Author: robert

Lean on me – lean on you

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I call a friend. You all know how much I enjoy spending time with people, and for me, nothing beats a good chat with a good friend. If it’s face-to-face, even better. Add a cappuccino (or dare I say, a glass of wine) – the best!

My friend and I both desperately needed to talk, to lean on each other. Bill Withers expressed it so beautifully in his song Lean on me:

Lean on me,
when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend,
I’ll help you carry on…
for it won’t be long,
till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.

My friend is going through a difficult patch. Her elderly parents have moved in, and her mom is immobile. This has completely changed life in their home. After listening, I asked her: How are you taking care of yourself? She was shocked! It was a question that she has never considered. “But I’m too busy taking care of everyone else,” she said.

I have also been feeling a bit fatigued lately. A while back, I told you that my husband, Gys was diagnosed with cancer. He has been incredibly brave, and his treatment schedule has been harrowing. The good news is that he’s been given the all-clear twice now and his next check-up is three months from now. Life always happens in ebbs and flows, and low points and high points are often grouped together. It has been a difficult time for us as a family as my daughter, Gabi, has now been experiencing paralysis in her left hand. It’s been six weeks so far with no improvement. In addition, my schedule has been ramped up with talks and interviews around my new book, and this time of year is busy with workshops, seminars and meetings. I like to help and very seldom turn down a speaking engagement or meeting request. Trying to make a difference, even for one person, makes it all worthwhile.

My friend threw my question right back at me and asked me how I was taking care of myself. It’s a good question. I always say that if you don’t look after yourself, you will be of no use to anyone else.

We are compassionate human beings, and compassion is probably one of the most powerful forces in the world. It embraces the noble traits of grace, empathy and love; it drives hope; helps us see the light in the darkness and makes us feel loved. We’ve seen compassion in action all over the world. Everyone I know has spent time helping others, being kinder, gentler and offering support. It’s just in our nature. We want to help. We want to be there for the people we love.

But we do have to watch out for compassion fatigue, defined by psychologists as exhaustion on a physiological, biological and emotional level brought on by prolonged periods of stress. You may be feeling more tired than usual, or more forgetful, even burnt-out. Decisions become harder to make, your coping skills diminish, and life just feels too much.

So, here’s my question to you: How are you looking after yourself? Are you self-compassionate? Do you take time out to self-care and self-love? I know it sounds easier than it really is. I get that. It is hard to self-care when you are so busy caring for everyone else in your life. But you simply have to make yourself a priority too. If you falter and fall, you will not be there to look after the ones you love.

Apart from making time for chats with my friends, I self-care by taking long, warm baths. I exercise every day, take my daily vitamins and make sure that I’m always able to serve my family fresh vegetables and herbs from my garden. If things get really tough, I practice gratitude to remind myself just how special my world is.

Find someone to lean on if you need a helping hand… they will need to lean on you too at some point. Be kind and compassionate to yourself and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.

Winter warmers

There is no denying that winter is finally here. The cold weather coupled with the fact that we are in the third wave is the perfect opportunity to spend time at home, reading a good book and eating nourishing and comforting food.

Sally Williams is not only famous for her nougat but also her cooking. One of Kim’s favourite recipes of Sally’s is her delicious roasted tomato and butternut soup. So give it a try and let us know what you think.

Sally Williams’ Roasted Butternut and Tomato Soup


Olive oil spray
2 onions cut into chunks
8 plum tomatoes cut in half
1kg butternut cut into chunks
12 cloves of peeled garlic
2 teaspoons of sugar
A sprinkling of ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1-litre chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup of cream (you can leave out if desired)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil


Mix all the ingredients together and toss.
Place in the oven at 220 for 45 minutes until soft and browned.
Put the mixture in a bowl (scrape all the bits from the bottom of the pan) and pour over the stock and mix – then place in a liquidiser and liquidise until smooth.
Return to the pot, season and add the chopped basil.
Before serving, add the cream.
Serve hot or cold.

We have such talented authors in South Africa, and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to genres. We highly recommend Hamilton Wende’s new book, Red Air. If you would like to win a personalised copy of Red Air, please email, and we will put you in the draw.

Red Air by Hamilton Wende

War is an ugly business, no matter which way you look at it. The fact that people profit from bloodletting is ugly. That thousands of young lives are lost, oftentimes senselessly, is ugly. And the grief of those left behind is ugly. There are no real winners in conflict, although enough movies and books would have us believe otherwise. The casualties of war mean that even if one side triumphs over another, there are still parents mourning their sons and daughters.

SA combat journalist Hamilton Wende knows this only too well, having witnessed first-hand the tragedies that can befall families when man recedes into the darkest recesses of his soul. It is the powerful theme he explores in his new novel, Red Air.

War correspondent Danny Morris has made the potentially fatal mistake of identifying in an article the hotel where he meets the son of an Afghan warlord, Azmaray Shah. Shah is a separatist who wants nothing to do with either the Taliban or the American forces in Afghanistan but views Danny’s error as treacherous. In an act of vengeance, he kidnaps the reporter’s father, Al Morris, a veteran CIA operative whose relationship with Danny soured years earlier when he walked out on the family.

Recognising that having both Danny and Al on the hook would also serve to bring the world’s attention to his political ambitions, Shah plays his hand carefully, understanding that he dare not come across as fanatical as the Taliban. Danny is required to wrestle with his conscience and assess where he might have failed in terms of the distance between him and his father.

Wende has covered conflict in Afghanistan, and knows that things are always more complex than they seem. Black-and-white perceptions of who the good and bad guys are entirely wrong since the country comprises any number of groups that carry their own views of what the country and the religion of Islam should be. His grasp of political dynamics comes across strongly in the narrative, giving authenticity to the novel. That is not to say there isn’t plenty of action.

Danny links up with a US Marines unit to rescue his father, and the fighting is bloody and frenetic. Wende’s descriptions of these scenes speak to his considerable powers as a journalist and give the book the fast-paced appeal needed to keep readers focused on the broader issues of family relationships, love and respect.

As far as modern war novels go, Red Air ranks among the more poignant.

Review by John Harvey in the Daily Dispatch

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