Saturday, September 23, 2017

What is heritage in a 21st century world?

This morning I was reflecting about what heritage means in the world we live in. We want to hold on to what defines us. Do we even know what that means in this technology driven global world? Shifts are happening and that is impacting what heritage is. These are my thoughts this weekend.

Google states that Heritage Day in South Africa has a specific purpose:

Heritage Day is a South African public holiday celebrated on 24 September. On this day, South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.

Where does our culture come from? Our family, our neighbourhood or our country? I am grappling with this as I look at my own family.

We are four children, born in South Africa from parents who have lived here for at least five generations. For our childhood and early adult years, we were all still here in South Africa. Twenty years later this is what it looks like.

I am still here and very much South African but my daughter is married to a Thai , lives in Thailand and I have Thai grandchildren. My son and daughter-in law now live in the UK with British citizenship and my two British grandchildren have mixed accents and know the UK better than they do the homeland of their parents.

My sister, married an Irishman, her children were both born in Switzerland and now all have United States citizenship.

My one brother is still here with all three of his children but who knows what may happen with them as they seek work and marriage in the next few years.

My youngest brother lives in South Africa, but owns property on a Greek Island and spends at least 4 months a year in this beautiful part of the world.

This is the reality of what has happened in just one generation in one family. What does it look like for your family?

This is what I was grappling with this morning. What binds us is family and the love of the heritage we share. It is no longer all of us in one village but spread across the planet. Family values and the use of technology enables us to stay connected. That is what I am trying to do as I grapple with grandchildren too far away to engage with, village style.

We all have a love for this beautiful nation, South Africa. If anyone asks we are all proudly South African, even though we no longer live under one nation. Our love for the people, our environment, our seasons and that special piece of kindness and humanity that exists in most of us. It saddens me that we have come to a time where this is being destroyed by the few. I am pleased to see civil society standing up for justice, peace and good governance. That is the South Africa I am proud to belong to.

I spoke on legacy and heritage at church a few months back. A learned academic in the audience spoke about the decision we make when we make the decision to follow Jesus. He said we move from the country we live in to the one where Jesus, reigns. This makes sense to me too. That is very much part of my heritage now as a committed Christian and the words in the bible that say, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15.

We need to spend some time reflecting on heritage and find ways to build the fabric of legacy in our families, communities and with those we love. 

I am a child of the most high God, with a family I love around the globe.  I choose to live a life of service every day in my community and with those with whom I engage. I love my Nation, South Africa and pray peace, love and forgiveness for all of us in the days that lie ahead. May we become a Nation that looks after its’ people, especially the vulnerable, young and old and build an economy free of corruption.  That is my pray for all of us for heritage day.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Shelly Beach - a place of happy memories

Yesterday we heard that our family holiday home is sold. This is a relief as we have had it on the market for three years. It also brought back so many memories of my life and my family that will be inter-twined with this place forever.

My mom bought this holiday home in 1974 when I was in my matric year. That December we spent our first ever holiday there. She paid R 17 000 fully furnished for this newly built unit on the beachfront close to Shelly Beach. My memories from that year are of us four children and my mom learning to have a holiday in a flat rather than a hotel. We had spent most of our family holidays before that at the Cutty Sark hotel in Scottburgh. I have a vivid memory of me standing in the "tickie box" getting my matric results. My youngest brother (10), packing his bags and letting us know that he was leaving as he was fed-up with us all. Saying good-bye one morning to John and Deon as they were going to the Transkei and then seeing their very dirty dusty faces later in the day as they had rolled the car and lost the windscreen. They had driven back to re-group and lick their wounds.

This place became home from home for the past 43 years. My youngest brother was at Varsity in KZN and spent many happy weekends here. Justin and Bronwyn my children know this place as their holiday home where many of their friends joined us over the years and Justin made sure Sarah grew to love it too before they left for the UK. Over the past 24 years, Frank, Marina and the triplets have spent time here most years and I know for them this too is their little place of heaven on earth.

The memories include cricket in the drive-way, Bronwyn cutting her head open on the banister, catching crabs at night on the beach, picnics and long days on the beach, Easter egg hunts and many more. Long lazy days with late breakfasts and nights around the braai. Rest, books and friends.

How does one say goodbye to memories like this? One does not. You understand that with the death of my mom and the children grown and off in different directions that life has changed and that it is time to let go and say good-bye. The memories remain with us always, we just release the building to the next young couple who will make memories of their own.

Thank you Mom for this wonderful gift that kept on giving for 43 years and for the memories that will remain forever.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Present over Perfect by Shauna Nieqist

I purchased this book at the Global Leadership Summit and have enjoyed every chapter. A book in season for all of us who are too busy and need to learn to be quiet. Here is an extract I read yesterday that resonates with me.

“I am not building a castle or a monument: I’m building a soul and a family. I’ll tell stories all my life, writing on napkins and on the backs of receipts, or in books if they let me, but this is the promise I make to God: I will never again be so careless, so cavalier with the body and soul you’ve given me.

They are the only things in all the world that have been entrusted entirely to me, and I stewarded them poorly, worshiping for a time at the altars of productivity, capability, busyness, distraction. This body and soul will become again what God intended them to be: living sacrifices, offered only to him. I will spend my life on meaning, on connection, on love, on freedom. I will not waste one more day trapped in comparison, competition, proving and earning. That’s the currency of a culture that has nothing to offer.”

Our world is so busy and it is so easy to get sucked into consumerism, competition and busyness. As we start this year take a step back, reflect on where you are and where you want to go. I know that these words touch me deeply and I will endeavor to live more by this motto in 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 done and dusted

I see many people talking about being happy to see the back of 2016. It seems to have been a tough year for many personally and we know that globally there have been some interesting challenges and disappointments that have far reaching ramifications.
As I left South Africa for my special holiday with my family I too was feeling the pressure. It has been an interesting year. The first back on my own in business. Watching a friend loose her husband too soon and having another close friend diagnosed with cancer. The stressful scenarios tend to blur the good things we have experienced. We need to lift our head and rest to be able to see clearly. The storm clouds can block the sunshine and the clarity of the horizon.

The challenge and joy of being back in my own business has been a gift. Time to create, innovate, have conversations, build and co-create solutions. It is never too late to work on your passion and ignite a new season.  To see the dim light in someone’s eyes change to shining eyes is part of the intangible payment in my day to day life.  It seems that my timing back to market is ideal. The economic crisis may be all around us but it is in this kind of season that opportunity also exists. Many people are needing to find a way to stretch their investments and work longer. The joy is helping them understand what that means in this season of life and that it is on their terms, not the 8-5 world that was part of their first career.

I spent three wonderful weeks in Thailand with my daughter Bronwyn and her family. Travel takes you away from your current surroundings and we get to see the world through a different lens. Grandchildren bring joy and silliness into your world. They are also brutally honest. It has been wonderful to see how well Bronwyn is doing after her diagnosis last year. Life will never be the same but I notice she celebrates the small things in life, is kinder to herself and manages her stress better. Why does it need to be a near death experience before us humans take a deep breath and change the things we know are good for us . There are lessons for all of us in the pace of life currently.

I landed in the UK in late December for time with Justin, Sarah and the girls. They blessed me with a 6 day trip to France and Germany for Christmas and my birthday. We stayed in an apartment in France in a small village. Taking time to slow down, celebrate family, good food and little girls excited about Christmas was a joy. Time to chat, share and just be together was a gift that cannot be bought with money. We need more of that in our lives. Time to slow down, unwind and be with those we love.

My sister, Carol and her husband Brendan have surprised me with a ticket to the USA this coming week where I will go and spend time with my American family. I was last there ten years ago when I turned fifty. The opportunity to see all my close family while I travel has been a real blessing. An opportunity of a lifetime.

When I booked this trip earlier this year it was due to an extra policy that showed up belonging to my mom. The miracle of the money in April made me make the decision that my mom would have loved nothing more than for me to spend my 60th birthday celebrating with those I love the most. I felt like she had sent the money for me as a gift from her. This has made the trip extra special. My mom taught me the gift of family and time together. Value what you have and make sure you take the time to spend quality time with those you love. Do not allow technology and work to get in the way of this most important part of your life.

My life in South Africa is filled with family and friends who I try to see and spend time with on a regular basis. I value each of you and grateful for the journey we walk together. I live in beautiful surroundings and love that I can enjoy walking and time in nature. That has been one of the benefits this year. More time at home to rest, reflect and be still.

I am grateful daily for my walk with God.  I want to be able to grow spiritually, use my gifts and talents to help others and make a difference wherever I go.  This journey has valleys and mountain tops and I am grateful for the lessons learnt along the way.
We all have tangible and intangible assets in our lives. More than ever this year I am valuing my intangible assets and working and building a balance for my life.
Thank you for being part of my journey and making a difference in my life. I love and appreciate you.

May 2017 be a year of growth for you and me and all those who cross our paths.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Legacy, family and birthday celebrations

I have just finished attending the Retirement Lifestyle Expo in Cape Town. Over lunch yesterday one of the ladies joined me at and shared about how much she had enjoyed my talk about finding passion, purpose and a pay cheque 50+.. She shared about how she loves to listen to stories from older people and would love to record them so that their families have them when they are no longer here to tell the stories.I know this is something I always encouraged my mom to do for us as she was the oldest in her generation and had many of the stories in her head. Now that she has died and I look at pictures, I wish I had taken more note of the stories because in many cases they are not recorded. This morning gave me a gift. A glimpse into her world and prayer life.

When my Mom died, I inherited most of her bibles and decided this year to use one of them as part of my daily quiet time. It is called the NIV Once a day bible and every day you read a section of the bible. A section from the old and new testament as well as a psalm or proverb. This morning as I was reading there were three sections underlined by my Mom and dated 25th February 2012. This was four days before the birth of my beautiful twin granddaughters, Chloe and Emma.

It is the story of Abraham and how he sends his servant to the land of his birth to go and find a woman to marry his son Isaac. Rebecca was sent by her family to Isaac with these words " Our sister may you increase to thousands upon thousands. May your offspring possess the cities of the enemies"  This story is in Genesis 9.

From Matthew 9 the section she underlined was " the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field."
In the reflection section at the end of each day she underlined: We are stewards of Jesus's domains and our goal is to have his mind and will and become faithful stewards of God's purpose.

We all love to remember the special moments from the past. The challenge is that we now live in a very fast paced world and Facebook even reminds us of these days. This morning Sarah reminded me of my prayer for her and Justin the day before the birth. I had found this beautiful photograph and it spoke to me.

This is my prayer for Sarah Katherine Smith and Justin Smith. Psalm 91. 
"Live under the protection of God Most High and stay in the shadow of God all powerful.

The Lord will keep you safe. He will spread HIS wings over you and keep you safe. His faithfulness is like a shield" Many blessings and prayers as we wait for the birth of your precious baby girls.

God's provision, love and legacy is part of all our lives. I am grateful for the legacy of my own family. We may now live on 4 continents, but share the same promise of love , protection and fruitfulness.

Chloe and Emma were born on the 29th February 2012. Tomorrow they turn 4. What a journey of joy it has been to watch and share with you over the past four years.

 I am so glad that My mom was able to meet you before she died.

 and that you took a long weekend from London last year to come and share in the legacy of her goodbyes from the family.

This morning I feel like my Mom has whispered from heaven. She prayed for us all during her lifetime and now protects us from heaven. My dad would have been 89 yesterday. Their legacy and family now stretches far and wide.

May we continue to love our families, celebrate life and leave a legacy as promised by God.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself.

Happy Birthday my darling girls. Lots of love from Granny LaLa.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Choice, Change and Gratitude for 2015

Every year I like to reflect on my year and record my journey. I find this to be therapeutic and also it keeps a record of my life journey. In the work I do within Refirement Network, I share often about the number of life stage changes that happen when we are around 50+. There are always changes happening, choices to be made and things to be grateful for. 

I started working with a not for profit company, BrainBoosters in November 2010. The invitation from the Founders was to help them to set up the company and pioneer the journey of change in the early childhood sector. At the time I committed to at least a 5 year journey. I have loved every moment of this road and so proud of the team that we have built and the difference we have made to date in the parenting and early education sector. We were given a large project this year, working with 27 primary schools in the Free State and impacted more than 12500 children and 250 educators. There were many other projects around the country and I know that we have made a difference. It is wonderful to work in a sector, where one knows that the work you are doing is moving the country forward. Without education this country cannot move in the right direction. As the year was coming to an end, I knew it was time to walk back over the bridge to my own company- Refirement Network. That is where I want to add value for at least the next 10 years. Not an easy decision to move from a secure pay cheque to writing your own. However this again is a decision that many of us need to make that have to work till we are older- due to longevity and not having enough savings.

My mom died last year- another change many of us need to deal with. Our parents are living longer , but at some point they leave us to continue doing life without them. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with her death. We made a decision to all get together as a family around her birthday in April and to bury her ashes in Rustenburg where she grew up. What a wonderful celebration we had. My siblings and children live on 4 continents and not always easy to get together. We managed to get all the siblings, 6 out of the 9 grandchildren and all the great grandchildren together for three days. Family matters and we need to continue to connect and support one another.

Trips to my children are a highlight of my year. One family lives in London and the other in Thailand. The challenge of visit the children or save for retirement is a constant battle. This challenge again is one that many of us wrestle with. I know there is no easy answer on this one. The dropping of our currency and financial status globally is a real nightmare for international travel. I spent 2 wonderful, restful weeks in London in August. My twin granddaughters, Emma and Chloe are 3 and it was just a delight to spend time with them in their daily routine and environment. I don't need to do much more than be with them to be happy.

The trip to the UK ended with any parents worst nightmare. My daughter become critically ill in Thailand and I made an emergency trip directly to Bangkok from London. Here is a link to my post around that trip:
I am happy to say that she is reacting well to treatment and the thing I am most grateful for is that my daughter is alive and recovering. No gifts can replace this for me this year. It puts life into perspective in a very clear way. The gift of life.

I am happy to say that I had already planned and paid for my annual trip to Thailand earlier in the year and will leave South Africa on the 24th. I arrive on Christmas morning as the gift this year. This time to spend quality, fun time with Bronwyn, Noiy, Daniel and Naomi.

I do not know what 2016 holds. I do know that my promise comes from Psalm 32:8
" The Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." 

I look forward to meeting many more people around South Africa in 2016 as I grow Refirement in the main cities and suburbs of our beautiful land. We are a demographic group that can add much value, wisdom and skills into our communities.

Have a blessed Christmas and restful, fun time with family and friends.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The vision of REFIREMENT in Communities

Refirement Network has a vision to engage a specific demographic group- The 50+ generation called the Baby Boomers. This generation is heading for retirement in the next few years and due to longevity, technology and finance we need to change the way we plan this stage of life.We may have 25-30 healthy years beyond our 50th birthday. Have you planned how you will add value, keep earning and live in this extra season.

In his book, The Abundant Community, John McKnight and Peter Block state the following:
" This kind of abundance becomes possible when we join our neighbours to live and create a community that nurtures our family and makes us useful citizens" Refirement Network would like to co-create this in communities with engaged citizens.

What does this look like?

We will use technology to connect individuals.
We will engage in some community events to learn, share and grow the conversation.
We can share skills and create a platform for money and meaning.
This means that individuals can share what they do and others who may need these skills will be able to find the skills and services needed.
We can also engage with non-profit organisations in the area and find out what skills they need .
Many have time and skills but don't know where to go to engage.
We can have fun and create events
Young entrepreneurs can engage with skilled wise boomers and together create jobs.

Life is about support, purpose and feeling useful. The more we engage with technology, the more we can become isolated. I hope that this platform will bring us out of our homes into our neighbourhood and make a difference to those around us.

No community can survive without some champions. Are you a champion and willing to engage.
Please let me know if you are keen to become a Refirement champion in your community.
Contact me via my website:

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