motherhood, South Africa

Prince Othawa

When you cross paths with a lion, you remember every detail from the angle of the sun as it attempts to glint your fear away, down to the exact shade of red of the pebble-specked earth his paws tread soundlessly upon. Not only was I able to live this experience up close, I was able to share our face-to-face encounter with Prince Othawa, a fierce and looming presence at the heart of Londolozi, on their daily blog.

You can read that story here:

Fulfilling a Life Long Dream

Since our time in South Africa I have followed the safari stories of this otherworldly place with hopeful dedication. These snippets of animal life keep my heart dreaming of our return. The drama of the unfolding power dynamics as the beasts of the wild grasp for dominance easily entertains with all the makings of a soapy, serial drama. Some stories light up my day, like with the birth of a new leopard cub, and some hit me dead-center when a cherished animal does not survive the night. This week when I opened my inbox and saw the tagline of “The Fate of the Othawa Male”, my heart thudded to the floor.

You can read about his final hours by clicking below:

Othawa’s Fate

It feels like I am mourning a friend. The astonishment he provided for Mad Dog and myself cannot be adequately captured with words. Facing him, not even a breath-space away, turned our visceral fear into whole-hearted communion with the present moment. The fragility of life was never more apparent than in that instant.

We control nothing.

Prince Othawa’s fate was sealed the moment he charged into battle, a lone warrior unaware he would be outnumbered. He relied on instinct as he pushed the boundaries of his territory, believing in the power of his singular strength.

One lesson we could take from this is to never go it alone. But, this doesn’t seem exactly right to me. Prince Othawa died as he lived, walking a path that called to him even when the ultimate destination could not be known.

This is how I want to live for the rest of my days. Though they may be numbered, they are bright with possibility.

Like Othawa, I vow to follow the roar of my heart no matter the outcome.


My Heart Belongs to Africa

Magic is real.

I lived it up close.

Close enough I could feel the air shimmer over my skin as a lion sauntered past me.  Less than a foot away I dug deep for courage as I sat exposed in an open-air Land Rover.  His paws silent as marshmallow pillows, his movements sleek as a crocodile slicing through a murky riverbed.

Even in the stillness this king exuded power.

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All of it magic.

This is how I know fear does not always tell the truth.  If I had listened to fear I would have stayed home in my Cubs pajamas.

I would have missed an enraged elephant tossing sand at me as we interrupted his hunt for female companionship.


I would have missed seeing so many leopards that I lost count. Mothers and babies, lone leopard warriors stalking the land for dinner, a female leopard mating with a father and son to ensure protection of her future progeny, leopards in trees and on termite mounds.

An abundance of spots and I loved every, single one of them.

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I would have missed meeting my idol and mentor, Martha Beck.


Martha is a Light Writer and life coach.  Meeting her meant everything to me.  Her writing and wisdom carried me through a time in my life when I needed it most.  Getting to tell her that in person was, you guessed it, magic.

Martha Beck’s Safari – Finding Your Purpose

Martha is the reason I cast my fear aside  brought my fear with me, let it have its say and still went to South Africa anyway.

I did it for her and for Mad Dog.  His lifelong dream consisted of coming face to face with a lion while on safari.  I flew nearly 50 hours, endured 17 hours of layovers in Qatar, willingly rose daily at dawn and perched myself without complaint in a vehicle minus any enclosures to face the fiercest animals in all the land.

I would do it all again if only to see Mad Dog’s face each and every time we encountered lions.


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I hold gratitude for everyone who made it possible for Mad Dog to realize this dream.  From our extraordinary ranger and tracker, to my in-laws who took care of the boys and dogs while we traipsed across the savanna.

Thank you.

Wine tastes better with zebras nearby and an African sunset to feast our eyes upon.

Our awesome ranger/driver, Bruce, (next to Mad Dog) and our gifted tracker, Rob (next to me).

Every day dazzled us with mystery and wonder.

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My favorite African bird, the Lilac-Breasted Roller, made sure to pose for this most treasured photo.

As we watched animals roaming free and living immersed in the present moment, our hearts cracked open a bit wider and we grew in wisdom and love.

I never knew a place could change me forever.

But, then again, I had never been to Africa.




children, family, gratitude, humor, kids, marriage, motherhood, parenting

The Year in Review (Happy New Year!)

T.Puzzle transitioned from Pre-K to the big dance this year.  While he flourished in kindergarten in many ways, his attitude towards me has shifted dramatically.  I went from being his ‘best friend forever’ to… not. Trust me, my ego was ill-prepared for the loss of my little ‘Mommy’s boy’.  It helps when I think about what growing up is like for him.  He must get awfully tired of being told what to do every second of the day and he lets me know it, too.  It’s okay.  I’m a tough cookie.  I can take it.  No matter what he tells you, he’s always going to be my ‘baby’.

Full Speed continues to fulfill is pre-ordained destiny of being Mad Dog’s clone.  His mannerisms, his physical attributes as well as his attitudes about life and sports are all a spot-on mimicry of Mad Dog.  Thankfully, Full Speed couldn’t have a better role model.  Well, it might be nice to tone down that competitive streak but let’s be real, that isn’t going to happen.  All I can do is sit back and watch history repeat itself.

Mad Dog is painstakingly building a soccer empire right here in our cul-de-sac.  His intense coaching sessions even pushed me to win most improved at this year’s family soccer classic.  Trust me, after playing against Mad Dog, I know how to bring the hurt.  Even on the days when he scores a million goals on me, and those days do happen, Mad Dog remains my biggest supporter.  He trusts me to always give my best no matter what I do (soccer and otherwise).  This helps me to trust in myself.

As for me, first I want to share a blog secret with you my dear, faithful readers.  You may think that I have the most photogenic children on the planet.  This is simply untrue.  The key to my photographic success is that I average about a thousand pictures for every one, hidden gem that I post.


See what I mean?

The other part I want to share with you is this year I pushed myself to face my fear of horses and have taken some riding lessons.  The first time my horse cantered, I about passed out from fright.  I held onto the saddle horn as if my life depended on it (I guess technically it did).

I’m slowly learning that fear cannot stop us.  We are the ones who stop ourselves. I hope by facing my own fears, I can help my boys be fearless.  I have a feeling these guys are well on their way.


For me riding horses is a lot like motherhood.  It’s unpredictable, frightening, joyful, exhilarating and absolutely the ride of a lifetime.

Look out 2013! We are coming for you!