London Love

London was the first city I, farm-born and wilderness-drawn, ever learnt to love: and the city in which I learnt to really love, rather than operating predominantly from a ‘need’ to be loved. It is a city in which my heart sometimes felt torn apart, but in reality was merely cracked wider open, teaching me to appreciate life with a greater intensity.

In order to more fully embrace the lovely small town I now call home, and all the changes that come with moving continents, shifting lifestyles and being far from many loved ones, I wish to allow myself to mourn and celebrate all that I miss, which doesn’t mean forgetting the lonely times, the challenges, or the pain, but focusing for now on remembering some of my favourite moments over the years. This barely scratches the surface, but tonight I miss…

The exhilarating view from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Daffodils, tulips, crocuses and snowdrops in Spring.

Crocus joy
Wandering through Greenwich.
Pubs.
The sound of the train wheels on the track.
Freshly-fallen snow.
Starbucks.
Fireworks over Blackheath
Blackheath fireworks

Strolling along the banks of the Thames.
Exploring castles.
Running over London Bridge or the Millennium Bridge on my way to work, pausing to watch the sun rise behind Tower Bridge.
Swans.

London Swan
Watching Purple Rain in the rain.
Lunches and cocktail specials at the Vineyard pub, Upper Street, near the office.
The Tube (yes, really – you don’t value it until you live without a public transport system!)
Christmas lights at Covent Gardens.
Ice skating outdoors.
Autumn colours.
Sitting in the park chatting to friends while the kids played.
Hot chestnuts.
Exploring the Green Route on my runs.
Central heating.
The satisfaction of really getting the hang of kneading bread dough, and the delicious smell of it baking in my cosy kitchen.
Bluebells.
Hot showers after winter paddles.
Picking plums and blackberries in the local Nature Reserve.
Visits from friends and family from around the city, country and world.
Watching my boys learn to ride their bikes at the local park.
Wonderful hours with many incredibly special people.
Cycling along Regent’s Canal.

Intimacy: Stepping Into the Discussion

My dear friend Pixie Girl of Exploring Pixie wrote not too long ago on Dave’s Normal Deviations blog about Dave’s Hypothesis on intimacy: namely, that ‘true intimacy is reflected by how much or little you are concerned about being politically or socially correct when you talk to a person.’

Now Dave and Pixie are two of the most analytical truth-searchers I know, and they both love a good discussion with as many meaningful inputs as possible, so when I posted a comment a few weeks ago saying that I would like to engage in the discussion and would come back to it, I was unsurprised that they both encouraged me to do so.

So, I return at last to the conversation. What does intimacy mean to me, and how can one distil it into a few words as Dave has attempted to? Continue reading

Charting the Way Forward

The National Gender Summit, convened by the South African Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) with the support of a number of partners from a variety of sectors, came to an end on Friday with a draft Programme of Action (the “Programme”), and a Declaration.

The draft Programme was pulled together from the discussions and break-away groups over the previous two days, then returned to the delegates to discuss and provide feedback and suggestions. Unfortunately, there was once again not enough opportunity to really get our teeth into more than a few of the seventeen issues, each of which had a number of action points against it, in the short space of time available to us. This left me – and a number of the other delegates I spoke to – with a sense of dismay at not having been as fully consulted as we had hoped and anticipated.

One of the key points to arise from the discussion group I was part of was a strong feeling that civil society should be engaged in a thorough, structured way, which is legislated for, within the national gender machinery (NGM). Continue reading

Engendering the Discussion

 

“Gender is not about women: it is about relationship and about power.” Prof. Sheila Meintjies, Wits University.

It has been an intensive two days of presentations and deliberation at the National Gender Summit 2014 in Benoni, Johannesburg, which has brought together civil society, Government, the private sector, Section 9 institutions and UN Women to reflect on 20 years of democracy in South Africa. The Commission for Gender Equality has worked in partnership with a number of organisation and government departments, including the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Women, the Department for Women, Children, and People with Disabilities and Oxfam, to engage a wide range of stakeholders and passionate gender activists to celebrate the gains over the past 20 years, as well as critically analyse the gaps and shortfalls, and strategise new ways of addressing the challenges to attaining gender equality.

Gender Summit

The issues that have been raised range from the effectiveness of the National Gender Machinery, the lack of gender budgeting, gender-based violence (GBV), economic empowerment, HIV/AIDS, the role of public enterprise, climate change, sex work, the implementation of legislation, international and regional partnerships, women with disabilities, women’s political participation and representation, LGBTI, harmful religious and traditional practices, reproductive and sexual rights, and the challenges facing rural women, right through to the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda. The perspectives provided have ranged from the global to the national, regional and individual. Continue reading

Flying Solo

(written last night – but I only managed to find WiFi at the hotel reception tonight to post it)

I love flying.

Airborne

After re-reading and reflecting on that simple statement, I feel the need to broaden it a somewhat: I love to travel. As I sit here, enjoying the perspective over the mountains below, the solitary yet safe and comfortable space I’m in with my headphones on, I find myself inevitably flicking back in my memories through many of the flights I have been on alone in recent years, such a trip to Amsterdam in 2011 to run a marathon. These solo, reflective flights have a very different texture to the joys of traveling with my husband, my family – which is boisterous and exhausting; with paddling partners or team mates to sports events, filled with hopes, nerves, and group logistics. Continue reading

Flowers In My Hair

A few weeks ago I went on a delightful morning walk with my children, and during the course of the walk my youngest son careful chose two dandelion flowers for me, and wove them – clumsily and charmingly – into my hair. I smiled with one of those aching moments of love, gratitude and joy, as well as the memory of a song that has been drifting through my head regularly over the past couple of months: The Lumineers’ ‘Flowers In Your Hair’

Flowers in my hair

“Be in my eyes

Be in my heart”

100 Days of Visual Gratitude (better known as #100happydays)

I naturally don’t have time to take on anything new in my manic life, but when I finally got around to looking up what these #100happydays posts on facebook were all about, some of the first words on the website are:

“You don’t have time for this, right?

We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in.”

Of course, a slow smile of self-recognition crept onto my face at that point. Continue reading