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 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. You Create the Path by Walking It

    May 1st, 2014 marked two years since I started working as a poet full-time. I celebrated by running the Safari Half Marathon and then spending the rest of the day recovering after the race. Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about what two years means: how many performances, invoices, workshops, meetings, how many hours of writing, how many poems? I haven’t been keeping track of these things so I wasn’t able to put figures next to them. I wish I had, and I’m considering doing so going forward.

    It’s taken the past two years to become absolutely clear about what it is that I do, and also about the way in which I want to do it. Two years to refine my vision and what I’m willing to compromise and not compromise, sacrifice and not sacrifice in order to do so. And what I’ve learnt is this: everything that has happened in the past two years – the people I’ve met, the performances I’ve been privileged to give, the places I’ve visited through my work, the workshops I’ve run and everything I’ve learnt through the process, is the direct result of my choice to commit my life to being a poet. The path I took wasn’t laid out before I started. And the one I initially planned has changed considerably. Most of the time, I didn’t know how I was going to achieve certain goals or make other projects happen. It didn’t matter – the how became clear as I was doing it. And that has been the biggest lesson for me these past two years: show up, walk and trust. Trust in both my abilities and that there is a greater creative force at work, helping me along.

    So as the winter chill creeps even deeper into our bones here in the Southern Hemisphere, my question to you this May is: what path would you begin creating, if you found the courage to start walking today?

    Wishing you a month filled with warm hugs, warm blankets and hot chocolate!

    With love

  4. 04. Language is the element of definition, the defining and descriptive incantation..

    “Language is the element of definition, the defining and descriptive incantation. It puts the coin between our teeth. It whistles the boat up. It shows us the city of light across the water. Without language there is no poetry, without poetry there’s just talk. Talk is cheap and proves nothing. Poetry is dear and difficult to come by. But it poles us across the river and puts a music in our ears. It moves us to contemplation. And what we contemplate, what we sing our hymns to and offer our prayers to, is what will reincarnate us in the natural world, and what will be our one hope for salvation in the What’sToCome.”

    Read more →

  5. 05. Nicholas Bate

    this arrived in the post today…books and things from the thought leader and prolific writer Nicholas Bate. Visit his blog for his pragmatic and inspiring insights on how to live and work more effectively, and yet more lightly

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