the internship in my family and friends update:

What a rollercoaster these past months have been. I was so ready going into this to keep my armour in place. To matter-of-factly get what I needed from this internship and experience. I knew I would struggle with the communal living. I knew I would struggle with constant noise and other people’s energy interfering with my equilibrium. This last bit landed up being even harder than I anticipated. But what I realise now sitting here and reflecting back on the past months is that this place broke me open in a way I have not been exposed, probably since childhood. The most real version of me made a very rare appearance in all its too-muchness, in all its weirdness. I have danced again, I have sung again. I have belly laughed and ugly cried. And, you know what? I am okay. Nobody rejected me, nobody hurt me in my vulnerability. In fact, quite the opposite. I have made soul connections here I certainly did not see coming. Because it seems this particular environment means true colours shine through and true humanity is based on kindness and compassion when we are most raw and most vulnerable. I have learned so much about myself, again. About further developing resilience at your most vulnerable. About genuine connection. A reminder that no matter how much along the path of personal growth and awareness you think you are, the journey is never done.

Not to mention all the absolutely mind-blowing wildlife encounters and pure wild space sojourns I was privileged to experience during this time in lovely Limpopo.

As if this year could not hold more adventure, I then got to spend September on two separate road trips with Anam Cara (soul friends).

The first with an unexpected kindred spirit…. One of those letting it happen moments. We both took a chance on sharing the road from north Kruger to KZN and it turned out to be exactly what each of us needed. Two old souls (and extreme birding nerds 😊) who have finally met in this life…. to be continued…

The second adventure was a long-expected reunion tour to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park fifteen years later….one of those making it happen moments. We had talked and planned this adventure so many times only to have some reason it could not work, even to the very last minute this time round. But we got there and it was magical and breath-taking in every way. We laughed and cried as we wandered down our memories. We laughed and cried as new memories were made. Our firm friendship established fifteen years ago, confirmed and strengthened by a return to where it all magically started.

Lots of highlights shared on Instagram for both these glorious September Wanderings.

My heart is full. My cup runneth over. All I have related in this post so far speak to Dream 2 – Wellness and Dream 3 – Belonging in my Dream Tin coming true.

I am writing this story in a reflection moment forced on me by those challenges that life throws your way from time to time. But I am grateful to have this time in a peaceful spot in my hometown surrounded by precious family. Remember that whole thing about the balance between making things happen and letting them happen?

And so to Dream 1 – Home. So much of the detail of this dream goes around what I wrote about in my Pure Spaces blog post – Anticipation.

“2022 is about starting the journey of progressing Pure Spaces from passion project to purposeful career. So no more day job for me. Throwing this Big Dream out to the universe.”

That purposeful career I was dreaming of is taking shape right here in Mzansi. From October I will be working for an organisation at the forefront of wildlife conservation in Africa. An organisation I have long admired and fan-girled over. I am beyond thrilled at this opportunity. It means I am directly contributing to the Conservation Collective I have been on the periphery of for so long. It means I get to resettle here in my homeland at the coalface of the boots-on-the-ground wildlife conservation work I have been so passionate about since childhood. It means I get to be close to my tribe of free spirits and Anam Cara so further adventuring can occur. It means my soul soars and my heart sings.

Dreams do come true.

But is it all rosy and easy, this dreaming lark? Most definitely not. There are some things you have to understand going into this practice. I wrote a bit about it in the first blog on Pure Spaces

“In the Okavango I learned about paradox. I learned about unconditional love. I learned that the sweet always comes with the bitter and vice versa. I learned that we cannot have it any other way or we would never grow. It is the Nature of existence.”

I wrote about it again in a recent Instagram post for Heritage Day –

Happy Heritage Day, Mzansi 🖤 Looking through recent pics to choose one for this post I catch my breath and tears well…. I have always felt a deep connection to this land where I was born. My incredibly privileged life’s journey has taken me many places around the world, but to have returned and reconnected with the pure wild spaces of my natural heritage these past months is a gift beyond expression…. the open roads that go ever on, the big skies, the light and colour that shift mood and magic each moment of the day, the unfathomable night sky, the hum of life everywhere you go, abundant birds, bugs and beasties – wild energy prickles all around, beautiful people with open hearts and generous spirits…. the bitterness of the struggle that is living here awakes your soul to the sweetness of what it means to be living in the spirit of Ubuntu…. my free spirit soars here like nowhere else 🖤

I think the Big Dreams we have come with a price. The price is letting go of all you think you can control. The price is vulnerability. The price is being willing to be broken open and your raw humanity exposed. The price is trust in a benevolent universe. All of these only Ego will see as a price. Your heart and soul will see it differently….. growth and connection and freedom…. So if you’re willing to risk it…. Dream 🖤

A Future For Us All

Take 15 minutes of your life to watch the video – A Future For Us All. Then reflect on how you can add to this all-important conversation in your sphere of influence.

Sir Ken Robinson’s work continues to shape and inspire my teaching practice as well as my personal journey to Finding My Element.

For a bit more about this giant whose shoulders we stand on, you can read my blog post from a couple of years ago at the sad time of his passing.

It is so great to see Sir Ken’s daughter, Kate, taking care of his legacy and continuing this great work.

I hope you find as much encouragement as I do from hearing Sir Ken articulate his inspired thinking around personal growth as well as his call for humanity to Unite and make the world a better place.

Continue to rest in peace, Sir Ken…. thank you for giving those left behind direction in this journey towards a future for All 🖤