saturday

We are having a slow Saturday. Most days here are slow, so when I say, “a slow Saturday”, I mean slooooow. Our initial plan was to wake up and head down to the beach, but Mica and I only got to sleep after 2am because the rats, or bats, in the roof where having a Friday night party that sounded like 3 grown men were dancing up there (exaggerated, but you get the idea). Needless to say, the beach morning didn’t happen. A long lie-in happened.

 

Emme and Jett have been playing Playmobil all day. I have read and flicked through Instagram, done a bit of washing, sipped coffee and nibbled panne chocolat (our Saturday morning tradition). At lunch time I made our other Saturday tradition, ham rolls, for lunch (so much for being plant based) and after that I went outside to hang my washing.

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These tiny rolls will be the undoing of me. They are too, too delish!

Slipping off my shoes I curled my toes around a few blades of grass and felt the tickle of them, which made me smile. I stopped. I looked around. The sun was beating on the top of my head, reminding me that summer isn’t far away and this will be our first Mauritian summer. I felt a slight breeze slide across my face and the smell of my fresh washing wafted up to me. I looked down and saw my shoes, the washing, the pegs, my feet. And it looked so good. So real. I was 100% in the moment. I took out my phone to capture the moment, in the hopes that one day, when I see it, I am reminded to live in the moments. To take great pleasure in small things.

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daughter

I see her, with her floating hair and tall, straight spine. I see her with her “walk-a-little-walk”, shimmying away from me. She turns and winks over her shoulder at me and for a moment we look into each other’s eyes. She smiles that smile, the one that says “Mum, I see you too” and we hold each other’s gaze a moment longer. Then she takes a deep breath and squares her shoulders and she’s off again, all grown-up and classy and sure of herself . I am FILLED with pride, yet tears stream down my face. She is ready.

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Moving to Mauritius has made me acutely aware of the fact that I have an adult daughter. A grown-up child who is forging her own way in this world. A human being capable of making her own (good, because thats how she rolls) decisions and of choosing where lives, what she does and how she wants to do it. And it is a rollercoaster ride for me, as her mum, to experience this all with her and away from her.

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It is a really weird feeling to know that “my work here is done”. It gives me a funny bubbling in my chest – an almost heartbroken yet excited feeling. I am torn between complete awe and total devastation. I look at this human I created, this beautiful (like really, really beautiful) creature I spent almost every waking moment with for almost 20 years and I am just gobsmacked and gut-wrenched all at once. She is magnificent and she is not mine any more (even though she is and always will be). It makes me want to run and hold on to her forever and at the same time, I want to release her and see her do wonderful things, because I know that is what she is destined for.

I prayed for her, this daughter of mine. From the day I knew she was coming, I prayed.  I asked for wisdom in raising her and for the strength to do a good, a Godly job.  I didn’t succeed a lot of the time, but many times, I did. I prayed for her to be strong (“She is clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs at the things to come – Prov 31:25). I prayed that she would know God and seek him with all of her heart (“Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you” – Matt 6:33), I prayed that she would be wise and kind ( “She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” – Prov 31:26). I prayed that she would know who she is (“By the grace of God, I am what I am” _ 1 Cor 15:10). Mostly, I prayed that she would know Love and that in return she would show love (“Let all that you do, be done in love” – 1 Cor 16:14). And she is all of these things. And I continue to pray. For all of these things, for all of her days. And for my other daughters, for all of their days.

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I am grateful I have this time. This time to learn with Courts and this time to still enjoy with Ry, Mica, Emme and Jett. I pray that I can mindfully navigate parenting an adult while I traverse these fields of parenting children, preteens and teens. I pray that I can let go and hold on at the same time. I pray for the wisdom to stay present, to drink in the moments. To not allow time to be a thief but rather, to allow it to be a giver of good gifts. I pray that I never forget that the attachment theories I parented my babies with are the same theories that will grow well adjusted and healthy adults (as much as is possible). I pray that in all of it, that my children feel loved. Beyond measure. Always.

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And so to you moms with daughters, a day is coming when you will have to face what I am facing (and it creeps up so quickly). I can not prep you adequately for this. But, I can say to you – what you put in now matters! The amount of love you LAVISH on her, means everything! The hours of sleepless nights, the tedious Barbie movies and shared popcorns, the fighting over homework or the late night chats over tea … they all matter. Every word you utter, matters. Every thing you teach her, good or bad, matters. I would encourage you to mindfully continue this journey, knowing that when your time comes, your words and actions and LOVE have a lasting impact. None of us can give our children a perfect childhood, none of us can be perfect. But, we can be mindful of the way we are equipping our girls (and boys). She will one day be someone’s friend, someone’s student, someone’s girlfriend, someone’s employee, someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s employer, someone’s aunt and on and on it goes. Everything we do now matters. And then one day, it is done.

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Raising strong girls is something I am passionate about (I am also passionate about raising a strong, kind boy) . I have four daughters, so I guess its a good thing I am. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on raising women and would absolutely love to answer some of your questions, if you have any. Pop me a message in the comments section and lets start a little series on “Daughters”.

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In closing, the lyrics to the song “Daughter” by Sleeping At Last:

If only you knew
The sunlight shines a little brighter
The weight of the world’s a little lighter
The stars lean in a little closer
All because of you
I want to see
You lift your chin a little higher
Open your eyes a little wider
Speak your mind a little louder
’cause you are royalty
This is your kingdom
This is your crown
This is your story
This is your moment
Don’t look down
You’re ready, born ready
And all you gotta do
Is put one foot in front of you
Our ceiling is your floor
And all you gotta do
Is put one foot in front of you
If only you knew
If only you knew
The forests grew a little greener
The roots reach in little deeper
The birds all sing a little sweeter
All to welcome you
I want to see
Your happily ever after
That you know in your heart that you matter
That you are all I see
xxxx
Love you, Cooks, Rybles, Pickle and Pepsi

a month

We have been here for a month. I know I am in the honeymoon phase of this adventure, but boy this place is BEAUTIFUL! I never expected the crazy changes of scenery in the various areas (the “Midlands” are as rainy and misty as they are in KwaZulu Natal), the insane amount of weather changes in a day and the rain … it rains every day. Some days it rains for 3 minutes at a time about 50 times in that day, other days it rains for one 15 minute spurt (or squirt, you choose). And then on days like today, its pretty much incessant (and I forgot the linen I had washed on the line. AND I had to change the gas for the shower which is in a “cupboard” outside. DRENCHED). My favourite rain is the 15 minute spurt/squirt at around 8pm every night. I throw open my window and breathe it in. Glorious!

 

 

Marc’s dad has been away for ten days, which meant we had a car and home to ourselves. He has been wonderful to us, so don’t get me wrong. We don’t wish him gone. We have just enjoyed some time as “just us” as well as the freedom a car has brought – ROAD TRIPS!

 

Golly, driving in Mauritius is … interesting. You can literally stop your car anywhere you like and no one gets annoyed. Overtaking is common practice on ALL roads, especially of buses and scooters. And yet, I have only seen one bumper bashing and that was caused by a tourist (I say tourist like I’m not one). People are generally courteous and road rage seems to be non-existent. A pity most people drive like complete lunatics. My South African, “Jislaaik” comes out a lot. Fortunately, the scenery more than makes up for, and is therapy for, the stress of being behind the wheel. Or in the passenger seat. Or walking. I am going to have to drive Marc around for the first little while when he gets here, thats for sure.

 

 

Driving around with four kids is … pretty hectic. I pack snacks and waters. We play road trip playlists. They don’t bicker, they giggle and squeal and distract me with their noise. Poor Ry has had to learn very quickly how to use Google Maps and has to be our navigator. We haven’t got in nearly as many stops or pictures as I had hoped. Its just really difficult to do it all with all of them and no 2nd adult. I genuinely am looking forward to doing it all again when Marc arrives at the end of the month. We have seen pretty much the entire coastline of the whole Island and managed to get inland to see the Volcano. We haven’t done any of the touristy stops yet, but we have driven and looked and swam at some beaches. We have decided to do a new school subject “Tourist Day” where we will chose an attraction and then spend the day exploring and learning about it. Next year of course.

 

 

Speaking of school: I am beyond proud of my gang. They have been tackling some of the Mauritian curriculum and are NAILING it. We are NOWHERE with French but, baby steps. I am confident that this time next year we will have them speaking it almost fluently.

 

 

Well, that was a little update from me. More detailed posts soon. Posts about food and shops and houses and everything “Mauritius”.

 

 

fear

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This little thing we carry around with us. Its like an ugly purse we sling over our shoulder and then we start filling it. And when it starts getting too heavy, instead of putting it down, we shift it and readjust how we are carrying it, all the while it is getting more and more cumbersome and uncomfortable. Pretty soon it’s all we can think about. And still we don’t get rid of it. In fact, we start to tend it, like a bad dog. We hope that if we pay it the right amount of attention, it will get better. It’s kind of crazy, this nurturing of something bad.

I carried fear with me for too long. I knew it was there, so I slept with the light on in the hopes of not seeing it. Then I started reading late at night to make my eyes tired so that I could fall asleep. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was I was afraid of, but I think at the core of it, it was the unknown that scared me. I was scared of what I couldn’t see. Scared of possible bad things, failures and tragedies and scary things. And the more I tried to ignore it, the more attention I paid to it. Nursing it while it festered and started to eat away at me.

I had kids and the fear became focused on any unknown outcome for them. Would they be safe at home with a babysitter, would they accidentally kill themselves, would I ride over them in my car when reversing, would they get sick and die? And then so many fears became realities: I had scary pregnancies and premature babies, my daughter (then 11) was held at knife point by an intruder, I experienced the loss of a baby at 16 weeks pregnant, severe illness plagued me, I had some scary moments with kids not breathing and them getting terribly ill where we thought for sure we would lose them, my marriage went through some serious lows and I wondered if we would last (we did, thank God) … and I survived.

 

 

And in surviving, I slowly started to loosen my hold on the fear I had slung over my shoulder that was weighing me down. Pretty soon it was just a little thing I dragged around with me. I stopped paying it as much attention and perhaps I became a bit cocky. My name means “Victorious, Overcomer” so I started to live up to that name. Meanwhile, fear was following me, waiting for a chance to reestablish itself on my shoulder and start weighing me down again. Every now and then it nipped at my heals, but for the most part it just was “there”, dragging.

 

 

And then in a moment it was back. We suddenly came under some vicious attacks – my kids were living in so much fear that they suffered emotionally and physically. The fear I had thought was gone, was right there. Only this time, it threatened to take me down completely. The final straw came in the form of a personal experience that left me completely shaken and completely exposed.  It was in that moment that I realised I couldn’t rely on my own strength to protect me (not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually). I admitted defeat and high-tailed it to “safety”.  I was in a place where I felt safe again.

 

 

And then slowly, the fear started to creep back in. This time, it wasn’t fear of the physical harm we had endured. It was fear of being alone, fear of not having enough, fear of being unhappy. Our closest friends suffered a major tragedy that completely shook us. It was fear on a deeper, darker level and I knew that outside of surrender, I would never make it out.

 

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“Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine” – Isaiah 43:1.  Jessica Kastner, in an article she wrote for Huffpost, says “God actually commands us not to fear, or worry. The phrase “fear not” is used at least 80 times in the Bible, most likely because He knows the enemy uses fear to decrease our hope and limit our victories“.  All this time, the enemy was actually attacking what I knew to be true about myself – he was attacking my “Victorious, Overcomer”. And all this time, I was trying to be just that, but in my own strength. The thing is, I wasn’t LISTENING to God, I was just BEGGING Him to help me. And through it all, He was saying “Fear not”.

 

 

Fear not. I began my surrender there. Any time I felt that fear, it was a “fear not” moment. I began to mindfully lean in to His voice and in so doing renew my mind. My load began to lift. And what is crazy is that as this was happening, my world around me began to shift so much – we faced some HUGE decisions as a family, we faced financial strain like never before, we faced difficulty that under “normal” circumstances would have destroyed us. But the “Fear not” became a way for me to stop. To pause. To exhale. To let go. And to turn my eyes to the One who says “I have called you by name; you are Mine”.

 

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Our decision to leave South Africa, strangely (or not), had very little to do with fear. For most South Africans, the choice to leave is often driven by fear. For us, we are finally leaning in to His voice and in so doing, seeking to move our family into more of what He has planned for us. Part of that plan, we believe, is to set up and “leave an inheritance for our children’s children”. Mauritius is Marc’s inheritance through his own father and therefore an inheritance for our children and so, we will sow as wisely as we can into this new season as we seek to leave an inheritance for OUR grandchildren.  Fear has nothing to do with it.

 

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” Fear not” is a big exhale. And with each exhale there is an inhale. I know life will not be plain sailing. I know there are still so many challenges and struggles that I will face. Sometimes I feel that fear tickling in my core, sometimes I even entertain it a little. But now, now I am not doing it alone.

 

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“I have told you these things, so that in Me you will have peace.In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have OVERCOME the world.” – John 16:33.

 

slow, slower and slower-er

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From the blur of the past two weeks to the complete slowing down and exhaling in order to inhale. Things have got a whole lot slower around here and I have to say I am loving it. We wake up and start our days slowly, we linger over meals and take our time with our schoolwork. Emme and Jett play for HOURS with their Playmobil or Enchantimals. And it is good.

If you know me, you know I live by the “Live simply, simply live” motto and that I am fairly close to being a “minimalist”. I love the freedom having less brings. I love that in order to have “more” we have managed to declutter our lives and simplify the way live so much so, that moving to another country hasn’t required a huge shipping container of “stuff”. Instead, we have set aside some special items, like art work and books, to come across in a crate when we have found a home and settled in. Before I left South Africa I bought new bed linen for the kids which came with us in their bags. They each brought some treasured items and Emme and Jett each brought 2 medium sized tubs of toys. Thats all we have with us aside from clothes, right now.

 

 

We have always believed in not only living more simply in terms of our material goods, but also in terms of the way we run (or slowly jog) our lives. We believe in slow mornings, taking time to be mindful of our present moments, stopping to smell the proverbial roses etcetera etcetera.

So, you can imagine that if am saying that things are slow here, that they must be really slow. It feels almost as if we have more hours in the day. As if time is actually going more slowly. Not in a “I’m so bored this day is dragging” kind of way either. It’s more a, ” This day is so lovely and long, I wish it would never end”.  I feel unhurried. I feel like I could walk across a lawn and actually take time to feel every blade of grass under my feet and   still have a day stretching out in front of me. It seems almost weird. And oh so wonderful!

 

 

I am reading my FIFTH book since arriving here. The kids have done more school work than ever before (and have started their Mauritian curriculum). We make it down to the beach almost every day. We feed the chickens and play in the garden and look for eggs and have snacks. I cook dinner with the windows wide open and a breeze blowing in. After dinner I wash the dishes slowly while the kids shower and have some tech time. We all read before bed.

 

I am finally exhaling.

 

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Taking time to have time is an invaluable lesson I am learning on this journey.  Thank you for taking time to be with me as I traverse these waters and this land. The lessons are unfolding and I feel a new me coming on.

 

2 Weeks In

Today marks two weeks since we arrived in Mauritius. To say we have been in a blurry whirlwind would be a complete understatement.

Courts came with us for the first week so we spent that time mostly getting to know the area we are staying in (Mahebourg, Pointe d’Esny, Blue Bay and Riche-en-Eau) and sight seeing with her. We hit the beaches and the local market in Mahebourg, we checked out the supermarkets and little souvenir stores and even took a quick drive through Port Louis. Courts was an invaluable help, taking charge of kids and helping settle us in to our new home with Grandpère  (Marc’s dad, Joe).

I thought that when the time came to say goodbye to her I would probably having a good cry and then launch back into daily life with the kids as normal. Well, au contraire, I spent the entire day that she left in tears and have cried intermittently every day since. RIDICULOUS! She hasn’t lived with us (in our home) for well over a year now and we even survived a provincial move from her for 8 months last year. But, moving over the sea is a BIG deal and obviously a mom heart takes a knock when that happens (sorry Mom, I now know how you feel and it SUCKS).

That said, the kids and I have started to settle into a little routine  – we do our school work in the mornings while I do washing (LOTS of washing) and general cleaning and tidying. Our afternoons are spent doing whatever shopping needs to be done and then most days, unless it’s raining, we end the day off on the beach before heading home for showers and dinner before bed.

I have so much to tell you, way much more to share, but I will save that for some future posts. I just wanted to let you all know we are alive, blurry but alive, and loving “The Island” even while we miss our family and friends and lives in South Africa. Today was the first time I told some South African tourists I met in London Way (supermarket) that I live here and it felt good (especially because they were jealous).

 

chapter one

It is midnight, which means that I now officially have two days left before the kids and I leave for Mauritius. I am feeling ALL the feels. I’m sitting in bed reflecting on this crazy, crazy journey we have been on. I can’t really believe that in two days we will begin a whole new life in a whole new country. A place that I never even dreamed could ever become home, despite it being Marc’s heritage. It is a place that, if I am honest, I put away from my dreams because who REALLY gets to live in a dream destination? I was happy with Salt Rock. It is beautiful in Salt Rock, my people are there, it is at the edge of a continent (I don’t ever want to live away from the edge of a continent unless it’s on an island … ), it is a great place for other people to visit. But, Mauritus! Mauritius is a dream.

 

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“Underwater Waterfall” at Le Morne – yes this is a dream destination.

 

We have been through a lot as a family. These last three years have been the most difficult years of my life. We have felt heavy and burdened and desperate at times. We lost so much (and gained so much too, so please don’t hear what I am not saying), we felt our faith falter too many times to count. We watched our children struggle and overcome and we grew. We grew so, so much. And now, it feels as if God is saying “Here is your oasis. Here is the home I promised you. Here are your dreams”. I am not naive, I know it won’t all be roses and butterflies (or beaches and coconuts, whatever).  I know the whole “In this world you will have trouble” thing. But I also know to “…take heart! For I have overcome the world”. And so I am excited to begin this new story.

 

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I won’t bore you with the details of life until now. Not now, any way. This story starts now. Now, with me, in my bed, at midnight, dreaming of the place I will soon call home. Dreaming of having my husband join us in a month’s time (he has some work commitments that will keep him in South Africa for the next few weeks). Dreaming of Courts coming with me for the first week and of the many holidays and visits we will have with her in the future.

 

 

 

Tonight I will dream. I will not worry about the goodbyes and the sadness of leaving behind family, friends and the place of my birth. Tonight, I will allow the excitement to overwhelm the sadness.  That which we focus on, we become.

This story is about us. It is our big exhale. It is our new beginning. I would love it if you would join me on this ride. This blog is intended to draw you in to our story, to show you US. We are the Maurels, a family of seven who love life, live simply and mindfully and want to collect people and not things. If we move geographically, we aren’t getting rid of people, we carry them with us. This platform is an amazing way to include the ones we love in the story and to show what we are up to, speak about what we are doing, dreaming and believing for and to post a few pics of our lives for you to see. You can also follow our story on Marc’s vlog “My Kiff Life” .

 

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