The Operation


Last year this time I started my year off with the word vulnerability.

It can mean openness or exposure.

Every time we step out into the fields of our creativity we experience a form of exposure.

Whenever we open up, we render ourselves vulnerable.

That can be scary.

So many stay locked away and don’t give of their creative ideas, or plans.

To manoeuvre your way forward – often takes bravery and courage.

A letting go of perception and a trampling of fear.

This year I have started my year with another word.


I came across a blog by an exceptional woman, Ann Voskamp.

It is called a holy experience.

This woman has issued a dare.

Find 1000 things to be grateful for.

I have taken the challenge.

To find these things one needs to open up.

Become exposed to the incredible world that God has unleashed around us.

To see in the micro and the macro.

Gratitude can be found, staring at a mountain.

In the feel of your wife as she lies behind your back at night.

It can be found in a bird that walks through your kitchen door to peck at a lone crumb.

That first cup of coffee in the morning.

The way your sons smooth brown arms hug you.

Your daughters grin and thank yous.

It’s found in Christ.

It’s found in grace given and experienced.

When your team plays really hard.

When the check out lady smiles at you.

When the man carries your shopping.

It’s in the tasting of sour that you can be grateful for the sweet.

It’s in experiencing lack that you can be grateful for the provision to come.

Gratitude is a creative operation of faith.

Look around.

Be curious.

Seek it out.

Look in unusual places.

Relook the mundane.

Find it.

Do not let it escape.


There’s lots.

Live GrateFULL.

a holy experience


Of Course the World Needs Logic!


So there I was, standing on the edge of a soccer field.
Watching my son pretend that he was in a glass box.
There wasn’t that much happening on the field at the time.
The boy pressed his hands against an imaginary glass box which
the looks of things was all around him.
Much like the pride some moms feel when their sons score a goal –
I said to myself, “Look at that dear boy using his imagination!”

Creativity starts there – in the imagination.
When I observe our world, I see that God has a pretty fantastical one –
what with millipedes, atoms, rhinos, space and our diversity as humans.

To imagine is to form a mental image or concept.
Without it, not much would be invented – ever!

I read up on the remarkable Einstein the other day.
I’ve always pictured him being immersed in science and numbers.
What I discovered was that in actual fact, he was a man immersed in imagination.
Old Einstein felt that he was enough of an artist to draw freely upon his imagination.
He made the beautiful statement that logic will get you from A to B, but imagination?
It will take you everywhere…

How often do you turn down the volume on your imagination
and turn up the volume on your logic?
Of course the world needs logic,
but it’s desperately thirsty for more inspired imagination.

By saying these things I am not talking about just winging it,
and vaguely taking off in flights of fancy.
I am talking about living within the great story of a creative life.

The great story is that we were created with the power to imagine.
Every grand act starts with one single moment of imagination on the soccer field,
in the shower, just before falling asleep.
Imagination is where your brain can play and create.
It’s where God can inject his desires…

Part of our story is that we live life sandwiched between knowledge and mystery.
We live between beauty and ugliness.
We live between faith and confusion.
Between domesticity and wildness.
The child and the adult.
Love and brokenness
Pain and comfort.

But as humans, we have the ability to know and to imagine.
That is glorious.
That has no limit.
It rings of vistas.
It rings of freedom.
And you, were born for it.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt and I believe that there is power in your imagination.

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

The New


Your creativity is your natural resource.
Let’s think ideas.
Ideas are unending.
You will have new ones throughout your life.
As the one fades – a new one miraculously takes its place.
That is creativity in action.
These mental impressions,
possible courses of action.
Your mind rolls them out –
It’s the canvas of the brain.
Creative action that sits above your shoulders!
Now some of us tune into new ideas pretty easily.
Others not.
What is your take on the new?
How do you feel when someone sprouts,
“I have a good one!”
Your life is surrounded by the brainwaves of others:
The telephone
The flush toilet
A warm bean bag
Parmesan cheese
Your motor car
A feather pillow
Everything around you had its first spark.
The primary flash.
That moment when someone knew…
And then took action.
Let me pluck this duck and stuff the feathers into grain bag and then I’ll put my head on it….
At one stage perhaps we were a first idea in the mind of God.
A good thing.
Dynamic and generous,
He acted.
So don’t hold back.
You can act on your good idea.
Even if it is just a word that you speak.
It might just make the world a different place.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt – encouraging you to play with your natural resource.

The Springbuck and I on the (com)plains of an African queue


So I did it.
I decided to get input.
Put myself out there.
Do a course of sorts.
Conquer the fears.
Prove to myself that I can do it.

Here I am firmly lodged in a Crash Course on Creativity with Stanford University.
I am getting my input.
Sweating to give output.
I am stretched.
I am facing my fears of not good enough.
Can you really do this?

Worry and trust don’t mix.
A bit like oil and vinegar.
Mine separate then form a murky pool as they are beaten into each other in a frenzy.
Extreme knowing sits hip to hip with the melted whine of “How do I do this?”

It was my second project and we had to go on a silent 30 min walk of observation.

What did I see?
No, really SEE?
Could I move into a newness with all that I observed?
And then the task at hand was the creation of a mind map.
A thought chart.
A planning of notions.

My heart raced and I immediately pictured myself queuing at the dreaded Department of Manpower.
There would be no walk in the park for me.
I would be Springbokkie.
Springbokkie could jump in and put of the queue at will.
Springbokkie would be on the alert for all that happens around her.
She would settle in with the other animals and jump before the lioness gets her.
And so here are Springbokkies thoughts and above is her map.

I queued.


At The Department of Manpower!

The dreaded DOM queues held me for just a while.

Queues get a bad rap you see.

In their grip, people shake their heads, roll their eyes and mutter to strangers.

There is a strange camaraderie in being stuck in a queue.

A line of humanity moving towards a single purpose or goal.
(God help you if you push in)

I pat queuing on the back.

I look it in the eye and rest in it.

This time of having to stand still, inch forward – observe.

A time to rest and look.

To see.


Take in.

Filter the nothing’s from the something’s.

Smile and nod instead of moan, moan.

The very act of going against the queues usual, irritated, foot stomping grain is a creative one.

To turn it on its head.

Laugh in its queue face and lift the spirits.

To resist clucking the tongue at the fact that there is only one teller at the end of glaring hoards.

To see the possibilities.

The unspecified qualities of a proposing nature that queuing holds.

To breathe and enter into queue world.

Filled with moments of just being.

And spaces of just seeing.

You try it.

(I was Springbokkie, or a Springbuck,

Slow walk, stand, sitting,

On the (com) plains of an African queue.)

And I was right – in the end this project was NOT a walk in the park…

This is me Tania Ahlfeldt fast, run, walking in a onslaught of creativity.

The above piece was recorded live for Kingfisher FM at my beloved office away from home – Brioche café. The intense hospitality and Dans great coffee keeps me going on many a day.
My love of “bokoppe” (and I mean that in the most contemporary way) plus Ilsa Coles awesome Brioche T-shirts was inspiration for Springbokkie.

My Crash Course in Creativity


I did it.
Along with thousands of others globally I joined up to do Stanford’s Crash Course in Creativity.
My first project was a book cover with title and sub title and a basic bio.
I got Vovo Telo to make me a heart shaped loaf of bread and photographed it on site for my book cover.
The 200 word bio is below.

It was 1970.

I remember the chiffon of her skirt.

Knees gritty with a dusting of flour as I played at her feet.

The smell of hot oil, ‘koeksisters’ frying golden brown.

The feel of her skinny legs as I held on.

Her floor – the place of my imaginings.

My vast world.

Remember the open joy of thought?

Thumping my way through the garden.

It’s a jungle out there…

I the heroine, boyish in my endeavour.

A wood panelled room and books on my bed.




Me sliding in the imaginings of others.

The art room – my pencil and brushes moving.

Military Service.


Boots on my feet.

Balloons in my head.

Hear me laughing inside at the absurdness of it all?

Art school.

Striving to keep others happy.


Wanting to cram Europe into my soul and carry it with me always.


Oh, the love and with it marriage.

Enter the creation of my innovative personal space.

Both in heart and home.


I’m plunging, diving, thriving in publishing madness.

Drowning in creation.


How innovative are we?

Look at what we made…




With God love and creativity still seeping.

Leaving smudges everywhere.

What’s on my Creative Mind II


There’s a coffee cupped in my hands right now.
I am pensively sitting in a line of sunshine.

So here we are.
It’s 2013.
Who would have thought?
A changing world.
Fast paced.
Constant activity and motion.
It seems small in its hugeness.
This globe that spins
This human, physical life that spins and eventually slows down to a stop.

It’s my melancholic mood time.
Bear with me.
The time I take to wonder.
What if?
It’s the time I ponder on my kids thrown into a rat race.
Work harder!
Play faster!
Get the goal!
It’s a time I wonder if I am the creator not of beautiful things but of the very rats in the race of life.
Now before we all start crying…
Let me say that in it all,
in all of this striving.
Beauty exists.

It’s up to me to glimpse it.
To catch it as it slides through my day.
To share it.
“Mom! Look at the amazing red sky!”
“Yes, put your clothes on you are going to be late.”
(That was a moment unshared.)

Our creativity rests in the ability to see life.
The ability to sit on the step and take in the red sky.
The ability to settle in the sun and make the phone call that spreads hope.
The ability to support the teacher who is going through the divorce and love her.
The ability to know that we are vulnerable.
ALL of us.
Fragile, creative, vulnerable people.
People who have strength and ability, talent and diversity.

To know that we are not enemies.
To allow ourselves to see the story riding deep in each one of us.
The story that makes us cringe.
Yet there is always the counteract story.
The one that causes us to delight.

Our creativity is as our humanness.
In need of the hand of God.

So put down the swords and striving.
Forgive a woman her moments of weakness.
A man his moments of torment.
Slow down.
Take a deep breath.
Use your moment to do one thing differently today.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt – taking time to feel a little wistful, yet in it there is expectation and desire.

This piece was recorded live on Kingfisher FM. kingfisherfm
It was written in the warmth and comfort of my office away from home – Brioche Café, Main Rd Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Thanks Ilsa, your space brings warmth to my soul.)

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

What’s on my Creative Mind?


I live in a city where many of the creatives (and by that I mean people who choose to make creativity their career) leave.
Of course, our little place in the sun is choc-a-block full of creative minds but…
We have few places where creativity spills out,
grabs you,
drags you in.
When I walk on Donkin Hill I feel it.
Art that accosts me and makes me look.
It’s bold.
It thrills.
It makes me think.
It brings me back.
Artistic ingenuity that grounds the area.

Creative environments strike cords within us.

Let me take you on a trip
Imagine walking into a beige building.
You are walking on brown tiles.
The cupboards are melamine beige
The chairs are brown.
The tables are medium brown.
There’s strip lighting.
Brown files line the walls.
The space is functional.
Does it strike a cord?

Will the building drag you back to spend more time there?
Does the space feel loved?
That someone cared for it enough to make it beautiful.

Now you walk into the second building.
Your feet clatter on polished wooden floors.
Slatted white blinds let in the sunlight.
Bulbous, modern glass light fittings diffuse the light.
Large easy chairs with plump cushions beckon.
The tiles around the ancient fireplace make you look again.
The mosaic encourages you to stare.
The walls are painted in shades of duck egg blue.
Thick rugs are scattered about.
Chances are that someone cared.
Someone poured them self into the space.
It was touched by a creativity hospitable heart.

You see, we get used to the bland.
We expect it somehow.
We wave goodbye to the next person leaving to build a more creative life in another city, wipe the tear from our eye and move on.

I encourage you to spend more time in environments where creative minds have played.
Spend a morning on Richmond Hill.
Walk into spaces and compliment the people who created them.
Support the creatives in our city.
Don’t be threatened.
Become fertiliser to the creativity that grows here.
It’s in a circle of support that creativity flourishes.
It’s in a word that says to someone, “I love what you are doing here.”

We settle for the insipid, the double beige, the drab, the mass produced.
We are too used to feeling safe, tucked up in brown lives.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt and I would like to apologise to brown – it’s getting a tough deal from me here.
I acknowledge its beauty when I bite into the lusciousness of a chocolate bar.
When I lean against the sturdy brown trunk of a tree.
It’s also the colour of toast, all crunchy and warm…
But c’mon, you know what I mean…

The above piece was recorded live on Kingfisher FM’s Creative Moment.
When I wrote it I was deliriously happy, surrounded by creativity and the lush smells of breads, fresh coffee, pastries…
This is the joyful hospitality of my office away from home – Brioche Café situated on Main Rd Walmer in our beautiful city on the tip of Africa.
Port Elizabeth.