This girl listens to trees

Wherever I go, I always notice trees. I think they are nature’s greatest wonders and we can learn so much about life just by observing trees and their seasonal transformation.
I have discovered some beautiful spots in and around Haarlem where I can go to spend time with trees.
Sometimes I am not alone (often I have my son with me) or I appreciate a beautiful tree through a window while I am indoors. However, I really treasure the moments when I am alone with them.
This ritual has become an important self care activity. Some people go for facials and manicures, I head for the trees.
In this environment I often find it easier to seek inner wisdom about life’s difficult questions and my inner struggles. It is an opportunity to connect with the earth and myself again. I don’t need to engage in articulate conversation. All I have to do is sit quietly, observe the beauty around me and listen to my heart. Trees teach stillness so well.

I think life is like a tyre’s tread. When a tyre hits a few bumps in the road it needs realignment to run smoothly again and prevent damage to the tyre. This also happens to people. When I feel that my soul is restless and things just don’t seem right I like to spend time in nature to find realignment and new perspectives.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. – Hermann Hesse

One of the most significant lessons I’ve learnt from trees is their ability to let go. Have you ever noticed how gracefully trees change colour and lose their leaves? They seem so at ease with embracing change.
Learning to welcome change – whether it is positive, negative or a bit of both – has improved my quality of life. I’ve realized that the universe always brings the change when I am ready for it and need it. Moving to another country is the biggest decision I’ve ever made. Uprooting 17 years of adult life in one place wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t difficult because the time was right to see what else the universe has planned for me.

There is great freedom in letting go. It could be a person, a relationship, a job, a career path, a home country or material possessions – all of these have applied to me at some point in my life. Letting go gives me so much freedom to discover new places, different ways of thinking, new people and ultimately a new life.

If you want to read some of my previous posts on trees, freedom and new beginnings, click on these links:

Trust the journey even when you don’t understand it

Eastern Cape farm road, South Africa.

Eastern Cape farm road, South Africa.

Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it is about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

There’s so much literature out there telling people what to become. Ten ways to be happy, five steps to get the body you want, how to be a better lover, how to overcome your fears, etc.

This is actually not helpful at all.

What I’ve realised is that it is much more important to just be. Just be who you are. Be happy with where you are on your journey. I’m finding that this approach to life is providing me with so much joy. There are good times. There are bad times. There is happiness, there is sadness. Sometimes lots of sadness along the way. But there’s also beauty.

Just being me and not trying to become anything has helped me to figure out what’s important in my life and build a life around that. Your personal journey is the greatest teacher you will ever have.

Give yourself time


dandelionI saw this quote yesterday and I’m not sure where it comes from originally, but I think it is such a true statement if you are grieving and dealing with loss. So often I find myself thinking that the process is taking too long – will it ever end? Shouldn’t I be over this by now? Is it really that bad? Yes – it is that bad. And it is okay to take your time. It takes as long as it takes.

Give yourself time to be sad, frustrated, and angry. Give yourself time to heal, accept, and to grow. Time doesn’t erase anything, but it can provide you with enough space to be able to breathe again. And then one day you wake up and your heart has a little bit of sunshine in it. And day by day people offer you pieces of their hearts to help remake your own. Allow yourself to be where you are at, to feel what you are feeling, and to experience everything that means. And during this process, look and listen for that glimmer of hope. It is there, I promise. And it is waiting for you to see it. Because one of the most beautiful things about humans is their capacity to heal, grow, and survive. Facing it. That is how you get through.

I really like this part: And then one day you wake up and your heart has a little bit of sunshine in it. ❤ I like those days. And I starting to experience more of them.

Because one of the most beautiful things about humans is their capacity to heal, grow, and survive. That’s true.

Celebrate the gift of life


I’ve discovered these awesome little Buddha Doodles. I subscribed and they drop into my inbox each day. Buddha Doodles was started by a cartoonist in 2011 as a daily sketch practice for personal therapy. It quickly went viral in social media and appears regularly on the Huffington Post and Tiny

I liked this one – it reminds me that I have a beautiful life. And I treasure every minute of it, even though there are some difficult days (weeks…months). It is a privilege to be alive. I can stand outside in my garden and appreciate a beautiful sunset. I can walk in the park with my family. I can see my son grow. I am fortunate to have the most amazing life partner. I have enough. I am enough.


First signs of spring


When I started my blog in June I also started a photo project. I decided to take a series of photos of the mulberry tree in our garden, for a year, to show how the tree changes every season. For the full story about my love affair with mulberry trees, take a look at the post called ‘Mulberry memories’ here. Mulberry trees occupy a significant part of my early childhood memories.

So here are the next three pictures. Our beautiful tree is sprouting news leaves!

There’s a certain kind beauty about the tree in winter with its bare branches, but Spring is most certainly my favourite time of the year.  All I have to do now is get through a windy and unpredictable August here in Joburg.

With mulberry trees the change is so noticeable and since we moved into our house four years ago I’ve gotten to know our tree’s personality very well. It is a very good indicator of the seasons changing. I guess the tree reminds me of my own transformation – it has been a journey of high and low moments, laughter and pain.  I find comfort in the seasons changing because I think I can also look forward to that in my life – I managed to get through the worst winter in my life. The trick is to believe that Spring will always come. There’s always hope.



How to begin this week


rebuilding life from within

I love this. It reminds me of the things I should do more often – particularly loving myself unconditionally and caring for myself. And what I have to remember is that caring for myself is not self-indulgent – it is necessary. I’m struggling with this at the moment. I criticize myself so harshly, instead of going gently on myself and focusing on how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved. My inner critic is really hard at work at the moment and it is actually very destructive.

Part of being kind to myself is realising that I am enough. I bring something unique to this world and I don’t need to be anything else. I also don’t have to have it together every single day. I am not a project to be completed flawlessly. I would never expect this of anyone else – so why do I want to be so hard on myself?

So today I’ve decided on a new project for this week: I’m going to be kind to myself, I’m going to be grateful for what I have because every day of my life is a gift and I’m going to celebrate the people who are doing this thing called life with me. ❤

Make your soul grow


I just love this video. I found it on (as an aside, if you haven’t been to this site, go take a look. It is really amazing).

The video is about a group of high school students in New York who wrote to their favourite authors and asked them to visit their school, as part of an assignment. Only one author responded – Kurt Vonnegut.

And his message is just beautiful – to experience becoming, learn what’s inside you and make your soul grow.

If you can’t watch the video, here’s a transcript of the letter: