Delightful Disappointment

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. ”

― Ansel Adams

Sometimes it is just best to enjoy the moments…when everything seems to be failing…falling apart and nothing seems to be cooperating with your agenda…find some pleasure in what is and let it wash away every drop of frustration…sometimes you may find what you were really needing in the space of time you are in…

Yesterday was like that…the photographic club takes a yearly outing for a Whale Dolphin and Penguin Island Cruise…last year had been my first and I had been new to the club and just relearning the new camera equipment and post processing applications after several decades of being out of the photography business…I felt exhilarated…everything was going to be perfect…well, I girl can hope and if I had come back with even one or two awesome photographs I would have been satisfied…I must not have gotten to 10,000 yet🤣…“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

The weather had predicted rain…but the day was grey…but not raining…everything packed…lens, camera, extra batteries, snacks, water…and off Mr. P (with his binoculars) and I went…we met up with the other camera fanatics at the pier…there were more than the boat could take, and we split into two boats…

Off we went…the men in black leading the pack

The water was incredibly choppy…I had chosen a seat in front of the cabin…most had chosen to seat under the canopy…I wanted to photograph different viewpoints than the average…and then it started…

The front of the boat went up and then it went down, and the salt spray came up over the front of the boat and smacked me…from the top of my head to the seat of my pants…looking like a bedraggled puppy at that point…I wasn’t about to give up my prime spot for a little water…luckily I had used my coat to cover the camera…I would see something that I wanted to take a picture of and the boat went up and down again…as I tried to get my balance…I would slide the other way…back and forth…up and down as we headed for the island…giving up after the numerous time and with no respite in sight…I wrapped the camera up and enjoyed the sea air and roller coaster ride…it became rather exhilarating…not worrying about camera speed, aperture, ISO or composition…I breathed and smiled with the beauty of life…salt…sea…blue of sky and water…the most healing medicine for that frazzled feeling…

The sea was filled with diamonds…for the bride-to-be…the variegated colors of my entire world at that moment were too numerous to name…the white of foam and clouds…aqua…green to dark blue…shades of clearest turquoise reflected in the playful wild splashes of waves hitting the rock and bursting into joyful exuberance…I was beyond contented…

I did not come back with one photograph that I felt was great and none were exceptional…too much distance…too much movement…but sometimes we photographers just need to lay the camera down and breathe in the world and the creative energy that the entire world is filled with…

“Life keeps throwing me stones. And I keep finding the diamonds.” – Ana Claudia Antunes

LIFE IS FULL OF MAGICAL DIAMOND MOMENTS….hope your life today is full of them

With Life, love, lots of laughter and magic💖…Renée

We Rise…by Lifting Others

The same blood runs through every vein on earth…and no matter what our skin color…beliefs…customs…when we are cut…we all bled the same…Red

Beauty can be found in everything, and I choose to see and remind myself and the world that there is love and hope despite the ugliness that is so prevalent throughout our world…and unfortunately through history…yet sometimes the abundant odiousness of misery rises and slaps me in the face…reminding me of my blessings and the suffering of most of the humanity on this blue orb of life…

I am abundantly and richly blessed…I am not affluent nor do I have a MAGIC money tree growing in the back yard to pull cash off at any whim…no hidden stash under the mattress…but I do have enough to eat…a warm bed and a home…and people who love and care for me…

Growing up I was the oldest of six in a small country town in the backwoods of Wisconsin…my father failed as a farmer and working at a sawmill was seasonal and not profitable enough to adequately feed his family…we did not live on the street and my mother worked miracles by feeding us cow tongue and dandelion greens😂…a chicken thigh or drumstick on a Sunday was a savored delicacy to eye, nose and belly…

Although it is not the abject poverty that I encounter daily here or that I encountered in Columbia…there is an incredible deep-felt sense of empathy for what poverty does to a human… my heart hurts with the knowledge that with the empty stomachs resides the persisting enveloping darkness of loneliness, despair, and hopelessness…

The poor are the unseen…unwanted, unloved, and uncared for…

“There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves. The soul lives in sickly air. People can be slave ships in shoes.”

~ Zora Neale Hurston

“The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Carl Sagan

I could write a million words and that would not be sufficient to create a complete picture and even the photographs can only provide a glance…a snippet in time of the life of those that are less fortunate…we have issues of poverty in the United States…there are no simple solutions…but we are one and we can feed one…

Mr. P & I see the overwhelming need every day that we navigate the city…there are the car guards in every parking area (Car guarding is a distinctly South African informal sector employment activity. A car guard offers to guard vehicles in a public or private parking area for a donation. Car guarding enables an unemployed person to earn some income) …beggars…young and old…black and white…others at every stop light selling what they can beside the road… whether a bag of oranges, a homemade product whatever they can…knocking on your window to try and persuade you to trade a few rand for their merchandise…those who wave their paintbrushes for day labor…

A loaf of bread and a package of hot dogs is R40 (40 Rand = $2.60 Dollars) …I know that everyone has their hand out for your contribution…and so many have their own life needs…but I felt that I could ask if anyone wanted to give a small donation to help me to give to those that cross our paths…keeping nothing for myself…but to provide a meal or a coin donation for those who are in need…what do you think?

In the Darkness…we are the Light

Much love, magic for your day and laughter (even if on some days it’s through the lump in your throat and the tears in your eyes) .

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Amakhala…Nature in all it’s Glory

“The beauty of Africa is not man made, it is natures gift to humanity.”
― Paul Oxton

When life becomes hectic and emotional turmoil…the panic…agitation…and confusion surrounds the soul…John Burroughs said it best…”I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”

Amakhala is such a peaceful balm…nature’s delightfully restful and calming potion

Situated only about an hour (84 km) from home…a luxurious Safari Lodge is hidden in a valley of native bush…Amakhala is home to 5 of the 9 plant biomes here… the most common biome is the Albany Thicket, which is made up of dense shrubs, herbaceous plants and succulent trees…

Mixtures of Rich and Subtle hues being brushed against the canvas of the evening sky

This is a “Certificate of Excellence” award winning four star safari lodge…beginning in 1999 as a joint conservation venture between 6 families that were direct descendants of families that settled in the area in the 19th century to farm sheep and cattle…little by little the land was rehabilitated and animals that had freely roamed the area were reintroduced

One of the unfortunate consequences of Pandemic has been the loss of bookings in the tourism industry…with an unbeatable package deal we were able to book a 2 night, 3 day Safari package…a new mind boggling event in my life living here in South Africa…

I felt like I had been dropped into a magical wonderland…better than any “rabbit hole” I had gone down before…the colors of this world…the natural smells of earth and nature…the exquisite culinary tastes…the feeling of peace and calmness that can only be found in the wild…

Greeted by the most warm and amicable staff…we were immediately made to feel right at home…Norman being the most surprisingly unexpected of our welcoming committee…

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

~Henry Beston

Norman is the wrinkly grumpy old man bachelor that freely roams the park…after luggage drop off and stretching legs…we had almost gotten to the parking area and out of the bush comes one of the largest elephant that I have encountered…and I have never seen Mr. P. reverse so quickly…Norman just slowly ambled down to us…taking his sweet time to come and investigate who the new interlopers were…

Like a crotchety old geezer…didn’t care that his lunch crumbs were still stuck on his truck…he continued to snack while he contemplated whether we should be allowed to stay…finally deciding that we were harmless…he slowly sauntered off in search of more twigs and leaves to fill the never ending elephant pit of a stomach…an elephant’s life…eat…sleep…and poop…eating about 16 hours out of the day…sleep 4 to 6 hours and producing lots and lots of manure…200 to 250 pounds per day… oh, and produce enough methane gas – LOTS AND LOTS OF GAS😂…Properly equipped, a car could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day https://elephantconservation.org/elephants/just-for-kids

Quotes about Elephants (182 quotes)

I just adored the time worn gnarled and tuskless Norman…he made the entire stay specially entertaining and we missed him when he left to wander far from the camp…

A refreshing chilled glass of lemonade while checking in and then we were escorted down a path winding through native brush…escorted to our tranquil suite…tented and thatched…the perfect combination for me…I think it was what I’ve heard described as “Glamping”…the experience of the “Great Out Doors” with the essentials of mattress, indoor toilet and running water…this was the epitome of elegance and good taste…wrapped with the wonderous sight, smell and energy of nature in all of her abundant splendor…

After a deliciously scrumptious dinner…warmed by the fire and conversation with new friends….we were escorted back to our hideaway…with all the fresh air and excitement we fell into an exhausted sleep….dreaming of all the wonders that the next day might hold…

“A well spent day brings happy sleep.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Focus your intention on your dreams, you can wave magic when you set your heart and mind to it – Author: Miranda Kerr

Is Art A Spiritual Practice…

What do you get when you shake and stir the emotions of feeling selfish, silly and way too old…a painful anxiety of unmasking my soul to critics…fearful that if I expose that creative dream to the light…”poof” like dandelion fuzz it would disintegrate again…worrying that it is an egotistical pursuit…sprinkle that with the musing with that following my joy might divert me from my mission in this life…hmmm…crazy exhausted with the overwhelming smell of burning rubber in the background…(which comes from stepping on the brakes and gas at the same time)…

Every artist dips his brush in his soul and paints his own nature into pictures.  

Henry Ward Beecher

My lifelong personal mission statement has always been to be a conduit of God’s love to this world…and it feels less than noble to be so excited about sharing my photographs and words…receiving wonderful support from those who view my work…isn’t the spiritual life meant to be hard and painful…

Wrestling with the dilemma has been a hellacious struggle…the creative dream and growth in writing and photography fills my life with happiness and joy…so I prayed…begged for guidance…as always, when it’s time…the teacher will come…not in my desired timing…of course…but when I was ready…it did…

Two books…one that I held for a while…but never read…The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and a lesser known book called The Soul of Art by Alfred J. Garrotto…both very supportive of the idea that creativity and spirituality are intrinsically linked…

The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity…” The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

Last week I entered 8 photos into the PSSA(the Photographic Society of South Africa)…it was my first time for National entries…and only the second time for entering my photographs…I was fortunate to be able to enter free of charge because I am a newbie here…a level 1…but then everyone has to start somewhere…these are the ones that I submitted..my first entries were given gold and even better a certificate of merit…so now the question definitely needed answering…

Each photograph was taken with love and appreciation…some with exquisite joy in the beauty…some with pain…to be reminded of the poverty of the world…physically, emotionally, and morally…

It is said that, before being born, each soul is kissed by God. Then it goes through life always, in some dark way, remembering that kiss. The soul measures every experience in relation to that original sweetness . . . . To be in touch with your heart is to be in touch with this primordial kiss, both its preciousness and its meaning.

The Restless Heart Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

“As an artist, we are channels of the divine, fingers pointing heaven-ward. We are not the source of our gifts. We are individual points of light among the billions of stars that Creator-Spirit has splashed across multiple universes.”

Artistic imagination fills that void, showering us and our planet with wonder and hope. Artists’ message to our audiences is, “There’s more” . . . more than what we see and feel, more than the sum of our daily anxieties and fears. The Soul of Art, By Alfred J. Garrotto

I have done nothing to deserve these gifts and I am not worthy…any talent that I may have is unearned and unmerited…truly a gift of grace…to an imperfect human from a perfect God…to honor the gifts that I have been given, I still must do my part to cultivate and use them to make the world better…to share with an open and joyful heart…not as an egotistical pursuit or for personal accolades…it can easy to do…

All of us in the arts need to hone our craft through dedicated study, rehearsal, repetition, practice—even when we don’t feel like doing it and especially when we think we’ve maxed out our potential. How can any of us know that we do not have one more, or multiple, works within us that may exceed anything we have yet produced?  Am I too old to keep going? Too sick? Or just too wearied by past failures?

https://www.scribd.com/read/336109402/The-Soul-of-Art#

Perfecting the crafts of writing and photography will be a delightful lifelong challenge…I must put in the work that the gift requires to be more effective in touching lives…not allowing self-doubt and the fear of failure and criticism to bury my gift that may be used to return beauty, joy or inspiration…to lift humanity from its daily muck and mire of routine…causing someone to stop and breathe…if only for a moment…

May my heart always be filled with compassion to share a journey of hope and vision in a world of hopelessness and seen in all it’s ugliness…may I be given the virtue of humility realizing where my gifts come from to make the world a better place to live, joyfully sharing my gift with an open heart…for I have done nothing to deserve any gift that I have been given

I am only the “pointer” to the one that is the originator and creator of gifts…I am only the steward…a guidepost…so to speak…along this journey of life to the compassionate presence of a loving God..

I am only a conduit of God’s peace and love…allowing God’s love to flow through me...my service to others is my artists’ purpose…may my gifts to the world be wings that lift those that experience my words or images to be lifted out of the routines of the day to day and remind them that there is more…to discover within themselves their magic…their passion and joy…their own art and what is best within themselves…

Artists channel Creator-Spirit’s beauty, compassion, and love. Our mission and call is to bring some-thing into being where before there was no-thing.  Our ultimate gift is that, like Creator-Spirit, we do not hoard our transcendent experience and its fruits. Art is our “voice.” We cannot, we must not, remain silent. If we engage in the arts merely for our own gratification, we risk forfeiting our claim to be artists. Recall that art, like love, requires that it be given away. ~Alfred J. Garrotto

Any talent that I have is God’s gift to me, and my gift to Him is what I do with it…

I am a humble artist molding my earthly clod, adding my labor to nature’s, simply assisting God. Not that my labor is needed, yet somehow I understand, my Maker has deemed it that I too should have unmolded clay in my hand.  

Piet Hein

Dedicated to the love of my life Mr. P…who pushed me to fly and is the “wind beneath my wings” every day…and the support and encouragement of all my friends and family💓...I could not walk this path without them

Sent with prayers for Love, laughter and magic in your day

The View at the Top

As a writer, I often muse about what I have learned in my life and would want to leave that if people heard with their heart would make a difference to their lives…it would be…

NEVER, NEVER, EVER GIVE UP…ON YOUR GOALS, DREAMS, VISIONS AND ESPECIALLY YOURSELF..❣

No matter how many times you failed, no matter how dire the circumstances seem…or how long the fight…how much you feel like quitting

No matter how tired…rest awhile and get back up…just get back up

I have read so many articles and books…listened to every available video and program that I could get my hands on after my dissolution of an 18 year marriage in my mid-30’s…I had to walk away with nothing to my name…I had no means to keep my children…one child that really needed my help…the other opting to stay with his father because I did not have the money to give him the things his father promised to give to him…living in a car…and on and on…the knock downs and knock outs kept coming..

In the years in between…everything I tried to accomplish failed…the dreams I held in my heart and would not leave me alone…all shattered…there were successes…but there always seemed to be more failures and falling short of the cherished desires that I held unto tightly…wrapped in dirty discarded disappointments…

But I couldn’t give up…there was always a spark hidden underneath all the ashes of my life…I would read something that came my way…and the dying ember was fanned into a small fire and the rekindling of hope keep me hanging on through the years…

Recently I woke up on a quiet morning and realized that many of my dreams/wishes had manifested…I had been given the gifts that I had asked for on my “Christmas” list…not in all the exact physical detail that I thought I wanted…but definitely the “feeling” that I wanted in my life…

After my divorce, I made a list of the attributes of a partner that I felt would be a “soul mate”…someone that would be a yin to my yang…I spent years…literally😣 on dating sites searching for the “one”…there are definitely plenty of fish in the pond…over the years I went through over a thousand profiles…hundreds of online conversations…a few I thought might be compatible…but no one fit…and I felt I was too old and maybe just a friendship would be satisfying…

Then one day in 2018..26 years later…I received a pen pal request from a man halfway across the world in South Africa…a nice gentleman who offered to help me turn my profile photo right side up…we shared a love for photography, traveling and the same spiritual beliefs…he was intelligent, well read, gentle and kind…although an engineer is about as opposite to a creative personality…but yet the same…enjoyed music and art…he had even taken dance classes…

We wrote, and messaged daily for months…it was easy being open and free to express myself to someone that I shared so much with and was thousand’s of miles away…and would probably never meet in person…he was easy and gentle…very accepting and I felt that I could be supportive with some experiences that he was dealing with at the time…I had been there and done that…

There was no way that I could ever have come up with the way that this part of my life unfolded…a definite surprise package…now living in beautiful South Africa with a man that has made my life so incredibly magical every day…

Although life hasn’t all been wine & roses…especially when his cancer diagnosis was said out loud…just a little over a year after I arrived…9 months later after surgery and heart rending chemo side effects…we reached the other side…Mr. P rang the bell after his last chemo treatment was a few weeks ago and he has been given wonderful news that his stats are normal…full of gratitude and would not change one second…

I had several businesses that I had to abandon or didn’t get off the ground for one reason or another…one wish I have always had was to be able to leave a business for my children…a few days ago one of my children asked about helping with a business idea…how awesome is that…

I wanted to travel…see the world…and now our plans include Turkey and France…🤞 this year

I had lost a photography business when my divorce occurred…now I have photographed some of the most exquisite beauty in nature…

I carried a story around with me or some years and now I am writing a fantasy novel…which may take me awhile, but is so much fun…

I do think that maybe there are things I could have done to expedite the expression of my desires…I think there were times I was stepping on the brakes at the same time I was stepping on the gas…but I believe a large part is that is that I just wasn’t at the place I needed to be to or it wasn’t the right time…

And there are still things in my life that are waiting to be realized…but you have to ask and believe…trust and hope…God said, “Ask and ye shall receive”…He will give you the desires of your heart as you wait and trust in Him…and believe me, there will be things that you don’t receive that later on you will be glad that you didn’t get…

Never ever give up and enjoy the journey and if you are in a place where that seems impossible…sit with gratitude in nature…keep the flame burning in your heart…if all these things have been “gifted” to me…a simple girl born in the cold snowy winter of a small farming town with one stop sign…then it will happen for you…

With much love and magic for your day…

Renée🦋

Sunday Morning at the Watering Hole…

“Nature itself is the best physician.” 

Hippocrates 

Double C’s…not that🤣…where is your mind at….Cancer and Covid…each on their own are incredibly stressful circumstances to walk with…together, they can become an overwhelming daily event…

To find a place of peace and calmness to breathe in…Mr. P and I headed into nature…we are lucky that Addo Elephant park is only about a 45 minute drive…a place of solace from the current “norm”…

I think I have gone over the edge a tad…for every photo that I came across…seemed to have a conversation with me…but I wanted to share and hope that you might find a respite from your own place of chaos and turmoil or just a laugh…btw…it did work…both of our resting heart rates did come down…❤

Did you hear what’s happening down at the watering hole today?

Oh…OK, Mabel…nothing’s happening here…let’s go check it out…

Hey, Wait for me…I can hear everything…if you let me go too…I’ll tell you everything

…There’s the boy’s again…fighting over that prissy girl…won’t they every learn?

There goes George…all in a huff…I guess he didn’t get the girl this time…

Yup…the party is starting…you better hurry, girls…

There’s Bertha…definitely hasn’t lost all the “pregnancy fat” yet…and that child of her’s…so spoilt and noisy…

And there’s Secretary Martha…always looking for her lost bugs…and that outdated feathered cap!!!!… really needs to go…

Quite eating, Ziggy…we’re going to miss all the fun…

Let’s keep going, Pumba…it looks a little crowded here…

…Psst,,,those nosy girls are on the way….want me to head them off at the pass…I’ll take them both on…you know I will!….

Which way….come on, guys…which way….this is not funny…you know I can’t see which way to go….

The Gang’s all here…

Sending love, laughter, and some magic for your day!!!! ~Renée

Drunk and Not-So-Drunk Elephants…

I believe that I can hear you say..,”Really?”…the truth has been debated…but I tend to lean towards the probability that it is true…

Drunk elephants or for that matter…or drunken antics by any animals was never even near to being within the scope of things that I might have given a passing hmmmm…🤔

In research for my novel, I am in the process of reading a translation of Adulphe Delegotgue’s two-volume Voyage dans l’Afrique Australe produced originally in 1848…a young 24 year old aristocratic Frenchman, whose lust for adventure and scientific curiosity provoked him to take an incredulous 5 year journey of exploration in southern Africa…BTW…it is a most delightful read…

Delegorgue considered the biological aspects the most interesting part of his travel memoir and devotes a significant portion of his writing to the majestic elephant…

“The elephant has in common with man predilection for a gentle warming of the brain induced by fruit which has been fermented by the action of the sun: the omkouschlouane and the makano of the Amazoulous”

Travels in Southern Africa,1990

Enjoy a little laughter today….

Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing. John Donne

A few days after starting this blog…Mr. P & I took a needed day in nature…an excursion to Addo Elephant Park only few hours drive from home…although we didn’t see any drunk elephants…the ones we saw were incredibly interesting and humorous…reminding me of my own family get-togathers…a tribe with 5 brothers and sisters…all the accompanying nieces and nephews…and added friends…each holiday was just a noisy and raucous as this herd that we found around a waterhole in the park…

Did you know that you can identify the African Elephant from all their Asian cousins by the fact that they are larger and their ears are larger and bear a resemblence to the continent of Africa…

“One cannot resist the lure of Africa.” ~Rudyard Kipling

Their trunks have over 40,000 muscles and 2 fingerlike features at the end of their trunk that they use to grab things…Their Asian cousins have only 1…

“It was the wildest, untouched Africa, and it was magic.” ~Jane Goodall

“Of all African animals, the elephant is the most difficult for man to live with, yet its passing ― if this must come ― seems the most tragic of all. I can watch elephants (and elephants alone) for hours at a time, for sooner or later the elephant will do something very strange such as mow grass with its toenails or draw the tusks from the rotted carcass of another elephant and carry them off into the bush. There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.” – Peter Matthiessen

https://everydaypower.com/elephant-quotes/

“The strange rhythm seemed now to be coming from behind me, from the land, so I turned to look across the gorge … where my heart stopped … Standing there in the shade of the tree was an elephant … – Carl Safina

Purest Little Part of Me | African bush elephant, African animals, African  elephant

The Balancing Act

What started out to to be a slightly anxiety producing event morphed into an exceptionally magnificent morning…

Mr. P and I had been tossing the idea of taking a whale and dolphin watching cruise since I arrived…well…even before…since my son-in-law showed me the videos of the jackass penguins and their true-to-life sound of a braying donkeyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVF9F28SY4c…so belly laughing hilarious🤣to watch…

In an effort to keep my social skills from totally atrophying I joined a photographic club…this happened to be their first ‘outing’ that I decided to join…Mr. P became a member too…on account that I haven’t learned to drive on the left side of the road with a left-handed stick shift… and sharing the road with crazy drivers and he makes me feel safer…my own personal bodyguard😎…seriously, it was more about being to be able to share the things that we both enjoy…

We were anticipating a distraction from the current situation that we are experiencing at the moment…although surgery had gone well…the previous day’s appointment to the oncologist was difficult for me…a reminder of the anguish inflicted on the the lives of 46 family members who had fought the same darkness and the few who survived it’s aggressive assault on their lives…and the special one❤ who lives with the presence of the gene that she carries with her every day of her life…

It started the night before…the combination of a glass of wine and seasick pills laid me out me out quicker than Tyson’s 90 second knockout…I could not keep my eyes open for anything…and at 8:30 gave it up…Mr. P did promise not to tell the kids that I wasted the night sleeping😂…

The morning dawned and set off early…the early night definitely helped to being “bright-eyed and bushy tailed”…with slight apprehensions about being accepted into the group…being the new kid on the block and an American to-boot…we set out to expand my knowledge of the marine life here in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth…it still feels so unbelievable to live so close to all of this miraculous splendor of nature…

The sea was flat and calm after a few days of winds…yet trying to walk gracefully on a narrow floating pontoon bridge was not an easy feat for me…like navigating life (particularly in our now)…finding balance is most important…

Balancing Family Life Through Uncertainty | Resilient Educator
Dr. Seuss said it best…

By the time I got to the boat, evidently I still hadn’t found my balance…Lost my sandal climbing up the boxes to get into the boat…I tried so hard to look like I knew what I was doing…to be elegant and graceful…put the camera bag on the seat…gave my hand to the owner of the boat and most gracefully lifted my leg over the side and promptly my sandal flew off and landed on the floor of the boat…

“It’s about finding that balance where you have one foot in the familiar, one foot in the unfamiliar.
If you have two feet in the unfamiliar it’s overwhelming….

― Humble the Poet

Algoa Bay

oh, well…I was too excited to dwell on it for long…living in the moment…not the past or the imagined future is a critical component to balancing the good and bad in life for us right now…

Looking to the Future

… this day was going to be a positive memory in our lives…

And it was/and is…the postcard perfect day… weather was cooperating fully…acres of bright blue canvas of sky with puffs of white magic…blown with playful gentle breezes…what more could I ask for…

…but it was just the beginning…I became lost in the enchantment of the sea…

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too” ~Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

…and so are our lives

Such a incredible day…warm ocean painted memories to cherish and hold within my heart❤

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide, roll away
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time
~Otis Redding

..the white heaven bound birds reminding my soul to glide freely from the fear and a wave of sweet earthly joy and hope for the future began to dance…

…with all my love and wishes for magic🎈 and laughter in your life

~Renée

*Special shout-out to Raggy Charters for this beautiful cruise experience

Women Who Roar…

For miles a grey drizzly morning had followed us to our destination…I slumped a little glumly in the front of the 4×4 we had rented…I had been excitedly waiting to give my new telephoto lens a whirl…

With a couple of hours to kill before we were able to get into the cabin…we started driving with no particular end in mind…clouds blanketing the skies …the windshield speckled with drizzle…there were no expectations that we would catch a glimpse of any animal that I would be able to photograph that dreary early afternoon…

Dreamy and picturesque landscapes pulled me from my doldrums…I sat up and became lost in the the mountain highlands and rolling undulating plains…the tall colorful rippling grasslands of the Karoo provided a magical solace that soothed the soul…erasing the grumpiness that I had felt with the disappointment of the less than perfect sunshiny day I had requested…

…and then like a well played magic trick…”poof” they appeared…as if the ladies had been patiently waiting on the sidelines for us to arrive…two splendidly graceful lionesses emerged from the tall grasses sauntering in front of the vehicle as if taking us on a tour…

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
Albert Camus

It was a most incredible show that they put on for us…the younger one showing off…dancing on the outcropping of rocks…hiding among the sparse tree line, scrubby bushes and tall golden grasses that almost hid her unless you were aware…

The mother was sedate in her ambling…letting the younger take center stage…content in just ‘being’…yet she was always aware of where her daughter was and where they were on their search for either intruders to their territory or any potential food that might be available…

The social structure of the pride hinges around the bond between related lionesses, who collaborate in all tasks, from raising cubs to hunting.

http://www.krugerpark.co.za/Kruger_National_Park_Wildlife-travel/kruger-park-wildlife-lions.html

Their journey together was a reminder that…

…although no one can walk our path for us…when the blackness of our night presses against the skin…and the very horror of life and fear freezes the blood in our veins…the presence of those who choose to walk beside imbues us with the courage to keep perservering…in spite of it all…

My Mr. P had major surgery a few weeks ago…totally unexpected…the sunlight, magic and warmth of our world instantly spiraled into a deep dark nothingness…alone in a new country and culture…without even the ability to be together… to visit or even talk with each other…he was beside me and then he was gone…my world disappeared…

I felt his absence…cold, isolated and alone

they came…the beautifully strong, powerful and nurturing women…to walk beside me in support…the magic of their fortitude and courage flowing into my shrunken and shriveled soul…

The lioness pair that I photographed at Mountain Zebra were such an incredible example of that “sisterhood” bond…

There is strength in sisterhood

With all my heart❣…A special thank you to all the wonderful beautiful souls that roar in their own right and chose to walk beside me…I am forever eternally grateful…

🎈Sent with love, laughter and magic for your day!