A Tribal Gathering

This has been coming for a while… First, my computer crashed so badly that I lost some precious images and then the Oz ‘flu virus struck, smacking me so hard I had no energy! However, here we are… at last!

In July 2016, I travelled with my small and intimate tribe on the Canal Du Midi in France as well as to a few other places. It was an unforgettable experience during which we got to know each other like never before. Remember, guys?

Plans for the future were moulded and over the following year, those plans were honed and polished.

One of those plans was to visit my extended tribe in South Africa for Christmas 2017. Goodness, I never realised just how extended the tribe has become! What a marvellous experience to see little ones who are growing up fast, young ones who have chosen their life partners and the elders imparting wisdom and offering support where necessary. I am so proud to be a part of my own tribe as well as my adopted tribes, the Mountany and Erasmus clans. Long may we all live!

The Christmas gathering happened over three days and my own and I encamped at a country lodge and spa called Leeuwenhof, travelling to the different family farms on the three days. What a marvellous experience! The Bush was lush and green and rain fell in abundance for which every farmer and his wife were enormously grateful. And we all got to know each other even better! How blessed I am.

Next on the agenda was the gathering of the Volschenk clan with extended families on New Year ’s Day with another opportunity to see family members growing up, growing strong and growing old. My niece and her husband decided to treat us all to a little taste of the Cape with a Snoek BBQ – called a ‘braai’ in South Africa. I’ve never been keen on Snoek because of all those bones, but this time Denis taught me how to eat the fish: with fingers!

On New Year’s Day we had a really good lunch at a Greek Taverna in Pretoria… yes, had to keep the Greek/Cypriot tradition going! And the company was invigorating as well. It was with a tear or two that we said our farewells; I was to return to my adopted country two days later.

Back in Cyprus, winter was in full force… actually still is! However, spring is entering the stage with the most fabulous display of wild flowers you can imagine. Just have a look at this one:

Charles Weare image:27971702_10156447392844276_1229255449663909716_n

Somehow, 2017 and all its trials and tribulations suddenly caught up with me about a month ago… started feeling off colour and listless. All that studio space and no energy to paint! The listlessness developed into bronchitis… the third time since I came to Cyprus! However, good medical attention has got me to the point where I can actually catch up with this blog! The previous time I got bronchitis was when I was exposed to radiation pollution in Phuket and thanks to my wonderful homeopathic genius friend, I shook it off quite quickly. Jennifer, we need to talk!

Some of you might know that my passion (and purpose!) in life is to promote art and artists – been doing that since the early 1990s. My baby now is Cyprus Open Studios (COS) and registration for this year’s October event opens in just a few days… 1 March! We are entering our third year and officially, I am a volunteer! They say no one puts more into a project than those who are passionate about it! Well, that’s me…

The next Big Thing I am looking forward to is my beloved daughter joining me here in Cyprus on a permanent basis! Yesss! It looks like late-March will be A Day:  Arrival – yippee!

Going to try something here – hope it works: click here for some Cyprus therapy… I stole it from her…

Until next time, best wishes for a fabulous 2018.

Maria.

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SEARCHING NO MORE…

Ever since I can remember, I have always had this feeling of searching for something that is just out of reach, just around the next corner, almost in touching distance but not quite there… Very often I would get this feeling of being on the brink of a huge discovery, accompanied by an inexplicable sense of excitement.  If only I knew what it was that I was looking for!

And then one day, it happened!  I stumbled over the pot of gold without first realising what it was, blinded by the light of the rainbow…

Deluxe_Pot_of_Gold

Since March 2001, I have lived a contented life up in the hills of Tala. Ups and downs abounded, but we were where we wanted to be and we had each other. In 2012, when Thor and Freya fetched Donald to Valhalla, paradise was lost for me. Day after day I wondered what my next move should be, until February 2017 when I decided it was time to tidy up my affairs and come to terms with a new lifestyle. The property was sold and in mid-October I moved to the real Cyprus, amongst real Cypriots in a place called Anavargos, a ‘suburb’ of the greater Paphos. Most of the ‘suburbs’ these days used to be proper villages before they merged into one big metropolis over time. However, the spirit of the villages prevailed and I was one of the luckiest people to have landed amongst terrific neighbours, with a landlady who has wings. Apparently, her name, Fanula, means ‘light’ or ‘lamp’…

The move went well and the unpacking took weeks… It was only yesterday afternoon that the last piece of furniture was stood in its allocated place. I still need soft furnishings and a few finishing touches like lamps and lampshades, curtains and blinds… but, it is done!

Oh, I also have a flat roof where real chilling can be done in summer… when the time comes, I shall update with images.

I now have a studio space that I don’t want to leave; every evening, I spend the last few minutes before going to bed in that space, just staring at the lights of the city stretching out in front of me. Waking up in the morning, my view is of the sea beyond my studio – what more can I ask for?

Drawbacks? The water tanks on the roofs between me and the sea! Unfortunately, it is ‘a thing’ we all have to live with. I still do not see the purpose of these storage tanks as we have a perfectly good mains water supply.

The other thing that I could call a drawback is the very tight space of my undercover parking; centimetre by centimetre reversing into it is the only way – and then you have to remember to be able to open your door! However, the other night when we had a hailstorm, I was grateful that my precious chariot was protected.

 

But speaking of my searching… It was a few days ago whilst sipping a cuppa in my new paradise, that I suddenly realised that I HAD ARRIVED.  I have found that very elusive thing that was always out of my reach, around the next corner, or somewhere… That pot of gold comes down to a single word: ENOUGH.

I have become the person I have always wanted to be – maintenance continuing! But, I am enough.  My needs are small – I have enough.

And here’s the funny thing:  My neighbours keep on feeding me! Apparently, this is also a very Cypriot thing of which I was not aware… However, I have not yet given enough! I need to cook and bake and share as it feels rotten to give back empty containers…

As soon as I have posted this, I shall get on with it and become a good neighbour myself!

 

I do feel as if I need to make a real effort to integrate. I live in a cul-de-sac and everyone knows everyone else. The one problem – for me – is that they all speak Greek! I have already registered with the people who give free online lessons and this will be put to full use early in 2018! Meanwhile, I can learn the basics (again) such as the alphabet and learning to count. I started a course on Rosetta Stone ages ago, but when we were planning to move to the UK in the beginning of 2012, that came to an abrupt end… duh! Now I have to start all over again.

The plan is to have one giant street party outside my house sometime in April-ish and invite the whole street! I should count the houses… but my one neighbour feeds 10 people every day!!! It’s also a Cypriot thing to feed your children and look after your grandchildren when the parents go to work.

Until we meet again in my next post, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all Peace, Love, Health and Happiness over this Festive Season and for the future.

seasons-greetings

Merry Christmas!

Here are a few images of my “Paradise Found”  –   that little pot of gold, which is quite enough!

A place to chill, a place to work and panels to divide the space in two…

Watch this space as the work that will be done here, will be awesome! I know enough… Well, perhaps not – learning never stops!

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THE DUSTY CAVE … Aladdin’s/Maria’s

Someone told me the other day that when she looked at the contents of the removals van that transported her ‘stuff’, the thought that occurred was, ‘How obscene for one person to own so much!’. Well, that is exactly how I feel right now about the ‘stuff’ in my home – it is obscene for one person to own this much!

Funny thing is, the packers included bags of rubbish that were intended to be binned! Lesson: be careful with instructions – saying that ‘everything in this room must be packed’ was taken literally!

I was truly shocked to discover the cache of videos (tapes!) that we collected over many years. In fact, I thought I had sorted all the ones I didn’t want to keep years ago! I think I did, but never got rid of them… and they came along for the ride. And I don’t even have a VCR player anymore… what does one do with these things now that DVDs and other media players are available? There are quite a few I wish to convert and have been told that I can buy a machine that would do that, but what about the ones I do not want to keep or convert? Suggestions?

 20171028_100206  Insane, right?

The other side of abundance may well become a problem… My landlady is kindness personified and this is expressed, mainly, through the need to feed me! She was devastated when she found out that I was a pechatarian – could not understand why! (I’m a seafood-eating vegetarian). The problem that I foresee is that, over the last year due to all kinds of influences, my weight has gone up a bit, especially around the tum and bum areas. How does one say no to kindness? When does kindness become intrusive? I certainly need to eat less rather than more! Wasted food is a sin and if I gave it away – and she found out – how awful would that be!

Not only my landlady, but also my neighbour on the other side threatens over-abundance too! The third evening here, at 9.30 pm she knocked on my kitchen window to bring me oranges and lemons from her garden… and that was her way to have a chat about family matters! And that tells you that closed doors do not make a difference.

It is interesting to see a completely different side of Cyprus. And it occurred to me that, since we moved here in 2001, we have lived in Cyprus but we have not live IN Cyprus. Now that I have moved out of the expat enclave where we were seduced to buy our custom-built villa – which I loved! – I am seeing a whole new side of this Island of Love. This has also reinforced the fact that I need to speak Greek in order to truly integrate; it is one of the richest languages on the planet… and also one of the most difficult to learn! One thing I do know: if I have lived in this kind of environment from the beginning, I would have been fluent in Greek by now.

The other thing that I have a ‘newness’ about is the closeness of neighbours, in distance and in presence. This is a very Cypriot residential area where I live in a cul-de-sac and children play ball in the street. Afternoons can be noisy, but it’s ‘good noise’! About 150 yards from me is a lovely little park where I have noticed children play fearlessly. I walked through it when they were all at school… And right next-door is the sweetest little church where candles burn almost all the time.

 

20171027_102957-1   candles

Backing onto the end of my cul-de-sac is the General Hospital and at the other end, the main post office. Next to the post office is one of the best bakeries in Paphos! Oh, what have I done!

When I was younger, there was a time when my first husband and I bought, restored and sold properties and whilst we were doing the work – part-time – we lived in the houses. That meant a lot of moving which, somehow, I took in my stride.

This time, however, it feels like I’ve only started on the foothills of Mount Everest… age has a lot to do with it and I’m not talking about the age of that mountain!

In the course of this last year’s activities of putting my home on the market, being ‘inspected’ by potential buyers, eventually making the decision to sell and then the Big Move PLUS organising the Cyprus Open Studios event which takes place each October, things got a bit out of hand… I’m not even mentioning the financial side of things!

However, a friend asked me the other day how my meditation practice was going. Ha! That shook the foundations of my Being! I have SO lost the plot. But, it is strange how The Force speaks to you when you need it… Amongst many, many, many magazines which I was going to turf out but then decided against, I came across a few issues of “Namasté” from around 2003/2004. Well, say no more… As from today, I am back on track as my journey continues. I have forgotten how to breathe but my memory has been jogged and things will change from now on.

New beginnings, new everything… with a few antiques thrown in, courtesy of my Donald!

I was fortunate to spend time with my brother and his wife, Vollie and Rita, who came visiting and we spent one morning dancing on the waves… Dankie vir julle kuier!!!

This was just a little catch-up as I haven’t been active on my blog for yonks. From now on, I’m going to attempt a weekly – says she – contribution to tell you a little more about ‘real’ life in Cyprus!

Incidentally, weekends for Cypriots mean one thing: Family! We will seriously have to rethink our open studios policy…

Until next time, Namasté!

f6e73401a1430c9d71cca63768707dad--namaste-art-namaste-yogaThis old artist is not moving for a while…

IN PURSUIT OF PLEASURE …

You must have thought I had left the planet … I have just been really busy with all the things that please and satisfy me. The other day I described myself to a friend I hadn’t seen in many years as a hedonist. Sometimes I really feel like one!
I seem to be pursuing the pleasures of my heart. I can hear you say, “And why not?” I am, after all, retired. I have just celebrated my milestone of reaching the end of my allotted three score years and ten and I have a middle finger up at whoever ‘prescribed’ that life span! This girl is here to stay, baby – for more than just a day … I will let you know when I reach my target.

Retirement is a strange thing. At least, it is for me. It is in my nature not to sit and twiddle my thumbs. Even though I have difficulty in holding knitting needles, I am knitting myself a sweater while listening to the radio or talks on the internet. Just cannot be idle …

I may have mentioned before that I have started a website for all the artists living in Cyprus so that we can put our art on the map. It is progressing well and as it becomes better known, more artists are joining. There is no rush to push this into a thriving business as I’m doing it for my own satisfaction and in the process I am trying to help others. That hedonistic influence again! However, I never realised just how much work there would be involved, especially with the exhibitions. There is another one coming up in mid-November, aimed at the Christmas shoppers. Wouldn’t you like to own an original piece of art, especially when it is given to you with love and the Christmas spirit? I know I would!

This keeps me fairly busy as I am the only website administrator but I’m thinking of finding two partners who could develop the Greek and Russian markets but that is very much in the embryo stage. I’m also thinking long-term in that I will not be doing this forever and it would be nice to, one day, be able to hand over/sell the website to someone else who would be as passionate about it as I am. If you haven’t already seen it, have a look here: http://www.art-en-route-cyprus.com

And speaking of passion … This last week I have really made giant steps forward with my own art. I’m not sure if it was due to a programme I listened to or whether it was the age-thing, but suddenly I discovered I could sketch like I have always dreamed of sketching! I have always been reluctant to show anyone my sketchbooks because they are so pathetically prissy and tight. Now I am loose and flowing in my movements and found that charcoal is just the most wonderful medium to sketch with. First thing in the morning, I do one small sketch of whatever pops into my head and during the day, when I get an idea I go straight to the sketchbook and put it on the page before I (once again) forget what that idea was. It’s like a dream: as soon as you wake up, it evaporates never to be remembered again. Well, I’ve nailed them now, those ideas!

sketchbook    Some early morning doodlings

 

This led me into a lovely new direction with the actual painting process. And it happened synchronistically.

A few weeks ago I said to my friend, Jennifer, that my ideal holiday for 2015 would be another painting holiday in Tuscany, arranged by the people with whom I first went on a painting holiday there. And, that it should be in September.

Know what happened? Within two days, an email popped into my inbox offering exactly that! And … the tutor already does what I am aspiring to do in my own art! How is that for an answer from the Universal Matrix? So, next September, Italy – here I come again!

This all means that I can pursue my new painting direction and all things remaining equal, I might just have my own exhibition after coming back from Italy next year. The whole thing fills me with excitement as my style has changed from realism to almost abstract – a looseness I have been trying to achieve all my life, on many levels! And while I’m writing this, I’m yearning to smell the paint!

Another thing I have been ‘wishing’ for since he left the island years ago, was for my T’ai Chi teacher to return and teach again. On my birthday, the phone rang and it was John telling me that he was settling in Cyprus on a permanent basis! He is giving his first T’ai Chi demo on the 16th of October, which is another synchronistic event as that date is also the birthday of my late son … a true gift. I’ve been craving T’ai Chi for a long time but did not like any other style/form than the one he taught.

The seasons are also changing and the summer heat is fading away. It also makes me more energetic and creates that lust for digging in the soil and putting in new seeds and seedlings and those spring bulbs. Each seed or bulb holds the intention of becoming a flourishing plant, producing flowers and/or fruit or vegetables. I was reminded this morning that the acorn contains the entire oak tree …

Little Jessie and I walk each day and she has found a friend nearby. Barney is a Labrador and about seven months old – they love each other and Barney has come over to play twice now. She does miss Katie’s company but we are lucky that we often meet other dogs who are always willing to play and say hello. No, I’m not going to get another one!

Barney   This is Barney

One of the hills of my village   One of the hills of my village (Kamares)

Sunset over the Med   Sunset over the Mediterranean … and Jessie’s head!

This Christmas I will be visiting some family and friends in South Africa and will be celebrating Christmas in the old-fashioned way: on a farm! It will be like stepping back into my childhood. The New Year will be celebrated with my boet and his wife – he should buy some green bananas now!

I wish I could see all of my family members, but the country is so vast and they are scattered all over the place. There is just no way I will be able to do that. Perhaps they should come and visit me!

I wish you joy and happiness but most of all, I wish you love! And Happy New Year to my Jewish friends!!!
Till next time,
Maria.

P.S. Here is something else you might like to have a look at … http://www.cyprus.com/arts—culture-post-3451261.html

FUNNY OLD APRIL

According to the old Julian calendar, the 1st of April was New Year’s Day before Pope Gregory XIII changed it to the 1st of January – thus the Gregorian calendar. Thought you could do with a bit of useless information. I choose to see April as a month of New Beginnings … sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

Twelve years ago my life became a boiling cauldron, spitting and bubbling away for what seemed like eons. That April, just after we arrived on the Island of Love, was one of the most soul grinding months I’ve ever experienced … but, that’s another story.

The bubbling and boiling cauldron kept bubbling and boiling for many years to come but I can now say that the fires underneath it have been extinguished and the surface is becoming like a still pond.

I set out on a journey at the beginning of March to seek out friends and family in South Africa, some of whom I have not seen since moving to Cyprus. It was an amazing journey … and probably the cheapest holiday I’ve ever had! No-one wanted me to pay for anything … which left me feeling indebted, but at the same time bursting with gratitude.

I started in Pretoria with my daughter, her husband and my grandson where I stayed for three nights. 110It gave me the opportunity to mend fences with my grandson who didn’t want to speak to his grandmother for more than two years. As that episode, like all the others, is in the past we shall say no more about that. What I do want to say is that I shall be eternally grateful for the opportunity to put things right. We still have a lot of talking to do but at least we are talking … Like every other grandma, I’m really proud of him and having met some of his buddies, I think they are OK; in fact, I’d say more than OK! They have a whole future in front of them and all I can do is wish that I can be part of it for a long time to come.

My only surviving brother turned 81 on the 11th March and for that occasion, I ‘co-piloted’ for my son-in-law as he and my daughter flew me up to one of the northern provinces now called Limpopo, to a mining town called Thabazimbe which translates as ‘mountain of iron’. 040

Don’t I just look the business?

036 Before sunrise at Wonderboom Airfield just outside Pretoria.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to make a real connection with my brother but there being fourteen years between us, made it a bit difficult as I was always the ‘little sister’.

My brother and me

Doesn’t he look just adorable?

However, this time was so different and so much better than I could have hoped for. We spent hours together as we went through old photographs and discussed things that deeply affected him for many years. He drove me around town and buggied me all around the golf course where he has been playing  for many years – and still does! Again, my heart filled with gratitude that we have had the opportunity to come that much closer. I fully and absolutely believe that we are going to continue our conversations in the future and that will bring me such joy.

My next stop, to which my beloved brother drove me 2 hours each way …was with a long-time friend who lost her second husband six years ago.

057Lee is an exceptional person, a retired psychologist who worked in the world of addiction for many years. She lives on the lakeside of a large reservoir called Hartebeespoort Dam and while there, she asked if there was something special I would like to do during my visit. What a question!

It suddenly dawned on me that there was one person I have been wanting to meet for the last 35 years; Margaret Roberts started her herb centre around that time and I followed her through magazine articles and radio broadcasts but never got around to going to the herb centre. And here was that golden opportunity as we were a stone’s throw away. As it happened, the herb centre open for the public on … Wednesdays and this happened to be one of those.

That day will remain in my mind as fresh as the herbs and flowers and fairies that we encountered. Mrs. Roberts spent – unbelievable as this may sound – more than two hours talking to us and she made me promise to  stay in contact.

055 056Well, that was an easy promise to make as we both felt that we go back many lifetimes. Needless to say, she re-inspired me to make my garden into that Eden I have always wanted it to be. I’m hoping to open it to the public in about 18 months’ time, together with putting an art exhibition together. And yes, there will be a fairy garden once again. However, things may change at a moment’s notice … watch this space!

Lee spoiled me even further by taking me to dinner at Stef’s Table – a really intimate restaurant run by Stefan and Athlone, the latter being an artist who works extensively in stained glass. What fabulous work! I was again favoured by the gods as I was shown Athlone’s workshop – a rear treat! Stef’s food is not done justice by calling it just food – it’s fit for the gods!

And up the mountain we also went. 069 064 065 068

The cable car system was replaced a couple of years ago and when you see the old wheel, your heart would stop … it was made of wood and looked infinitely fragile! The new system is ultra modern and provided me with yet another grand experience long desired.

From Lee’s place, I moved to the other side of the lake to two dear friends who live on a golfing estate designed by Jack Nicklaus, called Pecanwood. Lee stayed for dinner and we all enjoyed a lovely meal of salmon, potato chips and salad with good wine in abundance. And there was ice-cream to follow! Lee was made aware of the theatre club as well as the gardening club in the area, something she had been looking for. And again, the fact that there are no coincidences triumphed.

Once again, I was made so exceptionally welcome by Penny and Keith and my stay included a trip to the theatre – something I haven’t done since Donald and I went to Drury Lane to see Miss Saigon. Really good farce called “Don’t dress for dinner”. On Sunday morning, my host and hostess went to the cricket at Wanderers and dropped me off at another friend’s home in Bedfordview. She and her husband, John, did a trip a few years ago which left us all breathless as we followed them from … Cape to Cairo and beyond. They did it in a vehicle they nicknamed The Beast … and I had the honour to meet this glorious beast! 104This tiny woman is a bundle of fire and determination – do not take her lightly!

105 I seem to be wearing almost the same clothes all the time! That’s called ‘travelling light’!

Marina lost her husband a mere six weeks after I lost mine and we have all been rather close for many years. That Sunday happened to be exactly six months since John drowned in a diving accident off the coast of Scotland and the Monday was to be their 25th wedding anniversary. I wanted to be with her at that time and we spent hours just talking non-stop. I hope I helped to make those two days easier for her.

We had these few days to ourselves and we cried while watching “The Notebook” and laughed while watching “Something’s got to give”. We topped that with watching “Mama Mia” – again – and sang along, remembering all those old songs when we were so much younger and happier. Since John passed away, Marina had to fight all sorts of demons including two human ones – she really didn’t deserve that! However, she is a strong person and I’m sure she will win through in the end as she has goodness on her side. The Light usually overpowers the Dark. We also used a little retail therapy for comfort …

When planning my itinerary, I made provision to stay in a hotel near the shopping mall where I used to work before getting married in 1987, so that I could entertain other friends. It was wonderful to walk the halls of opulence once again, drooling over the window displays, sniffing the expensive perfume wafting from boutiques and admiring the well-dressed people going about their business of becoming even more beautiful and well dressed.

Once again, the Universe arranged a meeting between Sandy Barnes and myself as he and Thelma were in Johannesburg for one day only, picking up supplies for their home-building project many miles away on their farm in the Free State. He had a window of about one hour during which we could meet and … talk! How great was that?

That evening I spent happy hour with Graham and Vivienne, who had forgiven me for waking her up before 10.00 a.m. Oops! I was not aware of the ‘rule’ so, once again, sorry, Vivienne! It was great seeing them again and I had to promise that next time I’m in Johannesburg, I would spend time with them at Tara, their fantabulous home in Saxonwold. No problem – it would be my indulgence.

My last day in Johannesburg was spent meeting my daughter off the train from Pretoria for more retail therapy at the shopping mall and meeting my financial advisor for lunch. Brilliant company, good food and once again … no paying! What bliss …

The Gautrain, I must mention, is ultra-modern and was completed in time for the Soccer World Cup in 2010 – certainly worth trying it out which I did in the afternoon, going back to Pretoria for my final leg of my grand tour. Very impressive!

The following day was spent watching my daughter and her helpers prepare for the big cup-cake-fest; it was graduation day for the students who attended her sewing school. 136 135Joey, my daughter, is teetering on the brink of being a perfectionist to say the least. Just have a look at these photographs of the storeroom … am I right? I’m so proud of her!

 124 123Have you ever seen such order?

More time was spent meeting my grandson’s friends and feasting around tables laden with exceptional goodies. The young ones made us old ones feel young again as they laughed and joked. Great, great times spent with my loved ones.

To put the cherry on top of my journey, a sewing lesson was arranged with the people who supplied my sewing machine 13 years ago; I never had the time to take that lesson before packing the machine for the journey to Cyprus! I’m so glad I could get this lesson in as it opened up all kinds of doors …

Not only am I going to create lovely things to wear but also wonderful things to pick out of my garden, the vegetable patch to be created and, oh … don’t forget the paintings and the fairy tales to be illustrated! Lots and lots of plans and ideas for this new phase in my life.

I am so full of gratitude for each and every person who made this sojourn so very special; I shall remember it for the rest of my life and build on what I have learned from all of you. Once again, thank you – from the bottom of my heart, soul and being.

556513_385818031491651_353592343_n As I walk along the seashore I shall think of you all …

until next time.

(Image drawn from the internet – unable to credit the artist/photographer – but with great thanks for a lovely picture!)

THAT 2012-THING

Now that we all know we are SAFE from utter destruction, life can perhaps go on.

What a load of old you-know-what! Such a lot of hoo-ha over a simple switching one light off and another one on – the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Like John Lennon said : getting out of one car and getting into another – but he was talking about death. In a way, that was what just happened : one era died and another was born. Hooray!

This 2012-thing did release a lot of energy, good and bad. It really all depends on how each individual handles the abundance. Yes, there is such a lot of opportunity in this world if only people would stop asking : “What’s in it for me?” as opposed to : “What can I give (or do) to make this a better world?” It’s a bit like going for a job interview and instead of asking : “Have you got a job for me?” rather ask : “How can I contribute to making this company/institution/organisation/position better?”

Silly? I think not. We, the entire world, are in a pickle and we need to get out of it and make it better. Napoleon Hill* suggested that to get out of the Great Depression, the above questions should be paramount. We are all in it together and we need to get out of it … together. There simply is no way that you can reap what you have not sown and if you are looking for a good harvest, you better sow the right seeds.

Oh, perhaps this is just an old woman reminiscing at the end of a year; at the end of an era and at the ‘end’ of all she has known and been familiar with until now. Things have changed for me in 2012 – in a massive way. And the time has come to evaluate Life from all angles before moving into the new age and the new year.

I guess I can count myself amongst the lucky ones as I have good health, terrific family and friends, a roof over my head that is paid for and enough food to feed my tribe from time to time. I have a fabulous garden that needs a lot of tender care as all the happenings of 2012 made for neglect. Another lucky thing is that I love gardening and I have two splendid dogs to keep me company whilst digging, weeding, planting and sowing. However, right now the garden is a sodden mess from an unusually high rainfall for December. This normally happens around end-January and during February of each year. But I guess the Universe had to have a house-cleaning exercise to herald in the new era. I wonder if it rained on other planets too …

I do look forward to 2013 as I will be visiting my homeland again after an absence of eight years. I look forward to the adventure of doing things solo although there will be many of those things that will hurt like hell; but an adventure it will be nonetheless. I’ve not done many things on my own; it’s a whole new learning curve and in many instances, a steep one. Sometimes the answers elude me and then … kaboom! They are right there where they always were, just waiting to be discovered!

One of these things that bothered me was the watering of my eyes after having had cataract removals, once in 2008 and once in November this year. I’ve tried everything to stop this irritating thing! And then this morning, it came to me : my body tried, on both occasions, to reject the foreign body (implanted lenses). It’s as simple as that and since that light went up, the watering seems to have subsided … if I were a meerkat, I would’ve clicked my tongue. Now I have to re-programme my mind in order to accept and welcome these wondrous lenses that enable me to see the beauty around me as well as enabling me to do what I love most : creating artistic things, especially painting.

That was just one of the things that bothered me. Yet, there have been so many things that trilled and surprised me and most of that came down to the kindness of people.

My darling Donald’s passing in August brought home to me the circle of friends we have built up since we arrived here in Cyprus in 2001. And the great thing about friends is that we retained those we left behind … both in South Africa and the rest of the world. And all along our travels, we found more of them – friends, that is!

It has also become clear to me why, traditionally, widows/widowers are supposed to be in mourning for a full year. It takes that long to re-learn how to live on one’s own! One has to go through each annual event such as birthdays, Easter, the seasons and Christmas without your partner, before being able to finally let go and moving forwards. I have only just completed a third of that time and come to realise just how much more I have to learn. The festive season is a time to be jolly and unite with family and friends. Well, most of my family are many miles away and although the friends are extremely supportive and loving, they all have their own families to celebrate with. No, I’m not complaining, honest! And I will be with dear friends. It’s just another life lesson on the curve and that’s OK – I’m good, as our American friends would say.

We, here in Tala (my village), are in the process of founding an arts centre as the community is large and there are many artists living in the area. We had our preliminary meeting last week and guess who the secretary is? Moi! Having had quite an extensive background in running my own art gallery in South Africa for some 10 years as well as being active in the Open Studios activities here, I’m really happy to be able to bring my skills to the table and help make this project a success. I’m also not asking what’s in it for me … I’m hoping to serve the community.

Paphos town, our municipal hub, won the honour of being elected Culture City 2017 and it’s time to start thinking and planning. Interesting times lie ahead and I’m already beginning to get really excited. Lots of things are already going on in preparation for the big event but imaginative planning needs to be fine-tuned. I’m really looking forward to this!

Finally, I would like to say to each and every one of you who have been right by my side – literally and figuratively – during the dark days in August, the most heartfelt Thank You for being there for me. I shall NEVER forget!

I also wish you and your loved ones the most blessed festive season
and the absolute best for 2013.
Go forth and prosper!
May the Force be with you!!