Category Archives: Lifelong Learning

How time has warped for me

I post this in tribute of my dear, yet sadly, departed mother:  Veronica Worthmann

How time has warped for me.  Two years.  Personal loss, life… work… COVID-19!

Let me backtrack a little.  At the beginning of February 2020, I made the trip from the Netherlands to South Africa with the sole purpose of visiting my 80-year-old mom.  Getting on in age, and showing the signs thereof, this was an incredibly important trip for me to make.  COVID-19 was already making headlines, but somehow, tucked away in South Africa and spending precious moments with my mom, I was sticking my head comfortably into the sand.  On the evening of the 13th of February Mom had a fall and was admitted to hospital late that night.  Diagnosis – severely broken hip.  On a couch in the visitor’s room at the hospital, I tried to make myself comfortable and did my best to “settle in” for the night.  Running through my head continually was what I considered my options for the immediate circumstances to be.  Before dawn, I returned to Mom’s bedside, she was awake. Considering that my return flight was in less than 48 hours’ time, I proposed that I delay my return home.  Her response:  “No my girl, it’s your time to go home!”.  We chatted about that for a while, but her response remained unchanged.

Later that morning I returned to my family’s home to shower, change, and pack my bags. I returned to Mom’s bedside, repeating my proposal to delay my return to the Netherlands.  She was unwavering in her response:  “My girl, I love you, but the time has come for you to go home!”.

Those are words I will never forget.  I hold onto them every single day. They comfort me.

Return home, on schedule, I did.  Within a matter of weeks lockdown was in place in the Netherlands, and progressively, the rest of the globe.  Any thoughts of return to my mom’s bedside were curtailed.

The remainder of 2020 was, for my beloved mom, full of tremendous pain and suffering.  She never did recover from her injury and subsequent surgery.  It is nothing short of tragic. She found peace in her sleep on the evening of 25 December 2020 when she gracefully did not awake the following morning.  May she rest in eternal peace!

Receiving my brother’s phone call in the early hours of that fateful morning feels like yesterday for me. It’s like time has been standing still for me, until several weeks ago.  In response to an overwhelming gut feel, one of those that force you into acting, I booked a trip back to South Africa in November 2021.  A gap in the COVID-19 travel restrictions indicated that such travel was permissible and so I seized the moment.  In my gut was the angst that this is most arguably the highest risk that I’ve ever undertaken.  Nonetheless, I undertook a whirlwind trip to South Africa where I placed extreme emphasis on spending time with immediate family only – hyper focus!

I learned a tremendous lesson … as one who has always felt “removed” from the sense of family, I learned that family, and the sense of family, is vitally important.  This trip has been healing for me in the most amazing ways, and a tremendous growth point.  The entire experience was cathartic for me.   Ralph, Jennifer & Tracy, you have no choice in being my siblings, but you have a choice in how you engage with me.  Thank you, each of you, for being such gems in how you do so.  I love each of you more than I can express. 

Family – honour them. Love them. Support them.

I love and miss you Mom x x x

Laura

Will I Change the World?

Since starting this blog a few years ago I’ve written often about change.  Mostly personal change.  Changes in thoughts, actions, job, home, etc.  By continually evaluating my moments, my life, and finding lessons to learn and facilitate growth, I wonder whether or not I’m changing the world by changing myself.  It doesn’t need to mean changing the entire planet, facilitating world peace, finding a cure for cancer, or ending starvation – although any of these would be fantastic.  No, I’m talking about making a change day by day in the world, one person, one moment at a time.

Every day the world around us is changing, but what drives this change?  What contribution do I make to this change in the world?  Now, I’m cognizant of the fact I’m not the president of a country and making decisions with global impact.  I’m not a military general holding the fate of many in my hands.  I’m not a community leader with the ability to stir up entire communities with rhetoric.  So what am I then?

What I do know is this, I am a member of the human race.  I am a person living in this world.  It doesn’t matter if I am perceived to be significant or insignificant.  What matters to me is what impact am I making in my sphere of influence?  I hear many people talk about the change they want to see in the world but I wonder how they think it’s going to come about.  How do we decide what change it is we want to see in the world and, more importantly, how are we going to facilitate that change? 

I know that I would like to see, and experience, more peace and harmony in the world.  I’m of the opinion that if people were just a bit kinder, a bit friendlier and more tolerant of each other, then the world will be a better place.  But take a close look at my previous sentence… all I’ve done is state an opinion.   Having an opinion about something doesn’t make the change come about.  When I look around myself I see many unhappy people, such hatred, intolerance, etc.  And I hold opinions about how to change this – oh, people should do this, or people should do that.  Hey, I am a “people”, so what am I doing?

A while back I came across a quote by renowned author, Paulo Coelho.  He stated, quite simply:  “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”

Think about it.  It is easy for each of us to hold opinions about what change we’d like to see in the world.  But what matters is how we transform our opinions into examples.  If I’m of the opinion that people should be a bit kinder, a bit friendlier and more tolerant, then let that start with me.  Let me smile at others more often.  Let me be more grateful and thankful to those around me.  Let me be more tolerant and understanding of those who are different to me.  If I bridge the gap between having an opinion and living my life as an example of my opinion, then maybe, just maybe, I will change the world. 

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

Yours in lifelong learning.

Laura

You must be the change you wish to see in the world

During this season, as we celebrate Christmas, we are inundated with requests for charity.

When I think of charity I have some rather deeply personal views on this topic.  I am challenged by what charity means to me and what I do or don’t do about it.  We all have our own motivations for being charitable.  These may range from religious or spiritual beliefs held dear and close to heart, a general sense of benevolence, or a desire to make a difference in this world.

Charitable actions come in many different shapes, forms and varieties.  To some charity is generous financial contributions to organizations undertaking charitable work.   Others contribute to the community by preparing nutritious meals for those facing hunger when they, themselves, are living with limited means.  It could be the gift of time teaching a class for students in need of additional tuition.  Then there is the senior citizen I know who sits all year knitting wool beanies, despite her arthritis, for orphans in need of winter woollies.

I am humbled by the many examples of charity around me that I encounter on a daily basis.  I am blessed and inspired by people in my life who, I believe, are the epitome of what it means to be charitable.  You don’t talk charity, you live it daily in your lives.  You seek nothing in return.  You do not look for your name on a plaque placed prominently on [insert any donated object here].  You do not go about selective charitable donations to get a tax refund.  Charity is not a once off event on your calendar.  When you feed a hungry family you do so without fuss and bother, without alerting the media to your efforts.  Day in and day out, 365 days a year, you are tirelessly and selflessly giving of yourselves to others.

Personally, I understand charity to being committed to the continuous giving of oneself, in a meaningful way, to aid and assist others without expecting anything in return.

Okay, great, so I have developed my own understanding.  But having such a noble and lofty understanding is worthless without my own, personal, call to action.  Words without action are a waste of breath.  Until I get up, out of my comfort zone, and actively do something about my personal call to action I am wasting my time writing this article, not to mention wasting your time reading this.

So, I ponder more on this topic, and think of the words of Mahatma Gandhi:  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.  It all starts with me.  If I don’t want to see hunger in the world, for example, why am I not making an extra sandwich, when preparing my daily lunch, for the hungry person I pass on my way to work each morning?  Small example, but food for thought [no pun intended].

As I write this I am reminded of the article I wrote – Just for Today.  As I continuously seek to be a lifelong learner I need to challenge how I choose to live my life in order to grow and move forward as an individual.  So I challenge my status quo.  I have now added charity to my “Just for today” daily motivational.  As I step out into this unchartered territory I do not yet quite know how this is going to play out.  I know this, without taking the first step I’m never going to get anywhere, never move forward, never make a difference, and most certainly will never contribute to the change I wish to see in the world.

I dedicate this article to all the wonderfully inspirational people in my life who, without knowing it, challenge me to my core on this rather personal, and for some, sensitive topic.


Be the change you wish to see in the world

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura