Cape Town, South Africa
2013: You stole my heart.
Okay, a man there did.
Oh yea, and went on an EPIC road trip up the coast.
2014: I learned to live, breathe, be a part of,
stare out into the mountain as the sun would rise
and the rainbows would set,
appreciate the little moments of always standing right next to my best friend
and come to love this place, that is now my second home.
2015: I feel in love even more so
with the incredible man that I am blessed to have stand by my side,
explored parts of Cape Town I truly didn’t know existed,
went on a mini road trip, chilled and relished in so much happiness in-between.
This time around,
in March of 2015
after six months living, working, managing an intern and research camp in Mafia Island, Tanzania,
we returned back to South Africa together.
Only thing on our minds….
Dan’s visa to the United States.
For a month and a half we explored,
explored a bit more,
filed some more paperwork
enjoyed more sacred moments,
and smiled a whole lot!
it was time that I started making arrangements to head back to the States
as the funds we had worked so hard to make and save from Mafia Island were dwindling
and dwindling quickly.
So, I did what I had to do,
not what I wanted to do.
Booked my plane ticket.
And headed back to where my roots grew in Southern California in mid April.
inspiration in my heart
and overwhelming sense of calmness, of wholeness, of togetherness.
All in knowing,
I truly have a best friend,
a soul partner,
an explorer of life
by my side for life.
Fast forwarding to the moment of sitting here,
in the United States.
sadly, still half way across the world in South Africa.
Well, they hang heavy.
We’ve been in the application process for his visa for a year now.
he is still there
and I am here.
our countries keep us apart.
Each day that passes,
Below, you can share some moments,
moments that I hold dear to my heart
and those stories wrapped within those moments
that occurred during my “Autumn in Cape Town.”
And, within all this,
keep positive thoughts,
in knowing that these moments of being apart,
become part of the past.
As always, many blessings!
Usually, when moments such as these,
expressing themselves as time capsules for all to see,
would have been captured through a series of hiking to some remote location,
while possibly camping for the weekend,
trekking around fields and going "off the grid."
But, nope. Not these.
That's not the case for these at hand.
These very ones were captured, in the front yard.
Yes, the front yard of a dear friend's house we so graciously spent the weekend at in Hermanus, SouthAfrica.
On the journey to the house,
there were abundant fields full of ancient trees,
grass as tall as I am, rodents running beneath
and through the roads, mountains all surrounding that and a complete sense of serenity.
One early evening,
we decided to lollygag around the property
and just steps after leaving the front porch,
these images started to come into view.
For the next hour or so,
I was mesmerized by the natural beauty,
the untouched nature that surrounded me.
The thick grass, the tall pine trees oozing sap,
the fallen trees birthing life for new plants
and the subtleness of birds chirping,
and the family cat jumping into random piles of..
who really knows what. I found and held, for the first time, a porcupine's quill.
It was, what one would describe, as peaceful, very peaceful.
And it was, an absolute reminder that nature is our best friend,
that we need nature, nature doesn't need us.
And that, taking a moment out,
to become submerged in this very thing that gives us life,
well, it's essential, its crucial.
Words, and meanings of those words,
are never truly understood
until there is a feeling,
all pulsing together
as they bring meaning to the word,
making it come to life.
With the adventure life has blessed me with,
my visions and dreams,
well, they've become realities.
Unfolding as the universe releases.
Digesting as I'm ready.
Within these realities,
I am so incredibly blessed to call that of my own,
is a love,
A love that fills my soul with a wholeness,
A love that keeps my breath expanding
and my aspirations thriving.
This, this very thing,
is a feeling,
that I live and breathe everyday.
Have you ever heard of a "Swop Shop" before? I've just recently experienced this very thing. Please, let me share!
I had the honor of being inspired by one while visiting a township in Kleebai, South Africa.
A "swop shop" is part of a community development initiative where the children of the community exchange bags of recyclables for soup and additional prizes. The prizes vary from school supplies to outdoor activity accessories, to clothing items and a little bit of this and that in-between. Each bag is weighted and based on the weight, the children receive points and then the children can select their prize of choice. To top it off, it's organized with the city to come pick up these recyclables during the time in which they are dropped off.
Charmaine, the owner of #WhiteSharkProjects and implementer of this program is an absolute inspiration.
This project is beneficial for all involved, both the community in which the children live in and for society at a whole!
Truly so blessed in being exposed to this!
Moments. Moments with this being.
They fill my soul.
They remind me of the beauty that is around me,
most importantly, within me.
They remind me that, anything, absolutely anything,
it is, it is completely possible.
That a dream,
a dream can become a reality within just a simple blink of the eye,
they can appear, in flesh, right in front of our being.
And taking the time,
taking the time,
to step away,
out of the busyness making up life,
back into that which nature provides, nurtures,
bringing us to that place of wholeness, of understanding, back to our center.
It exists. It is ever so magical.
Dan and I spent many moments,
wondering about, getting lost, within, being supported by, natures most precious surroundings.
This place, this very place in particular is known as Newlands Forest in Cape Town, South Africa.
The sun gently shines through the trees,
bringing light to the life,
to the radiance that this unique place has to offer.
How did I ever get so blessed?
I ask myself this everyday!
I once read a quote,
reminding me of the very reality of being able to have both roots and wings.
I've always known my roots where planted deep within this earth,
but it took me some time to find my wings.
As the years have progressed,
the understanding for myself has deepened,
my connection to all that is around has strengthened
and my wings feel as if they expand and contract as the inhalations and exhalations occur.
All guiding me in and through incredible journeys across the landscapes of this earth!
I am ever grateful, always thankful, unbelievably mesmerized, forever touched by these moments!
Follow your heart. Trust yourself.
Do what is best for you, not for society.
Know it’s okay to speak your truth.
To love yourself, love and accept yourself fully.
To put yourself out there.
Ask for help and be willing to receive that help.
Take chances, lots of chances and know, falling doesn’t hurt.
Reach those goals.
Push through your fears.
Make your own decisions.
Live with compassion, for yourself and others.
Do yoga, lots of yoga.
Let your inner child shine through.
Know you are beautiful and capable of absolutely anything you put your mind to.
Remember, tomorrow is a new day and
you can be a new you taking the experiences of yesterday and applying them to your knowledge of today.
Trust the universe.
Fall in love, my goodness, fall in love.
Trust yourself and take a leap of faith.
If it’s something you’re passionate about and meant to be doing, do it.
Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.
Read lots of books.
Utilize your resources.
Listen to that gut feeling, that inner voice, your intuition.
Live in the moment.
Dance around naked in your room.
Just, be, you. Always, be YOU!
And never forgot you are enough, just as you are.
And then some days,
we found ourselves randomly at a little heaven of an animal sanctuary
where we spent the afternoon hanging out with birds of all types from prehistoric dinosaur looking ones
to brightly colored parrots.
Ever wonder what an owl sounds like when you pet it's heard?
it makes a combination of a purring sound mixed with a laugh.
Probably one of the cutest little sounds I've heard.
Mafia Island, Tanzania....
and decades behind developed civilizations,
it's filled with colorful village,
after welcoming village,
after vibrantly thriving village,
after wholehearted acceptance village.
Throughout my time there,
I was blessed to experience these very villages and their inhabitants first hand.
‘It is a rare and beautiful quality to feel truly happy when others are happy. When someone rejoices in our happiness, we are flooded with respect and gratitude for their appreciation. When we take delight in the happiness of another, when we genuinely rejoice at their prosperity, success or good fortune, rather than begrudging it in any way. Unlike a state of mere excitement or giddiness, the quality of sympathetic joy challenges our deeper assumptions about aloneness, lose and happiness and shows us another possibility.’
There were those mornings,
those mornings when our company driver, Poteza
needs to go into town to pick up the daily supplies of fruits and veggies for the lodge.
After our heads bobbed around like little bottle-head figurines
due to the uneven dirt road,
we made a quick right turn through a “short-cut”
and swiftly parked in front of Mr. Kabila’s shop.
After jumping out of the car,
I looked left to see a smaller sakoni (shop)
that immediately started screaming at me from the corner of my eye
with it’s vibrant yellow bananas swaying in the breeze,
it’s lush red tomatoes stacked on the table
and the blue colored tin holding the front display in place.
I can’t help, couldn't help but capture it’s offering.
On the weekends,
Dan enjoyed an afternoon kite surf along the waters making up that of our backyard.
When I would come back from teaching,
I would grab my lunch and take it down on the beach.
As I ate,
the local children would begin to gather to watch Dan,
take photos with me
and share my lunch.
On this very day,
one of our guests staying at Magemani turned to me and said,
“Are you going to miss this when you leave?”
The answer to that,
the answer, is,
I am going to miss it immensely.
And on one of those same days as mentioned before
when Dan went kite surfing in the waters just below our house,
maybe even the same day….
As Dan landed his kite on the sand to clean and pack away,
the kids quickly looked at me,
looked over at Dan
and then ran underneath the kite.
With huge smiles on their faces,
they starting touching it,
feeling the air inside,
jumping around then stopping to pose
all the while looking so unbelievably happy.
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, creating ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance which kills countless ideas and endless plans. That, the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events from the decision, raising in ones favor, all manor of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, BEGIN IT. Boldness has genius, power AND magic in it!"
this very man,
resides in Utende village.
. Each day,
he begins anew,
progressing as an artist,
the artist on Mafia Island.
This very painting,
one of my favorite.
believe it or not,
camera in hand,
very few time capsules are created.
It does happen,
as the power of the moment,
overcomes the very act of capturing that moment.
Here, curious youth that call Utende village their home,
caught my attention as they saw me just ahead in the distance.
They yelled, “picha, picha”
meaning my camera was visible
and wanted their picture taken.
I happily turned around,
and then highlighted that moment
when the curiosity of the youth
met the passion of my eye.
Just after taking this image,
I showed them, they giggled,
I smiled and said thank you and life continued.
There are moments,
or you might know them,
where life is happening around you,
people are laughing,
engaging in conversations,
and your sitting alone,
a chosen aloneness.
This aloneness has occurred
because of the immediate desire to indulge
in the presence of nature just beyond my toes.
this very morning,
my memorization began
and continued to unfold
as a played with the moving water below my feet
creating designs with my toes,
watching the water dance as it sprinkled it’s magic just slightly above the waterline.
Another one of those evening walks,
it brought about such a happiness,
a subtle inquisitive happiness.
that in which I was intrigued in,
were the building,
the simple structures,
making up that of the houses,
and those places for relaxation.
Although, physically exploring the structures making up the little village of #Kiganboni,
each step brought about an internal exploration,
that of the structure,
the landscape inside me.
Life is simple on the island,
the necessities are there,
but the wants,
And with this,
my internal exploration kept me questioning the differences between needs and wants.
Which of the two are most important?
Which of them, can I live without?
And, are those needs really needs or just glorified wants?
And, are our wants, part of these same necessities?
And, is that which is needed, or felt is needed, really needed to keep a feeling of satisfaction?
These are just a few of the questions I continue to ask myself as I'm back in a society,
with options, abundant options, infinite possibilities.
I invite you to ask yourself.
What are your needs? Your wants? Can they be separated? And what of these can you live without?
Those moments of having to say good-bye.
To say I'll see you again.
They happen sooner than desirable.
After being in Mafia Island for the second time,
this time for six months.
Saying good-bye, well,
it was difficult,
but, more joyous than anything.
Instead of focusing on the idea of not seeing my new friends and family,
I kept in mind the very reality of now having these very friends and family members in this magical space,
this space that is now another home.
shedding light on the friendships that were developed a year and a half prior
and really brightening them into life long friendships filled with open doors and invitations.
Seeing their smiling faces in these images,
brings a smiling face to the present.
I am truly thankful.
"Our eyes, ears, hearts, half-half smiles and breathing are wonderful phenomena. We only need to open our eyes and we can see the blue sky, the white clouds, the rose,the clean river, the golden fields of wheat, the shining eyes of a child. We only have to attune our ears to hear the whispering pines and waves washing up on the shore. In us and around us, there are so many wondrous phenomena. In nature which can research and heal us."
While living here,
the coconut and palm trees were in abundance.
I noticed something new about their uniqueness,
their ability to produce sweet fruits,
provide shade for locals
and climbing adventures for those of all ages.
I took note,
to truly experience the nature that made up my surroundings.
I connected to the self,
to the vital sensory experiences,
of being in the world, this world,
Dan, Dan and his coconut tree.
Just walking distance from our home,
was a lovely little coconut tree.
just perfect distance from the ground to the nearest coconuts.
when was just right,
Dan and I would take a photo and coconut adventure with the destination,
than this tree.
on the mornings,
when we were feeling most lucky,
there would be a sweet coconut,
ready for us to crack open and slowly drink!
Our kittens, our kittens, our family of kittens.
Little Lady (proud mama), Thumper, Toby and Max.
Let me tell you a little something about this incredible cat and her kittens.
Here it goes...
Upon moving into our home, well, actually beach hut of a home at#Magemani,
we were greeted by a lovely white cat (not pictured here).
Dan worked his magic with some biltong and shortly, thereafter, she became our cat -
eating dinners with us, having a bed on our extra couch, sharing Dan's fish, getting lots of love, hugs and cuddles.
A little less than a month after spending time with our, "Little Lady,"
she presented us with some gifts...
but three kittens.
One rainy afternoon she brought them one-by-one,
being sure to give us time to fully grasp this reality.
At the time, the kittens had to be no older than three or four weeks old.
The only option,
was, of course,
to take care of them;
to help her raise them,
to bring them into our home.
For three beautiful months,
we helped and watched these little kittens grow into mischievous teenagers -
running around camp, playing with any hanging piece of rope,
following their mother while chasing her tail,
of course sharing our food.
And ultimately, ultimately, bringing such a light- heartedness and happiness into our home, into this camp.
Dan and I spent so many afternoons marveling at their mischievous beauty, innocence and unconditional love. Unfortunately, while we were in#Kenya, our kittens were evicted from our home.
Without any notice, they we gone.
We received word just after getting back into #Tanzania.
Initially: hurt, broken, shattered, angry, resentful, confused.
But, eventually, this situation shone down as one of the biggest learning experiences in some time.
What did it teach me?
To love, to love unconditionally.
To accept, to accept all that comes into your path.
To take others into your home, when they most need a home.
To believe in the power of animals, of these little creatures, as a source, a source of the light-heartedness, happiness.
To listen to your gust feeling.
And that good-byes. Having that closure, having that closure.
Although so much wanted, what I think is needed, is not always going to be the case. A possibility.
And to love, love some more and even more.
And to forgive and move forward.
Because ultimately, although it may be one of the hardest breaths you've taken in some time,
you will be a better person for taking a deep breath and moving forward.
And that, tomorrow is a new day and you are a new you.
Cheers to experiences!
Upon the first day of arrival,
I actually taught the same students as previously done,
those that were in my course two years prior.
After one weekend of this teaching,
the school decided,
that my previous students were more than privileged,
and it was turn for the newest students, the Form I's, not the Form 3's!
And so it went,
that I would come every Saturday and teach a whole new group of students.
And this very thing,
is what happened.
We spent every Saturday together for nearly two months,
learning the basics of English,
giving them a foundation
in which they can build upon throughout their schooling.
In hopes, my hopes,
that one day,
they make it beyond the island,
and into higher education,
creating more opportunities for their thriving souls to expand their lives beyond Mafia Island!
these very students,
the ones I taught for a couple months,
their smiles, their laughter,
their thirst for life, for learning, for learning the English language,
it inspires me daily,
feels my heart immensely
and keeps my soul ever grateful.
one of their favorite activities was getting their photos taken!
Each one would race to a new location,
grab a new prop,
pose and then wait for me to see them.
This usually concluded in a huge circle of students,
crowded around me,
jumping on top of each other trying to see themselves on the tiny screen of my camera.
I couldn't help but laugh,
smile and be filled with gratitude.
How, do I love being in the classroom and more so, teaching!
Hadija, Hadija, Hadija.
There wasn't a day that went by where my phone didn't buzz with Hadija wanting to say hello!
two years ago,
one of my Form I students,
now a proud Form 3 student,
she remained very close.
On the weekends,
she came to Magemani, our home, for English classes,
soaking up all that she could.
A magazine reference here,
a swahili dictionary there,
a book or two
and anything else she could get her hands on to spark an English conversation.
She was one of my most dedicated students,
both inside and outside the classroom.
Her desire to learn English and one day go to America,
inspired me to truly be a better me,
in a multitude of ways.
Her eagerness reminded me of the value,
accuracy and delicacy of teaching English to those thriving to learn.
Her curiosity reminded me to truly be me,
to express myself in knowing that my way of life is not yours,
and yours not mine, but that in itself is all okay.
Her determination to learn a new language,
served as a two fold reminder,
to be ever grateful for my roots, my home, that place where I've sprouted from
and to live each day anew, learning with each step and process.
This young lady, I will truly miss.