Saturday, July 31, 2010

365 Days, Day 54

Now, what is it which makes a scene interesting? If you see a man coming through a doorway, it means nothing. If you see him coming through a window - that is at once interesting (Billy Wilder).

You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the most difficult task in the world, for opening (Daisaku Ikeda).

We went to Chichester by train today. Every time I see new places, it feels as though a doorway is opening for me. On our adventure today I saw so many little things which are like tiny stitches in the tapestry quilt of my life. I noticed along the way:

fields of wheat coloured grass;

rusty farm implements forgotten at the bottom of the field;

little white-clad figures playing cricket in the farmlands;

pink and purple pointy flowers;

podgy fingers scrabbling to get biscuits from a packet;

large legs in short skirts;

short skirted girl with high-heel shoes in her hand and none on her feet; men without shirts;

a crane with a luminous part in brilliant orange, the market cross in the centre of Chichester (thought to have been built by Edward Story, the bishop of Chichester from 1477 to 1503);

the Chichester cathedral with its beautiful Marc Chagall stained glass windows (founded as a cathedral in 1075, it has architecture in both the Norman and the Gothic styles);

the Maison Blanc patisserie (where we had the most divine little patisseries and coffee – zut alors – as Kyle’s little French chef that he drew to illustrate our nursery school recipe book would say);

red shoes, incongruous, on a lady wearing hiking shorts and a golf shirt;

scudsy little clouds indeterminately floating amongst the angry dark clouds;

Arundel Castle in the distance;

a house on the river overlooking Arundel Castle;

Lily thrilled to see us home.

We saw many beautiful things today, but for my one photo of the day, I chose this little alcove in the outside wall of the Cathedral – because it was an unexpected little detail. I like that. A little niche that holds secrets - was possibly a little window…

This part is for Nicki. There is a doorway in my subconscious. I remember a few years ago attending one day of a weekend workshop in Magaliesburg with you, and as part of the group, we had to each say how we saw ourselves. You said: healer. I said: entertainer. Now there is a doorway beckoning me and on the door is a little sign: healer. [?]

Friday, July 30, 2010

365 Days, Day 53

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning (Maya Angelou)

One great use of words is to hide our thoughts (Voltaire)

Language, words is apparently what sets us apart from other animals.

It is quite amazing how quickly babies learn to use words, babbling about with sounds, and their parents reinforcing their sounds when they hear a ‘word’. Sometimes the meaning of the child’s words is obscure for a while and has to be worked out in context.

Before Ariel could even talk she was very vocal about what she wanted to wear. I had to go through all her little dresses in the morning, and she go “uh-uhh!” until I got to the one she wanted to wear. Then she said one day that she wanted “yo yosh”. I said I didn’t have any yo-yos. “yes yo yosh!!” she retorted angrily. She went to the cupboard and pulled out a pair of socks: “yes yo yosh!” She wore these with her “woosh”.

Kyle and Roarke watched vidjoes, ate bilomey and cheekin, and wore bejamas. They each went to hostible a few times to see the fizzy-lady when their chests closed up. They loved their amials, Nina and Stannie. I was climbing up the stairs form the garage into the house one day with little Kyle and Roarke in tow. Nina was waiting to greet us at the top of the stairs. One of the twins said, “Mommy, when Nina dies will we eat her cheekin?”

It’s not what you; it’s how you say it that’s important. And how you interpret what your mom has told you do or not to do. It was bath-time fro Kyle and Roarke. We were running the water when the phone rang. I said to the twins: “I don’t want you to get into the bath until I come back. Don’t put even a finger into the water.” They nodded. While I was on the phone it was quiet, I could hear the boys moving about, so I knew they were not getting into hot water… When I had finished the phone call and went back to bath-time, I was met with a bath full of books, plastic chair, duvet, pillow, toys, shoes. My instructions had been followed: they had not climbed into the water nor put even a finger into it.

Sometimes I wish I could push “rewind” after uttering words, that I hear coming from my mouth. My way-with-words, as Ariél calls them, has made me embarrass myself often. Sandra used to swim every morning with her son, when the children and I had swimming lessons before school. I asked her one day how old her son was, thinking he looked about my boys’ age, and she being roughly my age. There was a pause. Then she looked up and answered that he was not her son, he was her boyfriend. Way-with-words: rewind!

Words… one day I will write the story that is not yet inside me… In the meantime I will be silent and paint my words: “One picture is worth ten thousand words” (Chinese proverb).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

365 Days, Day 52

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. (Marcel Proust)

Stimulate creativity

Get your eyes to see things

In an original way

Brush your teeth with your left hand

Lie on the floor

See things with fresh eyes


With your lipstick


With chocolate pudding

Listen to a new genre of music


Awaken your senses

Listen to the sounds

Around you

Peel a mushroom

But first

Look for the faerie

And place her

At the bottom of the garden

Amongst shiny glittery things

Make a faerie door

See things with daydream eyes

Look for dragons in the forest

See things with new eyes

Look for magic in your life

I remember at Farmyard Nursery School, where I taught years ago, Miranda mum’s once told me that every Full Moon they would put out a thimble of milk and a crumb of cheese for the moon faeries.

My children’s tooth faerie was called Erin. She used to write the children letters every time she took one of their teeth, leaving a shiny coin in its place. Erin would write - in tiny spidery writing - about the destination of the tooth, or relate how she had come the night before, but had been scared off by a huge feline on Ariél’s bed. I still have the letters. I wonder what happened to Erin…

When Kyle, Roarke and Ariél visited Aunty Ada, her unicorn would watch over them when they slept over. The unicorn would always be in a different position when they woke up. [Ada, you will have to remind me about the unicorn, I have forgotten the details].

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

365 Days, Day 51

If you are going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance (Unknown)

Dance is the landscape of a man's soul (Unknown)

Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body. (Martha Graham)

The dancer's body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul. (Isadora Duncan)

I was a ‘dancing mum’ for quite few years: Ariél started ballet when she was almost four. Twice a year there exams and once a year there was festival. being a dancing mum means lurking about the dancing studio while your daughter is at her lesson, chatting to other dancing mums: this is where I met up with Michaela’s mum, Brenda (whose husband was shot outside their home), Storm’s mum (who had an affair with her personal trainer and fell pregnant), Lisa’s mum (Pauliane whose older daughter, Sam was in my English class and one of favourite students) and loads of others. Exam and festival time meant: la Pebras to gel the hair back so it was like plastic), loads of clips, sewing ribbons on ballet shoes, choosing costumes, listening to music (if your daughter did well enough in exams to warrant a solo) for your daughter’s dance, hours of extra rehearsals, practising at home (and being the perfectionist I am polishing the dance with your daughter.

I always wanted to do dancing. I went to modern dance class in Matric, given by a petite teacher who had been a dancer at Sun City and was having a relationship with a married pilot. She always told us girls that we were too big to be dancers. My knees started giving me problems.

I did Spanish dancing lessons with Ariél’s ballet teacher, Leigh. I did two exams. But I was so nervous that my castanets clattered from my shaking hands.

I tried 5 Rhythms Dance in East Grinstead. Most exhilarating. But it is quite a journey to get there.

Sometimes I turn my music up loud and JUST DANCE.

I feel alive when I dance> it releases my soul.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

365 Days, Day 50

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Chaos Theory:

The flapping of a single butterfly's wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month's time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn't happen. Or maybe one that wasn't going to happen, does. (Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos, pg. 141)

I have been pursuing this pretty little butterfly, Isabella for the past week. Obviously camera-shy: every time I see her in the garden, she flutters away when I fetch my camera. This morning, however, she was inside the conservatory up on the roof. So there I was clambering up on chairs to try and capture a picture of Isabella (couldn’t climb on the glass table). She wasn’t very co-operative so early in the morning though. Later in the day once she had make-up on and preened her wings, she flew outside and perched on the side of the conservatory. Isabella allowed me to come right up close, while she posed for her photo. Thank you, Universe, for this little gift.

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings. (Hodding Carter)

Tom has given me this gift in our marriage. He is my rock and stability, but has never tried to trim my wings. He has supported and encouraged my many endeavours, all of which meant they took my focus away from him and onto my ‘hobbies’.

I studied a dressmaking and pattern design course while pregnant with the twins.

I have performed in numerous productions over the years, which involves much time at rehearsals and time spent learning lines. Tom, poor man, has watched most of my performances (as have my long-suffering children!) including the panto last year, where I am told he was the noisiest heckler in the audience when Benjamin Black appeared on stage (thanks, Tom!).

I started my second degree later in life. It was a long, difficult journey, where along the way my ego and confidence took a battering from the harsh ‘crits’ –where you put your soul on the line in your artwork, only to have it questioned and sliced open. Our creativity was pushed beyond the boundaries. Every time we thought we had reached peak, we were broken down. Through all of this, Tom propped me up. He didn’t like much of the art I produced on this journey. But he gently coaxed my wings to flap again.

When I went to Findhorn last year with my special friend, Nicki, Tom encouraged the wings to flap (even though he thought I was off on a mumbo jumbo week!). My wings flapped and fluttered during this week. My spirits soared, I was alive!

The hardest journey I have ever had to make was leaving my family, friends and history back in South Africa when we moved here. Emotionally it has cost me a great deal. I have been a tiny, lonely creature. My wings have been folded and tucked away. Through all of this, Tom has been so very kind and supportive. He has indulged me. It has mostly just been Tom and I. He has had to endure my whims and chattering and unusual thought process and ways of seeing the world. He has cosseted me and coaxed my wings to unfold, a bit.

Thank you, Tom: for always believing in me and loving me and letting my wings flap.

Monday, July 26, 2010

365 Days, Day 49

Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements. (Napolean Hill)

I met a lady on Saturday. She was promoting her new book. A year ago, Tess Burrows was part of the expedition to the South Pole. She has climbed the Andes; she is preparing to climb Kilimanjaro. Tess Burrows is in her sixties. She looks amazing! [Doug, I have bought an autographed copy of her book for your Birthday].

Amazing achievements.

Of course, I thought of Doug, who does insanely remarkable challenges and pushes himself to the limit and beyond.

And of Aileen, who recently completed the Comrades marathon.

I think of Tom, who rose to the top of his career, then ran his own successful business, all the time being a wonderful husband and father, who would do anything for his little family.

I think of Nicki, who after a hugely traumatic period in her life, has bounced back and followed her dream and calling to become an alternative healer as well as an inveterate traveller travelling to far-flung spiritual, ancient places like Peru, Tibet and India.

I think of Karen, who as a single mother juggled a high-powered career, while bringing up her two wonderful children; and surviving the agonising loss of Brent.

I think of Mom who has nursed Dad over many years of his illness, always cheerful and positive, such a very strong, brave woman.

I think of Dad, who never wants to admit (even to himself) that there is anything wrong with him, such a very strong, brave man.

I think of Hanlie, who cared for her dad when he was ill, and then her mum for so many years, and always the rock solid foundation of her household of males.

I think of Ada who has spent her life caring for her parents, teaching so many students, being a magical aunt to our children.

I think of... wait I am stopping here.

So what have I achieved?

No great challenges….

I am not a successful career woman. I don’t have a meaningful career, or at the moment, even a regular job. I have no great sporting achievements (only two mini ones: Midmar Mile twice). I have spent most of my adult life being a wife and a mother, leaving little time for anything amazing…


I am proud of my children though. I think they have turned out pretty well. They are delightful people, good little people (I do miss Kyle and Roarke so terribly much).

Today I chatted to two of my former students from Aurora: Dane is working as cabin crew for Ethiad Airlines, and Matthew is in poultry equipment retail. I felt honoured that after all these years they would take the time to chat to me, online. I thought about this, and remembered that many students have come back to me, to say Thank-you-for-making-a-difference-in-my life.

So I think I will allow myself to see Kyle, Roarke and Ariél as little achievement in life. And making a difference in some of my student's lives. I will read about other people’s great achievements, and bask in the warmth of stories shared with my achieving friends and family, and will be satisfied with my achievement (shared with Tom) of being a good parent.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

365 Days, Day 48

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Tilgate forest is a walk over the railway bridge just up from our house in Maidenbower. We have ventured out into the forest with tiny Lily; she seems so tiny compared to the other dogs out walking with their owners. She has been introduced to rabbits, some deer, magpies, and a myriad of exciting smells.

A walk in the forest is good for the soul. The trees have an ancient, majestic presence that is calming and soothing. I have on a quite a few occasions ventured out in sun and snow, when I have felt sad, jangled, happy, lonely, blocked or just wanted some fresh air. I was delighted to be able to share ‘my’ forest with my mum and dad when they were over her in May. Dad had to take it really slowly because of the pain, and Mum and I were quite concerned about him, but with his stoic determination he walked all the way to the walled garden and back. I hope the forest fed his soul, as it does mine.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

365 Days, Day 47

Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return. (E. M. Forster)

Traditional motivational children’s story:

A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill "I can't; that is too much a pull for me," said the great engine built for hard work. Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. "I think I can," puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, "I--think--I--can, I--think--I--can." It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, "I thought I could, I thought I could." [I have always loved this story]

Trains fascinate me, as do aircraft (another day I will relate the story of the helicopter). I find their power exciting. Train journeys are still a novelty for me. I am sure if I had to commute to London everyday, the sense of adventure might wear thin.

Things to do on a train journey:

þ Ignore the tinny music which must be blasting the eardrums of the wearer of the ipod earphones.

þ Catch random snippets of people’s conversations, write them down and create a modern poem or use them in your novel.

þ Eavesdrop.

þ Catch someone’s eye and smile… and then nonchalantly deal with the uncomfortable-ness of being in each other’s proximity for the remainder for the journey

þ Read your book and look up just as a passing train whooshes past right next to your face causing you to go “wahhh!!!” very loudly and drop your book. Again nonchalance is needed to deal with the strange looks from fellow passengers.

þ Sing along to the music playing in your ipod earphones. I haven’t tried this yet, because my singing needs some (!) ‘polishing’.

þ Make small-talk with an African man with braids and loads of big shiny bling, who has his feet on the seats and from whom everyone else has moved away. Smilingly accept his facebook name from him on the back of a torn receipt, and say yes-you-will-definitely-look-him-up-so-you-can-listen-to-his-rap-compositions-that-he-has-posted-on-Facebook.

þ Notice the incongruity of the trainers on the feet of an otherwise elegantly clad woman in the seat opposite you.

þ Ignore the snores of the stranger who has fallen asleep on your shoulder.

þ Become so engrossed in your play script that you are reading, that you almost miss your station.

þ Drink a takeaway Costas vanilla latte.

þ Enjoy the ride.

Friday, July 23, 2010

365 Days, Day 46

Wake up and live! Live that full and glorious life which is your true heritage. Be afraid of nothing. You have within you all wisdom, all power, all strength and all understanding. Pluck out those weeds of doubt, fear and uncertainty so that they cannot choke the beautiful garden deep within you… When your thoughts are of the highest, beauty and perfection are reflected without. You are like a mirror which has been highly polished, nothing can remain hidden (Caddy, E. 1986. Opening doors within. Scotland: Findhorn Press. July 23).

Embracing my journey:

I have some serious fears and doubts

Decisions have to be made

My backdoor is going to be shut

There will be finality

Looking back is not encouraged

An intense emotional journey

Amongst my personal history

I must weed out and select


My heart will shatter

I will need to be carried

I don’t know if I can do this


Will replace a lifetime

I am afraid

A frightened little buck

Caught in the headlights


Life still on hold


Go forth

Wake up and live

Reflect inner acceptance

Allow the garden within

To flourish

Another bee was found, outside this time. I also discovered a minute tarnished mirror tile. So I set about taking pictures of the little mirror front and back. My photography these days is experimental and gives me immense pleasure. I have taken hundreds of photos these past 46 days. What to do with them all...

I had to think about what my theme for the day was going to be. Today’s reading from Eileen Caddy’s book was a place so contradictory to where I am right now. A conscious decision will have to be taken to embrace my journey. In the meantime, my art and my photography provide some solace and escape and delight.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

365 Days, Day 45

The best actors, I think, have a childlike quality. They have a sort of an ability to lose themselves. There's still some silliness. (Kenneth Branagh)

Bunny slippers remind me of who I am. You can't get a swelled head if you wear bunny slippers. You can't lose your sense of perspective and start acting like a star or a rich lady if you keep on wearing bunny slippers. Besides, bunny slippers give me confidence because they're so jaunty. They make a statement; they say, 'Nothing the world does to me can ever get me so far down that I can't be silly and frivolous.' If I died and found myself in Hell, I could endure the place if I had bunny slippers. (Dean Koontz)

Today is Ariél’s 20th Birthday. It has been a day of silliness. We went to London and wondered around Camden in the pouring rain. Ariél got her wellies to wear to the festival next weekend> the man who sold them to us said for festivals the two basic requirements are wellies and baby-wipes!? We shared a pizza on the bank of the Camden lock. We were surprised by a man walking confidently past us wearing no make-up, a lilac floral dress and lilac cardigan and matching pumps. We saw well-pierced and tattooed men and women. We watched a houseboat fill the lock to get up to next water level. We loved the 1950s retro-look which is very fashionable at the moment: hair and make-up and clothes. Some vintage shops sell these fashions, but at £45 for a dress… we moved along. I visited ‘my’ Tokyo-street-style kimono outfit in one of the shops: it’s still beautiful, but still too expensive. My favourite Goth shops still have the most divine, creative fashions: food for my soul (I wonder what kind of lives my soul has had!).

We took the tube back to Oxford Street and went into Topshop on the high street but it was extremely crowded, so we made our way back to Victoria station. We discovered a South African shop on the station and Ariél bought some of her favourite green Spaletta Cream Soda. I bought a latte from a kiosk on the platform. On the train we took silly Death-at-a-Funeral poses of each other with much giggling. The Oriental tourists who got off at Gatwick station were looking slightly afraid. Instead of waiting fifteen minutes for a bus, we walked home (a thirty minute walk) with much giggling and silliness on the way. It’s a long walk but didn’t seem too bad because we laughed a lot. Lily was waiting for us when we got home and had a lot to say, but was soon distracted from her whinging with a golf ball and twig we had found along the walk home for her.

Tonight we are off to Brighton for a late surprise supper to celebrate 20 years of silliness with, and never-ending love and admiration for our wonderful Princess. Happy Birthday, Precious!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

365 Days, Day 44

Some wisdom from Robert Fulghum. If we all lived like this the world would be a better place. I especially like the bit about living a balanced life: I haven’t done all of those in one day for a long time (my family complains when I try to sing… I do sound awful but I love squawking along to my favourite songs like Nothing Else Matters –by Metallica, my favourite band ever!).

Extremely important is to be aware of the wonder in our world around us. Which ties in with the “biggest word of all – LOOK”. Look for the wonder in your world. Make today a “looking” day. Please let me know what you ‘see’ today. (I check back everyday to see if anyone has left any presents = comments for me from the previous day’s blog… usually not…)

Have a wonderful day!


(by Robert Fulghum)

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.