Questioning Education after Teaching Around the World

Questioning education after teaching around the world

Let me begin by saying that this is going to be a rather controversial topic. Everyone has their own set of experiences and own inclination to which way of educating they think is best. I, too, grabbled with it for the longest time and as a teacher myself the endless sources of information and research can be conflicting and overwhelming to say the least.

If you are an educator or parent yourself, you may often find yourself wondering if the choices you are making with regards to your children's education are the right ones.

My Personal School Experience

I was educated in public schools in South Africa from kindergarten to high school and attended a South African university. You could say I began my education during the constructivist movement so there was a transitioning away from lecture-based instruction and students were encouraged to work together more in groups and interact. Assessment was done throughout the year rather than a final exam at the end, and teachers were beginning to explore alternative ways of educating. I had my share of older teachers who were still stuck in their ways, and discipline was favoured in the classroom.

That being said, I absolutely LOVED school. I wouldn't say I was the brightest in terms of being top of my class academically by any means, but school was the best. Mostly because I loved stationery, and my books and assignments were always in impeccable condition. And it probably helped that I was a quiet, shy little thing that hardly got into any kind of trouble.

South Africa has had it's fair share of curriculums and over the course of my education our national curriculum changed about four times. It's safe to say, as a country we're not leading any educational movements compared to countries like the US, New Zealand, and the ever-praised Finland. 

The point I'm trying to get to here, is that after teaching abroad and being surrounded by educators who studied in other parts of the world with "far better" education systems, I didn't seem to be any less qualified or competent than they were. It's not as if I could tell that I was less or more educated, even though one would think that a student educated in say, Australia, would be in a better position than someone educated in third-world South Africa. 

Teaching Experiences

Now let's give you insight into the very diverse range of institutions and curriculums I have experienced around the world. Many of them being in rural areas where education is still developing, and others at the fore-front of education innovation. 

From teaching at a public school in South Africa where there is a focus on standardised testing, to a rural village in Bhutan where rote-learning and memorisation play key roles in education, to a jungle school in Costa Rica where inquiry and holistic learning are the centre of attention. I've seen it all. 

Teaching in rural Bhutan

Here's some of the things I've deciphered after teaching around the world over the last few years: 

1. Homework is unnecessary

I don't mean assignments that involve interacting with parents and communities, or the kind where you need to find research for a project at school. I'm talking about the tedious practicing of math equations or assigning an entire project solely to be done at home. I would think that the learning and school activities are done at school, and no other work should be required outside of those hours. What are we trying to do? Create working machines, or balanced little people who have time for playing and being outside - for having down-time in the afternoons?

Between the Grade 2's I taught in South Africa who had hours of homework each day and the second graders who had no homework in Costa Rica there was virtually no difference academically (better or worse) despite their after school activities. 

2. More time does not equal more learning

Spending more time at school or hours doing homework, does not mean our students are going to learn more. The saying "practice makes perfect" comes to mind, but what if we've worked ourselves to a point where nothing more can be learnt? Children and adults have their limit when it comes to focusing which means anything past the threshold will be pointless. 

I've found that having school on Saturdays or having longer school days did not impact students' performance for the better. If anything, students were more tired and less likely to focus during the lessons. 

3. Depth over Breadth

With all of the standards and topics needed to be covered in most of the curriculums today, its no wonder students and teachers can't keep up. We quickly move over things to tick a box, to complete a requirement. Why not pick fewer topics and truly go in depth with them, ensuring deep and meaningful connections are made, and solid learning takes place? 

4. Studying (aka rote memorisation) is pointless

If a student does not "perform" during an assessment I personally feel that its a reflection on me as a teacher. A student shouldn't have to study for an exam or an assessment, they should rather just be applying what they already know and understand. If I assess a student at any time on something we have already covered, the student should be able to complete the assessment if they understood the content.

Whereas if they go home and study definitions or terminology, complete and "pass" the assessment I'm pretty sure they will forget it in a few weeks and have to re-study before the next assessment. This personally happened to me during every exam at school and I don't see the point. 

5. Standardised testing for the flock

It amazes me that this is still a thing. It is common sense that we are all different, and widely accepted and proven that we all learn differently, so why is it that academic performance and assessing everyone according to the same standard, the same test, is still a thing? 

Why can we not give students an opportunity to show us their understanding, their learning, in anyway they see fit. I know this is still developing and various ways of assessing are still being introduced, but we have to do better. We cannot group everyone together and expect that they will all do well. 

What is the point of education? 

I think what I've come to realise is that most of the time we're just scrambling trying to fit a whole bunch of content into our days, weeks, years at school as teachers and students alike. Most schools still focus on getting students to perform academically and to fit into a little box as if we are trying to create adults who will be an army for the workforce. We're trying to create workers - that's what school was originally designed for. 

I think our focus should be more on developing curiosity and teaching students how to learn, how work things out for themselves and letting them explore their own interests. And yes, it sounds like a pretty tall order. 

The Cycle of Creativity


It’s currently 1am and I can’t sleep. I’ve been tossing and turning for hours now and this is far from an often occurrence, I’m the sort of person who welcomes sleep and easily falls into a deep slumber that lasts until morning. But the last few nights I’ve noticed a restlessness. My body, or my consciousness, trying to tell me something. And I’m finally listening. 

From the age of twelve, or maybe thirteen, or whenever my menstrual cycle began, as far back as I can remember I’ve had the most painful periods. I remember the first time it happened I thought I was ill with a bad case of food poisoning but wouldn't tell anyone because I was ashamed of having to frequently use the bathroom. Its been like that since I can remember, holding in natural urges out of embarrassment - I haven't quite gotten to the source of that conditioning yet. Before long I noticed my pale yellow shorts covered in a large light brown stain that spread out, clearly noticeable to everyone around me. I told the others I had sat in paint. I don't know what I would have done if we didn't happen to be painting that day, I think a part of me even believed that I had in fact accidentally sat in paint. 

Since that first time, every month it would come and with it the cramps and pain and dreading. I’d wash down pain medication and feel the pain slowly numb away. When I travelled to remote Bhutan for a year I made sure to take a year supply of pain killers with me, to ensure I wouldn't have to endure it. Sometimes I’d even try to fight it, see how long I’d last before having to succumb to popping the pills. I remember one night when we were out of pain relievers and I woke in agony, I stayed up all night moaning and twisting in the most awful pain. Thankfully over the years I weaned myself off the hardcore prescription painkillers and onto a lighter over-the-counter headache pill. 

After purifying most aspects of my life, I had this niggling feeling that the chemicals I was putting into my body had to go. I can’t explain why I had tried so many times before to resist the medication, the comfortableness, and failed. A few months ago I just decided I wouldn't take a pill for the pain again. I committed and that was it. I mean, maybe it wasn't the easiest thing I've ever had to do, but I realised I just needed to make it through once to know it was possible. I happened to be reading a book by Sadhguru, who spoke about having control over your mind and physical body so I decided I would have control over this pain. I could feel pain but not suffer, the suffering was a choice. I would no longer mask what naturally came to me, I would not hide its truth. I ran towards the pain, felt it and let it go. And I made it through. Each month I now go into the discomfort fully and feel it in its entirety, and it just is. I no longer feel it as something good or bad, it just is. I am no longer anxious when I feel the dull pain lurking. Each month is an opportunity for growth because of the pain. 

An odd thing came along with this liberation. It seems as though it was at about the same time that I quit fighting the natural pain that this trance like writing stage began. It has been documented way back in history the link between a woman’s natural cycle, the moon and creativity, among other things. I won’t go too far into it all, you can find the information for yourself. But this experience awakened a deeper consciousness within me. I noticed subtle changes when I was no longer masking natural occurrences with medication, and I was able to get more in tune with the cycle that occurs within me. As soon as I began listening, there was an inclination to write. I can notice it almost immediately now, but in the beginning it would just feel as if there was a build up of energy, or a restlessness as I like to call it. It often feels as if the creative energy is trying to get out. 

I noticed other changes as well, each month certain feelings or stages would come without fail - happening as if my body were in a cycle just like the moon waxes and wanes. Once a month I go through a time of reclusiveness, of needing to be alone, a hermit you might want to call it. There is also a time for wanting to connect with others and share, and say yes to new experiences. I go through a cleaning stage each month, where I feel a need to clean and sort out and fix my physical space, sometimes it is just making lists for everything and anything - those times where I unpack all of my things, get halfway through and regret the entire thing. Dylan couldn't understand why some days I'd wake up and start sweeping, then promptly spring the entire house. It would just be something I simply couldn't ignore, an urge that couldn't be ignored. And then there comes the creative, birthing of new ideas period. 

I find this pretty magical. Its not “hippie” talk at all, but rather my truth for the past few months. Before I would have these phases of wanting to clean or be alone but I never connected them to my inner cycle, or noticed how spot on their occurrence operates within the month, each and every month. It is said that women used to be so in tune with nature that all of their cycles were connected to the moon, that each woman would get her period on the new moon each month. Obviously, our modern way of living and artificial everything has changed things entirely. 

I would have creative times before, I’ve always enjoyed singing and making music and art, but lately since the medication ended something has shifted. I suppose the experience I am trying to describe is so simple, so true, that it can be hard to put it into a manmade language. In the same way that you cannot describe how you make your heart beat, you just do. An idea might come to me, possibly on a topic I have been exploring or sharing with others. Naturally I’ve been speaking about my writing lately and so the topic of “creativity” came to me tonight. It’s almost as if that word is whispered into my consciousness and suddenly I know I need to write about it. I open a new document and start typing WITHOUT THINKING. I melt away entirely during this process and its almost as if “I”, whoever I may be, don’t exist during this time. I can describe it as going into a deep meditation where everything else ceases to exist but at the same time I am so present and so in tune with everything that is. I type and type and type until I suddenly become aware that its all over.  What’s crazy is then I get to read what I have just created. Every time I am completely blown away, not because I think my writing is good or bad, I don't attach any labels to it. It’s just amazing to read something created by yourself but have no real recollection of trying to think of words or trying to express the thoughts, they literally just pour out of my hands, or my mind, without thought. 

It is such an effortless process. I can’t imagine having to create in on demand, I simply cannot at this stage. I haven’t done any other writing of late, I simply wait until it comes to me - my whole "life" section was created just for it. I am listening. 




If you can relate to any of this through your creative process I’d love to hear from you and learn more about this as it is all very new to me! I can imagine painting, drawing and creating art could manifest similar experiences. I’ve truly valued the recent individuals who have been reaching out because of my recent posts, and I’d love to foster more meaningful connections with those who find truth in these words.




Today I woke up in the dark and snoozed my alarm at least four times before scrambling out of bed, sleepily trying to remember why I allowed myself to stay up past eleven the night before and instantly worrying about my energy levels for the rest of the day. 

Today I hopped on the back of a motorcycle and I saw thick fog blanketing everything around me. The moisture collected on my clothes and my skin became sticky, my hair a knotted mess as the wind whipped through it. 

Today I saw some thirty tiny piglets crammed into a cage on the back of a motorcycle, piled on top of one another squealing, afraid. I fought back the tears and shut my eyes tightly, pretending I didn't know, telling myself I didn't want to know, fighting against the overwhelming emotion, blanking it out each time it came back into my mind as we zoomed past. 

Today when we arrived at the seaside, it looked like Heaven. The fog blocked out the sunrise but everything was bathed in an orange-pink glow. The beach was deserted and all that could be seen of the ocean was the soft waves gently lapping against the shoreline. Where usually you look out so that the sea becomes an endless mass, today the fog made it impossible to see past the waves.  

Today I saw birds in cages and puppies enclosed in small wire fences waiting to be sold and I felt a fiery anger burning within me. Today I fought to control it and push it down, reserved my need to scream, like I had done so many times before. Today I took deep breaths in and out, in and out. In. and. Out. 

Today I ate oatmeal for lunch, with strawberries and raw cacao and coconut and peanut butter that got too hot and melted so that when I pulled out the spoon it drizzled and poured out over the berries in the creamiest, most seductive way. Today the smell of peanut butter and coconut and fresh strawberries and chocolate seduced my senses and I had a love affair. 

Today I told my mother I would go to India alone, to which she replied “no”. I laughed. 

Today I started reading the novel, Ishmael, and I read and read and read. I got through a hundred pages in one sitting and my head got heaving and overwhelmed with mankind's wrong doings. Today I played ukulele despite my fingers being a complete mess, peeling and cracking and refusing to heal. Today I traced my fingertips, searching for my fingerprints that had once been present and didn't find them.  

Today I burned my arm on a hot pan and watched as the skin turned from a light pink to a raised brownish-red tattoo identical to the rim of the pan, and I didn't curse or tell myself to be more careful. 

Today I opened my classroom door and found tiny people jumping up and down, and an instant “wow!” in awe of my appearance. They pulled at the hem of my dress and they spun around me, pushing to get into the room. I sang and danced and I fed off their energy and curiosity and creativity and openness, their love for being alive. 

Today I suddenly felt the need to write and before long I felt my fingers moving across the keys without thinking. I typed until it was over, and, today I cried as I read this after it was written. The moisture on my eyelashes subtle at first, and then tears created lines down my cheeks. 

Meditation. Deep breaths again. 

In and out. 



How do I Look?


This is one of those posts that sort of came over me suddenly. I can't explain what is happening lately or what this writing process has become, an "out of body" experience really. Words flow through me, I don't even think - whatever will be is what comes out at the end. At times this process can feel like a release and at others it feels as if I've been drained. I wonder which it will be tonight ... 

For a long while I've felt a shedding of some sort. A shedding of ideas, previous truths, attachments and expectations. Much like my writing this process can either be liberating and feel good, or sometimes its like a bandage getting ripped off and I really feel the after burn. This particular experience wasn't either. I had a set of ideas and thoughts about myself, about my physical appearance that were there one day and seemed to vanish without warning the next. 

I think it must have begun when I lived in Bhutan. I honestly had this idea that I was a "bigger" or "heavier" girl or at least not at an ideal weight. I had spent years trying to get to what I believed was an ideal weight, believing it would make me happier. After moving to Bhutan and living among locals who looked so drastically different, I was naturally always the centre of attention. I'm not saying this because it was something I enjoyed or something that added value to my self worth - but rather was just part of this process. I was constantly told I was beautiful and "oh madam, you are so thin" and "madam, your skin is so beautiful and white". I think perhaps it started slowly breaking apart the years of being bombarded with the opposite through western media. Or maybe it was just seeing how different "beauty ideals" looked around the world, making it clear that they were just created by us and didn't actually mean anything. 

I used to believe that my self worth was based on how I looked on the outside, and that I had to meet certain standards based on society. I used to scrutinise features and plan out ways to change things about my physical body because I believed it would add value to me as a person. I used to worry about numbers on scales or sizes on clothing items, or buying a clothing item that had a label that cost more than its worth. I suppose once I realised all of these things are man made ideas, my belief in their importance vanished. 

Don't get me wrong - I respect my body, I feed it healthy nourishing foods when I can and move it because it feels good, and because I want to have energy to complete tasks that are important to me. But the focus has shifted from what was once an obsession to be "healthy" because I saw it as a means to get to a certain weight, to look like something else. I think this was the biggest eye opening thought for me: I can't help the way I look. Yes, I can choose to be at a healthy weight by eating nourishing foods. But things like having a "big mouth" or "thick legs" are out of my control. I was born this way. Now, I have this feeling, that its amazing that I even exist. That my lungs work and my heart pumps - it is a magnificent existence. Literally a miracle. I never look at a flower or tree or the ocean or animal and think that its ugly. Granted, these things can get sick and look less visually appealing because they are dying but when they are healthy there's never a feeling that it should change. Why do we think this about ourselves? I never look at a tree and think its fat or ugly - why do we do this to ourselves? I guess its the ego coming into play.

I no longer feel the need to look in the mirror or wear "fashionable" clothing. I used to think women who didn't shave were extreme in their beliefs, but recently the realisation has come over me that hair grows everywhere naturally but I've been brainwashed into believing I'm "beautiful" only when I am without hair in certain places. Its almost laughable when you really think about it. I mean, yes, I brush my hair and wash my body and have clean, quality clothing thats going to last a while - but not for others validation, but because it is respecting myself and the earth (I respect the earth and nature by not consuming more than I need - by buying clothing and more than necessary). I do what feels good, simply because it feels better than not feeling good. Its pleasant when I smell clean as opposed to when I haven't washed in a few days. Its that simple. The idea of make up is long gone and even products like cleanser and moisturiser are no longer things that I need to think about or spend time on - my skin no longer needs it. Many things no longer serve their purpose. 

This is by no means a judgement to anyone who chooses to diet or wear make up or do anything - but rather just an insight into my experience. A seed as such to make you question the things we do. I think a lot of the time we do things mindlessly because its what has always been done by the people before us - but really, question every little thing you do to see if it serves you. 

I feel like I can't see outside physical beauty anymore. Or rather, I just see everything as beautiful. The good, the bad, the ugly are all in beautiful harmony. I notice health, like wow that person is radiating energy and life - but I think everyone is a beautiful manifestation. If you choose to label it like that. I don't see race or age or labels any longer really. While I was in South Africa a while ago someone asked me about another person, referencing their race, and I honestly couldn't answer because I didn't know. It came as a shock that I didn't notice this about an other - it didn't define them, or play a part of relevance any longer for me. As I write this, tears are streaming down my face, because it is such a beautiful thing to not have these labels to define others or myself any longer. Even being beautiful or ugly is no longer a factor in my mind. I simply use it as a reference to make understanding easier. 

I think I can explain it like this: I am neither beautiful or ugly, I just am. And so are you. 


PS. This was a release post in the end after all. 


A Love Story


“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” Cynthia Occelli

I have written this post so many times, in different forms, with different words. Each time not doing it justice - if that's even a real thing. It can be challenging to put this experience into words or a manmade language because it was and is so much more than is possible with my limited human vocabulary. Dylan and I were laughing over this the other day, because we could probably write a book or two on this experience alone and still not even touch what it was really like. However, I feel a strong desire to share this because I look around me and see so many suffering in "relationships". I think many people don't know there are different ways to experience connection or be with one another. Or like me, have been brainwashed by how things have always been done and they think they need to follow everyone else blindly. In short, this is an attempt to share my story. It feels necessary to emphasise the "MY story" part because I am not at all saying anyway of doing something is right or wrong or better or worse, this is just an attempt to share my experience. I understand that this blog is "supposed to be" a teaching resource, but I don't really care what I'm supposed to do or write about anymore. 

I hold this experience so dearly to me because I think perhaps it was the most difficult thing I've ever had to endure. At the time it was just SO challenging and I didn't see any way through it. And now, I look back and all I can see is the beauty. It was terrible and challenging and destructing and consuming and growing and absolutely beautiful in every way. I've called this a love story because it is essentially this, it is how Dylan and I came to be what we are today, how I found the meaning of true love (not romantic love) but real love in its purest form. I have so much love for Dylan and am so eternally grateful to him and this experience that we continue to share together. 

I recently went to a Yin Yoga workshop with Meghan Currie. Despite it being a 3 hour workshop in my least favourite style of yoga I couldn't pass off the opportunity since I had been following Meghan for years and was finally in Bali. I say least favourite because Yin Yoga is the most challenging for me, holding poses for around 5 minutes is not only physically uncomfortable but it really tests your "mind body". In this workshop Meghan described the uncomfortableness as an opening because in your body, with your muscles, this is essentially what is happening and why you are experiencing discomfort in a particular area. Now although the discomfort is often associated with something negative, to see it as opening has a different meaning entirely. Yin Yoga is so powerful because you can relate so much of the physical with real life, and this workshop spoke so much truth for me. It almost prepared the foundation for me to actually write this post. The transformation that happened within my "marriage" or "relationship" was essentially this: opening. And boy, was there a lot of discomfort that came along with it. What tends to happen when we are experiencing discomfort or something we don't like, is that we resist it or run away from it. In Yin, you instead face it head on and run towards it. You focus on it and feel it in its totality and this is where the transformation happens. 

Because of society and media and what I had always been exposed to, I had a "good idea" of what marriage and relationships should look like. My parents have been together since they were teenagers and I thought the only way I could make my relationship last was to mimic their behaviour. What I'm trying to say is that I had a lot of expectation, of myself and of Dylan and of what our relationship should look like. I really thought we had to spend a lot of time together and if we wanted to be alone, if I enjoyed being alone, that something was wrong in our relationship. I had ideas about not being able to speak with other people because it lead to unfaithfulness or that we needed to be constantly infatuated with each other. I would get really frustrated when things didn't play out the way I envisioned them, or when Dylan didn't behave in a way that aligned with my expectations. When he would go away for work it caused so much tension because I resisted being alone, and he felt guilty for doing things that truly just made him happy. These sound like simply things or little problems but I cannot express the conflict it created. I mean, we weren't fighting or screaming with each other because thats just not how we are but it was like this silent tension that was always there.

Dylan saw things very differently. I don't want to speak for him because its his own experience, but I think he knew things like being away from someone you love or connecting with another person about life couldn't be something wrong. There was conflict between us and conflict within him because he was the only person that felt this way. I mean, our friends and family all seem perfectly fine being together 24/7 and not having close friends with others. It got to a point where we just weren't relating well to each other any longer, for me it was almost as if I shut myself off to him completely. There was just so much resistance within me. I remember it like that: that it was a fight trying to understand. I could understand how he was feeling and he would attempt to explain himself to me over and over again, but I just couldn't imagine how it could work - to give total freedom. If I gave total freedom, Dylan wouldn't be mine any longer. I couldn't let go of this attachment. You either have freedom in your relationship or you don't. You can't have a little bit of freedom. Is your "relationship" free or not? I'm also putting the words "relationship" and "marriage" in quotation marks because these concepts are essentially made up by us, they aren't even real. I don't even know what Dylan and I have anymore, because it extends beyond the word marriage. 

I remember us discussing, or rather me suggesting, divorce. And talking about working through difficult times. I remember saying "what if we're still working through this for another year?". Needless to say it continued for another year and a half, and got to a point that was almost unbearable. I went back to my home country for some time, not knowing if I would return to Dylan or not, but in the end did. And back-to-back Dylan left for home when I returned. This extended alone time did something, a small shift began to happen. I don't think it was necessarily the alone time but more a surrendering. Our discomfort had reached a peak I didn't know possible, I would often cry solely from frustration, and there was honestly nothing left to do but let go. Perhaps I only let go out of pure exhaustion, I can't really place the turning point. But I do know I couldn't keep fighting against this giant gushing river, so I just went with it instead. And no, I didn't "let go" and give up and end the connection with Dylan, I just let go of trying and ran towards the discomfort and just experienced it. 

It didn't happen overnight, but slowly things just got lighter. We began relating well with each other again after the longest time. The biggest transformation happened after Dylan read the book, Freedom: The courage to be yourself by Osho. Dylan describes it as finally realising he wasn't alone in the way he was thinking and feeling. We read it together every day after that, taking turns to read aloud to each other. This was by far the most eye-opening book and experience I've ever had. It was exactly what Dylan had been trying to express to me for years, but someone Osho's words related to me in a way that I could finally see. It broke down every idea and expectation I've ever had about relationships. I would recommend everyone to read it.

Through the reading of this book, I came to realise how attached to the idea of love and being in love I was, how attached to Dylan I was. This caused all of the resistance. I don't want you to think that we have an "open-relationship" or something like that, because it isn't that at all. I mean, if we wanted to do that we could because there aren't any boundaries. But we don't really see those ways of being as acting consciously, by just doing whatever we want without consequence. I remember hearing the Bible verses throughout my childhood:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

Now although I don't actively practice Christianity, these words hold significant meaning. I want you to think of your relationships and the people you have in your life, and take time to reflect on the above. We use the term "I love you" so loosely, half of us not even knowing what true love is. And I don't mean "romantic love". Love is love is love. You cannot love in different ways and if you think the "love" you have for a romantic partner is different to the love you have for a friend, I'm not sure how this is possible. You can love your partner and be attracted to them physically, mentally even, but these are separate things to love. There is romance and there is love, but they are separate. It has taken me the longest time to realise the difference between love and attachment and how they really and truly aren't the same thing. If you think you can't live without your partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, know that it isn't coming from a place of love but rather a place of attachment. This comes from insecurity, fear of being alone, not being secure in yourself. I don't mean you don't want to spend time with them, I just mean that if they weren't there and off doing something they enjoyed you wouldn't die or be heart broken. You might even feel happy for them doing something they enjoy. 

For me, the way society portrays relationships became too overbearing, so uncomfortable, that all of my ideas and expectations had no option but to shatter. And with it came the most liberating freedom.

And true love. 


Things I Ponder in my Free Time


This happened a few nights ago. By "happened" I mean I started typing and this came out. Writing this has been such a release. Its scary to share these thoughts because one, it may confirm that I am indeed going a little mad and two, we live in a confrontational society who hide behind screens waiting for an opportunity to pounce. So I thought I'd add this disclaimer: Although I talk about "we" and "society" as if I may be judging you, it is not my intention. Instead, I am just questioning my own actions and ideas I have formed through living in a western society for the most part of my life. For a while now it feels like I have been "waking up" and seeing truths everywhere, seeing things how they really are. It feels like everything is so simple, but somehow its all gotten twisted. Many of these questionings are provoked through listening to Alan Watts, and reading and listening to Sadguru and Osho (click on their names to find their work). Here's what I've been pondering for the longest time: 

How we as a collective society are buying into the idea that money exists or that its actually important. If you gave money to say a small child or a tribal leader cut off from our society they'd see it for what it really is - a piece of paper, or even better nothing at all if its in the bank. It doesn't exist and it is just an idea, but we're all just agreeing to have this system in place? And we care so much about it, it controls us and for many is the sole purpose of the work we do every single day, for our existence, even if we absolutely hate it. Also, how do some individuals have so much of it and others have nothing - why would you cling onto it if you didn't need it, and someone else was suffering? This blows my mind. 

We accept the fact that someone, someday, decided that the earth that we are a part of should be divided by imaginary lines and that if you happened to be born in a certain part of the earth you'd have more privileges than if born in another - as if you had a choice, or could help where you were born. That we get a passport, a nationality and if wanting to visit another part of the earth you cannot go freely but have to acquire a visa first. Also, some people might find it easier to get these visas if they happened to be born in a preferred area of the earth. It puzzles me that we have decided that smaller portions of this earth, the land and soil, are "ours" and that we can buy it with our imaginary money. That we can own land and how someone else "cannot come onto my property". That it doesn't just belong to everyone (all living beings). 

That there are terrible, unimaginable things happening on our planet at this present moment to living beings - humans, animals and plants. And for the most part many of us just sit around, knowing it or choosing not to see, but not doing anything. There are so many people in the world not enduring painful experiences but are living mundane lives, when as a collective we could put a stop to this suffering. I'm not exactly sure how, just that if we had to focus our collective energy into finding a solution we definitely could. Do we not care enough? Are we too self-absorbed? I sometimes wonder this about myself. Why am I not spending every waking moment rescuing as many of the tortured animals as I can that we think belong to us, saving people being trafficked as if they were objects, helping others? If I tend to think about this too much it sometimes becomes overwhelming, as if I can feel all of the suffering of the world in one moment. 

That our planet is literally dying from our doings and yet we continue with our daily lives as if nothing has changed. Sure, we recycle. This is going to put an end to the destruction of our planet? And we continue teaching our children in school things like nouns, pronouns and the format for writing a letter as if there aren't more pressing concerns. That children still take standardised tests and are asked to sit down and be quiet and spend five days or more a week learning things we have designed for them, without any choice in the matter. 

That we've totally forgotten the importance of trees. That we think they are separate from us. The oxygen we breathe is literally made by the tree to give us life, and what we breathe out becomes the tree. The tree and you become each other through this process. I often ponder this when looking at a table or chair or piece of paper made from a tree we've most likely killed, thinking how crazy its all gotten that we think a place to sit or paper to write on is more important than the air we breathe. 

We work jobs we hate for future security, for financial earnings to consume more, for societal status. But secretly we know these things don't actually exist, right? The only moment you have is right now ... you really could work your whole life for your retirement only to drop down dead and not have any of the experiences you'd hoped for. We think that time is real. Does a plant or animal use time? 

That we are so out of touch with real life. Glued to screens and obsessed with likes and followers and portraying a perfect existence. None of it is real, a "like" doesn't even exist. I recently joined social media after the longest time and after being out of it, it feels like having the wind knocked out of you going back. Like you're so overwhelmed that it feels like you're drowning. And yet, we are so numbed to it all that we don't even know whats real and what isn't anymore. 

That its all not all so serious, that life is beautiful and really just one big game. 


The Last While


This was the first thing I wrote a couple of weeks ago before deciding to "blog" again. At the time it felt too personal, too raw and real to share. A lot of my time off of social media and the internet was spent thinking about how happy I was not sharing anything with the world because it felt fake. I almost had an obsession with not taking part in anything related to sharing, besides in real life. I have since felt that I have this burning desire to express my creativity in a writing form. I can't really explain it, writing lately takes a hold of me and I'll sit down to begin writing something and almost go into a trance like state waking up at the end of the writing process. Sometimes I'll read through a post or something I've written and not even know where it came from, its like I wasn't even present when it was being written! I know this sounds like I've gone batshit crazy, but I guess its hard to put into words what creativity truly is, because it just is - just like you can't put words into how you actually make your heart beat, you just do. Here is what I wrote a few weeks ago, about my experience over the past two years .. 

It’s been two years since I last posted on this once loved little internet space of mine. Since then I left magical Bhutan, lived in tropical Costa Rica for over a year and have recently moved to a small town in Vietnam. It seems so weird to look back on my life now, and read the posts from before because it feels like I have lived so many different lives yet I’m only 26 years old. The truth is that leaving Bhutan (possibly even being in Bhutan) broke me. It broke my heart and I’m still recovering from my broken body from the time spent there. You would think this breaking would be associated with negativity but looking back it has been the most beautiful two-year experience. Let me explain:

I lived in a very isolated part of Bhutan where there was very little access to a variety of fruits and vegetables. I turned vegetarian the day I moved to Bhutan and my diet consisted mainly of potatoes, tomatoes, processed cheese and rice. This is basically what I lived off every day for every meal. I would say this is what I ate 85% of my time spent there with an occasional portion of broccoli or spinach added to my cheese curry. I developed really bad digestion and stomach issues, it was honestly a nightmare and a constant worry about what was wrong with me and I was just always obsessing over my next symptom. I also developed a skin irritation and my fingertips on my right hand were constantly dry, inflamed and would peel over and over again. Basically, what I now know is I developed psoriasis - an auto-immune disease that stems from your gut and makes its way into the skin. People with psoriasis should avoid eating foods from the nightshade family which I’ve come to learn means that potatoes and tomatoes are a big no-no, hence eating that for a year straight was pretty damaging. 

I mean, my intention isn't to make you think that Bhutan was this really challenging place because it wasn't like that at all for me. Even leaving I cried myself to sleep for nights and even told Dylan that I wouldn't be getting on the plane when we arrived in the capital city the day before we would return to South Africa. I was completely terrified to leave. I was an emotional wreck when we got to “home” again and I couldn't make sense of anything that was my norm for over twenty years of my life. Grocery stores, shopping malls, traffic, the way western communities work didn't make any sense to me anymore. Heck, they still don't. I guess I started to question everything and it drove me insane. I felt really angry with people and society and I felt really alone in it all because no one understood. 

I quit writing for this blog because it just wasn't serving me any longer. It had turned into something that was for others and about how I could get more readers when really, I just want it to be a creative and real process of sharing - possibly even create connections with others. I haven't done social media in a while either because that too was just too much for me at the time. 

The first few weeks in Costa Rica were really tough. Despite the lifestyle being dramatically slower paced and closer to nature, I really missed the close authentic living I had in Bhutan. I also had to adapt to a new way of teaching and my work demands took over my life. I tend to have a habit of giving it 110% in the beginning and burning out pretty fast. But over time slowly I adjusted and the longing for Bhutan got more distant. We got our little pup, Charlie, and I think I found a new purpose. I had wanted a dog of my own for so long (turns out having a dog while travelling the world isn't the most cost effective idea but still 100% worth it - sorry, Dylan!). I began to fall in love my work again and spent more time in nature. And for the first time I actually enjoyed being alone while Dylan did his work trips. Dylan and I did a lot of reading and growing during our time in Costa Rica and our way of living and thinking changed a lot. I'm now living alone in Vietnam while Dylan is in Central America and get a ton of questions about our relationship, if we're still doing "okay". Its so ironic that this is the first thing people tend to think when in reality we are in the best position we have ever been in! In December of 2016 we took our bicycles for a trip around Costa Rica for a month - with Charlie! Things started to shift during this time, I became less angry with the world and more accepting and loving, although I can still get pretty angry with the world at times.

I understand that this is a lot of personal information, and I’m not really sure of all of its purpose yet other than to just be real. I’m tired of seeing sugar coated versions of people’s lives so here you have it. I don't really know what I'm doing with this blog, with this writing, I just know I have a strong desire to write. I would love so much to hear from you (as a reader or a friend or just a curious human) what you come here for, what you enjoy reading or what you'd like me to share more about. I know it may seem weird to reach out or reply to questions like these on blog posts but really, I hope that more can come out of this - more connection and realness and openness - rather than just taking up space on the internet.