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South African Masters Swimming

Inspired by fun, friendship and fitness

by Sandy Murray, Chartered client.

Swimming is a great way to keep mentally and physically fit. Many of us, however, need considerable motivation to take the plunge – so to speak.

South African Masters Swimming is a fraternity of aqua enthusiasts who enjoy keeping fit and setting their sights on maintaining or shaving seconds off their previous personal best times. The year’s highlight is the Masters National Championships, which brings together swimmers across South Africa and beyond for a 4-day gala. The excitement of the 379 swimmers – aged 20 to over 90 – is invigorating; everyone is decked out in their club colours, greeting their comrades and competitors, and eyeing the 50m pool with apprehension – or eagerness to clinch bronze, silver, or gold medals.

I met Marion Hollander at Chartered, and we both swim for the largest team, Wahoo Masters. Our section of the stand is generally the most festive, with a swathe of 120 purple t-shirts, banners, silly hats, and other festive paraphernalia.

The 2024 Masters Nationals was a first for Marion: “This was the first time I swam in a gala since primary school – let alone a Nationals Masters Gala! It was terrifying, and I was completely out of my comfort zone. However, I managed to swim in all my races and even got a bronze medal for coming third in one of them. It ended up being a fantastic experience. I met many people, including Sandy, whom I recognised from Chartered Wealth! What a wonderful four days!”

I have swum with Masters for many years, inspired by my teammates who, well into their senior years, continue to relish their sport and strive to break South African records. Our oldest swimmer, Patrick Galvin, a 91-year-old Australian, holds breaststroke world records in his age group and South African Colours. Hosting our American team members added a bonus social dimension to the event for my family. Each member of my relay team earned a silver medal, a proud memento of the event.

Marion and I, fuelled by the fun, friendship, and fitness of Masters Swimming, are ready to set the bar of our achievements even higher for the 2025 40th Masters National Championships.

Don’t sweat the big goals!

Small Habits – Big Impact

I just crossed the finish line at my second Two Oceans Half Marathon! It may seem like a small victory, but it’s a big win for me and one that I celebrate proudly. Running a marathon was never really my main goal – but exercise and fitness have always been important to me. Don’t misunderstand me; when I first started running, it didn’t go exactly as planned. It’s tough getting up early mornings, and it’s much easier to hit the snooze button, especially on cold winter mornings or lazy weekends.

James Clear’s book Atomic Habits profoundly impacted my life, and his words deeply resonated with me:

“If you want to predict where you’ll end up in life, all you have to do is follow the curve of tiny gains or tiny losses and see how your daily choices will compound ten or twenty years down the line.”

So, I followed James Clear’s advice to cultivate smaller, achievable habits rather than pursuing big, audacious goals. Instead of setting out to run a marathon, I focused on tiny gains (consistent, small habits) and became a habitual runner. And the best part is that habits become part of your lifestyle over time.

I truly believe that the only way to look back at your life without regret is to align your time with what’s most important to you. So firstly, know where you want to go, and then make sure that your actions, decisions, and the time you spend on them allow you to achieve that goal.

Too often, we convince ourselves that big success requires big actions. But success is the product of small, repeated actions or habits – no matter what your dreams are, you can achieve them with the right habits. It’s the same principles I teach my midlife clients about investing: accumulating wealth is not a skill; it’s a habit. If you persevere, consistently save, and live below your means, you can cultivate the right habits to build wealth.

Reflect for a moment on the path of your life and where your daily actions are leading you. What you don’t want is to look back and wish you’d spent more time doing the things you love. When you decide what’s most important in your life, you can start making small daily changes to ensure you align your time without regrets. It’s the tiny steps you take that will eventually change everything!

Once I established a consistent routine around my health and fitness goals, it opened the door to stacking other important goals – like learning and travelling. I am busy planning to participate in the Berlin Marathon in September. It’s quite a stretch, seeing that I’ve only run 21km races so far (I really have to up my game to run this 42km marathon), but this isn’t just about the run. It’s about combining my broader intentions of travelling and learning with destination runs.

Let every tiny step be a celebration of moving closer to the life you envision.

Reinventing Retirement – Cheryl and Duncan’s Journey

In the serene heart of Eswatini (Swaziland), Chartered Clients Cheryl and Duncan are embracing retirement as a time for rejuvenation and self-discovery. Their story shows how retirement can be a time for reinvention and new possibilities.

Cheryl and Duncan’s backgrounds were as diverse as they were successful. Duncan had spent his career in the meat industry, while Cheryl owned an industrial laundromat. After retiring, they embarked on what they thought would be a leisurely chapter in their lives. However, after just 18 months, they realised that retirement wasn’t about slowing down; it was about finding new avenues for stimulation and growth, so they took over the lease of a coffee shop in a nursery in Malkerns, Swaziland.

Despite working seven days a week and managing six staff members, Cheryl and Duncan love their new venture. Duncan has always loved baking and cooking, so he spends much time creating new recipes and training staff on how to make them. His latest additions to the menu have been well-received by customers.

Cheryl uses her skills honed during her years in the laundry business to manage the back end and bookkeeping. Cheryl and Duncan spend a lot of time mingling with customers, most of whom they know personally since they have lived in Ezulwini, Swaziland, for 32 years.

Despite their full-time commitment to the coffee shop, Cheryl and Duncan recently took a well-deserved break to visit their newborn grandson, Max, in Zimbabwe. This cherished family time was a reminder for them that retirement is about finding a balance between work and life’s other joys.

Cheryl and Duncan are inspiring examples of how to reinvent oneself in retirement. They found something they are passionate about and are now running a successful business. They are actively involved in their community and continue to grow, learn, and contribute to the world around them.

Cheryl and Duncan’s story reminds us that:

  • It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.
  • Find something you’re passionate about and pursue it.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • Be active in your community.
  • Enjoy your life!

U3A – A Look Over the Fence

Although I still have two feet in the working world, it seemed like sensible pre-planning to find out what social options lie on the other side of the fence for my next (and not-so-distant) life chapter. And so I joined U3A.

I first heard about the rather quirky-sounding University of the Third Age from my neighbour, a fit and feisty 70-something with whom I do a 5 km walk on Sundays – which gives us a lot of time to talk! She explained that U3A is a worldwide organisation that aims to provide mature people, many retired or semi-retired, a forum for continued learning, interaction, and knowledge exchange; there are around 30 branches in South Africa. She belongs to a smaller branch and, in addition to attending some of their talks, she participates in a photographic interest group and one for birding enthusiasts.

I selected one of the bigger branches – for its proximity to work and on the assumption that bigger would mean better when it comes to monthly talks. Upon arriving to attend my first talk and seeing the busy car park, I did have fleeting second thoughts about making a solo entrance. However, in the foyer, I met a friendly lady also on her own who bought me a “welcome” coffee and chatted to me about her part-time work in education; shortly afterwards, I also bumped into a couple of Chartered clients.

Over the past few months, the topics have included conservation, personal stories, and township economics, all delivered by engaging speakers. There are also various special interest groups that one can join, which cover art, computers, writing, hiking, theatre, history, philosophy and – for the poetic at heart – even Shakespearean sonnets! That’s quite an array of options to keep the brain cells firing and meet new friends.

The annual membership fee ranges from around R80 – R200, and the various branches’ monthly talks are usually held on a Tuesday morning in a community/church hall or auditorium in the respective areas. Membership is branch-specific, but most have a nominal visitor’s charge if you want to attend a talk at a branch other than your own.

While online information about the branches and contact persons is currently sparse, an umbrella website is under construction to list all the South African U3A branches with their essential details. For now, a Google search will bring up limited results for U3A Johannesburg, Johannesburg East, Johannesburg North and Pretoria, as well as Cape Town, George, Plett, East London and Durban if you are keen to join or find out more.

Age ain’t nothing but a playlist track!

My first-time not-unusual Delilah-cious encounter with Tom Jones

Okay, my article heading may be a bit too much! But if you’ve seen Sir Tom Jones perform “It’s Not Unusual” and “Delilah” live on stage, you might also find yourself humming to “Green Green Grass of Home” while watching the Springboks play in the Rugby World Cup.

Every year, Jean and I plan an overseas trip together, and we always add something new – a fresh experience that we’ll both enjoy. Just as we’ve done in the past by adding a Rod Stewart and Billy Joel concert to our itinerary, this year we chose a show featuring none other than Tom Jones in Germany.

At 83, Tom Jones is still rocking on! Thinking back on my first-time experiences this year, this one really hit home. Age is just a number, right? Not that anyone’s counting, but here was Tom Jones, who began his career in the 1960s, still performing his classics to a crowd of over 10,000 people – all loving his music. 83 is a number that may make many want to slow down or take things easy. But not him. He’s still busting the age myth, one tune at a time! It made me question the constraints I sometimes impose on myself due to age. Do I use my age as an excuse not to do certain things?

My father was a huge fan of Tom Jones, which is how I was introduced to his songs. This experience has reminded me of a dream I once had: to run in the Comrades Marathon using my late dad’s double green number. In fact, 81-year-old Johannes Mosehla broke a 34-year-old record this year by becoming the oldest runner to complete the Comrades. Still, running the Comrades is not for everyone, and for now, I am very happy with my achievement of having completed my first 21km race.

One thing that I was certainly not too old – or too young – to try was beer! An unusual choice for me. Beer is certainly not my preferred drink, but whilst at a Beer Festival, I thought, “Why not?” and gave it a go. The result? An unforgettable memory – one I will cherish and laugh about for years to come.

The true magic of this trip was sharing it with Jean, a truly special friend. I’ve mentioned Robert Waldinger’s Harvard research before, which finds that the secret to a long and healthy life lies in connections and close relationships with significant people. This may just be what inspired Tom Jones and Dolly Parton to write “Islands in the Stream.” Without our special people, the ones we love and those who make our souls sing, we are simply islands adrift in the stream of life.

Let’s promise ourselves not to let age hold us back and to cherish our connections in the flowing river of life,

Say yes to life! Live every minute … every second

This week I came across a beautiful inspirational story on Facebook about our very own Margaret Kearns, and to my surprise – Brent Lindeque (Good Things Guy.) Can you imagine inviting a complete stranger and famous influencer to your 70th birthday party? Someone who reaches over four million people every month on social media. Margaret’s daughters did! They knew how much their mom loved Brent and asked him as a surprise for her birthday. And best of all, Brent Lindeque said yes! He attended her 70th birthday party last year and celebrated her 71st birthday with her again this year!

This story made me realise how powerful the courage to ask is. If you don’t, ask, you’ll never know – right? And with that comes the courage to say YES to life … to live every minute and every second to your utmost. You never know where saying ‘yes’ will lead – you may make new friends, learn new lessons and perhaps experience more pockets of joy in every day.

I met Margaret quite a few years ago when she joined Chartered and immediately loved her optimistic outlook and attitude to life. She inspires wherever she goes; is one of the bravest women I know and a personal role model. Margaret took over running the finances when her husband passed away, enrolled and obtained her Degree in Anthropology and Sociology in her mid-60s, and still holds her family of three adult daughters together.

Inviting Brent Lindeque out of the blue to their mom’s 70th birthday is a testament to how Margaret’s courageous and adventurous spirit rubbed off on her children. Brent is the founder of Good Things Guy (launched in 2015) – a platform dedicated to telling good stories and sharing things that inspire. He shared a beautiful post on social media about his time spent with Margaret, her family and friends. “It was time spent perfectly,” he said. “I stepped out of my comfort zone and leaned in that day when I went to a birthday lunch with 29 random strangers. I spent the afternoon in the spectacular autumn sun, drinking champagne while listening to incredible women sharing stories of their time. It was beautiful. And a stark reminder that we only have so much time.” This year, Brent again shared the lesson he learnt from Margaret at her birthday party – to find a pocket of joy in every day.

I’ve reflected on all my first-time experiences this year to fulfil my goal of trying something new and different every month. Each encounter has brought a lesson – or shared one. This month I tried my awkward, non-artistic hand at ceramics with a friend and our daughters. We spent a wonderful day at the Prison Break Market Clay Café where I made a semi-decent piggy bank. Our housekeeper’s daughter, Abby, is turning one this year, and my goal is to start teaching her how to save – a lesson we taught our children from a young age.

If you feel motivated to say yes to life more often, to find more pockets of joy every day, or fill more time with fun and laughter, start by taking a small step out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to invite a famous influencer to your birthday or embark on the grandest of all adventures, just take a small step that sits comfortably with you. Try hopping on to Good Things Guy on Facebook for inspiration! Fun and laughter are contagious, and the more time we spend on good things, the more time we’ll invest in happiness and joy.

Unleash Your Creativity and Boost Your Mental Health with Neurographic Art

Are you searching for a new way to boost your mental health and express yourself? Consider giving neurographic art a try. The technique was developed by Russian artist and psychologist Pavel Piskarev in the early 2010s as a way to help people express themselves and overcome creative blocks. Today, neurographic art is popular around the world as a simple and accessible way to engage in a mindful and enjoyable activity that can benefit mental and emotional health.

Some of Gill van Rooyen’s Neurographic Art

Neurographic art is an excellent way to reignite your creativity. As we age, our creativity can fade, but this art form offers a chance to discover a new outlet for self-expression. Neurographic art is accessible to all, regardless of artistic skills, and has no rules or guidelines for what your design should resemble.

To begin your neurographic art, start by gathering the necessary materials: a pen or marker and a piece of paper. You may also choose to have additional colouring supplies such as coloured pencils, markers, or paint on hand.

Next, find a quiet and comfortable place where you can focus on your drawing. Choose a starting point, such as a dot or a small shape, and begin to draw continuous lines and shapes that flow spontaneously. Allow your pen to move freely, without lifting it from the paper, and see where the lines take you.

As you draw, try to focus on the present moment and allow yourself to be in a meditative state. Pay attention to the sensations you feel in your hand and body as you create your design. You may find it helpful to take deep breaths and allow yourself to relax into the process.

Repeat the pattern until you feel that the piece is complete. You can add colour if you like, using markers, coloured pencils, or paint. Remember that there are no rules or expectations for what your pattern should look like, so allow yourself to be playful and creative.

Don’t be concerned about your artistic ability or the final outcome of your design – the process is what counts. So why not give neurographic art a try and see how it can benefit you?

Client Story Gill Van Rooyen

The Healing Power of Neurographic Art

Last year, Chartered clients received a retirement tip from us about neurographic art and the many benefits it can offer. One of our clients, Gill van Rooyen, who had always been interested in art, was intrigued by the concept and decided to give it a try. Since then, she hasn’t looked back.

Gill has no formal art training but enjoys oil painting and acrylics. What she found most appealing about neurographic art was the combination of art and mindfulness. Gill can sit for hours and let her creativity flow, which helps her find clarity and peace of mind. She is guided by her energy, which allows her to create beautiful art that is unique to her.

Gill shared her newfound passion with a friend whose brother was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. It became a healing practice for both her friend and her brother. They spent many hours in the hospital doing neurographic art, which proved to be a therapeutic and helpful activity. It helped Gill’s friend deal with her grief, and her late brother’s artworks were framed and cherished.

For Gill, neurographic art is more intuitive than colouring in. She did a lot of research, including looking on Pinterest and YouTube for inspiration and techniques. The practice of neurographic art allows her to be in the moment, focusing on the lines and shapes she creates. It’s a meditative process that allows her to express herself freely and without judgment.

Here are some links that Gill suggests to help you get started:

https://betterhumans.pub/how-i-use-neurographic-art-to-meditate-aab05663b771

First time running the Two Oceans Marathon

Yes! You read that right! I just completed my first time ever 21km half-marathon. The Two Oceans is known as “the world’s most beautiful marathon,” and running against the backdrop of the breathtaking Cape Peninsula must be one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. And this is the new experience I’m sharing with you this month.

I have learnt that having a clear goal is essential to trying something new or doing something for the first time. Running a half-marathon has been on my vision board for a few years, and you may remember me sharing it with you – even in Covid times. Two words stand out for me in achieving this goal: persistence and consistency. Believe me, getting up every single morning to run, especially in winter, is not easy. And your aim does not have to be easy either. You may decide to take up art or learn a musical instrument. You may want to walk the Camino de Santiago – or the Cape Camino. But every journey begins with one single step. And the first step is setting your goal. In my experience, persistence and consistency get you where you want to go.

Sometimes, trying out something new is a deeply personal journey you may want to go alone. But a lot of times, having special people join you – or support you – makes it so much easier – and enjoyable. I had many partners on my running journey, including my 22-year-old niece, Robyn. And thank goodness for Robyn! I was initially intent on running a 42km marathon, and Robyn convinced me to start slightly smaller – we agreed on the 21km instead. It turned out to be great advice! Running up and down the hills was much harder than I thought it’d be.

One of our Planning Specialists at Chartered, Craig Harrison, also ran with me. He could have finished the marathon in a much better time but opted to stay back and support me, for which I am so grateful. Although you’re the one doing the work, you end up not running alone. Running in the Two Oceans felt like being embraced in a wonderful community of people helping and supporting you to the end. And it was lovely to see my husband Gys, my son Josh and his partner Rachel waiting for me and welcoming me over the finish line.

Sometimes you may have to call in extra people to help you reach your goal. I have a great running trainer and teamed up with a functional trainer who helped me exercise the right muscles to get me over the steep hills.

It really does help to have a support system when trying new things. Whether planning a unique adventure, a fresh learning experience or a new venture, having people who believe in you and encourage you along the way can make all the difference. But more than that, trying new things often calls for stepping out of our comfort zones. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and shy away from something new. But new experiences can lead to personal growth and a sense of accomplishment.

Remember, trying something new does not have to be a grand gesture but something small that pushes you out of your comfort zone. And the rewards are often worth it!

Garden Route Slackpacking Adventure Trip

By Louis Marcus Finn

Having undergone a double knee replacement in 2021, my husband Stephen and I decided to relish his remarkable and wonderful rehabilitation and cash in on this golden period of our lives together.

I did some research and found a fantastic option on the Garden Route. Mark Dixon, an outdoor enthusiast with a magnificent protean knowledge of ecology, biological science and nature conservation led our hike. We were joined by a UK couple in their early sixties, enjoying an outdoor adventure in South Africa. Mark organizes trips and highlights the incredibly rich fossils on our coastline, the indigenous trees, geology, insects, marine life and avian specimens. We learnt such a great deal about a myriad of impressive elephant, crocodile, buffalo and hominoid footprints found on the coastline ranging from Wilderness to Brenton-on-Sea. Touching and beholding these 120 000-year-old remnants was indeed a huge privilege.

We covered about 60 kms by foot, nearly all on pristine beaches and traversed the Garden Route and Goukamma National Parks, sleeping in private and Cape Nature reserve accommodation.

The route also encompasses 15 kms of kayaking on the Touws and Goukamma rivers. Much fun and many enjoyable experiences were had, and at one stage, our kayak capsized, and Stephen, Mark and I fell in the temperate river. We laughed our way back to the bank and continued canoeing in high spirits seeing a magnificent Fish Eagle soaring overhead and then roosting on the banks of the river. Being outdoors, enjoying perfect weather and seeing unspoilt conservation coastline was a huge inspiration, physical experience and treat for both Stephen and me.

Garden Route Coastal Meander can be reached at gardenroutetrail.co.za or followed on Instagram. It is well worth the effort if you would like to expand your physical and intellectual horizons.

Retirement Villages – Spotlight on Waterfall Valley Mature Lifestyle Estate

We will be interviewing clients who have chosen to live in various retirement estates around the country to learn more about their experiences. Please note that Chartered Wealth Solutions is not affiliated with, or sponsored by, any of the featured retirement villages, and the opinions expressed are that of the clients who live in these retirement villages.

About Waterfall Valley Mature Lifestyle Estate

Waterfall Valley has 241 free-standing houses within the gated estate. Waterfall Valley enjoys full reciprocity with Waterfall Hills, so residents have access to their frail care centre and a wide variety of lifestyle facilities just around the corner, including scenic walking trails along the Jukskei River, which link Waterfall Valley with over 35km of hiking and biking trails on the rest of the Waterfall City estates.

Click here to read more about the estate.

Meet Waterfall Valley Mature Lifestyle Estate residents Ronelle and Brian Baker

In around 2012, Ronelle wrote an article for Inflight explaining her and her husband Brian’s view on why they did not want to live in a retirement village. At that time, they believed they were young and strong enough to check into any facility they wanted when they felt the need. However, they soon realised that it was not as simple as it seemed.

Their decision to move from their home in Lonehill to a retirement village in Waterfall was triggered by Brian’s only sibling requiring immediate and life-threatening surgery in 2014, which resulted in her needing significant care. As a result, they realised they would be in trouble if either of them experienced something similar. They decided to live in an area close to where they had lived for the last 34 years, close to friends and their church, which brought them to the Waterfall/Kyalami area.

They have been living at Waterfall Valley Mature Lifestyle Estate since August 2015, and it has been a rewarding and life-changing decision. It is important to note that their Estate is not officially considered a retirement village, as they do not have the required services, such as frail care and assisted living, available to residents. Instead, their estate encourages residents to live in their homes and recommends making use of carers in case of incapacity or illness. However, Waterfall Valley Mature Lifestyle Estate does enjoy full reciprocity with Waterfall Hills, so residents can access their frail care centre if need be.

Purchasing property in their estate is on a lease basis, with the land owned by a landowner, and they have a “99-year lease” on the property. They do not have life rights or other retirement purchase mechanisms in place. The estate has levies, City of Joburg rates and taxes, and Eskom bills, but living on this estate is still cheaper than living in a suburban home. Many homes have installed solar panels to ward off the never-ending load shedding.

Homes in their estate have the same architectural look and feel, but each home and garden has its individual characteristics. The estate has a committed and enthusiastic Residents Association with volunteers covering areas of finance, security, leisure, healthcare, infrastructure, and maintenance, among others. The estate management team is closely monitored and assisted by the association and a board of directors, who ensure everything is managed correctly and financially appropriately. The gardens are managed and maintained by a gardening service, the security systems are exemplary (soon to be facial recognition), and residents have access to a fully equipped gym with a steam room, sauna, Zumba, ballroom, line dancing and aerobic classes, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, ballroom, auditorium, a well-equipped library, and a partially subsidised restaurant on the premises.

Numerous activities are available to residents who wish to participate, such as social bridge, pool, table tennis, Kaluki, wine club, bird club, U3A, Mah Jong, French conversational sessions, cycling, hiking, craft and sewing/knitting mornings, and many more.