Women Are Medicine

wam collage

I am returning from a journey. A journey into the mystery and magic of life. I travelled with 25 women (and two children) who all long for a life that is more connected to Mother Earth, to Soul, to the Feminine.

Four of us had called the gathering. Our sense was that our gathering would allow the feminine impulse to manifest through us, allowing the rising feminine an embodied access to our world. Of course she is all around all of us already – but it is our experience (and that of many others too) that she is now seeking to enter the world of humans more fully once more, to inspire and invoke a different way of relating to the world – after centuries of patriarchy, dominion over nature, and an overriding experience of the universe as one massive clockwork.

In coming together as a collective with the specific intention to open to, and express the sacred feminine, we felt that we would throw wide open the gates, allowing more fully what is already flowing through each one of us.

And it feels like this is what we did. It feels like we became a portal for a wondrous power – that is accessible to all humans, but perhaps more easily accessible by women at this time – because it is a deep reconnecting with the mystery, with the earth, the moon, the elements, the flow of life – which all reside in the feminine, whether we inhabit a male or female body.

We danced and swam and laughed and cried – just as we had said we would – and it was a truly magnificent experience.

We hosted the group with the intention to share its gifts fully – and they did. Our time together became a co-created beautiful dance with some offering bio-danza, five rhythms, yoga, voice work, astral travel, body painting, story-telling… and much more and all of us offering our questions and themes for exploration ranging from sacred sexuality, making a life doing what we love, the role of our monthly cycles, and more.

It was powerful, potent, beautiful, magical, mysterious, joyful, sensuous, ceremonious, ordinary and utterly delightful. All those together. It was one of the most healing and fulfilling gatherings. We did not gather to heal, but in how we came together this followed naturally. I gathered with a desire for vision or clarity and I quickly let go of any agenda – realising that it was simply the Is’ness of how we were with each other that was my lesson, the deep imprint on my soul. I know now that we can live a different way and that we can live a different world into being. I saw that if we could simply come together in these ways, deep wisdom would become available to us.

It seems that it is time to stop running so fast – even with good intentions for feeding the hungry and cleaning the rivers… This is not where our salvation lies – faster, more manic attempts at resolution. I saw that to build the container out of which wise action can arise may be one of the most important things we can do at this time. Not as single stand-alone events, but as growing webs of community living, gifting according to each of our gifts, and each of our needs, learning together, and allowing natural rhythms, natural time, spirit, nature and soul to enter us and to work through us.

I felt that if we could live like this – together – we would be wise beyond any of the challenges currently facing us. Trying to solve them all, from this place of mess is such a sad delusion. Perhaps the most radical thing we can do is to stop and to regather ourselves in sacred community, out of which will surely spring wisdom, clarity and the capacity to respond well to the challenges we have wrought for ourselves.

I could share some of my conclusions and insights from the retreat, but i think these are almost arbitrary – I think it will serve more for me to share how we flowed together, the simple structure we followed and what we did as a lesson for new (or ancient) ways of gathering that allow for flow and wisdom and healing.

Stay tuned more to follow…

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How we Gather

ria&pattie

I am in the middle of what seems like a new learning. A deepening of what I have already known, to the extent that it feels like an entirely new discovery.

This is my re-discovery: How we gather affects our outcomes. How well prepared. How clear on intention. How open or closed. How speedy or slow. How connected or disconnected. How attached to outcomes, or open to what will emerge. Joy, contentment, tiredness, irritation, overwhelm. Either of these, or combinations thereof, will follow depending on how we come together.

It is utterly astounding to me to realise just how deeply true this is. How much is affected by the attention and care we place on the act of coming together, preparing a meeting, opening, holding, closing. In our eagerness for results, and in the busy world we live in, it seems that these are often seen as frills. We don’t have time to fully tend to the preparation, or to the full life of a process – and yet without it, we loose so much of what could be possible.

I am learning in particular that as we learn to gather from a place of open-heartedness, perhaps even Love, we not only become wiser in our deepened connection, we also physiologically somehow become able to revitalise and energise ourselves and each other.

For me – it has thus become an imperative, that I do everything I can to help shape each encounter, and each gathering, to foster such a connection. I feel clumsy in my attempt at describing this, but it feels that what I am learning and re-learning is what it takes, quite literally, to shift the consciousness of an encounter, a meeting, a process…

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At Kufunda Learning Village we had fallen into the rut of our weekly meetings having become very task oriented. They were the least inspired place of our village (mostly), and several issues were being discussed with only a few voices repeating themselves. There was little collective wisdom at play, and oftentimes we left our weekly Village Circle feeling drained and tired, although we might have managed to tick off many items on our to-do list.

One day – after one too many such meetings – I decided, no more. I could not sit through one more lacklustre meeting. And so I experimented with a practice called inscaping that friends of mine from Organization Unbound have highlighted in their work. Inscaping, in brief, involves “drawing upon the inner experiences of members during the normal course of work to shape and guide the organisation.” Inner experiences include intuitions, ideas, curiosities, aspirations, fears, values, biographies, etc.

The specific exercise during this first meeting was about checking in with each other in smaller groups around our inner experience of our work, using this broader definition of inner. Before we did so, we each wrote down our assumptions about how the others in our group were experiencing their work. By the end of this simple check-in, the atmosphere in the room had palpably shifted. I think primarily the act of bringing a wider sense of our work experience into our dialogue was the main cause. But also taking time to consider how we thought our work mate was doing was part of a more full opening up to other.

I found myself happily surprised at the sharing of the two of my colleagues that I was connecting with. During the every day humdrum, we seldom take the time, I realised, to share from a more emotive, intuitive, reflective place around our work. We took the exercise one step further, and so as we came back together as a whole group, we passed a talking piece and shared something personal about ourselves that we hadn’t shared at work before. People I have worked with for ten years, became more nuanced to me, and I felt my heart open as people shared beautiful, sometimes challenging, stories about what was going on in their life right now.

Then we spent about 15 minutes going through our typical to-do list. Not only did we manage to complete it much faster than normal, the quality of our thinking together was also palpably heightened. There was something in our field that enabled us to cut through things more cleanly and clearly. At the end we all remarked on how energising and in fact deeply nourishing this meeting had been. Almost all of us had come in tired and left feeling invigorated. Inspired even. And with a revitalised connection.

As I look back on it now, I think what this did, and what subsequent encounters have done, is activate a wider intelligence and a wider resource, as this fuller, deeper part of us was allowed into the meeting. Furthermore, the conversation was activating a more intimate connection between us, which – I think – allowed for information to flow more easily and for thinking to become more coherent, even as differences were raised. It’s almost like there was a stronger field built between us allowing for this flow of ideas and energy to occur. I left that afternoon feeling excited at the realisation that not only do we have access to this collective intelligence, if we tend to the field from which it rises, but also to collective energy.

Over the past two weeks I have had several more such experiences. Our Village Council (the Kufunda Leadership Circle), which does good and important but oftentimes tiring work, began its last meeting with a deeper check in. And then before getting down to business, we spent time reflecting on the purpose of our group and the extent to which we felt we were achieving it. By the end, we had identified some important systemic challenges in how we had been working together. We slowed way down to be in this more quiet reflection – and ended up spending most of the meeting on this. The last 15-20 minutes were spent on critical issues once more – and again they moved clearly and cleanly, and again we were rejuvenated by our time together.

I think this way of connecting is common to the Art of Hosting work, and so in some ways it has been a part of our village for years. What I am realising is how easy it is to speed up, even when we use our practices – circle, talking pieces, powerful questions, etc.. As we return to the artistry of thinking together, I am recognising more nuances and subtleties in what it means and takes to bring the deeper intelligence that is always present to the fore.

What would our souls want us to do?

I am reading a National Geographic Article about the Ecuadorian Yasuni rainforest– home to one of the highest number of species and greatest bio-diversity in the world – And also, sadly, enormous oil reserves. The government, realizing the global treasure of the rainforest, has asked the world at large for 3.6 billion USD for it to forego extraction of oil. This figure is equivalent to about half of what they would make were they to drill. My husband reading with me declared that the oil will be extracted, and that the life in the forest would pay the price – it has happened so many times before.

This is not a piece on the realism or pessimism of my husband, it is a piece to share my horror that there is even still a question of which way this could go. It makes me wonder at the presence of our hearts in our every day, the presence of our humanity in our decisions, and the presence of our sense of the sacred as we live our lives.

It seems to me that we must have lost the touch with these in the mechanical, soulless systems that we have co-created to live our lives as a global community of humans. I return in my disbelief to the power of money: To run us, to make our decisions. As I return to the story of the Yasuni rainforest, it is with a sense of impotence and infinite sadness.

Today I visited a small school that I am a part of making happen. It has a kindergarten that has been going for a year, and since a week a small class one of seven children who are beginning their life of ‘formal’ learning there. As a school it has a slightly different emphasis to most mainstream schools. The children are there to be supported in learning how to be themselves. To connect with and express their lifeforce in this world. They will learn it whilst learning how to read and write and learn the things that we deem to be important content-wise in our society today, but its fundamental intention is different.

ariThe reading and writing and everything else they will learn are all tools in their expression of self and life. And really what can be more important? It is based on a premise that some may disagree with: That each of us is born on this planet with a deeper soul purpose. And thus our fundamental intention becomes one of  human freedom, to express that which we are here to do. It is a premise which trusts, that as we learn to express our soul’s desire, we are also learning to bring something of value to our world.

Most of the children in the class are so-called farm children. Children who if they were to go to their local farm school would have their trajectory more or less outlined for them – of remaining in poverty, of believing themselves to be at the bottom of the societal hierarchy. This may sound like a harsh judgement, and yet the pass-rate of the local school is 48%, and my experience of so many young people who come through the poorer schools in this country is that their creative spark and sense of drive, has been all but buried. Discipline and ‘respect’ appear to be among the most critical skills for them to learn, keeping them firmly in ‘their place.’.

Today I saw 7 small beautiful children in a classroom filled with love, filled with their work on the wall, filled with play and story, and for me above a sense of possibility. Their ‘farm children’ label fell away – and instead I simply saw 7 bright young children, who might make anything of their lives. They will be in a school, which is about nurturing their sense of humanity, curiosity, imagination, and will. We do not know the future that they will inhabit, and so don’t know the content, which will most serve them there. However supporting them to expand their innate capacity for learning, and for being present in this world, will surely serve us all. Our work thus becomes to support them to grow more fully into themselves, in a world, which oftentimes does not support the presence of free creative thinkers and doers.

childrenToday these 7 children gave me hope. I don’t know which path they will travel, but I know that we are at least allowing them to begin their journey in a way that celebrates them, and invites them into a world that is full of mystery and magic.

And in my heart I must trust that this will – or at the very least can – lead to different choices, and different journeys.

The Ecuadorian President asked for 3.6 billion USD in 2007 to leave untouched an estimated 850 million barrels of oil. By mid-2012, only 200 million had been committed(!). My husband seems to be right – the will to change this trajectory is not present. As I sit in Zimbabwe looking across the world, it may well be that we are too late to save the rainforest in Ecuador. But here we are joining with the many others, who are beginning to work with children to introduce them to a sacred world: To allow them to journey into learning that affirms the sacredness of their bright beings – and the world into which they have been born.

The underlying question, which lives in me, and which we hope to open to our children remains: What do our souls want us to do? The answer, I know, is full of joy and grace and light.

Reflections on our participation in a world gone wrong

I woke up this morning with an aching heart. The reality of our challenge piercing through the veil of our modern lives. We spent yesterday at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. An incredible place, where we were brought into the under water world. It was a wonderful experience. We spent all afternoon as a family moving through the Aquariaum. Marvelling at the beauty of the Knysna seahorses, being transfixed by the sheer size of the giant spider crab, and falling in love with the solo green sea turtle. By the end I was inspired by my meeting with Life and distressed by my meeting with Man.

Much of the messaging at the Aquarium was around how man is impacting marine life, with ensuing advice to counter the challenge: Don’t buy plastic bags, stop eating prawns, only eat fish on the SASSI green list (this is a list compiled by the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative, which groups fish according to a green, orange and red list. Those on the green are still fine to consume, those on the orange pose cause for concern either because of overfishing or because the fishing/farming method poses ham to the environment, and red are fish that unsustainable and/or illegal to fish in South Africa).

Whilst this messaging was a big part of the displays they were at the same time prominently presenting their sponsors: I&J the largest fish processing company in South Africa, and the Ocean Basket, the nation-wide fish restaurant chain. Even these companies in their messaging at the aquarium were encouraging us to only eat fish off the green list, and yet I am certain they themselves sell fish that are on the orange list, such as prawns, kingklip, or line-caught mackerel. It reminds me of conversations at the recent WEF summer meeting in China around sustainability. They mostly focused on how to get the consumers to want to buy sustainable products. The sub-text seemed to be, “for as long as they are willing to buy products that destroy the earth, we will have to continue to provide them.” “We have to stay competitive”. And so passionate men and women were working together to educate the consumers. Whilst this is obviously important, I did not encounter conversations on how we might tackle the challenge further upstream; how we might begin to shift a system, which requires constant growth for a business to survive. Grow, grow, grow. Or die. And so as a result we turn mother-nature into a commodity – into many! – and relationships into services, moving further away from community and into trans-actionality. And this we assume to be the natural way. In fact it seems to me that anything that questions this is radical, counter culture, activism – words that all have negative connotations.

So the wonderful woman at the aquarium was teaching us about the penguins and the tragedy of the plastic bags, and the bottle caps that kill so many birds and seals. I am sure she longs for a world in which these animals that she cares so deeply about can live without being threatened by man – and yet she is also living in a world where her daily existence, shopping, eating, driving to work, are all directly contributing to this plight, which she wishes to alleviate. We each are. I recently read an article about a woman who has spent the last five years not buying any plastic. As she has not started making things herself, it has meant living without bottled water, meat (most is wrapped in some kind of packaging), yoghurt, etc.. She was described as a zealot. I take it that living sustainably in today’s systems may require zealous behaviour.

My mind returns to my work in Zimbabwe. In which we are entering more consciously questions of sustainable living, natural and organic food and products for the home, where we are learning how to grow and make our own medicine – and, this is the new part, begin to turn that into our own local economy, to begin to be able to exchange these products filled with goodness, and even love, with each other. And in so doing to strengthen our communities, to re-create even, bonds that have been weakened or severed by the advent of a consumer focused monetised world. And let me be clear: Money is not in and of itself the problem. Having it enter every single human and natural domain is. Having it be designed to create scarcity through its creation as debt, so that more always begets more, is a deep-seated problem of our monetary system.

So I wonder – as I feel a pull now to not only live our own small but important experiment. I wonder what might be our contribution to the larger shift of which I hope we are a part? How might we, with the many many others who are stepping out of a system, a machine, that we can see no longer serves us; how can we be a part of changing its DNA? Business is not inherently evil. But business is no longer, ultimately, in the business of producing quality products and services to people – things they believe in and are proud of contributing to the world. Business, through this inherently growth-propelled system, which we have co-created, is in the business of growing money – and that is a very different bottom line.

So this is my question – what can we do? We are probably millions of us, perhaps even billions who want a different reality, who have begun to take the steps towards it in our respective locales, who often have found the need to unplug to varying degrees from the machine, and yet recognise that we are needed to support the fundamental change to its DNA. Charles Eisenstein’s work has helped me see how some of the basic workings of the monetary system perpetuate our situation, and has thus also helped me recognise that it can be different. I no longer think it is just the way it is, and human nature of greed and competition will always produce something like what we have today. No. We don’t need to have a system, a global system, which is devouring the earth, community, love and ultimately itself. It can be different – where money is in right relationship, where communities flourish, where creativity is alive, children cherished, natured revered, where a forest standing is worth more to most of us than a forest felled. Intellectually I can even see what the different components might be to enable this, and there are many books out there to read if you want to learn more. What I don’t see is the pathway that will take us there, and more importantly for me in this moment, I don’t see my role in helping make that shift. My work in Zimbabwe is important, and I will continue doing it, diligently, with great passion, joy and love. And, yet, still I have a sense of a need to connect the dots, to hook up across  the planet, somehow…

Perhaps simply being in the question is enough for now. Being in the question of what will it take for us, who long for a shift, and what can be my role to support that shift, from the wonderful gritty practicality of the local, to the larger shift of the global.

Ah – that we may be a part of it – a return to a world that our hearts long for; and that our hearts know to be possible… but that our minds cannot yet grasp.

May it be so.

Tending to Myself

Or:  Putting Relationships in their Rightful Place

This piece is inspired by a reading I did in 2011 with Angela Deutschmann,

and the journey that has followed since.

 

I just came back from a wonderful week in Europe, attending and co-facilitating the ALIA Europe Leadership Programme. If I am to be honest, as I was leaving Zimbabwe, it felt like a bit of a distraction to leave everything that was going on here, at home in Kufunda, but it turned out to be a week of deep connections, with others and myself. It was a sort of coming home away from home. Much of what I have been working on during the last weeks and months came into clearer perspective, being in a rich community of friends and fellow travelers on the journey of becoming more fully human, more fully me.

I returned home, after ALIA, to a house full of people, my family and friends who were visiting from South Africa with their kids. It was lovely to return home to a sense of community: Children running free and wild, dogs excited to see me, other kids visiting from the farm, and the trees, that are increasingly becoming a part of my felt sense of family and community, standing in their deep stillness as an anchor for me. They were calling me to come and greet them in the forest. It took a few days before I heeded the call, and yet it was only after this that I felt that I had truly returned home.

And so as I reflect on my last few days, I see that I have lived through – in a microcosm – the challenging balance that I am learning my way into in a bigger way. On paper it sounds simple and perhaps even quite easy. In reality I am finding it incredibly difficult.

It is this: To not forget myself in my relationships – to not devote more energy and attention to my relationships, than I devote to myself.

I realize I am writing in the negative. So let me turn it around. I am in a process of learning to honour my relationship with myself, and to nourish this. It includes my conversations with Life, my musings and ponderings, my connection with God, with the Trees, with the quiet voice inside me. It is tapping into and following my Joy, my Me.

I know that taking time to stay connected with myself makes me a much more interesting and wholesome person to hang out with, and yet – and yet when it comes down to it, I struggle to prioritise this most important relationship in my life – being a mother, a partner, a colleague, a friend seem to distract from my essential relationship with self. In the midst of the busyness of life it often feels a little selfish to attend to Marianne. And this was my experience this week of returning. Of wanting to go and spend a little time just with me, to touch in, to integrate – and yet initially not finding the clarity to simply claim it – even though I know that no-one would have resented it.

In a reading I did last year, this came up as a strong theme: Learning to put relationships in their rightful place. It appears that this is a area that girls more so than boys grow up struggling with. As we grow up we put on masks (all of us do) to fit more fully into the world. And many girls, it seems, pick a role that has at its essence (in its many different manifestations) to make relationships the point of life. We learn the art of pleasing, of making mom and dad happy, siblings, teachers. We learn to sense into what is wanted, needed, required of us, and we offer it happily, because it gives us a sense of belonging (and perhaps also to an extent because of a nurturing instinct). Most of us are very good at it, and yet, it is for many of us, or at least for me, also a defence mechanism. Instead of my true, full, wondrous (and sometimes wounded) self showing up – it is more often the self that has learnt the way of earning its worth and place in the world that is actively present. I show up geared towards making you happy. And that is not to say it is being manipulative. Until the reading I was not particularly conscious of this pattern of focusing on other, over myself.

However  the point of my life is not the quality of my relationships, at any point in time. Nor is it yours. This may seem somewhat startling, but let’s take it a little further. My message was simply this: If the quality of my relationships comes at a cost of my expressing my authentic self, then it is not worth it. My relationships cannot be more important than my joy, the longing of my heart, my freedom, my inner life and so on. If my relationships override these, they will come with a hint of resentment, of subtle strings attached (a need to be thanked and acknowledged for everything I am giving, because I give it instead of tending to myself).

And whilst this can be turned to seem profoundly selfish, the beautiful paradox that I know to be deeply true is that:

“When you put your relationships in their rightful place, they in fact get better. People can feel, even if they can’t articulate it, even if they can’t process it cognitively, even if it is subconscious, people can feel the weight of your expectations or hopes on what their relationship with you is meant to deliver.  It is a service to your loved ones to allow those relationships to be valuable, but not to dominate your life.  The quality of your relating with your loved ones will improve when they are not the most important part of existence to you.”

What a liberating invitation this is. And a little terrifying :). And how incredibly difficult to step into.

So here it is, I can choose to claim my full freedom, and in that be a richer member of my family and community. I have made this choice for myself, and in it I am learning each day just how difficult it is to let go of years of conditioning that have taught me that to be a ‘good girl’ I should put others first, even if I do so reluctantly and resentfully. I am learning the balance and the peace and the grace that comes from following my soul’s desire, even if I don’t do it all the time :). I am learning ever so slowly to cease to do from a place of should. To show up strong and clear and beautiful, because I am tending to myself. And sometimes I show up messy and confused (I am human after all), but at least with a sense of being in the right place for me – being on my journey, not yours.

It is like the oxygen masks on the plane – we must put them on ourselves first, and our children second. Not because we are selfish, but because we know that this is the way to care for others: To make sure we are okay first.

So this is the journey I am on. And I experienced this last week, having come home from a strong and important learning journey to Europe, to a house full of people, how hard it was for me to leave the wonderful madness of my family, and go out into the forest on my own. To listen to the needs of my soul. I figured it out eventually, but it took a good few days, of not really arriving because the choice for Me seemed like a radical one to make when I was surrounded by others.

It is early Sunday evening as I complete this. I am feeling gratitude for this journey that I am on; that many of us are on. I am beginning to have more and more lived experiences of the wisdom of tending to me.

It is when there is a fundamental imbalance between my soul’s priorities and my intellects’ (my shoulds for example) that I feel the stretch and tension. And it is when I am not tending to myself that I lose touch with the voice of my soul. “You will not really feel any difference between self, work, marriage, children when you are in deep connection with your Divine voice.” It feels a little like a new relationship, with an incredibly interesting, wise, witty person who I had no idea existed inside me. What an honour it is to be getting to know myself – My divine voice even :). We each have one.

How much time do we spend getting to know it? And to follow its wisdom for our life? Dare I follow my wisdom for my life? The release is in beginning to recognize that if I listen I can find my way.

 

A vision of living wholeness

When I was younger I had a strong vision of a world in which we are all different but equal. In which the vibrancy, spirit and deep wisdom of the South could live alongside, informing and grounding the intellectual and action oriented leadership from the North. I dreamed in particular of helping people re-connect with the gifts of Africa; of shifting from viewing her as our destitute mother, to a full and expansive place to which we all have a deep original connection.

Out of this was born my work with Kufunda.

It is not that I have lost my dream. I am simply finding that, I need to go a little further inward as I reflect on the vision that guides my life today.

I have been on a journey during the past four years that took me increasingly away from my centre. I became a mother; I started a company with friends. All things that were deeply fulfilling, and yet in it I became too busy to truly listen to my Self.  And so recently, I decided to take a year to slow down and listen to my heart.

As I am slowly coming home to myself, I am experiencing the intelligence, creativity and flow available to us as we operate from a place of wholeness. I am developing a vision of an integrated life in which my life is no longer compartmentalized, into different segments of work, family, pleasure, service, spirituality. My emerging vision is one of learning to live my wholeness: to live from my loves, to self-express (also the sorrow and the rage), to enjoy my body, and to connect with the land and my community. It means to live as an integrated human being– not a human being trying to earn her place on the planet. From this place I will necessarily bring forth in tune with Life. From this place I am learning that we have what we need.

And so my vision emerges of a world in which we each shift to this way of showing up, authentic and whole. My vision is more of how we are with ourselves and each other, than the specifics of what we create. I trust that which becomes possible as we learn to co-create out of those fine whispers of each of our hearts and souls. The earth speaks to my sister, an impulse for community change to my brother. We honour the wisdom and the impulse that we each bring, African, European, Asian, Indigenous. And we find the beginnings of what will take us out of our current mess. We learn to walk, one step at a time – always simply in search of the ‘next minimal elegant step.’

It is often as we become mothers and providers that we let go of our ideals; that we compromise. Today, I am learning that the greatest gift I can offer my family is to follow the longing of my heart, my body, my soul. This is where the wisdom resides that will take us into a more life-affirming reality.

I believe that we are on a journey into a different possibility, and each of us daring to show up, engaging the full (and sometimes terrifying) richness of who we are, is  a critical part of birthing the new. And so as I find my clarity, and courage, I revel in the opportunity to share that with others, finding the parallels and the lessons that can be an inspiration way beyond my life and context. And in that journey also finding those who can inspire me.

It is indeed time for us to transform our worlds – as we transform and listen more deeply to our Selves.

 

 

Living my joy

I have always loved to write. Not as a wild passion, but as a quiet presence in the background. I wrote a children’s book when I was ten. It was not published, but I felt proud for trying. I journaled my way through my teens keeping sane through my passage into womanhood. My Master’s thesis, ‘Bringing the Human Spirit to Work’ helped me reframe my transition into working life as one of learning to live a life of joyful contribution.

I straddle two worlds. I have roots into Europe from my Danish father and into Africa from my Zimbabwean mother. I have lived and loved in both countries. They have contributed to making me who I am. Zimbabwe showed me a world of connection, vibrancy and joy; Denmark that I can do whatever I set my heart to. Perhaps these contrasting beginnings enabled me to let my heart and my joy be my guides on my journey through life. Instead of a secure job, I co-created Pioneers of Change, a global learning community of young change makers. Later, I returned to Zimbabwe to co-found Kufunda, a learning village committed to fostering resilient communities. Through all of this I was writing, as a way of reaching out with the questions and ideas, that were living and maturing in my heart and mind.

Four years ago I was in another transition. This one I did not write my way through. I married, became a mother, and made my new home with my husband in South Africa. Four years on I woke up to the fact that somehow my life had become too small for me. My work was springing more from a need to contribute to my family and my colleagues than from my heart. Mother, wife, colleague, these are all important roles, and yet they are far smaller than who I really am.

Recently, we have moved back to Zimbabwe as a family. This time it was us as a family collective who chose to walk out of the normal definitions of success: To walk into another possibility. We don’t know what it is, but we know that there is something more, as we learn to work – as a family – from a place of meaning and possibility. We have moved back to Zimbabwe with the intention to follow simply, as a family, that which makes us happy, and to trust that in that choice we will contribute more fully to our world.

In this simple and yet deeply profound shift, I am finding myself back in a place where my questions and curiosity are rising, my creativity is bubbling, and a stronger more intentional desire burns in me to chronicle and share. I believe that I am part of many across the world who are creating a new world. The old is not working, and we are gradually finding our way into a different way of being human. We are still learning our way into this. We as women have much to contribute here, and for me, writing is a subtle but integral part of breathing the new into life. It is the bridge between the outer work, and the inner emerging clarity. And it is the medium through which those of us, who are building the new, can find each other.