On the balcony – Part 5

December 21, 2014

12 December 2014

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Looking out west

Today was going to be the 25th photograph in the project. As I walked onto the balcony I was aware that I had yet to take a photograph looking out west.

The vision out towards the east is more expansive, while the view towards the west is more restrictive. Given this, my dominant tendency (and perspective) was to look out towards the east. Setting my camera to face west, was breaking my dominant perspective.

13 December 2014

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A gift

One of my wife’s students gave her this Christmas reindeer as a year end gift to thank her for everything she had done. Giving a gift is an act of appreciation and gratitude.

My wife was inside putting up some Christmas decorations. She joined me on the balcony and playfully placed the little reindeer in the bush. She had brought me a gift to photograph. We smiled as I focused the camera on the little reindeer. One of the most powerful gifts we can give to others is a smile.

14 December 2014

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Same and different

I took this photograph of a small succulent plant we have on the balcony. Each stalk is unique, yet has the same structure.

As humans, we are unique. Yet, we are no different from each other regarding our basic needs. In addition, each one of us needs acknowledgement, respect and most importantly love, to grow.

We all have 24hours available to us each day we live. Our uniqueness unfolds depending on how we utilise this time.

For me, the photograph also reflects over-population and lack of space, which lies at the heart of our biggest global concern.

15 December 2014

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My neighbour

Sitting on the balcony, looking at me on the balcony.

In South Africa, we tend to live behind high walls, which separates us from our neighbours. The challenge is to re-connect to our neighbours and to build communities that are supportive and respectful.

16 December 2014

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Taking care

The garden below is beautiful.

Processes that are taken care of, usually result in beautiful outcomes.

17 December 2014

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Integrating everything around me

Today is the last day of my project. As I walked on the balcony I knew what type of photograph I would like to take, but I didn’t know how it would turn out. I needed to wait until it was dark.

I wanted to include all that exists before me in a single photograph.

Integrative thinking connects parts into a complex unified whole.


On the balcony – Part 4

December 16, 2014

4 December 2014

Balconypart4-4Dec14

Shine your light

Eskom has been load shedding, and candles are playing a bigger and bigger role in South African lives. Candles bring light into darkness.

The candle on the table on the balcony reminds us to shine our light when interacting with others.

Life is not always easy and we may encounter many dark moments. Candle light in darkness can be likened to a lighthouse during a storm where visibility and navigation is severely impaired as ships pass by. The candle light reminds us to always try to see ourselves in our highest light, especially during those difficult times in life.

5 December 2014

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Moon energy

I took this photograph at 18h46 on the 5 December. It preceded the full moon, which was to occur at 14h25 in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 6 December 2014.

I have been told that from an astrological perspective, that this full moon is in Gemini. According to astrologers, it is time to celebrate your life, and even your smallest accomplishments are worth noting. As you focus on what is working in your life, a positive energy is awakened allowing good things to flow to you. In addition, it is recommended that you open your heart and speak your truth and also make space to receive the truth of others.

The moon reflects the yielding feminine or yin energy in each one of us, and reminds us to be gentle and caring in our relationships with others.

The moon also rules our emotional, and at times, darker, shadow side which we tend to repress and deny. To feel whole and integrated, the full moon reminds us of the necessity to acknowledge and embrace the darker side of who we are.

6 December 2014

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Confusion and not-knowing

This was the third consecutive evening that Eskom was load shedding. Coupled with this, there was a huge storm developing in the East.

For this photograph, I decided on a long shutter speed and then panned across the horizon to cause the blur to reflect confusion, uncertainty and not-knowing. These are mental states that are activated when we confront problems and/or paradoxes that life throws in our path.

I knew that the beautiful full moon was shining brightly behind the clouds. I just couldn’t see it.

7 December 2014

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A rainbow the next day

How quickly things change. Yesterday the air was laden with dust, confusion and uncertainty. Now a beautiful rainbow. A rainbow is synonymous with having a dream. But there is no easy short cut to success. A dream will only be realised if you are prepared to do the hard work to get there. In particular, this applies to young aspiring athletes who want to reach the top in international sport.

8 December 2014 – Out of town

9 December 2014 – Out of town

10 December 2014

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A healthy ecosystem

Many birds fly over the balcony. Above, an African sacred ibis flew by.

A healthy ecosystem supports a complex web of inter-connections of all living things. The diversity of birds flying around remind us of this living web. We are only part of this web. We do not own the web.

Unfortunately, many species are threatened by man’s actions.

11 December 2014

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Thumbs-up attitude

I was standing on the balcony contemplating today’s photograph when Freddy, our complex maintenance manager, walked past. I enjoy interacting with Freddy. He is optimistic and always approaches issues with a thumbs-up attitude. A couple of days ago I was talking to Freddy about the nature of problems and how as humans, we tend to create the very problems that we then seek to solve. Freddy’s comment to me: ‘Don’t trouble the trouble until the trouble troubles you’.


On the balcony – Part 3

December 9, 2014

28 November 2014

BalconyPart3-28Nov14

Respond immediately to crisis

I did not take a photograph today. I had to deal with a crisis and take Humfrey, my bull terrier, to the veterinarian. Dealing with the crisis took precedence over my project, resulting in me not being able to be on the balcony during the allocated time period.

Dealing with this crisis was the opposite experience that I had a couple of days ago when I was surprised by the balloons flying in the sky. Surprises/miracles and crises/accidents are opposite sides of the same coin. They arise from the random, unpredictable nature of life.

29 November 2014

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Reflection

I felt unsettled and despondent today. I was searching for a meaningful photograph and nothing was emerging. Time was moving on and there was about 10 minutes left to get a photograph.

We have a red, glass table on the balcony. I don’t know how it happened, but as I looked ‘into’ the glass table top, I saw the reflection of the moon. I felt a jolt and immediately knew that I had seen my photograph. The photograph has a simple, yet surreal feel.

Taking time to reflect on our actions or on experiences that have had an impact on us, help us to gain deeper insights and understanding of ourselves. As part of my clinical work, I often ask my clients to take a moment ‘out of the conversation’ and keep silent and to reflect on some of their thoughts and feelings that are unfolding within them at that given moment in time during the consultation.

30 November 2014

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The qualities of water

We had a downpour around 17h00 today. When I walked onto the balcony, I noticed the droplets of water still hanging from the leaves of our plant. As I focused on one of the droplets I could see the reflection of the building and the setting sun within the droplet.

Water is precious. It supports life as we know it.

Water is soft, gentle, flexible and flows. Despite its yielding nature, you should not discount the power of water. It has the ability to overcome hardness and rigidity over time.

The qualities of water, when experienced in a relationship, are likened to love – soft, gentle, yielding and flow.

1 December 2014

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Fly

The photograph activated two predominant thoughts.

Firstly, we need to fly into the possibilities that exist in our lives. In order to do this, we need to remove the mental restrictions we may have placed on ourselves.

Secondly, the eyes of a fly are very large in comparison to its body. Being a ‘fly on the wall’ suggests that we need to be more receptive and open to what is unfolding around us. We need to listen and watch more, so that meaningful learning can occur.

2 December 2014

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Memory and transience

The camera was set for a long exposure and I walked into the frame very slowly.

The photograph reminds me of the transient nature of life. Nothing lasts forever. However, we carry with us the memories of our experiences.

3 December 2014

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Clear focused intention

As I walked onto the balcony today, I was immediately captivated by the moon and I knew exactly what photograph I would like to take. I focused on the moon and just had to wait patiently. About ten minutes passed and then two rose-ringed parakeets flew up towards the moon. This was exactly what I had been waiting for.

Setting a clear intention is linked to the idea of ‘ask and you will receive’. This reflects a sense of knowing that the reality that you have visualised, will manifest itself. But you have to be ready to embrace the unfolding moment.

A Tribute to Humfrey

‘You turned heads where ever you went. You were a true champion. We will miss your uninhibited energy and love for life. Thank you for all of the joy you brought to us. We love you’.

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On the balcony – Part 2

December 3, 2014

22 November 2014

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Light and dark reflect the duality of life

19h00 was fast approaching and I still did not have a suitable photograph. It was getting darker and darker. Standing near the door I looked along the window into the darkness. Light was streaming out of the window.

23 November 2014

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You need to travel in order to arrive

This photograph has a powerful metaphoric message for me. In order to arrive at any destination, you need to travel. Change requires travel as you move from one perspective to another. Travel equates to process, and life is full of unfolding processes.

24 November 2014

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The turbulence of change

As I stood on the balcony a powerful storm was brewing. Dark ominous clouds, driven by strong winds were rolling across the sky. The turbulent energy was imposing itself onto the environment. The power of the storm triggered a physiologically unease in me, as well as, a feeling of insignificance. On a logical, analytical level, however, I knew that no rain would be possible if it were not for the gift of that storm.

25 November 2014

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A surprise

Life has a wonderful capacity to surprise us.

As I went onto the balcony I had absolutely no idea about what I wanted to photograph. My wife joined me on the balcony with a lovely cup of tea. As we chatted, she looked out into the distance and remarked that there was a strange object high in the sky. As it drew nearer, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I recognised what it was.

26 November 2014

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The beauty of ever-changing complexity

Out in the distance, the evening sun was falling on beautiful clouds. Clouds are ever-changing. They never remain in the same form or shape as time unfolds. I used my telescopic lens and noticed the detail and complexity of the clouds that was not evident to the naked eye. The beauty that I saw at that very moment in time could never be replicated.

27 November 2014

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Break down the mental barriers

High walls, barbed-wire and electric fences are common place in South Africa. This harsh visual reality reflects a deeper global issue, given all of the wars that are being fought at this moment in time (and throughout history). There is an increasing level of tension between those ‘who have’ and those ‘who do not have’. This is probably the fundamental reason for crime, violence and war.

This photograph reflects our disconnection, fearfulness and the harsh world we live in. It signifies man-made boundaries, clearly defines territories and the fragmentation of our world into ‘them against us’. High walls are a reflection of the ongoing circular spiral of ‘attack and defend’.

We also have built barriers in our minds. On a relationship level, we need to challenge the assumptions and prejudices we have of those who may be different from us. The photograph reminds us of the need to build a bridge, as opposed, to a wall with barbed-wire and electric fencing.


On the balcony – Part 1

November 27, 2014

16 November 2014

16 November 2014

Look far and wide to set your vision

This was my first photograph and I used my widest lens looking out towards the East. It was an obvious photograph for me to take and set the scene for my upcoming journey. The space out ‘there’ gave me a feeling of freedom. Further, I was able to reflect on the the vast range of possibilities that exist for me to consider before I decide on a focused vision.

17 November 2014

17 November 2014

If you can’t see anything in front of you, then turn around

I confronted a photographer’s block today (if there is such a thing). I couldn’t see anything looking out. I was trying so hard to see what I could photograph and was becoming frustrated and desperate. I turned around and looked through the door into the apartment.

18 November 2014

18 November 2014

You are always being watched

This ornament of the sun hangs on the outside wall. It looks out and is ever present. It reminds me that there is a meta-part of ourselves that is constantly observing and witnessing what we think and do.

19 November 2014

19 November 2014

You need a safe parking place to rest

While taking this photograph it dawned on me that we need an emotionally safe place to rest and re-generate our energies.

20 November 2014

20 November 2014

Look, it is right in front of you

I walked into the kitchen before going onto the balcony. My wife was preparing a vegetarian dish that looked irresistible. The array of colours in the dish jumped out at me and the photograph was right in front of me. After taking the photograph we enjoyed a delicious meal, with a glass of Chilean cabernet sauvignon.

21 November 2014

21 November 2014

Small is beautiful

In our rush, we seldom notice the small. The coriander in our small pot on the balcony has flowered. The flowers are tiny and so beautiful. I used my macro lens to take this photograph.


On the balcony – Introduction

November 26, 2014

I have decided to embark on a photographic journey.

The project will be called ‘on the balcony’. My task will be to take one photograph from my apartment balcony, every day between 18h00 and 19h00 for 30 consecutive days.

Being ‘on the balcony’ will mean that I will be in the same place and at the same time everyday to look out and to see what I see. This will challenge me to look out into the world through the lens of diversity and expansion.

While I do not know what is going to emerge in the creative process, I am keen to see what visual possibilities become a reality over the 30 day period. I believe that each day will present its own image to me. I just need to be open to what is  going to be presented. Zen philosophy talks about the beginners mind as being open to all the possibilities that are in front of you. I know that this is easier said than done, since we become accustomed (and rigid) in how we view (and think about) our world around us. The project is going to challenge my usual perspective and require that I look out into the visual space in a different way each day. I am excited at this prospect.

I am also hoping that each photograph will sensitize me to a simple, yet meaningful life lesson. But I am not too sure if this will occur. So I will see what unfolds on this level.

I will present the photographs in five weekly posts of 6 photographs. I intend to follow up the photographs with a concluding post, trying to capture what I experienced and learned in the process.

I do not have any particular view about how this project will unfold. There is actually nothing hinging on it. Unlike a school project, there will be no grades of pass or fail. I am thankful for that. I will trust the process and try as best as I can to be open to all that is in front of me.

Let’s see what happens. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

The balcony

The balcony


Researcher of self – a journey into the unknown

November 21, 2014

On a fundamental level, scientific research requires that the researcher move from the known into the unknown. Dr Uri Alon, believes that scientific research is an emotionally taxing process due to the necessity of this movement.

However, it is interesting that this emotional component of the research process is not usually discussed, revealed and/or acknowledged in the final published research article. In fact, the published article usually presents a rather cold, detached perspective of the process. This belies the intensely personal and emotional dimension of the research journey.

By its nature, research needs to reveal what has not yet been discovered. Present understanding (and knowledge) of any phenomenon is based on what is already known. However, what is already known offers no security to the researcher as the research process moves into the unknown. That is the paradox of the process: ‘knowing what exists, does not offer any comfort for what needs to be discovered’.

While the researcher will have a hypothesis (research question) that will guide the investigation in the beginning, it cannot be relied on to offer emotional support to the researcher when he/she is confronted with messy data and information that may not make any logical sense based on existing knowledge. Given this, researchers need support and encouragement at a time when they are most confused in the process; since it is in this confusion that the seeds of new insights and discoveries exist.

I consider the ‘unknown’ to be a vast undiscovered, undifferentiated world of complexity and paradox. While the scientist may enter this world with a hypothesis, he/she actually needs a huge amount of courage and persistence to deal with the complexity of the unknown. Feelings of confusion, doubt and uncertainty will reign supreme as the researcher steps into this world. In addition the ‘unknown’ is a master at blocking the movement of the researcher, often causing immobilization and despair.

But paradoxically, the ‘block’ in the research process is actually the most significant feedback loop to the researcher. It tells the researcher that (a) a new way of thinking is required, (b) existing assumptions need to be examined, (c) new information or considerations need to included, and/or (d) the direction of the inquiry may need to change.

Skyline drive, Virginia

Skyline drive, Virginia

As a clinician, I believe that each of us is an unique, evolutionary unfolding of integrated energy and information. Our uniqueness is expressed in how we reveal our energy to others; as well as, how our worldview (deepest beliefs and assumptions of ourselves, others and life) influences our thinking and interaction patterns, which in turn determines how our life unfolds.

A healthy energetic and informational system expands in a balanced, creative way, moving towards more diversity and complexity. In addition, at the core of the system, there is a dynamic balance of opposites that co-exist.

There are times, however, when you may feel blocked, stuck and see no possibilities/potentialities ahead. Feeling blocked is life’s feedback message that says: ‘you cannot continue with your old ways or old path’. A new way forward, which still needs to be discovered, is required.

On a general level, you may feel stuck over time if you do not:

  • consider all the relevant complexity of the situation that you are dealing with,
  • examine some of your tacit assumptions that may unknowingly be causing the self-defeating and destructive behaviours,
  • acknowledge your own part in creating the problem,
  • step back to reflect on the process, instead of repeatedly trying to force your perspective onto the situation that you are encountering,
  • loosen the rigid perspective that you may have and instead consider the exact opposite of what you believe,
  • have the courage to become the researcher of self.

As the researcher of self, you will be challenged to examine your thinking and interaction patterns in a reflective way. Just as in the scientific research process, you will be required to expand your knowledge of self, and move into the yet to be discovered, unknown parts of yourself. These aspects or dynamics of yourself may appear to be confusing or unacceptable, thus making it difficult to acknowledge. This will be an emotionally challenging process that requires courage and persistence as you explore parts of yourself that may not make logical sense initially. But as the reflective process unfolds and you gain deeper insights into the dynamics of self (which were previously unknown and undiscovered), a new understanding and respect of self starts unfolding. And with this, new potentialities to move forward come to the fore.

Ongoing journey

Ongoing journey


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