Live and Learn

I met Dori Mintzer in Boston in 2014, when I went over to the USA. I had read the book that she and Roberta Taylor had written. The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle is a guide for couples as they navigate retirement together and after reading it, I wanted to meet its author.

I love the impact Dori has made in both the retirement and relationship spaces and I include her principles in the work I do in life-planning meetings with my clients. Underpinning so much of what defines Dori’s contribution is the importance of couples having courageous conversations with each other. In fact, her book’s subtitle is exactly that: “Ten must-have conversations for transitioning to the second half of life”.

In the work that I do, a life-planning meeting is often one of the first times couples tackle some of the serious issues they’ve been too afraid to talk about. A life-planning session can often be the very first time that they have a “must-have” talk.

Those crucial conversations – sometimes decades in the waiting – require courage. And they are hardly ever easy. But what I’ve seen over the years is that those conversations, which sometimes even involve confrontation, generally result in connection.

Right: Dori and i sharing our passion for all things Retirement.

One plus one equals three
I’ve been thinking about what happens behind the scenes of this invisible equation. How does a conversation end up equalling closeness and connection? I think it’s because somewhere, somehow, something profound happens. Between the discomfort and the connection, there is learning.

Learning is the multiplier effect, the fabulous formula that takes a couple from talking to feeling a sense of togetherness. Learning has everything to do with coming across something – or even someone – we didn’t know before.

Have you ever discovered something about your partner at a dinner party, something that you didn’t know before? Someone else asked your wife a question and her answer teaches you something new? When we see something through new eyes, even if it’s a situation or scenario that isn’t of our choosing, we open ourselves to learning. And learning can happen without us even realising it.

Have you ever been retrenched from a job, worked through the humiliation, the having to make ends meet, the needing to change tack mid-career because your situation demanded that of you – and then then ended up thinking that it was the best thing that ever happened to you? Or had a health scare that forced you and your partner to rethink your lifestyle, so much so that you live a better life now than the one you lived before and wouldn’t have it any other way? We have to be open to change, to learning how to do different things – or at the very least, to doing the same thing differently – because not only is that how we survive. It’s how we live.

My challenge to you is simple: don’t be closed to conversation. Discomfort sounds, well, uncomfortable. That’s because it is. But there’s a lot of truth in the adage: “No pain, no gain.” What if you chose to welcome such a conversation? What if it’s just one courageous conversation that stands between you and something magical?

Dori and her husband visited South Africa for the first time a couple of weeks ago and they came to dinner at my home. We didn’t just share dinner though. We shared wine; we shared stories. Dori was travelling with her husband, David – now in his eighties. Together, they opened themselves to exploring Africa. They talk, they travel – and they laugh and learn together. Their learning is their living. Let’s aim for the same.

Click here to access this months Inflight Newsletter in which Kathy Lithgow for sharing her journey of learning with us, thank you Kathy. We love to share stories from our clients.

Best wishes

Kathy puts her learning to practical use

After retiring to Plettenburg Bay with her husband, former SAA pilot Stewart, Kathy Lithgow found that she needed to fill her time with something interesting, mentally challenging and potentially useful to others.

Kathy explains, “In order to gain a better insight into myself and what I should focus on, I completed a short on-line assessment called StrengthsFinder.  This psychometric assessment tool enables people to uncover their top five talents.  In my case, ‘Thinking’ came out first, followed by ‘Learning’.  This was not surprising as I had always enjoyed the learning process and saw no reason for this to diminish just because I was retired.”

Kathy also wanted to marry this learning process with an element of service, so she enrolled for a counselling course via correspondence through the South African Theological College, an accredited institution with varied courses on offer.  “This course taught practical psychology linked to a scriptural foundation.  I qualified with a Higher Certificate in Christian Counselling,” she says.

The door was now open for Kathy to start serving as a counsellor.  “Under the auspices of the Plett Evangelical Fellowship, our home church, I now receive referrals from all over.  I have a small office at home where I see people.  There is no payment involved as it is effectively a part of the church ministry.  I act as a support for people with a variety of needs and problems.  I see myself as a kind of useful friend.”

An important aspect of Kathy’s work, for her, is to continue learning.  “Learning was the starting point for this process and it continues to be a cornerstone now.  In my niche area of expertise, Christian counselling, there is so much that I don’t know.  And because there is a wealth of information out there, plus I am challenged by the variety of situations that my clients present to me, I am always learning and growing.

“Stewart and I count our blessing daily,” she says.  “I have plenty of time to spend with my clients and also to learn and become more skilled at what I do.  It is now my passion –to facilitate change in people’s lives, in a small way.”

Legendary American industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”  In her little office in Plett, Kathy Lithgow, on a continuous cycle of counselling, learning, becoming more skilful and counselling some more, is living proof of those words.

Travelling with the U3A

Chartered client, Lise Day, has discovered the delights of travelling with the University of the Third Age, and shares the highlights of her trips with us.

travelling-with-the-u3a-1-lise-day-retire-successfullyI have always been quite disparaging about people on buses and organised tours. I thought it far more adventurous to go it alone and make my own arrangements.  I did not want to be bound by a strict itinerary or have anyone else decide when and where and for how long my experiences should be. But as we get older several factors come into play – the main one is the problem of luggage.

On a recent trip to Norway I discovered that the wheels on my expensive new suitcase did not do well on cobbles! Added to this was the fact that the street that my sister said airily was ‘a stone’s throw from the station’ was being dug up for new tram lines and no longer existed as a street. It was 30 degrees in Oslo, which was also unexpected.

I eventually arrived at the hotel dripping with sweat and exhaustion only to find that it was one of those automated places which required a series of passwords to open the doors – which of course I did not have. Eventually some other kind traveller let me in, then the lift wouldn’t work I did not realise I had to swipe a card to get it to go up or down.

So, that is the second factor influencing travel – keeping up with technology. Thirdly, as I get older, I find I worry more about being on time to catch planes and trains; I have to beg my children to take me to the airport hours ahead to-namibia-on-the-desert-train-u3a-retire-successfullyof time so that my tummy does not get in a knot.

To Namibia on the Desert Train

I tentatively signed up with the Cape Town branch of the U3A for a trip to Namibia on the ‘Desert Train’.

All I had to do was be at the airport, with my passport at the right time. We were given name labels which we wore all the time – so no stress about remembering the names of new friends. Far from the old fuddy-duddies which I had feared our group of thirty consisted of interesting, active, retired people.

Another thing that troubles me about getting older is that people don’t really talk to you any more, or consider that you might have an opinion worth sharing. I find this especially when I go to events at the grandchildren’s schools.

lise-day-and-u3a-2On this trip we were of an age and conversations over meals were always stimulating. We boarded the train at Windhoek station and it became our travelling hotel for the next ten days. Any ideas we had about fast efficient train travel as in Europe were soon dispelled. The train trundled along, slowing for potholes and wonky rails at a slow scenery-viewing pace. It used to be the president’s train but I think he gave it up as being too slow.
We stopped in a game reserve, and there were the jeeps waiting for us. I signed up for a boat trip around Walvis Bay where the pelicans flew alongside us and there were fresh oysters and champagne. We explored the pretty town of Swakopmund. A trip into the ‘living desert’ with an expert showed us chameleons and sidewinder snakes that we would never have found by ourselves.

Meals on and off the train were delicious. We drank beer in the biggest pub in Africa. When the air conditioning on lise-day-ua3-learningthe train broke down, it wasn’t my problem. Nothing was my problem … it was all very relaxing and stimulating, and affordable.

In the footsteps of the Trappists

I so enjoyed the Namibian trip that a few months later I signed up for a trip to the Trappist Monastries in the foot hills of the Drakensberg. This trip treads in the footsteps of the Trappist monk Father Francis Pfanner and his missions. The Trappist order had four primary vows: chastity, poverty, silence, stability. The latter meant that a Trappist monk vows to spend every night under a consecrated roof – so to extend the reach of his ministry centred at Marianhill, Francis Pfanner built 28 missions within a day’s donkey ride of each other. Some of these no longer exist, but we visited six.

travelling-with-the-u3a-4-lise-day-retire-successfully-pngThe tour was not linked to any religious doctrine, but is in appreciation of a rich cultural heritage.  These beautiful buildings with their majestic churches and well-designed and still functioning farm buildings, formed the basis for our monastery tour.

At these peaceful remote missions, we shared the grass-roots experiences of the 19th century monks who lived, worked and worshipped there. We were pleased to see that despite the fact that the monasteries themselves are less inhabited by monks and nuns, the schools associated with them are active and support the education of hundreds of rural children.

We stayed in a beautiful guest house called King’s Grant near Ixopo and visited the monasteries by bus. Our tour guide Nicky was incredibly knowledgeable and we learnt so much about this fascinating and little known story. On the last day we transferred to four wheel drive vehicles for a rollicking ride up the Sani Pass to lunch in the highest u3a-retire-successfullypub in Africa – where the wind nearly blew us away.

Now I am totally converted to travelling with the U3A. I love the fact that there is a purpose other than relaxation to these holiday trips. It is great to learn something new- even if we do not remember it for very long!

*The U3A is a worldwide organisation for retired people. It works on the principle of sharing knowledge and u3aexperiences. There are innumerable courses, you could learn something new every day if you so wished, at little or no cost, R40 annually to join.

* The trip to Namibia was led by Derek Rule R12, 200 including flights.

*The trip to Natal was led by Doug Gardner R8, 595 including flights.

Self-improvement always in style

Alec Hogg, Biznews Editor, recently cited the books that South African CEOs are reading. This follows McKinsey’s study which includes two local CEOs among the 17 global CEOs mentioned in the report. His point? That for true leaders, self-improvement is always in style.
wob-learnChartered regularly promotes the notion of ongoing learning, so that our clients take up the most important leadership role … that of directing their own lives and living holistically, happily and healthily. In support of this aim, Chartered regularly updates it stock of library books at Chartered House. Our repository of worthwhile books is arranged around the Wheel of Balance categories – Work, Give Back, Relationships, Money, Learn, Health, Purpose, Play.
Some books deal specifically with the transition into retirement and the years following it, and others are particularly focused on coping with life’s challenges such as grief, being single and reinventing yourself.
The Chartered library has seen a recent influx in new titles, and we invite every Chartered client to take advantage of the opportunity to benefit from these acquisitions. If you are further afield, perhaps take note of any titles that may interest you.

what-colour-is-your-parachute-retire-successfully-learnWhat Colour is your Parachute? for retirement by John Nelson and Richard Bolles is designed for the retiree who wants to ensure he or she lives a fulfilled life … by planning for it and considering alternative career options. This book is filled with practical ideas and exercises to help you build your ideal retirement.
How Not to Murder Your Grumpy by Carole Wyer how-not-to-murder-your-grumpy-retire-successfully-learn
Written tongue-in-cheek, this book proves that getting older doesn’t mean the end of life or having fun. It provides amusing answers to the question, ‘How on Earth will my husband fill in his time in his retirement?’ It offers suggestions on what might, or most certainly might not, amuse him. Ideal for those approaching retirement and frustrated women who have an irritable male on their hands, this book will lighten any mood and may even prevent the odd murder.

this-chair-rocks-a-manifesto-against-ageism-retire-successfully-learnThis Chair Rocks: a Manifesto against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite. From childhood we’re barraged by messages that it’s sad to be old, wrinkles are embarrassing, and old people useless. Lively, funny, and deeply researched, This Chair Rocks debunks myths about late life, explains the roots of ageism in history and in our own age denial. It examines how ageist stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and bedroom, exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of olders as burdens to society, and describes what an all-age-friendly world looks like.

Maya on Money by Maya Fisher-Frenchmaya-on-money-retire-successfully-learn
This book offers practical advice on how to implement a money plan, drawn questions that people of all walks of life have asked Maya over many years. She uses these real-life examples to provide indispensable information on:

  • Budgeting
  • protecting your money
  • preparing for major life events
  • saving
  • spending, and
  • transacting wisely.

Why not add your skills to a SKILLS bank?

There are many things we seem to lose when we retire from our professional or formal career: a salary, status, routine, social circle and a reason to get up.  Our feelings are often ambivalent: we are pleased to not be constrained by these needs; on the other hand, we tend to miss them and struggle to replace them with similar but fresh interests in this next season.

It seems such a pity to work and build skills, experience and wisdom for 40 years and then feel as if we are no longer relevant or needed. This is a tragedy of the current retirement system. We feel younger and healthier than any former generation that has arrived at this point and yet ageism rears its ugly head in many forms.

Technology is also changing the landscape both at work and in every facet of our lives. Remaining relevant and connecting can now be done at a distance via Skype and it is not necessary always to be face to face with people to make a difference.

My company, Refirement Network has had a dream for a number of years to start a Skills Bank. This is a place where those of us who would like to add value or need to earn have a place where we can BANK our skills. The skills we have that we would like to share in this season. It may be as a mentoring engineer or coaching a young team through a project. It could also be reading to/with children once a week at a school or working with a group wanting to understand and master your carpentry skills. It may be once a week or for a short contract season.

The challenge has been that up to now there has been no such place.

We have now launched the first round of this Bank where you can list your details and skills. The vision at this stage is that once we have assets in the bank, it is possible to look for ways to invest these assets into society and the current work community.

Within days of launching, I had a number of calls from companies wanting a specific skill to mentor a young team and even a company looking for a 55 + Operations manager for a large organisation. It is also a way for me to start conversations around transformation solutions when you sit with 50 engineers or teachers on your books.

We have the opportunity to go off script and design an interesting and fulfilled life for ourselves. We create what we want, where we want to be and how and with whom we want to engage. It is an exciting time to be in this season of life.

Why not add your skills to the bank? Here is the link to do so: https://www.refirementnetwork.com/content/listings/

Building our nation and our communities takes the time and skills of young and old alike. We have more time on our hands and skills in our hands.  Take a look at your goals and plans for 2017 and think how you can add value and remain relevant.

Which way are you looking and learning?

Most people aren’t really conscious of the fact that they’re looking in one of two directions – behind, at the past, or ahead at the future.

People who tend to look backwards are going to find things getting increasingly difficult for them because, believe it or not, the past is becoming more and more irrelevant.

We therefore need to spend less time on the things of the past and more time on things to come, because those are the things that are going to shape how we live and work in the next decade.

Think about it … There is a big difference in size between the rear-view mirror and the front windscreen of your motor car. The rear view mirror is small and the windscreen is large. Why? Because you need to be able to have a very clear view of what lies ahead when you’re driving and, while what’s behind you is not entirely irrelevant, it’s not really as important as what’s ahead of you.

So, you do indeed need a rear view mirror but only for the odd reference check to see what’s happening behind you. Taking your eyes off what you see through your windscreen for any length of time is, as you will know, a very high risk activity.

If you spend more time looking in your rear-view mirror, you will not be prepared for any situation that occurs while you’re driving. In the same way, if you spend more time focusing on the past, you will not be prepared for what’s coming your way. When you get into difficulties because of your not anticipating something happening, you will have very little, if any, time to respond in a constructive way.

For one, if you haven’t dedicated just about all your attention to what you see through your windscreen, you will soon leave the road or collide with another vehicle, person or object you simply did not see.

By keeping your eyes on what you see through your windscreen, you can stay on the road, steer around things, brake when needed to avoid something or someone, and generally drive in a responsible and safe manner to arrive at your destination.

Few apply these skills to how they manage things in their personal and professional lives. The world of work is becoming increasingly unpredictable and we are being warned to expect increasing disruption. We are also being warned that artificial intelligence machines will do the work that many white collar workers are doing. That might seem like a rather tall order right now, but a London-based law firm has already “appointed” a machine to handle certain legal matters on their behalf. And they’re not an exception to the rule …

Of course, the significance of all this lies in what we are learning and how we learn. For the past 10 000 years or more, we have learned according to what Otto Scharmer calls Type 1 Learning – learning from the past. Now that might seem quite puzzling to you as you may ask, “But how else can one learn?”

Sure, learning has traditionally been based on existing knowledge which has been acquired from what happened in the past. All learning that takes place at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, except for research work and post graduate studies, is undertaken according to Type 1 Learning.

While that has served us very well until now, it’s no longer enough. We now have to engage in Type 2 Learning – what Scharmer refers to as learning from the future as it emerges. That’s because the knowledge and experience of leaders and their teams is increasingly not relevant to the challenge they have to face and address. How do you solve a problem that you’ve never encountered before, using information that simply does not apply to the problem?

If you’re tempted to dismiss this train of thought because you’re not in learning and development, don’t. Newsflash … Learning and development is the business of everybody now.

Start adjusting your learning so you learn from the future as it emerges and not simply from the past. By doing that, you will be better prepared for what’s to come in the future of work.

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.

New York, New York … More fun, thanks to technology!

I have a firm belief that a person should never stop learning.  I also have a deep passion for travel. 


e46469c7-d8c9-48e4-853a-5f1934abe47eOn a recent trip to New York, these two loves in my life combined in a unique way as I experienced the joy of learning through travel.

Not only did I discover exciting things about my destination, but this time, my travelling companion opened my eyes to the new way to travel: by using technology. (Of course, those who know me well are aware I am very nervous of managing technology; yet, I was surprised by my excitement at using these new aids.)

For me, travelling to a new and energising city always has certain challenges, especially when navigating the city using cumbersome street maps – especially because I now need to find my glasses to be able to read the map! I am often unsure about which are the most exciting places to visit within our limited time.

In addition, I appreciate good food and feel it is a waste to spend dollars on a disappointing meal.

On this trip, thanks to my tech-savvy friend, these problems miraculously disappeared.

No longer lost …

pic-2I learned to use my mobile phone to log onto Google maps, identify my current location and target destination, click on the “walking” icon and follow the instructions.  Access to the internet required wi-fi, but this never seemed to be a problem.  Most large stores offered free wi-fi and there seemed to be a Starbucks on virtually every corner in the city.

Ditch the bus
I discovered walking tours instead!  In New York, there is a seemingly infinite number of these and you can choose one to suit your needs.

I simply love food, so we chose the China Town walk.

The guide made the experience so interesting by explaining the culture and history of the area we meandered through.  The food was great too: we sampled from the best restaurants in the area (I will remember the dim sum and Peking Duck for a long time).

Food, glorious food!
pic-3We used the Bib Michelin app and Trip Advisor to identify restaurants with fine food at reasonable prices.

Bib is the rating system used by the world-renowned Michelin judges; here the establishments are not awarded Michelin stars but still need to be of an acceptable standard and price to get a rating.pic-5

Calling home
pic-4A non-negotiable for me when travelling without my husband and three children is to call home regularly to share my experiences.  Normally, this results in a huge bill at the end of the trip, but not this time.

I called home on Whatsapp Call, a brilliant new way of chatting across continents.  There was no delay and the reception was crystal clear.  I could even send images so my family could see where I had been.

So, fellow travellers, remember to embrace technology on your next trip.  It will make the learning experience so much easier and more memorable.

Click here to read the rest of this month’s newsletter.

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AirB&B and TripAdvisor: your personal pillow and guide

Chartered financial planner, Sybille Essmann, gave herself a sixtieth birthday gift of ticking off some travel bucket list items.  In this article, she shares the benefits of AirB&B and TripAdvisor.

I would consider myself an intrepid traveller. Throughout my eight months exploring the East, followed by a further nearly five months in South America, I rarely knew more than a week in advance where my compass was heading; if there was one thing that would take me out of my comfort zone, though, it was not knowing where I was going to put my head down at night.

In the East, I had made extensive use of the TripAdvisor App which I had loaded on my trusted iPad mini. TripAdvisor lists hotels, B&Bs and hostels in nearly all parts of the world. What made it attractive for me was that fellow travellers are invited to review the various establishments which meant I could make an educated decision as to where I wanted to book. The app has links to various booking agencies such as Agoda, Bookings.com and Hostels.com and securing a booking by means of my credit card was child’s play. Because I was so grateful for honest appraisals, I became an enthusiastic reviewer, not only of accommodation but also of listed restaurants I frequented and things I had done in places I visited. I believe, to date, close on 24 000 people have read my reviews.

When I started planning my trip to South America at the beginning of 2015, I needless to say consulted TripAdvisor and I was mortified at the cost of accommodation in São Paulo, Brazil where even a modest hostel room would have set me back a pretty penny.

Intrigued when I perchance came across a link to the AirB&B website, I investigated further and found that the website had been started by a couple of entrepreneurial students that rented out their living room with three air mattresses during a sold-out trade show in 2008. From these humble beginnings, AirB&B now has a footprint in over 191 countries with over 1,5million listings from shared space in family homes to mansions, castles or even luxury yachts.

My first AirB&B experience in São Paulo was so memorable that it became my preferred choice of accommodation throughout my travels through South America. I was amazed that even when I clicked on the remotest village in the far flung Andes, I would find an AirB&B room.

As with TripAdvisor, AirB&B has a very user-friendly iPad app; once I had downloaded it, I created a personal profile with a picture, a short bio and credit card details. When booking, I would enter my parameters such as dates, price range, single room and then choose my accommodation based on favourable pictures, how many stars had been awarded and reviews from other travellers. My booking request would be forwarded to the host and they, in turn, could scrutinise reviews other hosts had posted on me and then agree or not agree to entertain my booking. I use the word “entertain” advisedly, because I can unreservedly say that every host, without exception, made me feel exceedingly welcome, offered invaluable advice and a wealth of information and some even went as far as collecting me from the airport after midnight or taking me to catch my transport before the sun rose. The room might not have always been five-star, but I am forever grateful for the impact these fine people made on my life. If you want to really get to know a country intimately, AirB&B is the way to go.

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My wonderful host family in Belem, Brazil that collected me from the airport after midnight when my flight was delayed

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My AirB&B in Rio de Janeiro had a beautiful rooftop terrace overlooking the Copacabana (this was not my bed!)

Learn a lingo, link to your roots

From nuclear physicist to student of languages, Chartered client, Charles Piani, revived a passion for his Italian culture … by learning the language nearly fifty years on!

“I grew up in a semi-Italian home.  My father was Italian and I remember how my family used to spend time with the Italian community Charles_Ronel Pianiwhen I was very young.  After being retired for a few years, and urged on by the Learn in the Balance Wheel, I needed to find a new challenge.  Learning Italian seemed to be an answer,” says Charles.

Charles is now almost seventy and has been retired for close on five years.  After completing his doctorate in nuclear sciences, he began a career that would last forty-five years. “I really enjoyed working in many areas of the nuclear sciences industry, including developing the local manufacture of fuel for the Koeberg nuclear power station and managing the SAFARI-1 research reactor at Pelindaba (medical isotopes) and later doing consulting work all over the world,” he explains.

After retiring at sixty-five, Charles was involved as a consultant with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for a few years and is now enjoying a welcome time-out since this year. He happened to meet up again with Kim Potgieter at a Chartered Wealth function and “’Kim’s Bucket Wheel’ got him thinking about his future. “I had time on my hands and needed to do something challenging.  I remembered my Italian childhood and realised that I had always wanted to learn the language.  I found a language training website called Duolingo that turned out to be the perfect solution.  Duolingo is a free on-line service by which a person learns a foreign language one step at a time.  I started last November and have completed the course, gaining the required fifty percent.”

Completing a Duolingo course is not easy.  “There are sixty-six separate modules in the Italian course.  Naturally, they start being relatively easy and become progressively more challenging.  The system does not allow you to progress to the next level until you are successful at your current one,” says Charles.

Learning a language “in theory” is one thing – speaking it is another.  “Italian is a very phonetic language.  You speak it the way you write it.  But Italians speak very fast, which makes conversing difficult for the beginner.”

Fortunately, Duolingo has a facility whereby the student can “speak back” to the programme.  “It’s amazing.  Using the microphone on the computer, you can repeat Italian phrases to the programme, which gives you basic conversational skills,” explains Charles.

Charles and his wife Ronél have other retirement activities that keep them more than busy.  “We are active in our church in Pretoria, and are involved in several outreach activities.”

Does that mean that Charles’ language-learning activities have come to an end?  Not a chance.  “Our church interacts with the local community, who happen to speak mainly Sepedi, the language spoken by the Pedi people who originate mainly from Limpopo and is a native language frequently used in the Pretoria areas.”

You guessed it.  “Now I am trying to learn Sepedi, so I can communicate effectively with the locals.  Our church has appointed a Sepedi teacher – over 16 weeks for 25 students – but it’s much more difficult than Italian,” he laughs.

What’s next for this scientist-turned-multilingual retiree? Greek? Russian? Maybe Mandarin? “After all, our two grandsons in Singapore are mastering it – so why not? In fact why don’t you give it a go? www.Duolingo.com.”

With Charles Piani, anything is possible.  As they say in Rome, “Vi diremo.”

“We will tell you.”

Training your brain can be fun!

Chartered client, Roz Binge, has started a brain-training trend at Chartered by recommending an excellent online programme.  Lumosity.com offers you the opportunity to train daily … and the exercises are fun!  Roz explains the Lumosity packages available and why she loves this programme in her article.

Spurred on by several friends, all younger than myself, I explored the Lumosity website some six years ago.IMG-20160811-WA0010

After a few days of playing the limited number of free on-line games, I took out a one-year membership (currently US$59.95).  When this expired I found I was missing my 15-minute personalised programme in the brain gym and opted for a lifetime membership (US$299.95).

The programme focuses on core cognitive skills: memory, speed, problem solving, attention and flexibility, and has about 50 games, created by their team of scientists and designers. Fewer games are available if accessed via iPhone, iPad or android.

Peter and Roz Binge enjoying some bubbles

There are similar brain training programmes available, such as Elevate. I confess to not having researched and compared any of them with Lumosity.

Lumosity ‘works’ for me. I enjoy my sessions and can train and exercise and challenge my brain as frequently or infrequently as I choose to.  Ticking the mental muscle box makes me feel a whole lot better on those (too frequent) days when I can’t summon up the physical energy to get into the gym. There’s plenty of variation;   my programme changes daily and I can extend it by choosing any games and repeating them as often as I like.

I get a kick out of mastering a particular game and seeing my scores improve, but I don’t take it too seriously. Those of the 70 million users (apparently aged 8 to 108!) who like to monitor their progress, can view their personal statistics daily and compare themselves to others in the same age group.

As keen as many people are on brain gym, believing that it’s important to challenge your brain to keep it healthy, the jury seems to be out on how effective it is in raising your IQ, halting a degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s or helping you remember the names of your new neighbour’s three dogs.

Click here to try Lumosity for yourself – sign in for the free membership to see if you enjoy it and receive your three complementary games daily.