I Can See Clearly Now


I think it is a parent’s prerogative to boast about his/her children’s achievements. My parents never did, at least not about me to my knowledge, but I don’t see the harm in telling everyone, including one’s children, just how proud one is of them. Recently Alex passed the 2nd of the two required SAICA board exams and is now a qualified Chartered Accountant. Of course this is a fantastic accomplishment but what really impresses me is the way in which he pursued his goal. I have to admit there were times when I thought he was leaning a bit too hard into the partying side of life but he has managed to get to where he wants to be without any detours. Alex has always been able to pull off the work hard, play hard approach with aplomb. Well done Ali, you have made us proud and happy and very relieved!

give that man a Bells

give that man a Bells

celebrating with friends

celebrating with friends

A couple of weekends ago I spent the morning cleaning our small plunge pool and adjoining pond. It’s an eco-pool, so instead of using chemicals, the water in the pool is circulated through plants in the pond in order to keep it clean and natural. However, the pool still needs to be brushed and vacuumed and the pond requires quite a bit of attention. In fact the amount of maintenance this system requires is quite disproportionate to its size and use, but it is pretty and I like the sound of running water and the froggie chorus in the evening. Like everything else around here, the pond had been neglected and was clogged up with algae and dead plants. By the time I was finished, I had worked up quite a sweat and the pool looked so inviting that I decided to have swim. I was standing on the step in the pool splashing myself with the icy water, doing the whole “should I or shouldn’t I” performance, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted something moving just behind me under the wooden boardwalk that separates the pool from the pond. To my horror it materialised into a snake, a red-lipped herald I think, although I didn’t stick around to inspect it more closely. Usually I’m not that scared of snakes but I felt a bit vulnerable and it was a little too close for comfort. With a blood-curdling shriek I leapt into the pool and straight out the other side, which is no mean feat as there are rocks edging the sides of the pool (it’s amazing what a bit of adrenaline can do). When I asked Peter, who was in earshot, why he hadn’t come to my rescue he said he thought I was screaming because the water was cold. Oh, heaven help us!

our eco-pool

our eco-pool

Despite the abrupt end to my first, and probably last, swim in the pool this summer, I was reminded how much I enjoy mucking about outdoors. For me there is nothing better than slogging away all day in the garden (as long as I don’t have to prepare any meals), then having a jolly good scrub down in the shower and climbing into bed physically weary and emotionally content. It made me wonder why I had become such a couch potato. I was stuck in a rut and spending less time doing what I love and more time being a slob. I decided it was time to take stock of my life and, to help with the reflection process, I took myself off for a weekend yoga retreat at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo.

When we lived in Durban, Kiera and I used to do yoga at the lovely Jivananda Wellness Centre run by Christine and Howard. I also used to attend satsangs there once a month where we would do chanting and have discussions on yoga philosophy and other spiritual issues. It would end with a really good bring and share veg breakfast. When I left Durban I missed the Centre very much and never managed to find another yoga class as satisfying. So when I found out that Christine and Howard were running the yoga retreat at the BRC I was delighted. I was also somewhat apprehensive; I didn’t know anyone other than the teachers and I haven’t practiced yoga in years. I needn’t have worried – I met some lovely people (of course), picked up the yoga where I left off, had delicious, wholesome vegetarian meals and spent quite a bit of time meditating. It was a very peaceful and nurturing weekend and it helped create the space for me to start thinking about how to get my life back on track.

I have been spending more and more time off the farm than on it, basically running away from situations that I don’t want to deal with. The main issue that I have been avoiding is my mother, who turned 92 in January. I finally came to terms with the fact that she needs more attention than I have been giving her. I need to start preparing meals for her daily, doing her laundry (she just doesn’t seem to see the dirt!) and being more available to help her with other stuff.

I also realised that I had lost sight of why I felt living in the country was a good idea in the first place. When I first moved here, I imagined myself living a country life, which, in my mind, meant living close to nature, growing my own veggies and being quite self-contained. I also wanted to: live a more healthy life (doing yoga, eating more nourishing food), be more creative (writing my blog, gardening and photography), be involved in community development (through my voluntary teaching and as the fundraiser for the Curry’s Post Education Trust) and really just live a simple, non materialistic life. I still want all these things but I haven’t been devoting my time to achieving them.

I returned from the BRC with greater resolve to stay true to these goals and take less detours en route (perhaps Alex can give me some pointers). Time is of the essence after all.



I found The Magic Faraway Tree

I found The Magic Faraway Tree!












‘Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
~Lao Tzu

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6 Responses to I Can See Clearly Now

  1. Chris Ammann says:

    There’s nothing wrong with blowing one’s own trumpet now and again, and particularly of those close to you. And everyone, no matter what their age, likes a bit of praise now and again. Your retreat sounded like an excellent idea, Cathy, and I too have been taking stock lately (the big birthday …). But I remember that when my Dad died I vowed to make each day count, a promise I found myelf unable to keep. It takes effort and willpower to effect change and when you’re as resistant to change as I am, this can be a problem. I wish you an enlightened path towards your goals!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Chris, I have a knack for finding paths, veering off them and then berating myself for being fickle. However I am only now starting to realise that despite my need for plans and order, I am happiest when I let go and “go with the flow”. But I find that very hard to do – ay, there’s the rub.

  2. Mike Hogan says:

    I think that bringing up children through to adulthood today by providing them a sound foundation and then enjoying watching them succeed in life is something of which to be proud. Too many go off the rails today and make nothing of their lives and provide nothing but disappointment. Our three kids all have degrees and careers which do not include drugs and shonky relationships.

    For me the sea is what gives me a reason to live. It’s my equivalent of yoga. Without a weekend dose of the beach or even just walking the dogs along the shore, I feel really down. Having migrated we have to build some sort of financial backup for retirement but I have turned down several promotion offers to Sydney and further afield, all of which would have put an end to our lifestyle, I am pretty much stuck in job as state manager which is not mentally stimulating. But you make your choices! And my vegie garden is a bit neglected at the moment too!

    Like Chris, when my Dad died I was very introspective about the meaning of life and vowed to seize the day. However I think the big 60 is both a mental and physical challenge. The energy to leap up and do things is no longer there at times. A glass of wine and observing life go by sometimes seems a much easier path.

    • Cathy says:

      I admire your resolve to make your lifestyle your priority Mike. What I’ve learned since moving to the country is how rewarding simple pleasures are like, as you say, walking the dogs. We are concerned about how we are going to finance our old age but our needs are not great, other than travel which costs a lot but is a necessity when the kids live far away.

      I’m 59 this year and haven’t given any thought to turning 60, it seems impossible that I could soon be that old! Mind you, a young child asked me the other day if I was her friend’s granny – that put a damper on things.

  3. Jane Thornton says:

    What a stunning tree. Is it on your land? x

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