Do I really wanna Surf?


Do not let the injury or limitation of one thing become an injury or limitation to all thing

-7000 ways to listen

Peace on earth hoodies Surgery at 3 Surgery at 41

I blog in peace. A warm welcome to new subscribers.

The past 8 months have been tumultuous at a personal level. My beautiful Daddy was diagnosed with cancer in August and lost his life in December. Serious issues relating to violence my daughter and I were subject to reared their head when I discovered that my daughter had been in the presence of violence and had witnessed it up until very recently.


In February I broke a bone in my foot and have had extensive corrective surgery to my lower right leg and foot. The surgery was a lot more extensive than envisioned and I am 5 weeks into 8 weeks of being pretty much house-bound, not being able to drive or swim.


It has been a time of soul searching and questioning just about everything I believe.


Do the Christians I know really represent Jesus. Including, or most particularly myself?

Can I, as a survivor of violence, and with the continued threat of violence, really back restorative justice? Do I really believe there is no place for redemptive violence? Do I really believe restorative justice works?

Do I really believe it is possible to dismantle violence and establish peace?

Do I really want to surf?


As a child age 11 months, I was paralyzed by encephalitis from the neck down. I had just started standing when I got ill. My Daddy was overseas on business at the time and my two big brothers and myself were in Pietermaritzburg with our Mother, visiting our Grandparents. 7 babies were struck with encephalitis. 6 lost their lives. 1 lived. Me. I did not move at all for several days. My father rushed back from his trip and when he entered the hospital room, he said my face broke into a smile he would never forget. That was the nature of my relationship with my Daddy.




Over the next 9 years I had extensive surgery and daily physio. Age ten I abandoned a wheelchair and a “special school” to walk with a stick and go to a “normal school”. My physio told me I would never cope without a wheelchair. She told me I would never make it in a “normal school”. I didn’t believe her. I got walking. I went on to become vice-head girl of my school in matric. I think that qualifies as making it.


I did give up stuff though. I had been a very good swimmer. I desperately wanted to swim against kids without disability. But I was pretty bummed at how fast they were. So I gave it up and shifted my focus to public speaking and academics. It was the 80s and my father had started to talk to me about what was going on in South Africa and I started to become very conscious about being part of bringing about peace and justice in our land. I went on to study law, practice for a decade and then entered the world of Alternative Dispute Resolution full time 8 years ago. I had qualified with International Peacemaker as part of the board of the Christian Lawyers Association right at the beginning of practice. Over the past four years my focus has shifted more and more to transformative and restorative methods of achieving justice and establishing peace. But I digress.


My brothers, the one in particular, felt there was more room for improvement in my walking. He often spoke to me about it and at Varsity started taking me to gym and physio. I was committed to getting fit and strong but never that committed to abandoning my crutch. My father would always fiercely defend me as the most courageous person he knew and that I had already achieved the insurmountable by abandoning my wheelchair.


In December on the Madiba died, and just a few days before my Dad, the Big O lost his life, I was sitting with him on his bed. I told him all my lawyer jokes, a bunch of other really brilliant jokes and I told him I was going to change the world. He said: “I know you are”. I told him I was gonna learn to surf. He said “I know you are.” I said: “No Dad, you don’t understand, I am not gonna boogie board or body surf, I am gonna friggin stand up surf”. He said: “I know you are”.  He was that guy


Two years ago I took up open water swimming. After twenty years out of swimming training and after being back in the pool three weeks I told my family I was gonna swim a mile in the sea. My Dad said: “I know you are” He was always that guy. He completely backed me. Completely. There was no room for doubt.


The past 5 months I have been doing life without him. And serendipitously I find myself having major reconstructive surgery to my foot, just because I broke a little bone. A second shot at learning to walk. A second shot at learning balance. A forced rest. A forced time to heal….from everything.

My brother Gareth sent me the most amazing video of Bruce Lee who was forced to rest when he injured his back. It was amazing because I had learnt through this experience how vital rest is to healing. He talks in the video about one of life’s biggest challenges being to express who you really are. I have been able to search the depths and ask myself profoundly “Who am I”

My beautiful daughter is so strong. So courageous. She said to me the other night: Mommy, this year I have discovered true joy. Up until this year I was numb. I didn’t allow myself to feel anything. The hard part is now I feel pain. But I wouldn’t give it up because I have learnt to know joy you have to be able to feel pain.

She has learnt at 13 what has taken me 4 decades to stumble upon.

So where do I stand on restorative justice. I back it 100 percent. I back non-adversarial dispute resolution 100{db4c0d2959e302539fe96b7aa3161328ff99665e8aefb664444410c6414dd29e}. I am completely opposed to any form of violence. I am completely opposed to the idea of redemptive violence and any systems that mirror it. I think I have a voice in this as four years of being subject to violence nearly stripped me of my life and everything in it.

I also think I have a voice because I practice this stuff. I am seeing results. I am seeing lives change, communities change, schools change. It works.

At the heart of what I do is restoration. At the heart of who I am is restoration. Central to my ability to learn to surf is restoration. As a follower of Christ, central to my faith is the greatest work of restoration in history: the reconciliation of all and all things on earth and in heaven.

And I have learnt how important it is not to let the injury or limitation of one thing, injury or limit all things.

As always


Upcoming Training workshops in ADR (mediation and dialogue processes) and Restorative Justice Peacemaking:

12-16 May Jozi

19-23 May Durban

9-13 June Cape Town

7-11 July Winter Schools for Students


Dispute Resolution Email: or

Access to Justice:

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Free diving skills in Alternative Dispute Resolution? Yes!



As always I blog in peace. And today I blog having just completed a level 1 free diving course. This equips you to dive to depth on one breath and with no artificial breathing apparatus. Crazy, no?

It’s a dangerous challenging sport. So why did I want to do this?

I have shifted into a space in my life where the stuff I do is about the stuff I do and it’s about me, but it’s also not about the stuff I do and also not about me. So a year ago when I took up swimming again, it was about the swimming and it was about me but it was about more than that and about many more people. It helped me further develop life skills that I am passionate about: courage, intention, commitment and the ability to win with any hand.

I have always loved the ocean, and in my twenties, I scuba-dived a lot. But learning to free dive, for me I looked forward to learning to get into a peaceful state under any circumstances, to operate in fearful conditions and to remain focused. All skills that I need in the life I have chosen and the work I do in pursuit of non-adversarial justice. I think a learnt way more than I bargained for.

Firstly I learnt some fascinating physiological facts. That physically we are capable of way more than we know. I learnt about the mammalian reflex that we have and that allows seals to dive to amazing depths on one breath. This reflex is triggered in us when our faces encounter water.

I learnt that at depth there is a fine line between life and death but for some the challenge is irresistible. I learnt that fear can be life-sustaining as it keeps you sharp and that the aim should not be to obliterate fear but to build courage to operate even when there is fear.

I learnt that 90% of the dive happens on the surface. Preparation is profoundly important. Life and death important. Your surface work determines the dive.

I learnt that most freediving fatalities happen in the pool. It is often the thing we are least scared of that kills us.

I learnt that positive thinking is no guarantee of success, but that negative thinking guarantees failure. I learnt the difference between negative thought processes and realistic problem solving. It is all very well to visualize peaceful conditions during your land training, but how does that help you if there is actual danger on the dive and at depth. Do the peaceable training, but prepare for dangerous eventualities. Visulaize yourself handling curve balls well.

I learnt that good diving decisions in the moment are critical. I learnt that self-preservation is a life skill that is to be highly valued. If someone is willing to risk there own life, are they the appropriate person to teach you?

I learnt about athleticism and I learnt about the central nervous system. Under stress, 80% of your oxygen is used up by the nervous system.

I learnt that I am not special, we are all special. I learnt to start thinking about where my strengths lie and to be free in this.

I learnt to balance my focus on the goal with focus on the skill. It is excellent skills that will get me there, not merely setting and envisioning the goal.

I learnt to intentionally do everything with a certain quality, a certain presence and to conquer fear by diving skilfully. Confidence is accomplished through effectiveness.

I learnt that is important to acquire excellent skill and to use resources frugally. The more skill we have, the less energy we need to use. Your behaviour under water (under stress) is key.

Are you seeing this stuff? Are you seeing the life application and the application in what we do, in our fight to restore the template, in our resistance of adversarial and violent methods of dispute resolution? Do you see?

I was so honoured to learn this stuff from Trevor Hutton, professional free diver, and deepest spear fisherman in the world. And I was honoured to learn this stuff alongside my colleague Andrew McGibbon and amazing young orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Pieter Mare.

And I was honoured to feel closer and gain more knowledge of our great King.

I will be unpacking the skills learnt in our Mediation Training Programs and upcoming seminars.

I am also super chuffed that I will be practising the diving skills in the future with my friends and Traveor Hutton

Until next time, peace.