Its in your Mind

I am constantly amazed by the mind. Quite honestly, it is our most powerful weapon for or against us. Our days are spent more IN our minds than they are anywhere else. And what is incredibly overwhelming to discover is that about 98% of our daily thoughts are the same as those we had yesterday and at the very least, 80% of them are negative.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, we are wired to rewire. I love that! I love that while we have the ability to be “stuck,” it is entirely possible for us to change that, to “unstuck” ourselves. Not all our thoughts have to be the same and they most certainly do not have to be negative. What is even more encouraging is that while we are rewiring our brains, we are also enabling the brain to function at a higher level, improving memory, strengthening our immunity, slowing down the aging process, speeding up recovery after trauma, illness or injury and loads more.

What do I even mean by rewire? Well, it all starts in … the mind.  And the scientific term for it is “neuroplasticity”. It is the brain’s ability to use thoughts to change its actual physical story. In other words, every time we think a new thought, a new neurological pathway in the brain is created. Every time we think that same thought, the pathway is reinforced. BUT, every time we stop that thought, the pathway becomes less and less until we find we are no longer thinking that thought and it has been replaced by a new thought, which in turn has made a new pathway. The more new pathways we make, the more the brain actually changes. When we are making new pathways our brains begin to function at higher and higher levels, our memory improves and we generally begin to feel better. This encourages us to think more thoughts and slowly, our negative cycles of negative thinking become positive cycles of new ideas, thoughts, desires and so we go. It goes without saying that if we keep thinking negative thoughts, the reverse happens.  

Some ways I have begun to practice rewiring my brain are by doing no less than three Sudoku puzzles a day, by reading every night before bed, learning new crochet patterns, singing new songs, writing this blog, doing some writing work in the business world and by homeschooling my children. Each time we do something new, we create a new pathway. I reinforce some of those pathways (like song lyrics) by repetition and then once I have them memorized, I move on from it, leaving it to wait for me to need it again. My kids are amazed that I know my multiplication tables by heart (or mind). What our teachers didn’t realize was that by teaching us some material in a “parrot fashion” way, they were reinforcing neurological pathways. I’m grateful (although I know this is not the only way to learn so please don’t think your kids should now learn EVERYTHING parrot fashion).

Another wonderful practice I learned about in the book, “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron, was something called “Morning Pages”.

I have a daily practice of three longhand pages done first thing on awakening, hence, “Morning Pages.” The pages clear my head and prioritize my day. I think of them as a form of meditation. There is no wrong way to do the pages. You simply keep your hand moving across the page, not pausing to take what I call “mental cigarette breaks.” It is as though you are sending the universe a telegram: “this is what I like, this is what I don’t like…” Implicit in this, “please help me.” If the pages are meditation, they are also a potent form of prayer.” – Julia Cameron.

What happens when we do this “brain dump” first thing every day, is that we take any lingering thoughts from the day before and release them on to the page, making space for new thoughts. This not only encourages creativity and inspires us toward new things, it also gives us a sense of accomplishment. This sense of accomplishment then releases dopamine, our achievement hormone. The higher the dopamine levels in our bodies, the higher our alertness, focus, creativity, long-term memory and concentration. It is a win-win.

I could go on and on about this, I really could. My hope in writing this is to inspire you to “change your brain” and to take captive those negative thoughts. Lets rewrite our stories and turn this otherwise tumultuous time (Covid, lockdowns, no travel etc. etc.) in something new, something wonderful.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on the subject (although I have studied it), and I do not profess to be a doctor or to have all the answers. But, there are loads of actual doctors, like Drs Caroline Leaf, Norman Doige, Seth Hays and Richard Dividson, who are experts on the subject and who offer some incredible insights. I would highly recommend that you to check out some of their books, papers, talks, videos and interviews.


Moments. Fleeting and beautiful. I dreamed I would be able to one day stand outside of time and revel in a moment like this. I hoped that I would see my children finding moments in their days to “just be”. Life is busy. It is full-to-the-brim with things to do, people to see, classes to take and the list goes on and on. We tend to cram as much as we can into a day and then fall, exhausted, into bed where we “sleep it off” only to wake the next day and push repeat.

Moments. Fleeting and beautiful. I dreamed I would be able to one day say, ” We take time for moments, however fleeting and beautiful. They are our exhales, they are our stolen joys, our imaginations soaring above the day-to-day. They are the wings we give our dreams and the permissions we give our thoughts to grow”.

Life tells us that in order to be successful, we need to fill our days with work and busyness. That a good day is one where we are drained by bedtime and have so much more planned for the next day. I beg to differ. Love tells us that a good day is one where we have mindfully navigated our to-do lists, managed our time well, been outdoors, eaten incredible meals, drunk enough water, read beautiful words, had good conversations, connected with our people and most importantly, found time to, just for a moment, rest in doing nothing.

I see a girl, so much like myself, taking some time to just be. I see her loving herself, seeing herself and listening to her own needs. I see her removing herself from time, for just a moment. I hope that by instilling a mindful outlook in our children, we will help them to realise and appreciate when they need to take time for themselves and in so doing, that they will become adults who see the value in living wholeheartedly. That they will become adults who love themselves enough to “take a moment”.

It’s Simple

I started my simple living journey many years ago after years of clutter and too much “stuff” in my home. Over time, I have incorporated slow living and mindful, wholehearted living into our simple way of life.

Too much stuff, 2011
It was just chaos
And SO much red … what was I thinking?

When I think about how we live, I see it as a big exhale of the trappings of modern day life and the chaos that, oftentimes, ensues. People ask how we manage to keep our home neat and tidy with four children living at home, on top of homeschooling. They ask how we cope with “so many kids”. They sometimes look at us as if we are crazy, and, for the most part, this is probably true just not in the way that they think.

Getting better
And better
An almost clutter-free room for 3, 2017

I can honestly say that the more we have simplified our “stuff”, the easier life has become. It is easier to keep our home clean and tidy, it is easier to “be” in our space, we all feel free and relaxed because our home feels open and peaceful to us. We don’t have clutter, so when things start to get a bit untidy, it is quick and easy to clean it all up.

My favourite space of all time, 2017
Learning to make spaces feel open and airy, even when they are small. Courts’ room, 2017
Getting better and better at the clutter-free life, 2019
Our last home in SA, 2019

I don’t have all the answers and I am far from being the perfect role model for simple living. It is a journey and it takes time. Moving to Mauritius was a blank page for me in terms of belongings. We arrived with a suitcase each.  Emme and Jett brought some Playmobil over and Em brought her two dolls. Other than that, we really just had our clothes. Fast forward a year and a bit and we have already had to do a declutter. Its insane the amount one can gather without even noticing.

Our Home in Mauritius, 2020
Clean lines, Mauritius 2020

 I am not a minimalist, but I do have some minimalist tendencies and this can sometimes work against me, too. Sometimes I declutter too much and suddenly realize I got rid of things we still use or need. As I said, it is a journey. One I am ever learning on. I hope that as I journey, I can inspire people to start exploring simpler ways to live, which is why I will continue to write on this forum. It is also the reason I decided to start a Facebook page for “Exhale” and an Instagram account. Please follow along and ask as many questions as you can think of. Lets see where this journey takes us.

Granny D

The other day I caught myself sitting in my armchair, legs crossed, arms resting on either side of the chair. I was lost in thought, contemplating meal plans, school activities, writing and books. I was in a world of my own. So, when I “came round” and caught myself sitting there with a silly smile on my face, my immediate response was to laugh (who wouldn’t?).  If someone had seen me, what would they have thought, seeing me staring off into space, smiling away to myself ? And in that moment, that very thought sparked a memory for me. My granny, sitting in that exact same position, with the same smile on her face (except, to me, her smile was more serene than “silly”).


I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder what Gran thinks about when she stares off into space?” I remember her doing it quite a lot. In her chair, standing at her kitchen counter, peeling potatoes or chopping veg, strolling through her garden, hands held loosely behind her back. She often seemed to me like a bit of a dreamer and sometimes I even wondered if she was sad. Her smile seemed to refute that. Because, she was always smiling. And, honestly, she always seemed serene.


I know that no one is perfect. We all have faults and short-comings and we all make mistakes. Our characters are all ever-evolving and being shaped as we grow and experience life and change due to circumstances or decisions. There is no doubt in my mind that Granny D wasn’t perfect and that she was human, just like me. But, she was a really great granny. From what I can tell, she was a really great mom and a pretty amazing human too.


I look back on my childhood and it is FULL of special moments with both of my grans. I was really fortunate to have had two incredible women for grans and the day my mom’s mom passed away goes down in history (well, in my history) as one of the saddest days of my then, eight-year-old life. Courtney was named after her. I wish I had a lifetime of memories with her. I do, however, have a lifetime of memories with Granny D.




My gran was one of those grans who didn’t really believe in spoiling us with sweets and treats.

Instead, she devoted her time to us whenever we were with her. She would spend hours teaching us how to press flowers or make paper dolls. She would bake with us and always let us make concoctions of various pantry items to pretend cook on the cardboard-box-stove my grandfather made for us. She would play General Knowledge with us, sitting around her dining room table with glasses of fruit juice and slices of buttered ginger bread.

She had a whole cupboard of toys she had saved from when my dad and my aunts were little and she would often add little items of her own to this stash. A scarf, an old handbag, clip-on earrings or a tube of lipstick. There were baby dolls and Barbies and Tinker-Toys. There was a tin of coins from around the world and paper money she made from the green blotter paper on my grandad’s desk. An old telephone and notebooks made their way into this glorious treasure trove, as well as various coloured pencils, crayons and paper and cardboard galore.

The study walls were lined with bookshelves and filled with books and photo albums. My cousin, my sister and I would spend hours pouring over old photographs or lying on the bed or an old blanket on the grass reading “Adventure Stories for Girls”. The study was once my dad’s bedroom and my gran had never removed the stickers and pencil scribblings of her only son from the inside of the cupboard. I think, in a way, she held on to her children by keeping pieces from their childhood and in so doing, she gave us the gift of looking back in time.


I realize now that she was passing down not only toys and books or pictures, but that she was also passing down a heritage for us.

A love for learning and literature, art and music appreciation (the radio was always on). She stoked our inquisitive minds with questions and took us to explore nature in her beautiful garden. She sparked our own creativity with water colour lessons and let our imaginations run wild in the fairy gardens she conjured up and the houses she helped us to build in the trees and shrubs right at the back of the garden.

In her later years, our conversations often centered around motherhood .My gran told me she loved being a mom. She told me how she would watch her children playing from behind a curtain, or around a corner and how she would take them into the garden to lie on their tummies to watch a locust laying eggs. She laughed at the various mischievous misdemeanors of her son and spoke with fondness of her girls.  She told me to not take life too seriously and to not allow silly things to make me angry. She told me she wished she had had more time with her children and to enjoy the time I have with my own.



I remember being in a supermarket with her one day. She was well into her seventies and I was in my late twenties. We had ambled through the shop, following my grandad who was on a mission that day. If my memory serves me correctly, he wanted to get the shopping done so that we could go grab a milkshake at the Wimpy next door. We got to the checkout and as Grandad was paying, my gran whispered to me, “Don’t you just wish you could jump up and swing on the bar above the counter ?” This of course had us in fits of giggles. Grandad whipped around and scolded her, saying “Darl, don’t corrupt our granddaughter”. Well, this just had her giggling even more. As we were leaving she said to me, “Make sure you have fun in life. Its not good to be too serious.”


Granny D was an artist, an intellect (my dad used to say she would be his “call a friend” if he ever were to enter “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” ), an avid gardener, a good cook (taught by my grandad). She was fun and funny and had a naughty streak that she kept well hidden and only let out for certain people to see. She LOVED her husband and adored her children. She doted on her grandchildren. She lived her life well, she was quiet and calm and rarely lost her temper or her smile. She was an introvert, a homemaker. She had a natural flair for style. She had a deep faith. She walked with grace and dignity and had a fantastic sense of humour. She saw the beauty in all things, I know this because she pointed it out. She loved family and family gatherings. She loved animals, especially her dogs and even spoke in a different voice to them. She was a storyteller, a true creative. She ended her sentences with a hum.



I don’t look anything like my gran, but sometimes, I see something of her in my reflection.

I can hear her telling me to have fun and to be a bit naughty and to enjoy my life. I hope I am doing her proud.


My gran passed away last year. She spent her last day with my aunt and they sat chatting well into the night. They sang worship songs and hymns. Granny D took her last breaths while reciting “The Lord is My Shepherd.” She may not be with us, but her legacy has been imprinted on our lives.


Will the Real Nic Maurel Please Stand Up

In my previous post I asked people to suggest topics for me to blog about. The very first response was from a special friend in South Africa, Carly. She wrote, “I am interested to know who you are apart from being a mom and wife. Who’s hiding inside your supermom exterior? ” 

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Golly have I mulled over those words. There is so, so much I could say and then, there isn’t all that much to say either, depending on how I decide to answer the question. So, I decided that I would write myself a little list of “Who I am” and then, I’m going to put her on the spot here, I will ask Carly to send me a little questionnaire to help me dig a little deeper in this answering process. What do you say, Carly? Keen?

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So, here goes, starting at one and then moving on in no particular order:

  1. I am because He is.
  • I am the oldest of four children. My siblings are all older than me, though. You’ll figure it out.
  • I have better parents than most, which means I had some FLAPPEN good role models.
  • I really value friendship.
  • I love sleep.
  • I like to make things. I mostly crochet.

  • I am really, really introverted. I much prefer being alone to being in large crowds. I enjoy one-on-one time and small groups of friends. I do not enjoy small talk or meeting new people, although, I have learned to put myself out there and usually land up initiating conversations because I don’t want to make people feel awkward.
  • My most favourite thing on earth is a newborn baby.
  • I love reading. I love it as much as I love breathing. I never, ever go to bed without reading.
  • I like to write. I wish that written words would trickle from my fingers all day.
  • I love bathing and it really grates me when people say bathing is disgusting and like sitting in soup. Number One, I am not filthy. Ever. And if I was, I would shower. Number Two, bathing is therapy. And Number Three, you can’t read in the shower. Marc bought me a huge, red, plastic tub to bath in in the shower because our house (and most houses in Mauritius) doesn’t have a bath. I miss having a proper bath. When lockdown is over I’m going to a hotel, that has a bath, to be alone and to bath. I have a rule: Do not interrupt me when I am bathing.


  • I enjoy cooking but I really suck at baking. Well, I bake a MEAN banana bread and my choc chip cookies have never flopped. But, do NOT ask me to bake a cake.
  • I am not a minimalist, but I am. Its hard to explain. I love clean lines and open spaces. I don’t believe in holding on to “things” and would far rather hold on to people. I like capsule wardrobes and zero waste kitchens and bathrooms. I believe in quality over quantity. I practice “Simple Living” and have found such freedom in “less”.
  • I love music and our home is always alive with music.
  • I sing opera (not properly, like, I’m not trained) a LOT. Sometimes I don’t even know I am doing it. Ask my children. Or my sister.
  • I really think pranks are funny and I have been know to fall down a YouTube rabbit hole watching prank videos. My brothers do the same and we may or may not have kept my dad up at night watching prank videos with us … while we were in our thirties.
  • I cry when children sing. Especially children’s choirs. Every time.
  • If you hear me shouting, it’s never because I am angry. I go really quiet when I’m cross. My loud voice is for fun.
  • Once, I was singing and doing tap dancing in the shower and I didn’t know my dad and my sister were listening at the door.
  • I love being awake late at night. I love how my home feels when it is dimly lit and all the bodies in it are asleep. I usually walk around smiling at how peaceful it is.
  • I drink too many hot beverages in a day. I used to drink only tea. Then only coffee. Now, I drink hot beverages. I have even been known to drink tea on the beach, in the middle of summer.
  • I am a bit of a neat freak. I will sometimes forfeit a day out to stay home and clean. I love it when everyone goes out and I can crank up my music and get stuck in. I am always grumpy when my house is untidy. Ask any one.
  • I am not a fussy eater. I like food. But, I really love vegetables and I would choose veggies over fruit any day.
  • I have strong beliefs and may come across as opinionated … I try not to.
  • I really believe in intuition and try to trust my gut in most instances.
  • I love being a doula. I prefer postpartum doula work to the actual birth stuff, but only slightly more. I believe in MOTHERS and I love helping mothers find themselves in this role.
  • I give a mean death stare and I can fake being angry really well.
  • I like to speak in lyrics.
  • I never, ever want to live anywhere but on the edge of a continent or on an island. I love the ocean and I love tropical climates. I can happily live without winter.
  • I dream of getting my Phd in Child Psychology and of spending my days doing research into child development.
  • I think kindness is VERY important. And so is mindfulness. I really struggle to be around people who aren’t kind or mindful.
  • Love is the message, and the message is love (see what I did there?).

Ok, thats enough for now. I am an ever changing human, just like you. So much of who I am now is different from who I was 5 years ago and so on. But the fundamentals remain. I am because He is. Kindness and mindfulness are very important. Love is everything. And books.




Writing Prompts Please

I told myself that I wasn’t going to write about COVID or lockdown or anything remotely related to either two, mostly because I am so sick of it being all anyone can talk about and also because I wasn’t sure what I would actually say other than, “We are in lockdown in paradise and it may as well be anywhere on earth because we haven’t seen the beach since the beginning of March”.

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What I didn’t realize is that my rule would cause a mental/emotional lockdown for me and I would’t be able to write about ANYTHING, never mind COVID-19 or lockdown. I have found myself trapped, physically and mentally/emotionally. I have been in survival mode, as have most of the world, and I don’t like survival mode. It goes against my entire belief system, it makes me feel strange – like out of my own body strange. So, tonight, after 41 days of official lockdown and 46 days of lockdown and self-isolation combined, when the Mauritian Government announced an extension on our lockdown until 1 June 2020 I decided it was time to break my self-imposed lockdown and start writing again. I can’t promise I will write often. I can’t promise that I will have loads to say. But, I will keep writing. I would love it if you would comment and give me some topics on what you would like to hear from me. We’ll call them them writing prompts. Perhaps you can help me find my voice again?

Lessons from Childbirth for Life

The room is silent. My client’s eyes widen and I know we are preparing for the next wave to tighten her body and move her baby that little bit closer to us. She pulls a breath in and as the contraction heightens, I watch her tense up her face, screw her eyes shut and hunch her shoulders, all the while holding her breath. “Drop your shoulders” becomes a mantra we chant as each wave threatens to overwhelm her. “Drop your shoulders”. A trigger to remind her to relax her face, her shoulders, her body and to expel the breath she so desperately sucked in and held, waiting for the wave to pass. You see, as she does all those things, as she relaxes her body and her mind, she opens herself to leaning in. Leaning into her own intuition, to the trusted voices around her and to the voice of the One who orchestrates all these life-moments. Her body stops holding the baby in and in doing, releases the tension and fear that prevent her from allowing her body to do the work it was designed to do.



Another time a frantic new mom phones me in tears. Her baby has cried non-stop all day and she is at her wits end. Can I please help? I arrive to take a screaming baby from a distraught mom. I draw in a long breath and as I slowly expel it, I release all the tension in my body, dropping my shoulders as I go. And, the baby? Miraculously, she falls sound asleep in my arms and a bewildered mother exhales. The trick? “Drop your shoulders”. A baby can sense tension in a mother and the more worked-up a mom gets the more upset a baby gets. It is a vicious circle and can go on for months. As soon as a mom learns to relax, her baby relaxes.



As a doula, I have worked with many mothers-to-be and new parents. I have coached them through pregnancy, birth, their baby’s infancy and even through baby’s childhood. The most important advice I give parents is “Drop your shoulders”. It works every time.



Recently I found myself bordering hysteria over something that was out of my control. I paced outside, looking up at the sky, pleading with God to make everything alright. I could feel my body tensing and my shoulders hunching as I allowed the situation to take on proportions that were, to put it plainly, completely over-exaggerated. I found myself holding my breath as I silently begged and pleaded. Suddenly I felt the words, “Peace I give to you.” deep within my soul. I exhaled and dropped my shoulders. It was in that moment that I realized that the advice I have given to so many new parents held fast, no matter how long you have been parenting or how old your children are. In fact, you don’t even need to be a parent to heed the advice I once reserved for births.



“Drop your shoulders” is as pertinent to new mothers as it is to young adults or grandfathers. It is a physical outworking of an internal releasing. It is the act of exhaling, leaning in and trusting. Trusting that even when things are tough, when things seem out of control or too much to handle, that there is a Peace to be had and we can lean in and relax into hearing and believing. We can calmly assess and begin to evaluate outside of fear and anxiety. We can slow down our thoughts and breathe. We just need to “Drop our shoulders”.


Courtney and I, 1998


Emme and Jett are sitting in the huge red tub Marc bought me to bath in (another story for another time, suffice it to say I miss having a bath). They are playing some random mix of a doctor game, Playmobil and something to do with a belt and a bandage tied together. Its drizzling outside, as it has been for days now. The “joy” of living on a tropical island – lots of rain. I found a playlist on Apple Music called “Acoustic Chill” which is probably a little melancholic given the dreary grey skies outdoors and relative quiet indoors. Regardless, I have it playing and somewhere in my chest/abdominal cavity there is a bubble of nostalgia that I keep having to ignore. Perhaps I should change the playlist?

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Any way, this day is moving nice and slowly. We have done our school work, folded laundry, tidied and cleaned all that needed tidying and cleaning and now we are in that glorious space between all we have done and goûter (afternoon snack) where the big girls get tech-time and the younger two get to do whatever they like. I like this slow pace.

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You will notice, I love this word “slow”. I even like to just say it , “slow” (as opposed to “from” which I hate saying). I am a firm believer in slow. Especially since having kids. I want time to move slowly. I want us to move slowly through time. I want to do everything slowly. I want to live “slow”. Ryen recently told me to “preach what you [I] practice”, and on this one I really can say I’m doing just that. It is my mission in life to just slow it all down.


But why? A while back I listened to a series of preaches by Andy Stanley entitled “Breathing Room”. Our then home church, Linc, also did a series with the same title. And what really struck me, was the idea that in order to live more fully, to find happiness, to be more ALIVE, people found themselves cramming as much as possible into their days. On a quest for more they added more. The whole idea is actually so backward and so sad. Truth is, if we really want MORE, we have to have less. We need to do less and take more time doing it. The analogy of folding paper and placing it into a glass jar was used. A person was told to crumple up, ball up, scrunch up paper and put as many pieces into a jar as would fit. The natural response was for that person to hurriedly scrunch and shove. Soon enough the jar was full and the person was pretty pooped. It’s tiring scrunching and shoving. A second jar was brought out and the person was told to neatly fold the same amount of paper as he used in the scrunch jar, and systematically place each folded piece into the jar. The jar didn’t even get a third as full as the scrunch jar. Not only was the jar not filled, the person folding and filling took his time and didn’t feel pooped at the end. In fact, he took a similar amount of time to do what looked like “more” work and landed up with better results.


There is much I can say, I could really write a whole thesis on this topic. That series changed my life in so many ways. For one, it led me on a road to “Simple Living”. And on that road, I found “slow”. Slow is me taking time for more. More connection with my kids and my husband. More connection with my environment and with the present. More connection with myself. And, more connection with God. A beautiful by-product is that I get “stuff” done more efficiently, I fit more into my day than I used to be able to and on days when I feel like not fitting so much in, I have grace for myself because I know myself better than I ever have before. I value slow because I have seen its value come to life in my own life.


I am sure I will speak lots more on this as time goes on. I would love to hear from you – your thoughts and questions on the idea of “slow”. Lets unpack this a little more.




aware (and pics of our time with courts)

It is hot. Heat wraps around us like a blanket and trickles down the back of my t-shirt. Outside, I hear fruit bats calling to each other. I can smell the rotting mangos on the driveway and front lawn where they fall, bite marks perforating their green and red skin. I’m sure rats also enjoy them once they have fallen. This morning, a beheaded rat was left for us on the front doormat. A gift from the two feral cats we have been feeding. We have named them George and Cricket. I think Cricket is the mom, she is bigger than George, more wary of us humans. George is inquisitive and we leave doors open for them after their evening meal in the hopes that they will get used to us and come inside. George looks in and then runs back to Cricket, his safety net.



I am sitting in Emme and Jett’s room waiting for them to fall asleep. They have had their bedtime story and are starting to settle in. I’m eager for them to sleep so that I can go catch some alone time before I go start the evening ritual with the bigger two. We are settling in.


We are midway through January and I have yet to take a moment to give thought to the year ahead. I am not worried. We started the year off calmly, enjoying a proper holiday with Courts. We spent ten days together as a family, reading, swimming, eating, sleeping. It was such a beautiful and intentional time and, I think, exactly what we all needed.


Now, I can feel us finding a rhythm. We have some routines in place. Some rituals we are beginning to follow. I even find myself doing things in order when I wake up: get up, drag the washing basket to the kitchen where I turn on the kettle and then begin loading the washing machine. Once that is done, I unload the draining rack and dishwasher and then make my morning cuppa (or my second cup if Marc has beat me to the first one and delivered it to me in bed) and wind my way back to my bed to enjoy my cup in silence. It is the same every day.



IMG_0353IMG_8164IMG_8159IMG_0384I love this sense of rhythm, this moving easily from task to task, all the while breathing in the life around me. I like the almost predictability of doing some of the same things every day. I like hanging the washing in the sun, flicking each item out to rid it of wrinkles and smelling the new soap we use. I like making a snack plate of apples and peanut butter for Emme and Jett and hearing them squeal ,”Apples” as if it’s the best snack ever. I like setting the table while my dinner is finishing up on the stove, laying each utensil neatly, a glass above each knife, the napkin folded into a rectangle in the center of each place. I like calling my family for dinner and then checking the time, noticing that we eat around six thirty every evening, whether I am trying to or not. I like that we are finding our groove and that the honeymoon period of living on a tropical island seems to have worn off and we are starting to actually LIVE here. I like that at the end of last year we decided our family word for the year would be “flow”, and it seems to already be fitting. What I love most about it, is that it seems to have slowed us down and settled us into a simpler way of life. Into a time where we are noticing life as it happens around us. I feel as though we are more aware.


Aware. Perhaps that will be my word for this year.


food fight 2019


We have had some food fights recently. And by food fights, I mean fights about food and not the fun kind of food fights where things get crazy and food is hurtled across rooms. Although … there may have been an incident where some food was taken out of someone’s mouth and thrown on the floor, so that does kind of qualify. It wasn’t fun though and I didn’t feel happy or proud afterwards. And yes, it was me who threw the food. And no, I did not take it out of my own mouth.

food fight

Having five children means having five very different HUMANS. Some humans like food, all food. Some humans like to try new foods and base their decisions on whether or not they will eat these foods on the fact that they have actually allowed said food to pass their lips. Some humans genuinely don’t like certain foods, which is ok. Some humans eat large portions and others eat small portions. And then there are humans who think that seeing something and deciding that it doesn’t LOOK like something they will eat qualifies them to say, “I don’t like it”.  I have some humans and they all fit into one or the other of these categories. The latter being the most fun category of all.


Moving to Mauritius has forced us to try out a lot of new food. Some of the foods we have tried, and liked, are foods we had never even heard of in South Africa. It has been a food adventure for sure. And, as with all adventures, there have been some moments where we have just really wished for the same ol’ same ol’. That said, for the most part we have enjoyed trying new things and most of the foods are delicious. I’m not sure I will ever like Jackfruit (jaquier or jacque in Mauritius). But, that’s ok.

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Manioc (Cassava)

Eating “Boulette” at the Mahebourg Waterfront


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Delicious Coconut Pastry

At home, however, I have tried to keep it as “normal” as possible. As a family, we follow a predominantly plant based diet. The kids are used to, and enjoy, nourish bowls, lentils, vegetable stews, salads etc. They grew up on this stuff. We do make an occasional spaghetti bolognese or chicken something. But the child in question, has always been a natural vegetarian any way.


So, the food fight:

“Child” suddenly doesn’t eat ANYTHING but pasta or bread. All other  food is “yucky” and child doesn’t like it. We manage on most nights to get Child to eat, sometimes we have to physically spoon things into Child’s mouth, but we generally win after a bit of conversation and cajoling.


Now, there are some factors that come in to play here. I have to understand some important things like developmental milestones, emotional and psychological factors, taste preferences, gender (I may be giving away Child’s identity a bit here. Sorry Child!) As a parent, I feel it is important to consider ALL these factors and aspects pertaining to “issues” we are having with our kids and then deal with them accordingly. And, for the most part, I am able to do this.


But, on the night of “Food Fight 2019” I had some of my own factors weighing out my rationale – I was tired, maybe a bit lonely, longing for some space of my own, feeling a bit drained by being present all the time and not carving out enough time for myself etc. etc.

This is how it went down. Child refused the food on offer. We tried our usual tactics and then “had” to deliver the “ultimatum”, “It is your choice. You can either try the food we have made for dinner or you can go to your room and wait for us to eat our own food and then you may come out. However, there will be no other food for you”. Of course we thought that this manipulation would work because parents are the boss and all that. It failed and Child landed up being force-fed a spoonful of food which Child proceeded to gag on and began sobbing hysterically. I calmly (like actually calmly) took Child’s hand to lead Child to the bedroom where I planned to have a rational discussion about food and its benefits etc.


* side note: if you know me, this is not my normal behaviour. Yes, I am calm, but I don’t usually turn things into a big drama and have power-play showdowns.


Well, we got into the room and the gagging had stopped. The food in the mouth was now clinging precariously to the lower lip and child was silently weeping. I asked Child to please swallow and Child refused. And then, I lost it. I grabbed the food, threw it on the floor and stormed out of the room after saying something mean like “Now you will stay here until we are finished eating” and some other mean things like “I’m sick of you not eating”.

I sat back down at the table where the rest of the family were silent and wide-eyed. Of course, I tried to believe I was justified in my actions. But sitting there and seeing them all looking at me like that was HORRIBLE. What I had done was just so mean, and they knew it. And, it was so out of character for me.



Here’s the deal, my child’s behaviour says NOTHING about my parenting. Child is a child and is actually entitled to behave like one. As I mentioned before, there are other factors to consider that affect a child’s behaviour. If I mindfully consider these factors, I am able to rationally approach helping Child to navigate his/her behaviour better and to make his/her own mindful choices. I am able to set achievable tasks and goals for my child and when he/she doesn’t achieve them, I am able to help him/her.

My behaviour says EVERYTHING about my parenting. Now hear me, I am not beating myself up over “Food Fight 2019”. In fact, I am actually laughing as I type because in retrospect it is ludicrous and super funny. It was also a direct result of me not being completely “ok”. I apologised to Child and we were able to move forward that night. Child even ate an entire bowl of food and declared, “I’m so proud of myself” at the end.  But, how I respond or react to my children says EVERYTHING about me. My greatest role model is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and ABOUNDING in love. What is love? Who is Love? I love the Passion Translation of the well-known verse in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up”. 



May I model Love in my parenting and when I mess up, may I look to Love and see that my failures are not defeats. I will never give up trying to be a better parent. I will never give up learning how to better navigate the journey of parenting, which I can assure you never ends (my adult daughter is still my daughter). I will always strive to be a better me and to turn my eyes to Him, the Author and the Bar-setter.  Again, thank you for joining me on this journey and my prayer is that you will be inspired, as I am, by Love.

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