To be seen….

When the Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) conversed with anyone – it is said that he didn’t just lift his eyes in their direction, nor just turn his head toward them, but instead squared his shoulders such that his entire body faced them while they spoke to him. Can you imagine being seen in that way?

On my blessed journey with my Caravan of soulmates journeying through Magical Morocco, I had the privilege of being looked upon in that meaningful way for 10days by 33 strangers from all around the world who I am no privileged to call family. I sit here now, humbled by the experience of gazing and being gazed upon and how the presence of this practise got me to see through the masks and facades in seconds and to find gazing back at me the beauty within each of these souls. And underneath that, my own beauty reflected and as we locked eyes again and again in the days that followed all that existed was love – love of each other and of the beloved – our Creator.

To see and be seen through the windows of our soul is to dissolve into the other and find ourselves, and the ecstasy comes in knowing we are all one – each of us a part of and at the same time containing within us, the whole. In that moment you know, you experience how much you and this moment matters.

Today I pray – you see someone – with your eyes, face, shoulders and body – and you find yourself and the love of God in the pools of their soul. Such bliss! So be it!

Set aside the smartphone, lift your eyes from your laptop and see…

Minarets -Lighthouses

Touring Marrakech yesterday I arrived amidst the pulsing Medina, drumming snake charmers and throbbing heat to a musjid called Al-Khoutobia This musjid from the 12th century has a unique tower like structure similar to the Hasan Tower in Rabat and the Geraldi in Seville. The story of the book sellers and book exchange stalls that once occupied the mosque courtyards inspired the name ‘Khoutoubia’ from the arabic word ‘kitaab’ or book. This emphasises how reading and writing formed a fundamental part of the Islamic world years ahead of Western Civilisations.

My fascination with Lighthouses has plagued me for many a decade and im always either painting or sculpting them or philosophising and writing about them. So you can well appreciate how excited I was when Sidi Omid our teacher in Morocco shared that the cities (medinas) always had the mosque minarets as the tallest building in the old cities – cos no market building or kings place should be above the symbolic house of God. And the word minaret (the often dome like structure found above all mosques) is derived from the arabic word ‘Noor” which means light. So minaret is the’ house of light ‘or the light house. The light house is looming above the medinas to remind us or show us the way – the way to the light that is God – the way to the light within each of us.

So just as the lighthouse guides the ships to shore and safety so too can the minarets guide us out of our chaotic days back to ourselves and safety with God.

Is it time yet?

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So my now 20 son used to adore Barney the purple dinosaur and one of the Barney books we read together at nauseum was titled “Is it Time yet?” and the question was “Is it time for us to go?”

This book and these words have been playing on my mind – maybe cos the culprit who forced me to learn it verbatim just turned 20 and i’m left wondering who I am now with kids who are so independent and on their way?

So the answer to the question Baby Bop kept asking is a resounding YESSSS!!! It’s time! Time to go. Time to travel. Time to seek….

So here I am – travelling out of country for the first time since the pandemic and seeking the me that’s left to find under the roles and titles – mother, entrepreneur, life coach.

It is no surprise then as my final flight after a 16hour commute touched down in Marrakesh this morning; that the skies were clouded and there was a soft luminous mist engulfing the red city making it difficult to quite tell what you are seeing. Smiling as the wheels hit the runway I found my sign – so grateful as it gave me permission to cloud my ego self and stay in my heart and be open to opening whatever there is to find.

I last visited this miraculous country of historic colour and gilded words a decade ago, after which I left re-defined. So while coming here this time was prompted by a Rumi learning group – it is no wonder that I find myself back here on the precipice of who I next get to uncover and be….

Wish me luck – its time!

Do I own my house or does it own me?

As a life coach and a stress and trauma release practitioner, I’m often faced with people dealing with financial stress and overwhelm. They are consistently overworking and their adrenals and nervous systems are under strain.

When i suggest they slow down a bit and make time for self care, building relationships that support them and even going on a vacation – I’m often met with all the reasons they cant. And how they ‘need’ to work to pay off the mortgage or fix the car or buy the new sofa.

It’s at those moments i question how this way of life serves us as human beings? Just yesterday this was personally reinforced for me – i had taken a self care day and was stretched out on a lounger sipping a camomile tea at the local day spa when i received a frantic call from my daughter. The geyser burst!

I’m sure you don’t need me to say more. 15 mins and 7 phone calls later – i found myself racing to the nearest plumb link – with the insurance on hold while i was confirming with the plumber, on the other line, exactly what time he would be able to come out.?

Distractedly kicking off the flimsy white spa slippers, i scurraged for my other Birkenstock in the bag – hopping from one freshly pedicured foot to another on the hot midday tar. Some R3k later i was most grateful that I saved on my incomplete spa day package as I carefully meandered the suburban streets all the while keeping an eye in my rear view mirror on the precariously balanced Geyser tied to the roof rack of my suv.

By sunset i breathed a sigh of relief as i closed the door behind the plumbers and hit send on the last of the 12 documents needed by the insurance agent. Feeling ungrounded and exhausted – i dropped onto my sofa – relieved the day was over. Picking up my phone to peruse tomorrows diary – i admired the blushing pink nail col of a manicure experience long forgotten.

I looked around the house resentful after noticing a chip on my polish on my forefinger – allowing myself to feel my sadness and disappointment of a day hijacked from me. And i pondered the question – why do i own this house? Cos truth be told if it was a rental and i rewind to the moment of receiving the call – i would have called the landlord – enjoyed my full spa package and currently would be luxuriously napping in the aftermath of a pamper day. Instead i spent my day doing what i ‘needed’ to do….

So was i owner or was i slave? R3k down – hijacked pamper day and migraine headache – all to say i own a house! If only the house could speak or laugh? Would it be cracking up at me now – feeling victorious?

So I’m using this eclipse period to let go of the limiting belief that success is measured by the assets i have accumulated and the investment portfolio i have to my name. I choose to live unencumbered by things and property. I choose to rent, hire, Uber instead of acquire or own. I choose to be a slave to no man or THING!

How this will translate – I’m still working on BUT from now on i choose freedom of that which no longer serves me. And it is I who will have the last laugh!

The Soul of the Sea

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The soul of the sea
It calls to me
Swelling
Patiently gathering momentum
‘Go with the flow’ it whispers…
Only to crash
And roar
And then ebb away
Dissipating
Dissolving
Waiting
Regrouping

I look deep within its waters
Searching for the pulse of its wisdom
It’s understanding

I find obstacles
The sea just glides over it
Caressing patiently
Smoothening the rough edges
Overcoming

I find in its depths of depths
Of tiny collective water droplets
It’s secret
Lies in being nothing
But air
Nothing but a space
To hold space
For opportunity

The soul of the sea
Calls to me
And to all my temperaments
In its vast endless nothingness
It reflects
Me

It calls me to remember
Remember the soul of me
The power and might
Of being nothing
Of being everything
The blissful ecstasy
Of submission
Into ecstasy

The soul of the sea is the soul of me.

By Kareema Mitha

My vows

I have always been excited before a trip. It seems the butterflies in my tummy are indifferent as to whether I’m going to a place or heading back home. This normally drives my husband crazy – I start packing too early, toss and turn the night before, reach for my phone at odd hours on the side table to make a note of the charger I must remember, set two alarms (just in case) – and inevitably wake up 3 hours ahead of the alarm cos I can’t sleep anyways. Well 20 years on – I’m still that 😊

When we just got married and could barely afford the road trip from Johannesburg to Durban – on an intern and article clerk salary. I remember we would put our old grey Honda Ballad in neutral rolling down the hills on the last stretch from Pietermaritzburg to Durban -Just to save a couple of liters of fuel.

My husband used to believe these pre travel jitters To go to Durban (just like the night before the first day of school each year) was due to me being really excited to go back ‘home’ – and would take it personally.

So I find myself sitting here in Casa del Neri at 4am – eyes wide shut – surrounded by packed bags, 3 hours ahead of my first alarm. I think it quite fitting that I arrived at Campersevoli ahead of the other residents and greeted it alone and with some fear and dread – and now after two life changing weeks, I get to say bueno Noto – alone and filled with fear and dread.

My flight departs today at 3pm and brings to a close my sacred, Italian pilgrimage. I look back at my first post when I was departing – i was open to whatever the journey would bring. And as I sit here I can safely say it has brought me more than I could have ever imagined. I am altered. Renovated. Parts of me have been demolished and yet others more finely polished. Just yesterday I noticed that my posture has improved, my heart space is more open and my smile more easy. I was afraid and excited at the thought of four weeks alone and faced my fears. So glad I was courageous as I find myself now, so in tune with my spirit – feeling lighter and younger. So comfortable and amazed by who I am, prepared to slay dragons (my own negative thoughts about myself included), for me.

So similarly, I will trust and leap today. I will take flight and head home to face my fears. Fear of leaving this utopia and all my discoveries with it. Fears of integrating all that I have become into my daily life. I will fight the dread that I’m going to resort to old limiting beliefs and habits that no longer serve me. I will honour who I am and cull toxic relationships and build better boundaries. I will spend my day doing mostly that which I love and feeds my soul. I can! And I will!

I will build in timelessness, be awed by the beauty of this planet, eat well and spend lots of time with my favorite person – ME! (Starting to sound narcissistic yet?) I will be sure to turn inwards and take moments to feel touched. I will live lightly!

Most of all I will remember – I am an immortal soul – taking this interlude in a body. And I vow to love, honour, protect and serve this mind, body and soul till death do US part – cos I finally know how….

So blessed and grateful.

Touched

The end of my quest and my voyage is in sight. Started rounding up my things this evening and came across a purchase from the clocks guy in the antique market in Florence. Can’t believe that was just 3 weeks ago. Feels like a time warp. As though that happened aeons ago. I look back and realize I was a different person.

So in keeping with my newly acquainted, amazing Yoga teacher from Hawaii Jennie Lee’s advice – I thought of one word that would intuitively express how I’m feeling today.

And the word that came up for me was ‘touched’.

I’m touched by the beautiful souls from all walks of life that I have met at Lemon Tree House. I’m touched by how I hear in their work, and see in their eyes – the same human spirit – that resides in me. I’m touched by the loving generous support these creatives have offered me. The kind I often find so lacking in people. I’m touched!

After a beautiful Tuscan Electric storm this morning I headed down the hill to Piazze – a little town that offers a weekly Thursday fresh produce market. I was on my way to do my shopping, grab an Italian cappuccino and a much amassage.

I was touched by the sight I have now come to take for granted – of the pines and vineyards rolling around me as far as my eye can see. Of the olive trees with their familiar grey green foliage. And the green buzzing bugs that look like little leaves taking flight.

After my much deserved cappuccino and pastry, I made my way to the massage parlor.

Anticipating the relief from getting the tightness in my shoulders released, I lay face down listening to the ambient sounds of tibetan bowls singing in the background. And then … I was touched. I was Physically touched! My massage was so beautifully flowing and gentle and I forgot how amazing it felt to be touched by another human being. To feel the contact and warmth of skin on skin. After almost 4 weeks of traveling alone I welcomed and received Fredricas healing touch with gratitude.

Relaxed and at peace I knew – even though Italy has seen me, heard me, and even touched me in ways no words can begin to share I’m ready to go home. Ready to hold and be held by my 3 beautiful kids, amazing husband and 2 cats.

Living on love and fresh air

Growing up I would often hear this phrase from adults around me attempting to bring the ‘youngsters’ heads out of the clouds. “You cannot live on love and fresh air” they would say passionately. “You need a means of earning – you need food and clothing and a roof over your head” they would argue with the young lovers, in support of their case.

After my last week at Camporsevoli in Cetono I would challenge this. Surrounded by amazing creative minds who give themselves permission to listen to their hearts and challenge the status quo. In the midst of the pine woods with chatter of squirrels, hooting of owls and the calming buzz of bees and wasps. Housed in stone walls that have tales to tell from the 1200’s. I tell you – I could live on love and fresh air.

At the best of times I have always had a very tricky relationship with food. I ate when I was sad, when I celebrated and when even when i was anxious. I promise you – with all the words whirring in my head, the smell of wine, the sound of sweet poetry and freedom of laughter – I forget to eat. I Just don’t feel hungry! And even when I do eat -it’s sun-drenched ripe peaches, or the rosiest tomatoes and freshest basil – off the plant outside, drizzled with balsamic and Italian olive oil that call me.

So I AM living on love – love for all that is in this world! for the beautiful universe! Love for The amazing tribe I have met, that I feel a part of. Love for my courageous self and my beautiful supportive family. Love for the warm sun and the diving birds and the productive bees. Love for the light butterflies and the delicious joy that fills me.

Yeah! Living on love and fresh air is definitely possible. Sorry to say Old Folk “Quite addictive Too!”

Mirror mirror on the wall….

I have been cocooning the last few days. Loving my Siena hillside escape.

And in this deep space of connection, introspection, writing and and love for all that is – I am seeing people I love and things I do from a different perspective. Maybe it’s the distance or the intoxication of these Tuscan winelands. who knows?

So a school mum, shared with me telephonically how hurt she was by something her dad did to her, how it made her feel alone and abandoned. And I heard her out and empathized and encouraged her to see it from his point of view and forgive and let it go.

The interesting about this scenario is, this same mum did to her 18 year old kid- about 2 years ago -exactly what she just shared, her dad had done to her. What amazed me – was how she couldn’t see it.? How when I brought it to her attention she denied that it was the same thing and truly couldn’t see it. It was really as if she had reframed what she had done to her own daughter and the memory of the event is now forever stored in this ‘easier to believe’ rewritten script.

Shortly after this incident I heard my best friend reflect on how supportive and accepting she had been to me during my difficult personal processing times. Now this is no new friend – a friend of decades: and again I was stunned. Cos from my point of view the way she ‘supported’ me was to dissociate from me and not address the areas I was dealing with nor the means by which I was trying to clarify. And I really used to feel quite alone and neglected, but assumed this was the way she could cope.

So what I took from this was-:

1) An understanding that we recreate stories about our own shadow parts – that we find difficult to integrate – and then believe these fictional stories about events. To help us cope? Maybe..

2) And when we deal with others, we do for them what we think they need without communicating to ask if thats what they needed in the first place. Why? Are we afraid they might ask more of us – and we will have to admit to ourselves that the ‘more’ is out of our comfort zone and accept that we can’t give them what they need? Or is it cos we assume we know what’s best for them? Or better yet – do we prefer being oblivious to their needs and play the whole thing out so we can tell ourselves we are a good friend?

These human anomalies, memory glitches even downright untruths we tell ourselves -have got me looking into myself and shining the light on my shadow aspects and the stories I tell myself to be able to better face myself in the mirror.

It’s been an exercise of looking at who I have been from someone else’s perspective – and then asking myself whether I could have done it any better? If not, I forgive myself for any pain I might have caused and I own it. I own that I’m not ‘supportive’ or ‘the best parent ever’ – not all of the time and not to everyone. I own that I can be inadequate in that area and flag it (if I think it necessary) as an area of improvement.

This mirror I tell you it lies. It’s about looking deeper than the illusion we first see. Deeper than the perception we create about ourselves. It is work for the brave – time to call out the inner lion or lioness!

Creative genius

So this morning I woke up to the sunshine after a couple of days of rain in the Certona Valley of Siena.

It’s been 2 very emotional days here – I have watched my limiting beliefs creep into my thoughts and leave me quite paralyzed at times. My inner critic has been having a feast – surrounded by phenomenal, successfully published authors with Masters in Fine Arts and multiples genres on their belts – it’s no wonder why holding my own has been challenging. This physical body with its physical identity of separating one from another needed to be managed.

As I sat at the orientation brunch of this two week writers residency programme and heard everyone share their projects and their challenges and the messages they are attempting to share with the world – I felt myself connect to this safety circle and re-member ‘I am a soul’ – I am as they are, as we are! All divine- all one!

And once I let that go – the magic has unfolded. It’s been Christmas morning every morning. The day reveals little hidden gifts – I just have to re-member who I am and I receive.

I thank my generous spouse and truly awesome kids for all their coaching, love and support that allows me to build my tribe. My tribe of creative genius …, very blessed!