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Our housekeeper is a good news story in a bad news tale - so far that is - but getting here hasn’t been an easy journey. She noticed a lump in her neck and took herself off to the clinic - after hours of sitting and being ignored she was seen by someone who said she needed to be admitted.

I received a panicked call from my hysterical housekeeper who, having been pushed around from pillar to post prior to being diagnosed with HIV, she had spent weeks in Baragwaneth and memories of that experience linger just under the service. I suggested she come to me and we visited my local doctor for their opinion.

This has led us to spending, over the next couple of months, endless hours at the Helen Joseph trying to make our way through the chaotic and seemingly broken system. The system is so clearly represented in the misery of the buildings, a place that meant to be healing or at the very least helping people. The Helen Joseph is, I believe, one of the better government healthcare facilities which is shocking to the nth degree.

Determined that Lindiwe not fall through the cracks of this broken system I’ve held her hand and asked the questions that, out of fear and perhaps a degree of unsophistication, needed to be asked. In the hours we spent at the hospital I looked around at the seemingly hopelessness of it. There are literally hundreds of people lost in those corridors some so sick they can barely raise a voice to ask a question that may just get them seen.

But through it all and just when I wanted to tear my hear out we would always find someone to help us take the next step up. Once you finally get in front of a person who isn’t just there to push papers you get the help that is so desperately needed and I was buoyed by the belief that they do actually care. There are just too few trying to help just too many.

But if you ask the right questions, if you put in the time, if you refuse to be pushed on without getting the right help then the help is there - it’s not hopeless and there are good news stories, so far my beloved Lindiwe is one of them.

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in Thoughts 1758


We might be in the dark, literally (for us South Africans) and figuratively (for the rest of us) but it’s upon is - the silly season that is. I’m one of those who relishes this time of the year - decking our house with Christmas decorations (much to the chagrin of the grinch I live with!) and generally donning a jolly attitude about life.

 

That said you’d have to be plank not to realise what’s going on. I read in our local papers this weekend how so many have been drastically affected by the insanity that is the power(less) situation - businesses halted, homes brought to a standstill and the lack of any obvious action by the people who should be responsible.

 

This isn’t really news to me though because I live in an the area forgotten by City Power (Or Eskom or any municipality in South Africa for that matter). The glorious open spaces around us have sprung complexes and now we hide in obscurity and relative peace (well a LOT of peace nowadays). Increasingly our power has diminished - what were monthly outages became weekly then daily and over this time we all became increasingly voiceless. I’ve been raised to take action - don’t talk about it, do something. So I’ve done something … well mostly just logged complaints in any forum possible (Twitter rules!)

 

The collective rebuff seems to fall on stoney ground and it’s that which riles us. We get that there are problems, we understand that everything takes time but don’t treat us like idiots. As a stalwart for and with South Africa I refuse to be defeated by stupidity or idle frivolity and, as Jodi Foster said in her 2013 Cecil DeMille award speech, "we need to be heard, we need to be understood - deeply - and to be not so very lonely...

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in Thoughts 4050

This week hasn’t been good when you count up the tally of the fallen. Sadness engulfs and words, songs, platitudes do nothing but fill the space where the person we’re grieving for should be. Losing another family friend did nothing more than reinforce the fact that we’re just not present. I was shocked to hear of her passing and it rang way too close to home to clock it in as ‘just one of those things’.

In standing, again, listening to the life of one person been spoken about by another, made me think that I guess that’s what it all comes down to - our legacy - what we stand and stood for.

We’re remembered for what we did, who we were and how we’re remembered.

Our friend sure did leave a legacy - her family, love, beauty, talent, commitment, laughter, concern, care, love, generosity, integrity, authenticity, boldness and individuality. We stood in her bountiful garden listening to the words and the wood and the birds who live there because she gave that to them. We creaked and cried and wished we’d be more of ourselves whilst she left us her flowers, love and the slight breeze of her smile. 

One of the speakers mentioned how she would welcome us ‘Hello my dear, how are you?’ and I heard her voice echoed in that breeze. I looked up, I could feel her, the speaker continued. 

We gathered, drank water or wine, mingled and smiled at each other when all we wanted to do was withdraw and lick our wounds for what we really know to be true. We miss so much and our fallen friends remind us of that. 

I would try and remind us all to wake up but we know that. I’d remind us to be present but we know that. I’d remind us to take the picture but we know that. I guess that all that is left is to remember to smell the flowers. 

I got home today, after this blessing and, after busying myself with nothingness, I sat down at my desk and dropped my head, a small flower dropped out and I realised that, from her garden, a small flower had carried its way to me. It didn’t seem much but it was everything. Call me sentimental but what I felt was she had wrapped her arms around me, in her selfless way, and sent me home, safely with the love and care of a mother, friend, companion, confident that will be missed and loved, forever.
 
"We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time. When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy. It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable." Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening
 

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in Thoughts 3605

My sister moved house today and in a way we all moved on. It was a melting pot of people all armed with much love, good intentions, manic mayhem and sporadic bursts of ‘what now’. But I think that’s life, well I guess it is.

In the quiet moments I looked around with sincere appreciation for who and what my family is - a complicated bunch of people who are just doing the best we can and loving each other along the way.

My sister and I sat, whilst the men went off and did more chest beating (I think they would like it referred to as work), and put the world right over wine (is there any other way) and what we figured out today (perhaps we’re slow learners) is that actually none of us have this life figured out. We’re all just making it up along the way, but we are making it up together.

And that’s what matters, I think,  is that we’re together. Life might be a mess (guaranteed) and we'll get it wrong (probably) but we will learn (hopefully) to do it better tomorrow. Here’s to tomorrow.

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in Thoughts 1732

Get out of your own head and ego.

You have gifts, talents, skills and abilities that are unique and specific to you. Stop questioning the Divine.

It’s like a bird with powerful wings walking in circles wondering if it deserves to fly - nonsense!

It’s not about deserving, it’s about fulfilling your purpose and honouring the Divine showing up as you. Get out of the way.

It’s not about you! It’s about life expressing through you.

Cynthia Ocelli

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in Thoughts 3891