Saturday, September 27, 2014

You Always Take the Weather With You

So part of this trip is learning how to accept things as they are. I posted a photo album on facebook the other day and to look at it, you’d think my trip was this magical fairyland of beautiful sunrises, sunsets, walks on the beach and loving life.

If I were someone else that might be my experience but as I am me, I carry all my baggage along with me. There are moments I’ve enjoyed, don’t get me wrong. I’m not ungrateful. There are also many moments that I’ve been homesick, missing my sister, missing my dog, missing my house and all my stuff. I’ve been wishing for a long time now that I could get back to work. Start another shop and do something rewarding and useful.
For a long time my identity was tied up with being sick. I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease eight years ago and my world imploded. I lost my business and bounced between anxiety and depression. I discovered Reiki and it changed my life in ways that are still unfolding. I have been fortunate to find a Reiki teacher here who can give me the rest of my training and it has given me a sense of purpose, a feeling that this year isn’t for nothing.

As I’ve gotten older, I have gotten better at accepting things but sometimes it seems harder than usual. I was doing alright in Charlottesville. I enjoyed my home and my books and my office. When you’re married, it can’t be all about what you want and for the last few years my husband has been feeling pulled to spend more time in South Africa with his family.

The upside of that is getting to see beautiful places and travelling. The downside is the upheaval of everything that I find comfortable and safe. I’ve decided that this is the last trip for awhile. I want to work on getting my life back and playing to my strengths instead of hurling myself into these situations where I feel like I’m being thrashed about by a washing machine (which matches today’s weather by the way. I walked out on the beach and it’s blowing a gale and the sea is churning and the sand is blowing across the beach pelting anyone who dares to walk near with tiny grains of sand.)

My experience in South Africa is always mixed. On the one hand you have incredible beauty. The plants alone make my heart sing. I’ve never seen such variety of flowers and palms and indigenous plants as I see here on a daily basis. There is also the open friendliness of the people and the beautiful climate and the ocean.

On the other hand this is a place with a lot of suffering. The crime rate is high, the poverty rate equally high. Some days the beach is filled with trash and it’s hard not to hate people for behaving like pigs. Other days, people gather to pick up trash or maybe I do and then I feel better about the way things are.

Another example of the way things are here is the slowly failing infrastructure. As the years go on and funds get scarce you see things starting to fall apart. The life guard tower has been shedding glass windows and parts of its roof since we’ve lived here and with the high wind, there is always a sense that it’s going to fall on someone. The inside of this huge building is held up by makeshift beams. The lifeguards are probably taking a chance with their lives by staying in this building. There is also the regular practice of illegal dumping of sewage into the rivers that join the sea. The air quality is poor due to the lack of simple things like catalytic converters on cars. It’s a third world country and I guess these things are to be expected.

To be fair, looking at the other side, I have probably seen more happy people here than I see back home. Almost everyone seems to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. There is less complaining here than in the States. People make the most of what’s here and I admire that. When there is a holiday, people have fun.

There is also a thriving artist community here. Many creative people know each other and there is a love of art and craft here that I used to see back home before the recession and the wars made everyone more cautious and less likely and able to spend money. Hopefully that’s changing because I want to go back to my art and jewelry making and all the things I love to do.

I know there are lessons for me to learn here and I am trying. I’m sitting here looking out to sea. It’s wild but beautiful. I’d never be able to afford to have a view like this back home. I’m trying not to make missing home a reason not to enjoy what this place has to offer. Today I’ve made fresh juice with carrot, celery, cucumber, apple and lemon. It’s delicious and just that is something to be grateful for.

I also just found out that my latest manuscript has been accepted by my publisher which is also a big reason to celebrate. It gives me something to work on and I feel a sense of accomplishment that helps when I feel overwhelmed by anxiety and depression. I’m trying to practice acceptance. That’s really all I can do since all I have is this moment right here.

Cheers from South Africa

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