• How To Bring Up Brave Hearts

    I forget where I heard it, or when, but the words have never left me. Fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. As a mum, it’s easy to give in to it, to the false evidence, to project our minds into moments that may or may not happen, moments in the future that appear not only real but large and haunting like an evil shadow puppet in a dimly-lit room.

    It’s easy to give in to paranoia, because suddenly we have more than our own lives to protect. We have these precious little beings in our hands and unlike the antelope and elephants of our Animal Kingdom, we need to stay by our offspring’s side long after they learn to walk – an act that itself takes us humans much longer to master. We suddenly have not only our own hearts to protect, but also those parts of our hearts that now pulsate outside of our bodies.

    I have always refused to let fear rule our tribe. At least I have tried my very best. I have tried hard not to let the shadow puppets loom over us. Not only for my sake, for my own peace of mind, but for that of my boys. Living in the wild as we have for many years, and travelling frequently into wild spaces, now that we’re city folk, the possibility of danger has never been far from us. They have often shown themselves, those shadows… in the shapes of crocodiles and hippos lunging at our boat, scorpions beneath the pillow, black mambas chasing our safari vehicle, wild elephants flapping their ears. And then there are the sneakier, less easily detectable threats… like malaria.

    I have never denied that these threats exist. Our tribe is well aware of them. But, from experience, we know better how to predict an animal’s movements. We know which channels in a river to avoid, when it comes to the Zambezi. Mosquito spray accompanies us everywhere. We don’t walk alone at night – although if I keep up my treadmill training I might just be able to out-run our Zambezi hippos one day (a girl can dream). We don’t deny it all, but we don’t let that which has yet to happen, that which is unlikely to happen, take over our imaginations.

    To spend our entire lives in fear of that one accident would be a dishonour to this great blessing of a life on Earth.

    The same way stress is caused by being here, but wanting to be there, fear removes us from the present, from the moment where life resides. It is natural for us mothers to try to predict the future. Constantly. I’m not really sure we can escape that entirely. But the last thing we want to do is pass that stress on to our sons and daughters. Watching them in a playground, running wild and free, is all the lesson we need in being present and seeing the real not the false.

    For my sons, the wilderness has been as much of their playground while growing up as the jungle gyms of the suburbs. And because of experience, because of the freedom I (try) give them to play and explore, they treat both the same. Both Renzi and Carlos are as at home with a wildebeest or elephant herd or a soldier holding an AK47 (oh, the joys of African border crossings), as a flock of penguins on the beach at Boulders or an ice-skating rink in a mall.

    They’re still young. There are more choppy waters to cross… like asking a girl out or speaking in front of a crowd for the first time, because it isn’t only the wild animals of our adventuring lives that they’re going to face. There are those matters of the heart. But I believe that it’s all the same, ultimately. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt,  “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eventually… nothing will.

    And is that not the best we can do as Mums? Prepare our little ones for the world while letting them enjoy it, wholeheartedly, at the same time? Without holding back. Without fear.

    Below is a glimpse into the wild things of our recent safari at Wilderness Safari’s Seba Camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, with images taken by our friend at Lubella Photography. Follow us on Instagram for more pics.

     

     

  • 5 Life Lessons from One Tribe to Another

    Our time with the Bushmen in the Kalahari was short. But its impact eternal. We’re well aware that their lives are not as they used to be, that they’ve had to make compromises to adapt to the inevitability of progress, but their beliefs, their inimitable knowledge and wisdom, and their notion of the art of living remains.

    The team at Unchartered Africa‘s Camp Kalahari, where we were staying, work closely with one particular group of the Ju/’Hoansi Bushmen tribe, enabling curious souls such as ourselves to spend time with the descendants of one of Africa’s earliest tribes.

    What they taught us in that short morning I need to put down in words. I need to have them to turn to when I need answers, reminders, and to refer loved ones to when they need guidance of their own. So here they are, five lessons of life, from one tribe to another…

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    1. I can find joy in little things. I do not need brights lights and shiny things, only butterflies and their coloured wings. Renzi always reminds me of this too, when he raises his binocular-hands to his eyes and spies out something small and wonderful that I might have missed… like a scorpion.

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    2. I don’t have to do everything by myself. I have my own immediate tribe to support me while I try to support them but I am also a part of the greater tribe of humanity that surrounds me. I can walk with them when I need to. And remember that they may need me to walk with them even when I don’t.

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    3. I can make do with less. I can spend less on things I don’t need and find a way to reuse, recycle and create more of what I do need. The earth provides much of what we need, if only we know where and how to look. I can educate myself more about the wheres and hows and I can put it into practice.

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    4. I can take time out when I need it, when my body whispers to me, before it needs to shout, to ask for a break. Rest is as much a part of life as work and play, eating and drinking. I can think more and do less even when something inside me stirs guilt for doing so. I can feel ease, without shame.

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    5. I can let my wrinkles show. And I can be happy for them, proud of them, grateful for them, for the many life experiences and adventures they symbolise, for the infinite smiles the world has put on my face and left there, to remind me, remind me to laugh, remind me of the times I have cried. I can allow my wrinkles as I allow them on others.

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  • The Beginnings of Bravery in Botswana

     

    I want you to know that there is an infinite amount of new experiences left in the world, my dear sons. And not only for you, but for me too. In spite of the many years between you and me, there still exists a universe of firsts for us to share. Times when my eyes will be wider than yours, my mouth agape and as speechless as your own.

    Just think about our time in the Kalahari desert, when we slept on a bed on the pans, under a meteorite shower, when I told you, in all sincerity, that this was one of the most marvellous experiences of my life. Marvellous, in the way of the word, marvel, “to be filled with wonder or astonishment”, the same astonishment Renzi had when he woke beside me. His army green sleeping bag up to his nose, his beanie pulled to his eyebrows, he shot up and exclaimed, “Mom! This. World. Is. Magic.”

    That was a new experience for me too, kids. I repeat those words to anyone I can. “Mom! This. World. Is. Magic.” It was the moment I realised, with certainty, that this life was the right one for you, for us. This life of travel and new horizons.

    Watching you, Carlos, take over the reigns of our quad bike and drive me over the unceasing pans, while I hugged you, I thought to myself, I don’t know anyone who takes on new experiences as well as you do. You jump. You remind me to jump. I kept wondering, Where is your fear?

    Is that what travel does? Good and constant doses of it? It quietens the alarms, my little warrior?

    I want you to know that as much as your bravery relies on mine, mine relies on yours. If this is only the beginning of the brave souls you are both to become, I know that you will make not only fine explorers, but fine men.

    T & Sons

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    All images taken on our trip to Camp Kalahari in Botswana.