Experiences of a Covid-19 patient

Chartered Wealth client Paul Runge was hospitalised with Covid in December. We are happy to report that he is on the mend and has a busy 2022 planned; as he says, he has a book to write and squash to play.

Here he shares some helpful tips should you or a loved one have to be hospitalised.

It’s very important that a Covid patient being admitted to hospital packs their bag properly. No visitors are allowed, the patient is alone, and it is vital to maintain communications to maintain high morale. Ensure that all the required electric plugs and leads are packed for keeping the cell phone charged. In my case, music is important, and the iPod leads were essential. The reality is that the patient has to do much fending for themself. A man should consider a shaver to facilitate the insertion of drips in hairy arms! Other items could be a small towel (towels not always easily available), pyjamas, slippers and perhaps dental floss in addition to the usual toiletries. Pack a pen or two. The ward is noisy with much light, and earplugs and the typical airline eye cover could be useful. If you pack sleeping pills, clear the usage thereof with your doctor. If you have received prescribed medicines, keep them all in a plastic packet and show them to the doctor so they can verify and adjust your medication. Having a bath or shower improves spirits considerably and ensure you have the shampoo, soap required. The last newspaper will help pass the time, (not available in the wards). Your laptop may provide a little interim entertainment.

During my stay, my doctor warned me that blood tests showed that I was undernourished and dehydrated. I had not eaten for nearly four days, and the hospital seemed to be restricting the number of bottles of water they were distributing to patients. A dietician visited me and gave me some fortified drinks. However, this was insufficient, and my partner played an invaluable role in arranging for a bag of protein bars and Energade drinks to be specially delivered to me. This was also my doctor’s suggestion. A supportive partner is gold!

You will find that effective cell phone communications will ease your passage through your treatment. The WhatsApp streams of well wishes – even from unexpected associates lifts morale. Then there is valuable advice from those who have had the Covid experience. A sense of humour eases matters too. Respond kindly and deal without fuss with those that come with misinformation and conspiracy theories.

A negative aspect of the communications scenario is when friends are strangely non-communicative. Hypersensitivity sets in, and I felt very guilty that on the day before I fell ill and just had my light cough, I accepted an invitation to visit a friend at his home. I immediately informed him when I heard that I was Covid-positive, and he was compelled to place himself and his family in isolation for seven days. Terrible timing because it was year-end for his company as well as that of his wife. I apologised twice via WhatsApp messages and received no acknowledgement or even response. This weighed on my mind through much of my hospital stay. It was also strange that while my work colleagues were sympathetic and supportive, one colleague has yet to send me any message.

Exercise care when interacting with the hospital staff. They are stressed and carrying out a difficult job. Make sure you remain polite and patient. There is little banter and laughter. Don’t push too hard and try to sort yourself out with small matters wherever possible. The doctor’s visits are unscheduled, brief and sometimes rushed. It’s a good idea to prepare beforehand for their visit by writing a list of all the questions you wish to ask.

Contrary to the old adage that the patient should just lie and rest in hospital, the practise today is for them to be as active as possible – especially if there are respiratory problems. In the case of Covid, the breathing exercises given to you by your physio are very important in restoring lung capacity. Walks around the ward are recommended and are enjoyable. They also help pass the time. The physio was very kind and helpful (albeit that I fear the bill that may be coming my way!) I enjoyed practising my squash shots as I walked around the ward!

The final hospital check-out can be a lengthy and frustrating process. Ensure that you leave with the necessary prescriptions. There is a special exit for departing Covid patients, and the staff will wheel you there. Ensure that your partner picks you up at a specific time and at the correct place. Otherwise, you could inconvenience the very busy nursing staff.

What’s your personal word for 2022?

Each year a Word of the Year is chosen. The Word of the Year is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest over the last 12 months. Every year, candidates for Word of the Year are debated. One is eventually chosen to reflect that particular year’s ethos, mood, or preoccupations and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance. The pandemic influenced Oxford’s 2021 choice, too, this time settling on a single word: “vax.”

So do you have a personal word of the year that you have chosen for 2022, one that reflects your ethos and mood for the year? Picking a word of the year can clarify who you want to become and what you want to accomplish in life.

Having a Word of the Year is an enjoyable way to set your intentions and theme for the New Year, or any other life event for that matter. Instead of rigid resolutions, a word of the year is a gentle and constant reminder to create positive change. While resolutions often seem to have a judgmental quality, a personal word of the year is often about a value. (Think honesty, openness, patience.)

For example, if your word of the year is “abundance”, you might have sub-goals of investing in an abundant number of friendships or spending more quality time with the people you love. If your word is “flow”, your sub-goals may be learning to accept things out of your control or perhaps being spontaneous.

When choosing your word, start by reflecting on areas of your life that could use refinement. What do you want to change, and where would you like to grow? Then make a list of word choices. Are these words actionable? You need to look for a word that you can and want to take daily action on. From your list, choose one word. When you have chosen your word, make sure to make it visible. Write it in your diary, stick it on your fridge or make it your cell phone home screen.

When you have chosen a word, start planning how you will live it out. It won’t happen with good intentions alone. Make your word part of your daily life.

What gifts will the interesting detours of 2022 bring you?

This year started with a slight blip for me. It has always been my habit to start off my year reflecting on the past year and then planning what I would like my new year to look like. Instead of keenly waking up to 2022 and following my yearly system, I woke up with Covid. My head felt fuzzy, and I experienced so much brain fog that my family started commenting on how I was repeating myself over and over again.

If you have ever done a vision board, you’ll know that apart from actually thinking with a clear head, you also need to write legibly and cut on a straight line (I always add visuals to my board!) And here I was feeling murky and muddled. I decided to listen to my body and settled in for ten days of resting, sleeping and recuperating – even reading felt too strenuous! I am grateful that I could recover at home and am happy to report that I am almost feeling like ‘Kim’ again.

Thinking about 2022, I know this for sure: I am excited about what the year will bring. I’m also sure that the year probably won’t go precisely as planned and that I have to be prepared for changes and detours.

Putting my yearly vision board together always gives me a lot of joy and a great sense of accomplishment. As soon as I feel completely recovered and can trust my head and brain not to duplicate all my thoughts, I will be visualising my intentions for the year and clarify where I want to be, who I want to spend my time with and what my goals are going to be.

The past two years have taught me that I need to embrace the detours that will inevitably come my way. I have also learnt that these alternative, roundabout routes to the best-laid plans often bring beautiful and unexpected gifts. I have found that the detours have led me to meet interesting people that I hadn’t planned to meet, taught me lessons about myself that I didn’t know and opened up my world to new experiences. As much as I want – or yearn – to control my surroundings and experiences, the personal growth I have experienced because of the curveballs have been undeniable.

Accepting and even welcoming the detours that life throws at you requires agility. And this will be one of my challenges for the year: to nurture the attribute of being agile. I would like to focus my energy on embracing the curveballs so that I don’t miss the beauty that it brings, rather than wasting my time being disappointed when things don’t work out as exactly as planned.

So, as much as I have plans for 2022, I will be open to the detours that will inevitably come my way. I will welcome them and be interested to see what gifts they will bring.

May 2022 be filled with plentiful gifts and moments that bring you joy. Sometimes the most unexpected moments brings you the greatest joy – if you take the time to stop and acknowledge the emotion inside you.

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.

Lockdown Lifestyle Changes

Lockdown provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on what is important in our lives, as well as what no longer serves us. Some of our clients used this time of reflection to make small lifestyle changes, while others made big ones. Either way, the changes have had a positive impact.

Kobus and Elaine Joubert

Breaking bad habits

When lockdown initially began and the government announced that alcohol and cigarettes were banned, Elaine and Kobus decided they weren’t going to source cigarettes illegally but rather give up smoking. Having both been smokers for close to 50 years, this was no mean feat. Anyone who has ever tried to give up smoking knows this decision is usually preceded by months of agonising over the how and when. Kobus and Elaine bravely decided on the spot, with Kobus even going cold turkey from the word go.

To keep busy and their minds off smoking, they spring cleaned their house, sorting out cupboards and even cleaning their carpets by hand. Elaine dusted off her sewing machine, and they spent time gardening.

Another bonus after stopping smoking was that they both started to exercise, something they now do six times a week. Elaine walks up and down her driveway 25 times, equating to two kilometres, and Kobus trains in his home gym while listening to music.

It just goes to show, it’s never too late to break bad habits and form healthy new ones.

Patricia O’Hare

Celebrating differently

Patricia has always loved music. Her daughters don’t recall a day of their childhood that didn’t involve music. She woke them up singing and sang them to sleep. As a result of her love of music, it was a given that she thoroughly enjoyed the online events with The Music Guru, Sean Brokensha. After each event, she would call her daughters and gush about his knowledge, expressing how it was on her bucket list to one day have dinner with Sean, where he could dedicate a whole evening to telling her about Leonard Cohen, the history of his music and the inspiration
behind his lyrics.

During hard lockdown and not seeing her family, Patricia, like so many of us, realised that it is people and memories, not things, that matter the most, something she would tell her daughters often. As a result of her desire to make memories, her daughters, much to her absolute delight, helped her celebrate her birthday differently this year by not buying gifts but instead making memories by arranging a dinner with Sean. It was an intimate affair held on the patio on a beautiful spring evening. The presentation was peppered with videos, captivating anecdotes and biographical information about this amazing artist.

It was a beautiful evening and one that was filled with love, laughter and most importantly, family.

Mike and Natalie Pennel

Vitamin Sea

In 2019, while visiting family in Melkbos, Mike and Natalie decided to take a drive to Paternoster, however, they never made it that far. During a breakfast stop in Langebaan and while on the phone with their son in New Zealand, the idea of moving to Langebaan was born.

And then Covid happened. With lockdown and travel restrictions, many people would have put their dream of moving to a different province on hold.

Despite the uncertainty, Mike and Natalie decided to go ahead and put their home in Johannesburg on the market. All viewings were by appointment only, and much sanitising was required after every viewing. Two offers they received fell through, and then finally, third time lucky, they sold their home at the end of June. Leisure travel was still not permitted, but they managed to get a permit as you could travel if you were buying a new home. They flew to Cape Town and spent three days searching for their new home. They knew that if they were going to move to the coast, a non-negotiable had to be a good view. Natalie knew before she had even walked over the threshold that she had found her perfect home.

With the wheels set in motion, the next challenge came when organising movers to transport their worldly possessions plus two dogs and three cars to the Cape. Mike is a firm believer that if something is meant to be, and you plan properly, then you will make it happen. And he was right, even though it was rather an unconventional solution with Mike and Natalie travelling down to the Cape in the moving truck. According to Natalie, it was the longest 48 hours of her life and one she will never forget.

Natalie and Mike have been in their new home for a year now, and they couldn’t be happier. Natalie walks rescue dogs a few times a week and has also joined a group called Lagoon Ladies, who meet once a month to listen to a guest speaker and have a catch-up. Mike loves anything to do with cars and boats, and word quickly spread that there was an expert in town, so he spends much of his day helping locals with advice about their boats. They are both grateful that they weren’t deterred and followed their dream despite the uncertainty of the past year.

Karen Kruger

Finding purpose and choosing happy

After a career spanning 43 years in the hospitality industry, Karen was excitedly preparing to retire in September 2020. Unfortunately, the last six months of her working life were ones she describes as awful, mainly since the hospitality and tourism industry was so severely knocked by
Covid, with events being cancelled and hotels being closed.

Karen had a clear vision as to what her retirement would look like. Having time to do things for herself was important, as was pursuing activities she enjoyed, such as travel. Karen had planned to spend the first six months of retirement giving back through helping a sports organisation with their events, but this fell through as all sporting events were cancelled.

This freed up more time, and she began to reflect deeply on her purpose in life now that she had made the transition into retirement. After much reflection, she decided that her purpose was simply to be happy, and she only pursued activities that helped fulfil her purpose. She never imagined that exercise would become such an integral part of her life, yet now she does aqua therapy and pilates five times a week, both of which have become activities she loves. She also spends time playing online scrabble with friends, learning bridge and socialising with the people she treasures most in her life. While she has some plans for the future, she firmly believes in grabbing every bit of happiness and good that you can each day. Karen describes herself as the happiest pensioner she has ever met—keeping herself busy being happy.

Russell and Audett Dixon-Paver

Let the music play on

Russell and Audett have been in retirement for ten years now, leading full and busy lives pursuing activities they enjoy such as sewing and aviation photography —and more recently, learning to play the ukulele.

Music has always been a part of their lives. As a youngster, Russell played the trumpet and Audett the piano and organ, so it’s no wonder their youngest daughter, Robin, inherited their musical genes. Robin is a music teacher and is passionate about the ukulele. She believes that the ukulele is a wonderful instrument for children to merge the theory with the practical side. She runs the Tiger Valley College Ukulele Society and has entered her group in eisteddfods where they have excelled.

When lockdown happened, all of Robin’s lessons went online. As it is Robin’s dream to teach the ukulele online, she enrolled in an online course. As part of her training, she needs to teach pupils how to play the ukelele, and her pupils came in the form of her parents and sister, Gaelyn. Each week, they spend a few hours learning to play the ukulele, and they are all loving the experience. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to learn a new skill while having fun at the same time. Most importantly, they have found music to be a therapeutic tool in dealing with the stress of the times we find ourselves living in. It has also sparked a new passion for Russell, and he plans to begin building ukuleles in his workshop.

You are not alone in the face of change

If you’ve experienced a longing for change, you are not alone. It is a natural reaction to the worry, fear and isolation that the Covid pandemic brought into our lives. It’s also normal to have some anxiety around re-entering the world and resuming your pre-pandemic life.

Covid has robbed us of control over our own lives in many ways, and now that we are ready to integrate back into work, friendships and communities, we’re still feeling a little lost and less joyful than we thought. We feel awkward and uncomfortable. And it’s not only about living as we did before, it’s also about the changes in our lives that Covid has been a catalyst for.

When I feel lost or out of control, I try to make sense of my emotions. I came across the term pandemic flux syndrome, which Dr Amy Cuddy and Jill Ellen Riley coined in the Washington Post. The article helped me understand why we’re feeling the way we do and made me feel less alone knowing that others feel exactly the same.

Pandemic flux syndrome refers to the emotional impact the virus has had on us. It explains the continuous cycle of hope and despair through each wave, and living in the face of uncertainty has been incredibly hard. Our bodies were not designed to cope with so much pressure for so long. Very often, when we are confused and anxious, we take control by looking for change.

Covid has channelled a lot of introspection for many people. Being isolated and living in so much chaos has directed our attention inwards, and I have seen many positive changes as a result thereof. The yearning for change does not discriminate. I have seen people in all phases of life wanting change, my daughter Gabi included. We spent many hours introspecting and working through various scenarios when Gabi asked to change schools in Grade 10. Of course, we wanted to be sure that she understood the consequences of her decision and that the change would give her what she was looking for.

Some people have been so overwhelmed that they have not been able to make necessary changes. Instead, the status quo has seemed the safer option
for now. But mostly, the pandemic has pushed us forward to make significant changes that were vital to living our best lives. In this newsletter, you will read some of the beautiful positive changes clients have made during this period.

I have also seen many people implementing small changes for big rewards. I count myself in this category with my running routine. I have shared my running goals with you before, and I still run four times per week – even when I don’t really feel like it on a particular day. Without fail, I feel so much better on the days that I do run.

If you have made changes – big or small – that have left you feeling inspired and grateful, please share it with us. We would love to hear them!

Change is inevitable – that is certain. But if you have decided to put essential change on hold, don’t despair. We are all doing the best we can, and it’s important to be kind to yourself and those around you. Big decisions should also not be taken lightly. It takes a whole lot of introspection and the support of important people in your life. Ask your Retiremeant™️ Specialist to partner with you to guide you through the change and how it affects your Plan. I hope the stories in this newsletter inspire you to weather the storm of change.

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

Makeover from the inside out

We have been in a state of flux for almost two years now. Our lives and our circumstances have become fluid and our boundaries flexible. The old rules no longer apply. And just as we think we have a handle on how things are in a new kind of normal, things change again. If you’ve recently tried booking an international flight, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The rules about being on the red, green or orange list and Covid protocols around entries and exits constantly fluctuate. It’s confusing.

I was attending an online workshop when this quote popped onto the screen: “Never allow a good crisis to go to waste. It’s an opportunity to do the things you once thought were impossible.” – Rahm Emanuel, Obama adviser, 2008

The quote inspired me. It also explained why so many of us have undergone such powerful makeovers from the inside out. We’ve made massive mindshifts in many ways. But one, in particular, has stood out for me – the courageous act of letting go.

I started hearing from clients about things they let go of when I wrote the two eBooks and Midlife Money Makeover last year. Some clients got rid of small habits with big rewards, like not buying take-outs, buying fewer coffees on the run and travelling local instead of international. Others have focussed inwards and chucked out thoughts that make them feel ‘less-than’, anger, guilt, the need for approval, and preconceived ideas of how they think their lives should look. I have been most excited seeing how people let go of living in ways that don’t fulfil them and embrace the life they yearn for.

I am intentionally trying to throw out being in a rush. I don’t always get it right and see this journey as work in progress. I have always had an urgency to get things done and would often start thinking of my next project while still busy with a current one. I remember making lists of all the things I have left out of my first book Retiremeant – get more meaning from your money, and the next book was already taking shape in my head shortly after it was published. My mindshift is to focus more on the present. To savour special moments and make them last. With my latest book, Midlife Money Makeover, I am going to try my best to spend the next few years exploring what value people have found in the book and consciously enjoy the process.

I have been a maximiser my entire life. I move fast and get things done quickly. Now, I savour special slow-down moments and have brought a PJ-stay-at-home day into my weekly mix. So many of our clients have shifted from a fixed to an open mindset since the start of Covid. We are trying new things, being a little more daring, embracing challenges and living life more fully. Having an open mindset has made all these positive changes possible.

We recently explored this concept at Chartered through our work with empowerment coach and director of Change in Mindset, Claire Holden. She guided us through an exercise on understanding mindsets and how to shift from a fixed to open one. I have included her exercise in this newsletter for you. If you are feeling fearful in the face of so much change, give it a go. The overall message is that mindsets can be changed!

Wishing you the courage to live more fully.

Ring the bells that can still ring

At the age of 72, I am so blessed to be still able to work part-time at a Mental Health Care Unit nearby. Not only does this job provide me with stimulation (which I crave in this Covid dominated world), but it also allows me to interact with all the other doctors and therapists in the team. Each of them brings new ideas and suggestions which are truly invigorating.

The therapeutic modality which we follow in this ward is called Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT) – a well-researched and documented therapy especially for disorders where emotional dysregulation causes negative consequences for the patient. The overall goal of the therapy is to give patients a life worth living. The programme is skills-based, and a number of the skills taught can also be invaluable to people who do not fall into the emotional dysregulation category – they are good, simple, down-to-earth life skills that can be used in various situations by a variety of individuals.

The particular skill I would like to share is called Radical Acceptance, which is defined as “complete and total acceptance, from deep within, the facts of reality. It involves acknowledging facts that are true and letting go of the fight with reality” (Linehan).

The above definition sounds obvious, yet for many people, when reality does not accord with their hoped for or expected reality, a huge mental and emotional process is unleashed. This flood of negative thoughts and emotions can be very unsettling and interferes with the individual’s coping capacity. The emotional mind goes into overdrive with intense feelings of disbelief, fear, outrage and anger, to name but a few. The emotional mind then dominates the rational mind. The result is usually poor problem-solving techniques followed by impulsive behaviour (which is generally later regretted) and the ensuing emotions of shame and regret, which add to the emotional turmoil.

To identify whether you have trouble with radical acceptance, monitor your thoughts for a while, and if you catch yourself thinking thoughts like” this shouldn’t happen, this can’t be happening, this is not fair, I don’t deserve this, I don’t believe this” you would, in all likelihood, have problems with radical acceptance. When you are unable to accept what is, all your emotional energy is used to generate more and more inflammatory thoughts and emotions. This type of behaviour will never result in acceptance because all you are doing is fanning the flames instead of trying to douse them. No matter how unpalatable the event that caused your pain, if you don’t allow yourself to accept what is, the pain will persevere and cause prolonged suffering.

To illustrate the above, a song by Leonard Cohen comes to mind (I am an unabashed devotee of his – his poetry is magic). The song is Anthem, and the chorus line is as follows:

This refrain encapsulates for me all the ideas about radical acceptance. Firstly, there is always a chance for a new beginning even though it may not be our ideal – there will always be bells that still can ring even though your preferred one is out of the equation. Secondly, forget the perfect offering because it doesn’t always guarantee the perfect outcome. Thirdly, there is a crack in everything – although perfection is highly desired, it is seldom realised. Lastly, that’s how the light gets in refers to possibilities and a new way of thinking that may not have been possible had the crack not appeared to let the light in.

Radical acceptance is a tool that you can use, not to dull the pain but to prevent long-time suffering because of your inability to say, “So be it. Amen”

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.

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