Max Ehrmann – Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Continue reading

Tonight’s Gratitude

I find it one of the most profound joys that when we choose to turn our minds consciously to gratitude, we become increasingly aware of quite how much we have to be grateful for! Tonight, I am grateful for…

Sitting quietly with the discomfort of the new and unknown, and finding enormous rewards on the other side.

Building new friendships, not to replace existing ones but to grow a limitless circle of mutual caring.

Having people in my life who offer consistent and reliable support to help me stay true to my goals.

Pausing to savour the sweetness of simple human empathy and connection, and feeling my heart swell with appreciation for the people I get to work alongside: I received a message this afternoon from a colleague at the organisation where I began working on Monday, the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA):

“Hey Lau, thanks for chatting – the more I speak to you the more I grow to love you. I can definitely see that you are your like mom in so many ways. Your warm caring personality shines through your beautiful face; it feels so easy to be able to chat with you. Thank you for your time, thank you for listening. Really appreciate it. AFRA has certainly made the right choice – you’re young, dynamic, smart, proactive and very energetic.

We will support you in every way we can. AFRA is like home – people are great, environment is good, that’s why I give my heart and soul to AFRA. I’ve always been dedicated and my commitment lies with AFRA. We’ve stuck it through the worst and I am even more positive now that things will get better. You will do so well :-)”

The excitement of having a weekend full of playing my favourite sport – Canoe Polo – ahead of me!

The satisfaction of planning a gorgeous new website for work, figuring out how to create it, and knowing I have support to call on when I get stuck or need creative input.

Having just the right song come on as I hit a traffic jam driving home from work:

The sweetest of cuddles from a sleepy little boy at bedtime.

Today’s Farewell Speech

Sanibonani, one last time!

I didn’t expect to feel quite so sad today – I thought this would be a celebration of my time at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT), and all the wonderful family I’ve made here. But rather than feeling grateful and celebratory, I’ve been tearful from the moment I drove into the parking lot this morning and the reality that this is the last time I would be driving in here as a staff member hit me.

I first walked through the door of HACT only two years and seven months ago, having recently moved back home to South Africa after seven years of living and working in London. I came in to offer my services as a volunteer while I made decisions about where I wanted to move next in my career – I couldn’t quite decide which of my many passions to follow! I was certain I wanted to work for a NGO, and that I probably wanted to do work relating to gender or gender-based violence, but I also had a passion for community development, human rights, HIV, economic empowerment, land tenure, the environment, climate change adaption… the list is a long one! But from the first day I began volunteering at HACT, I fell in love with this unique and wonderful place, and the people that make it what it is, and I quickly became determined to join the family here on a full-time basis. Once I set my mind to something, as many of you will know, I tend to get there in the end :-) Continue reading

Gratitude

Today I am grateful for…

Finding a new-to-me version of a song my mother used to sing to me, and I sang to soothe my youngest back to sleep tonight after he woke from night terrors

Feeling inspired by learning new ways to keep growing together as a couple, improving our communication and being increasingly empathetic and connected. It’s easy to get complacent when in a loving, kind and comfortable relationship, but my eyes feel newly opened to fresh possibilities, and my heart is filled with gratitude for loving my husband more deeply with every passing year.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower adventures, 2014

Continue reading

Morning Tears

I pulled over into a driveway, the usual busy morning traffic continuing to flow steadily past me; tears streaming, body shaken with sobs. As I heard the opening lines of Judy Collin’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”, all my senses were flooded with vivid flashbacks to Scotland, 2011: the texture of the grey skies above Inverness; the feel of my mother’s icy hand in the casket at the Undertaker’s rooms; the full-bodied sense of loss and disbelief in the first days of heart and mind trying to understand a world that would never hear her living voice again.

As I felt my chest constrict, breath burning against my raw throat, I welcomed the pure intensity of feeling and expression – waves of relief as I simply let the grief flow freely for a few minutes, before thoughts started to intrude and I began to draw back into the present once more.

***

Yesterday, I sat in a room where she had sat many times, years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day beginning to concretely conceptualise and draft a plan for an exciting new project, as I prepare to move into a new era: leading an organisation where she had worked, planned and created change for many years. I have been very clear within myself that I have not made the decision for sentimental reasons (although the synchronicity is certainly pleasing), but to satisfy my own aspirations and passions. I am not rigidly or blindly following my mother’s path, but making my own unique way – and my skills are in many ways quite different to hers, yet there is no doubt that as not only mother but friend, first employer, mentor, teacher, coach, support and guide, my values and interests overlap to a large degree with her own.

***

I found myself energised and excited throughout the day yesterday, but by the evening I was exhausted. This morning I woke sore-throated and flu-achy, flooded with sorrow, and this evening (cuddled under a warm blanket, the winter rain pouring outside, load-shedding candles flickering), I feel calm and reflective. Thus flows life, and my very human emotions: never static, flowing onwards, unfolding as I embrace each moment at a time.

***

Across the morning sky,
All the bird are leaving,
Ah, how can they know it’s time for them to go?
Before the winter fire,
We’ll still be dreaming.
I do not count the time
Continue reading

Lucky (Kat Edmonson)

Happiness
Feels like this;
Your heart upon your sleeve.
There’s a place,
In time and space,
We can all be free.

So meet me at the rainbow’s end.
We don’t even have to pretend
That we know what it is we’re looking for,
We’re looking for.

Life is just a dream…
Lucky you;
Lucky, lucky me!

Life is just a dream
Lucky you;
Lucky, lucky me!

Continue reading

You Begin (Margaret Atwood)

You begin this way:

this is your hand,
this is your eye,
this is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.

Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colours of these nine crayons.

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.

Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.
The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.

This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colours
than we can see.
It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.