Contentment…

How many chapters are there in a life time?  I feel like I am entering a new chapter right now and not just because I have recently moved to another country but also as my age ripens and my being changes, mentally and physically in subtle but developing ways.  I am also enjoying the first chapter of married life which is testing our commitment to the vows we made less than a year ago and challenging us to explore the depths of a harmonious and happy life together; as well as keeping our status quo as individuals!

Before you can make anyone else happy you need to be content within yourself and this is not always straight forward on a daily basis.   For example, at the moment I am feeling a little out of sorts and unsettled with moving to South Africa but I am trying to focus on not letting these feelings get the better of me or shrowd the bigger picture, for if they do, they will also come into my relationship in a negative way.  Instead I am trying to by all means share my feelings, a problem shared is a problem halved as they say, but also step back from them.  Keeping contentment in mind gives me a hugely satisfied feeling and appreciation for what I have in my life.

Contentment is not to be confused with ones desires, for desires just create cravings and the want for more.  Contentment is found in every day things, appreciating what you have in the very moment you are in.   Even if it is turning out to be a bad day find one of the thousand things around you that is giving you contentment.  For example,  walking in the great outdoors, eating some fresh fruit,  catching up for coffee with a friend, holding the hand of someone you love, watching the sun rise or set!  They exist every where, you just need to focus on them rather than the areas making you feel blue or frustrated.

Living in contentment takes some practice and it is most easily done in the joyous times but it can become very effective if you can equally embrace it during difficult moments.  When you learn how to be content during the challenging and tough times you become truly free.  Just as important is the ability to accept the people in our lives for who they truly are, and not what we want them to be.  This is also the secret to wedded bliss!

Cup of coffee with the shape of a heart in the milk.

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”    Buddha.

Feeling good… in mind and body…

Well I don’t know if it is the euphoria brought on by the recent Super Moon or my yoga class but this week everything feels great!  Having always been a high impact, full exertion or nothing at all type of exercise goer, I am finding Hatha yoga surprisingly enjoyable.   For a long time now I have been meaning to give it more of a chance than the odd session here and there.  This year it was on my new years resolution list, again!

Perhaps it’s my age creeping up too but if I plan on living as long as I want to, the joints need some reprieve from boxing and running.  So I have finally succeeded in taking yoga up.  I started in January in Melbourne and have now found a wonderful place to continue my practise overlooking the ocean in Camps Bay!  (Yes, I do feel rather lucky!).

There are many descriptions but to summarise from wikipedia – “Hatha yoga represents opposing energies: hot and cold (fire and water, following similar concept as yin-yang), male and female, positive and negative. Hatha yoga attempts to balance mind and body via physical postures or “asanas”, purification practices, controlled breathing, and the calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation. Asanas teach poise, balance and strength and are practiced to improve the body’s physical health and clear the mind in preparation for meditation”.

I am finding it is especially helpful during this time of transition, when although on the outside I may seem confidently settled in to my new environment, I am still having troublesome dreams and feel a little anxious at times about the future.  It’s human nature, but the best strategy is to keep putting life into perspective, to make the most of every day and focus on the positive.

In other ways I am almost anxious because life suddenly seems too good to be true or is that just how it should feel in the sanctuary of marriage!  Well, not only was it the super moon this weekend but it was also the two-year anniversary from the happy day (22/06/11) when my dearest asked for my hand in marriage!  Now I am not saying it is always complete harmony, it is indeed a path with many ups and downs, but we are still making each other smile most of all.

Anyway, back to the point!  I find taking the time out to even do just fifteen minutes of yoga and quite simply breathing, first thing in the morning, can really start the day up in the most positive way.  The trick is getting up on time to make sure you can squeeze this in to your usual routine.  The benefits far out way the extra fifteen minutes in bed.  I will be honest, sometimes I can take some convincing to persuade myself (especially now when it is dark and cold!), but the more you do it the easier it becomes.  Go on, give it a go!  Oh yes, and most importantly, a smile for the first person who enters your world that day and I bet you will get one back.

Namaste’   – “I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.”   Mahatma Gandhi.

Blue sky.

Palm trees make me smile!

Coming from Yorkshire I still get very excited when I see a palm tree as you certainly won’t find many, if any, there!   To me they depict tropical holidays and far away places!  “Where the wild things are!”  (One of my favourite childhood books).

I just came from Beach Street in Melbourne where the road was lined with palms and once again I find them right outside my front door here in Cape Town!  Isn’t life just one big tropical holiday all of a sudden!   Well not quite but I am trying to keep my chin up whilst going through the (to be expected) anxiety brought on from moving to a new country.  If you go back to some of my posts earlier in the year you will discover my excitement, trepidation and words of wisdom on how to settle in to a foreign land.  Well I am trying to eat my own words right now!

I guess one needs to remember to take each day as it comes, there will be good days and bad days.  Don’t be too hard on oneself when you have a day of disillusionment and nothing seems to be going your way, leaving you feeling isolated and disheartened.  There is always the prospect of a brand new day tomorrow and the attitude as to how to tackle it is entirely in one’s own mind.

So today on my early morning walk to get the blood flowing, grab a coffee and find the local yoga studio (exercise always helps), I took hope and positivity from the beautiful winters day (rather similar to a pleasant English Summer’s day, so no complaints here!) and the strong tall palm trees which made me smile with holiday joy!

Palm trees.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”.     Christopher Robin to Pooh – A.A.Milne

Settling in to Cape Town……

My computer is fired up but the internet is currently a little intermittent, persevering all the same!  Just getting settled in at the moment and trying to laugh at the hilarity (instead of getting frustrated!!) at not knowing basic things like which way to turn out of the front door for starters?!  Where is the supermarket?  How do I get a phone?  Setting up a bank account? etc. etc.  Starting all over again basically!  The period of floating between two countries, having no house keys and only a suitcase in tow didn’t last long!  Now it is back to reality, only it is a very bright, shiny new reality that is different again to anywhere I have lived thus far!

Things do seem to go rather round the houses here before they get done but then I have got to appreciate the laid back vibe!  Going to the car registration office was like stepping into a time machine from every aspect from the systems and service to the decor, mood and lighting!  What was apparently supposed to be an instant administration turned into 2 days and now it is a week and it could be longer….. hey ho…. it is some where in the pipeline!

The good news is once it is granted I am going to get myself some wheels to drive around in.  This will be the first car I have ever owned!  You have got to commend me for my minimal carbon footprint!  I have been riding a bike and using public transport for years but living in Cape Town it is going to be much easier and safer if I have my own car…… yes very excited about this!  Although I can’t help feeling uncomfortable that now I am in a much poorer country I will finally own a car, it seems rather controversial.  Something I am going to have to get used to in many ways whilst living here.  Part of my purpose in being here though is to find ways to improve and add value to the community no matter how small they are and I hope to keep you posted on my endeavours as time goes by.

Watching out on the roads needs to be emphasized!  I have already noticed driving is some what erratic and the road rules are certainly not adhered to in all cases.  I have seen five accidents so far and noticed drivers bored at a set of red lights who decided they couldn’t wait any longer so just went anyway.  Never mind the number of people who play russian roulette with their bodies just running across the roads at any given moment amidst the high speed motorists.  I felt terrible for the road workers who were fixing some tarmac in the middle of four lanes of traffic whilst it sped past them.  No cordoning off the area or closing a lane whilst they carried out their task!   Health and safety in the UK or Australia would be having a conniption!

And where’s the fun in this…. no hooting!  Well I will make sure I don’t do any honking either….but I fear it may be absolutely necessary!

A sign post saying "No Hooting!"

An unexpected delay and a spectacular display…

Well, departing Australia was not quite as straight forward as I had hoped.  It seemed too good to be true that everything was going according to plan!  I must admit I was a little nervous of the thick fog which had enveloped Sydney for the previous two mornings prior to our departure day and there it was again when “D-day” arrived!  However, in the end it was not the fog that delayed our departure but a strange unidentifiable smell on the aircraft coming from the cockpit!  Now I could make a number of jokes at this stage but I will let your own mind carry you into that cul-de-sac of thoughts if you so wish!

Anyway the point is, the smell was so concerning we were held up at Melbourne airport while they inspected further.  Luckily there was no down wind effect for us and we sat contemplating the new departure time!  A voice over the tannoy explained all passengers connecting on to international flights should not be concerned as the fog had caused havoc and flights out of Sydney were delayed all round.  So it seemed the fog was now our friend and we might be able to catch up and make our connection in the end!

Some considerable time later and after another four or five announcements up-dating us of the status, it was finally deemed the aircraft was not safe for travel and they would be preparing a new plane for take off as soon as possible.   So here begins the even lengthier delay which meant by the time we were disembarked and re-embarked, everybody’s luggage was moved and accounted for, someone bailed entirely and their luggage had to be re-found and removed, etc. etc…. the departure time really did not warrant the ungodly hour at which we had scraped ourselves out of bed.

In the end we were finally airborne and made it to Sydney in half the flight time it usually takes… (just shows how much traffic there is in the air these days and the buffer they factor in).  However we were still much later than the original arrival time and it was to our great dismay as we watched all the other passengers on international flights be quickly ushered to their waiting aircraft, whilst my husband and I were the only two remaining passengers bound for Johannesburg on the 9.55am flight and it had actually taken off right on time!

There were now two options presented to us, be flown to Perth and hang out until much later that night to fly or stay the night in Sydney and start again tomorrow.   We chose the latter being thoroughly exhausted from all the leaving parties, packing and sleepless nights of late.  Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise!  A day to ourselves to do nothing but take a load off!

So we did just that, collapsing into the bed of our complimentary hotel room for a quick power nap before seizing the opportunity to say good-bye to Sydney!  And what a treat it was when we realised it was Vivid Live, a celebration of Australia’s most iconic stages.  An amazing display of immersive light installations and projections were being used to light the sail’s of the stunning Sydney Opera House, projected onto it as though it were an artists canvas.  Many of the surrounding buildings were also glowing and changing before our eyes.  In the end it meant our good-bye to Australia was much more spectacular than anticipated and we were able to appreciate this great place one last time with a delicious fish supper down at the Rocks, followed by a stroll around the quay whilst staring up at the striking Harbour Bridge and Opera House all a glow with these incredible displays!

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After such an eventful day we slept like babies and the next morning upon returning to the airport we were soon checked in and sitting back flying over the Opera House and on our way!  In the end our big departure wasn’t upset too much by the chain of events that were out of our control and we made the most of the situation.  After all, the next chapter is going to be an even bigger journey and waiting one more day really wasn’t going to make much difference.  If I had been going on holiday for a week I would certainly have been a little more disappointed to lose a day!  Even so, sometimes when events change direction beyond our control it is best to sit back and enjoy the ride, maybe something wonderfully unexpected will happen that otherwise you might not have seen!  I think this example was certainly nothing short of spectacular!

After about seven hours of flying the excitement wore off and the longevity of the flight wore in!   It is a very long way from Australia to South Africa!   At one point I thought it would be a breeze versus the two lengthy flights that usually take me back to England for a visit.  However it is the huge change in time zones that gets you and with there only being one hours time difference between Cape Town and London the adjustment is pretty much the same coming from Australia.  Flying back in time does not take the age off you that is for sure!

Exhausted but with a slight hint of an up curl at the corner of our mouths when we got to Johannesburg, we pushed on with our last burst of energy onto the flight from Jo’burg to Cape Town.  I tried desperately hard not to nod like a dog and slapped my cheeks to stay awake…. (the slapping of cheeks doesn’t work by the way!).  This last leg was an absolute killer because really it was the early hours of the morning for us after an exceptionally long day, even though we had been sitting down for most of it!  Yawning and delirious we finally made it to our destination and looked to the Mother City to engulf us into bed!

What happened next is some what of a blur until I recall waking up in a comfy bed shrouded by darkness to the sounds of pelting rain and crunching thunder!  We came in with one almighty storm and were literally engulfed by rain, slate, waves and water!  Now I am not sure what the elements were trying to tell us here but it was certainly an incredible welcome committee to the Cape with flashing lightning and pouring rain for the majority of the weekend!

I am happy to have made it safe and sound with all our suitcases in tow (fingers crossed for the shipment on the sea) and since arrival it has been a case of taking each day as it comes.  My dreams are very peculiar and adjustments to our new home will take a little time but my eyes are wide with excitement and intrigue.  My biggest fear was for my computer which finally arrived yesterday, one week after me, and hence here I am jumping straight back on my blog and coming at you for the first time from Cape Town!

So here the new adventure begins….