Reflections of Life produces gorgeous short films that uplift the personal stories of ordinary people, with the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change. We feel hugely blessed to feature video-stories that filmmakers Michael and Justine capture with exquisite expertise, and which so beautifully illustrate grateful living principles and practices. In this short film we hear from Shalav Israel.

Learn more about Reflections of Life (formerly Green Renaissance) through our Grateful Changemaker feature.

Questions for Reflection

  • Which part or parts of Shalav’s story resonated with you the most?
  • Where do you find abundance in your daily life? In what area(s) do you feel truly wealthy?
  • What is your personal definition of love? How do you express that love in the world?

We invite you to share your reflections below the video transcript that follows.

Video Transcript

I love this house because it has sheltered me and my family. But it doesn’t define me. It’s a thing I need at this time, but it’s not me.

“Kamili zar gong gerat zar shabat.” It’s in Arabic. It’s a poem by Rumi. He says “Earth turns to gold in the hands of the wise.” I like that because when we built this we just took whatever was on the earth. You go into an open field and take rocks that have been lying around for millions of years and just rearrange them and you have a shelter. This is what we were able to produce together with my wife and the children as well. It gives me pride to have something that we have done from our hands as a family.

Home is not just a building or this land. Even before I could say I have a physical home, I think I had already created a home. So this is just the idea manifesting itself.

At school I struggled. I couldn’t read. So that became a challenge and I was told that I wasn’t good enough. People create a perception that when you didn’t finish school you are a failure. Once you start believing that you are not good enough then it becomes a mantra. And when you magnify the negativity internally, the negativity just keeps compounding and growing. So I would have failed if I were to allow perceptions that are coming from outside to bring me down.

Nobody owns the thoughts that go into my mind except me. I own those thoughts. So if I believe what others say about me, it means I have to shut the thoughts that I have about myself down. If I focus more on the positive things inwardly and always make sure that I remember these things, then you can actually move from that space of positive thinking about yourself. Only you can do what is in your mind.

I’m not one to quit on myself. Whatever it is that I could learn I put a lot of energy in it so that if I say I’ve failed, I failed but I’ve tried. Everybody makes mistakes. And it sounds cliché to say that you learn from your mistakes but it’s true. Everybody does make mistakes. And if you dwell on the mistake and don’t look at the good things that you do, you’ll find that you don’t even appreciate anything that you have achieved.

I always encourage my girls, “I know you are scared, but try it. Even if you make a mistake, it’s okay. We’ll just keep trying until you get it right.” The more you do something the better you become at it and it becomes easier and easier over time.

When you take on a simpler route in life, it’s challenging. It’s a lot of work. But when you are able to grow your own food, that gives pleasure. You have a seed and you put it there and you nurture it and here is this produce that you are able to share with your neighbors, and you are able to feed the family.

Nature always gives in abundance. So we as people need to be natural. We need to mimic what nature does. I’m not a wealthy person in terms of monetary wealth, economics…but I think I am wealthy because I have so much to offer. I’ll share with somebody else that’s not part of my family, and whenever they need, we share.

Love has to do with sharing. If I say I have love alone, what does it mean? I’m sitting here in a dungeon alone saying, “I love, I love.” What does love mean? Love means doing good to and for another person.

When we begin to share our stories, our experiences, then we are slowly peeling away on these ideas that separate us and create more pain and suffering. More and more, people are beginning to realize that it is not my skin color that defines me, it’s the concern that I have for the next person. There is a saying that a person is a person by other people. It’s an African saying. To see somebody as you see yourself. It’s a human experience.

I don’t like spaces of being in the limelight. So I wouldn’t want to have a tombstone. No, I wouldn’t create something like that. I would have people be more loving. And that would be the mark. You know, when you say there’s this man who used to be like this, I would like to be more like that…and they would pursue that. I feel that would be enough as a benchmark. Not a signage on some stone… it’s just a stone.

I’m energy. I’m love. I’m the energy of love. That’s what I’ll always project out in the world. Love will always live on.

To support Michael and Justine in their film-making journey, visit Reflections of Life.

Nature Well-being
Reflections of Life

Reflections of Life

About the author

Justine and Michael are a creative couple living in South Africa.  Their project, Reflections of Life (formerly Green Renaissance), works to spread positive stories that reflect the wonder of the world. With the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change, they produce gorgeous short films that are posted online and available for anyone, anywhere, to watch and share freely.


Through their films, they explore what it means to be human. They touch on topics that can often be difficult for people to discuss – from loss of a loved one to aging and retirement to friendship to love and courage – universal themes that we all deal with at some stage in our lives.


By sharing these stories, Justine and Michael hope to remind us of one simple truth – that we are all human – that inside our hearts and minds, we are all facing similar challenges.  We have so much to learn from each other, and our connections run so much deeper and stronger than we think. Learn more and support their work at