You are not the problem. Inequality is.

You are not the problem. Inequality is.

Your mind goes undiscovered places, so much deeper into what you already know. Your emotions are strong, your emotions are valid. Your thoughts hold great value, you intelligent being. You have so much more to offer than an appearance. Instead of shedding pounds, you are shedding layers of untruths, outer expectations that are not aligned with your morals and beliefs. Your existence is important, you are needed. Your experiences, the good and the bad, are needed. Your wisdom is needed. Don’t waste your purpose by being convenient for someone else. Speak up when you have to. Even when by doing so you are being perceived as being difficult or problematic.

You are not the problem. Inequality is.

– Yours, Cara

Does rain increase your creativity? Pt 2

Does rain increase your creativity? Pt 2

Is rain really only a limitation?

It can’t all be bad, right?
Within the limitations that we experience when it’s raining, another freedom arises. A space inside of ourselves seems to open up and become accessible when we are directed inside.

Rain automatically slows us down. We cannot walk or drive as fast, we cannot work outside as productively as we could if the sun were shining.

When I think about it, as a result of not being able to move as freely, we are naturally directed inside. Not only inside of our houses but also inside of ourselves. Aren’t we all covering up, protecting ourselves from getting wet? Does rain maybe even make us more vulnerable?

“Does rain maybe even make us more vulnerable?”

The grey ambience influences our moods in a way that makes many of us feel more sentimental. When it rains I feel more introverted, I prefer staying in than going out. I would assume that even the music we listen to during the fall and winter season is slower, less upbeat than in the summer.

Rain seems to lower the multiple expectations we hold ourselves accountable to, it gives us an excuse to be less productive, it turns down the outside noise. And as a result of that, we get to hear ourselves more. We get to feel what is going on inside. Yes, rain does make us more sensitive to our own emotions. It creates a space of vulnerability. And I believe we can use this to our creative advantage.

Using rain as a creative force

If you’ve read Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” you might be familiar with her outlook on vulnerability, she says “[it] is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”.
Creativity can awake in a space of vulnerability. I believe this is where new ideas can unfold. In fact, rain is my favourite weather for writing. In a state of vulnerability my emotions are more accessible.

If the sun were always shining, I might not take those moments to look inside myself and reflect on whatever is happening in my life at that point of time. Instead of sitting on this rock, I might be running around on some beach, playing Frisbee (just kidding, I don’t play Frisbee. I mean, I would but I don’t. If you asked me, though, sure, we could play…). But truth is, I enjoy the beach, too. I enjoy the sun and rain both equally, if also for different reasons. I enjoy being able to move freely, I enjoy warm weather and being out in the world. And I love rain, as it gives me time and patience. It’s a form of Grace. It allows me be still for a moment and brings out a vulnerability that can be used for creativity. If we do not recognize its potential and only see the limitation, we will not be able to use it to our advantage.
With the rain, our souls, too, receive some time to regenerate.

  “He will come to us like the rain.” – Hosea 6:3

Return to Part 1


All images © 2017 Yosny Castro

 

Can I be honest with you? 10 lies I tell myself

Can I be honest with you? 10 lies I tell myself

What are the lies you tell yourself? Here are some of mine, as well as some corresponding truths that help me put everything back into perspective.

 

  1. I am stuck
    No matter how much you believe things aren’t going your way. Truth is: Time is passing. Life is changing. You might be having a really bad day, even a bad season, but this, too, shall pass.
  2. I have to be nice all the time
    Sometimes it is not appropriate to be nice. Sometimes people treat you poorly and while you can still hold onto your own integrity and act as a decent human being, you don’t have to be nice. You don’t have to engage in destructive behaviour. You get to set those boundaries. You get to respect yourself enough to not be okay with being belittled. You get to be loyal to yourself. And if you have to walk away from the situation, so be it.
  3. I am too sensitive
    Oh dear… how many times have I heard this, how many times have I told myself this, how many times has believing this crushed me. Truth is: Everyone feels differently. Your emotions are valid. You don’t have to conform your emotions to someone else’s liking. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to feel. You are human.
  4. I have to fit the role I have been given
    People like to label. It seems to make things easier. But a label is never a full description or representation of a human being. What do companies do when they change the ingredients? They change the label. You are changing every single day. Don’t conform to an old label. You just ain’t that person no more. Whether you have been labeled as needy, loud, too much, annoying, or anything anyone, including yourself, has ever narrowed you down to, you get to rip off that label as if it never existed. You are saved every single day. You get to change your ways. In fact, you are supposed to. You are growing. You are receiving more pieces of the puzzle, getting to know more of your truth. Of course you are changing. Don’t hold yourself to a limited version of yourself. A wise woman once said, when you know better you do better and that applies to you, too.
  5. I should know what I’m doing
    Truth is: No one knows what they’re doing. We’re all just trying to figure it out.
  6. I should be further ahead in life
    Whether you are 25 or 75, you are exactly where you need to be. You need to get through this phase in order to get to the next. Comparing your path with someone else’s could either bring joy or frustration, either way this comparison doesn’t mean anything because their stage of life doesn’t have anything to do with yours. Stay on your own lane, buddy. You got this. Life is rooting for you!
  7. I can’t
    I can’t get over this relationship. I can’t pass this exam. I can’t leave… Whatever it is you think you can’t do, I challenge you to do it. I challenge you to be the only one in your life who believes it and I challenge you to prove everyone wrong. I challenge you to think better of yourself than you feel worthy of. I challenge you to believe that you can, even if you don’t feel like it.
  8. I always have to be honest
    Yes, honesty is a good thing. Mostly for yourself. It is liberating to stand in your truth and to own whatever it is that has been part of your life. But not everyone deserves to know all of your truth. Not everyone has a right to know your story. Opening up to the wrong people can be hurtful. Know who you can trust and keep in mind, not everyone will agree with you and that’s okay. This brings me to my next point:
  9. My opinion should be compatible with everyone else’s
    Truth is: No one will ever be able to truthfully understand the reason for your choices. If the person hasn’t been in the exact same situation, with the same background, thoughts and emotions, that person will never be able to understand the reasons. And in knowing that, it’s okay, if they question your reasons. You were there, you had to walk the walk and face the consequences. You understand why you did what you did and that’s enough.
  10. I can do it by myself
    Truth is: I can’t do life by myself. I tried it. It doesn’t work for me. I am most grateful for my relationship with God, because when I felt like I had no one, I knew I had Him. When I faced darkness, I knew He was walking by my side, every step of the way. My life didn’t become easy once I gave it to God, my problems didn’t disappear over night. But I changed. He promises me every single day, that He will provide for me, that He will not allow pain without something new to be born. He’s got my back more than I’ve got myself. How could I reject Him?

What are some of the lies you have been telling yourself?

 

Was I really naive?

Was I really naive?

“I never use public transportation in Israel,” he tells me, as he’s typing on his computer.

We met on the ground. I asked him for directions as our gate changed at short notice. He described the way in detail, explaining exactly where I needed to go, to then tell me to follow him, as he was taking the same plane.

Oddly enough, we are now sharing an arm rest, as our seats are next to each other. And even though we have never met before, our brief exchange at the airport seems to have broken the ice enough for it to be eligible to start a conversation.

“You should avoid buses,” he warns me.
If there is anything I do not want right now, it is a conversation.

“I always take a taxi, where ever I go. But I never leave Tel Aviv,” he shares.
As he is talking, I’m nodding, trying to be respectful the way my mamma raised me, yet not too engaging, ’cause I’m just not that good of a person. He talks on different topics; safety, work, politics, sharing his knowledge with me who isn’t capable of absorbing half the information he lets me in on.

He wouldn’t notice it, but I am a bundle of hot mess right now. Saying goodbye to my parents who I won’t be seeing in months was hard. I’m still caught in the emotions of leaving. Could I please have a moment to let these tears out?

Could I please have a moment to let these tears out?

“I’ve been to Tel Aviv over twenty times, wouldn’t recommend going to Jerusalem, though,” he adds.
I smile politely, as I sip on my coke, staring into my plastic cup, trying to avoid far too close eye contact.
“So where are you going?”, he asks.
Oh, Lord have mercy, have mercy on me. I think to myself. Here we go.

“Jerusalem,” I answer concisely.

He smiles, breathing out loudly enough for me to hear it. The type of smile that seems to be laughing at me rather than with me. The type that in my mind should make me feel belittled, yet at this point I’m uber emotional and therefore could be wrong.

“First time?” he asks.

“Yes,” I respond, being truthfully honest to a stranger. (Even though in this case, I wouldn’t consider a little white lie to be of sin).

He gives a short expression of laughter.
“Oh, good luck with that,” he responds. I can hear his thoughts through his half bald head. “Poor woman, so naive, cute little thing. Poor little woman.”

Poor woman, so naive, cute little thing. Poor little woman.

After explaining him that I will be volunteering in Ein Karem, a little village near Jerusalem, trying to justify my plans as if I needed to, I realize that this conversation is not taking me anywhere. It is not bringing me any kind of calm, in fact if anything I am starting to doubt myself more. As he is typing and mumbling a few words that I choose not take in, I lean into my seat and close my eyes.

Was I really naive? Was I doing the right thing? The answers I do not know, but with every second that passes, I’m getting closer.

Photo by Yosny Castro
https://www.instagram.com/yosnyc/

 

Leaving Home

Leaving Home

With every second that passes I am leaving into an adventure that is taking me in.

I’ve procrastinated my way from the kitchen to my bedroom, back to the kitchen and finally find myself sitting on the living-room carpet where Seb is watching a documentary on the second world war. He has rolled down the shutters to darken the room. He hates it when sunlight or any kind of light reflects on the TV screen. Mom hates it when he watches TV during the day, such a waste, she says.

She is out running errands, it’s Saturday. He knows exactly to turn it off as soon as he hears her car enter the driveway. Seb is my little brother. He’s 10 years younger than me and 13 years younger than my older brother which automatically gives him the role of being baby of the family, a title he strongly disapproves of. He’s a special kid in so many different ways. So much smarter than any teenager I know. He knows the History Channel better than I know myself. He will Wikipedia information on historical events, absorbing all the facts he could possibly fit into that smart brain of his and impresses with Fun Facts that no one else seems to know. He makes jokes that I don’t understand but I smile and he very much knows that I don’t know but lets me get away with it anyway.

I don’t feel like joking at the moment if I’m completely honest. I don’t feel like anything really. I am overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done before tomorrow. The clothes that need to find their way from my bed, the washing machine and the floor to my suitcase, the emails I still have to write, the bank, the health insurance form, the books I needed to return to the library weeks ago. All these tasks are seeking my attention, things I cannot do from the other side of the world.

He is deeply engaged in his documentary. It’s too dark in here for him to notice the tears running down my face. I’m leaving tomorrow. My family just moved into this house two months ago. The light bulbs don’t even have shades yet, the cables still hanging from the wall. The area is beautiful. The street leads up to the forest. In the mornings you can hear birds chirping. It’s peaceful here. The nicest place we’ve ever lived in. My parents worked hard for this. Years of hard work went into being able to afford this house. I don’t feel like leaving. I don’t and deep down I do. It’s always been difficult for me to leave.

It’s always been difficult for me to leave.

I remember the many times that I moved out and the many times I would come back home. My family and I are close. When you are a foreigner, far away from your roots, you strongly hold onto the familiar. We’ve always had each other. It seemed like the only stability and consistency we could hold onto. We never had family living close by, not even on the same continent. We were the familiar in a country that even after years never quite felt like home. And then you grow up and you’re supposed to open those wings and fly but mine weren’t sure, never felt stable enough to jump off the edge completely. I wanted to leave and to experience the world, I did and yet I felt this duty to hold onto the only part that had ever been safe- family.

I wanted to leave and to experience the world, I did and yet I felt this duty to hold onto the only part that had ever been safe…

“I’m going to miss you.”, I say as I look to his direction. It’s quiet for a few seconds, my words haven’t reached his attention yet. ‘Okay’, he replies. He’s never been good in expressing or recognizing emotions. ‘No, I’m really going to miss you.’ I repeat myself and break out into a louder cry. He turns to me and seems surprised. ‘Are you crying?’ He asks me as if he needed an explanation for what was happening. ‘Why are you crying?’, he wants to know as he reaches for the remote control to pause Hitler’s Occupation of Poland. ‘Cara.., no reason to cry’ he says. I tell him, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m leaving you guys behind, I don’t know why I’m even doing this. I’m freakin’ scared”, I say. “I’m really going to miss you”, my cry becomes unstoppable.

I feel so overwhelmed by this decision of leaving my family behind, to go to a country in the Middle East that I know so little about. What was I thinking in my decision-making process. Why did I agree to do this, why did I already buy those plane tickets, I ask myself in the midst of my distress. ‘Everything is going to be okay’ he says, as he gives me a big Seb-hug. The type of hug in which he holds my head in his arms, enforcing both comfort and suffocation at once. ‘Everything is going to be fine.” He reassures me. ‘You promise?’ I ask, remaining in the same position even though he has already let go. ‘Promise. And in case anything happens to you and you’re in the hospital fighting for your life, mom and dad can always get on a plane and pick you up,’ he explains in a very serious, analytical manner. I laugh. Snot dripping down my chin, my ponytail didn’t survive the love, but the irony of everything being fine and dying in the hospital cracks me up in a way that allows both crying and laughter to overcome me.

‘And Cara, your heart is gold’ he laughs. We both laugh together. It’s a joke only him and I share. A joke that we mention to cheer the other up when needed. He asks politely if he can continue to watch TV. I nod. As he continues to watch, I look at him and realise that it’s happening. I’m leaving. There’s no way out, no point in fighting it. With every second that passes I am leaving into an adventure that is taking me in. And silently I know, I’ve been waiting years for this.

Israel series

Israel series

Lovely people,

I will be heading back to Israel next month for Christmas.

I will use these next weeks leading up to our trip, to start an Israel series. As some of you might know Israel has a very special place in my heart. This is where I met the precious little souls of Ein Karem as I volunteered in a home for children with special needs. This is where I met dear friends some of whom I will be reuniting with in December. And this is also where I met Yos, my love and partner through it all.

How we met, what our volunteering life looked like and how you could become a volunteer will be part of this series. I will also reflect on what led me to start this adventure and how it has shaped the course of my life. I am so looking forward to sharing this experience with you. I want to know, have you ever been in Israel? If so, what is your favourite place to visit?

Sending you my love,

Cara xxx

P.S. This photo was taken by Yos. Feel free to check out his work: https://www.instagram.com/yosnyc/

How it all began…

How it all began…

My journey started 25 years ago in King Williams Town, a city in South-Africa’s Eastern Cape, where I was born to a South-African dad and a Zimbabwean mom.

We soon moved to Maidstone, a little town in KwaZulu-Natal,
where I only spent a few childhood years yet the memories that were made during this time are to this day some of my dearest. It was amazing. My mom was a primary school teacher, my dad an engineer, we had a house with a big garden, dogs and cats and even went to church on Sundays. We seemed to have this life thing seriously sorted.

Looking back, my big brother and I were inseparable. Everywhere he went, I followed – which would drive him utterly nuts. And I still do that, I drive him very close to the insane but that’s what little sister do. Plus, after years of having been told horror stories in the dark, I surely have earned my rights. I honestly had the best days with him. I remember playing cops and robbers outside, swimming in the local pool, watching 90’s television – as much as we were allowed to – Baywatch, Gladiators, Goosebumps, Spicegirls – you name it, we binged it, staying up long after bedtime, getting into trouble for being our naughty little selves and him always taking the blame, always defending me.

Things seemed carefree. There was a structure that seemed so indestructible, so safe. I never thought of things ever changing. I did not know it then but this life would later become the before part.

I did not know it then but this life would later become the before part.

When I was in first grade, my parents made the decision to move the family across the globe. I remember my dad showing us a book of Germany, both my brother and I sharing his lap, looking at pictures of old castles, not completely understanding what it was that he was trying to say. At the time it wasn’t clear to me that moving meant leaving. As a child and even during my teenage years I could not fully comprehend what the motives, the ultimate reasons for the move were but later on it would start to make more sense. My dad had been offered a good job at an international company and even though I believed we were living the perfect life, things must have also been difficult. The discussions my parents must have had when we were fast asleep, the sleepless nights, the worries they shared when we weren’t around. South-Africa struggles with high numbers of crime which has also affected my family, causing great loss and everlasting pain.

So we moved to Germany and out of all places we moved to Ruppertsberg, a small village in the Palatinate region with a population of about 1,000. And I’m telling you, everything was different, the houses, the streets, the people, the food, the smell, the language, we – we were different. And me oh my did we have them people confused. We were the Africans in small town Germany, foreigners, strangers and oh so far from home…

Reflecting on it now. I don’t know if my parents would have made that move had they known how hard it would become. How hard it is to leave the only life you have ever known behind. To leave your friends, your family. To get through the first years in which internet was not yet a thing and the only contact home were letters or occasional very expensive international phone calls. No, to make that decision all over again, I don’t know if they would.

Nevertheless, the after-part was filled with incredibly joyful events, my younger brother was born, we got to experience a new culture, a new way of life. We were able to go on holidays in different European countries and mostly we experienced a security that we did not know existed before. Simple things like leaving the windows open even at times when we weren’t home, seemed so neat. We felt protected and therefore experienced a different kind of freedom. I loved the fact that my friends and I could ride our bikes back home in the middle of the night after a party or a Winefest, not fearing any negative consequences. Or being able to live in a society in which the social and healthcare system works. We got to experience a safety that might have been worth the sacrifice.

When you leave your home and spend a considerable amount of time in a new country, this new country becomes your present but it never replaces your roots. And this strange thing happens, where you always compare the now with the past. You long for it, yet when you go back, you realize that the memories you have carefully treasured over the years and the reality might not correspond anymore.

To be continued…

With love,

Cara