For the last few months of this year I have been working from South Africa. The beauty of the diverse and colourful nature, the sunny bright smiling faces and slower pace of life leave their mark in the heart every time. Leaving the brightness of summer in the Southern hemisphere I just got back to greet the cosy winter chill of the Northern hemisphere again. Reaching the end of another year also brings up thoughts of endings, re-evaluation and taking stock. A necessary aspect to help us leave behind what needs to let go off and to get ready to greet the New Year’s wonderful challenges and surprises that are yet unknown. 2018 seemed quite a challenging year for many people. I also got to feel the full force of some incredible curve balls thrown by the universe, unexpected challenges and major ‘life plan’ changes. Unexpected changes are painful and processing of this takes often much longer than we would like and are prepared for. What seemed to help me the most in the last year was to physically move more: a lot of walking and hiking and being out connecting with nature as much as possible. It helps to clear the head, thoughts, and physical and psychologically moving forward. Working near Cape Town, I could not miss the opportunity to explore some of the diverse nature hikes. The picture in this blog is from top of Lion's Head mountain (between Table Mountain and Signal Hill) overlooking parts of Cape Town and across to the West Coast where you can see Blouberg Strand in the distance. Walking, hiking, climbing up some mountains seemed like an important metaphor this year. It helps to reach a different perspective, a bird's eye view. In a way to see things differently compared to down below up and too close in the detail. Moving our bodies in itself can be an important metaphor for moving ahead and forward, counteracting stuckness. We can get ideas how to overcome obstacles in new ways or find answers in the symbolism we can find through our connection with nature. So not JUST the usual effects of well-being by being outdoors…
"It is not so much the meaning of life that we seek but our aliveness. When we have that, the meaning of life is obvious." Anodea Judith
(from her book: "Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self" - or see kindle or audio version)
One of the things that helps us get unstuck is to get out and re-kindle our sense of awe and inspiration by exploring. It can just be our locality and seeing the diversity and the little things. For example the Krom River hike, slightly east of Cape Town starting just after the Huguenot bridge mountain pass is definitely worth doing. (You can get day permits at the Du Kloof Lodge). The hike is about 7 km long up into the mountains following along a mountain stream...In my year-end newsletter you can see a few photos accompanying this blog.
Following the river trail up the mountains, listening to the gushing water sounds in the heat of the early morning - so healing for the senses. We passed various rock pools, with its diverse plant and animal life. The colours, textures, tannin (‘tea’-) coloured rocks in the cleansing fresh drinking quality mountain water - awakened a sense of awe. And the ability to stop and smell and listen, and see the little things with a different sense of appreciation.
At the end of the 7km hike, you will find a waterfall with gushing clear mountain water from up high. To reach this last bit, you had to climb up a steep rock face with the help of chains that have been secured in the rock wall. The fresh water pours continuously into a very big ice-cold rock pool that is deep and large enough to swim in. Immersing into this fully, feeling the real pain of the ice water changes soon into feeling cleansed and refreshed, washing the strains of the heat of the climb away. Ready for the next part of the journey.
The beautiful views of Camps Bay from high up on Lion’s Head mountain, right next to Table mountain. Breathtaking. Seeing the views from up high, can help us discover the hidden beauty and colours we would not have seen in the same way from down below. The textures and colours, the feeling of being up in the clouds that pass by, refreshing rain, breathing the wind; then sunshine to uncover this turquoise colour.
The climb takes about two hours depending on how often you stop or take a break. Here you see part of Table Mountain to the right of the image to the back. You see the national Protea flower plant to the left of the image in the foreground. It was a moment of feeling the solid earth of the ground underneath you. The terrain looked dramatic with many shadows the moving clouds threw onto the ground.
Metalasia aurea is a genus of African flowering plants and part of the natural fynbos in the area. The bright yellow bundled parts you can see in this image are found everywhere on Lion’s Head. Their strong sweet honey and aromatic herbal smell is very distinct and a real sensory pleasure added to the hiking experience. In the background Table Mountain in the clouds.
Sometimes it can be infuriating. Being patient. Waiting for things to pass. Yet in nature all things happen at their own pace, at the right time. Sometimes our grieving process isn't fast enough. Sometimes we feel held back or not coming up with ideas fast enough or good enough. Can we let that go? Can we create more space to let things happen? At their own pace? In my year-end newsletter you find a photograph of beautiful snail after a heavy rain in the mountains. She signifies much wisdom to me. Something to ponder about and cherish for 2019.
Letting go is also about perspective. Slow or fast, high or low, too much or too little, hot or cold - ambiguity and polarities are not only part of our thinking world but also our feeling world. It can have its positive sides to help us see different perspectives. But it requires fluidity and balance to allow us accessing these. It is in the end how we feel and what we make of it, at each moment in time and to trust to go with it. And to let go off our fears to allow new impressions to enter into our hearts and minds...
With this in mind, what might need to be important for you to let go off this year? What have you learned and what would you like to change or start going forward into 2019?
With this, I am wishing you all a very happy New Year 2019!