Sunday, 14 February 2010

Valentine's Day

I am great a fan of romance and all things that celebrate relationships with the ones you love however I have never managed to find enthusiasm for Valentine's day. To me, one day that celebrates 'love' or 'mothers' or 'fathers' or any of the other named days, simply is not enough.

These gifts are such an intrinsic part of my life that I feel that their importance needs to be celebrated daily in acts of expressions of deep gratitude. Every day I want those I love and who love me to know that they are never forgotten and I appreciate who and what they are in my life.

My experience with Valentines day as I grew up was an easy one as I was one of those blessed ones who received cards every year throughout those important years when your self esteem depends on such acts to develop you into a half-reasonable adult. (I might add here that I still don't think I am one.)

I remember wondering who the anonymous missives were from. I remember watching the envy and jealousy at boarding school and feeling such sadness that so many fearful emotions were attached to one single day that celebrates love. I decided that I did not want to part of it as too many hopes or dreams seemed to be pinned onto a piece of card.

I am blessed with Borneo who tells me he feels the same way. We do not make a big fuss about anniversaries, birthdays or Valentines. We celebrate each other and our loved ones when ever the feeling comes over us on any day it suits us. It happens often and this is so wonderful. The surprises are heart-given and heart-felt. Sometimes they are not surprises at all.

Today was no different to any other day. We went down to our local cafe for breakfast. The atmosphere was electric. It was fully booked with couples gazing deeply into each other's eyes. We caused quite a stir as we sat down. Borneo got out his laptop and I, my knitting.  Later we moved on to newspapers.

At some time we looked up we realised that we were the only ones behaving like this, not paying full attention to each other,  rather sharing conversation when we had something to say. Another couple came in and also read their newspapers. We smiled at each other. It felt as though we were starting a mutual support group.

We enjoyed our food, the quality time spent together, comfortable enough to enjoy companionship whilst being being involved in other activities. It seemed quite scandalous to those around us and there were many strange glances.

As an aside to this, Borneo had a cunning plan to break the the mould this year and he was very clever. You see, on top of Valentine's Day, it is our 30th Wedding Anniversary in a couple of days. So he came home with three dozen beautiful white roses yesterday. He knew he could get away with it because he gave them to me on the day before the day and I really could not say much about it except 'thank you'.

He wants to be quite sure that I understand that he feels more strongly now than he did back then. He is just that kind of sweet wild man of Borneo. So here with these written words, I celebrate his gift to me with you.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


This last week has brought me back to connect with my roots in South Africa. Firstly we watched Silent Witness on television and I was reminded of all the sadness and pain that is still associated with the country of my birth however the scenery of Cape Town brought memories of five happy years, when we lived across the bay from the mountain and breathed in its beauty every day whilst running along lonely beaches with our young son, or walking along its many wondrous trails.

Our daughter was born in this beautiful city. She nearly chose to make her appearance into the world on a long hike up Lion's head three weeks before term. Borneo tried to drag me up the cliff face to the very top and I had dug my heals in, refusing. This was a fortuitous decision because not long after we had turned back we experienced the famous 'table cloth' of clouds that drapes over Table Mountain and Lion's head, leaving us with very obscured vision and a long mist-blinded walk back to the car. It was at this time that I started having labour pains and visions of our child being born on the side of the mountain with the baboons as midwives.

Soon after the birth of a beautiful baby girl, we transferred to Johannesburg against all of our wishes but to where life was leading us. Here, we experienced my second connection with South Africa this week, the bush. As you can see to the side of my writing, I am reading another book which written by a safari guide. To add to this as I opened my emails yesterday morning, the picture below of a leopard in all its magnificence jumped out at me. "Look what we saw in the Kruger Park is weekend" read the caption. I am immediately transported to wide open blue African skies with warm sunshine and dry dusty air of the African bush.

We have spent many happy weeks in the bush being with all kinds of animals who shared their beauty and lives with us unconcerned by the intrusion of our presence. Much to the envy of others, we were blessed enough to see the Big Five on our first game drive alone into Kruger Park and we fell deeply in love. Every time we went out, there was something special to see - birds of a myriad of colours, vultures sitting loftily on dead branches, lions lying lazily in the shade of acacia trees, kingfishers darting their iridescent colours along river beds, crocodiles and hippos wallowing in the water or wild dogs and their pups playing at the edge of a muddy water hole. The silence and energy in such places is not easily described. Places of such beauty and contrast.

Sometimes, Borneo and I were alone and others we were with family or friends. There were champagne brunches cooked over gas fires after long early morning game drives before retiring to bed during the heat of the day with fans whirring noisily ahead. Then out again once the intense heat had eased to watch sun sets over open escarpment from lookout points at water holes where elephants and their babies came to drink at dusk.

At other times it was just the two of us quietly sipping water, drinking coffee and eating rusks at a picnic spot before stretching out on sleeping bags under the trees until the afternoon drive, then back to make a fire and cook something to eat under stars set against a deep indigo sky. Once a green mamba dropped out of a tree above us and slid passed indifferent to our frozen terror as we lay a couple of meters away. We have been herded by elephants and chased by rhino and I would still go back in a second.

Such a deep yearning came over me and I wanted to head for the airport to board a plane. I best not tell Borneo or he will be packing bags immediately for both of us. He loves the bush far more than I do.

Leopard Photo - P.Distin

Saturday, 6 February 2010


This photograph is in honour of a friend who loves otters. This weekend we are visiting her as Borneo needs to take some photos for his photography project. Being here has made me think of friends and friendship, what this means to me and how blessed I am with the friendships that I have in my life.

Although I don't see most of my friends very often as most of us live vast distances away from each other, the bond that we have formed survives the tests of time. When we finally meet up again after months or years apart, it is like slipping into a luxurious sweater, all warm and comfy, woven in the threads of friendship, carrying all the colours of the memories and laughter we have already shared.

Coming to stay here is like being home from home. Everything is new yet still the same since. The silences are comfortable and the laughter is joyful. It is exciting to catch up on all the news, to sit and enjoy meals together and stumble off to bed at the end of a long day looking forward to the time shared tomorrow.

A BIG thank you to all my friends out there for the joy and laughter you have brought into my life. May you be equally blessed.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


If you have looked to the right of my blog posts you will have seen that I am reading a book called Life Codes. The book has seven codes, one for each day of the week and I have chosen to participate with them as meditations and practices for a week at a time, starting on the day which they are presented in the book. This may change as I embrace this journey because I may want more time with each one.

Reflection is a powerful gift that helps me to know myself. When I think about this I am immediately connected to Gregg Braden's Seven Essene Mirrors and what they are reflecting in my life. For those of you who are not familiar with them, the mirrors are listed very briefly below and are a great tool for reflection when I am feeling challenged.

1)  who I am in the moment
2)  what I judge in the moment
3)  what I have lost, given away or had taken away
4)  my most forgotten love
5)  my relationship with God
6)  my dark night of the soul
7)  my perfection

Monday's mediation was Unity. I used the word 'mediation' quite deliberately as it is an intervention into my daily life. I am tuning in to connect with Unity and how it is present in my life. So I am reflecting on the following:

All is one;
As above, so below;
Whatever I offer out to the world, is ultimately offered to myself.

I start this contemplation with an observation of open-heartedness, to truly connect to and experience all the precious love that I already have in my life - the wonderful Borneo, two lovely grown-up children, the love and support of family and friends and then those amazing synchronicities that flow in me with Divine companionship. I breathe this memory and knowledge into my body. With this action it develops into innate wisdom. 

I am always surprised at the transformation that this simple exercise can bring into my body. Tension leaves and I feel the king of freedom that only surfaces from within. All the grievances that I have been holding on to melt away for the moment. I feel at peace, more so than I have for months. I want to hold onto this feeling forever.

There are so many ways to animate separation and Unity to understand it:

A single raindrop that falls merging with a brilliant turquoise ocean of water;
A single musical note that rises to join the harmonies of a wonderful piece of music;
A single ingredient that blends in enhancing a scrumptious meal.

In the same way, I bring my self to be in the Whole. When I contemplate or meditate, I create a bridge in my physical self where that sacred space is accessed and I connect to a vastness of being. How this happens is a mystery to me, nevertheless it takes me to possibilities that are beyond my mind's dreams and imagination, to an opening where miracles happen.

Every time I expand through the limited physical space that I exist in, I connect profoundly and unquestioningly with 'the bigger picture' and magic appears mysteriously in my life. It comes in unexpected ways and blesses me with gifts that deepen my relationship with the Divine.

Sometimes these gifts are so obvious to me in the moment and at other times I am not able to recognise them until I spend time in reflection, contemplating my thoughts, words and deeds. I am however beginning to know that they are there even when I have not found them yet. The adventure is to find them and delight in them.

Photo 1 The Barracks, Winchester
Photo 2 WIndow and arches reflected in the new font at Salisbury Cathedral
Photo 3 Bridge over the harbour, Weymouth