Food for thought

  1. 01. When did you last watch the sun, set?

    sunset from Jacobsbaai, July 2014, Toni Stuart

    sunset from Jacobsbaai, July 2014, Toni Stuart

    June swept by in a swathe of deadlines, hard lessons and some much-needed time off. I started this month in the heart of the Cederberg Mountains – slap bang in the middle of an eight-day road trip up the West Coast. It was a largely unplanned trip – a friend and I decided we needed some time on the long road, set a limit on how much we would spend on food, petrol and accommodation, packed up the car and hit the road. We let the road decide where we would end up, and found accommodation when we pulled into a town. We let each day decide where we would end up and what we do. We watched the sun set every night, and made sure to get up early enough to watch it rise most mornings. We walked barefoot in the Atlantic Ocean in the heart of winter and it was warm enough to do so. We had uncannily beautiful weather. Our most glorious day was the one we spent sitting in the sun reading all day, eating popcorn and drinking red wine.

    Since returning home a week and a half ago, we’ve both remarked that something has shifted. There was none of the extreme high followed by post-trip blues that usually comes after an adventure like this. Instead we’ve both experienced a deep and quiet peace running through our lives. While away, we were fretting about how we would sustain the feeling when we got home. We decided to stop fretting about it, and just be present to whereever we were on the road at a particular time and figured the rest would take care of itself. And it has.

    I’ve been reflecting on why, and I think it’s because we allowed ourselves to really switch off, and step off the bus of our daily lives. We turned off the internet on our phones, and for most of the journey had our phones off or on flight mode. We unplugged. We’ve both managed to maintain that sense of slowing down since returning home. We’re still getting the same amount of work done, we’re just not frantic and rushing to do so. And because of it, we’re remembering to stop and watch the sun go down whenever we can.

    I hope the winter sun finds a way to bring peace and a sense of slowing down to your lives too. Have a beautiful rest of July!

  2. 02. getting out of a funk

    I struggle with regular days of low energy. Days where I get stuck in my own head, where I get lost and embroiled in my own emotions and lose perspective of my own larger vision. On one such particular Sunday, I came across the following photo on a friend’s Instagram page. 2014-06-17 15.35.56

    The artist is Ymke Hemminga and the line reads: It was only after his thoughts grew wings that sadness became less flattering. After reading it, something in me switched, and I was able to shake off the funk and find my momentum again. Out of nowhere, these ideas poured out of me, of things that I wanted to do – a list of things that I feel pulled to do, and I’m sharing them here in public as a way of holding myself accountable to do them. It’s also about acknowledging the moments of vulnerability. I’ve realised that it’s very easy for me to share the moments of success, but a lot harder for me to share the moments of struggle and feeling vulnerable. And that’s really where the learning lies…

    And so, the list:
    – write about the moths in the bathroom
    – write for the sake of writing, not to publish a book or win an award
    – write to find peace again
    – write to find the softness again
    – write to release the sadness again
    – write the story burning a whole in me
    – start listening to HER
    – write a chilren’s book about the little girl who could listen so well to everyone but herself
    – go to Simonskloof for at least a week, at best two weeks, and find my body’s own sleep rhythm again. write.read.eat.walk.sleep.repeat
    – write books for the 4-year-old in me…stories that speak to her heart, that help her heal
    – let go of the past
    – let go of what didn’t work out
    – put down the guilt of not doing
    – embrace the joy of doing what I am called to do
    – find the joy of service again, OR find it for the first time, the joy of truly serving out of love for others, not out of a need to be loved
    – be courageous. everyday. in small ways
    – cry. whenever the tears come. and release the shame of crying
    – allow myself to be wrong. embrace this
    – be radically honest. everyday
    – walk in the rain

  3. 03.

    I write by hand and then I type it. But I have to write the first draft by hand. Now, don’t tell me about the computer — I know the computer is wonderful. I remember one writer friend of mine … said, “I don’t want to use a computer because it’s too entertaining.” It’s not writers’ masochism that makes some few of us continue to hold out against this — it’s that it is better if it goes slower, at least I think so. It’s good to feel it in your hand and it’s good to be able to just think… . .

    Maybe a writer who grows up with computers would not feel this way, but then, I think, the writing will be different. Let’s put it this way: Writing, like painting, is artisanal. It’s one of the few artistic activities which does require solitude. Most other art activities do involve people and are collaborative… . To be an artist or a writer is to be this weird thing — a hand worker in an era of mass production.

    – Susan Sontag

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