Tag 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

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

 

Am I Homesick?

Often, in recent months, I’ve been asked if I am homesick.  Eight months ago we relocated to a different country, in the opposite hemisphere.   New home, new job, new culture, new language, the list goes on.  So am I homesick?  This begs the question of what it means to be homesick.  What exactly am I meant to be missing?  Why are some people around me expecting me to be miserable?

So I enquired what they expect me to be missing so much I’d be miserable over it.  The most common answer is I’d be missing my former home.  I find this surprising.  Yes, I miss family and friends and have to mention my little kitty, but my former home?  This makes me ponder what I consider to be home.  A house is just the brick the mortar it is made of.  But, what makes it a home?

As I look back on my life I’ve lived in some curious places and called them home.  On two separate occasions, my home consisted of a converted garage.  Once my home was a single room.  I’ve had a few apartments and an excessively large, free-standing house.  Then there’s my last home in South Africa which was a beautiful duplex which was “home” for nearly eleven years.  They have varied significantly in size, fittings, location, etc.  But I considered each and every one of them my home.

Home to me is where I find my peace and sanctuary from the world.  Where I relax.  A place where I can truly just be myself, even if that means walking around in my pyjamas at 2:00 pm.   Home is a place of comfort, love, and security.  It is where I have that feeling of “belonging”.  Home is where I “find” myself.  It’s not about the material things we fill the brick and mortar with.  Home is a feeling, an emotion.  A feeling of being content and at peace.

There’s the saying “home is where the heart is”.  If home is where the heart is, then by its most literal definition, my home is wherever I am.  Very true for me.  Whenever I’ve moved into a new abode I’ve moved my heart there – never leaving it behind in a previous home.  I’ve made each new place into my sanctuary and been at peace with whatever the circumstances may be.  I make the conscious decision to live in the moment, with what I have, and be thankful.  So I carry my decision with me to each new place to be called home.

Don’t get me wrong, I do hold onto the happy and comforting memories of each and every home I’ve ever had.  They ground me.

My feeling of “home” is the love, peace, joy and comfort I fill my home with.  I am blessed with being able to do this and am blessed to have the most amazing partner to do it with.

So, do I miss home?  Simple answer… No!  I am at home.

 

I am not homesick

 

Yours in lifelong learning.

Laura