Dusty Roads: Mapping Toilets

One of Dana Snyman’s books with descriptions of his travels Op die Agterpaaie has an introduction where he unfolds a Shell Map of South Africa and traces his journeys along its roads and back roads,  reading all the cryptic notes he jotted down on the well-used paper. And it always makes me smile to read that introduction, not only because I love his writing, but also because I often come across similar journeys mapped out in my black and red A6 exercise books.

So I’m doing something similar today, but instead of opening a faded map with a glass of wine, I fill the plastic mug with coffee and flip through the battered little notebook I always carry in my handbag. Somewhere towards the middle, scratched out with a blunt pencil, the pages are filled with a recent road trip through the Eastern Cape, tracing names like Mt Frere,  Ugie and Alice. Next to the names (of met pyltjies wat wys waar die Steers of die kerk by die verkeerde dorp se naam neergeskryf is) are useful things I wanted to remember for future trips. Here it reads Wimpy in hoofstraat and KFC by die garage. Other bits are reminders of incidents or memorable sights, those moments from which stories are strung together: mooi ou kerk (pretty old church), uitkykpunt by grondpad langs hotel (view point on gravel road next to hotel), motorfiets met krukke (motorbike with crutches) (?!).

But even more cryptic and urgent scribbles fill the bits in between: R2 Toilet, skoon R1 toilet (clean one Rand toilet) and binne-in winkel by Engen Garage (inside shop at Engen Garage). I give you: The Toilet Map of the Eastern Cape – Northern Route from Kokstad to Jeffreys Bay and back through Hogsback, Queenstown and Matatiele. 

Logging the rest stops like this, suddenly reminds me of another journey way back when I studied in Germany for a bit and traveled during the holidays. After a trip with a friend from Cologne to Leipzig I was going to go to Berlin, before returning to Stuttgart for the semester. But somewhere along the way I had caught a bad cold and didn’t feel up to traipsing around a big city like Berlin. So I opened the map in my crumpled purple and golden Let’s Go Germany!, closed my eyes and pressed my finger on that little corner where Germany meets Poland and the Czech Republic. My destination was a town called Zittau.

When I open that Let’s Go today, you can still see all the places where the pages are wrinkled from getting lost in the rain. Scribbled phone numbers written down after calling the tourist office in Zittau. Circles or crosses at places visited. Numbers of buses and trains. Notes in the back of the time we got stranded in Villingen – a town that didn’t make it to the guide book. Anyway, before I get carried off to the story of Villingen or Zittau, this story is actually about my trip from Zittau to Berlin afterwards on a little local train network called the Oberlausitz.

On this jolly little train going up to Berlin along Germany’s border with Poland and the Czech Republic, the announcements on the train are in different languages and as it squeaks around the bends you can actually imagine it sticking its toes across the border. A tiny little Polish woman with dark, beady eyes and a headscarf stands next to me in the swaying toilet queue. Jy weet mos hoe daai treinvloer onder jou kan beweeg soos ‘n bootjie. En almal in die ry staan en tuur in die verte asof hulle maar altyd so vir tydkorting rondhang buite ‘n stinkende deurtjie om hulle “moves” te oefen. The little wrinkled face turns to me and starts talking in what sounds like very heavy Sächsisch. Proud of myself that someone can mistake me for a German speaker, I lean into those sounds, listening in the way that reminds me of tuning an instrument or catching a moth on a curtain. Slowly, careful and with a tense concentration that almost feels like precision.

She’s on her way to Cottbus or somewhere to do her monthly shopping and starts listing which products are cheaper to buy in Germany than in Poland and the other way round. A vague memory of potatoes and coffee. Soon the conversation steers to our present situation: of course one has to make use of the train on the toilet – because it’s free. I, the broke student, agree in my best, most gravelly German noises. She can list them: all the places along that line where the toilets are free. Behind that station there, inside that building there, on the trains… I give you: The Map of Free Toilets along the Oberlausitz. The story is quite funny; but to this day I’m very moved by that conversation. The urgency of her tone, helping the young girl on the train with such meticulous detail: “Kohlen sparen”, she called it. Saving coals, kole spaar: dialect for saving money. For a few minutes, she made me a local.

Squinting at promising-looking boulders, signs pointing at fast food outlets and queues at revolving doors at garages; I clenched these scribbles out of a pencil, and told my Eastern Cape road trip buddy that story of the train toilets. Dana Snyman looked down at that map of his, and wrote about how it’s all about the people he meets along the way and their stories. That Polish lady and her story I’ll never forget. But as close the notebook and stuff it back into the bag, I realise that it also holds the promise of “next time”. Why else map a toilet on a dusty road?

Topic Tuesday: That Time a Book made me do Something

When I was about ten years old, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson was one of my very favourite books. Besides the fact that I was very proud of the fact that I had read the whole thing (it was one of the first proper English books I ever read), I was captivated by the world created in that book. I ran outside to build a raft, complete with a Jolly Roger made out of a black trash bag and some white paper stapled to it. This story is probably not that funny – until I tell you that I grew up in the Little Karoo and that the raft was built to sail on a sheet of that grey-blue rock we call nabank.

When was the last time a book made you do something? And I don’t mean non-fiction, even though I love telling the story of how Barbara Sher’s I could do Anything got me onto a plane. No, today I’m talking story books. I’m talking about the time a scene in a Mills&Boon made you want to try cold potatoes with roast chicken and a jug of milk. Die keer toe Trompie en die Boksombende jou geleer kettie skiet het.  Oupa Landman se Viool made me build a bit of stone wall when I was about eleven, because of a glorious scene in it describing exactly how to build a stone wall. Here’s a bit I translated from the conversation between the young Johan, who wants to be a farmer, and his father, teaching him how his grandfather, Oupa Landman, used to build with stone:

Johan, if you want to be a farmer, nothing on this earth should be able to throw you. I also struggled back in the day to find my direction with a stone, but once you have the knack and the feel for a stone inside of you, it becomes real easy. The place where you want to lay a stone, you must fix properly in your mind first, and then you pick out the right stone from among all the others with your eyes. That stone there, in front of your left foot, give it to me for a bit.

But, Dad, I already had that one!

Just give it, lemme see. See, you must always remember: a stone has a face; and if he does not have one, then you hit one onto him with a hammer. Yes, and then he also has a backside and a belly side. Look at this stone: if he lies this way, he won’t lie right out of pure embarrassment, because his face is facing inside. Now turn him like thís and then he says: ‘No, I don’t want to lie on my back, turn me over onto my belly.’ And… see, there he lies now and he laughs with pure glee!

– (Oupa Landman se Viool – GG Joubert)


More recently The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels pulled me into the worlds of postwar Poland, gardening and words so sharply, that I could feel myself stuffing sentences in my pocket like a collector. Candace Bushnell’s Summer in the City got me to say “I’m a writer!” and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian shoved a map of Eastern Europe into my hands. Dan Sleigh’s Wals met Mathilda made me sing and Dalene Matthee’s forest books let me hear Benjamin call “Meisiekind!” in the Knysna Forest. Will Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop get me onto a river boat? Will John Steinbeck’s The Winter of our Discontent make me talk to the canned food in my kitchen? Who knows. But if you go down that dusty road in the Little Karoo, my stone wall is still standing there.  The one you see in the picture up there is a different story and a different builder altogether, I’ll tell you another time.

So tell me, what did that novel make you do?

The Haiku Dust-off

Come read the fabulous haikus from our readers! So on Tuesday we started talking about all the things haikus can do. When last did you write a bit of poem? Miskien is hierdie klein 5-7-5 prentjies net wat jy nodig het om weer aan die gang te kom. Thank you Pat, Caren and Jade! If you missed Topic Tuesday about Haiku, click here.

Think haikus are to small and compact to fit everything in you’re feeling? Look at this picture by Pat Louw, she captures not only the tiredness of a long day but also the entire body of the tired person. Isn’t “Tatters of the day” just every scattered day you’ve ever had?

Mid afternoon slump
Tatters of the day melt down
In pools of sunlight

She’s also the person who showed me how well haikus and photographs can go together. Here’s mine that goes with the picture up there:

Kruipende blink neut

in skatkis van stukkies bas


A haiku can contain something so big you can just marvel at it. Look how Caren Zimmermann  fits the change from Winter to Spring into just a few words. That Robin is so alive!

The wind still blows cold
But sun, light and joy return
Hear Red Robin sing

Caren’s haiku contains two contrasting images. A haiku often contains a contrast like this, often this contrast is a sudden break. I love how Jade Herriman shows in this haiku how a sound can have a completely different effect on different people. Look how she built the contrast into single words: “grind” and “Aches” clash beatifully with “renewal” and evokes a variety of feelings:

The grind of ban saw
Aches through my window, the sound
Of neighbourhood renewal

Hilke Sudergat sent a haiku this morning that’s alive with possibilities. Look at how she plays with the image of the painting!

In the morning me
the sunshine makes the color
inside painting now

See what only a few words can do? Would you like to give it a try? If you feel like just writing one little line, come and add it to our Big Fat Haiku Chain, just for fun.

Topic Tuesday: A Haiku or two

Flowers shake raindrops

thrilled to feel cool mud again

happy as wet dogs


I was chatting to Jade Herriman the other day about writing haiku when there’s little time for writing. That got me thinking again about all the things I use my little haikus for (yes, I like adding the s). When I started writing poems as a kid, I loved trying out the structured forms like limericks and the different kinds of sonnets. The old Japanese haiku (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables) also got a turn, but it was only in 2010 that I really started writing them as a habit. I love telling the story of how I travelled to Namibia with friends at a time when my friend Pat and I were trying to do a 100 consecutive days of writing a daily haiku. At first it was about the challenge and the fun of coming up with images to fit into these little forms.

But we discovered something amazing after the trip: those daily haikus made a wonderful travel journal. With minimal effort we had created a day-by-day log of our trip: vivid, memorable and condensed. Since then, I’ve made a habit of writing haiku on trips, look at how this one captures the kind of trip another friend and I recently made to Hogsback:

Icy waterfall

glittering under bent ferns

Here we had to stop

Recognise the picture at the top of the post? It gets better. Even the most mundane work day was given some meaning by documenting it with a haiku. And they aren’t always beautiful or happy, but they often were funny and made everything better. I’m the world’s worst diary keeper and journal writer, but suddenly I could read back over my days and recall them vividly! It is like having a photo album of words, of even seemingly mundane things like the weather. Last week it was very hot:

Slowly the night bakes

till the sound of cicadas

quiver out the sun

And then it started to rain:

Sharp drumming raindrops

swaddle the heat with a roar

in a white blanket

Turns out documenting was only part of it. We started sending our haikus to friends via email, SMS, WhatsApp and Social Media and not only do you have an instant audience and travel companion; it turns out these little poems are contagious! More friends joined in, added lines when we got stuck, made up their own. It was also a wonderful way to get people who don’t normally write poetry or who thought that writing poetry wasn’t for them, to stick a foot into the water. Here are two fun ones we all slapped up together at the Afrikaans Leeskring (reading circle) in Empangeni:

Bol poedel sit en wag
Bol rol en rol en rol en
poedel is gebol
Hygend op die mat
ogies wag vir beter dae
stertjie bly vol hoop

During times when I feel I have no time or energy for writing or anything creative, a little haiku is an easy way out. But turns out that writing them is like putting a bucket under a leaking tap. Sooner or later those little drops make a bucket full of water! They’re like oil for that engine, a kind of low effort maintenance.  And after a while I noticed how the constant squeezing of images into these little poems improved and sharpened my writing in other genres too – even my academic writing!

Fietsspeke knetter

langs die gras wat wakkerword

en ruik na oop pad

Do you write haiku? Would you like to try it? You can go Google all the rules and conventions and traditions that go with this art form, it’s fascinating. But I generally stick to the 5-7-5 and biedem the rest.

Leave me your haiku in your comment on this post and I’ll feature all the ones I get by Friday in a post!

Dusty Books: Edith Wharton – In Morocco

Published in 1920, I just had to read this account by a woman who traveled Morocco directly after the First World War by car. One of the very first sentences of the journey bristles with an all too familiar excitement, even though Morocco is the the subject of so many guide books today:

To step aboard a steamer in a Spanish port, and three hours later to land in a country without a guide book, is a sensation to rouse the hunger of the repletest sight-seer (p.8)

Books like Wharton’s do their bit to rouse that hunger, but also satisfy it many ways. Even if an old travel book may speak from an era, culture or ideology as foreign to the reader as the destination is to the author. Morocco is all over my book shelf, but between those pages I can still visit her Morocco, bobbing along without a guidebook beyond what she calls “the familiar dog-eared world of travel” – isn’t that a wonderful image?

For Tangier swarms with people in European clothes, there are English, French and Spanish signs above its shops, and cab-stands in its squares; it belongs, as much as Algiers, to the familiar dog-eared world of travel – and there, beyond the last dip of “the Mountain,” lies the world of mystery, with the rosy dawn just breaking over it. The motor is at the door and we are off. (p.10)

Not only does she describe sights in places like Rabat, Volubilis (fans of Asterix, there you can still walk on a paved road where Roman chariots once thundered), Meknez and Fez; she also takes the reader into her vehicle so that the narrative bounces and grunts along with the motor in the dust. Amper soos die bonsende kamera agter die ruite van die voertuie in die dokumentêre televisiereeks Voetspore, voer haar beskrywing die leser padlangs deur die landskap:

After leaving the macadamized road which runs south from Tangier one seems to have embarked on a petrified ocean in a boat hardly equal to the adventure. Then, as one leaps and plunges over humps and ruts, down sheer banks into rivers, and up precipices into sand-pits, one gradually gains faith in one’s conveyance and in one’s spinal column; but both must be sound in every joint to resist the strain of the long miles to Arbaoua, the frontier post of the French protectorate. (p.10)

Gain faith in your spinal column! When I travel, I like to read books set in the place where I’m going. But long after a journey, a book can also take you back. Wharton’s description of her first sight of Rabat, made me sit upright, because not only does she conjure up a sight that I saw, she manages to bring back the feel of the air and the smells and the cool mist – that mist that rubs out the edge of a continent into a hazy bit of light blue sky:

To the gates of both the Atlantic breakers role in with the boom of northern seas, and under a misty northern sky. It is one of the surprises of Morocco to find the familiar African pictures bathed in this unfamiliar haze. Even the fierce midday sun does not wholly dispel it – the air remains thick, opalescent, like water slightly clouded by milk. One is tempted to say that Morocco is Tunisia seen by moonlight.(p.14)

I’ll leave her descriptions of the desert and the desert light for another time when I return to this book. But next time you travel, try to read something really old about the place you are going to or that you’ve been to: You may find a travel companion whose typewriter used some of the words on you touch screen to draw the same filter you used on your Instagram over the moment you re-encounter in a dusty book.

Dusty Roads #3: Stream in the Little Karoo

Even in this hottest, driest December we’ve had in a while, the beauty of this corner of the world lingers up its dusty roads. The other morning I was up early, before the sun pushed over the koppie across the river. Some bits between the rocks still gurgle in clear splashes over the red and blue-grey rocks. Die rivier loop steeds floutjies tussen die diep kuile. This time of the morning, the water is still cold and for a while the water catches the blue sky and holds it.

Take care not to slip on the slimy green stones under the surface of those patches of sky when you make your way to one of the big flat bluish rocks in the middle of the stream. After a big splash you’ll have a small Jack Russell frowning at you.

2016-01-01 09.06.58

Naaldekokers bewe bokant die hoppende waterhondjies en deur die vars oggendlug trek jy die reuk van bergwater in. Even though the brackish water from the borehole nearby will always be the taste of home for me, nothing tastes quite as wonderful as water straight from the dripping mountain. That yellowish brown is not mud, no, it gets it’s colour from the roots of the plants as it filters into tiny little waterfalls that eventually become rivers.

2015-12-30 18.34.28

It is a taste that I’ve never been able to describe, except that the sharp freshness of real mountain water sends a shot of life through you. It tastes like stone and moss and bubbles and cracking air of an early morning.

What does home taste like to you?

Topic Tuesday #2: Italian

There will be a lot of talk of languages here at the Dusty Shelf because my own dusty shelves are full of them. Someday I’ll sit down here and write the story of the two little faded Greek phrasebooks that started it all. I love little dictionaries and phrasebooks. Mostly just because I like holding them, and looking at them and flipping through them. Picking up random words here and there like shells on a beach. Shoving them into my pocket only to remember them again when I hear the cracking sound as I sit on them.

Ek het al ‘n taal of wat baasgeraak en toe vir ‘n klompie jare nie ‘n nuwe een aangedurf nie. A friend was going on a trip to Russia and when I started digging around to see if I could possibly learn a language by myself, I stumbled upon the work of an excellent bunch of polyglots like Alex Rawlings and felt like I found “my people”. And I still enjoy reading their blogs and trying out their advice and experiments. But one of the interesting things that I found, especially when I started toying around with Italian, was all the other dusty shelves closer to mine at home.

Mentioning learning Italian in random conversations, brought out people who felt something for the language too. One friend had learnt Italian before and could recommend some easy things to me to read. We’d chew and spit out halting phrases together – hers a bit rusty, mine very wobbly, and laugh. Imagine running into someone at a place like your local supermarket every week and then “bam!” you’re on a bus in Rome! This is what the Dusty Shelf Academy is all about, not just re-discovering the things that have been gathering dust on your shelves, but also sharing those things with others. Who knows, a few halting “bene’s” later you might bump into a real Italian, far away from her home and yours, and be all chuffed with yourself – like was when I met my friend Florenza.

Don’t say “I want to learn Italian”, say: “Buongiorno!” – Barbara Sher

When you like something that appears random, like learning Italian in a little village in South Africa just for the hell of it, you often get discouraged talking about it.

“What will you use it for? So are you going to Italy?”

“But how long will it take you to get fluent?”

I have a lot to say about this idea that one has to be fluent in a language to benefit from learning it. But I digress. Let me ask you instead what it is about Italian. It’s different for different people. You read our man Goethe’s or Maeve Binchy’s Evening Class or Irma Joubert’s Anderkant Pontenilo – for some it’s the sound, for some it’s the food, the country, the people the opera… What is it about Italian for you?

Without even recognising the name or knowing anything about the author – or understanding a word of it – I bought Giovanni Verga’s Tutte le Novelle  in a second-hand shop this holiday. Or at least, I tried to. The lady was so surprised and relieved to find the two Italian books in my pile that she gave them to me for free (more about the rest of that pile on one of the next Dusty Books). At the moment I’m not a very dedicated language learner, too busy shaking my full sleeve. I make that dear little Duolingo owl very miserable – yes, you whiny little squeaky toy, I have no idea what the word for breakfast is. But yesterday I sat in front of my computer gawping at an article about Verga’s work, pointing excitedly like a child at the table of contents in front of me at every story title I find that the article talks about and scratching around in my own copy to re-read the sentences he quotes.

I still knew only a tiny bit more than squat about that Sicilian writer, but suddenly I knew again what it was about Italian and about languages. Not just the fact that I enjoy pronouncing *all* the letters again after all that French or using my hands after all that German. And the flour sticking to my hands after the home-made pasta experiment wasn’t the whole story either.  Listening and repeating scraps from the computer or the CD in my car, venturing into delighted exclamations saying nothing at all to a friend who’s having just as much fun, flicking through a dictionary stopping at words that I might never need and mulling them over… All of that is what Italian and languages are to me: a chance to be me, but different…

And you know what, I’ll still go back to the part where I listen to shells breaking under my backside. Because that is the part I enjoy the most, the part that reminds me of being a kid and sitting open-mouthed in front of an English tv-programme, laughing and not understanding a word. For me, right now, Italian is stumbling around in the dark, picking up things and stuffing them into my pockets and then carrying them out into swift glimpses of light, thrilled with what is gliding through my fingers.

So, if there’s Italian on your shelf, I ask you again, what is it for you?

Topic Tuesday #1: Going after your dreams

Tuesday at The Dusty Shelf Academy is Topic day. Hoekom nie Maandag nie? Want dis makliker om jou week te begin op ‘n Dinsdag 🙂 The topic of this week is going after your dreams. One of the most profound insights I’ve ever read on this, was Barbara Sher saying that you can go after your dreams even if you “have no goals, no character and you’re often in a lousy mood.” It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of her work and it simply because her take on things is humorous, practical and original. Who else ever told you that positive thinking is overrated AND at the same time made you feel that you can actually get what you really want?

We’ll watch her recent TEDx talk in Prague to kick off the week. You can find the link here. Watch it, leave a comment below it if you enjoyed it as much as I did. Don’t feel in the mood because you’re having a lousy Tuesday? Aw, just go watch it anyway for the hilarious Ronnie story.

Next week’s topic, Italian?

Dust-off Creativity #1: Holiday Season Chat with Jade Herriman

Many of you wish you knew a way of keeping up your creative practice even during the holiday season or other busy times of the year. Baie van julle wens julle kan meer tyd maak daarvoor om iets kreatiefs te doen. And how can you stick to your goals during the coming year? One of the things we like doing here, is dusting off neglected or forgotten knowledge and skills. From time to time I’ll ask some experts to unpack some of the things on their shelves. I asked an art therapist and coach, Jade Herriman – all the way from Sydney, Australia – about creativity, art therapy and setting goals for 2016.

Over to you, Jade!


What would you tell someone who says “But I’m not creative at all!”

“I disagree – you can’t help but be creative!”  We are all creative beings, we are kept alive by about a zillion fascinating and awe inspiring creative processes in our bodies and the world around us, and we are constantly creating.

I bet most people are involved in some of the creativity that happens every day: thinking up new ideas, creating new relationships, making things around the house whether that be a new garden bed, a pot of pasta, a knitting project, or even selecting colours to wear, choosing which font to use on their report at work, arranging furniture in our houses, pottering in our sheds with tools – these are all creative acts, where we bring to life something new through our ingenuity and resources.

I think the challenge for adults is that we become fixed on outcomes, and we get a certain fixed idea in our heads of what creative looks like. An artist, a famous composer, a wildly eccentric inventor. We discount all the ordinary little acts of creativity that we are involved with, and because we don’t match these grand visions of creativity we start to think that creativity belongs to the special people – someone other than us. I think if we can accept that creativity comes out in many different ways, that it’s not the same thing as having mastered a particular skill (like drawing for example) we can loosen up a bit. Once we lose the fear, or quiet down the fear or work around the fear, the creativity comes out like a torrential flow. We learn over time that being kind to ourselves, and seeing ourselves as creative paves the way to us taking risks and being more creative out in the world.

Why does Barbara Sher‘s work appeal to you?

It works with you exactly where you are! ‘Lazy?’ Fine. ‘Unmotivated?’ No problem. ‘Scared to death of getting the actual thing you want the most?’ Yep, no worries, aren’t we all. I love that she doesn’t seek to blame or shame anyone, and provides a road map for getting what you want, even with all your very normal human weaknesses and quirks. This somehow shortcuts all the self talk that says ‘well, when I’m more peaceful, and nicer and more organized and have shinier hair… THEN I’m allowed to be happy and go after what I want’.

It is refreshingly frank and balances both the need to accept ourselves with all our human foibles and our wonderful grand dreams, and the need to make practical movement towards what we love, so that we can come alive and have happy and fulfilling lives.

Oh and she’s so genuinely compassionate but also blunt, no B.S. and funny!

What is one of the most surprising things art therapy/working as an art therapist has taught you?

Most people, given the right setting and the right encouragement, can make art and find meaning in it for themselves and their life situation.

Art and Photograph by Jade Herrimann

During the holiday season most of us find it difficult to keep up a creative practice or stay on track with our goals in general. Any advice?

Be kind to yourself! It’s ok to have downtime from our creative pursuits just like it’s ok to have time away from a job. Sometimes we can run ourselves into the ground trying to do everything all year round, especially if we tend towards perfectionism or we fear that once we stop we will never engage with our creative pursuit or goal again.

If seeing family and friends is taking extra time, if you have to travel long distances, if you have extra responsibilities for cooking, gift giving, charitable works, keeping in touch etc this time of year, then really take the time to acknowledge that for yourself. It can help to realise that it doesn’t mean you have abandoned your creative works if you give yourself a week off – it just means your plate is super full, and maybe rest and getting enough sleep take priority just now. I think rhythm over time is a great concept and I find my own creative projects tend to run in cycles. Not every day has to be identical.

That said, creative expression can be a great release from stress and provide comfort and calm during busy times. Maybe see if you can think of one tiny thing you will do over the season to nourish yourself creatively – if and when you get time and feel like it. I like journaling, or taking photos as my core creative practice, even when traveling. Journaling helps me process my feelings and involves no pressure for a particular outcome as its private, and photography helps orient me towards appreciating beauty and keeps a record of my experiences.

One such photograph by Jade Herrimann


As a coach, what are your tips for going after a dream in 2016?

–       name the dream out loud – to yourself and a trusted other

–       if you can make the dream have a physical presence in your life do that – a vision board with images of that holiday destination, a few books on your coffee table that feature that hobby you’d like to try, a hopeful pair of second hand dancing shoes arranged prettily on your dressing table..

–       find your tribe so you have inspiring role models and can see how people a few steps ahead got there. It also helps to make it more real to hear from people who have done or want to do the same thing as you.

–       use structure to your advantage – join a class, participate in an online group, subscribe to a specialist magazine – anything that means you will have more frequent reminders of the thing you love and make you feel more connected to it

–       take the smallest step – a series of very small steps help a lot. Much better to make some tiny but tangible progress than make a lofty grand plan that is so scary you can’t begin

–       get help and support – ask for help! Ask trusted and well-meaning friends or family for ideas, for materials, for someone to lend you the equipment you need, to talk to someone who’s done it before.

–       if you want to work with someone to help keep you accountable or who has real world experience doing what you are trying to do, or just helping people work towards their dreams try working with a coach or a mentor from your field.


*All images courtesy of Jade Herriman

Jade Herriman is a transpersonal art therapist and coach who also has her IMG_1105own active arts practice. She draws on over 15 years experience working in teams within diverse organisations as a sustainability professional, researcher and facilitator. Jade integrates the principles of client centered counseling and group facilitation with art therapy processes, Barbara Sher Life Coaching methods and her own experience of creative practice. She runs art therapy and coaching workshops within organisations and for the general public; and works with individual clients face to face and by Skype.

Want to know more about our Expert?

Jade Herriman

Art therapy, Coaching and Creative Play  

Mob: 0420 980 178

email: info@jadeherriman.com




Dusty Roads #2: Umlalazi just beyond the front stoep

2015-11-18 08.48.16So we’re still on the topic of expeditions down the old familiar roads close by. Toe besluit ek laasweek om weer ‘n slag onder by die krappe te gaan kuier. Destyds toe ek Zululand toe getrek het, was een van die vele stukkies raad wat my uit die bekender Kaap na die Ooskus gevolg het: “Daa’s krappe daar!”

I headed down to the Umlalazi Nature Reserve a couple of times during the past few weeks to go see what the little creatures of the lagoon, beach and forest are up to. It’s been really dry in KZN this year and the forest floor had been an ominous light brown crackle the last time I had ventured there. But the past few weeks rain soaked the red soil of Zululand again.

Prinses patiently waits at the parking lot each time, looking out over the Mlalazi river close to the sign that warns against crocodiles – ek mis die prentjie van die seekoei wat altyd daarby was. 2015-10-31 08.58.53But it’s not hippos and crocs we’re after in the mangrove swamp. Poking from their assorted holes below the mangrove trees, the crabs retract their jolly red selves away from the camera. They’re always sitting there, each in front of a hole, sometimes scuttling back a little bit more slowly, so you can catch a glimpse of an altercation or of a leaf being dragged. Hierdie twee was te besig met ‘n huismoles of ‘n “hies-jou-kesj” om ons raak te sien:


Mangliete is mos nie ‘n naam wat lekker sê nie, maar hierdie goed is iets besonders. Onder langs die lagoon staan ‘n moeras vol van hulle. See that long peg-like thing on the picture here below? It’s a seed than pegs like a rocket into the ground when the time is right and shoot out some roots before the tide can wash it away again. And those yellow leaves are full of extra salt, because these incredible plants grow in thick mud in the salty coastal water. Bits of roots stick up like snorkels between the crab tunnels. There are different kinds of mangrove trees here and when you walk on the little wooden path winding through them to John Dunn’s Bath, the sounds of the lagoon parking lot become slightly muted. Like when snow starts falling – if you can imagine snow in this sweltering humidity. Onwillekeurig kyk ‘n mens altyd boontoe om te sien of die visvanger nie dalk hier iewers sit nie. The Mangrove Kingfisher is not showing himself today but in the distance the Fish Eagles are squealing and fish are plopping in the lagoon as the path winds around the corner. Red claws disappear into holes and maybe if someone is walking with you when you visit here, point out the magrove snails on the trunks of the trees.


Some other time I might tell you the story of John Dunn, one of the characters from the region’s colourful past. But this thing over here between the Mangrove Swamp and the Umlalazi river is not just a muddy puddle. It was a pool, dug for John’s wives to take a bath a safe distance away from the crocodiles and hippo’s. It’s a story all by itself, but today I’m here for the mudskippers. I don’t always see them, but few things can cheer me up like watching one of these prehistoric-looking little creatures skip across the surface of the water leaving tracks of tiny spiraling waves like heavy raindrops. Look carefully where this one is making a stop on the mud:


Their funny little fins and bulging eyes can hush the shaky photographer, squatting in the squelching mud into the kind of awe that makes the world beyond the mangrove tops fade away for a few moments. Later, cutting through the forest on the  way to the beach, the big ferns flicker in the same quiet light. Die klein pilduisendpoot wat in ‘n bolletjie opkrul wanneer mens aan hom raak en die rooi duiker met die wikkelende stertjie bly hier in die duinewoud. Our man pill millipede over here curls up into a perfect little ball when you disturb his slow crawl across his buffet of forest detritus. And that wagging little red tail disappearing between the trees and elk ferns is a red duiker.


On the other side of the forested dunes, the Indian Ocean is roaring. Next time, we’ll go there.