Category Archives: Storytelling

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.

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 🖤

August is for Elephants

I love elephants. These majestic beings know things about living on this earth…. the kinds of things I believe we have lost touch with in our mostly urban pursuits.

I have had the absolute privilege of sharing space with elephants. A couple of whom I have got to know quite well, I flatter myself.

They are as unique in character as we are. They have their good days and their bad just like us…. and I truly believe they have a sense of humour.

The photos above show one such ellie. A charming character who would share our Okavango Delta island a months each year while the marula fruit were around to enjoy. One day a tree came down over our office/storeroom scattering marula fruit throughout the little enclosed courtyard. As afternoon descended he approached the office, low rumbling to let us know he was there. Leaving me no time to vacate the office, he squeezed through a small gap between the buildings making his way into the little courtyard. He proceeded to find every single marula he could on the roof, on the ground, carefully maneuvering around this small enclosed space. After a half hour or so of foraging he made ready to leave through the same gap he had came through. This took him past the open office door where I was sitting quite still, overwhelmed by the moment. I hadn’t noticed the marula that had rolled on to the floor inside the office just a few feet from where I was sitting. He paused his head filling the door space. He lifted his trunk and sniffed, then turning his head slightly he gave a long look. It took probably just a moment but to me it was a MOMENT. Then quite calmly he pushed his whole head through the doorway into the office, reached out his trunk and took the marula fruit near my feet. A sideways movement to get his head back out the door, he took the gap between the buildings and melted into the twilight.

He was surrounded by humans and human structures that entire time. He knew we meant him no harm. He just wanted those delicious marula fruit.

I will remember that incredible moment as long as I live. A treasured memory I hold close.

To me a world without elephants is unthinkable. Unfortunately, they face ongoing challenges sharing a world with humanity.

Luckily I am not the only one who loves elephants. In fact, there is an incredible conservation collective who have dedicated their lives to elephant conservation.

This weekend on Saturday 8 August a first in elephant conservation is taking place – a virtual elephant collaring! From the comfort of your couch you can get a front row seat to experience what happens when elephant are fitted with radio collars to track their movement and gather valuable data to help in their protection and conservation. So exciting! I have booked my ticket! Will you?

Find all the information you need here – Virtual Elephant Collaring – this will let you know who is behind this awe-inspiring project, why it is necessary and how you can be a part of this world first! Get involved!

I don’t think that Carla from the Blue Sky Society, the brains behind this initiative, or Dr Michelle from Elephants Alive planned it this way but World Elephant Day is 12 August! Or perhaps they did. What a fitting way to celebrate all things elephant this year!

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.