Author: RS Editor

A look back at our online client events during 2021

We had hoped that 2021 would mean we could go back to our in-person events, but sadly it was not to be. Despite this, we still managed to host some fantastic online events that were topical, inspirational, informative, entertaining, and most importantly, relevant to the times we are living in.

We kicked off the year with Mandy Wiener, who enthralled us with tales from her book The Whistleblowers, where she spoke about the people who have courageously come forward to expose corruption and wrongdoing.

As it became glaringly apparent that face-to-face events were unlikely, we organised the first of two quiz nights for the year, hosted by Lynda Smith and Frank Davis. The quiz nights provided some light relief and a chance for clients to connect. Donations after each quiz night were made to African Food for Thought and Vulpro, respectively.

Kim Potgieter’s new book Midlife Money Makeover was launched at the beginning of May. Kim firmly believes her book is a reality due to the wisdom, insight and lessons that clients have taught her over the years. To celebrate, we hosted an event where Kim was in conversation with Maya Fisher-French discussing what it takes to live purposefully. We realised the importance of self-care while navigating life in a pandemic, so we hosted a Women’s Wellness event where Image Consultant Wendy Hind and Makeup Artist Holly Petersen shared some tips and tricks on looking and feeling great.

Kevin Lings joined us in June and presented us with a global and local economic overview. In the throes of yet another lockdown, we planned to host events that would provide some light relief and allow us all to have a bit of fun. Sean Brokensha, The Music Guru, took us on a musical
journey that traced the evolution and revolution of music in our country and how the sound of the new South Africa was born. TV presenter, author and safari guide James Hendry delighted and entertained us by sharing the story of humanity’s tumultuous relationship with wilderness
during his presentation, Plugged into the Wild.

We will always remember July 2021 as a tumultuous one in our country’s history. We all felt rattled by the events taking place. In order to try and make sense of what was happening, we hosted an event with thought leader and renowned scientist Prof. Anthony Turton, who shared his reflections on our young democracy, with particular attention to understanding the complexities of the events that took place in July.

In August we celebrated Women’s Day with Nikki Bush, who gave us tips and valuable insights on how to bloom through disruptive times. During this month, we also hosted Director of NinetyOne, Jeremy Gardiner, who shared his invaluable insight into the impact that the disruptions were likely to have on our investments, our economy, and the country we live in and love.

We kicked off Spring with an event hosted by Dr Karin Lourens, Nicci Wright and Richard Pierce, highlighting the plight of the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin. This was followed by a session with Ida Doyer, a sensory integration occupational therapist, who took us on an enlightening journey around our response to the environment around us through the seven senses.

Renowned political commentator Justice Malala was our guest speaker in October, and his insights into the political landscape of South Africa and the elections were sobering. Given the events of the past year, we have realised what a necessary skill resilience is, so we decided to end October off by hosting endurance athlete, author and brain cancer survivor, Richard Wright who inspired us with his story of endurance, passion, heartbreak and triumph of the human spirit over crippling adversity.

Evita Bezuidenhout entertained us at our final event of the year – Evita Adapts and Does Not Dye.

Thank you to all clients who joined us at these events. We look forward to hosting a combination of in-person and hybrid events in 2022.

Mindset exercises

Do you believe that intelligence, artistic ability, character and personality are something fixed? Qualities that you’re born with and that you can’t really change? Or do you believe that each of us can fundamentally develop and improve many of our qualities over the course of our life?

In her book, Mindset – How you can Fuel your Potential, Carol Dweck shares her research about what she calls fixed and growth mindsets. She explains the fixed mindset as a belief that your qualities are carved in stone, where the growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.

Dweck believes that although people have vastly different talents, aptitudes, interests and temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

Fixed Mindset
Growth Mindset
Afraid of being judged with a tendency to
• take feedback as criticism
• be sensitive about being wrong or making mistakes
• avoid trying new things
• give up easily
A desire to learn, which means that you
• embrace challenges
• keep going when things get difficult
• see effort as the path to mastery
• take feedback as an opportunity to grow and learn

Which personality mindset do you have?

Look at these statements about personality and character and decide whether you mostly agree or mostly disagree with each one.

  1. You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can be done to really change that.
  2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
  3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.
  4. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.

Questions 1 and 3 are fixed-mindset questions, and questions 2 and 4 reflect the growth mindset.

Which did you agree with more?

Mindsets in Practice

Personal reflection

What mindset do you operate from? How has this impacted what you have achieved in life so far? If you worked on cultivating a growth mindset in all areas of your life, how might things change?

Can you identify people you know with a fixed mindset? What do they do and say? How has this mindset impacted them?

Think about a time when you felt incredibly motivated and inspired to work hard and contribute your best… What was it about this environment that motivated you to give your best, to perform at your peak?

“Becoming is better than being” – Carol Dweck

Source: Claire Holden, Change in Mindset

Spring Reads & Eats

It’s Heritage Day, fondly known as Braai Day, on Friday, hopefully you get to spend the long weekend soaking up the sun. A braai is not a braai without a potato salad, and we found this delicious recipe that adds a twist to the traditional potato salad:


Biltong & Braaied Potato Salad


  • 6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 100g butter, melted
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • large handful moist biltong, roughly chopped
  • handful fresh chives, chopped
  • handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • handful feta cheese, crumbled
  • small handful capers
  • mayonnaise (bought or homemade)


Start by par cooking the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water.
The trick is not to cook them too soft or they will fall apart on the braai — 3–5 mins should be good.
Drain the potatoes then brush with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.
Using a flip grid, braai the potatoes until cooked through and caramelised.
Once the potatoes are cool you can cut them into squares and place them into a large mixing bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients, including as much mayonnaise as you like, then gently fold everything together and season with salt and pepper.
If you’ve got time then let it rest in the fridge for a while to let the flavours get cosy.
If not, then tuck in!

Recipe extract from Beer Country’s Beer Food Fire by Karl Tessendorf and Greg Gilowey, published by Struik Lifestyle.


If you are on the lookout for a new book to read, we recommend The Promise by Damon Galgut. It’s always fantastic when South African authors make the Booker Prize shortlist. If you would like to win a copy of this book, please email and we will enter you into our lucky draw.

The Promise by Damon Galgut
Shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize

There is nothing unusual or remarkable about the Swart family, oh no, they resemble the family from the next farm and the one beyond that, just an ordinary bunch of white South Africans, and if you don’t believe it then listen to us speak…

The many voices of The Promise tell a story in four snapshots, each one centered on a family funeral, each one happening in a different decade. In the background, a different president is in power, and a different spirit hangs over the country, while in the foreground the family fights over what they call their farm, on a worthless piece of land outside Pretoria.

Over large jumps in time, people get older, faces and laws and lives all change, while a brother and sister circle around a promise made long ago, and never kept …

July Winter Warmers

We are in the grips of winter. The cold weather, coupled with the lockdown and the chaos in our country means that staying at home is the only option at the moment.

It’s hard to focus right now, so why not keep busy cooking a delicious meal or losing yourself in a good book. These are our two suggestions, but you know we love hearing from you, so please email us here if you have a recipe worth sharing, or if you have read a book that you absolutely loved and would like to share.


Taste Magazine’s Delicious Oxtail


  • 5 T olive oil
  • 2.5 kg oxtail, cut into 4 cm chunks
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 400 g carrots, sliced julienne
  • 400 g celery, sliced julienne
  • 1 T fresh rosemary finely chopped, plus an additional sprig for remembrance
  • 1 T fresh thyme finely chopped, plus an additional sprig for courage
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 x 400 g whole tomatoes cans
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 litre beef stock


Preheat the oven 220°C. Place 3 T oil in a roasting tray and heat in the oven. Once the oil is hot, add the oxtail and toss until all the meat is coated. Season to taste.

Return the meat to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until it’s nicely browned and the fat is golden.

Meanwhile, place the carrots, celery and herbs in a large saucepan with the remaining olive oil and gently simmer for 20 minutes. (You many need to add a few tablespoons of water at some point.)

Remove the oxtail from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven’s temperature to 170°C. Add the bay leaves, cloves, flour, tomatoes, wine and beef stock to the vegetables. Lastly add the oxtail, all the roasting juices and bring to a boil.

Return to the roasting tray, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for a further 5 hours. If you make this a day or two in advance, no harm comes to it if you put it into the oven at 170°C for another hour or so to heat it up.


The book we highly recommend this month is The Heart Is The Size Of A Fist by PP Fourie. If you would like to win a copy of this book, please email, and we will put you in the draw.

The Heart is the Size of a Fist by PP Fourie
Review by Kate Sidley

The semi-autobiographical novel centres on Paul and his relationship with his politically liberal but cruel and violent alcoholic father, and his loving but damaged mother. The book shifts between recollection of his childhood, devastated by addiction and domestic violence, and his adult life in which he does the work of understanding and healing, and reconnects with his much younger half-brother in a poignantly tentative and tender way. It’s a coming-of-age and coming out novel, a book about survival and healing and memory.

It’s beautifully written, thoughtful and strangely gripping. It had me glued to the book and the sofa all day. One of my best books of the year so far.

Making 2021 your best year ever

Making 2021 your best year ever

Forbes recently published an article on 10 tips to being happier and making 2021 your best year ever. We thought they were very useful tips and answering the question at the end of each tip allows you to pause and reflect and gain some perspective on the year that was.

  1. Focus on the upside of a downside situation. When there are so many incidences of devastation, fear and heartbreak, it’s natural to focus on the downside of the pandemic. But we can balance that out with how it’s brought people together, volunteering and helping one another and strengthening the whole idea of collective selflessness. What upsides can you name?

  2. Pinpoint the opportunity in the difficulty. Ask, “How can I make this situation work to my advantage? Can I find something positive in it? What can I manage or overcome in this instance?” During the pandemic, for example, we can use times of self-isolation for self-reflection and think about the direction we want to take in the new year. What opportunities do you see?

  3. Frame 2020 as a lesson to learn, not misery to endure. Ask what you can learn from the difficulties of 2020 and use them as stepping-stones, instead of roadblocks. Think of the adversities of 2020 as happening for you instead of to you. If you consider this perspective less taken, what has 2020 taught you that you can take into 2021?

  4. Practice gratitude. Look beyond the fear, loss and disappointment at the big picture. Take an inventory of your life and include all the things the pandemic prevented you from doing that you once took for granted. And consider all the people and things in your life that you’re grateful for, letting gratitude steer you beyond the gloom and doom. What are you grateful for?

  5. Be chancy. Take small risks in new situations instead of predicting negative outcomes before giving them a try. “If I ask for a shot at the promotion, my boss might laugh in my face” becomes “If I ask for a shot at the promotion, my boss might think I have guts and ambition.” How can you stick your neck out at work in the new year?

  6. Avoid blowing a situation out of proportion. Don’t let one negative experience rule your whole outlook: “I was supposed to get a promotion until the pandemic; now that everything’s on hold, I’ll never advance in my career” becomes “Things are on hold for a while, but nothing lasts forever and there will be other pathways to success.” What limiting situations can you minimise and overcome in 2021?

  7. Focus on the solution, not the problem. You’ll feel more empowered to cope with pandemic curve balls when you step back from the problem and brainstorm a wide range of possibilities. Your negativity bias will direct you to zoom in and focus on the problem. But when you broaden your perspective, your wide-angle lens will help you see potential in the big picture. What possibilities do you see for 2021?

  8. Practice positive self-talk. During tough times, be as kind to yourself as you would your best friend. Underscore your triumphs. Replace bludgeoning yourself and using put-downs and criticisms with the practice of self-compassion. Affirm positive feedback instead of letting it roll over your head. Give yourself “atta-boys” or “atta-girls.” Throw modesty out the window and remind yourself of all your personal resources. What are your strengths?

  9. Practice Solitude. Solitude is good for the soul. It takes you out of the rat race for a while, gives you a bird’s-eye view of your daily life and replaces chaos with serenity. Spend a minimum of five minutes a day alone. Meditate, pray, practice yoga or contemplate nature and connect with something larger than yourself for inspiration and peace of mind. What type of solitude can you practice?

  10. See a fresh start contained in loss. Every loss contains a gain, but you have to look for it. Every time you get up just one more time than you fall, you increase the likelihood of scaling hard times. Baseball great Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” What endings in 2020 contain new beginnings in 2021?

Pandemic reflections

In previous years we hosted numerous client events throughout the year. These events provided the perfect opportunity for us all to connect. When lockdown happened, we knew that staying connected with each other was essential, so we planned weekly client Zoom events. These events kept us connected and provided a welcome relief from the monotony of life in lockdown. We asked some of our guest speakers to share their reflections on 2020.

Pippa Shaper and Gabi Louw

The Resilience Talk

As our business, The Resilience Factory, centres around teaching Authentic Resilience, 2020 will be a year we’ll never forget. Never before has the need for authentic resilience been quite so prevalent, and it has been a privilege to take our model, tools and techniques to people around the world. Like so many other businesses, The Resilience Factory had to ‘pivot’ really quickly, and we took our course online the week South Africa went into lockdown in March. Since then, we have taught over 1000 people around the world the secrets to living an Authentically Resilient life – one of thriving, not just surviving – and we are delighted to see so many businesses investing in their teams.

However, the impact will continue to be exponential, and we foresee a long tail of mental health issues as the world continues to change so rapidly. Adaptability, flexibility and the need to embrace impermanence have never been more important than they are now. We so look forward to continuing to develop our work, our learnings and our impact.

Hamilton Wende

Storytelling and Truth

I’m a freelance writer and producer, and the pandemic caught me well prepared financially for the first weeks, but quickly that evaporated as the months of joblessness crept by. It was – as it was for millions of people in our country – frightening, and then, terrifying. There was just nothing on offer for long stretches of time.

My first positive reaction was to embrace the world of technology far more than I had ever done, and reach out via social media to people with whom there was a chance of meaningful connection. This approach yielded some successes quite quickly. The business that grew was small, but at least it provided positive steps in the right direction and kept some money flowing in.

Importantly, I was lucky enough to be able to keep working on my original vision which was to expand my writing, journalism and communication business – and step by step, sometimes with my heart in my throat; I kept that vision alive. Now that severe lockdown has eased, business has picked up again, and I count myself so fortunate to have been able to keep to my own life vision throughout a very scary time. Let’s hope it remains that way going forward – for all of us!

Paula Quinsee

Managing your relationships in Lockdown

There have been many positives and negatives coming about from COVID, but one thing that has stood out for me is that we have realised what is important versus what is valuable. We have had time to reflect on what’s important to us, such as freedom of movement, relationships, family, friends and quality of life. We’ve also realised that we can do without so much stuff (i.e. material things).

Being in lockdown has allowed people and families to do so many things that they have been putting off, procrastinating over, or wanting to do, but never have for various reasons. It’s allowed us to have some downtime, spend quality time together, change our lifestyle and force us to connect in new ways. Perhaps COVID was here to teach us this important lesson that we had been neglecting and taking for granted in so many ways.

Sean Brokensha

The Music Guru

This year has shown me how music, as it always has, shines a light when days are darkest. We’ve witnessed Italians banging their pots on balconies, making music that declares, ‘We are still alive’, a torrent of fine lockdown songs recorded, and ordinary people making, sharing, dancing to, and enjoying the pure truth of music. Witness, comfort, and part of the way back, music will underscore the triumph of the human spirit.

As long as there’s a melody, I’ll not be melancholy.

Kim Potgieter

Dare to Lead

I cannot reflect on the year without feeling immensely grateful. I have been overwhelmed with how our clients have embraced technology, keeping in contact and joining the Chartered Family through numerous online events. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to share my learnings on vulnerability and empathy with our clients, which is the one thing that I believe has helped me through this year.

For me, this year has been about leaning into my vulnerability. It’s comforting to know that it’s ok to feel anxious about uncertainty, that it’s normal to feel afraid, and it’s perfectly natural to give yourself the time to feel these emotions, to really connect with what you’re feeling, instead of fighting or flighting from it. So now, when I feel overwhelmed, I allow myself to experience my sadness, my pain, my frustration or my sense of helplessness. To allow yourself to be vulnerable is to permit yourself to heal from the inside out.

What really stands out for me this year is the abundance of kindness and give-back that I’ve noticed and seen firsthand among our staff and clients – and also friends and family. Empathy sits at the core of this heroism. I have
experienced that by just being present in someone else’s story, really tuning in and listening, without judgement and without jumping in to give advice, establishes true human connection.

And finally, I am surprised by how much I was able to save this year. I rediscovered the joy of home-cooking and spoiling myself with hot baths, manicures and pedicures. And of course, spending so much time with my family and making new, unforgettable memories.

Dr David Kloeck

Covid-19 and what is really happening on the homefront

As a clinician in the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, this journey has most certainly been a roller-coaster ride. We South Africans were lucky to be spared the devastating effects of a novel disease, dictating the lack of normal pathophysiological mechanisms that patients and healthcare workers in the Northern Hemisphere suffered at the beginning of this pandemic. Our healthcare teams had the advantage of preparing, and undertaking drastic measures in terms of complete lockdowns and states of disaster, in order not to replicate what the north was experiencing.

The telecon calls from our overseas colleagues were heart-wrenching. Being a completely medically-focused member of the community, I perhaps don’t recognise and acknowledge the hardships of what an economic disaster we are in. Still, the light in our tunnel allowed us not to experience the burden of disease our other international colleagues faced. Not making too light of the situation, we were most certainly placed under new and significant stressors and pressures, but the most incredible memory I recall while I write these few words is how the men and women who work at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital rallied together, volunteering and giving more than 150% of their time and effort to look after our main Covid Intensive Care Unit. My junior doctors all have walked out with smiles on their faces and personally said to me that they “loved working in the Covid wards”. My nurses always (and I really mean always) had a smile and a willingness to make a plan. Every day, without fail, the senior nurse asked me if all was okay, and if there was anything she could do to make things better. I appreciated this so much. My wish is for a way to lift these frontline workers, and give them the true recognition they deserve! They are the real South African heroes! It’s been an honour for me to work for the people, with the people!

Lynda Smith

Quiz Night

It has been a year like no other. I am grateful for the technical skills that helped me to convert to working online seamlessly, and at the same time, help many others to learn the skills needed.

Personally, it has been a big year as I have just moved to the Western Cape. These are not easy decisions and should
not be made lightly. The most important thing is that you take yourself with you wherever you go. Make sure you are
content and filled with joy, no matter where you may be.

Finally, going grey, gracefully, during lockdown has been about giving myself permission to be who I am and to celebrate the process.

Stephen Mc Gown

Freedom is an Attitude

For me, 2020 came charging out of the starting blocks, I was fully booked for corporate talks, both locally and internationally. 2020 had very exciting prospects. By the 18th of March I had had 28 talks cancelled. My initial reaction was disappointment, but then over the next five months I was asked to do 35 virtual presentations to companies. I was reminded to be patient and not to waste a day worrying. Focus on what’s important in life, do your best and opportunities will follow.

Golden-ager discounts – making your money go further

This year has been challenging, and we have all had to tighten the belt to make our money go further. One of the perks of being an older member of society is the wide range of discounts and savings offered.

Property Rates – As a pensioner, you qualify for a rebate on your property rates of between 40% and 100%. Registered property owners who are pensioners may apply for a reduction of rates, subject to certain criteria. Pensioner’s rebate application forms are available from any municipal Customer Service Centre. If one is 70 years of age or older, and the municipal value of your property is not more than R 2.5 million, you can claim a full rebate on your monthly rates. Please check with your municipality to see what discounts you qualify for.

SABC TV licence rebate – If you are over 70 years of age, you can apply for a rebate on your TV licence. People under 70 who are eligible for a government pension or disability grant are also able to apply.

Mango flights – on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, flights come with a 10% discount for over-60s.

AA – The AA offers over 60s a special membership package at a discounted rate. The AA 60+ Advantage roadside cover includes everything you may need, from medical rescue to on-the-road assistance.

Tiger Wheel and Tyre: Pensioner Specials | Tuesdays – In-store discounts on tyres / selected products and services for customers over 60 years old every Tuesday. Preferential discounts on products and services in-store only.

Hertz’s Car Hire – Drivers over 55 can hire a car from Hertz’s ‘A group’ fleet from as little as R200 per day. Rates include theft and damage waivers, airport surcharge, VAT, tourism levy and 200 kilometres free per day.

Clicks – If you are 60 years or older and a ClubCard member, you can opt for Clicks’ ClubCard Seniors’ programme and earn Double Points every Wednesday.

Builders Warehouse – If you are over 60, you get a 10% discount on your purchases every Wednesday.

Spec Savers – If you are over 65, you qualify for a free selected frame to the value of R599 when you purchase an eye test and prescription lenses.

Torga Optical – Pensioners get discounts on Pensioners Packages every day. Packages start from R1200 and include an eye test, frame and lenses.

Makro – For over-60s, 10% off on general goods and 15% off on food items on Tuesdays only.

Pick ‘n Pay – Pick ‘n Pay offers over 60s double smart-shopper points on a Wednesday.

Nu Metro – Nu Metro Cinemas offer pensioner discounts on every day of the week except for Wednesdays, as the Wowza Wednesday Special applies which costs even less than senior prices.

Ster Kinekor – If you join the SK Club, and you are over 60, you can enjoy 25% off movie tickers every day of the week.

SANParks – They give all permanent residents of South Africa, over the age of 60, discounted tariff rates. However, this does not apply on Friday and Saturday nights, nor does it apply over any long weekends.

Tsogo Sun Hotels, which include Southern Sun hotels and resorts, including The Palazzo, Suncoast Towers and Beverly Hills, offer a 50% discount to those who are over the age of 63 on the Best Available Rate of the day, subject to availability.

If you know of any other savings that you have found beneficial, please email us – we would love to add them to our list.

The little farm in Strathaven

When 84-year-old Chartered client, Andrew Stewart booked his annual skiing holiday, something he has done annually since the 1960s, he had no idea that 2020 would be different. After enjoying six blissful days skiing in Leich, Austria, Andrew and his friend Bruno literally caught the last plane out of Zurich.

He arrived back to a world turned upside down and was immediately put in self-quarantine for two weeks. During this time our national lockdown was announced, and it was at this point Andrew began wondering how he could fill the long days ahead. He started by arranging all his books but soon realised that he would need to do something else to occupy his time, so he turned back to his roots – farming.

Andrew had recently sold two plots on his property, and he decided that it was the perfect opportunity to build a hydroponic garden. Every single day from April to June, he spent the day digging in preparation. He also had to learn about hydroponics, so he embraced Zoom and learnt all that he needed to know. He used pieces of his old tennis court to build the structure and set up the irrigation system. When lockdown eased, he enjoyed the help of a bricklayer and welder to complete the structure.

Despite having a sore back, Andrew has found the process extremely rewarding and believes that had it not been for lockdown he wouldn’t be as fit and healthy as he is now. Health is important to Andrew, and he has always lived by the motto: health before wealth and fit to have fun.

While lockdown meant that he couldn’t regularly play squash and tennis and socialise with family and friends, there are many things he is grateful about. He is grateful for his community that has rallied together to help each other. He’s grateful for the WhatsApp groups that have kept the community connected. Mostly though, he is content that he has done his time spent in lockdown justice, he did it his way, and because of that, he has no regrets.

Celebrating the women of Chartered

Chartered women, both clients and staff, are celebrated each year in August. Despite lockdown, we decided to continue with this tradition and hosted an online event focusing on self-love, growth and wellness.

Our first guest, Sylvia Lampe, spoke about and guided us through some calanetics exercises. Calanetics is a system of exercise involving frequent repetition of small muscular movements and squeezes, designed to improve muscle tone.

Our second speaker, Sally Williams, delighted us with her story as to how Sally Williams nougat came about. Sally is living proof that age is merely a number, especially considering that she started her nougat business in her 50s. She is also the epitome of courage and determination, as she never gave up, despite numerous obstacles along the way.

Our final guest, Patricia O’Hare, a retired psychologist, shared how, despite being an active person by nature, during lockdown, she went into contraction mode. Her outside world had to contract as a result of COVID, but unbeknownst to her, she also started to contract psychologically. Her world, her thinking – everything contracted, and anything that took her out of that safe-haven, she rejected.

She encouraged us to be open to new experiences, innovations and opportunities no matter how uncomfortable, especially during lockdown. The older we get, the more rigid we become- both physically and mentally, but this lack of flexibility, especially in our thinking, is harmful to our mental health and our overall sense of happiness.

Another way, she suggested, to get out of this contraction prison is to be perpetually curious and interested in the people and events around you. She has seen so many older people who have allowed their worlds to become so small that they lose perspective of the bigger picture- they become the main feature of a very small screen instead of a single unit in a vast panorama. Self-absorption reigns supreme but at the same time increases isolation.

Each of us has a story, and now is the time to reflect on that story, become aware of misconceptions and inaccuracies and put them right. We can’t change the past, but what we can change is our reaction and attitude to the events of the past. Viktor Frankel said that everything you have could be taken from you, but the one inviolable freedom is your freedom to react or relate to the event. You are no longer a victim but an observer who changes your reaction and are thus a director rather than an actor with a given script. Consciousness and awareness are critical elements of this task. Eric Erickson in his theory of the eight life stages said the main task in the final stage was to achieve integrity – integrity or wholeness of your being, incorporating the black and white, the yin and the yang, to make a meaningful whole. Lack of success in this task leads to despair!

In conclusion, she shared a mantra with us, one that encouraged us to tell us ourselves daily– I am light, I am bright, I am beautiful, I am strong, I am kind.

As we continue to face the challenges and uncertainty that lockdown brings, let’s remember that mantra, we are light, we are bright, we are beautiful, strong, kind, and we are brave.

A nostalgic trip down memory lane

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.”

Alphonse de Lamartin

During lockdown we have taken to hosting online events, covering a variety of topics. This month our guest speaker was Sean Brokensha, fondly known as The Music Guru. Sean has worked in radio, television and live entertainment since the mid 80s. He has written, produced and directed media broadcast on DSTV, BBC, SABC and ETV. For the past two decades he has presented radio and TV shows specifically about music, and its relationship with our everyday lives.

On the 12 August, Sean took us on a musical journey and explained how music has evolved from post-war Swing, to Rock ‘roll to the Age of Aquarius. From dinner jackets, to leather jackets, to flowers in your hair. The event was nothing short of delightful, and we definitely will be getting him back soon to host another session. If there is a genre of music that you would like him to speak about, please let us know. We would love to hear your suggestions.

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