Category Archives: Uncategorized

Zumba, Christmas in July

Written and photographed by Nina Ganci

As some of you have gathered by now, I love taking photos. Nothing too serious, just fun with the camera.

Nadia offering gifts

I was thrilled when Nadia from Richwood Zumba invited me to take photos of their event – Christmas in July.

As we live in South Africa, July is our winter month, so it makes sense to have a Christmas in July!

Everyone dressed up in pyjamas and nightwear and danced (Zumba) non-stop for 1.5 hours. I was just tired of watching them.

For these events, various Zumba studios get together in a hall to raise funds for charity.

Penguins at Bettys Bay

Written by Nina Ganci

The trip to Bettys Bay is spectacular. Mountain meets the ocean! The road hugs the mountain on one side with stunning views of the ocean on the other side. A must-do drive.

One stop I always do is Koelberg bay!

Koegelberg Bay

We arrived at Stony Point in Bettys Bay at 5pm. The reserve was locked up, but the penguins were not aware of this.

Penguins at Sunset

Penguins were coming inland for the evening. The parking lot was overflowing with penguins. A sight to behold.

We were very lucky to see penguins this close-up

Was thrilled to witness babies being fed

Waiting for Mamma

On the way back, this penguin would not allow me access as his nest was there. Penguin won this war, as I traced my steps back

The Magic Toolbox

Children Story Written by Grazia Martienssen

Hello children, Big Bear here, gather round as I tell you about…

Busy Elves:
One day shortly before Christmas, Santa and his elves were so busy making toys in the workshop in the North Pole, that the elves wished the toys themselves would help. As they finished making a toolbox, the box suddenly opened by itself, and all the tools jumped out and started helping.

Different Talent:
The saw started sawing, the hammer started hammering, and each tool started doing what tools are meant to do. I don’t remember how many tools there were, but they worked hard together, and each used their talent to help the elves. Santa and the elves were very pleased and were able to take a nice break thanks to the help of the tools. They made wooden toys, plastic tools, along with both wire and fluffy toys. They made all kinds of toys and games. I was one of the first toys made and I wanted to help. I asked Santa what I could do to help and he told me to arrange smaller toys on their shelf, so that’s just what I did. At the end of the day the tools went back in the tool box and I retired to my shelf.

What kind of toys do you think they made?

Would you have helped if you were there?

Have you ever seen Santa’s workshop and his elves?

After a while I heard all the tools talking to one another. Some were even bragging about what they had done. ‘I hammered everything so nicely,’ said the hammer. ‘I tightened all the screws,’ said the screwdriver. The saw sighed, ‘I wish I was as talented as you hammer, or as clever as you screwdriver.’ Some of the other tools also wished they had different talents. Finally, the toolbox itself spoke. ‘You are all a family of tools, and you all have different talents and are all equally important,’ it said. ‘If you were all hammers how would the sawing get done? Or if you were all saws, which one of you would hammer?’ the toolbox insisted. ‘Aww I understand,’ said the saw, ‘So my job is also important.’ ‘Was my job also important?’ the pliers asked. ‘Yes,’ said a very smiley toolbox. Even Big Bear did a wonderful job of arranging the smaller toys on the shelf. I felt so proud to hear that.

What are your talents?

What are you good at?

What are your friends, brothers and sisters good at doing?

Christmas Eve:
A few days later it was Christmas Eve and Santa and the elves put us all in a big sack and flew around the world with the reindeer, to deliver gifts to all the children. I fell asleep before the magic toolbox was delivered, so I don’t know who received it.

Do you know who received the magic toolbox?

Did you or one of your friends or siblings perhaps get it?

Grottos, Ancient and Modern by Lesley Andrews

A grotto is “a natural or artificial cave used by humans in both modern times and antiquity” (Wikipedia). Grottos are fascinating subjects for a mineralogist – the article below deals with European grottoes, but there are also grottos of a different kind in North Africa and China.

Natural grottos are often found near water and may flood at high tide, such as the famous grottos around the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, often accessible by swimming or diving. Inland, grottos (or caverns) are associated with the water-eroded areas of limestone in inland areas, and this is where stalagmites and stalactites form from mobilised carbonate minerals such as calcite.

The Blue Grotto, a natural formation in Malta.

A third type of natural grotto, normally called a “lough” or a “vug”, is the most beautiful of all three types, and is usually only discovered when mined into, or when revealed by rock falls. These caverns are lined with beautiful crystals such as fluorite, calcite, barite, gypsum, galena, sphalerite, or pyrite (the spar minerals of the Victorian miners). Caverns or vugs in granitic systems may be lined with rock crystal or amethyst.

One (shortened) description of the minerals to be found in a cavern opened by mining was provided by an amazed John Williams in 1789: “There is an innumerable multitude of short prismatical crystals which sparkle like a thousand diamonds, and between these and sticking to them promiscuously, there are pyrites and spar shot also into prismatical, cubic and other figures, and clusters of grotesque figures which grow out of one another. The whole inside of the cavern is magnificently adorned with all the gay and splendid colours of the rainbow and the peacock’s tail”!

Man-made grottos over the ages have exploited natural rock systems or were constructed from scratch. They were lined with natural crystals, mirrors, coloured glass and/or shells, and many other artefacts.

Example of a mid-1700s grotto wall lining (Andrews)

Grottoes, natural and man-made, were very popular in Ancient Greek and Roman culture and invariably contained a spring, a fountain or a well, sometimes even a bathing area. Often statues of gods and goddesses featured, as well as sculpted mythological beings. Later, in the sixteenth century, artificial grottoes became popular in Italy and France, usually set in large gardens, and often incorporating “water tricks for the unsuspecting visitor”. In parts of Switzerland, grottoes were used as areas to store and preserve wine and food, some of these later became restaurants

The grotto constructed in his Twickenham garden by Poet Alexander Pope in the 1740s, and the grotto of Charles Hamilton built in Surrey in the 1760s, are fine examples of English grottos. Both still exist, although partially damaged, and are being restored by Trusts.

Hamilton’s Grotto in Painshill Park. The stalactites are artificial; they are formed from gypsum flakes attached to wooden frameworks (

By the mid nineteenth century, the fashion for grotto-building in the UK had waned, but there has been a revival recently. This has seen the restoration of many older grottoes and construction of new ones. Many of these are beautifully lined with shells and corals (see

The most lavish crystal grotto is found near Edinburgh in Scotland at Bonnington House. This is encrusted with 15 tons of Brazilian amethysts. The owners say going down into the grotto is like “being baptized”, a similar feeling of awe to that experienced by those mineralogists lucky enough to visit crystal pockets in mines, or of cave explorers finding an unexpected cavern complete with stalagmites and stalactites.

Entrance to the grotto at Bonnington House. This and the previous picture form part of an article by Marcus Field in “the Tatler”, 27 July 2015.
Owners Nicky and Robert Wilson inside the grotto at Bonnington House. The grotto was designed and produced by Anya Gallaccio .


What Molly Says: #27 by Heidi

I would like to welcome you, all my animal and human friends, to my Bark Room!

For a while my Throat Chakra was blocked with so much emotion, that I could not bark to you.

Today, I dedicate my Bark Room to the memory of my sibling, and most loving and caring sister, Christie.

As the hours and the days went by, I found my bark again, so I bark to you with a sadness I have never felt before. On the 25th of May 2020, Christie asked Mommy to release her from the pain she had. Mommy showed her respect to Christie’s wish and Christie entered Doggie Heaven at 12:42 that day.

As I bark to you, I can feel and sometimes see Christie’s spirit with me, cheering me on to overcome my grief. I would like you all to send love and light to me and my mommy to help us during this time of sadness.
After Mommy received Christie’s ashes, Mommy created a table of remembrence for Christie.

Each morning Mommy and I light a candle in remembrance of Christie’s life.

The pet crematorium sent my mommy such a beautiful poem with Christie’s ashes, which I would like to share with you. Mommy says that those words says everything that is in her heart and what she would want to say to Christie. I share with you these awesome words:

My eyes are filled with tears as I watch my mommy read the poem. I can see that my mommy’s heart is broken as she goes through her day. Even though Mommy struggles through the pain of grief, she will always find the time to hug me and tell me that she loves me. I am very proud of my mommy for showing me affection while she is hurting.

I am sure you have lost a sibling who have crossed the white bridge to the Spirit World. To help me and my mommy, I would like you to share with us how you managed your grief. This will give us so much strength and courage in releasing our heartache.

I will bark to you soon. I need to be with my mommy to comfort her.
Till I bark again, be safe and keep warm. Cuddle up with your mommy, my animal friends. Mommies are very special humans.

Bye for now.

Come here…by Ada Den Hollander

You find yourself

wandering around

in a big forest.

Ancient trees around you,

birds chirping,

a squirrel running away.

Suddenly, you hear a voice,

soft words are spoken

come here, come here…

You turn around and see

nothing but a white light.

Then the light is

changing, slowly transforming

into the image of an angel,

sitting at the roots of one of

the ancient trees,

beckoning you, inviting you.

You slowly start walking and when

you come nearer, you hear:

I am your guardian,

I am here to protect you,

you usually don’t see me, but

I am always, always with you,

you are never alone.

Now that you are close,

you clearly see a beautiful face

with delicate features and loving eyes.

Come sit with me, my child,

let me embrace you.

You do sit down and feel

loving arms enveloping you.

Your hair gets stroked,

gently, gently.

You surrender to what is.

Tears of joy wet your cheeks

you’re overwhelmed, there’s so much love.

You look up,

you smile and hear:

keep this love in your heart, my child,

while you get on with your life,

and remember, remember

always remember…

Stature By Deborah Jordaan

Good day to the readers. I’m hoping you are all well in these trying times we find ourselves in. The article i will be writing of today is about women and the different levels of society we find ourselves in.

We get the hard working woman who no matter her affluence still works for what she has. On the other hand we have the deserving narcissistic woman who thinks that the world needs to bow down to her as she need not work for anything. Everything I write about comes from actual case studies. I ,in no way want to offend anyone at all but I would like to celebrate the female and her ways she copes and uses her cunning and manipulative ways to get her where she needs to be.

My first story is on an affluent lady. From birth she had a silver spoon in her mouth. Had the rich parents. Molly coddled to the ends of the earth but the mother didn’t make her life easy as her dad doted on her and whatever she wanted she got. That came at a price though. Her dad was an alcoholic and so eventually she would be the one pouring he’s drinks at a young age and sometimes helping him to bed as her mother was not accomodating -because of the fathers affairs she really didn’t care as long as she had the high life -she was happy. The father was a famous attorney so they lived the life till the day he walked out on them but they still had financial stability. As the years went by the young woman became a ballerina -went to art school because her father had the means to provide her with the money for all her wants. That in a way made her feel deserving of only good things. She didn’t know what normal people lived like. They had maids. Butler. In her mind everyone lived like that. As she grew up, moved and a divorce later she became a dancing instructor by day and prostitute by night – alcohol had became a big part of her life. Where was her stature then? She had hinted a few times to me quite subtly that abuse from her father perhaps or other men had damaged her. Explaining the alcohol abuse. Prostitution? Only she will know why she did that.

She met her second husband at dance class. He didn’t come from money, he worked hard for what he had. At the time they met he hadn’t realised she was an alcoholic. She put on quite a show to catch him as at that time she was struggling. Her three children had been removed from her custody, so a rich man was her way out. They married and had three children of their own but her drinking escalated. Money didn’t buy happiness and didn’t keep her husband faithful. Same scenario as her mother except she was the alcoholic. Her father taught her well. On her 50th birthday her husband told her to leave as she was in and out of rehabillitation centres and he was looking after he’s sons with two maids in her presence and a driver for the children as she was drunk most of the time so she wasn’t needed. He still took care of her financially and sometimes she did her wifely duties even though he was with someone else. He eventually met someone that got him on the straight road to a normal relationship even though the two are still married as divorcing would cost both a great loss of money. She lives separately on their property to him and he’s current partner and has still got the princess mentality as I call it, hoping if she does what’s expected he will take her back as he has done many times before. She will suffer before she decides for herself that no money is worth the situation she is living in now. So to me she is suffering a form of abuse from him and he has suffered abuse from her when she couldn’t be a mother and wife. So both her father and the husband molly coddled her to the point that she did’nt know any better and still does’nt. She just accepts circumstances as long as money and stature are involved. She has no work experience except dancing as being privileged she never really needed to work, only when it was really necessary and that was a few years of dance classes. She now has some money of her own but tells her husband her name is on the marriage certificate so he will pay her even though they have been separated for twelve years.

Can’t we all just sit back and expect to be deserving – though we do nothing for it? My next story is of the hard working mother whether she is single or with someone. This woman knows nothing but work whether it be at home or physically going to work, from an executive to a prostitute. They can’t be judged. All they know is to survive and sometimes they still have the bad luck of either living with or seeing someone that is abusive to them. This woman sometimes has no choice in her mind. She takes the abuse for the childrens sake so they can have a roof over their heads. In the end it comes at a high price. The woman is damaged – needs therapy. The children grow up expecting the same from life but luckily some children break their mothers curse and live successful lives. The hard working woman feels there is no way out but there is if she would stop and think her plan through. Yes leaving an abusive situation might hurt her financially but in the end her and her children will start to heal when away from the bad situation.

Us woman must think who our elders were and what they had to go through to survive. We need to pick ourselves up and be strong. Yes sometimes it seems so hopeless but I’m a survivor of being raped by my husband and being told I can’t do anything as we are married. My situation damaged my children but we made it. Seventeen long years of abuse. rape, being beaten and mental abuse came to an end by my own courage. It was’nt easy after the divorce either as I really suffered mentally. I self mutilated, tried to hang myself and overdosed with my medicine more times than I can imagine but I made it. Fifteen years of therapy and still going strong. I even have the empathy in me to phone my ex husband sometimes and ask how he is doing as he’s health is not good. If I did’nt heal I would have wished him dead. I want to show my daughters there is life after abuse. I didn’t know what molly coddling was growing up or in a relationship so next time you ladies want to complain about not being able to do your nails or hair and that the maid didn’t come in today – think of that poor woman suffering just to get by mentally because of her situation. Lets stand together as women and be supportive no matter what your stature is. We all fight battles and with support we can overcome -then maybe these killings of women will come to an end too. Stand together and fight. If you set aside stature, race and ego we can do great things among us women.

The views expressed in my story aren’t aimed at a specific person it’s just things I hear and of course personal experience. Hopefully by reading this I’m helping someone find the courage to stand up and say ,”ENOUGH!”

My 10 Second Rule by Franky Van Den Berg

We often lose focus on what truly matters in this life. The fast pace of life, along with an increasing need for everything to be rushed and to be constantly improved. This can place tremendous pressure on one and we are often entirely focused on the task and requirements at hand and in the process we place our well-being, opinions and health at the end of our list of priorities.

I too was trapped by this unhealthy way of living until my health caved and forced me to reconsider my ways. Since my wake-up call I have had many hours reflecting on my past daily routines, how I handled work, stress (or rather, the lack thereof), attending to my daily eating habits, quality sleep (or rather: too little thereof) and equality as important, if not more so, the people I allowed in my social life and the treatment from them I allowed and brushed off.

I’ve learned much during the long period of thoroughly attending to getting my health back on track, lessons that have changed my life (and health) for the better and it is these lessons I want to share with the aim of preventing others from going through the same experiences as I by providing insight to others. I have processed the information in a manner that enables effortless application.

  1. The majority of communication you have is the internal dialogue you have with yourself. Therefor, it is of great importance to pay attention to the thoughts you allow in your mind. The relationship/communication you have with yourself can be just as abusive as an abusive relationship with another person. Moreover, the treatment you allow your internal dialogue to have with yourself is subconsciously the type of treatment you are likely to allow from others.
  2. Time management. By planning your day you can set time aside for essential tasks including snack breaks (ensuring you have a sufficient eating and hydration routine), time to give your mind and body a break (maybe go for a quick jog instead of continuously sitting behind your desktop) and allow for sufficient time to unwind before going to bed, which may improve the quality and quantity of sleep you get.
  3. Failure to plan is planning to fail. Keeping a daily journal and planner will allow you to allocate time more effectively, keep track of time and allow for proper breaks and identify longer term habits: you can only effectively address habits that is sub-optimal for your health, wellness and wealth if you properly identify and track your true habits. Plan your snacks for the say instead of grabbing anything that is in the fridge when you are beside yourself with hunger and risk overeating, eating too little or having an unbalanced diet. By setting a particular diet that is best suited for you which can improve your mental and physical health and energy, support you in reaching a healthy weight (if that is a goal of yours).
  4. Be reasonable with yourself. Rome wasn’t build in a single day and expecting yourself to move mountains is unreasonable. Putting yourself under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform won’t only affect your work progress and quality negatively, but it will harm you in a physical and emotional aspect. Setting out a reasonable amount of work to be completed daily will not only improve your self-esteem, but it will also enable you to make consistent progress instead of spending hours stressing and bullying yourself about the work you haven’t done and experiencing the consequences of the stress.
  5. Upon countering a challenging situation or a situation prevoking strong emotions I have a ten second rule. First, I turn around close my eyes and count to ten while taking deep, focused breaths. Then, I compile facts about the situation. If there are other people involved ask them for their perspective first, before reaching a conclusion. Put all emotions aside (I know it seems difficult, but you’ll improve with practice) and establish your priorities regarding the situation. I operate better by writing my thought process down in a notebook and often list the pro’s and con’s of the situation. Identify the best plan of action in order to achieve your priority.

If this article has helped you, please comment below.

Our Ego by Ada Den Hollander

It cannot be true, it was still allowed yesterday. Where is this going? Gone is my holiday. It will take months, I am sure about that. Why can’t I touch you. We don’t deserve this. I am angry. I can not take it anymore. I’m right, but no one sees that. The politicians are all criminals, focussed on their own interest. We are gradually living in a police state. It drives me crazy.

Our ego is talking here. The ego likes drama, being dissatisfied, feeling unhappy, blaming others and complaining. If we let ourselves be guided by our ego, we live in the illusion of the past (everything was better yesterday) or the future (where is this going?). The past nor the future have anything to do with reality (I will write more about that sometime), with the now, the present. When we live in the now, our ego no longer plays a role. ‘It is as it is,’ we then say. ‘How could it be any different than it is?’ , we then conclude. If we are aware, living consciously, we see the possibilities of any situation, not the obstacle. We accept what is and by doing so we silence our ego.

I am the last one to say that this is easy. I have been struggling in recent days with the hypocrisy and unethical behaviour of our government, regarding the ban on cigarette sales.

Especially because of the minister’s conflict of interest with criminals who make millions with illegal cigarette trade. Such people are in charge and can determine whether or not you light a cigarette, after all, they are our government, it makes you go ballistic.

‘Yes,’ our ego whispers, ‘go ahead’.

But then you may suddenly realise that these people and many politicians with them are not aware, they are living in the illusion of power and an even richer future for themselves. You ponder on what Jesus said on the cross: Forgive them Father for they know not what they do. He was referring here to his accusers, the high priests, the Pharisees and the people.

Nothing has changed. It is an excellent example of how the ego takes over and we thereby completely loose sight of reality.

In the case of Jesus it is the so called collective ego we are dealing with. The crowd follows the leaders without thinking for themselves. The ones who shout the loudest get the votes. ‘They know what’s best for us’, is what people think if at all.

The collective ego of countries on a bigger scale, as another example, creates the completely meaningless wars (we are right, we will fight and destroy them).

Back to the moment when you realise that this means there is no presence of awareness. You meditate or you just sit still and look around you. A smile appears on your face. You anchor yourself, you become aware, you are completely in the now, far away from all the distractions around you. You reach your essence, you realise that you are free, that nothing or no one can control you or do you any harm, because your essence is intangible and untouchable. (thanks to Loraine for this last realisation).

Another example of an ego playing up is when people rage on Twitter at someone they’ve never met, but whose opinion they don’t share. Foul language all over the place. These people are furious and far from conscious, totally captivated by the illusion that the world will be a better place if everyone acknowledges that they are right and the other is wrong. Or maybe they lack attention in real life and try to get that in the virtual world? Whatever the case, they are not in the now, but in the illusion of the future (you have to listen to me, only then I feel better).

Who are we? A question which we may think about more now than in normal circumstances. Our ego knows how to answer this and eagerly gives us a few options. ‘I am so and so and have a good profitable company,’ it says. ‘I’m a good mother,’ ‘I look good,’ ‘Look what a beautiful car I have,’ or ‘I did very well at university.’ All appearances with which we identify ourselves, but which have nothing to do with our essence, with who we really are. What we find important when we are not living consciously. When we are aware, aware of our essence and therefore living in the now, we immediately notice how different we feel. We can more easily be at peace with ourselves and with what is going on, there is calm and no more fighting.

So, the right answer to the question is awareness. Aware of being aware. We have a body and a brain in which that endless flow of thoughts arises, but we are consciousness.

Scientists are still not sure where to find that in the body. No wonder. It’s nowhere, we are that. And in that consciousness we are all one. Maybe more about that in another blog.

After we have been disappointed many, many times we may finally realise that our ego does not help us, on the contrary, but also that it is still a long way towards awareness. So you actually could say that our ego does help in a sense, it keeps shaking us until we wake up and become aware.

You often hear that prisoners get a better understanding of who they are after being locked up for a long time, that their awareness is activated and that they therefore become a different, better person.

As humanity, we have suddenly become prisoners.

Let’s be still, reflect and thank our ego for the good service, but let’s say farewell to it. Perhaps a better humanity will emerge, a humanity which lives from the heart.

I conclude with the wise words of Mooji, a spiritual teacher, to whom I often listen:

All over the world there are problems. Everyone has a problem. But I tell you this; there is only one problem and it is caused by ego. Ego is the one source of all problems. It’s a form of ignorance. It’s just a distraction that prevents you from discovering who you really are.

~ Mooji

Inspired by St Francis of Assisi Prayer by Catherine Glennie

O Great Force of Love Divine make me an instrument of your peace, even if it requires expressing my power – and stirring up trouble
Where there is upset, let me bring wisdom – knowing that upset is actually an invitation to heal
Where there is hatred, let me bring love especially self-love – as it is secretly myself I hate most
Where there is discord, let me bring unity by not seeing separation – in me or the cosmos
Where there is judgement let me access stillness – knowing that as I embrace what is, I give permission to the holy flow of life
Where there is error let me bring truth – not a convenient truth but raw love-driven honesty
Where there is desire let me not judge wanting – but remember that desire is the Soul tapping on the window of my life
Where there is doubt let me bring faith, especially that everything done serves a higher purpose
Where there is despair let me bring hope, a holy energy that changes ones relationship with life

Oh great and Infinite Wisdom let me seek not to always be focused on the ‘I’, rather to see and speak to the ‘we’
Let me seek not to be understood but to understand that this crazy world is an illusion and to the extent that I know I am dreaming is the extent to which consciousness is raised
Let me seek not to be loved but rather to express the love that I truly am
For it is in giving that one becomes one with the abundance of the universe
And it is in self forgetting that one finds the true connection with you O Love Divine
(And oh Lord, please let this go viral.)