Tribes!

You already know I have a thing about tribes right? If not, it’s time you did. We’re on day eleven (I think) of our #SevenFerries trip to the UK to get some paperwork sorted then back again via Portugal and Spain to try ride some of the #CaminoWay on Daisy! Not as a spiritual journey but because we were close by anyway, and I’d always thought I’d like to walk here, (then when I couldn’t walk any more – certainly not any kind of distance), I thought I’d never do this. So in some ways this is a bit of up “up yours!” at mah Eeds as I ride bits of it instead.

We arrived via ferry from the UK a couple of hours ago and we’re tucked inside doing work for the book launch week and writing madly for the next two books. We love wild camping and there’s nothing quite like sitting in Molly working away. But some of the camping is a bit odd. In France they provide free spots of mostly small green patches, but in Spain they do things differently.

They use sporting facility car parks and other tarmac areas that otherwise sit empty. It sounds very odd but it’s brilliant and so clever. Like the French, these stops have rubbish, water, and dumpling facilities for a small fee. It’s often not as pretty, but when you’re only staying to sleep, it really doesn’t matter once it’s dark.

It’s safe, you know you’re welcome, but above all, it feels great to be amongst our own. We’re surrounded by mostly huge beasts, so we’re the babies by a long shot, but as the sun goes down and little lights go on and the little homes light up with cooking and chatting and settling in for the night, as bicycles are strapped down and dishes are washed and out comes the red wine, we feel like we belong in this strange tribe. We’re in the middle of a miniature village.

The guy in the van in front of us offered to move (we didn’t need him to but thanked him), but he doesn’t speak a word of English. Our tribe is made up of all kinds of people from all over the planet. We’re bound by one thing only; this place and our similar journeys! One that knits us together just a little bit. 😊

Nighty night from Spain!!

PS: My Africa my Home eBook is on sale today and tomorrow if you didn’t get your copy before launch!! http://getbook.at/MyAfricamyHome

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Camino!

We are so way off track it’s not funny! We were “supposed” to be doing one of the Camino walking tracks on Daisy through the north of Portugal and Spain on this, our #SevenFerries trip. We hadn’t locked in anything yet other than Ferry number Five from southern France next Tuesday, but we had a whole ten days to look around the place and work out which tracks were actually ridable and find some we could manage on Daisy (and I could manage with my health).

We stopped in Porto for a couple of nights and had a blast. I still need to blog about that I think, but I’m too busy living, writing, and hanging out with him, that there just isn’t enough time. Not that it’s all a bed of roses mind you, we are working our butts off on writing/publishing, we’re working on the stuff we’ve taken this two-year sabbatical to do,  and we’re working on our plans for our Second Half which is set to begin, God willing, towards the end of next year.

We thought we could see the world (or at least much of Europe) in these two years but we’re nearly halfway and we haven’t even begun!! Anyway, I digress (much like this trip) and one last minute decision after another and we found ourselves in the south of Portugal with not enough time for Caminos in the north, pouring rain (so no riding) and trying to find the fastest route to our next ferry port in France yet desperate to get in at least a few days riding!

And that’s when we discovered the Camino Natural Via Verde de la Sierra. Vias Verde are green belts across Spain which are disused train tracks of varying lengths which have been restored for walkers, cyclists and travellers. Much like other Caminos or trails, they are tranquil and beautiful, but unlike many of the older paths which now run alone roadways, these are void of all motorised traffic, and they are wide and flat (both in width and inclines and declines – because that’s what trains do).

In true Spanish style, the rules about no livestock, no vehicles, no animal poop are thoroughly ignored, and I look forward to putting up some videos of us riding through a herd of newborn lambs, one with a death wish.

Yesterday, we rode the Sierra route which is 36 km long, but because we always have to land up in the same spot, we had to ride it both ways! It was the first time I’ve covered over 60km (we did 74 in the end) first time I’ve climbed over 700m in height over a ride, and the twice as long as my longest day with four and half hours in the saddle! We also rode through 60 train tunnels!!

That shows how easy it was and reminded me to dig out my very first Pino ride to show you how it works. (I’ll post both videos on my Facebook author page too)

Anyway, I’m way behind on Why We Don’t Tell which has to go to the final editors in a couple of weeks, so this is a brief catch up.

Tonight was our first sunshine in a week and we’ve moved camp to the edge of this olive grove that reaches as far as the eye can see in every direction… A new via verde tomorrow and then we have to zoom north as fast as we can. And somehow I’ve got to find the time to write!!

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Monkeyspheres!

I bring up this topic every couple of years because I’m so passionate about tribes and belonging and lepers and communities and I talk about Mondkeyspheres so much. The original article is HERE and it’s written by a guy called David Wong. I loved this article the first time I read it (sorry about the bad language!) and couldn’t do a better job of it if I tried. Plus, he should get the credit anyway. This is his take on tribes and it sure rings true for me!

It’s all about those circles of social interaction we talk about; you know, the rings of Saturn as my friend Pam says… concentric rings of people we care about – or not.

Anyway, his article starts off like this:

“One death is a tragedy. One million deaths is a statistic.”
Kevin Federline

What do monkeys have to do with war, oppression, crime, racism and even e-mail spam? You’ll see that all of the random ass-headed cruelty of the world will suddenly make perfect sense once we go Inside the Monkeysphere.

“What the Hell is the Monkeysphere?”

First, picture a monkey. A monkey dressed like a little pirate, if that helps you. We’ll call him Slappy.

If you want to read the rest, click on the link (HERE it is again) and tell me what you think!

Monkeyshperes

Here are the main preorder links, but you can get it on all the Amazon sites: Just click on your region and it’ll take you right there – USAusUK, and Canada.

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What Constitutes a Happy New Year?

My newsfeeds are filled with wishes for the new year, blog posts and articles on how to claim happiness, commiserations over what appears to have been a pretty horrible 2018 for many, and endless recipes on how to be “happy” in 2019.

Many are clichés, most are variations on the same theme, and no doubt, all come with good intentions. The world teaches us that it’s up to us to make our own happiness, that whatever we put out into the world will be returned at the very least, and that each of us has as much control over our lives as we want to.

At the same time my newsfeeds, through 2018, have also been littered with trauma, sorrow, sadness, frustration, pain, and loss, from people who are good, kind, giving, loving, hard-working and self-sacrificing.

What’s clear is that the world isn’t fair. We rarely get what we wish for and when we do it might not be the best thing for us.

For me, 2018 was hard! It wasn’t anything I expected. It was harder but better, exhausting beyond measure but so filled with blessings I find it selfish to complain about all the hard stuff. But I also felt like I I’d been hit by a truck, and woke up on the last day of 2018 feeling as though I have so little control over my life and that it’s a complete zoo.

So I threw off the covers, had a big moan to a dear friend, deleted it, then pulled on my big girl pants, wrote a few lists, took my daughter-in-law out for morning tea and a bit of a shop, shook the cobwebs out my head, chatted with God (prayed), made some major decisions, straightened out my priorities, rearranged my 2019 calendar completely, and by mid afternoon I was doing something I haven’t done in years; put my feet up with a paperback book, and actually laughed out loud – a lot!

It was marvellous! Why hadn’t I done this a long time ago? It was New Year’s Eve, so I read some more, we saw all the family, we moved our bedding to the pull out couch (where the sun wouldn’t wake us up at 5am any more), watched the Sydney fire works at our 9pm, and climbed into bed feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

But the neighbours had other ideas. They threw open their doors and windows, cranked the sound up to full blast, screeched at each other over the music, and played “Simon Says” till five in the morning.

It wasn’t just loud, it was deafening, and the stop/start of the music constantly jolted our bodies the moment we thought we could cope. We even tried just enjoying the music, but none of it was consistent and I don’t think they played a whole song all night. I’d treated myself to a sleeping tablet so while I was never asleep neither was I ever quite awake either. It was mind numbingly dreadful!

And a huge reminder that we have such little control over our lives that I wonder why I bother sometimes.

It’s not to say we have no control. Buying Daisy and riding a hundred and sixty kilometres this week alone, and being careful what I eat means that since mid December I’ve lost the pounds that Bertha (the bitch of a damaged hip) put on over July, August and September. And my New Years resolution for 2019 is to lose the weight put on since Frank (my damaged foot), do all the personal work we’d committed to doing post “retirement”, as well as publish three books, ride the Danube and ride across Belgium, and more…

BUT…. and here’s the really important bit; the control isn’t all mine. We live in a broken, damaged, Godless world, and so much is beyond my control. So in 2019 I also plan to build in way more buffer zones, to bring back more of the self care, to join the library again and read more books! To fly overseas way less, …but stay longer, breathe slower, to stand back more, to let others make their own mistakes. To shed the weight but also the burdens that were never mine to carry.

To take time to cherish more, eat better, and prepare for our second half of adult life in the ways we said we would. I’m sure that none of these things will bring any happiness as such, and that no matter how planful and careful we are in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll have no more control of those things around us than we did in 2019. But maybe we’ll get to accomplish more of the truly important things we’ve set out to conquer? Maybe we’ll have a little more sleep through the process? And hopefully we’ll be setting ourselves up better for all the journeys ahead of us.

What would a “happy” 2019 look like for you?

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Looking Back on 2018!

I stopped sending Christmas cards about a decade ago, and the end of annual newsletters came not far behind. I’m not sure I was ever any good at either and I know few people who do them well.

Too much to brag about, too much to complain about; the best and worst are often invisible or too hard to capture in a single photo or a few words anyway. Or they’re way too personal or too few people even care… the list of reasons why they’re so inadequate is long…

But I guess one still needs to somehow reflect on the last day of the year right?

2018 has been a roller coaster of note, and I’m struggling to wrap my head around everything that’s happened – planned or otherwise. I’m sure to the outside world we appear totally crazy and I often wake up wondering the same thing.

But I guess the bottom line for me, what I want people to know the most, is that in the quiet, prayerful moments when I remember what we are doing and why, I feel peaceful and content and ever so thankful. I’m not good at explaining much of it, but I do want people to know that there is reason and method in all this madness somewhere and that it isn’t nearly as random as it may appear.

I realise this all appears rather cryptic and I apologise for that. I constantly think “if I can just get enough sleep, enough time to write properly, enough days in one spot, enough this, that or the next thing… then I’ll regain an appearance of control of my life again and it won’t appear to be a complete zoo!” … but I’m not sure I’ll ever get any of those things and if I did manage to get them, I doubt I’d actually be in any more control than I am now?

When I look back on 2018 I’m not sure I’d do a whole lot differently? Ok, I take that back, I’d do lots of things better, slower, less thoughtfully (I tend to over think things, try too much and too hard), I think I’d have let go of more, been a little more “selfish”, tried to fix less things and allowed more people to make their own mistakes?

I’ll save what I hope to do differently in 2019 for the next post, but for now, thanks to all of you so much for reading, commenting, supporting, and putting up with me! Thanks soooo much for all the encouragement and personal contact! Thanks for all the amazing new friends and experiences, thanks to our amazing children for putting up with us! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this year in such positive ways.

No thanks to those who didn’t. I’ll not comment on those who tried to steal from us or derail us, those who tried to bring us down or make our choices all about them. It’s shocked me (even though it shouldn’t) how selfish people can be … from total strangers to those among the ranks of what were once our greatest supporters…. I’ll leave the negative at that.

It’s been a year of grandbabies and travels and changes and celebrations and losses and exhaustion and on the very last day of the year I think more than ever I need to retreat a little bit more and nurture myself better… whatever that means…

And as always, I’m off to cuddle and celebrate and be thankful with my pre iota babies and their families…

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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Identity Theft

Identity theft is real. You haven’t heard from us in a while because despite the enormous efforts we go to, to protect ourselves from this evil in the world, late last week we became the victims of identity fraud. Someone, or an organised group of someone’s, stole our identities. Not Facebook identities either …. we’re talking about major financial institutions here.

It’s been a difficult weekend and few days with not only sleepless nights (not so much from worry but from being emotionally charged and wired, and from making hours of extremely frustrating phone calls during overseas office hours… i.e. after midnight for us!!), but countless hours of hard, frustrating and boring work.

I’m not going to go into any more details for now because this is an ongoing fraud investigation, but it’s important for me to tell you this as there are loopholes in processes, and evil people constantly searching for both those loop holes and your details.

I feel like I’m forever sharing details about why you should NEVER fill in Facebook (and other) quizzes, and people scoff and say “what’s the harm”. But THIS is the harm. We survived this because we are vigilant about our security and had we not been so “over-careful”, the outcome could well have been very very different.

We could have lost much of what we own, and the fight’s not yet over …. by a long shot. This is going to take months to fix, and we can only pray that we don’t lose anything along the road ahead. In many ways, our lives have been put on hold for the past four days (and nights), and will continue to be to a lesser degree, but for months to come. So please bear with us for a while if we aren’t as attentive as we’d like to be.

There a few things to note about this, as warning to others…

  • There isn’t anything we could have done to avoid this.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we are vigilant (without being paranoid) about keeping passwords secret and highly encrypted.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we read all those boring emails from financial institutions, which showed us (not them) that something was amiss, and we jumped in quickly.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we are vigilant about what we share and engage in.
  • Here are some of the absolute basics on keeping your identity as safe as possible.
    • Understand that everything you share leaves a footprint. Those footprints are gathered and sold… to “honest” advertising companies and crooks alike. Computers collate that information and gather all your details from different places over many years.. decades even. There is a cache of information out there on YOU. You can find it.
      Those “quizzes” you have so much fun with, gather your connections to others, and build your cache. Slowly they work out your school, age, mother’s maiden name and so on. And even if your current security question is not “what’s the name of your first boyfriend?”, in ten years time it might be, and you’ll have forgotten that you answered it somewhere along the line in a game or a conversation. You make yourself a target. You become easy prey… low hanging fruit.
      You might feel “safe” now, but if you share info about who your family are, and your family does the quizzes… well, hopefully you get the picture? You filling out the quiz can cost your family or friend everything they own!

    We’ve been vigilant. Our info caches are all but empty. Yet it didn’t stop the thieves from stealing our identity and passing through some of the major security checks, in big, well known, financial institutions. But they only got so far. Again, this isn’t petty, and it’s not about someone hacking my Facebook account either, or even spamming my friends with false information. This is about gaining access to potentially everything we own.

    PS: please forgive me the next time you do a “quiz” on who you were in another life, what you will look like when you’re old etc, or when you share ANYTHING that says “copy and paste this to your wall…” or “I bet no one will share this!…” etc etc etc… and I am less than kind to you!

    Saving our Country!

    Last night I spent the evening speaking to the counsellors at LifeLine here in Johannesburg. It was such an honour to be invited and an amazing audience. They gave me truly a wonderful evening. We will do it again. And I’m busting to tell you all about it.


    But today was not the day for talking about me, or my books, or my mission. Today was a chance to protest. To stand up for the millions of people in this beautiful country who were freed over twenty years ago, only to have so many of those freedoms denied by a new dictator.

    Our country says NO!
    We say it’s time to go Zuma!

    Your reign is over!

    We don’t want you for our President!

    Nelson Mandela would be devastated.

    This is NOT what he fought so hard for!
    What a great day we had! We had so many protest options, and we mulled over them all. It would have been cool to go to some of the biggest. But in the end, we decided that they aren’t great places for wheelchairs, and if things turned ugly, I can’t get away fast or protect myself.

    img_3885

    And so we picked the protest run by our church. It’s at the corner of a massive intersection and there is a tonne of space to stand. 200 people is not a lot in the whole scheme of the rallies and protests around the country, but boy, did we do our thing! And the noise from the cars honking in support was huge! And the feeling of standing in unity in a multiracial, multitalented group (yeah, sorry for the stereotyping there but white people can’t sing or chant like black people can 😂 but that’s not a reason to stay home) and stand up for our beautiful country!

    What a privilege and what a day! Because we are a God loving church we also prayed. Together. In our different languages, which in and of itself was beautiful. Lots of tears, so much love!


    200 isn’t a lot but we were just the afternoon slot, there were people out all day. And there were groups at all the major intersections.

    I am praying hard that we can get rid of our president and show the world that it’s possible!

    ***

    As a side note, if you are going to have a car accident, doing so in the middle of an intersection with 200 witnesses, many of whom have cameras rolling, is not a bad place to have it (when you are the innocent one).

    This poor delivery guy on a motorbike was collected by a car going the other way. In an instant, dozens of people dropped placards, stopped traffic, and as the fuel tank gushed its contents my hubby and a bunch of others moved him well clear. He was able to walk (amazingly) but they called an ambulance anyway, moved the motorbike off the road. This guy could not have had more love, help or support! 😊

     

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    “Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman