Orange You Glad?

IMG_4917Hello!

With the change of seasons in the southern hemisphere, we are transitioning from Winter into Spring.  Some sparse green grass blades are pushing up through the soil, leaves are budding on trees, and color is seeping slowly back into a rather brown and beige-hued world we’ve known during the dry season. The temperatures are warming, and the ritual commences of taking coffee and binoculars outside in the early morning to watch the returning birds.

In Mbabane, August also brings gorgeous plump and heavy oranges in droves. One of my favorite colors, and fruits, is orange. This time of year, oranges are piled high in the backs of trucks and fill market stalls. I’ve been scooping up loads of them to bring home for eating and squeezing into juice. Our little boy knows how to peel them, and he likes taking a deep breath of the fragrant orange peel and says, “nice!”

I love the scent of oranges, too.

And today, I ate a tea cake made with real orange juice that was delicious, and the creativity in the cooking was my muse to start a new art project.

Do you have a creative muse or a morning ritual?

Wishing you days full of color and light.

Cheers,

Tracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Things Writerly

IMG_1837

A thought-provoking question for you:  Where do you immediately go in a book store? Apparently, this can be insightful into your personality.  I tend to gravitate first toward the travel section, meander over to browse decor and design magazines, then check out the blank journals, and lastly, to the fiction novels and books by authors who write about women’s success, their life journeys, or personal connections. Well, and spy novels-who can resist the intrigue?

What do you enjoy reading?

I could spend hours in bookstores. The atmosphere feels so civilized and calming; great for daydreaming, and sometimes there are inviting coffee shops nearby.

Do you seek out books when you travel?  It’s one of my favorite parts of going to a new city, exploring its bookstores and cozy spaces. Shakespeare and Company in Paris feels like boarding an old pirate ship full of treasures waiting to be discovered. Book shops in London are reminiscent of an earlier era with their rows of gorgeous, dark mahogany shelves showcasing the classics and latest works, alongside beautiful, hand-stitched leather journals.

Drinking in cafes and all things writerly appeal to me. For more than a decade, I’ve used a little Mont Blanc “Mozart” fountain pen when journal-writing (and to write old-fashioned letters and postcards).  I have to admit, I’ve caught guff from colleagues in meetings about having to change the ink cartridge mid-sentence, or rub ink off of my hand…but I love the way the nib feels on paper, and the art of writing.

I also have a fervor for stationery stores. In addition to beautifully hand-made paper, some stationers in Italy, France, and Spain carry little vials of ink , sealed in wax, with glass pens. It feels very Shakespearean,or Hemingway-like, depending on the vibe.

Which are your favorite places to peruse passions and prose?

Happy daydreaming,

Tracy

Daily Naikan and Being Thankful

Naikan means “inside looking.” Developed by a Buddhist, it is a Japanese meditative practice of self-reflection and cultivating gratitude.

As a “type-A,” active person, it’s sometimes (okay, often) a challenge for me to carve out time to be still and quiet, which is all the more reason this practice sounds really valuable!  My son is on break next week from preschool. For his sanity and mine, I am committed to taking at least a few minutes a day to do this.

It’s so important to stop and break out of the busyness. I don’t do this enough. Life can pass you right by, getting wrapped up in activities and not fully appreciating the abundance that surrounds us.

My Mama and Aunt came to Africa this month, and it was an amazing visit, filled with wonderful experiences. I’ve just taken time to write in my journal, and read back through (and more fully appreciate) these fantastic memories:

  • a coffee barista’s advice in Kruger Park: “The world is God’s home, so we must travel to visit the rooms of his house.”
  • observing the wonderment of these ladies as they discovered African crafts, food, hand-woven baskets, wildlife, and meals made with flaming fires…
  • their market finds: magnets of Swazi women, banana-leaf art, a beaded change-purse, earrings made from beans, a soapstone carving, silver jewelry woven with giraffe tail hair,  hearing the scratching sound of hands carving wooden giraffes
  • pale blue skies blanketing toasty brown land and golden fields
  • relaxing under the lodge’s thatched roof, the sounds of hippos roaring nearby
  • grilled “braii” meals outdoors and sundowner drinks by an old, enormous Banyan tree
  • eating breakfast on safari in the bush
  • standing by the Indian Ocean
  • celebrating Ramsay’s second birthday
  • native Swazi dance and music
  • early morning mist rising from Kruger Park’s Crocodile River, emanating like steam from a hot cup of tea
  • sitting next to my Mama on Safari, surrounded by graceful giraffes
  • a vibrant, magical rainbow that appeared and lingered in the wetlands, illuminating the water like a glowing oil painting
  • watching my son on my mother’s lap, eating popcorn together

Wishing for you today the ability to leave behind the bustle, find center, and reflect on who you are and what makes you grateful.

“If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the world on fire.”
-Saint Catherine of Sienna

With gratitude,

Tracy