Cheeky.

I’ve fallen in love with the word “cheeky.” It’s a much more elegant word than “embarrassed,” and it has liberated me to ask the most audacious things while in South Africa.

By simply saying, “I have a cheeky question…” or “I have a cheeky request…” I have suddenly gotten into closed vineyards, reservation only restaurants, and 5 star hotel pools. Strangers escort me places, take pictures for me, and tell me stories their dear friends barely know.

My South African friend says I get away with it because I’m American…and people expect audacity from us. But I don’t think I’d never ask so much if I hadn’t discovered the word “cheeky” and embraced it!

Cheers to the power of a word…and seizing permission to take it to audacious limits!

Squat.

I eye a dad with his little daughter across the lawn as I sip my tea at the Mount Nelson hotel. He is likely a bank executive or businessman, someone of power. His toddler rolls her little ball and he can’t help but squat to see what she sees. Joy draws him down to her level.

I love how kids beckon you to change perspective, to see the ordinary anew, to become lost in wonder, even if only for a moment.

Squat. What a beautiful act of love.

Can’t resist the question: Currently, who has you bending low or standing tall to see anew?

Living The Wild Life – Learning from Photography Exhibition in Cape Town

“Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are thousands of ways we kneel and kiss the earth.” Rumi

Cape Town’s National Museum is hosting wildlife photography exhibition from around the world. The work was breathtaking – in subject, form, beauty. The photographers captured the poetry of nature. My immediate response was wordless worship and gratitude to my Creator.

And then I got technical…I’m quite the novice photographer, but I’m relishing the opportunity to learn. As I took in the exhibition I was struck by three characteristics of these world-class photographers.

  1. COMMITMENT – They had rose early or stayed up late, waiting hours, days, some weeks, for the image that would tell a moving story. To learn to be a visual storyteller—really, any form of storyteller—I must be willing to wait.
  2. COMPASSION – They seemed to see the beauty and struggle of their subjects in an unsentimental way. There was no sense of pity, rather a capacity to see the strength of the animals in the midst of daily fight to survive.
  3. CURIOSITY — They went to the extreme edges of habitation—crouched low and stood on tiptoes to see what others had missed.

I’m going to keep learning/playing/working at the craft of visual storytelling…and love what it teaches me about writing and life as I observe these extraordinary photographers.

Can’t resist the question: What new experience/hobby/pursuit is giving you fresh insight into something else you know and love?

See the exhibition yourself…You know you want to:  http://www.greenrenaissance.co.za/2011/12/07/current-exhibition-wildlife-photographer-of-the-year

Hiker: Made by Dad

Hiking in a wonderland. As a preteen I was the cliché of awkward adolescence personified: chunky and clumsy and had an overall combative relationship with my body. However, my awkwardness was only matched by my fear of missing out on an adventure.

So when my family decided to hike a Colorado peak I was all in!

Let me establish a little context for this expedition. My family wasn’t the most professional of hikers, meaning we launched off into a multi-mile hike at high noon with only Diet Coke cans and Wheat-thins. So after an hour or so my mother and brother rallied logic and turned back. But my dad saw a peak that must be conquered and I couldn’t bear to miss out on the experience…and even more on an adventure shared with my dad.

We hacked our way through overgrown bush, clung to jagged rocks as we traversed cliffs, and dodged wild animals to reach the top…or at least in my preteen sensibilities it seemed we had barely beat off death. But there I stood gazing at valleys and rivers thousands of feet below, right next to my dad. That day I became a hiker.

I loved the hardscrabble work of seeing beauty, and even more, I savored the bonding with my dad. And at the end of the expedition I was more tired than I ever had been—so fabulously tired.

My body hadn’t failed me. It got me to a feat and enabled me to be with my dad. That day I grew more comfortable in my preteen skin and have hiked ever since.

Hiking has become a passion, so I was thrilled that my first stop in South Africa was the Drakenberg mountain range for three days of trekking with friends.

As I shared my story of hiking with my dad, my friend Tracey recalled the glorious hikes with her father she had had on these very trails.

She too had become a hiker because of her dad. Her father passed away a few years ago, and she shared that some of her favorite memories were with him on the mountain range we were trekking.

As I write this I can’t help but think of another dear friend who also loves hiking. She too had done a considerable amount with her dad. He just passed away suddenly…I pray as she looks at the mountains she will remember her dad at the heights. He made her a hiker…just like my dad did for me.

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