The last time I went over to the UK to work as a Live-in Carer, blogging came to a standstill for me. That was two years ago, starting in mid-June till early November of 2021, and included 10 days mandatory Covid quarantine, 16 weeks of work, and 10 days paid leave, where I took the opportunity to travel in England, my country of birth, and see some of my family and friends there. I skipped blogging for the entire time I was away, and only picked up again in August this year. Sixteen months is a long time between blog posts!
Quite honestly, I didn’t feel the urge to write while I was away, and this is partly at least due to the intensity of care work by nature, where I couldn’t wait for my bit of time out in the evenings when clients are (hopefully) peacefully asleep, and where I could catch up on reading or watch some Netflix in my room. Even during my allocated two-hour breaks during the day, rather than blogging, I preferred to rest or go for walks in the beautiful semi-rural areas (which is where most of my clients lived) or catch up on some admin. And speak to my husband back in ZA, of course.
And now it seems I will be heading out there again within the next few weeks. There is a lot to prepare for, and I can safely say that writing and blogging are on ‘pause’ for me for now. We’ll see in time when Pause becomes Play, but for now, all I can commit to is checking in with you lovely people on your blogs from time to time while I’m away.
Hope you have all had a bright and promising start to 2023, and may your year continue ever onward and upward!
I don’t normally reblog other people’s posts, but this quote is so perfect for a Monday that I couldn’t resist:
“A new week starts. No need to hesitate. The windows reflect a new day with new adventures. Looking back is just too much work! With all that you know and all that you’ve learned, turn and follow the open road ahead.” From this lovely blog that I came across while doing random searches on WordPress this morning: https://carriesbench.org/2022/08/29/mondays-door-6/
Happy Monday, everyone and here’s wishing you an upbeat start to the new week. Oh, and remember to keep yourBeginner’s Mind with you at all times! 🙂
Yesterday I posted here on my blog. Three hours or so later, I binned the post. Something didn’t feel right. It wasn’t unhappy with the writing itself. I hadn’t rushed through it- in fact I had planned this post several days before. The content was interesting, I thought. The subject matter was something that resonated with me. So, what was the problem? I’m still not entirely sure, but it was enough to make me want to whip it off my blog site shortly after publication. I could go so far as to say it didn’t feel authentic, but maybe it just wasn’t what I wanted to write about.
I know I’m out of practice following a long hiatus, and that no doubt affects my confidence a bit. I feel like I’m still in the starting blocks here, yet to find my groove and the necessary traction to carry me along. I had a sixteen-month gap between April 2021 and August this year when I started blogging again. I hadn’t really even expected to be back here following that lengthy break, but here we are again. Am I happy to be back? Yes, I am, especially when I see some of the familiar blogging faces and discover some new ones which I’ve tagged to follow. I’ve never had a large following on WordPress but it’s reassuring and heart-warming to see that most if not all of my followers are still there, plus one or two more over the past few weeks.
Speaking of blogging breaks, I’ve seen bloggers continue to comment on other people’s blogs even after they have left their own in entirety or are on ‘blog sabbatical’ themselves. I think opting out for a while can offer you a kind of freedom to observe and engage with other bloggers on a different level- if you’re not blogging it gives you more time to explore other blogger’s sites, play around with the WordPress search bars for new posts and sites, and go through the Discover section in the Reader. But I did none of those things during my extended break. I stepped away completely due to reasons which I won’t detail here. Save to say that the period between March 2021 and late August this year has involved huge changes and challenges, some of which I have coped with better than others. Blogging moved onto the back burner as I turned my attention to other things that needed me more. The real heartbreak came with the sudden and shocking passing of a younger family member earlier this year. There are no words for this.
I think a blogger’s needs can change over time, extended gaps between posts or otherwise. Sometimes we just need a break. Our circumstances change, times change, and even if we know that our values have not really changed, we are sometimes forced to change our priorities and our focus in life because of the things that happen. These kinds of changes may or may not impact on our blogs and the things we find ourselves writing about. Sometimes we question whether our blogs still reflect what is really in our hearts and minds, and we feel the urge to take a step back for a while. This is never a bad thing.
And even when those curve balls come, those one’s that hit you right in the solar plexus, leaving you windless and speechless, you need to try and lean into the trajectory, lean into the tail of that curve ball, and eventually settle back into your groove. Or maybe even find a brand new one♥
I originally intended this post for January this year. I thought it was a nice way to get things started for 2022: some inspired wisdom following a year of unprecedented challenges on a world wide scale. A new year, especially when it follows a particularly difficult one, holds a promise of renewal and a fresh start, and we look forward with a sense of hope for better things to come. We look to embrace the possibilities ahead, and we feel the urge to move forward to dream bigger, do better and be better.
Fast forward to the last week of August 2022 and I find that much has happened since that fresh first month of January, and also that I never got round to publishing this post. It occurred to me that right now, now that the year has lost its youthful sheen, may be a good time for us to check in with ourselves. It’s fair to say that inspiration never goes out of date, and words that seem wise and uplifting are as relevant in August as they are in January. The later stage of a year is where we may well be needing a dose of that positivity that we started the year with. Even if we have done well with the New Year’s resolutions and goals we may have created for the year, life presents ongoing challenges and as we find our coping mechanisms being continually stretched, we may feel those frustrations and disappointments piling up. And that’s when we need to step back, take a breath (in AND out) and pause for some perspective and the energy to motivate ourselves going forward.
The following are not necessarily intended as maxims or mottos for life, although indeed they could be. These are all quotes taken from different sources: websites and blog posts, a newspaper article and an encyclopaedia entry. These are writings to reflect upon: Inspired and thoughtful words from the wise hearts and minds of humans past and present who, like you and me, no doubt had their good days and bad, and times where they had to dig deep just to get through the day. For me, each of these is a beautiful observation that makes the world a richer place and speaks of our ongoing human search for meaning, and our need to feel at home in ourselves and the world that we are a part of.
1.“The One you are looking for is the One who is looking.” (St Francis of Assisi).Beautifully explained in this post.
2. ““There exists a deep ecological tradition in Vedic culture by which human settlement, forests and water resources are carefully balanced. To achieve that balance, nature’s welfare and human welfare cannot be separated each other.” Terry Sheldon explains the Vedic ecology at the core of the Small Farm Training Centre, in an article from the Huffington Post.
3.“Really, to have a life of doing you need to not do.” (Will Rosenzweig on the Tao). Read about the four levels of non-doing, and how it may sometimes be necessary to be detached from things that you care deeply about.
4. “Animals move; people can learn about movement from animals. House pets stretch all day long, creating space in their joints. Animals sit in different kinds of positions. Monkeys and apes do things with their hands. Perhaps as humans we need to reclaim our four- leggedness. Getting down on all fours stimulates the pranic flow. Sitting in chairs tightens the hamstrings and the lower back. Animals don’t sit on furniture; they have not built things contrary to their nature.” (Denise Kaufman) from the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Nature
5.”Whats in your cup? ….When life gets tough, what spills over for you?” and “The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step” fromZEN FLASH
“For we forget our origins; in our towns and cities, staring into our screens, we need constant reminding that we have been operators of computers for a single generation and workers in neon-lit offices for three or four, but we were farmers for five hundred generations, and before that hunter-gatherers for perhaps fifty thousand or more, living with the natural world as part of it as we evolved, and the legacy cannot be done away with.” From “The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy”, by Michael Mccarthy.
And similarly, from marine biologist and human being truly in love with nature, Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring first ignited the Environmental Movement back in the 1960’s: “Our origins are of the earth. And so there is in us a deeply seated response to the natural universe, which is part of our humanity.” ♥
‘True self-care is not bath salts and chocolate cake, it’s making the choice to build a life you don’t need to escape from’ – Brianna Wiest
Talking of escape, that’s exactly what I happened to do this past weekend. We (my husband and I) spent a weekend in Clarens, a little town about three and half hours from where we live in Johannesburg. It is a beautiful little town, surrounded by hills and mountains and with an abundance of little shops and restaurants and places to enjoy a home grown craft beer or two. Amazingly, the place seems to be flourishing despite the devastation of Covid, although sadly there are probably casualties that I am not aware of. From Wikipedia: Clarens is a small town situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State province of South Africa and nicknamed the “Jewel of the Eastern Free State”. It was established in 1912 and named after the town of Clarens in Switzerland where exiled Paul Kruger spent his last days.
The weekend had been planned some weeks back, and I was looking forward to the break- a change of scene, a breath of fresh air, the pleasure of a mini holiday at a place that we had visited and delighted in over previous visits. However I was not really thinking of it as an escape. That’s a strong word. The feeling of escape came towards the end of the weekend, while we were driving back on the Sunday afternoon, when I reminded myself that I had not checked my phone for messages or notifications, or even gone online the entire weekend since the Friday morning. And it felt good. It felt liberating. There is a kind of delight in the nonchalance of not feeling inclined to keep checking your phone, when you really feel in your bones that it’s just not important right now, that you have bigger fish to fry, and that fish is called Enjoying Your Day, Unimpeded. And I think that we all need to go there sometimes, to that place where you don’t feel FOMO tugging at your sleeve, or your heart strings or whatever, because that thing that’s REALLY tugging at your heart strings is often what you see when you just lift your eyes from the screen and look beyond your arm’s length to the trees and the clouds, and the Maluti mountain range out there in the distance.
Perhaps the truth lies in the spaces inbetween. When we stand back and truly take a look at what is in front of us, at what surrounds us. At what we are in fact a part of. A term known as the Overview Effect may be just the wakeup call that is needed here on planet Earth. Wikipedia describes the Overview Effect as “…a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space.”
The genesis of the term is credited to Frank White while on an airplane flight in the 1970’s: “Anyone living in a space settlement … will always have an overview. They will see things that we know, but that we don’t experience, which is that the Earth is one system. We’re all part of that system, and there is a certain unity and coherence to it all.”
Or as described in stronger terms by Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who clearly knew how to call a spade a spade: “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
For more on the Overview Effect and similar kinds of different, you can visit Kyle Kowalski’s beautiful website HERE.
A friend said to me recently, “It feels like there is nothing to look forward to”. He was referring to Lockdown and the limitations that it imposes upon his normal life, the constraints on his ability to move around freely, where his options are being sorely compromised by the realities of dealing with this pandemic. No longer can he just go online, cherry pick from a wide selection of wonderful and exciting destinations, and then make his travel plans accordingly. My frequent-flying and adventure seeking friend is in the same boat as the rest of us: his plans are on hold while bigger things are busy running their course. “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” I don’t know how he is doing right now, I have no idea how he has adapted to the situation that most of us find ourselves in- dealing with the shock of enforced change, rebuilding aspects of our lives where necessary, and just generally trying to rise to the challenges of navigating this strange and scary new space. Maybe he is waiting for things to ‘go back to normal’, where he can book his flight online and then hop on a plane to fly off somewhere different for a while. For now he will have to continue to wait. We ALL have to wait. But waiting can be painful, and frustrating, and even spirit- crushing. Waiting for change, for that desired outcome or result, is difficult. It can lead us to feel powerless and helpless and anxious. Thank goodness there is a choice. It’s called “Wanting what you already have.” Ok, so it doesn’t replace the satisfaction, the sense of achievement and the thrill of getting that thing that you’ve been coveting and working towards for so long, but never underestimate the power of the little things. The things that are already part of your life, the things that you may forget to notice, are sometimes easily overlooked and taken for granted because the big stuff, the stuff of dreams, just seems so much more exciting.
I enjoy collecting quotes: those handy and comforting adages that can offer cheer and relief when things don’t make sense, when the world doesn’t make sense- when you can’t help wondering, despite the wisdom of your years that has taught you that the world does Not have a personal vendetta against you or anyone else, why bad things happen to good people. Even today I received a Whatsapp message from a younger relative, and in my response to him I found myself typing ‘This too Shall Pass.’ Sometimes (usually in fact) there just are no perfect or fully satisfying answers in life, and we find ourselves with more questions than answers, and that kind of waiting period where we try to fix or at least to ‘adapt’ to a difficult situation, only to find ourselves dealing with the next crisis or a different challenge soon after! And we rise to the challenge once again, and sometimes life feels like just a series of events that asks (almost) more of us than we have to give.
Nevertheless, he seemed to appreciate my ‘This too shall pass’ comment, responding with a smiley face 🙂 and hearts ♥♥♥, so I’m glad I could help.Continue reading →