South African Caves

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2013 ~ In the spring of 2009 I had the incredible and fabulous opportunity to visit South Africa. The safaris, the wandering free leopards, elephants, lions, giraffes and many more animals that I’d only before seen in photos or zoos were moments of wonder…the safaris, along with the people and its history, literally changed me and South Africa grabbed part of my soul…

One experience however, woke me up to the fact that caves are not for me…at one point our group crawled on hands and knees through a very narrow passage…in front of my was a woman I did not know…in this teeny tiny tunnel, this woman decided to stop. It was beyond my control…I took my hand and shoved her rear end and firmly asked her to keep moving…once out, she shared with me that she had just done the same thing to a person in front of her…we got a good laugh out of the whole thing and both of us made a vow that this cave “tour” was our last : )

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You Are an Utterly Precious Gift of God

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FreeHugs6143Indigo clouds hovered over Boulder, threatening heavy rain and severe thunderstorms. Typically I like this kind of weather, but yesterday I’d planned a Free Hugs event to take place on the Pearl Street Mall (outdoors for those of you not familiar with the Boulder area). It sprinkled a short bit and my 14 year old son, his friend, a friend of mine and I held our Free Hugs signs and let the hugging begin. As anyone who has participated in Free Hugs, it is very inspiring and such a simple way to spread joy.

After an hour passed by, I noticed an attractive woman of about 70 years, wearing large dark sunglasses, situate her wheel chair twenty feet from where I stood. She smoked a cigarette. I have not yet quit smoking. I told my son and his friend that I was going to go join this woman for a cigarette.

“Do you mind if I smoke an evil cigarette with you?” I asked.

She laughed. “Please do.”

I detected a slight sophisticated southern accent in her voice. She wore a stylish jacket and black slacks. Her dark hair shined—not a hair out of place. I lit my cigarette and we discussed the run on rainy weather we were having. I told her that I lived in Fort Collins (an hour north of Boulder). We both agreed it was nice that it was only overcast at the present moment. While we continued this small chat, the woman in the wheel chair stubbed out her cigarette. Almost immediately a man who had been standing at a nearby kiosk marched right up to the two of us—talking while marching.

“Okay. That’s it. My customers don’t want to smell your cigarettes.” Instantly I stubbed out my cigarette and showed it to the man. He continued, “You know Boulder is trying to pass a law about smoking outside. You’d think you would have more consideration.”

After putting my hands together in the Namaste prayer fashion, I said, “I put the cigarette out. It’s over. I apologize.”

“What’s with you people?” the man asked. “You’ve been there for an hour smoking.”

I held up the snuffed out cigarette as he belabored the point. “Sir, I’m basically a good person and I do have a fault. I smoke. As soon as you said something I put the cigarette out and neither of us has been here for more than a minute or two.”

The woman in the wheel chair raised her hand in a sign of “stop” to the man. She put her hand on my arm. “Ignore him. So tell me about what you are doing over there with the free hugs.”

“Really, I said, “it’s about making yourself and others feel good. Some people come running for the hugs, some avoid us, others want a hug and their picture taken while giving us a hug. Several people from around the world with whom I work have recently returned from South Africa where we presented Archbishop Desmond Tutu with a Spiritual Leadership award.”

The woman placed her hand over her heart. “Child, you are so blessed. South Africa! Archbishop Desmond Tutu! Do you believe in chance meetings?”

“No ma’am, I do not.”

“Neither do I. What is your name?” she asked.

I told her and asked her name.

“My name is Patricia Jeanene Dimick.” (For privacy this is not the name she gave me.) Patricia enunciated each syllable of each name with such power and grace all at once. “I used to be beautiful. That’s in the past. I’m 71. My daughter died—oh what a loss—and left behind two small children. I had open heart surgery six months ago. My marriage isn’t what I’d like it to be. I have a staff infection in my leg—the reason I’m in this wheelchair right now.”

The southern accent gave such a passionate flavor to this list of less than happy circumstances. I couldn’t see her eyes through the dark sun glasses so I wasn’t sure of her state.

“Patricia, you still are beautiful—”

“I’m a simpleton and I’ll be the first to tell anyone. It’s all so simple. A free hug. A smile. Our friend over there at the kiosk doesn’t get that it’s so simple. With all of the things I just told you, I still wake up every morning and say ‘thank you, God.’”

I bent over and hugged Patricia. “It is simple.”

“Child, you have made my day.”

“It has been an honor to speak with you today, Patricia. I’m going to give you something.”

I walked over to where my flyers about unity and Oneness lie on the brick wall and picked one up and walked back to Patricia. After writing my name and email address on the flyer, I told Patricia to contact me. “Look at Humanity’s Team website. I think you’ll like it.”

“I don’t fuss with computers.”

I took the flyer back and wrote my phone number on it and handed it back to her, pointing out the picture of myself with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “I’m helping to present the award to him here.”

Patricia raised her sleeves to show me her goose bumps. “Those are real.”

“I have to go Patricia, but you call me some time. And before I go, I’m going to leave you with the words that Archbishop Tutu left with those of us presenting him the award.” I held both of Patricia’s hands in mine and leaned my face close into hers. “You are a precious gift of God. You are an utterly precious gift. God loves you like you are the only person on the earth. Now, go be who you are—go be who you are.”

Patricia raised her sun glasses to show me the tears in her eyes. “This is joy. Today is destiny. If I died right this minute, I’d die happy.”

I hugged her again and assured her that she had made my day as well. It really is simple.

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Letting Go

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The more tools you collect for your toolbox, the better lives we will all have—because feeling good is contagious. I’ve been through quite a bit in my life and there have been many times when I’ve had a crisis occur where I was quite quick to jump off into hysteria, depression, anxiety attacks, bad tempers. In recent years I’ve gotten much better about reaching into my “toolbox” to live a happier life.

Just over a month ago, while in the middle of my two week trip in South Africa, I had a jacket stolen from me. This wasn’t just any jacket. My mother had given me this very beautiful white jacket with a very unique design on it. It had been my mother’s jacket and when she gave it to me she said, “Whenever you wear this I will have my arms around you.” This jacket has had monumental sentimental value to me and even more so since my mother’s death. When I realized the jacket was missing, I felt panic and loss and sadness. Like any dark cloud, I could feel the beginnings of letting this event take over my thought process. As I sat in a van riding across the spectacular savanna landscape of Autumn golds and reds, not appreciating where I was in the present moment, I suddenly thought, I’m in South Africa! How many people get the opportunity to visit such an amazing place?

I reached further into my toolbox. I brought out, “Someone must have really needed this jacket more than me” and “My mother always has her arms around me” and “I’m so grateful that I wasn’t injured” and “I’m so grateful for all of the things I do have” and “I’m so grateful my children are healthy” and finally, “What am I to learn from this experience?”And I was sincere in all of these thoughts.

I’m still a little saddened by the loss of the jacket, but of all the gazillion things I do have, why should I lose my balance over the one thing I don’t have? It doesn’t make sense. I stayed with the thought about what does this experience have to teach me? The jacket was a thing. Yes, it had personal value, but bottom line, it was a thing and I was faced with two choices: hang on to the sadness or let it go. The lesson for me was letting go and truly believing that someone had a bigger need for the jacket than I did. I’m not excusing theft, but I feel that to dwell on anger and sadness has no effect on the person who took my jacket. It only has a negative effect on me, and then those around me.

Maybe this person was starving, maybe this person’s children were starving, maybe this person was cold. The possibilities are infinite; I know this. Regardless, I have forgiven the person, no matter the reason. In this instance, I remembered rather quickly to stay in the present, be grateful, and let go. And, look–how lucky I am to have a happy picture of me wearing the jacket.jacket

Lest anyone think that I think I have it all figured out . . . yesterday I nearly threw my lap top computer out the closed window of my home office. Extreme frustration smothered me and I did allow a less than pleasant mood to take over . . . where was my toolbox yesterday?

nannette rogers kennedy

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Early Morning Bush Walk

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Dear Friends and Family,

Many apologies for not keeping up with my blog…the one thing I’d not anticipated at all was the lack of internet capabilities while in South Africa…call me a city girl. I did keep notes and a journal and took hundreds of photos. I am now beginning to feel somewhat readjusted from extreme jet lag and a bout of the flu after my return to the states…so not necessarily in order…I continue my blog. This entry is from Thursday, April 23, 2009~the day of the Early Morning Bush Walk.

South Africa, deeply rich in its history, cultural traditions, friendly people and a wilderness so unique and completely different than what we, as Americans are accustomed to seeing, tops my list of magic and mystery. Prior to my trip I imagined seeing elephants, rhinos, hippos, hyenas, monkeys, giraffes, baboons, kudus, impalas, meerkats and the cats~lions, cheetahs, and leopards wandering tall grasses, thorny bushes and Baobab trees with their widely spreading crowns of foliage. I saw all of these animals in my mind’s eye and anticipated these wondrous beings roaming their natural homes, free and unbounded. Having never experienced a photo safari or the bush before, my only points of reference remained with movies, documentaries, books, and the zoo.

A brief glimpse from a morning bush walk in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

After a fairly bumpy hour long drive in an open jeep type vehicle, my friends and I arrived at the Sabi SandBase camp bush walk game reserve in Kruger National Park before the break of dawn. This is also the site of the Umkumbe Lodge, very rustic with no barriers whatsoever between the lodge and the bush.

The air cool, the light a deep pre-sunrise and overcast gray-indigo, the monkeys, birds and hyenas greeted the day in languages of their own. Our bush walk guides welcomed us at a “base camp” with hot coffee and warm berry biscuits.

As we sipped the brew and nibbled on the sweets, the guides introduced themselves in thick South African accents and began giving us a few simple rules, while resting the firing end of their guns on the toes of their boots. “Number 1: Do not bring food on the walk, lest you care to be a meal. Number 2: We walk in single file. gun on shoeNumber 3: Carry your feet quietly. Number 4: No talking~if you see something snap your fingers~do not scream ‘lion’ or ‘elephant’. Number 5: The guide in the lead will raise his hand if he wants everyone to stop. Number 6: Do not run from the wildlife~we carry a rifle with three shots primarily used as a warning~to encourage the animals to move in the opposite direction of the charge.” The word “primarily” perked up my ears. I thought of pythons and wondered if a python would “hurry” away. “Any questions,” the guides asked. “No? Good. We’re off.”

Everyone discarded their cups and plates, and lined up in single file. In the first minutes of our walk, under the morning cloud cover, our guides stopped to point out a hyena running through the bush ahead. The hyena stopped and checked us out and continued on his way, disappearing into tall autumn-gold grass. While all stopped, the guides explained to us that one or more predators were nearby…the vervet monkeys madeguide2 warning cries which the guides understood well.

We walked a hundred more paces and the guide in the lead raised his hand. As we stopped, everyone looked around to see what they could see. The lead guide spoke softly and gestured toward the ground, “These droppings and prints belong to a pride of lions. We certainly do not want to walk in to a pride, so we’re veering off the original trail. If we walk into a pride, you will go home in the newspaper rather than on a plane.” I didn’t question this decision.

Along the alternative trail, both guides stopped us several times, educating us on the indigenous trees, shrubs and flowers, poisonous and medicinal, and plants that made good tooth brushes and other handy bathroom supplies. Several strides further and the lead guide’s hand rose in the air again. He pointed to the prints on the ground, “A leopard. The track is fairly fresh. We must go back to the base camp and get the jeeps.” What, I thought. Where is our bush walk? He reiterated going home on a plane versus in a newspaper.

myfavvervetSilently, against the backdrop of the music of the bush, we retreated to base camp and the ten of us climbed into the jeep. “Naughty little vervets,” said one guide. “They’ve scattered my cigarettes and chewing gum about.” The lead guide cleaned up the strewn items and made himself comfortable on a seat that jutted out from the front end of the jeep. The rear guide climbed into the driver’s seat and hurried us off on the dusty savannah roads toward a tree we had only moments before passed by on foot. As we came very near the tree, we saw the leopard, lounged on tree limb, looking regal and relaxed as a house cat. The leopard is a fabulously gorgeous animal and as he turned his head towards us, just 15 feet fromout in front where we sat, I made absolute, though brief, eye contact with striking yellow/green eyes. He saw me. The guide out in front on the seat, pointed just to the left in the tree, where the leopard had only moments earlier dragged an Impala up the tree for a safely kept meal. The guide in the driver’s seat whispered, “Quite rare to see the leopard at all for he is quite elusive, nocturnal and a master of camouflage.”

Everyone, jaws dropped, snapped pictures or filmed video…we were quietly awestruck. Little did we speak on our travel back through the bush to where we lodged an hour away.

leapard in tree2I’ve not fully departed from South Africa…not sure I ever will, very sure I don’t ever want to. South Africa has slipped into my soul…I knew this before I even boarded the plane here in the states. I often said to many people before I left that I felt part of me had taken a much earlier flight and already stood barefoot on the sandy earth of South Africa. It is bliss. I am blessed.

nannette rogers kennedy

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Frankfurt Germany, Airport

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airportfrank1Why are you going to South Africa? This is a question that has come up more thanairportfrank2 once. I will briefly give an update here, in Frankfurt, while sitting across from the Duty Free shop, waiting for the next flight, the one which whisks me through the air to the southern hemisphere where I will meet in person manby people with whom I’ve spoken over the phone for the past year and a half…but not for several more hours.

Several years ago I met Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God books at a Celebrate Your Life Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. When Neale spoke he spoke of Gandhi’s famous line, “Be the Change You Wish to See.” During this talk he asked if anyone in the room would like to help him with “Being the Change.” Both my husband and a couple of dozen other people stood, showing their interest. Neale began The Group of 1000. He quoted Margret Mead, that never has it been any other way; that it has always been a small handful of people that change the world.

Immediately upon leaving the room, my husband and I went back to our hotel room and signed up for The Group of 1000. Rita Curtis, director of The Group of 1000, called me a couple of days later welcoming me to the group. She then asked if I’d like to help her call people from all over the world to welcome them aboard. Yes, yes, yes. Neale called me a couple of days later thanking me for stepping up to the plate.

Eventually, I worked my way to being on the board of directors and ended up making friends from all over the world.

About a year and a half ago, Steve Farrell, Worldwide Coordinating Director of Humanity’s Team—a not for profit group focusing on Awakening the World to Oneness (another group founded by Neale Donald Walsch) moved to Colorado. Steve and I had met before, but not in person. Steve asked me if I would help him put on an event in Colorado featuring Neale. Of course I would. I had no idea how much effort goes into putting on such an event, but it was well worth it.

Given that my family and I have known Neale for some time by this event about to take place in Boulder, my then “soon to be husband” said, “why don’t we ask Neale if he will officiate at our marriage ceremony while he is in town. Neale said he’d be honored. Very informal affair, but just what Randy and I wanted.

NealemarryingAfter the event featuring Neale and the marriage ceremony, Steve asked me if I would come to work for him to assist with donor services with Humanity’s Team. Yes! Then I volunteered to be of any other help I could be on my own time. Steve offered me the position of Humanity’s Team Worldwide Newsletter editor which I’ve been doing for over a year now. In addition, I’m now a member of the world wide support team, on a few other committees, one of which was helping organize different facets of this year’s annual International Oneness Summit (Anna-Mari, from South Africa gets the major credit for this upcoming event…you’ll meet her later).

While this committee went through a short list of names of who we would ask …we decided to think from the place of possibility. We already knew the Summit was going to take place in South Africa…hmmm. Think BIG. We asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu if he would accept our award. We believed it to be a long shot. “Yes,” was his answer…but what if we had never asked!

Many country coordinators who represent nearly 20,000 teammates from around the world are gathering in South Africa…some have arrived today…some of us will arrive tomorrow.

Saturday, April 18, in Pretoria, South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu WILL receive the award. I’ll keep youdt-signing-petition_0 all posted. Along with this event, we will have gatherings over the next two weeks sharing what is going in different parts of the world regarding Humanity’s Team, visit Soweto (where Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu grew up), go on a couple of safaris, and generally have a marvelous time.

That was a little longer than I anticipated…please comment and ask questions on the blog and I’ll get back with more answers as more questions come along.

Internet connectivity is spotty here…


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0 Days to Go

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rnApril 13, 2009~Today is the day I leave for South Africa! I’ve just said goodbye to my husband and my son at Denver International Airport. They will miss me, but they are excited for me. Next time I write, I will write from Frankfurt and let you know about the first leg of the trip. Right now, I’m so tired in preparing for the trip, it is likely that I will fall asleep very shortly after take off. If I haven’t packed it all by now, then it either isn’t coming along or I can purchase whatever it is I’ve forgotten when I get there

On the way to the airport (a good hour from where I live) my cell phone rang like crazy with family and friendscn saying good bye and wishing for a safe journey. All is going to be great.  Getting ready for take off ~

Talk to you again when I arrive in Frankfurt!

love to all,

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Michael Beckwith, Archbishop Tutu, & Basketball?

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beckwithWritten last night…Randy, my husband, and I just got home from Michael Beckwith lecture. WOW x 10. I met him, gave him my Humanity’s Team (HT) card, and had written an invitation for him to join us in South Africa for the Oneness Summit…adding that I was coming from area of possibility. He was gracious, didn’t say yes or no, but put the business card with the information about Oneness Summit in his pocket.

Beckwith told us about the time he spent with Tutu last summer regarding a conference on slavery. While together, Beckwith & Tutu had joked about favorite basketball Teams as Tutu was wearing a Boston Celtics shirt (I’m not much into basketball–not only did Randy have to remind me of the teams, but also of the sport…I thought they were talking baseball…). Beckwith let Tutu know that that the Boston Celtics were not his team. Tutu let Beckwith know that the Boston Celtics were HIS team. Someone took their picture (with Tutu in his basketball shirt) and when Beckwith returned to the states, he photoshopped the picture and dressed Tutu in a LA Lakers shirt and sent it back to the Archbishop. Pretty funny.

Beckwith signed my book, namaste and we left…about five minutes spent with him. Just another day in paradise…He’s unbelievably inspiring…gospel style delivery, interactive, but all about Oneness and making our world a better place. Very compelling and tremendous command performance. If the Agape Spiritual Center was here, I’d go to it–talk about raising your energy level! We were in 2nd row. Beckwith’s granddaughter (9 years old), was sitting right behind us. Because of interactivity and being asked to HI 5 the people around us several times, I HI 5′d his granddaughter several times. Didn’t know she was his granddaughter until end of the event. I’m very glad Randy and I went.

I did some looking around on the Internet for photo of Tutu wearing this shirt, but to no avail. Instead I found a short article about why Boston Celtics use the South African term Ubuntu, which means “I am because of you.” This is something that Tutu speaks about often.

BOSTON, Mass. – June 10, 2008 – Sports quiz time. Can you name the Boston Celtics’ new rallying cry? It’s something the team chants…not the fans . . . (click on text to read full article).

Who knew?

Five days left until I begin my travels. Must get organized.


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One Week from Tonight . . .

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One week from tonight I will sit aboard an airplane and travel to Germany. It seems a bit of a circuitous route, I agree. Nine hours. I have James Michner’s Covenant, about South Africa, to finish reading. Actually, I plan on resting, deep sleep, curled into the window seat, dreaming of meeting people in person for the first time with whom I’ve been in near daily contact by phone, email, facebook and twitter for well over a year. I foresee taking off my shoes so that my bare will meet the South African earth. I will throw my arms in the air and be grateful. Also I will imagine Humanity’s Team presenting this award to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and listening closely to his words of Oneness, what is called ubuntu in South Africa. And of course I’ll see myself with my official safari hat, riding in a jeep, walking in the bush and seeing animals I’ve only seen in zoos or on television.

Speaking of safaris . . . check this site out (below). Watch live feed of safaris in South Africa. Around 9:30pm MDT the sun is coming up and around 10pm MDT the jeep takes off with a camera on board. Yesterday I saw an elephant, zebras and hyenas. It’s fascinating. And in the morning here in the states, if you tune in, you’ll see early evening and night safaris. In between there is live camera just waiting for the wildlife to wander through! It’s very compelling (scroll down).

Off to bed to get some rest. Must start packing!

hugs to you all,

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In Anticipation of Africa

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This is where you can follow my journey, beginning today, seven days before I leave for South Africa. Given that I am a writer and I love the art of conversation (as all of my friends and family will attest), I find myself in the very interesting place of having no adequate words to describe the magnetic and magnificent pull I am feeling to this country. It is not unlike the feeling I experienced immediately after giving birth.

I walk, and have walked a path to inspire others for a number of years now. It is an energetically empowering path to say the least. Yes, I do it because it makes me feel good. It also makes the person with whom I try to inspire feel good, and finally, anyone who witnesses or hears of the particular deed, also feels inspired. It is contagious and addicting. I love it.

Humanity’s Team has opened up a door and an awesome opportunity for me. Humanity’s Team is a global grassroots movement focused on awakening the world to Oneness. I officially signed up with Humanity’s Team about four years ago, and just over a year ago, I became actively involved with this incredible group. This year at the International Oneness Summit being held in Pretoria, South Africa, we (many of us from Humanity’s Team) will present Archbishop Desmond Tutu with our annual Spiritual Leadership award. And I will help present this award with other teammates on Saturday, April 18th at Freedom Park in South Africa.

Such exhilaration comes with this whole event, that I’ve shouted from the highest mountaintop, also know as facebook, twitter, telephone, text messaging, emails, and ordinary conversation to everyone I see, stranger or not. Yesterday someone on twitter asked me how we got Archbishop Desmond Tutu. As a group we thought BIG. We asked. We received the word that Archbishop Tutu would be honored to accept the award. Power of intention at its finest.

Anyway, this is how I will keep you~my friends (old and new) and family updated on this trip. In essence, I will do my best to let you be there with me. Trust me, I will take a bazillion pictures, journal, blog, skype, talk.

love and gratitude,
nannette (scroll down to watch video with Desmond Tutu speaking about Humanity’s Team Award.)

Let a Person Walk Alone With Few Wishes, Committing No Wrong, Like an Elephant in the Forest ~ unknown

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