Today is the one-year anniversary of my return from Senegal. And so much has happened, since I got back here. In the world, and in my little old life too! And boy, am I ready for an aeroplane ride again. So much so, I would happily have one of those Astra Zeneca, in storage somewhere in South Africa… but that’s beside today’s point. We’ve all been experiencing a different kind of action (or lack thereof) than we’ve been used to.

However, I’m not complaining. This smaller world we’ve been living in, has definitely helped the process of making decisions easier.

I always work my way to a decision without sharing or discussing too much with those close to me. In fact, I mostly process alone, dropping a few breadcrumbs, or a turkey decoy, along the way. And then suddenly I know my decision, and I spring the surprise: This is my plan. And everyone is like: “where did that one come from? I thought she was doing this. Not that? I thought she felt this, not that. How? When?”

When I left South Africa to join Mercy Ships in January 2020, I was all in, and many were quite surprised at my decision. I left behind a pretty incredible life – family, friends, work, nature, lifestyle… I had decided it was time to do something different. Something purposeful, something in an environment that was true, and real, and meaningful, and authentic. I thought that I needed to leave here, to do that. I thought I needed to commit to a LONG time away, to do that. And, they do say that a change is like a holiday. Perhaps I felt a bit jaded in SA. Like I needed a holiday. Perhaps a change is really like one.

But I cannot lie – my ‘holiday’ was a tough one. I’m not only talking about being on the ship – my word, but the job satisfaction on that ship is on another level… I’m talking more about leaving behind a life where people know and see you. And opting for the totally unknown. I didn’t realise how much ‘being known and seen’ fuels me. I was intent on seeing and knowing those who are normally unseen. But to be honest, the ship, followed hot on the heels by the pandemic, resulted in me (for a few months) feeling quite displaced, and like a shadow of the real Chrissi. And for a while there, I did not think that going back to the ship was on the cards.

I’m not sure about all of you? Have you felt known, and seen and loved this past year? So many of us “wing it” quite well. We may just look as though we are taking it all in our stride. I think one (or two) of many things that this year has taught me, is the importance of boundaries. We can really only do so much, with what we have. And the importance of self-care. Again, we can only do so much with what we have. However, I realise that our journeys this past year all look very different.

Mine has taken me here:

On a personal level, I take such delight in having been able to spend more quality time with my family, and some close friends, this year, be it online, face-to-face, or mask-to-mask. I am so grateful for the wonderful family get-together, that was a wedding this past December. And that the party could include my sister and her other half, and that they were able to fly back home again. I am so incredibly grateful to all my beautiful friends (in South Africa and abroad) who know me and see me – you have no idea how valuable that is. Or perhaps you do.

I’m excited to be going back to the ship, with a place to come home to, at the end of that season. The timing of that, and what exactly it will look like amidst the pandemic, I’ll share as soon as I can. I am looking forward to seeing and knowing others and honouring their stories, while feeling confident in the fact that I too am known, and seen, and loved, back home.  It’s more important than I have ever realised before.

On a professional level: Is it a strange thing to have this much job satisfaction? And to take such pride in really striving to do things properly. It’s such an empowering environment when you feel you are adding real value through the work that you do. And I’ve stopped being apologetic, about being so terribly fussy about the detail.

I have so much right here. The grass is not always greener on the other side. And, if you think the grass is greener on the other side, try watering and fertilising your patch (I may as well lay it on thick, while we’re on cliches, right?)

A lot of irrigation has happened here since March 19, a year ago. 

This is me, saying thank you, for being part of this season.

Chrissi