On Freedom Day it seems appropriate to look back on where we have come from, to celebrate the progress we have made, but also to reflect on why we as a country haven’t progressed further than we have…why we sometimes seem stuck. My husband, Thorsten, wrote this poem in 2019, and was willing to share it with a larger audience:
Tell me how to grieve someone I have never met
The virtual world has created invisible bonds created through kind words
We woke up to your insomnia tweets
We lived life vicariously through you as you navigated this thing called life
Your tweets, full of life would bring some of us hope to get out of bed and live
To know a selfless person existed was enough without having to meet you
Your interaction with your family made it realistic yet effortless while we were stuck in our family drama
Your passing has been something I am unable to accept
It has made me aware that sudden death is hard hitting on those left behind
I can’t even think about you without my brain shutting down
Such heartbreak that I can’t explain to others,
So I will grieve in hiding
In memory of Dr Sindi Van Zyl, also known as the duchess of healing, who passed away on Saturday morning, the 10th April 2021.
Anniversaries prompt us to look back at the journey to this point in history, to see where we have come from, to recall the many commemorative markers that are strung together on one long winding path. Looking back can be inspiring, nostalgic or even painful.
So many anniversaries have happened in March: our own wedding anniversary of 25 years, the one year anniversary of the begin of South African lockdown, my sister’s return from her volunteering on a Mercy Ship. And now, another Easter under lockdown. We look back and marvel at how our world has changed, and how we have changed.
The sting of death
by Khanyi Mthimunye
It is random and illogical
Even when you crave it
It can elude you
make you its accomplice
Leave you feeling guilty for the thought
Most of the time, I would call myself an optimist. I can’t seem to help myself – I see potential in other people, including my children. I believe in their ability to bounce back when faced with challenges, to find those inner resources to get up and try again, even when it is tough.
But sometimes, I voice this belief too quickly. They do not feel heard and argue the case for their perceived “victimhood”. In my efforts to encourage them to rediscover their agency and act positively in their circumstances, I may inadvertently contribute to the opposite. They feel they are also victims of my deaf ears.
Hi, my name is Vera and I am a knowledge addict.
I have completed 8 online courses since lockdown began. I have a number of new ready-to-be-absorbed courses downloaded on my computer – about coaching, about trauma. I attend most COMENSA events, where we can learn from other coaches. I am on numerous Facebook and LinkedIn groups about diversity and social cohesion, climate change, homeschooling, coaching. I listen to mp3 talks on subjects that fascinate me on most days. I follow a number of interesting podcasts.
If this knowledge is just intellectual sponge-soaking, it will make no real difference in my life. I am overindulging and getting knowledge-fat.
by Khanyi & Vera
Everyone has the right to call themselves a victim at this historical moment – a victim of the fallout around Covid, to a smaller or larger extent. So much has happened in the last year that is unrelated to any action on our part, that feels like it is beyond our control. Admittedly, the pandemic has affected us to different degrees, but all our lives have been changed.
Everyone has the right to call themselves a victim, but not everyone chooses to label themselves that way. Many could choose to call themselves victims given their circumstances and experiences, but not everyone subscribes to the stereotype. What are the perceived benefits to seeing ourselves as the victim in a situation? Is it worth the fight for first place? Is there a hierarchy of victimhood and an overall victim victor? What do we lose when we shake off the label?
As some previously bizarre things have become part of our new normal due to circumstances beyond our control, let’s not give in to the idea that we have lost all agency. Let’s give the concept of voluntarily doing things differently some thought.
As I wrote last time, I have been putting some time and effort into establishing an outside office in my garden, where I can comfortably work and safely see coachees with social distancing protocols in place. I also decided to look beyond our property for other outside options, and have discovered some beautiful spots that can work a little further afield – ideal for walking, thinking and talking at the same time.
It has become increasingly obvious that the vaccine is not going to be the instant solution to our covid-shaped problem. “It is axiomatic that only the people can overcome a pandemic, as observed throughout history”  I read in an article in October last year. This means that we need to reclaim our agency and find different ways of doing the same things we used to do before – to stop the virus from spreading through us to others.
I am one of the fortunate few who have been able to work on-line in individual and group coaching sessions. This is obviously the safest way to work, but has become increasingly unsatisfying between the effects of zoom-fatigue and the challenges of reading body language expressed through facial expression or tone of voice. We are relational beings and long for face-to-face interaction, but the dangers of not complying with covid measures and thinking that it just won’t affect us are obvious in the increase of numbers we are seeing during this second wave. As the WHO Director-General stated at a media briefing 8 January 2021, “The problem is that before you know it, not complying a bit becomes a habit, people you know mimic the behaviour and the whole system breaks down.” 
So we need to explore other ways of working safely. We cannot just go back to the old normal.
Throughout this year celebrations have been dampened by regulations and by anxiety. I have been thinking about the value of celebrating. What exactly does it do in my life?
Celebrating puts a stake in the ground to show “This is where I am now. I have accomplished this specific achievement.” We celebrate big things milestones like passing an exam, finishing school, completing a degree. There is also value in celebrating smaller steps like developing a new habit. The feel-good experience of celebration helps us to hold on to the progress we have made, to keep the ground we have claimed.