By Deryn
Feb 15, 2020

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Article and Photos by Denise Mclaughlan

Denise continues to share her Festive Journey, how she in turn was inspired by her grandmother. How often we just need the example of someone who has done something before to inspire us on our own journeys. It seems their courage can synthesise and help us get a firm grip to say yes to life.

Highlights of my life in these past 28 years was a month-long visit to Italy with a friend, learning to speak some Italian in preparation, and the wonder of travelling at will with no pre- bookings.  Did I mention that I have an adventurous spirit?

Another venture I particularly enjoyed was my long-distance train trips over a five-year period from Cape Town to Johannesburg – a 1800km distance with one-night sleepover – to visit old school friends and attend some reunions. Despite the fears that many South Africans have about train travel in S A, I took it on wholeheartedly, meeting people of other cultures and feeling like a true adventurer. Of course, the lure was also my memory of childhood train trips since my dad was a railwayman. I had a few interesting encounters on that ShosalozaMeyl train!

To get back to the adventurous spirit, which I think has come not only from my brave grandmother who went overseas alone at the age of 78, but also the fact that I have been blessed with lots of energy and good health. As an extrovert I enjoy new places and faces! I like to be stimulated whether it is by reading all kinds of books, joining a photography group, doing computer courses, or enjoying music theatre and movies. I simply love swimming and am not fussy…river, dam, pool or a cold Atlantic sea!

A very meaningful part throughout my life has been writing – letters, diary keeping and then journaling. I love describing places and experiences, also tried my hand at a spot of poetry and then of course my Quiet times with the Lord is also affirmed in the journal. I usually use different devotional books like the wonderful Streams in the Desert By Mrs LB Cowman,    Come to me Beloved My Beloved by Frances J Roberts,    Joyce Meyer and a more recently I have used a book “ Fear is Never your Friend by Gary L Richardson. When I still get depressed or anxious it helps to write about it and to take stock of where you are in your life. I tend to do a fair amount of introspection.

Now in my 70’s I realised a dream to go back to camping and road trips (in my married years we caravanned and had an old Land rover) I missed the great outdoors and after watching a lot of Youtube videos about camper conversions and solo road trips, I managed to find someone to adapt my relatively small Mazda Soho 1,4 into a tour car. I have a full-length bed, some side cubbyholes for packing and storage under the bed for small tent, camping chair and other camping gear. I did two solo road trips and described the fun I had in some newsletters which I sent out via Facebook and e-mail. I then acquired a blow-up 2-man canoe which my son and I have enjoyed. Unfortunately, I had to undergo shoulder surgery and have been out of action for around 7 weeks.  Yes I am feeling the pitfalls of ageing in that I get stiff when sitting, my knee seems to be playing up, I drink all the usual pills  – but what is keeping me young are my thoughts and attitude- I try to stay positive and adapt to changes. I take stock of all the aspects of my life regularly and am dabbling with the new buzzwords – living mindfully!  I endeavour to stay in the here and now- to notice the small things around me; to forgive and forget, to take the best out of my past and hand over the control of my future to God my Father.

Denise has brought so much meaning into her life by being aware of her thoughts and attitudes, it can be so easy to slump into negative thoughts and attitudes, she has spent a lot of time cultivating the garden of her mind, pulling out the weeds of toxic thinking and replacing them with positive and affirming thoughts, this all manifests in her being able to take on her Festive Journey and enjoy the life she has been given. How about you? Do comment and let us know how you have taken something negative and made something positive out of it.


  1. Betsy McPeak

    Denise, you sound like someone fun to be with! I love all the same things that you do. I love how you are stepping out there and living life to the fullest! I am curious about your Buzz Words that you are playing with. Care to share? Maybe in your next post?

  2. Denise

    Hello Betsy, How nice to hear from someone so far away. The only buzzwords I mentioned were – Living mindfully… and this concept we are finding in more and more books magazines and the media. What it means to me is to present in the moment- aware of the actual day I am having – to not dwell on the past, especially if there were hurts there, also not to be unduly anxious about the future- I still fall into this trap to worry about the future… If I may suggest what works for me- is that I journal or just keep an old-fashioned diary going to write about what is happening in my life and what I want to do better or change. I find writing it down makes it more mindful and real and concrete. Even though I am a Christian and know God is in control I still have concerns about this or that in the future.
    I also believe in siezing the day – Carpe Diem. It is the only time frame you are sure of – the here and now ! Changes happen so quickly but if you spend the present day in a positive and mindful way , it carries over into the next day, I find.
    Would like to hear from you- where you live and how you know Deryn. I love to travel in my mind and in books and documenteries as I can no longer afford to go.So great to hear of other places where people are and learning more- I am into Geography and History!!

    Keep well and feel free to write to me – you can see my e-mail address below I take it?
    Kind regards
    Denise McLoughlin
    Cape Town
    South Africa


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