Believe in someone

Imagine this clip wasn’t about sport. Imagine it was about academics and encouraging a young kid at school. It’s a little hazy now but I can’t recall ever hearing a teacher talking like this to me or anyone else when I was at school.

Marry someone who believes in you, work for people who believe in you. Then pay it forward and make sure your kids or young people in particular hear that you believe in their potential.

Communication vs. connecting

There’s no social media version for a face to face conversation with a friend. With everyone spread out across the globe these days the next best thing is a conversation over the phone. The best version of this is a video chat. Texting via Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, Snapchat are essential communication tools – they help you communicate, but they don’t connect you with people on a deeper level.

Even though our smartphones have the word phone in them, we use them more for other things like email, social media, work and entertainment.

To stay in touch, you’ve got to make the time to be there in the moment. Video chat, phone and face to face is the best way to connect.

Digital doors and the importance of being physically present

Physical pilgrimages are important. I used to think that viewing something digitally was enough and that being there physically didn’t matter, but I’ve learned through traveling that being there physically can accelerate a connection to people and places.

Smells, sounds, people and places all trigger feelings that should be acknowledged and processed. There are places where the energy is palpable like airport arrival halls, Yosemite National Park or returning to the town I was born. In other places the energy needs to be stewarded, nurtured or repaired..maybe it’s been drained or sucked on by too many people or it’s been a place of suffering or pain. It’s hard to feel it without physically being there.

It can’t be experienced remotely via digital doors like Facebook, FaceTime and Skype. Digital connections build relationships and we are more compassionate and connected because of them, but physically being in the place is a different level. It’s about resonating with the frequency of the place and in turn having it resonate with you.

Carve out the time and travel. It stimulates growth in you, and in the people and places you visit.


When I go for a hike in new territory I take a map or consult a guide. When I’m driving to a new location I pull out my phone and turn on navigation. It makes no sense to get in the car and start driving before I have directions.

When it comes to a spiritual journey most people do the opposite. Maybe they read a book, watch a film or speak to someone who inspires them. They make a decision to investigate and explore which is awesome, but they forget to pick a guide.

If you’ve woken up and are searching for answers, the first step is realizing that having a guide will keep you on track when you lose your way. This path has already been trodden by poets and mystics – take someone’s hand and follow. If you reach out, someone will hold your hand.

Be in touch

Staying in touch is different than friending, following or subscribing to someone on a social network. Facebook is a community of digital contacts and it’s an awesome vehicle to communicate, but don’t confuse digital connections and digital browsing with seeing someone in the flesh. I know there’s a diaspora of people across the world and that’s what makes social networks so great, but I’m talking about being physically proximate with your community, neighbors and friends.

If you stopped using Facebook tomorrow, how many people would notice? I mean really notice. How many people would be knocking on your door, walking around to the back door, peering in a window or phoning to check in? Compare that to the reaction from friends, family and co-workers who are in physical contact with on a regular basis. I’m talking about a morning run together, popping in for tea, walk and talks at lunch time, kid’s play dates, weekend coffee meetups…that’s what “being in touch” means. It’s not scrolling down a digital news feed and flicking through photos for a quickie endorphin hit.

Networks like Facebook and Twitter are a means to communicate and organize. Check out the Women’s Marches that were organized across the country…and it all started with a small group on Facebook. What’s even more awesome is that the Facebook group manifested into a physical march for millions of people. What gave it power was the physical manifestation. Physical contact nurtures the soul and makes the connection real.

Be proximate with your community and be in touch. It’s good for the community and it’s good for you.

p.s. thanks to Stephen Bartels for inspiring this post and Lindsay Bartels for the edits



Family holidays – Priceless moments

I’m off to my brother’s wedding in a couple of weeks. It will be the first time my immediate family has been together since 2006.  Getting together these days can get a bit pricey and off course means taking time off from the daily gig, but I never hesitate. Thinking about this made me reflect on our priceless family trips over the years.

A road trip in my family included piling four young kids and two parents into a Volkswagen microbus, and trekking off across the country. Sometimes it was a 2000-mile round trip to a National Park or a maybe it was a 100okm trip to Cape Town and back to pick up a new puppy. This was before the days of AirBnB or VRBO, so my folks would organize pit stops and accommodation along the way. Sometimes these stops were at family friends and sometimes they were in roadside hotels. Normally it was one room with all of us piled in, and sometimes it was two rooms with my sister and parents in one, and brothers and me in the other. If we were in the bush and I was sharing with my brothers then I’d go sleep with them telling me the hyenas had broken through the fence and I would be eaten first.

Most stops along the way involved unpacking the car, taking family pictures with my dad’s beloved Nikon and exploring our new accommodations. It was exciting winding down a dirt road towards a small dark farmhouse or checking into a hotel at 9pm at night. As a kid I had no concept of time or space other than the road ahead, dinner (probably sweet corn on toast) and which bed I’d be sleeping in that night. Picking beds with older brothers involved my mother’s intervention once the younger brother (me) was told his bed was the mattress on the floor next to the door.

A highlight on these road trips was sitting up front with my dad in the passenger driver seat, wearing the seatbelt while studiously paging through a well used road atlas. My father had a rule – you had to be a certain height before you could sit up front so that the seat belt would cross your chest and not your neck when you were sitting upright.

A couple of times the car would overheat and we’d limp into a small Karoo town garage in the middle of nowhere. Remember this was before cell phones, so if we broke down on the road then we flagged someone down for help. A roadside stop for us would mean target practice with my older brothers, by throwing stones at anything that looked like a target, irritating my little sister or just waiting around watching cars go by. I never doubted for a second it was a permanent breakdown…sooner or later we piled back into the car and moved on to the next adventure. Only now do I appreciate how my parents must have stressed about getting the car fixed, the delayed schedule, keeping us fed and occupied…remember no cell phone to contact the hosts awaiting your arrival.

As a family we still laugh about these trips. Whether it was Yosemite when we got lost in back country trying to find the Hetch Hetchy valley or finding a cockroach in a bowl of soup in a small back country hotel in Pilgrems Rest. Most of the time it was the unplanned events along the way that keep us laughing.

I remember a return trip from a National Park and setting up “camp” in a small town in the middle of nowhere. We were all piled into one room and it was so cold we all put multiple layers of clothes on and slept next to each other to warm up. I don’t know what my parents were thinking but I was having the time of my life…it was so exciting. We were freezing cold but everyone was laughing and trying to keep warm. My mom told me later they woke us up at 4am and left because the car was warmer. We were all still wearing 3 or 4 layers of clothing and headed to the gas station to fill up with petrol. At the pump next to us there was a farmer filling up his truck…and he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. We still talk about that cold morning and laugh about the “farmer at the gas station”.

These memories are the glue that binds my family together. It’s the small moments we still laugh about years later.

Looking back I think my parents were probably a little nuts and naive to pile 4 kids into a microbus and drive across the country, but I’m glad they were and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


Build a village

Family and friends are so important. Human beings are social animals and up until about 150 years ago we still lived in close knit villages. The village included immediate and extended family from sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, godfathers and godmothers. Everyone looked after the young and the elderly.

In a very short time period we’ve moved from close knit community of multi generational family and friends to a diaspora. It’s not in our DNA to be unplugged and separated from the tribe.

Raising kids is a great example. Most young mothers give birth in the hospital and are shipped out and home the next day. There they sit with a new born child with zero support from immediate family who are probably living in another city or even another country. In response to this there’s a growing trend for young parents to employee a night nurse during the postpartum period. A night nurse or midwife “baby sits” during the night and helps guide the new mother through the first couple of weeks. It also allows the parents to get some sleep and be engaged when they are with the child. In the past there would be sisters, aunts, mothers, grandmothers and friends to teach and cover for the mother. If you think about it it’s actually not such a crazy luxury but a necessity and going back to our village roots. It’s sad that the majority of young mothers can’t afford this extra help and have to go it alone.

Skype and Facetime don’t bridge the gap. We need physical interaction and to be around people that know us. We are under the illusion that we are now more connected than we have ever been, while it’s actually quite the opposite.

Invest in your friendships and family bonds – build a village.