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Why we want to hibernate in Winter


Take a break… Your body works hardest in winter. Sometimes we forget that the internal combustion engine has been modelled on the human (and mammalian) body. And we forget, that exactly like a cold car feels on a winter morning, Read more

The remedy of joy


Last night I was playing my piano, and I felt it. Joy unpressed, unrushed and whispering to me gently as a butterfly would. Joy had come to visit me. Bundled up in my heavy, winter pyjamas and nursing a Read more

Why I became an entrepreneur


For me, becoming an entrepreneur and starting my business was not an intentional decision. I did not wake up one morning and decide, “I am going to start a company. This sounds exciting.” I simply took more and more Read more

There are No Negative Emotions


Only Negative Responses   I’ve been thinking about emotions lately. How we’re quick to call some good (positive) and others bad (negative). I’ve done my best to keep the “negative” emotions out of my life. Like hate, rage, sadness or depression. Read more

Horison Pilates Awards Ceremony 2017


Pilates athletes were recently awarded for their faithful endurance. Some even received a 5-year commitment award! Well done Read more

Why we want to hibernate in Winter

Articles, Charl's journal, Holistic wellbeing Leave a comment  

Take a break… Your body works hardest in winter.

Sometimes we forget that the internal combustion engine has been modelled on the human (and mammalian) body. And we forget, that exactly like a cold car feels on a winter morning, we too are working hardest when the air is coldest and driest.

The instinct to hibernate

Listen to yourself. We’ve done enough separation of body, mind and spirit. Human beings have the gift of functioning in tandem with all our parts, all the time. Winter comes approximately half-way through the year in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a good half-way point pegged for rest and reflection. The body knows that it’s now time to battle viruses, lower temperatures and less viable air for respiration. This means greater output, and in a way, greater “fuel consumption” – more calorie-rich foods, like our winter squashes and meaty stews. We need more to stay in balance and maintain homeostasis (a balanced body). So, the desire to hibernate is good, instinctual and a healthy guide for activity. Reduce the length of our overall day,  spend more time at home, warm and resting and  generally breath deeper and working more restfully. This will keep our immune system humming and allow us to reflect and process on an emotional and spiritual level. No reflections= no direction.

The desire for a lower gear

Other seasons of the year, especially Spring (renewal) and Summer (harvest) speak to us of super- energy and great physical- holistic stamina. It’s easy to get caught up in this kind of thinking and “energy hype” all year round. I always use the ocean as an example of ebbs and flows. We would have no tides, and ultimately no life in the ocean without ebbs and flows. Human beings and all creation, to a certain degree, are oscillating creatures. We move from first gear to second, to third and beyond. To stay in one gear will completely and very quickly wreck a good engine. Continuing with our car metaphor, one gear can only provide a specific output of power (speed) flat and torque (strength) uphill.  When the landscape and conditions change, you and I need a different gear. My mechanic would physically remove my car if I chose to stay in second or third gear on the highway. This is abuse! And so too is our expectation to stay in one gear all the time. This is self- abuse. Gear down. Listen to your “revs” and celebrate the ebbs and flows in you!

The value of old fashioned sense

I recall growing up with an understanding that “gran will know” or an older neighbour always had a solution for a cold, a burn, rash or some other ailment. There were plenty of people who continued with the old traditions of protecting and celebrating life. Simple things like growing lemons, grapefruit and paw-paws in the garden. Filling the house with dried herbs and taking out carpets and rugs weekly for a good “dusting”. And also eating heavier vegetables ( eg. butternut, pumpkin, winter squash) in winter, and easier to digest foods like soups, bone broths and casseroles. Now, the “collagen diet” is doing the rounds and the medicinal world is singing its praises. But my grandmother knew all about saving the chicken carcass, boiling marrow bones and adding dried peas, lentils and pulses to soups. Old fashioned sense took a backseat to technologically driven medical research. Now this very same research is proving its validity. Do what your grandparents and  great grandparents (if they were healthy) used to do. Have a look at how artisanal (DIY) communities function, and take some simple pages from their books. To stay healthy, is more about maintaining your wonderful engine-mind, body and spirit – all year round – than jumping for the vitamin C or antibiotics. Above all, rest! Your body needs it.







The remedy of joy

Charl's journal Leave a comment  

Last night I was playing my piano, and I felt it. Joy unpressed, unrushed and whispering to me gently as a butterfly would. Joy had come to visit me. Bundled up in my heavy, winter pyjamas and nursing a head cold, even heavier, I let the piano hold my hands. I was alone. There were no people, programmes or purposes leading me. The cosy silence surrounded me. And I drank it in. The cool, sweet delicious silence. A cool hand to a feverish brew. Then I felt the playing. My friends, poetry and sound, joined me in a still, graceful dance. My hands learned the steps as we went.  Joy came visiting. I had no motive, no mandate, no agenda. Only the need  to rest. To breathe.  To lay my hands down onto my old confidante. When I played, my heart wept and danced. And in those tears I found joy. Unpressed, unrushed and whispering. “Come apart and rest a while,” Joy said to me. And so I did. And in the quietness, my strength is being restored. It’s the quietness, the grateful solitude and the conscious choice to be still, that calls Joy home. To visit. And to stay. Here. Always.

So, dear friends, today if you dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

Your life is an infinite gift with an eternal, one-time edition purpose. Fill your heart today with joy. Wrestle it from the circumstances you’re in: stuff your pockets with joy. Joy is hope made real in a wild, beautiful world. Joy is delight in life. In the simple gifts of friendship, belonging and the ability to heal. Joy is grace and the expression of love for yourself and others. Joy is strength. Joy is peace.

Go get your joy and keep it close! Celebrate your life. It is a gift, no matter what.

 







Why I became an entrepreneur

Charl's journal Leave a comment  

For me, becoming an entrepreneur and starting my business was not an intentional decision. I did not wake up one morning and decide, “I am going to start a company. This sounds exciting.” I simply took more and more steps away from the formal economy, without realising it because of what I believe. I was a diligent employee for 7 years and followed the traditional trajectory in studies, work and career planning. Then I left it all and took a personal development break.

After travelling to Korea and teaching English for two years, I realised that I am a person driven by purpose. And purpose resides in the heart. I have always loved nature, people and healing. Seeing people sick worried me. Seeing them recover gave me the deepest joy. After spending 3 years in the NGO sector and working with vulnerable children, communities and vast tracts of arable land, left uncultivated, while poverty was all around, I realised that tending the land and working with sustainable health solutions is one of the most powerful interventions we can use. Simply, there were no companies doing what I wanted to do. Every time I applied for a position in another field, I felt sick to my stomach. I constantly thought about the needs I saw in people’s lives, communities and countries. I seemed to care about these needs more than most people I knew, and yet, I knew that I was not a better person: I just had a different vision, for my life, and the life of our world. There was a point that I came to, the signpost of “It’s now or never.”

So I took the step, filled with all sorts of dread, but knowing that courage is forged in the valleys of fear. I first started my nutritional therapy practice, Better4Life, and then after 3 years of researching, product formulations and testing, I registered Africa Grace as a company to take my heart for Africa, our natural resources and my vision for every person to have the CHOICE to use pure, organic skincare and healthcare. It’s a company that encapsulates many different aspects of my vision for my continent and appeals to the human spirit. I took many small steps, a few big steps. Sometimes, just standing where I was and reflecting. People encouraged me. I did a great deal of inner questioning, reading, experimenting, studying. I needed to make sacrifices: buy a small car, move back with my parents for a while, learn to live with far less and spend whatever I had on studies and starting my two companies.

It has been the most extraordinary journey of faith, perseverance and patience. It still is. Sometimes, I’m not sure where it will lead. But, I know, as long as I choose this ship, I will learn the most about myself, what I believe and what is truly, honestly, uniquely important in life.

Charlotte







There are No Negative Emotions

Articles, Charl's journal, Holistic wellbeing 1

Only Negative Responses

 

I’ve been thinking about emotions lately. How we’re quick to call some good (positive) and others bad (negative). I’ve done my best to keep the “negative” emotions out of my life. Like hate, rage, sadness or depression. Aren’t these the bad emotions we shouldn’t have? And so I pursue the “good” emotions of love, peace and contentment. But they don’t come without a fight.

Without a resolution of the less popular emotions, I find I cannot respond authentically. My realisation: there are no negative emotions. Only negative responses. There will be times when you and I are called to love, or to hate, to feel anger or to express peace. Emotions (e=motion) mobilise us to action. It’s HOW we react that determines the outcome. An ancient biblical proverb says, “When you are angry, do not sin.” It’s guaranteed that you and I will feel anger. It’s in how I respond that makes my anger positive or negative. Here’s an example: We need to get angry about things that are wrong; about injustice, about someone abusing us or someone else, or even our own failings. When we are positively angry, we do something constructive about the problem. If we don’t get angry, we don’t do anything. If we do get angry, and decide to resolve the anger negatively e.g. blaming someone else, pretending the problem doesn’t exist, we bring the opposite of life – death – into our lives. And our heart is shaped by this.

So I’ve been digging deeper. I’ve been asking myself, “What determines how I respond to life?” I’m sure most people know this, but I need to be reminded. The answer: It’s my values. What I believe. What I hold as most important. Values sit deep inside of me, hardly speaking at all, until there’s a challenge, and I need to choose. I’ve realised that I don’t know all of my values. Values are very deep. Some are thoughts; some are convictions. Others, we’ve simply taken on. What I’ve learned from this recent season is that I can choose my values and know them. They help me navigate powerful emotions according to my conscience and my true self. This means I grow, mature and become a safe person. Know your values. Know your heart. Live your values. Become the person you’d like to know.







Horison Pilates Awards Ceremony 2017

Pilates Leave a comment  

Pilates athletes were recently awarded for their faithful endurance. Some even received a 5-year commitment award! Well done ladies!







Examining our choices

Charl's journal, Destress tips, Holistic wellbeing Leave a comment  

There’s a great sense of hurry, of stress and anxiety wherever I drive. People I see are rushing on the roads, shopping in a hurry and trying to pile as much activity into one day as possible. I see unhappy faces and families living past each other. Groups of people sit together but are on their phones and might as well be miles away from each other. “What is going on here?” I ask myself. Well, it is stress, that I know. That I can see but it’s also choices. The choice to spend time social networking when your wife or child is right there, longing for real interaction. The choice to treat every day like an emergency with an impossible deadline. The choice to be a slave to your work and not free to do your calling. I see choices in food, health, recreation, relationships. I see and make choices everyday. Leaders, politicians, business people, parents… everyone is making choices and they count. They affect them and those around them. The stress and anxiety is a choice too. We don’t need all the things we think we do. We need more love than luxury and less food than we need peace. Take a good look at your choice cupboard and see what is really hanging there. Is this what you really need? Do these things make you whole, happy and excited to do life? Or have your choices left you numb, empty, isolated and in despair? Make good choices. Choose life!







Spring clean your life

Charl's journal, Holistic wellbeing, Nutrition Leave a comment  

I’ve been listening to the sounds of a vacuum cleaner next door. My neighbour’s really getting into the dust and dirt! Cleaning. It’s a vivid picture for me of how my life gets dirty and dusty quickly, and I need it cleaned – inside-out. My tendency is to leave the dirt. Go another day or two before I really can’t ignore it anymore. What struck me is that a house is always needing cleaning. A little here. A little there. Then everything stays ordered and pleasant to live in. It’s the same for my health and my moment by moment life. We need to remain motivated to look after our health. Interestingly, if we are clean on the inside it will show on the outside. Eat right and you’ll see it immediately on your skin. You will feel it in your body.

Try the Better4life Nutritional Therapy Programme and see the difference! Contact charlotte@better4life.co.za







How to stay happy in an unhealthy world

Articles, Charl's journal, Destress tips, Holistic wellbeing Leave a comment  

I was sitting with a friend, doing what we all need to do (have a picnic!) and we were speaking about health. The pressure of trying to stay happy and healthy in an unhealthy world came up. My friend is starting her health journey and she knows there will be challenges to face. “How do you get it right, all the time?” she asked. Well there are two things I live by:

  1. I only live one day at a time and actually, only one moment at a time. Each moment well-lived adds up to a day. And it’s a day well-lived that adds up to a life.
  2. There’s grace. And it helps me on the days I fall and miss it. Don’t be so hard on yourself! Getting 100% of what’s needed right 70% of the time is enough. It’s not perfection that matters. It’s steady faithfulness to the best you can do with what you have.







How to improve your sleep

Destress tips Leave a comment  

Struggling to fall asleep?

Try these simple ways to reduce stress and relax before you go to bed

  • Turn off the TV – especially in the evening. You’ll find that you can sleep better at night. Read a book instead.
  • Dim the lights – when your eyes are exposed to lights your pineal gland (a tiny endocrine organ in your brain) will not secrete the melatonin you need for a good night’s sleep.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Take a hot bath with Epsom salts before bed.
  • Use essential oils, like lavender.
  • Ask someone to give you a foot massage. A foot massage is a great way to calm down that excessive nervous energy in your head.
  • Make a list of all the things you are grateful for every night.
  • Drink Chamomile tea early in the early evening or try one of Better4life’s relaxation herbal teas (contact info@better4life.co.za)
  • Don’t eat a large meal late at night.







Pilates for athletes

Articles, Exercise science, Pilates Leave a comment  

Pilates is just for Sisters and Sissies, Right?

4 Benefits of Pilates for Athletes

 

It’s funny, the responses that I get from people. “So, what do you teach?” I answer, “Pilates.” Sometimes, there is that typical look of pity. “Oh, that’s like stretching for old people, right?” And then, others surprise me. “Oh, I’ve heard about it. My physio’s always telling me to do it. She says I need to strengthen my core.” This helps me. It means that a) I don’t have to explain this isn’t a pre-flying course or that b) This has nothing to do with a deceased Roman ruler called Pilate.

And then of course, there are the standard misconceptions. Many athletes (especially male) also give me that look, and seem surprised when I suggest they add Pilates to their workout. If you want the scientific and bio-mechanical basis, you’ll find it easily. Many excellent articles have been written on the benefits of Pilates for athletes. I’m not going to repeat their content. I’d like to share with you why, in my experience as a practitioner and trainer, Pilates is good for everyone, especially athletes.

Referring back to our original question, Pilates was designed by and named after a man: Joseph Pilates. This needs to be clear and set the record straight. Joseph, originally from Germany, is said to have been a human movement genius, at least 100 years ahead of his time. The First and Second World Wars, internment and POW camps, corsets and bloodletting defined his time. Joseph was very strong, completely masculine and also completely respectful of female and male strength. Read his story. It will inspire you.

Joseph was an athlete. He lived to a ripe old age and understood the pressures on super athletes. He believed in healing the body and utilising all of its levers naturally. He lived and taught so that men and women can walk with strength, comfort and grace. Dancers, actors, celebrities and normal people all flocked to his US studio to heal and rediscover their strength.

Now, here are some of my thoughts on why athletes should really look at doing Pilates.

Athletes need:

  • to be challenged differently
  • multi-varied movement to condition the brain
  • true fitness for flexibility, strength and endurance
  • a non-competitive environment
  • to breathe and destress

 

  1. Challenge all the Muscles

    Running, cycling, golf, canoeing or dancing are all sports that focus on a specific type and level of fitness. It’s like opening and closing the same door again and again, getting better at this door, but what about the others? Then there are the repetitive stress injuries that can develop from opening and closing the same door. The body is a system of levers designed for movement. All our levers and fitness forms need to be activated regularly or at the same time. Pilates does this simply and efficiently. Even one session a week can condition the body and realign the levers.

  2. Train with Your Brain

    Mechanical movement, especially under the influence of rhythm and music, switches the brain off, not on. Pilates challenges the brain in a quiet, focused atmosphere. It helps to recondition the central nervous system, which is rather important for quality of life.

  3. Embrace True Fitness

    Now, I say this as an athlete. I know what happens when my performance increases and the adrenaline kicks in after a very good climb, swim or run. I think I’m really strong and it’s without the context of total body fitness. Total fitness equals flexibility, strength and endurance. Pilates focuses on all three. It never becomes easy. It humbles me and helps me to see the equal strengths and weaknesses in others and myself.

  4. Friends and Fun Count

    Training regimens can be harsh and unforgiving. Highly competitive environments create stress, and inflammation from cortisol production. Training in a non-threatening environment, which focuses on the health of the individual and the group normalises us as athletes. We learn it’s not all about us. We are reminded that we are people too. We develop friendships. We enjoy moving our bodies and releasing pressure. Sometime we forget the importance of enjoyment. Fun calms us, helps us produce endorphins and stimulates our pleasure pathways – these are responsible for healing and well-being.

  5. You’re a Being not a Doing

    Living in a world where even your job seems to be on a conveyor belt, we need less paralysingly stress and more motivating stress. Pilates, in focused gentleness, helps us to breathe, reflect and just be. As we move, we rest. Peace is restored. We let go of outcomes. We focus on the gift of being alive. We see classmates moving with us. We appreciate the rich variety of the world. We understand and are reminded that we are human beings, not doings.

To all my athletes out there, I encourage you to find more healing movement. Go try a class. Confront the prejudices and misconceptions. Pilates is for you too!

www.better4life.co.za/group-pilates-classes/