Category Archives: Reflection

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 🖤

2021 Wrapped Up

Closing out this year with Hope. My gratitude app tells me I have been grateful daily for just over two years. The number one thing I have been grateful for over this time has been Hope. That I can still feel Hope-Full.

I am also grateful that I finally created a family recipe book. Something I have been meaning to do for years now. Compiling all the family favourites from over the years, along with family photos to create a little piece of treasured family history, was soothing to the soul.

So thankful, as ever, for my precious family both near and far for all they are and all they do. I am truly in awe of being related to such incredible humans.

Another grateful moment from this year is my Pelo Tales Heart Art Fundraiser having raised a little money already. This one is ongoing so if you want to know more and find out how you could contribute, then head to Pure Spaces Education.

I am thankful for this weird ‘gap year’ in my career working with a wonderful team of teachers and friends. Bittersweet moving on, again.

Also thankful for not losing touch with the dream team forced to go our separate ways in 2020…. still keeping it real!

And finally… grateful, hopeful and excited about new adventures, new collaborations and new friends in 2022! Can’t wait to see where Pure Spaces Education takes me…

But before all that…. grateful for time to rest this holiday season 🖤

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.

Own Your Story

Life is full at the moment. In some ways I’m leading a double life. My weekdays are filled with a day job that I am very grateful for but I do not enjoy. The rest of my time is taken up immersed in my passion projects that I feel in the flow with, that I dream will lead to being able to further my purpose and be my living.

Some days it is really tough to get the balance right. Some days I find it difficult to focus on that part of my Story that matters to me most, to not get sucked into the daily grind of doing the work that gets the salary, that pays the bills.

And so, as seems a usual occurrence in my life, the universe puts messages in my way that help me navigate whatever difficulty I’m facing.

In the last couple of months there have been a lot of messages about Story. The importance of Story and Storytelling in our lives. The fact that our internal Story impacts the world around us – how we show up in society. So how do we own our Story in order to make the external impact one of hope, positivity, kindness and compassion?

I have shared the incredible work of Susan David PHD many times.
Her social media posts continue to provide inspiration nuggets like this one!

It seems to me that owning our Story is an act of Radical Self-Love. What is radical self-love? Meet Sonya Renee Taylor!

This podcast episode is a fantastic introduction to Sonya’s background and work.
Sonya the poet in her flow.

Having now read Sonya’s book The Body is Not an Apology, one of the key takeaways for me was that part of owning my Story would be owning my Body. This was an incredibly confronting concept for me! Warning: this will be very challenging for anyone who has struggled with feeling “not enough” and trying to reconcile your physical place in society!

Sonya’s affirmation exercises do seem to help. I feel like I’m slowly making progress with this part of owning my story. I love this quote from Sonya about stitching a new garment…

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal, other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature.

Sonya Renee Taylor

I read this quote from the legendary Brené Brown a number of years ago. These days I keep it close. I have found it comforting in this journey with Story and Storytelling.

If you haven’t read The Gifts of Imperfection, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy or try the audiobook narrated by the author.
Here’s a taster…

What about being a Storyteller and sharing Story externally? Well, along came this National Geographic Education course – Storytelling for Impact – so, of course, I signed up. I loved this course. I have always loved photographs and photography but this course really opened my eyes to the power of this medium to share Story.

Stories … protect us from chaos … Implicit in the extraordinary revival of storytelling is the possibility that we need stories — that they are a fundamental unit of knowledge, the foundation of memory, essential to the way we make sense of our lives: the beginning, middle and end of our personal and collective trajectories.”

Bill Buford, the former fiction editor of the New
Yorker, writes this in his essay, “The Seduction of
Story Telling”
Here’s an example of a photo that shares Story… in this image are elements of my Story past, present and future. I love that you can see my faint reflection taking the photo. What I also love is the idea that no matter my intention in sharing this particular image, you will interpret your own Story within this same image 🖤

Any photograph has multiple meanings; indeed, to see something in the form of a photograph is to encounter a potential object of fascination. The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: ‘There is the surface. Now think — or rather feel, intuit — what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way.’ Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy

Susan Sontag, “On Photography

The last idea I want to share about Story and Storytelling in this post centres around using this power to build awareness and promote behaviour change for some of humanity’s big social and environmental issues.

Here are a couple of academic papers looking at the place of Storytelling as part of the solution for climate change:

Storytelling is Part of the Solution to the Climate Dilemma

Transforming the Stories we tell about climate change: from Issue to Action

The latest from Project Drawdown is putting this Storytelling into action. Climate Solutions 101. This online course is for everyone – super accessible, delve in as deeply as you want. It promotes hope for the future and is packed with individuals and groups Stories of actions that any one of us can take to be part of the solution for this – the dilemma of our time.

By owning Your Story,

you own Our Story 🖤

Finding Gratitude in Loss

Everyone I know seems to be grieving some form of loss from the year just been. And for some, this new year has ushered in yet more loss.

I have been writing and rewriting this post since the 1st of January, coming to a sad, hopeless end each time. It was the 7th of January that I came across this from my Instagram…. a post from a year ago when Australia was on fire…

I wasn’t sure for a moment that I believed the last few lines any more, given the year just been. I decided to put this post aside and come back to it after applying some resilience practices.

At times like this when I feel particularly despondent, I turn to the words of others. Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good quote!

My first stop was Susan David’s work, Emotional Agility. I have written about this a number of times now. And I constantly share her insightful and uplifting social media posts on My Story 😊

These words struck a chord with me this re-read:

Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility.

Susan David PhD

I read and re-read these words. There is grief and loss there but there is also hope and beauty.  Can I find some gratitude in loss, I mused?

Well, yes I can.

I lost my job late last year. I grieved this loss deeply, especially all I perceived I was losing in terms of the tribe I found in my colleagues and the hopes I had built around my career projection.

In reality, I was given the gift of time to focus on making one of my dreams come true – getting Pure Spaces Education off the ground. What I’ve achieved in the last couple of months would simply never have happened if it was still business as usual. I am now working towards my true purpose.

And in reality, that tribe of colleagues I mentioned isn’t tied to geography. This tribe will outlast that workplace. We will continue to love and support each other no matter where each of us lands up 💛

I lost my freedom to travel. I still grieve this loss, but I am daily reminded of how blessed I am to be riding out the pandemic storm here in New Zealand! Deeply, deeply grateful I got to spend Christmas with my family and see in the New Year on the beach in the summer sunshine.

I lost “control” over my what and when and how…. Only to realise I never had control over any of that in the first place. I found comfort in stillness. Something I have always struggled with is stopping, letting go and just Being. This past year forced me into giving myself permission to Just Be… and it has been a game changer. It is okay to be still and wait…. In the Waiting there are often unexpected dreams come true.

Here’s a couple of quotes that helped through this time:

I said to my soul, be still and wait… so the darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing.

T. S. Eliot

To see the World in a Grain of Sand, and Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Now you might read this and think I haven’t really lost anything. It isn’t real loss I’m talking about. In answer, I’ll go back to the beginning of this post. We have all suffered loss as a result of Covid-19. All of humanity has lost something. We are all changed by this loss of “normal”. I have simply articulated a couple of examples of the loss I have felt. Each of us will have our own examples of how we are changed. I believe it is important for each of us to acknowledge this loss to ourselves, grieve it, and then we can move forward. In the moving forward my hope is that we lean into the changes and see in them opportunity. Opportunity to forge a brave, new world!

I heard a great quote the other day:

We will not go back to normal, normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal, other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends, we are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature

Sonya Renee Taylor

That is what I am hoping for this coming year. I want to be part of stitching this new garment.

So I go back to what I wrote in that post of 7 Jan 2020…Many of my dreams are about a continued journey of treading lightly, living sustainably with Mother Earth in mind. Times like this bring motivation to act on these dreams with a sense of urgency.
Hope is not lost if we all do whatever we can, no matter how small it may seem. This growing earthly-conscious collective can turn the tide. I believe this!
I do believe what I wrote then. I believe it just as applicable now as it was then.

I found gratitude and growth in loss.